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since 18 April 1998.
Copyright © 1994 Walter Scott
|NOTES NEWS AND VIEWS
The 1900's in Meade County Kentucky
Family Farming in the Mid-1900's
2. Scott Hill Farm
4. Big Spring
5. Stith Valley
6. Grandma Margaret Hardaway
8. Another Age
10. The Changes Made
11. The Age of Horse Power and Steam Power to Tractor Power
12. Grind Stone
14. Running Water
16. Green Lawns
17. Hog Calling
18. Where Are We Going
19. Keep Fighting
22. Humor for Health
24. Toys and Games
25. Fiddler's Green
26. The Marvelous Toy
27. The Truth About the Apple
28. From The Two Most Dangerous Hours of Your Day
29. Memories of the Drought of 1936
30. Father Scott (C. L. Scott)
32. Walter L. Scott
33. Stith Graveyard
34. The Old Shop Puzzle
35. My Dad The Hunter
36. Horses In Meade County As I Knew Them
37. The Age Of Horse Power and Steam Power
38. The Blacksmith
40. Pasturing Horses And Mules With Cattle
41. Taking Our Bull Back Home
42. Shacklette's Bull
43. Tilly and the Three Heifers
44. Tilly and the Turkeys
45. Tilly and the Twenty-Nine Steers
46. Tilly's Declining Years
48. Old Jack
49. The Mountain of Youth
50. On Getting Old
51. Your Kid
52. Advice To Parents
53. Everyday Thanksgiving
55. Why Apples Always Seemed Important
56. Early Bird
57. Then And Now
58. Modern Times
59. The Tenant Who Moved Next Day
61. Chopping Cotton In Arkansas 1913 and 1914
62. The Great Change in Farming
63. Mowing Bushes With the New Tractor 1952
64. Bush Cutting Back Then
65. Kentucky Cave Explorer, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 1985
66. Old Spot Of Scott Hill Farm
67. Wild Boar, 1972
Notes, News and Views is written as a record of the changes made in my lifetime, and the things that interested me. I have included articles written by others that I was interested in saving. As you will notice, I am very much interested in health. Forty years ago, I had finally accumulated so many ulcer scars at the outlet of my stomach that I was starving -- an old man walking with two canes. I finally gave up to have an operation and a new outlet was made for my stomach. (I rejected the first doctor that was to operate on me: I just walked out -- Thank God). The next year I went to our family doctor and he had a new doctor from England help him with a new operation -- a new opening was made from the stomach to the intestine -- the old one was left alone.
Life with the new stomach outlet was certainly different. I could work all day if I would eat a bite or two and go on, but if I ate a meal at one time I had to lay down for an hour or more (or get sick). Managing this new stomach arrangement has been quite a job, but it has given me forty more years and may give me twenty more.
The stomach operation was done by Dr. Laneer Lukins with Dr. Thompson, from England, assisting at Norton Hospital, Louisville.** The Lukins family prayed for the operation to be a success and I would have to say it performed a Miracle. (The Lukins family gave the land for the Methodist Church Camp in Grason County, "Camp Lucon.")
Walter C. Scott
** In September 1952 the total hospital bill was $708.21: three weeks stay in the hospital -$384.21; anesthesia - $35.00; doctor's charge $325.00.
To get the Scott Hill Farm in the Historic Farm Program would have been about like registering a cow, only worse, so it never got done! The farm did qualify by having more than 10 acres (212 acres), and the income was a little over the minimum of $1000. per year. I did find that Richard Stith and his brother William came to this country in 1804 and picked this place to build a house and barn and settle down. Richard got in touch with the owner and bought 450 acres here in 1811. The farm stayed in the Stith family until my dad, Walter L. Scott and his father bought the farm from the Estate of Aunt Lucinda Stith in 1911 -- exactly 100 years later.
While the legal ownership of the farm in the Stith family was 100 years, they started living here seven years earlier. While the farm was still owned by Aunt Lucinda Stith until her death in 1909 and the Estate until 1911; Aunt Lucinda had moved to Guston several years earlier to live with her sisters. Dad and Mom had moved here in 1908 and I was born April 11 1909, one week after Aunt Lucinda died. I was away from the farm about 25 years going to school and in agricultural work in about 20 counties, but am finishing my 82nd year here this April 11, 1991.
William Stith and his wife Nancy and my great grandfather Jim Hardaway were buried in the graveyard on top of the hill.
The farm has no historic buildings on it. The log house that Richard Stith built, burned in 1944 and the log barn was used for firewood after my Dad built a new barn in 1917. The Tenant House that Uncle Jesse Stith built in 1865 for his nephew was torn down in 1975 for room for my daughter Ann's new house.
The new barn that my Dad built burned April 11, 1927 and was replaced by the present barn. Dad went with John Burnet to Fort Knox and bought a barn from the Reservation for $50.00. (John knew his way around there from buying "war surplus" clothing or anything he could sell at his store at the corner of #333 and #1600.) John Burnet took his one and a half ton truck and about 5 or 6 neighbors took their teams and wagons and they took the barn apart and hauled it down here and helped rebuild it. With a new metal roof that cost about $50.00 the barn still stands here. A few rafters did not stand the move and were hurriedly replaced by some straight Sassafras poles from the woods. The old barn has a few bullet scars from target practice at Fort Knox but otherwise just an old barn. We added a Milk Parlor on the west side, about 8 ft. of shed roof on the North side, and about a 40 by 40 ft. feeding floor on the East side, with the concrete floor extending on through the barn.
Uncle Jessie's combination corn-crib and granary, and the old meat-house got gone while I was gone, I don't know what happened to them. The crib and granary were each about 8 by 16 ft. with a 10 ft. drive-way between them and all under the one roof. You hung either the wagon grain-bed or the hay frame up over-head when not in use. The floors of the crib and granary were about 18 inches above the ground so rats could not dig dirt up in them. The sides of the crib were of oak plank, nailed on "up and down" and was well ventilated, while the granary was double-boxed with 18 inch wide poplar plank so it would hold wheat or other small grain.
Since we have been here (1948), we have built the house, the tobacco barn (40 by 60 with a 16 ft. shed). a tool shed (24 by 72), and a metal crib (18 ft. diameter - 3000. bu.). We had a well dug (172 ft.) and have a 1.5 hp. pump and unlimited water. The pump, at present, has been in the well 35 years with no maintenance and at one time was furnishing water for the Milk Parlor, stock water, the house and two trailer houses. We have built a concrete entrance to the spring and plan to finish the project some day but that is just something that does not have to get done!! We did get about a mile and a half of road made through the woods that we are proud of. It gives access to the top of the hill, our picnic area, plenty of firewood and the graveyard.
This was Hardin county when Richard Stith came here in 1804 but this part of the county became Meade County in 1826.
Walter C. Scott
This is historic information that would soon be lost except for this, and some day might be appreciated.
When Richard Stith and his brother, William, arrived in Hardin County, Kentucky in 1804, they had their choice of a place to live. The spring, the natural fertility of the soil, the tall trees on the wooded hill, all made this (now Scott Hill Farm) the perfect place to settle down, build a log cabin and a log barn and start farming. (This part of Hardin County became Meade County in 1823.)
When I arrived here in 1909, 105 years later, the natural fertility of the soil, for practical purposes, was used up and it was waiting for someone to do something. The woods had renewed itself fairly well, and, of course, the spring was still running out from under the hill. Garden fertility had been maintained fairly well with stable manure and bottom land had some remaining fertility. This was enough for a "pioneer" type living but commercial farming was "out."
One redeeming feature of this era was that few of the insect pests we have today had arrived. Apples grew without worms, the Mexican bean beetle did not arrive until around 1930. All that I remember that we had to cope with was what we called the Colorado potato beetle and the tobacco worm. You wormed your tobacco field once or twice a week: you grabbed the worm by the head and smashed it as you threw it on the ground. (This is still very effective!!) You took a shallow pan with a little coal oil (kerosene) in it, held it under the potato vine and shook the beetles over in it. A few people had begun to use Paris Green that I believe was the only insect poison available.
For lack of a better date, I would say that the "pioneer" type farming lasted until after the First World War, 1918, and then slowly and painfully started up the grade to commercial farming.
Meade County got its first County Agricultural Agent, B. B. McInteer, about 1925, and my sister, Rena Lou and I joined the 4-H Club. Rena Lou's sewing project did fine but my corn project did not amount to anything because Dad did not think the cost of the fertilizer was justified. He did not want to buy corn anyway.
Farmers in the neighborhood had started using 100 to 150 lbs. of "acid" phosphate per acre on tobacco and were very careful not to "burn" the plants with too much. At that time all tobacco "patches" were marked off both ways about every 3 ft. with a one row plow, the fertilizer was dropped where the rows crossed and "hills" made over the fertilizer with a hoe. When the first rain came, the farmer and all the help he could get, pulled the tobacco plants from the plant bed and set a plant in each hill, using a wooden "peg" to make the hole and pressing the dirt back around the plant with the peg or his fingers. (The fertilizer industry, finally, changed the name of 20% phosphate from "acid" phosphate to "Super" phosphate, because"acid"was bad for the soil.) Farmers in general, did not take this new way of farming seriously at first. It took many good demonstrations by "venturesome" farmers, who listened to their county agents, to start the others on the road to better farming.
B. B. McInteer did not stay here but a year or two and in 1928 was my Botany teacher at U. of K. Ray Hopper came here as County Agent in 1926 or 1927. He was very much interested in better livestock as well as crops and was a hard worker. He soon got farmers turned around and headed toward this new way of farming.
Meade County fared better than the average during the Great Depression. The Farmers Deposit Bank was one of the few that did not go under and those who lost their jobs in town just came back, found a vacant house and moved in (FREE). They cut their own wood, carried their water from a spring or well,the neighbors would help with the food the first winter and in the spring they made their own garden.. We hardly felt the depression -- If you don't have anything you can't lose it! Of course I had lost my job as Assistant County Agent but had paid for my new 1932 Chevrolet Coupe ($750) and had $15 left over. All I had to do was come home, go to work and get my room and board!
The new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, soon got things going in 1933. In the summer I got a part time job spraying gardens for the new Mexican Bean Beetle and showing gardeners how to cope with new insect pests. In the fall I started as County Agent in Grayson County, on A. A. A. pay, for the new farm program sign-up work as well as County Agent work. Each person or family got through the Depression in his own way, and each would have his own interesting story to tell.
Meade County got a head start in getting the new farm programs started because of the aggressive work of Ray Hopper and the farm leaders of the county. The County Agents office was the practical headquarters for all the Agricultural programs at first. When they became organized, they got their own office space and were on their own. The R. E. A. Program as we called it, got a head start in the county because the Farm Women Leaders wanted electric lights. (Three dollars a month was a lot to pay for electric lights, but it would probably be worth it. Some day they might afford a refrigerator.) The farmer knew he would have to get the house wired for electricity and it might burn the house down, but about three lights and a couple of plug-in's would not cost much! You just have to go along with these new things sometime!
The Federal Land Bank was started sometime after 1910 and additional farm credit was available after the depression of 1922, but almost all of the present day Farm Programs started at this time (1933). However, some of their names have been changed a few times. Farming was no longer the forgotten industry.
Farmers began to buy cars; the Model-A Ford had arrived and worked fairly well in the mud. The other cars got their chance too. The one and a half ton truck had arrived and was the pride of the time. The trucker could come and get your livestock and take it to Louisville. (He took his chains off when he got to the hard surface road and went on to town.) When we wanted to go to a ball game we hired the trucker. I went with a bunch from Big Spring school to Lincoln Farm in a truck in 1925. -- ($1.00 each)
When you went to 4H camp you went in a truck. You took chickens eggs and canned fruit and not much money. With all this going on, prosperity looked like it was on the way. Maybe some day farmers could afford to eat in a restaurant when they went to town, instead of getting a dime's worth of cheese and cracker's at the grocery. Some day there might possibly be a hard surface road to the farm!
Walter C. Scott
P.S. Some Commercial farmers lost their farms in the 1922 depression and others in the 1932 depression. In the 1932 depression I saw a 450 acre farm in the hilly Blue Grass region sell for $7.50 an acre (the only bid); and knew of a farmer near Guthrie, in western Ky. who went to his own farm sale and bought his $40,000. farm back for $20,000. because no one else would bid on it. The up's and down's of others did not affect the Pioneer Farmer very much.
Big Spring qualified as a town, in my book, when I was growing up. It had two general stores, a post office, a doctor's office, a blacksmith's shop, two churches, a school, and a hotel. (Drummers "salesmen" were the main hotel customers at that time). There were about the same number of houses as today, but more people, and they made their living there. The big spring was there, of course, and I suppose a great many used it for their total water supply. However, you could dig yourself a cistern and most did that.
My first recollection of a special trip to Big Spring was when I was about ten. I got an Erysipelas infection near my ear (that is the reason I can remember the name) and nothing we knew would stop it. We went to see Dr. Witt and got some salve that stopped it. His office was on the south side of the street but extended out almost over the spring branch. The front room was an office and the back room was his store room and laboratory, then a back door and "stoop." His water system consisted of a wire attached to the stoop, with the other end anchored to the far side of the spring branch, and a water bucket attached to a pulley on the wire. With an attached rope, you let the bucket down to the water and got a cool drink of water whenever you wanted it.
We were members of the Big Spring Methodist Church, and went there often but did not shop at the Big-Spring stores. It was not until 1923, when Mr. Alex Yates started teaching High School there, that I saw much of Big Spring. I rode, horse-back, around the back of our farm hill and over the next hill, the three miles, to Big Spring. Mr. Rothlesburger let me keep my horse in his shed back of his house, directly behind the outlet of the big spring.
The High School had one room with about fifteen students, and the grade school had two rooms with about fifty enrolled. Mr. Yates taught High School four or five years there and about that time a high school was started in Flaherty.
At the time I was going to school, Johnie Carter operated the "general" store on the south-west corner of the main street and High Plains road. You could get what you needed; from groceries such as a thick slice of cheese with free salt-crackers for lunch, sugar, coffee (not ground), lye for making soap, salt (a sack full from the barrel or a 100 lb, bag full), dried beans (from a 100 lb. bag), Slabs of salt cured bacon, 25 lb. sacks of flour or corn meal; clothes and other "dry goods", cookstoves, heating stoves and other hardware, and furniture. (All general stores, at that time, bought chickens and eggs and had a chicken house back of the store.)
The black-smith shop was always a busy place because they made and repaired plows and harrows, repaired wagons and other farm equipment, sharpened axes and tempered them to make them hold a good cutting edge. (Special alloy steels had not been invented.)
Horse-shoeing was a big part of their business. They bought the steel bars and made their own shoes to fit the horse. Horses that were used for road work and saddle horses that were used on the road all had to have shoes. The horse that you wanted to "show-off" had to have shoes. Then you could start at the west end of Big Spring when you got to the rock (hard surfaced road) and a "racking" horse would wake Big Spring up with a "CLOP-A-CLOP-A-CLOP-A-CLOP-A" and everybody just had to look up. They knew you were riding easy! If you came in "CLOP-CLOP-CLOP-CLOP," they knew you could not afford a saddle horse, and were getting there the best way you could. (I just sneaked into town on a bare-footed farm horse.)
Mr. Rothlesburger had a small shoe shop out next to the street in front of his house. He made and repaired shoes, saddles and buggy or wagon harness. I remember him as always sitting there at his work bench working on something, but where he could look out on the street.
The sidewalk in front of the mansion on down to the hotel was raised about the right height for a bench for loafers and it was usually in use. The other side of the street was about level with the store porches and in pretty weather there would usually be a game of marbles in progress, maybe a Crap game; but this was the "center of the town." In cool weather the loafers moved into the stores by the big iron heating stoves or into the blacksmith shop. In the store, there was always a wooden bench or two, with handy spittoons or a box full of wood ashes. This is where you came to sit a while and find out the latest news, "the talk of the town."
When you came in to town you had to find somewhere to hitch your horse. There were usually hitching posts by the side or behind every store. If you came in a wagon or buggy, you might unhitch their pulling harness and tie their halter rope to the wagon or buggy. An older, well trained (broke) horse needed very little to tie him, but a young horse needed a rope he could not break or you walked home. A well trained horse would take you home even if it was too dark for you to see, just as long as you could stay in the buggy or in the saddle!
I had no money to spend or reason to go into the hotel or the hotel bar, but was told that the hotel bar was modern for the time, with barrels or kegs of whiskey and beer behind the bar with spigots (faucets) in them. At that time you could get a big slice of cheese or a slice of bologna with some salt crackers for a dime, but for a meal you sat down at the table at meal time. As for the social life: I do remember Rev. Evan Allen and his family visiting us several times for Sunday dinner. The highlight of one afternoon was when Rev. Allen and Dad cut a bee tree up in the woods. Both families made an audience of about 10 or 12 while the men sawed the tree down and with canvas tied over their heads, sawed a big hole in the tree and took a big washing tub full of honey. This was enough to last both families quite a while.
Big Spring had changed dramatically since my grandmother's time (1880) to 1920. I am the proud possessor of my grandmother's and aunt Mag Hardaway's invitation to a dance in 1884. It is a fancy printed card, or folder with:
A GRAND HOP
will be given at
THE CONCERT HALL
at Big Spring, Ky., Feb 7-8, 1884,
On which occasions the pleasure of your company is respectfully solicited.
Managers - Gentlemen: C. C. Smith, J. K. Bramlette, J. M. Osborne
Ladies: Mrs. Sallie Jones, Mrs. Ada Meador, Mrs. J. M. Osborne.
Open each evening at 7 O'Clock
Music by Bodenstodt's Band
A tornado had gone through Big Spring in 1880 and tore the Methodist Church down. A quite impressive church was built back in 1884, and my grand parents (Charles Scott and Laddie Hardaway) were married in the new church in 1885. I have a copy of a picture, loaned to me by the Hume Jones family, of the "New Methodist Church" with a group of 18 men beside it, assembled there for a conference. The only ones identified were Hume Jones and my Uncle Jess Hardaway. A note with the picture stated that: The church once had a membership of 230 and at that time Big Spring was a larger community than Elizabethtown.
By 1920, the old hotel across the street from Carter's store was in ruins and the other hotel was used very little. The Methodist Church had only a small congregation.
In 1984, a "modest" new Methodist Church was built. The old one had not been kept up and would cost more to modernize than a new one. The old church was given to a man to remove it, and the site was graded and rocked for a parking lot. Big Spring is now just a small country town with a lot of memories.
Walter C. Scott
Stith Valley was my world until I went "far away" for my last two years of high school at Brandenburg in 1926 and 1927. Most of our neighbors were "kinfolks" and all made their entire living from the small farms they owned. We all had telephones and were connected to exchanges at Flaherty and Garret. This was a community owned and operated system and news went from one end of the valley to the other when it happened. Naturally there were problems with the system but the old crank operated phones did very well. You did have to ask the others to hang up once in a while, so you could hear the one you were talking to. If you were not at home, someone would always take the message and relay it to you later. We had daily mail service and "Mr. Cundiff" came, by horse and buggy or horse-back, rain or shine, hot or cold. We kids went to Hall School, one mile east on the Big Spring and Hog Wallow road, and our family went to the Methodist Church at Big Spring. I believe the other kids in the valley all went to Shumate School, on the hill between Stith Valley and Shumate valley. Other families in our valley went either to Bewleyville Methodist church or to Hill Grove Baptist Church.
I grew up during the age of steam and we went to Guston to "catch" the train for traveling (even to Brandenburg). Farm produce, such as eggs, cream or grain, and all livestock was shipped by rail or boat. Large animals were driven to the railroad or river for loading. I was told that Hog Wallow got its name from its fine "hog wallow" for hogs to cool off on the way to the river. Payton Shumate owned a steam engine for operating his saw-mill, grain separator (thresher), and corn shredder. At wheat threshing time the neighbors helped each other haul the wheat to the threshing machine. The dinner (mid-day meal) that the women piled on to the table would astonish cooks of today: two or three kinds of meat, hot biscuits and cornbread, three or four kinds of vegetables, a big saucer of butter, molasses, and probably pie and cake. It seemed more like a celebration than a working. When the corn was cut, and in the shock, it was time for the shredder to come through the valley. With your neighbors help you soon got the corn all hauled to the shredder and the ear corn dropped in the wagon and scooped into the crib; and the stalks cut up and blown into the barn loft. (At that time corn fodder had to be used for animal feed to supplement what little hay we made.)
We owned the first farm on the south side of the valley as you came in from Big Spring or Flaherty. It was the place that Richard Stith and his brother William picked to settle in 1804 when they came to Ky. Richard tracked down the owner and bought the farm in 1811 and Dad and Grandpa Scott bought it from Uncle Jesse Stith's "Estate" in 1911, 100 years later. The next farms going toward Bewleyville were my Grandmothers', Mrs. C. L. Scott, Uncle Winfield Scott, Mr. Roy Payne, Mr. Payton Shumate, and Uncle Charley Hardaway. On the North side of the valley, we started with Mr. Ernest Dowell on the Garrett end of the valley. Then going toward Bewleyville, there was Mr. Fred Prather, Billie Dowell, Uncle Allen Stith, Uncle Tom Williams, Cousin Gill Wright, Uncle Jake Williams, and Mr. Ike Hicks. On around the hill toward Bewleyville in the Shumate valley, there was Uncle Strauther Stith, Grandpa Thomas J. Stith, Wilbur Shumate and Henry Shumate.
The main road through the valley came from Bewleyville to the Gill Wright farm, across the valley by the Jesse Stith farm and on to the Big Spring and Hog Wallow road. ("Gypsies" followed this road from Owensboro to Louisville when I was a boy.) The Big Spring and Guston road came over the hill by my Grandmothers farm, across the valley and by Mr. Ike Hicks spring, where you and your horse could get a drink, over the hill by Wilber Shumate's farm and on to Guston. I believe it was in the 1920's that Uncle Allen Stith got the road, from Bewleyville, through to Garret like it is today and that became the main Stith Valley road. Our road then became only the one and one half mile connection to the Big Spring road.
I believe it was 1923 or 4, that Payton Shumate's boys, Beckham and Herman, moved to Ekron, built a shop between the school and the railroad, and started in the automobile business. That was the first garage I ever saw.
Our farm was a Stith farm for 100 years; now I am looking forward to making it a Scott farm for 100 years. I was born here in 1909 so just sticking around here from 1991 to 2009 should be easy enough!
Walter C. Scott
Jean Walton Marcum asked me to write this for the Meade County History (or something) and I was glad to write it for my own record.
My first memory of my great grandmother Margaret Hardaway was when she lived in her little house beside the spring. The front door opened toward the morning sun and there were grape vines near. When you came in, you could turn right into the living room or go straight upstairs. The stair steps were steep and the one room up there was the bed room. The back door was from the kitchen and the spring was only a few steps away. The spring branch meandered on down the valley and the whole setup faded away into my memory of fairy tales of a cottage beside the sea or some other fairy-like setup. My only other memory of her, was after Grandpa Scott had built a room for her at his house out on the road. As I remember, Grandma Margaret was rather tall and not heavy. She wanted to show me around and I was interested, but remember very little of what I saw. Seeing the same things, years later, helped to bring them back into memory.
For years I wondered what happened to Grandma's house by the spring, but did not ask questions because they might think I was out of my mind. Then I found out that the tenant house over on the back of the farm, by a spring, was her old house. They had prized it up off the foundation, put log rollers under it and pulled it almost one half mile. I don't know how many horses it took to pull it, but it got there.
Grandma Margaret was buried in the Hardaway graveyard. Grandpa Jim Hardaway was buried in the grave yard on top of our hill. (The Jesse Stith or Scott Hill graveyard.) Grandma's sister, Aunt Lucinda Cane Stith and Uncle Jesse Stith were both buried in the Big Spring Methodist Church graveyard. (With the iron fence around them.)
Walter C. Scott
The Garden of Eden has been the symbol of a perfect place to live since time began. Growing up on The Old Jesse Stith Farm as I did, was an experience that shows that quite a bit of the idea is in your state of mind. The old farm, like most of the rest of the county, was worn out as far as farming was concerned. To me, however, it was the Garden of Eden! The remains of Aunt Lucinda Stith's "Garden of Eden" were still here, even though some may say it was a "mess." (No one had looked after it for 20 years.)
No one ever told me how big the Garden of Eden was, but mine would have to include the spring, where we kept our milk, butter and cream and got our water. (The sound of running water always seemed like the spring was talking to me.) The yard had flowers blooming from early spring to late fall and of course the orchard was a massive flower garden in the spring. The two halves of the vegetable garden were divided by a row of purple grapes next to the barn and pink grapes next to the house with a fig bush and several goose-berry bushes in between. A row of wine grapes grew near the fence by the backyard gate, and four old sugar-pear trees lined the front garden fence. Just inside the garden gate was a row of asparagus and a row of rhubarb, and the asparagus was ready to eat in the spring when you planted the rest of the garden. Dad always made a good garden, made our own sorghum molasses, butchered our own meat; Mom canned our vegetables and there was never the least thought of going hungry.
Dad, of course, saw to it that there were enough potatoes, cabbage, parsnips, and carrots buried to last through the winter, but none of this bothered me. I was interested in the surplus that I ate or played with. Never will I forget the time I was watching Dad plow the garden and had plowed up some "nice" garlic in one place. This looked like a good substitute for onions, so I got enough for my sister, Rena Lou, and myself to have a fine mid-morning lunch of garlic and cornbread. No one was watching us then, but for the next 24 hours they saw to it that we stayed far away from them! I always watched the June apple tree back of the meat house; because, just as soon as the apples were big enough to fry, we had fried apples. (For a growing boy, I cannot think of anything to add to a breakfast of sausage, hot biscuits, gravy, and fried apples, but a big glass of fresh milk from our spring.)
We did not grow our own tame strawberries, dewberries, raspberries, or blackberries; but had plenty of the wild ones. Mom would send me out in the field to find enough dewberries for a pie for dinner. It was always fun to find a patch of wild strawberries and gather enough for a strawberry shortcake or maybe enough to make some jam. Everybody went to work when blackberries were ripe. We wanted enough for our winter supply of canned berries as well as jam and jelly.
There were a few remaining trees from about a three acre orchard and it was fun to try to knock an especially pretty apple out of the top of the tree with another apple. (Many farms had planted orchards to sell apples to the Ekron Distillery for making apple brandy, but they had quit making brandy.) Of course there were peaches, plums and pears. The little Gennitan apple was the latest to get ripe and I will always remember getting apples out of the grass, under it, to eat or bait my rabbit snare, long after the first frost.
The big Mulberry tree near the chicken house was usually full of berries, but the birds usually got the most of them. A Humming bird usually made a nest in the old pear tree by the meat house. Nothing ever bothered it because it was so fast. I think, even the cat was afraid of it. I can think of nothing more fascinating than watching a humming bird dart from flower to flower; flying backward, forward, up, or down, and going so fast, it was hard to keep it in sight. We had more different kinds of birds than I have seen anywhere since then, and I learned the names of the most of them. The "night-time" birds were the ones I missed the most after leaving home: the Whip-poor-will, the Screech-Owl, and the Hoot-owl.
To my Dad and Mom, this was no Garden of Eden, but they managed to raise seven children here. All seven went to High School, five graduated from college. We were not poor people, we just did not have any money! A few people had a little money, but the rest of us got along without it!
Walter C. Scott
Sent to The Messenger, January 1991
The old Jesse Stith farm was pretty well worn out, when I grew up there (1909 to 1927). It had been rented for years; no cover crop was sowed and no fertilizer used. In that day and time, that was the normal practice. The slopes were eroded and gullied and many times only the basins or flat land was plowed and planted to corn. Mowing machines were only a new invention and few people owned them. The corn was cut and shocked and the corn stalks were fed for hay. In this situation nature restored the land by growing weeds, briars and bushes. To a bare-foot boy it seemed that nature favored the briars! Wild roses had briars, black berries and dew berries had briars, but one vine that seemed to grow everywhere was called saw briar. You soon learned not to drag your foot along a saw briar. Broom-sedge was a very common ground-cover, but poorer ground would have poverty grass or nothing. The richer bottom land would grow horse weeds 6 to 10 feet high and that might be mixed with blackberries, pokeberries and such a wilderness of growth that you might not be able to get through it.
Sassafras and persimmon bushes were everywhere except on the very poor ground. They got to be trees if you did not cut them once in a while and plant a crop. Of course when you cut the bushes, you seldom got all the roots out so they grew back from the roots the year after you grew a crop there. A common practice was to sow a little Red Top grass in February or March on last years corn field and cut bushes on another field and plow for corn. In this situation you had a rotation of corn, a little Red Top with mostly ; weeds, broom sedge, blackberries, dewberries, pokeberries and bushes of all kinds. If the field was fenced, you pastured your cows and sheep on it when it was not in corn. Before the age of tractors, 8 out of 10 small farmers raised sheep. Few raised more than one litter of pigs a year.
The very best acre or two was set in tobacco and it was the cash crop. Sheep gave you a cash income from wool in the spring and from the lambs in the fall. No one thought of butchering one for himself. The old sow raised one litter of pigs in the spring and that was the supply of meat for the year. Of course,if she saved a big litter of pigs and you had plenty of corn, you might sell a few hogs. In fact, the old sow could raise two litters of pigs a year, if you had that much corn. Every one owned a milk cow for his own supply of milk and butter. Many farmers owned several milk cows, sold cream or butter, and fed the skimmed milk to the hogs or chickens. The calf from the milk cow was sold as a veal. Every farmer raised chickens for his own supply of eggs and chicken, and the surplus was sold. This was the weekly cash income for groceries he could not raise on the farm. All the groceries he needed were; lye for soap making, flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, coffee, sugar and a gallon of kerosene once in a while for his lamp. If it came to it, all he really needed was the salt. (I believe salt was about $1.00 to $1.50 per 100 lbs.) Salt was needed for cooking of course, but the stock all had to have it and it was used to cure the meat and keep it during the summer.
There was usually a grocery within walking distance of everyone. A spare room 8 by 10 feet square with shelves on the side, a kerosene barrel and enough money to buy a few extra groceries and you could be in business. This age soon passed into the next and was history.
Walter C. Scott
P.S. After the First World War, times started changing faster, and after the Second World War, it changed even faster. In 1953 we bought a used hay bailer (Allis Chalmer roll type) and in 1971, sold it and bought a square baler with a bale-thrower. In 1989 the square baler was parked and a hired bailer rolled my hay up in 1200 lb. bales that I put in the barn with the tractor. Too much of a hassle to find labor to unload the wagons and I did not have to feed but about three times a week either. In 1925, science fiction could not predict any such things happening and that the small farmer would be practically extinct by now.
Dad wanted to build a good big barn to replace the old log barn and build three new rooms on the back of our old log house to replace the ones that were there but were not really worth repairing. The winter before I was eight years old he cut enough logs in our woods and drug them to the east side of our spring branch. There was a big yellow poplar tree in Mr. Charley Craycroft's woods that he wanted so he paid $5.00 for it. (Dad later bought that part of the woods from Mr. Craycroft.) Our 6 ft. saw was not long enough to saw the tree down so he borrowed an 8 ft. saw from some body. I remember the time they had getting the first 8 ft log to the log pile. They made a heavy sled, got the front end of the log on that, hooked 4 horses to it and finally got it there. There is no way I could verify the figure but I think they said the tree made 3500 board ft. of lumber. Dad wanted some of the poplar lumber for weather boarding for the house and inside trim. The lumber is about as easily worked as pine and much more durable, while oak is durable but after it is seasoned you can hardly drive a nail in it.
Dad got Mr. Payton Shumate to bring his steam engine and saw mill over and set the mill by the spring branch where he could pump water from a small pond he made in the spring branch. The waste (slabs) from the logs made plenty of wood for the fire in the engine. It took 2 or 3 men to carry the slabs to the wood pile and carry the planks away. The planks were stacked in square piles with narrow strips of wood between each layer and each length planks in separate piles. The eight ft. plank pile got to be 6 or 8 feet tall. It was fun to watch the log carriage take the log to the saw and the saw dust fly as the saw made its way through. The operator would make the log come back real fast, pull the "set" lever once for a one inch plank or twice for a 2 inch one, and bring the log back to the saw at a speed the saw could take. Small portable saw mills today have practically the same set-up, but made to last longer and use less labor. The diesel motor, however, uses fuel that you have to buy. The whole set-up costs a mint of money; and with very little labor needed, you still have very expensive lumber.
I was very much interested in the whole operation. The hand operated pump that pumped the water to the engine, had a long handle that stuck up about shoulder high. You pulled it back and fourth and it pumped water going both ways; just like the small fuel pumps you see today on fuel tanks in trucks that service tractors in the field. Hooking up the long belt from the steam engine to the saw mill took some doing, some time. Those two pulleys had to be lined up just right or the belt would not stay on. Every thing usually worked just find, and the "off bearers," as we called the ones who took the slabs or lumber away from the saw, got pretty tired before anyone called " time out ." Once in a great while you would see every one running to get something done and things calmed down only when the operator got back to the engine and shut the steam valve. The little belt had come off of the governor and the engine was running wild! Every one would laugh after the confusion was over, take a short "breather" and go back to work. It took quite a bit of time to keep the fire going in the engine and the saw dust scooped away from the saw pit, but labor was plentiful. One thing we all enjoyed was to hear the steam whistle blow for dinner and quitting time. It did not take so many days to get the logs all sawed up and there was the lumber ready for the builders.
This age lasted such a short time but a lot of building got done.
Walter C. Scott
The reason I can remember those lumber piles so well was the fun I had getting on top of all of them. I would place a plank up to the first lumber pile and from there to the next. My pet lamb followed me everywhere I went and it had a big time getting up on the lumber piles. I did have to carry it off the high, 8 ft. pile. It went up O.K. but I suppose it thought it was too steep to go back down.
To write a history of how we changed from the way we lived before the First World War to the present would require a lot of research. One community would change a year or two before or after another and exactly the year it changed could be disputed from now on. I did write down, from memory, a simple history of some of the changes made in farming from the age of man power and horse power to steam power and on in to the present. It was written to jog my own memory and as a reminder to my children of what a short time ago the family cut a small plot of wheat with a cradle to make its own wheat bread. I saw my Dad cut some oats for my Uncle John Witt one time and he sure knew how it was done.
I always liked to go to the mill at Flaherty. You took your wheat there and the mill processed it: kept its share for the work and you got your share of flour and bran and shorts when you wanted it. It has been really sad in many ways to see the small businesses, the one room school and now the small farm go. It seems such a long time since you heard the dinner bell ring when you were plowing out in the field. The horses knew what was going on and really got going for the house, while only a few minutes before they could hardly move. Now you may just grab a sandwich and keep the tractor going. The dinner bell is useless!
Walter C. Scott
Horses had been used for farm power and transportation for hundreds of years before my time (1909). Steam power had been developed slowly over only about the last 100 years. Only in about the past ten or fifteen years had anyone made a steam engine that would travel over country roads from one farm to the other and you could walk faster than they would go.
In the 1920's Model-T Fords became numerous enough to really make a showing in the way people traveled. By 1930 we had Model-A Fords and many others, with trucks competing with the rail roads for short hauls.
However, in 1936 I drove my team of horses to a wagon from Lexington to Scott Hill Farm without encountering very much traffic. I camped on the road two nights. There was no Highway Patrol at that time that I remember. Highway #60 was blacktopped all the way at that time. My horses made it all the way with no shoes on but their feet were a little sore for a few days. That silt soil in the Blue Grass Region had DRIED UP but this clay soil here in Meade county was still growing grass even if it was dry! The Blue Grass Region had very few tractors before the Second World War (the mid 1940's). Meade County's International tractor dealer, Henry Allen, pushed the sale of tractors and one out of ten farmers had one before the war. Meade County had started the Meade County RECC and gone on into other counties before the war.
All civilian manufacturing stopped during the war but when it was over (Sept. 1945) factories started making farm equipment again. (It took a while for everybody to get back home and get civilian life going again.) With tractor power, machines that were never heard of before were possible, and factories started turning them out. When a farmer bought a tractor, he needed the machines to go with it (a tractor outfit). The old horse-drawn equipment stayed around for a while but the horses had to go because you had to feed them. The price of horses went to almost nothing for a while.
During the 1950's and 1960's, machinery dealers and farm agencies would put on "shows" to show farmers the new equipment they had and what it would do. Farming changed too fast for most people to keep up with it until the early 1980's when many farmers found themselves too deep in debt to go on.
As I remember it, the binder replaced the cradle 1910 to 1920, the combine replaced the binder in the 1930's, the pick-up baler started in the late 1930's, but had to wait until after the war to become readily available. In the 1950's and 1960's the wagon gravity bed, dump truck, and elevator and auger replaced the scoop. At this time (1990) I doubt if you could buy a new self propelled corn picker. Almost every one has gone to the grain combine and shelled corn instead of ear corn. Some farmers are still using the old ones. In the 1960's, chemicals replaced the row-crop cultivator and present day young people have probably not even heard of them. After the war my brother Bill told me they had a few chain saws in France to use on those hedge rows, but they were almost a secret weapon. (I had never heard of them before.) It was in the late 1950's before they were easily available and then they were almost too high to buy. It certainly replaced the two man cross cut saw. In 1953, we bought a belt driven circle saw that fit on the front of our Case tractor to saw up our fire wood. This helped bridge the gap to the chain saw, but of course it would not saw a tree down.
I bought my first rotary mower (commonly called the bush hog) in 1969 but they had been on the market for at least 5 years. They certainly replaced the grubbing hoe. However, with the continuous power "PTO" on the Case tractor I bought in 1952 I was mowing bushes I could not mow before. The rotary mower chopped up the bushes or briars as it mowed them while the mowing machine only mowed them and left them there.
The old grind stone that set out in our back yard was one thing I thought I had forgotten. (I wanted to forget it anyway). When I was barely big enough for the job, I turned the grindstone for Dad to sharpen his double bit axe or the mowing scythe. It seemed like it would take hours of turning to sharpen an axe, but when he was through,the axe was really sharp. This was serious business; when he hit a piece of green wood, that axe was supposed to go 2 or 3 inches into the wood. Working with a dull axe was wasting time. The long handled mowing scythe soon got the yard or fence rows mowed if it was sharp and you had the energy to use it. The common grindstone was a sandstone wheel set between the two railings of a sawhorse type bench, with a handle on one side to turn the wheel. The one doing the sharpening, sat on the end of the bench facing the wheel and got the job done. In order for the wheel to keep grinding its best, it needed water to keep it from getting slick. Dad always had a cup of water handy to keep the grindstone wet. I have seen fancy grindstones at blacksmith shops with foot treadles to turn the wheel and a small vat under the wheel for water to keep the wheel wet. The great advantage of the grindstone was that you could grind the implement to a very smooth, sharp edge and stop. With the new emery wheel you ground the implement to a very rough edge, very fast, and ground the edge off before you could stop. You can well imagine that a grindstone would last a lifetime. The grindstone seems to have been just like yesterday, I woke up today and it was gone. I have no idea where it went.
"Tie-hack" was the term sometimes used for men who made railroad cross-ties with an axe and broad axe. It was more or less a winter time job and men who were skilled at it could make as much as $4.00 or $5.00 a day. Other jobs might pay fifty cents or $1.00 if you could find one. In my day, the standard pay for making a cross-tie was twenty five cents. I think you could get them hauled to the railroad for twenty five cents, and the price paid was about $1.50.
To watch a man hew a Railroad Cross-tie today would really be a show. The log is first sawed to the right length. He then quickly checks the width of the log with his ruler. Next, he takes his axe and scores the log on one side, about every fifteen inches, to about the depth he wants to hew. (He stands on top of the log to do this, and each stroke of the axe can go from one inch to three inches deep as needed). A right handed man will stand on the left side of the log, take a 10 to 15 inch broad axe and hew (slice) the side of that log off pretty fast. Each stroke of the axe is right where he wants it to be and it seldom takes more than three strokes to get to the bottom of the log. He backs a step and the front of the broad axe hits right in the back of the last groove. Before you could realize it, he is at the other end of the log, the slab is off and the log has a flat side, almost as smooth and straight as a saw-mill could have done it. He repeats this on the opposite side. If the log is not too big he does not have to hew the other two sides.
One thing you might not notice if you never tried to use an axe. You never chop straight in to a piece of wood, unless you are making a notch or getting a chip out. (To say the least, you won't get very far chopping straight into the wood). You never risk chopping into the ground or anything that might dull your axe. When the cross-tie maker is hewing the log and chopping toward the ground, he always has a piece of wood under it where he might hit the ground. The job of "Tie-Hack" faded away just like yesterday.
Walter C. Scott
Published in The Messenger, January 1991.
My job was to take old Beck up where the ties were made, hook her to a tie and lead her to the bottom of the hill and out where they could be loaded on a wagon or truck and hauled to the railroad. After I had led her down two or three times, all I had to do was hook her to a tie and follow her down to unhook her and lead her back to the next tie and hook her up again. We had 60 or 70 acres of woods and this was a source of income when needed.
The early settlers of Meade County were all looking for a spring to furnish their water, before deciding where to build their house. When there was no spring they had to get by with digging a well or cistern.
Each spring was a little different but of course the water was all the same temperature (about 50 degrees). The least you could do when it was to be your source of water was to build a log pen or fence around it, so your livestock or wild animals could not mess it up. (They must have water also but the water on down the spring branch would do them just as well.) Practically everyone had a milk cow and kept their milk jars setting in the cool spring water to keep the milk from getting sour. The least you could do here was to make a wooden trough with a top on it so your milk and butter jars could set in the water and still be protected from your own cats and dogs and wild animals. They all liked milk and butter too. When refrigerators came along they cooled milk too slow for best results, but the old spring made Grade A milk.
The first thing you did each morning was to build a fire in the cook stove, of course. but the next thing you did was go to the spring for fresh water and milk and butter. In the winter time, the long handled dipper was often frozen in the ice on top of the drinking water bucket. In this case, you often waited for the fresh water from the spring instead of drinking ice-water. Since fresh spring water was about 50 degree, everyone wanted "fresh" water, in winter or summer.
Any job like clothes washing or butchering that needed a lot of water was often done near the spring. The old iron kettle that held 10 to 20 gallons was always in use. A fire was built under the kettle to heat water for washing, and the dirtiest of the clothes put in the boiling water with the home-made lye soap to insure their getting clean.
In the winter time you went to the spring for warm water to take to the chickens, and the live-stock could go to the spring branch. If there was no spring you had to cut holes in the pond ice for the live-stock to get their water and heat water for the chickens. After a snow storm in the winter it was always interesting to watch the wild birds go to the spring branch for water.
In the summer time the spring was the nearest thing to air conditioning that was available. When you were taking a break from work, hot and sweaty, you went to the spring, got a drink of cool water, dashed some cool water on your face and sat down to enjoy the relatively cool air from the spring. You cooled your water melons at the spring and that was a handy place to have a water melon party.
You learned what to expect from your spring when there was a heavy rain. In the summer time a two inch rain might not affect it much but in the spring when the earth was already soaked, a two or three inch rain would make such a gusher of our spring that it would ruin anything left in it. The hogs and chickens got what was salvaged from the spring and you waited until the spring calmed down to put the milk and butter back.
Our spring never had a house over it, but I was told that Uncle Jesse Stith built a spring house in the yard and piped the water to it in a home-made wooden pipe. In Stith Valley, my Grandmother Scott had a spring house, and so did Uncle Jake Williams, Cousin Gill Wright, and Uncle Tom Williams. I still admire the old stone spring House just west of Flaherty on #1600. It was built over a "Basin Spring", where the water just runs through the bottom of a basin.
My neighbor, Earl Wright, built a concrete house over his spring just a few years before he died. The old wooden house was in need of repair and the spring no longer used, except for the live-stock. He told me he wanted to do something for the old spring to show his appreciation for what it had done for him. The present owner of the spring, Dale Stith, told me that he had never realized it was such a pleasure to have plenty of spring water for his cattle in the winter time and not have to cut ice on the pond every day.
I will always remember being out by the spring branch one morning in January just after about a 4 inch snow. The earth was a solid white except for the spring branch where the warm water made just a little steam and murmured just a little when it ran over rocks in some places. Out of the blue sky came a Kildeer and landed in the spring branch. Up the branch he went picking up a water bug once in a while and calling "Killdee," "Killdee" at the top of his voice. You would have thought he had found "Paradise" and was trying to tell the world about it.
Walter C. Scott
We recently built a house and block retaining wall for our spring and are real proud of it. It makes a much better place for the cows to drink and I don't have to cut ice.
The old pecan tree blew down on the evening of Thursday, August 29, 1991. We were in the midst of a long dry spell and you dared not strike a match to the pasture field for fear of it burning. It was cloudy but no rain had showed up all day. Then about 4 o'clock it started sprinkling, then a little harder, then it thundered a little about a mile away. It rained a little harder and the lightning and thunder was all around, with mostly "cloud-to-cloud" lightning that rolled and rolled. Then it started mixing a little hail with the rain and business picked up. The wind had been blowing from the west at about 15 miles per hour and the rain coming in sheets, then all of a sudden it reversed and came from the east at about 50 miles per hour. This was more than the old tree could take because the roots on that side had rotted. The lawn chairs almost got to the tobacco barn. "Nettie" got turned over, two hog houses ended up in the spring branch, and two barn shed doors blew down. (They were not nailed up very good). We got two and one half inches of rain in less than an hour and Hager and Edelin, one mile east, said they only got 4 tenths. Delean and I got the pruning shears and the axe and got the pecan tree limbs pruned off clear of the road blacktop in about thirty minutes. So ended the old Pecan tree!
It all started about March 1914. Mom and Dad had decided to move back to Kentucky from Alma, Arkansas. Dad went by Uncle Will Scott's place at Shanee, Oklahoma and saved some Oklahoma pecans from his coat pocket full, to plant in the rail fence row on the east side of the old log-barn lot. Three of them came up and this one finally made it to the ripe old age of 77. Its limbs spanned about 90 feet (87 ft. in 1989) and it was about three feet in diameter at the base. (10 ft. 2 in. in circumference.)
Walter C. Scott
Published in The Messenger, September 17, 1991.
The owner of a new house, who is not experienced in growing grass or gardening, should see his county Agricultural Agent and get instructions for starting a new lawn. Then he is on his own!
You are supposed to get a soil test and you don't get around to that. Well, for your information, in Meade County you are pretty safe in saying that practically nothing is there. Put your fertilizer and lime on and mix it well with the soil, because the seed can't sprout if it comes in contact with the pure fertilizer. After you sow the seed, a thin covering of straw will help hold moisture for the seed to get started, but with good luck or a little more sprinkling you usually get by.
Some people never seem to have any trouble with a lawn after they get it started. They just "live and let live" with it! Set the lawn mower to cut one and one half to three inches high and never cut the grass during a drought. Every few years they apply some complete fertilizer if it seems to need it.
Others seem to always have trouble with their lawn. You would have trouble finding a golf ball in a good lawn. If you want to have a golf course you will have trouble with your lawn grass. A golf course must have a full time worker who watches the grass, retests the soil and reseeds, re-fertilizes, or turns on the sprinkler if needed. The greens may have special grasses that can take short mowing.
I will always remember the serenity and troubles of the two lawns I watched for several years in Lexington. This retired engineer owned a house and small yard and had a perfect lawn of blue grass that never seemed to need attention. The grass may have been a bit taller than some but you never noticed because it always looked so well kept.
His neighbor, an energetic widow, was always working with her yard. Lawn mowers then, were the reel type, and she kept her lawn mowed short. The hedge around her yard was always trimmed to perfection. Everything was always in order except that the third year after she sodded the yard, she had almost a perfect stand of crabgrass instead of Blue Grass and her lawn was dead that winter. The next spring she always resodded her yard and hoped the dry weather in August would not kill her new Blue Grass.
This was in the heart of the Blue Grass Region, where there was so much natural Phosphate in the soil that Blue Grass was a "Noxious Weed" for tobacco and corn farmers. They had to equip their turning plows with a "Skimmer" (miniature turning plow) that folded the sod over on itself so that no grass would show after it was turned over. If any grass was showing it would keep on growing and they did not have time to take a sod scalping lawn mower to kill it!
Walter C. Scott
Our pioneer farmer ancestors had many skills and practices that were useful as well as amusing to them as well as others. When they gathered together for recreation, a contest of some kind was always in order.
During the early 1900's when I grew up, it was common practice for farmers to call their livestock to the barn to get their share of the feed. We had more of a subsistence type of farming then; the land was poor, feed was scarce, and each type of animal knew when you called them. The chickens paid no attention when you called the cows or the sheep paid no attention when you called the hogs. They knew you had feed for them, if you called. (It was a common joke for someone to say that someone else was such a liar that he had to get one of his neighbors to call his hogs.)
You knew very well when Cousin Gill Wright got up of a morning. The first thing he did was feed his hogs, while Cousin Lilly got breakfast, and you could hear him call them for miles. The amusing thing was that some of the other neighbors managed to get their hogs to the feed trough without that much noise. As to whether the other neighbor could not call that loud or did not want to, was a subject for much conversation.
Almost everyone had a "dinner-bell" and the morning work stopped when that rang. In Stith Valley, Mrs Roy Payne's bell rang at 11:30, Aunt Salley Williams' and Aunt Lena Stith's, bell rang at about 12:00 and Grandma Scott's bell rang at about 12:15 to 12:30. We did not have a bell so we could take our pick as to whose bell to go by. If none of the bells rang and the sun was shining, it was dinner time if you could step on the shadow of your head. (in the summer time) Few farmers carried a pocket watch and even if they did, the bell told them when the cook had dinner ready. If all else failed, you knew very well when you got real hungry.
The fox hound was trained to come to the sound of a "fox-horn." This was a big cow horn that had the inside taken out and the small end cut off so you could blow through it. Each horn sounded a little different and it could be heard for miles and miles. This was a tricky thing to get sound out of, and the amateur could probably make more noise sneezing!
At the old-time county fairs when there was a Hog-calling contest there was usually a Husband calling contest. A man with a deep bass voice did not have a chance with the tenor voice, but it was always interesting to find out how much noise they could make. The woman with the high soprano voice had a big advantage over the others but here again you never knew what would happen. The prize for the winner never amounted to much but it was sure a lot of fun.
With present day farming, nobody calls anything and you could not hear them if they did. Few farmers have hogs now and they are fed with self feeders. Many young people now do not realize that those hogs had to be taught to come to the feed trough when you called them. (I think the husbands had to be taught also.)
Walter C. Scott
Published in The Messenger, August 1991.
When I got here, not quite 100 years ago, the pioneers had been here in Ky. about 100 years. We had steam engines for passenger trains and freight trains; and steam engines for factory and farm work. We had electric "Street Cars" for traveling all over town and between towns that were not far apart. (You could travel all over Lexington for ten cents.) We had Telegraph for long distance messages and telephones for short distances. We needed better schools and more qualified teachers, better roads, and learn how to build up the fertility of our farms. (For 100 years we had used only what we had to start with.) There was plenty to do right here, if you knew how and were willing to work.
High Schools were just getting plentiful enough that you could go from home every day in some locations. The last two years I had to stay at Brandenburg to finish High School and there were 13 in my graduating class.
Deciding what you want to do or what you want to be, saves a lot of time for young people, and it was easy for me. We had just got a County Agent and he was showing and telling farmers how to build up their old poor farms. Now that looked like a good job for me, and all I had to do was get a college degree in Agriculture. For the Degree, I had to get a job at Lexington, make my living and go to school for four years. I got a job delivering newspapers from 4:30 to 6:30 A.M. and made the same money I made back in Meade County teaching school -- $60.00 per month. That was enough to pay the bills and go to school! (Now, $600. per month is not even considered an income.) (Now, many people are trying to make more than they can spend, but you just can't do that.) This seems to be a secret, but you can get along very well now without a large part of the things that people go in debt for. It is actually more fun to wait and buy them one at a time and pay for them.
In the 60 years since I got my B.S. Degree in Agriculture, there have been so many changes that it does not seem to be the same world. A boy or girl today has to go to school a long time and study hard to find out where we are, today, in the profession they choose to work in. Even an assembly-line worker needs a basic education that was unheard of 60 years ago. A farmer has to produce so much now to make a living that farming is out of the question for most people. It is big business now.
One thing for sure, our country never has too many young men and women who are good workers, can read or write instructions for doing a job, show an interest in getting the work done and learning something about it. Sooner or later, the young generation must take over the work as the older workers leave it.
It is interesting to study the history of changing times. We think of our fore-fathers, the pioneers, as having to work hard to make a living, but in many ways they had it easier, even if they had to do more manual labor. They did not live as long! Their grave-yards attest to the fact that they lost too many babies during their "second summer." Our knowledge of medicine for both young and old had a long way to go. In solving their problems we came to the present with our problems.
With our increase in medical knowledge and technology we have come up with big increases in population and a decrease in the need for labor. Purely manual labor can hardly support itself any more, and jobs are hard to find. The increase in population and scarcity of jobs has caused increases in crime and the use of drugs.
With our big increase in population, we are running out of space. We are moving out in space but we have not found a way to get there economically. "For seven years Americans have been arguing about their space station; for five years the Soviets have been flying theirs. Private companies are renting space in the Soviet Space Station for experiments to improve their products. Other nations are trying to rent a ride into space for their satellites. The greatest opportunities for the future definitely will be related to space, but we will have to find an affordable way to get there and also how to live when we get there. We need to go on and do what we can to get into space instead of waiting until other nations get there and then trying to catch them. We must not forget that every one is playing for "KEEPS."
We do have our Space Shuttle and are doing very well with it, but we tend to only do something spectacular and leave off the steady work of learning an affordable way to get there, live there and pay the bills. Public opposition to automobiles did not amount to much. It was the roads you had to have for them that caused the problems, but no one is against them now. The public thought aircraft was only for fools and daredevils, but that is our choice of travel now. They do not complain even about the cost of Airports. For most people, however, this space deal is "too much."
There was no way you could stop automobiles from taking over, and Airplanes were next. Television took over like any other bad habit. We are using space and need space but, at present, the high cost of getting there has the politicians afraid to appropriate money for lack of support from the public. We are going into space either in front or behind the other nations, and I think we would all much rather be in front.
Walter C. Scott
Published in The Messenger, October 2, 1991.
One of the most difficult things every one has to learn is that for your entire life you must "keep fighting" and adjusting if you hope to survive. No matter who you are or what your position, you must keep fighting for whatever it is you desire to achieve.
If someone is not aware of this contest and expects otherwise, then constant disappointment occurs. People who fail sometimes do not realize that the simple answer to everyday achievement is to keep fighting.
Health, happiness and success depend upon the fighting spirit of each person. The big thing is not what happens to us in life -- but what we do about what happens to us.
By George H. Allen (Written when he was chairman of the president's council on physical fitness and sports.)
Copied from an article in the December 1991
Readers Digest by Walter C. Scott.
Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Shirley Brown, Medical Researchers, with research Psychologists Larry Scherwitz and Jim Billings, have completed a Lifestyle Heart Trial study to find if this could in any way prevent, replace or supplement heart surgery. Dr Ornish, as a student at Baylor College of Medicine, had studied heart bypass surgery and had experienced patients coming back five years after surgery and having a bypass of the bypass. It seemed to him like mopping up the kitchen floor after the sink ran over and not turning off the faucet that caused it.
For their study, they recruited heart patients from the University of California at San Francisco Medical School and Pacific Presbyterian Medical Center who had just undergone coronary angiography-(X-ray studies that show the precise extent of heart disease.) To guard against bias, a statistician would randomly assign patients either to the group that received the experimental treatment or to a comparison group that followed their own doctor's recommendation for diet and lifestyle changes. Twenty-eight were assigned to the experimental group and another 20 to the comparison group.
For the experimental group the ground rules were simple. Anyone who smoked would stop. Everyone would eat a low-fat vegetarian diet -- no meats, poultry or fish.
While there would be no caloric limitations, cholesterol intake would be limited to 5 milligrams a day, and calories from fat would be held to ten percent of the diet. Caffeine, cheese and egg yolks were banned. To be included in the diet: fruits, vegetables, egg whites, grains, legumes, pasta, skim milk, non-fat yogurt and herbal teas. Moderate amounts of alcohol and sugar were allowed; salt was restricted only for those with hypertension.
They were to walk a half hour a day or an hour three times a week. Ornish was convinced that psychological factors play a major role in heart disease, so he included mental relaxation and stress-management techniques in the group. After week-long training sessions, the test subjects returned home, agreeing to meet twice a week. All kept a record of the food they ate and of their exercise and anti-stress routines.
Six people in Ornish's group did not finish the test. Of the remaining 22, 18 (82%) showed reversal of their coronary-artery blockage after one year. Three showed no significant change and one actually got worse. (He just did not follow the program).
In the comparison group, one dropped out, and ten developed measurably worse heart disease, while three showed no significant change. On average the arteries of the patients in the comparison group closed an additional eight percent. Six people in the comparison group did show measurable reversal of their heart disease. They made Life-style changes on their own! They exercised more and cut their fat and cholesterol intake! The study showed that even in advanced stages that heart disease can be reversed with life-style changes.
Ornish contends that diet and other life-style changes, not cholesterol-lowering drugs, should be the first step for people with high cholesterol levels. As important as he found diet to be, Ornish says his study only reinforced his view that heart disease is far more complex than we realize. He points out that traditional risk factors explain only about 50 percent of heart disease. Clearly, something else is going on. And a big part of that "something else", he believes might be stress.
Behaviors, such as impatience and a tendency to do two or three things at once, do not appear to be linked to heart disease, but others are. Research at Duke University concludes that behaviors most toxic to the heart are self-involvement, hostility and cynicism.
You can't remove stress from your life but you can diminish its effect by improving the way you react to it. Yoga, including a relaxing program of stretching and breathing exercises along with meditation became a key part of the stress-management program. He defines meditation as a focusing of the mind for a time on a sound, a word, a prayer -- a way of quieting the mind and body and experiencing inner peace. Many studies have shown that meditation lowers blood pressure.
In Ornish's Life Style Heart Trial, stress-management took about an hour a day. Almost all patients reported a big improvement in their stress tolerance.
One patient, 76 years old, could not shave himself without having angina pain and was taking two dozen cardiac pills a day. After the program he was down to one baby aspirin every other day and could hike four to six hours at a time. Another patient says that while his heart has shown remarkable improvement, the biggest change is in his head. If he was told he had no heart problem he would still follow the program because it has given him a much richer life. There was one casualty in the program. He was an athlete and his cholesterol level dropped from 294 to 121 after about 10 months into the program. He was told not to compete in athletics during the program, but got into a video-rowing exercise game at a local gym. He finished 150 boat-lengths ahead, after an hour of rowing, but died moments later of a heart attack. He did not know when to slow down or quit!
This study shows that the worst heart disease can be treated without surgery. Our cholesterol level is not the whole cause of our heart troubles. By understanding our health problems we should be much better able to solve them. Dr. Ornish's program is a rather drastic change in life-style and there are many who would not change for the difference but they have a choice. To prevent cholesterol buildup would not require nearly as great a change in diet. The anti-stress routine might be a good thing for anyone.
Information for this came from the Feb. 1991 Reader's Digest page 23, Good News About Your Heart, written by John Pekkanen.
We need to learn early in life how to manage "stress:" how to get over that "jumpiness" or "tied up" feeling we have when we have big problems. It would be worth a trip to a psychologist if we could not work out something ourselves. Plenty of exercise, something to divert our mind, usually takes care of our problems, but we need to fight the problems and not let them take over.
Walter C. Scott
Robert Schmidt, a neuropathologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has discovered that aging, as well as diabetes, can cause swelling and malfunctioning of the nerves of the autonomic nervous system. He was searching for the cause of intestinal disorders in rats with diabetes and suspected nerve damage caused by diabetes. He was checking two nerve cell clusters, located just off the central part of the spine, that sends signals to organs in the abdomen. In checking others he found that aging rats had some of the same problems. He has since that time found the same damage in human nerves.
The autonomic nervous system controls basic bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, and the movement of food through the intestinal tract. The damage is in the nerve-endings or the "relay stations" sending instructions for basic bodily Functions. (The relays most easily affected seemed to be the ones for controlling blood pressure and the ones controlling digestion. This was my assumption from the report of his work.)
As to whether the passing of time caused the aging or misuse of the body or stress of some kind caused the aging would be a matter to be checked. Schmidt has found the problem and we now have to figure what we can do about it!
This information was gleaned from a report by Susan Chollar that appeared in the Feb. 1991 issue of Discover page 36.
As an experiment for my own information, I tried rolling on the floor, on my back, from one side to the other. I arched my back to keep my back bones from crunching as I went over, and found that I was improving my "posture" as well as having more of a feeling of "well being." Without the arch in my back there was no way I could "stand up straight "without almost going over backward. (At least I found out how to stand up straight again!)
Walter C. Scott
The American public began to take notice of the power of humor to promote health in 1979, when Norman Cousins published his book, Anatomy of an illness. In that book, Cousins explained his systematic use of old comic films to stimulate laughter when he was battling a life threatening disease. He cited evidence that laughter relieved his pain and produced positive physical changes. There is some evidence that humor helps relieve the stress of caregivers and may even promote health.
Today, we are seeing the beginning of humor programs in certain hospitals, nursing homes, and businesses. If there is a humor program in your hospital, your physician may give you a prescription to go there to watch a funny movie or listen to tapes of classic radio comedians.
If you are a volunteer in a nursing home, you may be asked to help run "humor hours." Informal conversation, melodrama, puppet shows, parties, and singalongs may be planned during such times.
Humor is not a substitute for medical treatment, but it has been reported to have several beneficial effects:
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Reduces Stress and Anxiety
- Eases Muscular Tension
- Revives the Will to Live
- Improves Communication
- Creates Goodwill
Try adding some extra humor if you are giving care to someone at home, visiting a shut-in or someone in a nursing home, or feeling the need for a certain lift yourself. Some suggestions:
- Watch humorous television shows
- Rent some funny old movies and a video cassette recorder (for example, Laurel and Hardy or W. C. Fields)
- Listen to cassette tapes of comedians such as Jack Benny or Red Skelton (check your public library or book store)
- Read comic strips or books of collected comic strips like Charley Brown and Snoopy)
- Ask children or grandchildren to share jokes and riddles
- Reminisce about amusing times and stories from the past
- Look for ways to inject humor into the conversation and experiences of the moment.
From the Bible: Proverbs 17:22 -- "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine; but a broken spirit drieth the bones."
Humor from Iowa Protestant source: King Solomon and King David led merry, merry lives, with many, many Concubines and many, many wives; but when old age overtook them, with many, many qualms, King Solomon wrote the Proverbs and King David wrote the Psalms.
Children need something to do as well as older people and if pointed in the right direction, either one will have a rewarding experience. Growing up in the country in the early 1900, as I did, there was little to buy and no money to buy anything for entertainment. There was the great outdoors to explore. You went out in the yard, garden or barnlot and checked the bugs, if there was nothing else to do. You soon learned to stay about "so far away" from the honey bee hives and the wasp nests or hornet nests and never step on a Velvet Ant. If you needed the exercise, the apple tree was usually the easiest to climb. Late in the evening when I had enough running and climbing to do me, I would lay on the ground and watch the chimney swifts. They would circle the house in ever changing circles, catching bugs or chasing each other and chattering. Once in a while, one or two would dart down the old fireplace chimney and always amazed me that they did not break their neck, going in so fast. When the Bob Whites were calling each other I could call "bob white" well enough that one would come closer to me some time.
Dad would always make Hickory Whistles for us kids in the spring and I soon learned to make my own. He showed us how to make Flutter Mills to put in the spring branch. Flutter mills were paddle wheels made of dried corn stalks with short sticks stuck in the hubs on each side and held up by forked sticks. You found a place in the spring branch that the water was running pretty fast and stuck the forked sticks in the mud on each side so they held the paddle wheel. You then adjusted the forked sticks so the paddles were touching the water just right to make the wheel turn the best. A good Flutter Mill sure looked like a hard working piece of equipment and you were proud of it if you went out in the early morning and it was still working. A toy wagon that would haul a few sticks of wood was one thing that could be either bought or made. It was really easier and faster to carry the firewood from the woodpile to the back porch every day, but it was more fun to haul it in the wagon. Of course the wagon had to be used when you moved your playhouse from one place to another. The little brother or sister got to ride in the wagon and that could get to be an adventure and needed older supervision.
We always had plenty of storybooks at home and mom or dad would read to us at night. Just as soon as we could read we could find our own adventures in them. My sister Rena Lou and I read every Fairy Tale we could get our hands on and later read them again. Of course, when I got a little older, Robinson Crusoe was my favorite for a while and I could relive his adventures in the yard, garden or pasture field. I even tried to make a willow basket like he did. However, the old scrub willow that grew by our spring branch had short limbs and did not work very well. (When I grew up and finally owned the farm, I saw to it that a weeping Willow grew in the spring branch, even though my basket making days were over.)
Dad made a bow and arrow for me and with my own pocket knife I was soon able to make my own. A cedar tree limb was just fine for the bow and there were usually plenty of dead Golden Rod "stalks or stems" to make the arrows. There was never any thought of trying to kill anything with this outfit.
The girls had rag dolls, some bought dolls and some dishes. Of course when they made a playhouse outdoors, a rag doll and broken dishes did very well.
It makes me sad, today, to see parents spend so much money on toys for their kids, when I remember what wonderful playhouses and toys we had for practically nothing. Our imagination made our playhouses more wonderful than anything you could buy.
Walter C. Scott
This is a list of toys and the games I remember playing or that were available when I was growing up (1909 to 1927):
A pocket knife was essential equipment for a boy. It was an honor to be asked by the school teacher to sharpen her pencils or those of younger children. Pencil sharpeners were not available until about the time I was in high school.
Bow and arrow (home-made)
Cross bow (home-made)
Sled (bought or home-made)
Sling (2 string) (home-made)
Sling (long wooden handle and string) (home-made)
Sling shot (order the rubber bands) (finish at home)
Rope (buy at store) (after wheat binder - making rope from twine)
Rope -- jump -- 2 person game
Rope -- jump -- one person
Marbles -- many games (bought at store)
Barlow knife, 25 cents -- mumble peg, whittling or making things.
Stilts -- (bought or home-made)
Tops (bought or home-made) -- string spin or hand spin
Boomerang (bought or home-made)
Windmill spinner (home-made)
French-harp (mouth organ) (order or buy at store)
Other musical instruments (Order or make at home)
Slate for home or school (order or buy at store)
Baseball -- buy or make (most were made -- few could afford to buy)
Horseshoes (you usually used discarded worn shoes)
Broad jump-(set peg-jump twice more on one leg-set peg)
Barrel walk (find an empty barrel and try to keep your balance)
Anty over (your bunch threw the ball over the school house, if the others caught the ball they ran around to touch you out with the ball before you could change sides)
Go horse-back riding (every one had a horse)
Try to ride the cow or an un-broke horse or mule
Go possum and skunk hunting with old sheep (night)
Explore a cave
Yell down your rain barrel
Slide down your cellar door
Just Whatever you could think of!
Walter C. Scott
As I walked by the dockside one evening so rare
To view the still water and taste the salt air
I heard an old fisherman singing this song
O take me away boys me time is not long
Wrap me up in me oilskins and jumper, no more on the dark Irish sea
Just tell me old shipmates I'm taking a trip mate
I'll see you some day in Fiddler's Green
Now Fiddler's Green is the place I've heard tell
Where sailormen go if they don't go to hell
Where the weather is fair and the dolphins they play
And the cold coast of Greenland is far, far away
Where the sky's always clear and there's never a gale
And the fish jump on board with a swish of their tail
Where you lie at your leisure, there's no work to do
And the skipper's below making tea for the crew
And when you are docked and the long trip is through
There's Pubs and there's Clubs and there's lassies there too
Where the girls are all pretty and the beer is all free
And there's bottles of rum growing up every tree
Now I don't want a harp now, a Hallo, not me!
Just give me a breeze and a good rolling sea.
And I'll play me old squeeze box as we sail along
With the wind in the rigging just sing me this song.
I do not want to appear nonreligious but this song interested me very much. It gives the old time sailorman's idea of heaven and emphatically states that a harp or a hallo would be useless to him and I doubt that he would want streets of gold either. He does want to meet his friends there. The song has an interesting tune. One that you may like to hum to yourself in odd moments.
Copied from a record by the Irish Rovers.
When I was just a wee little lad, full of health and joy
Me Daddy homeward came one night and gave to me a toy
A wonder to behold it was, with many colors bright
And the moment I laid eyes on it, it became me heart's delight
It went zip when it moved,
pop when it stopped,
and b-r-r-r when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.
The first time I picked it up,I got a big surprise
For right on its bottom were two big buttons
that looked like big green eyes
I first pushed one, and then the other, and then I twisted its leg
And when I put it down again, this is what it did.
First it marched left and then it marched right nd then it marched under a chair
And when I looked where it had gone, it wasn't even there.
I started to cry and my Daddy laughed. He knew that I would find
When I turned around the marvelous toy came a chugging from behind.
Years have gone by, so quickly it seems, now I have me own little boy.
And yesterday I gave to him, me marvelous little toy.
His eyes nearly popped right out of his head, and he gave a squeal of glee.
Neither one of us knows just what it is, but he loves it just like me.
The "M.C." at one of our High School Reunions gave this as part of the program. To me, it was the "highlight."
Copied from a record by THE IRISH ROVERS
When Eve handed him the apple
With shy and bashful grin,
He bit and chewed and smacked his lips
And juice ran down his chin.
It must have come to Adam that a drink
Made from this fruit,
Would taste real good on hot, dry days
Should keep real good to boot.
So he squeezed himself a jug-ful
And set it by to keep,
With a sigh of satisfaction,
He drifted off to sleep.
Now we all know what happens
To apple cider sitting still,
But Adam didn't know it yet
And was innocent until,
A week went by and it got hot
And he got mighty dry,
Two drinks or three from that cool jug,
Then Eve just happened by.
He took a look, another drink,
And then he looked again,
And thought, "Oh boy, if that's my rib
I should have given ten."
"Come sit by me and have a drink, --
Now another for the road,
'Cause we're goin' where the action is
As soon as I can load
Some jugs of juice I'm goin' to squeeze
But first I'll squeeze you, no?"
That's really how it happened, boys,
Anita told me so.
Harold (Buddy) Stearns sent this to me. I add it to the collection with no comment. by Jack T.
The long-held belief that some of us are "Larks" or morning people, and others are "Owls" or evening people, has now been confirmed. Measurements of circadian (daily) rhythms in morning people show heart rates peaking between 1 and 2 p.m., while evening people peak between 5 and 6:30 p.m.
Until recently doctors were taught that the human body lives in homeostasis, changing little during the day. The science of chronobiology - the study of how time affects life- is sparking a medical revolution by revealing how much our bodies change through daily rhythms.
"These natural biological rhythms are as vital as our heart beat," says Lawrence E. Sheving of the University of Arkansas for Medical Science in Little Rock. "By learning their secrets, we are discovering new ways to prevent and cure illness. There isn't a function in our body that doesn't have its own rhythm. The absence of rhythm is death.
While you sleep your blood pressure falls, your temperature drops more than a degree from its daily afternoon high, and some blood pools in your body's extremities. Come morning, the body has to "jump start" itself from its sleeping to waking stages with a surge of excitation chemicals called "catecholamines. Heart rate increases and blood vessels constrict, raising blood pressure and reducing blood flow to heart muscles; this might cause ischemia, or angina, as well as sudden death from myocardial infarction. If hardened plaques of cholesterol coat arteries, fragments may break loose, causing the clots that lead to heart attacks. "Whatever hour you get up," says Dr. James Muller, chief of cardiology for New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, "your peak risk of myocardial infarction will come within two or three hours after awakening.
The master timekeepers in our bodies help synchronize us with such outside cycles as day and night. Like orchestra conductors, they coordinate hundreds of functions inside us..Our bodies dance through the day to complex inner rhythms of rising and falling tides of hormones, immune cells, electrolytes and amino acids.
For most of us, sleep is a time of life's renewal. Within the first 90 minutes or so of sleep, we reach our daily peak of growth hormone which may help regenerate our bodies. We must learn that a body temperature of 99 might mean perfect health at 5 p.m. but would indicate illness at 7 A.M. Doctors are finding that some prescription drugs should be taken at an optimal time of day. One major study found that taking an aspirin every other day reduced overall incidence of heart attack in men by almost 45 percent and morning risk by more than 59 percent. You should of course, consult your doctor about the use of aspirin.
Set your alarm clock to give yourself time to get up slowly. DON'T subject yourself to the thermal shock of a very hot or cold shower, which could boost blood pressure. Then eat breakfast. Dr. Renata Cifkova at Memorial University of Newfoundland at St. John's says, "Skipping breakfast apparently increases platelet activity and might contribute to heart attacks and stroke during morning hours."
To avoid Monday morning blues, don't change your schedule on weekends. Your body's clock naturally runs on a cycle of about 25 hours. During the week it has to reset itself to your 24 hour schedule. If you let your body clock "free run" forward for 2 days, you wind up with a 2 hours "jet lag" on Monday morning.
We each have a best and worse time to study, work or exercise and we can save time and disappointment by doing anything at our best time when possible.
By understanding our body clocks we can improve our health, reduce our daily danger and possibly increase our days on earth.
From an article by Lowell Ponte in the March 1992 Readers Digest.
Few people, even doctors, realize the importance of our daily rhythms, "clocks," in our lives. When I was in college, I soon learned that I was wasting my time trying to learn something late at night, when I could get up early the next morning and learn it in a fraction of the time. My room-mate, Bill Husk, would stay up until the "wee" hours of the night studying. (He was the plodding type of person that did not change as much or as soon in the day as I did.) We were the best of friends but we certainly did not operate the same. We did our learning like we were built to do it. I was the "LARK" type of person and he was the "OWL" type.
Walter C. Scott
For years my ambition had been to operate a farm in the Blue Grass Region of Kentucky where there was no need to buy phosphate fertilizer. In 1936 I found a dairy farm for rent about 10 miles north of Lexington on the Winchester Pike. I sold cream from 20 cows and used a cream separator to save handling the milk. The farm had a four-acre tobacco base and about 10 acres of corn with possibly 20 acres for hay.
This was before the start of tractor farming, so all the machinery I had was a plow and a two horse disk harrow. Some old farmer gave me a roller. With a borrowed corn planter and tobacco setter, that part of the crop was in. By July 1, there had not been one drop of rain since January. With little pasture and no prospect for hay, it was time to make a change. One old farmer showed me now to put brakes on my new Owensboro wagon like the pioneers made to cross the country. A pole the full length of the wagon was attached about the middle of the wagon and brakes fastened to the butt end of the pole. A cross piece was attached to the little end of the pole that was handy for both feet. This increased my confidence in the trip back to Meade County. With all my farm machinery on the wagon, plus two days supply of grain for my team and a sandwich or two for myself, I was ready to go.
I left there that morning and just as I got through Versailles there came a thunderstorm, so I drove the team down about 100 yards and pulled into an old mill just to get out of the rain. That was the first rain I had seen since January. After I left the mill, around noon, I fed the horses from their feed bag and didn't realize until next morning that I had left it behind. Early in the evening I crossed a small creek where I could water the horses so I just made a camp and stayed the night.
Next morning, after feeding the horses, I remembered that an empty feed basket was needed to feed, but that horses will eat from piles off the ground. I worried that the horses' unshod feet would get sore on the trip, but they made it most of the way back before they showed any signs.
I learned when going over a little railroad bridge near Simpsonville. A car hit my horse that was tied to the back of the wagon. After that I tied the extra horse on the outside of the team up front. Thank goodness neither the horse nor the car was hurt.
The second night was spent just east of Louisville. The third travel day, the horses had no trouble with the steep gravel grade of Muldraugh Hill.
I pulled in at the farm in Stith Valley in early afternoon. The farm was always a place to come to regroup and start over. This old farm in Stith Valley wasn't an ideal place, but it was a welcome place.
I am just now beginning to realize that the famed Blue Grass Region that was hurt so bad by the drought in 1936 could not take a drought as well as the red clay soil of Meade County.
Published in Meade County Messenger on May 19, 1993
In the past my father, Walter Scott, has gleaned great pleasure and satisfaction from writing reminiscences and having them printed in the Messenger.
As you may know, last October Dad suffered a very serious stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side and caused impairment of cognitive reasoning and short term memory.
At present, he is living at the North Hardin Convalescent Center in Radcliff. He has only in the past month begun to write his stories again.
I have enclosed his first writing since his illness. He has asked that you print it in the Messenger as you have in the past. He and others at the home are anxious to see it in print.
Grandpa Scott was always called Father Scott, at least if any of the family was talking to me. However he was known as Charlie Scott by those who knew him. I don't remember his name being mentioned more than a dozen times in my lifetime.
Mom said he courted Aunt Sally Williams before Uncle Jake got her. He married Adlissa Hardaway (Laddie) whose parents owned where we know as the Scott farm. Grandpa bought the farm we know as the Dooley place and built the house that stands there today. Before Dad was grown, he bought the Hardaway farm at the foot of the hill and built the house that stands there today. He built an extra bedroom on the side toward the spring for Grandma Hardaway to spend her remaining years. Grandpa Hardaway was buried on top of our hill on his brother-in-law's farm. (Grandma Margaret Hardaway and Aunt Lucinda Stith were sisters -- Canes from Guston. Grandma Scott's sister, Aunt Mag married Uncle Charlie Hardaway and they lived where we know as the Hardaway farm. I think it had been in their family awhile. The two Hardaway families were not closely related.) Grandpa Scott must have been a hustler because I have been told that he bought and sold timber and owned two yokes of oxen at one time. I am the proud possessor of his Log Stamp. I heard that he taught school but never tried to verify that. I was told that he sold Starks fruit trees at one time. Ma said that when Grandpa was living there was always a barrel of flour and a barrel of sugar and everything else needed in the Kitchen Pantry.
Father Scott died following an operation for colon cancer at a hospital in Kansas City, Mo. in February or March 1914. He knew he had trouble and went to see a specialist: Thornton & Minor Sanitarium, established 1877, their practice limited to rectal and pelvic diseases, also diseases of women. He was diagnosed as having rectal cancer - still in a curable stage but fairly well advanced. He lived a while after the operation but never left the hospital. Grandma Scott was there with him. I was told as a child that he was operated on for appendicitis and the nurses did not watch him close enough and he bled to death. I know I did not dream it! My sister Jessie reminded me that uncle Jess was the carpenter who rebuilt the frame backrooms on our old log house. She remembered him because he would not let her play in the spring branch. All I remember about that job was Dad planing all the weatherboarding with a long and a short hand plane. He had boards on sawhorses out back of the house and worked for days. I still have the small plane that Dad used.
I remember Uncle Will Scott and from seeing pictures of Grandpa Scott and others of the family they were big men like Uncle Harold. You noticed their bushy eyebrows and their quite impressive size. The Hardaways were rather short but heavy muscled. I remember seeing Grannie's brother Jess one time. I asked him if he could still walk on his hands and he answered, "I guess so." He proceeded to turn over on his hands from a sitting position, turned his legs up over his back with his toes almost touching his head and walked off like that was his regular way of getting around. He lived his time out as a carpenter in Louisville as far as I know.
Scott Hill Farm graveyard: James L. Hardaway 1819-1869 Hardaway graveyard: Margaret Cane Hardaway 1832-1913 Big Springs Methodist Church graveyard: Jesse J. Stith 1818-1895 Lucinda Cane Stith 1824-1909 (March 30) Charles L. Scott 1861-1914 Laddie H. Scott (Adlissa Louise) 1865-1957 Margaret C. Hardaway family: Henry, Jessie, Laddie, Margaret
Ruth Fontaine, was born December 12, 1887, and died March 4, 1976, the daughter of Charles Beauregard Fontaine and Irene Stith Fontaine. She was born with a birth defect known as "harelip" and had to make up for her lack of beauty in other ways. Of course she remembered the old German woman, she and her mother were visiting in Louisville. Her comment was, "My! What a beautiful mother and what an ugly daughter." When she was eight years old, her parents sent her on the train, by herself, from Van Buren, Arkansas to Louisville, Kentucky. Her relatives met her at the railroad station and took her to the hospital for an operation to correct the harelip deformity. Ruth was full of life and learned early how to handle her dad. He supplied her with an Indian Pony as soon as she was big enough to ride. Growing up in the small town of Van Buren, Arkansas, the pony took her all over town, sometimes at high speed. When her dad told her to wash the dishes or get someone to wash them, she got on the pony and found someone. As soon as she could read well enough, she started reading her dad's law books. This was learning about people and things just like they were! She got her High School Diploma from the Van Buren High School. She went to a Catholic boarding school for a while; either as part of her high school work or graduate school.
Soon after she graduated from high school, her dad and mother got a divorce and he bought a small farm for her mother. It was located between the C. C. Hardaway farm and the Ike Hicks farm, just across from the Roe farm. There was a two story house and a usable spring near the road. She started teaching school when she was eighteen at the Smith school, located about one half mile south of the Guston rock quarry. She got to school on horse-back. She taught at Shumate school a year or two and Fletcher Scott was one of her pupils. Walter Scott had finished school there.
Ruth married Walter Lee Scott in January of 1908, and they started housekeeping at the Jesse house, just west of Uncle Harold Scott's old barn. The next year they moved to the Jesse Stith farm where Walter C. Scott was born on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1909. The Jesse Stith farm was poor, like all the rest of the county, so they decided to farm in partners with David Fontaine on her dad's river bottom farm at Cross Lanes Ark. They moved to Arkansas in January 1912 and moved back to the Jesse Stith farm in March of 1914 after Walter's Father died. They got the estate settled and Walter was now sole owner of the farm. They lived here until 1934 when Walter became Meade County Deputy Sheriff and they moved to Brandenburg.
Ruth was always interested in the kids going to school and helped the teacher with any extra programs she wanted to have. I always remember her, almost single-handedly, putting on Children's Day programs at the Big Spring Methodist Church. With her family, Daisy Burnett's family and Elizabeth Bunger, she did not need many others to put on a program. She played the piano by playing the treble scale and chording the bass, but I would not have known it if she had not told me.
One thing that always stayed in my memory was the Children's Day being in the late spring and the road went through Jim Moorman's bottom field. That was the only part of the road that was rocked, but the rocks were all the size of my fist or bigger. However, the water stayed over the road all spring and you steered the team and wagon through by keeping half way between the fences. When Meade County got a County Agent, Ruth got her kids in the 4-H program. However, my corn project did not amount to much because there was not any money to buy fertilizer and the whole thing seemed to be to humor mom and the county agent! When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president, Ruth, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Guy Hardin, the county agent and just a few others got the Meade County Rural Electric Co-op started. She got to be the Meade County Women's Democratic Chairman and later talked Walter into running for deputy sheriff with Ned Brown as sheriff. He and Ned Brown won by a big majority.
When Walter passed away (February 1937), Bill, who was 18, finished his dad's term as deputy sheriff. Ruth got an appointment to West Point Military Academy for Bill and he went to U. of K. while waiting for the appointment. She was very patriotic and encouraged her two youngest boys, Jack and Jim, to enlist in the army instead of being drafted for the Second World War. With all her kids gone, she started teaching school for her "war effort". She soon moved to Washington D. C. and worked there until the war was over. She moved back to Irvington, Kentucky, bought a house next to her daughter Rena Lou Parks, and started teaching school again. She learned to paint scenery pictures for her recreation.
When her son, Jack, started the Citizens Bank in E'town, she and Rena Lou both sold their houses in Irvington and bought a house together in E'town. She had always belonged to the Women's Club wherever she lived, and was also a member of the D. A. R. When she moved to E'town she joined the "Live Wires." Ruth celebrated her 85th birthday in E'town. The next year she suffered a stroke and had to go to a rest home in Hodgensville. She died there in March about three years later and was buried in the Cap Anderson Cemetery, in Brandenburg, beside her husband.
Walter L. Scott (January 1886 - March 1937) was the oldest son of Charles L. Scott and Laddie (Adlisa Louise) Hardaway Scott. His younger brothers were Winfield, Harold, Fletcher, and a sister, Margaret. He grew up in Stith Valley and attended the Shumate School. He liked to hunt and trap and was an expert marksman. He liked to read and always wished he could have been a pioneer. In 1908 he married Ruth Fontaine, the daughter of C. B. Fontaine and Irene Stith Fontaine. Ruth was teaching at Shumate School at that time. He started farming on the Jesse Stith farm in 1909. Jesse Stith's wife Lucinda and his Grandmother Margaret were sisters and his grandfather Jim Hardaway was buried in the small graveyard on the hill behind the house. The farm was a part of the 430 acres bought by Richard Stith in 1811. Richard was the first Stith to settle in the county and had been here since about 1804. Walter and his father bought the 240 acre farm for $1267.00 in 1910 when it was sold at the court house door to settle the estate. Jesse Stith had owned slaves and his wife Lucinda had plenty of help to grow every flower, shrub and fruit available at that time. However, by the time Walter got the farm it had been rented for many years and was as poor as any in the county.
He raised corn and tobacco and an extra good garden, kept a few cows, a few hogs, sheep, and some chickens and turkeys. Of course he kept horses to do the farm work and raised a colt now and then and sold it. He always had plenty for the family to eat because he raised it and stored it or Ruth canned it. There was never much money, but kerosene for the lamps was 10 cents a gallon, sugar was 5 or 10 cents a pound but you could use sorghum molasses, and he raised sorghum cane and made molasses. Salt was about fifty cents for one hundred pounds and coffee about a nickel a pound. Taxes for the farm were about $25.00 a year and that had to be paid.
He took the daily paper and there was always something for the children to read. The children went to school rain or shine and knew he would come after them if it was raining or snowing. He would be there at the close of school riding a horse and leading one, with a blanket to go over each child. It was possible to get three children on one horse and one in front and one behind him. Most parents kept their children at home on bad days. Walter C. and Rena Lou went to the two year high school at Big Spring, riding horseback over the hill to school. They rented a room at Brandenburg and finished there - Walter C. in 1927, and Rena Lou in 1928.
When County Agricultural Agents came to the county the children joined the 4-H club. When the U.S. Government started the Rural Electric Administration, Ruth worked with the County Agent and others in the county and got the Meade County Rural Electric Co-op started.
Walter was elected deputy sheriff in 1934 with Ned Brown as sheriff, and moved to Brandenburg. He enjoyed working with people. One of his best friends had this to say about him: "If I ask Walt something he does not want to tell me, he won't tell me but I won't know it until he is gone." He was a member of the Big Spring Masonic Lodge, the Big Spring Methodist Church and a lifetime Democrat. He died in March of 1937, and his son William F. finished his term. Ruth, with two boys still in high school, kept on with the boys carrying newspapers. In 1940 she and son Jack bought the grocery at the top of the hill, across the street directly in front of the street going to the river. With Jim helping she and Jack ran the the store until Jim finished High School.
Ruth got an appointment to West Point Military Academy for William after he went to U of K one semester, Walter C. had graduated from U of K, was married and in Agricultural work, Rena Lou was married and living in Elizabethtown, Jessie Virginia was married and living in Washington D.C., Mary was married and living in Breckenridge County, Jack married and joined the Navy, and James F. joined the Army. Both Jack and Jim finished at U. of K. after the war and Jim got married there.
James Hardaway, died in 1849, age of 50 years, father of Laddie Hardaway Scott, Walter C. Scott's grandmother.
Alonza R., son of A. J. and Mary Stith, age of 1 and « years.
Ben E., son of Ben E. and Mary Johnson, age of 2 years.
William Stith, died May 10, 1854, age of 77 years, brother of Richard Stith, first owner of Scott Hill Farm. As best can be determined, the brothers moved in 1804 and built the first log cabin. Richard bought 450 acres in 1811.
Nancy Stith, died January 2, 1849, age of 69 years, William Stith's wife.
The old shop puzzle that I have was made by my Great Uncle Ray Keith, of Bewleyville, in his blacksmith shop. He copied it from a puzzle he repaired in the late 1920's or early 1930's for the Charley Hardaway family of Stith Valley. (Uncle Ray never learned to work the puzzle).
The story goes that someone got so mad at the puzzle that after getting eight rings off the loop they got the wirepliers and cut the last two off. It was told that during the Civil War that prisoners were told they could go home Free Men if they could work the puzzle.
The puzzle that Uncle Ray repaired was made in the Hardaway farm shop sometime before 1865. A Mr. Perry (Perry's hardware) of Vine Grove said he had seen the puzzle when he was a boy. Evidently its popularity faded as the horse and buggy and the blacksmith shop faded away.
In 1974 a Chinese graduate student from Taiwan visited our farm and saw the puzzle. His reaction was, "Oh that came from China." His older brother had tried to teach him to work the puzzle before the Communists chased his family out of China. A few days after he went back to school in Ann Arbor Michigan he made himself a puzzle.
Working the shop puzzle puts your powers of reasoning, concentration, and memory to a test. Taking the first few rings off the loop is fairly easy but the farther you go the more you test your concentration and memory. The first and second rings will come off the loop one at a time or both at once. To get third ring off, the second must be on but the first off. To get the fourth off, the third must be on but the first and second off. From there on, you get a ring off if there is one ring and only one in front of it.
When my kids were 10 to 14 I had a standing offer of $1.00 for anyone who learned to work the puzzle. (I was not out much money). After a kid passes 14 just forget it unless he happens to show interest on his own. That one dollar offer would have to be "upped" a lot to keep up with inflation. Delean's nephew, Harold Stearns, took one of the puzzles with him while he was in the army in Korea. He said he had a lot of fun with it and it helped pass the time away.
My neighbor, the late Mr. M. E. Coffee, showed me a puzzle he got while working at Naval Ordinance in Louisville. I believe he said it was made at a Kentucky Penitentiary. It was identical to our puzzle except for having a wooden base. My daughter, Ann, ordered a similar puzzle from a mail order house back when they were learning to work ours. It was called computer loops and used a metal rod and string instead of our all metal loop. Our puzzle was confusing enough. That was much worse!
My dad owned a double-barreled breech-loading shotgun since I could remember. I have a faint recollection of going with him to kill a rabbit or two when I was about 6 or 7 (1915 or 1916) and having to wait until the smoke cleared to find the rabbit. Evidently that was about the time that smokeless shells came on the market in affordable quantities. Dad bragged on the smokeless shells for several years.
Dad did not go hunting by himself. If he was by himself he went to get a rabbit or two, or a squirrel; he already knew where there they were. Of course if someone wanted to go with him he went hunting.
Along about 1920, Uncle Will Scott came to visit us from Oklahoma and brought Dad a new muzzle-loading shotgun. Dad bought a supply of smokeless powder, some shot pellets, and some caps and was in business. It was interesting to watch him measure the powder and pour it into the "business end" of the gun. Then tear off a piece of newspaper, just the right size, wad it up and tamp it on top of the powder with the wooden ram-rod. The next step was to measure the right amount of shot, pour it in and tamp another wad of newspaper on top. When he was ready to go hunting he placed a cap under each trigger and was on his way. Since Dad usually knew where some rabbits hid, he often came back with a rabbit or two that had been beheaded. He had only shot at the head; not the whole rabbit. In my memory when Dad loaded both barrels he came back with two rabbits, a rabbit and a squirrel or two squirrels.
I never became a hunter!
Horses here in the early 1900's as I knew them were mostly of the general purpose type. You plowed the field or cultivated the garden or tobacco patch and then rode them or hitched them to the buggy to go to the store or to church. The small farmer kept a mare or two and raised mules from them in addition to the work and sold the mules to big farmers for work animals. The hired man was not likely to have bad luck with a mule, because he could not overwork him (the mule knew when to quit), he could hardly feed him too much (the mule knew when to quit), and if he got caught in a wire fence (he waited for you to get him out instead of trying to tear his foot off). The farmer knew he could depend on the mule!
I have heard my Dad tell many tales about Old Pomp. She was one of those general purpose type mares who would raise a mule colt or a saddle colt as the need arose. In addition, all Dad's younger brothers learned to plow corn with Old Pomp, and Old Pomp did the teaching. The boys soon learned that Old Pomp went straight to the house when the dinner bell rang, dragging plow, boy and all, regardless of the way the rows went. As the boys grew in strength and knowledge Old Pomp learned that too. I have heard Uncle Fletcher Scott tell of a colt or two from Old Pomp that developed into extra good saddle horses. Our Cousin Albert Jeffers bought them and Uncle Fletcher rode them to Frankfort to deliver them.
A flashy high stepping buggy horse and a shining new buggy was the thing that took the girl's eye then like the shiny new sports car does now. A farmer could not afford to eat in a restaurant as I remember it. If you had kinfolks in town you might eat with them, take your lunch or just do without. The thing that struck a country boy first was the huge horses they used in town. In Kentucky at least, most of them seemed to be Percheon or Belgium which are not quite as tall but almost as heavy as the Klidesdale that we see pulling the "Beer Wagon." The first thing you heard in the morning was the CLOP, CLOP, CLOP, CLOP of the big horse pulling the milk wagon; then the same thing with the Ice Wagon - they always trotted it seemed. Of course the big Dreys (town wagons I suppose I might call them) were pulled by big horses. They needed all that weight so the horse could stop the wagon as well as pull it. However, most town wagons did have brakes.
Well, times change and before you know it the younger generation think the things you saw when you grew up happened too long ago to get in the history books!
Horses had been used for farm power and transportation for hundreds of years before my time (1909). Steam power had been developed slowly over only about the last 100 years. Only in about the past ten or fifteen years had anyone made a steam engine that would travel over country roads from one farm to the other and you could walk faster than they would go.
In the 1920's Model-T Fords became numerous enough to really make a showing in the way people traveled. By 1930 we had Model A Fords and many others, with trucks competing with the railroads for short hauls.
However, in 1936 I drove my team of horses to a wagon from Lexington to SCOTT HILL FARM without encountering very much traffic. I camped on the road two nights. There was no Highway Patrol at that time that I remember. Highway #60 was blacktopped all the way at that time. My horses made it all the way with no shoes on but their feet were a little sore for a few days. That silt soil in the Blue Grass Region had DRIED UP but this clay soil here in Meade county was still growing grass even if it was dry! The Blue Grass Region had very few tractors before the Second World War (the mid 1940's). Meade County's International tractor dealer, Henry Allen, pushed the sale of tractors and one out of ten farmers had one before the war. Meade County had started the Meade County RECC and gone on into other counties before the war. All civilian manufacturing stopped during the war but when it was over (September 1945) factories started making farm equipment again. (It took awhile for everybody to get back home and get civilian life going again.) With tractor power, machines that were never heard of before were possible, and factories started turning them out. When a farmer bought a tractor, he needed the machines to go with it (a tractor outfit). The old horse-drawn equipment stayed around for a while but the horses had to go because you had to feed them. The price of horses went to almost nothing for a while.
During the 1950's and 1960's, machinery dealers and farm agencies would put on "shows" to show farmers the new equipment they had and what it would do. Farming changed too fast for most people to keep up with it until the early 1980's when many farmers found themselves too deep in debt to go on. As I remember it, the binder replaced the cradle 1910 to 1920, the combine replaced the binder in the 1930's, the pick-up baler started in the late 1930's, but had to wait until after the war to become readily available. In the 1950's and 1960's the wagon gravity bed, dump truck, and elevator and auger replaced the scoop. At this time (1990) I doubt if you could buy a new self propelled corn picker. Almost every one has gone to the grain combine and shelled corn instead of ear corn. Some farmers are still using the old ones. In the 1960's, chemicals replaced the row-crop cultivator and present day young people have probably not even heard of them. After the war my brother Bill told me they had a few chain saws in France to use on those hedge rows, but they were almost a secret weapon. (I had never heard of them before.) It was in the late 1950's before they were easily available and then they were almost too high to buy. It certainly replaced the two man cross cut saw. In 1953, we bought a belt driven circle saw that fit on the front of our Case tractor to saw up our firewood. This helped bridge the gap to the chain saw, but of course it would not saw a tree down.
I bought my first rotary mower (commonly called the bush hog) in 1969 but they had been on the market for at least 5 years. They certainly replaced the grubbing hoe. However, with the continuous power "PTO" on the Case tractor I bought in 1952 I was mowing bushes I could not mow before. The rotary mower chopped up the bushes or briars as it mowed them while the mowing machine only mowed them and left them there.
The blacksmith shop was the "GARAGE" for the "HORSE AND BUGGY" days. The blacksmith repaired your wagon, buggy, plow or any other thing made or partly made with iron. He put shoes on your horse and could make them the right size to fit the horse.
When I think of a blacksmith I always think of a man with black smudges on his face and hands from working with a forge. The forge was the place where he heated metal for working. It was usually a brick sided, three foot square, structure about two and a half feet high, filled with dirt or cinders with an air pipe up under the center, and a chimney behind it. A hood extended out over most of the square, about two feet above it, that took most of the smoke away. A hand operated fan was located where the operator could turn the fan and handle the fire and the iron at the same time. A fire was started with wood shavings or kindling to start the fine coal burning. and with a steady supply of air from the fan the iron was soon hot enough to beat into shape.
Near the forge the anvil was fastened to the top of a large block of wood with slots around the block to hold the hammers and tongs needed to hold the hot iron and beat it into shape. The other necessary piece of equipment was a wooden tub of water also placed near the forge and anvil and used to temper the iron or to cool it. It was quite an art to temper an axe so that the cutting edge was hard enough to hold a sharp edge and the rest of the axe was soft enough not to break with all the beating it took. If you did not know what you were doing you kept the iron out of the water while it was red hot! (Present day tools are made out of special steels and do not need tempering.) Of course there was a vice to hold metal for working.
In another part of the shop there was a table with a vice beside it for holding wood for working. Of course there would be saw horses to support the wood or object you were working on. On the inside wall there were shelves for wood working tools such as saws, augers, hand planes, squares, hammers, hatchets, drawknives, etc.
The main difference between a car tire and a buggy or wagon tire was that the tires held the wheel together, while the car tire only made it ride easier. In the summertime the wagon or buggy wheels might dry out enough that the black smith would have to shrink the tires. (Take them off and make them smaller and heat them to put them back on.) Of course you could back them in the pond to swell the wheels and "get by" a lot of the time. If you were not careful or were unlucky and a tire came off, you walked or rode the horse home. The wrecks were caused by the horses getting scared at something and taking things their way and running into something.
Just after the second World War, in the late 40's, farmers were able to get tractors, so during that time and on into the 1950's horses started leaving the farm. The only sale for them was the trucker who went by the name of "Cow-Boy", "Horse Jockey", or whatever you happened to think of, but everyone knew who you were talking about. He got rid of them and nobody asked him where. During the early 1950's we heard about a Tennessee Walking Horse breeder who was selling his registered horses. We went to see him and bought a beautiful strawberry roan mare. The price was $50.00 including papers. As soon as we could get "Cow-Boy" to the farm, we sold our two remaining horses to him for a total of $25. We had just bought a new Case tractor outfit from Richardson and Beavin at Midway. We needed a hammer-mill so we got a local trucker to take us to get the new horse and come back by Louisville and pick up the hammer-mill and some fertilizer.
The mare's papers gave her a long impressive name, but since we could not remember any part of it, she became just plain TILLY, the best cow-pony that ever hit this country.
Horses and mules can be pastured with cattle only under certain conditions. Usually it comes down to only old mares or mare mules. Of course there are many exceptions, but you have to learn the hard way.
Tilly did fairly well with cattle but would chase them at times. We did learn one thing when we attempted to separate a few of the cattle from the herd and drive them into another field. Tilly drove them back and would not let them go through the gate. I caught Tilly and held her by her mane while Delean got her bridle. Then we drove the cattle out the gate.
We turned our jack-mule in the pasture with some cows and he did very well for a few days. Then one day I heard a commotion and discovered that he was trying to kill a calf. I went out and kept him away from the calf while Delean got my 410 shot gun. I knew that at 150 to 200 yards that shot-gun would do the most good with the least harm. Just one blast from the 410 changed that mule from a snorting, raging monster into a quite sensible mule. We then drove him to the barn and away from temptation.
One day Uncle Harold called and told us our bull, we called Ferd, was over at his farm making a general nuisance of himself. Without a horse, our bull could hardly have been separated from his bull or cow herd, but with Tilly that was the simplest of tasks. After Tilly showed Ferd we had come after him, she only had to give him one or two extra nips on his rump and he knew the way home. When we got back to the fence between our farms, I hitched Tilly and opened the fence rail gap. Ferd just stood and watched the whole operation. Evidently he had decided that the simplest thing to do was whatever Tilly and I wanted him to do. He went through the gap obediently, and was on his way back where he belonged.
One day Sig Shacklette's big Hereford bull jumped the fence into our field with several Holstein cows. Sig came around the road to the gate and was trying to persuade his bull to leave the company of those pretty cows and go home, but the bull just was not interested. I saddled Tilly, rode over to help, and told Sig he could be "Gate Keeper". The first time around the field the cows and bull were doing fine and enjoying themselves. I told Sig to just wait for next time. We all started back around the field, but before we got to the back of the field the bull and cows were getting a little tired. Tilly nipped the bull on the rump and he began to edge away from the cows. By the time we got him back to the gate he had slowed to a slow trot and knew exactly where the gate was. Sig thanked me and drove his tired bull home around the road with no problem at all.
One morning along in the spring, a year or so after Tilly arrived on the farm, my neighbor, John Williams, called and told me that three of our heifers were over there.
After breakfast I saddled Tilly and rode over after the heifers and found that they had been turned into a field with about thirty head of other cattle. When I arrived, John M. asked what he was to do to help get the heifers out. I told him that his job was gate keeper.
This was a new kind of riding for me and I soon learned that I would have to keep a very low profile if I was going to turn as fast as Tilly did. All I had to do was show Tilly which heifer was ours and stay on. Well, I did have to guide the heifer to the gate after it found that Tilly could run faster, turn faster, and was just plain boss. I soon had all three heifers out of the field and on the road back home.
Raising turkeys was nothing like raising chickens. In the fall after the turkeys got larger they roamed farther and farther from home. Our big pasture field that is about one half mile long, finally was not big enough to suit them, so they would get over in our neighbor's field. They could get over the fence going, but could not get the energy to get back, so there they sat until someone came after them.
That is where Tilly came in. Delean would ride Tilly to the fence and get over and make the turkeys get back in our field. They would then go home as fast as they could. One evening, just before dark as a thunderstorm was coming up, Delean got the turkeys over the fence and started home on Tilly. She had not gone far when a loud clap of thunder sounded right behind her. Tilly laid her ears back and really took off! Delean crouched low on her neck and started sweet-talking to her and soon got her back to a more reasonable running speed. They got home in a hurry, but it was awhile before the turkeys got there.
A horse is ideal for herding cattle, and if your fences are not good or non-existent, he is indispensable. The year the Ky. Highway Department built the road by our farm, Tilly really earned her way. All fences were torn down from road 333 on the east to the Stith Valley road on the west (one and one half miles), to give the road machinery room for a new 60 ft. right-of-way road to replace the old county road.
One day along in April I looked up at the road where it came over the edge of the hill from my neighbor's farm and saw a line of steers coming toward my new oats field. Tilly was soon bridled and saddled. All 29 of Donald Hobbs' steers were in my oats field when we got there but Tilly soon got them out on the old road right-of-way. They were soon back on Hobbs' farm but in a 50 acre field with no fence on one side. Riding Tilly was a real thrill because she was as interested in driving cattle as I was. With those 29 steers going at full speed, we ran figure-eights behind them to keep them bunched. We soon had them to the barn-lot, but I had to dismount to open the gate. When I remounted, I showed Tilly the 6 or 8 steers headed toward the road in the opposite direction from our house. While those steers ran the remaining 200 yards to the old road, Tilly ran 300 yards and we rounded them up and sent them back to the barn lot. If the steers did not go as fast as Tilly wanted them to go she nipped them on the rump. In a very few minutes all 29 were back in the barn-lot and the gate shut. I rode back by the road construction crew and found that they had all quit work to watch the show. They all said they liked it better than any Wild West show they had seen.
Tilly was an extra good riding horse but was not ideal for kids. When Ann was a big kid, probably 10, she fell off of Tilly and caught her foot in the stirrup. A friend saw the accident and grabbed Tilly to prevent a serious injury. Martha fell off of Tilly when she was about the same size and knocked her breath out. Delean carried her into the house thinking the worst had happened. Tilly probably had spooked and jumped sideways a little; Martha did not remember. However, Jess would get on Tilly out in the pasture field and ride all over the place, guiding her by a handfull of hair of her mane. Before we quit riding Tilly much, someone left the saddle on her and let her graze in the yard. She laid down and rolled and got the saddle under her belly. That scared her and she got up and started running through fences, trees, -anything- , to get that saddle off. We caught her and took the saddle off, but from that time on she had to be tied good if she had the saddle on or she would break loose and run. We started out with a very good English riding saddle that I bought for $ 3. at a War-surplus warehouse. When Tilly finally got through with the saddle, it had seen better days. The loss was not noticed because we did not need a saddle anyway.
We had refused an offer of $800.00 for Tilly at one time, but we needed her then. A year or two after Jess went away to school, Ann and Martha quit riding her. With nothing to do but eat, she finally "Grass Foundered", (her front hoofs grew out extra long and prevented her getting around very good.) A man from Indiana made us an offer of $150.00 (as is) and Tilly moved to Indiana!
June 14, 1990
The Hardin County Independent
Sally Pusey's writing about the horse block reminded me of the short article I had written for the history of my younger years for my children. As she said, the horse block could be made of anything, but every home needed one. However, everyone in our community called this a stileblock. Our stileblock was made of limestone blocks from a small quarry on the farm. The farm was the original Stith home in Meade County, and the last Stith to live here was my Uncle Jesse Stith who tried to make a show place of it and had slave labor to get the work done. Aunt Lucinda had every flower, shrub, fruit tree or grapevine available at that time. Some of the flowers and shrubs are still here. My interest in Hardin County dates back to the 1930's when I was Soil Conservationist for the CCC Camp and later the Soil Conservation District. I have known the Brown-Pusey House for years but never bothered to find out anything about it. The Independent is causing me to relive the past, or maybe I am just advancing in years. At least I get to read what my nephew, John Scott, has to say.
Walter C. Scott
Ask almost anyone under 40 if they have seen a stileblock and you get a blank stare. When I was a boy almost every home in the country and most in town had a stileblock. The dictionary does not have stileblocks but a stile is steps to get over a fence or wall. The stileblock was almost always at the end of the front walk just outside the yard gate. Without a stileblock how was a lady supposed to get on a horse with a side saddle or an older person get on a horse with any kind of a saddle? Of course the young men and big boys wanted to show everyone they could get on a horse without any help. The men or the hired help were supposed to unhitch the horse and bring the saddlehorse or the horse and buggy to the stileblock for the women and children or older folks to get aboard.
I had not noticed the things were gone. Nobody needed them so why keep them? Anyone who has a horse now and needs a stileblock had better just sell the horse. You can't find a sidesaddle except in a museum either.
In my young days every small farmer had from three to five head of work stock horses or mules. Only one out of twenty or thirty would keep a stallion because they were dangerous and unpredictable. (Almost everyone who kept a stallion kept a jack ass for mule production.) To see a stallion coming at you on his hind legs, standing 15 feet tall, with his front feet pawing the air and his mouth wide open ready to bite, is hard to forget! He could whirl and kick you with both hind feet before you could move out of your tracks, if he wanted to. At home we owned Patsy, a black mare, Nell, a small sorrel mare, and Beck, a mare mule, when I first remember. Then Patsy raised May by a Percheon stallion. May was good natured and was a good worker, but not good for riding. (About like riding a car with four flat tires.) I always remember May's first mule colt. She would not claim him, so we had to raise him on cows milk. His first winter he got so weak he could not get up, even though I was giving him shelled corn and fodder to eat. We had a visitor one day while I was trying to get Jack up. I asked Dad what to do for him. Dad did not want to bother with him and told me to leave him alone and he would drag him out to a sink hole the next day. Being the hardheaded kid that I was, I asked him if he would give him to me. His answer was a quick YES. Then I got a few cured tobacco leaves, crumbled them up in some shelled corn, and gave it to Jack. I gave him some water and left him for the night. When I went out to see him early the next morning he was trying to get up and with my help he made it. That tobacco had done a good job of worming that mule and he grew up to be a good worker. He lived on our farm for 17 years and died working. His last job was the first terrace made back of the house that empties into the spring branch. (Ralph Ritche was living here then.) I never could blame May too much for not claiming Jack because he sure was ugly.
This is only a hill with a path through the woods,
and it puts on a show every day of the year.
Thirty minutes a day is all that it takes.
You can watch or dream while you're there.
You can go any time of the day that you like,
but I like the show at dawn.
Thirty minutes you say "I could dream in my chair,"
but let me tell you the truth.
This is only a hill with a path through the woods,
but it could be your "MOUNTAIN OF YOUTH."
This path through the woods welcomes all who may come;
the young or the young at heart.
But, if you expect miracles you can't just sit there,
you must do your part.
The round trip is only a mile and a half,
but beginners may not go all the way.
You should learn all the actors; they live there you know;
The trees, the flowers, the insects, the animals, the birds.
When the mile and a half becomes a habit,
and you learn all the actors,
you will slowly begin to realize:
Your aches and pains - most have vanished,
Your troubles are smaller,
You have learned to laugh at life's "curves."
When you learn you must serve and not sit there,
learn to laugh and not cry.
You're on the way to learning God's truths.
It is then that you find this is not just a hill,
This is "YOUR MOUNTAIN OF YOUTH."
Walter C. Scott
published June 17, 1987
Meade County Messenger
When it takes longer to rest than it does to get tired you are getting old, I have heard. "If you don't use it, you lose it" seems to be the answer to many old peoples' problems.
In my case, working a dairy farm seven days a week finally got to me! Milking cows from 4:30 a. m. until about 7:00, breakfast time, then a short break, and the day's work started. When the last cow was milked, just before dark, I was whipped! Not enough energy to go on, but not relaxed enough to rest. I needed something!
One evening when I was about 60, I got a walking stick and started up the hill back of the house not knowing whether I would get to the top or not. To my surprise, by the time I got to the top I was feeling almost human again. I tried jogging 100 yards or so, walked around the pasture and down the hill to the black-top road and jogged to the house. After a hot tub bath and clean clothes I was ready for supper. This experience started me to going "over the hill" every day.
Several years after I started going over the hill, I got a bulldozer to follow me and made a road up the hill through the woods. It can be used by cars, trucks, or tractors and we use it to haul lime or fertilizer to the top, haul logs or firewood down the hill, and for recreation. Our picnic area is on top of the hill. The road cost about $300, and at the time seemed rather foolish but it has been the most "used" $300 I ever spent and we are all proud of it. (I could have spent that much on exercise equipment).
Going over the hill, to me, acts as a sedative, in addition to keeping my body in shape. On one occasion I really got upset and went over the hill three times before I could really get hold of myself. The three reasons I don't drink whisky, I tell people, are, (1) my stomach can't stand it, (2) I am too tight to buy it, and (3) my wife won't let me. Going over the hill gets me through stress, stomach upset, or most any of my troubles. As my cousin Harold Stith and I have agreed, this is the first time we ever got old and it certainly is a new experience. After reading that too much of certain B vitamins I was taking could be harmful to my eyes, I went from two capsules a day to one and started taking one 50 mg. tablet of zinc. To my surprise I started feeling so much better, like I felt many years ago. My right knee that I had sprained 15 years ago started healing like a 40 year old, even though it had already healed satisfactorily for a 65 year old. The tendency to hypertension decreased and old age troubles more or less just disappeared. After about 200 days on the 50 mg. tablets I switched to 30 mg. tablets because I felt like I was getting too much zinc. I am watching out for signs of trouble but am enjoying feeling like 45 or 50 instead of 80. I started doing push-ups and pull-ups a few months ago to get the muscles back in my arms. They had gone to almost nothing without my knowledge or consent, but have now been almost completely restored. I am still planning on going roller-skating on my 80th birthday.
All the pills you can take still do not keep you from needing the `MOUNTAIN OF YOUTH' to stave off old age.
P. S. This is written as a personal experience; not as a model for others to follow. Living is a dangerous business!! However, if you do not take a calculated risk once in a while life will be rather dull.
One way to tell the difference between a boy and a man is by the price of his toys! Your kids play with the toys you buy for them and teach them to play with, whether it be dolls, guns, cars, tractors, books, card games, doctor sets, microscopes, or computers. Just remember they are going to mimic their parents so we do have to watch our step. The other thing we have to remember is that they are like us and if the job is very hard or if something is difficult to learn they need some encouragement. Sometimes, a lot of it! If you could make it interesting, a kid would just as soon play with a computer or a microscope as to watch Superman or some other crazy television program. The best thing you can teach a kid at home is that it is fun to learn something new. You have a big investment there and I would not want a disinterested teacher to mess it up.
FROM: A Child
1. Don't spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask - I'm only testing you.
2. Don't be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it. It makes me feel secure.
3. Don't let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.
4. Don't make me feel smaller than I am. It only makes me behave stupidly big.
5. Don't correct me in front of people if you can help it. I'll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.
6. Don't make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.
7. Don't protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.
8. Don't be upset when I say, "I hate you." Sometimes it isn't you I hate but your power to thwart me.
9. Don't take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.
10. Don't nag. If you do I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.
11. Don't forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I should like. That is why I am not always accurate.
12. Don't put me off when I ask questions. If you do you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.
13. Don't be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.
14. Don't tell me my fears are silly. They are terribly real, and you can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.
15. Don't ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that you are neither.
16. Don't ever think that it is beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm towards you.
17. Don't forget I love experimenting. I couldn't get along without it so please put up with it.
18. Don't forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be very difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please do try.
19. Don't forget that I don't thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don't need to.
20. Please keep yourself fit and healthy. I need you.
Copied from a magazine
by Walter C. Scott
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning, thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are those who are deaf. Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as possible, thank you, Lord, that I can see. There are many who are blind. Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the effort of rising, thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many that are bedridden. Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced, thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job is often monotonous, thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Though I grumble and bemoan my fate, and wish my circumstances were not so modest, thank you, Lord, for the gift of life.
Copied from a magazine
by Walter C. Scott
Teenagers have a hard time realizing that older people were their age one time, and older people have a hard time remembering they were teenagers once. They need to talk to each other about their problems and plans for the future. You must be prepared of course, but you can usually do a lot more than a lot of people try to do.
When I was 18 and graduated from high school, mom told me I could teach school. She did when she was 18! Well, I had to pass the teachers' examination and find a school. (She helped me find the school.) After teaching school she told me I could go to U of K and work my way through, and I did! Mom and Dad did not have any money to spare.
A young person now needs to learn to type by all means! Learn all he can about computers as soon as he can. He needs to read all he can because if you can't read very good you can't write very good. Television entertains you but you need to learn to entertain yourself part of the time. (You have to pay for someone else to entertain you). Just remember that GOD helps those that help themselves. There is no way he can help the others.
Old people have a lot of the same problems that young ones have. The average person thinks that at 65 he is supposed to sit down and enjoy life. Well, that idea works about the same as "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die" -- You wind up doing just that! THE ONLY WAY TO ENJOY LIFE IS TO LIVE IT.
Apple brandy was made at the Ekron Distillery at one time, I was told, but was no longer made there when I came on the scene (1909). However, the remains of the old orchards stayed on for awhile. There had been about three acres of trees at our farm (the Jesse Stith place), about 5 or 6 acres at my Grandpa Scott's place (C. L. Scott), several acres at the Charley Hardaway place, and an acre or more at the Jake Williams place.
Along in the winter, when I was only about 5 or 6, my Grandma Scott told Uncle Fletcher to go to the apple house and bring a bucket of apples to the kitchen. Of course I wanted to go because I had never seen an apple house at that time. That was quite a house! Uncle Fletcher opened a big wooden door pulled out a few wads of straw and picked up a bucket of apples. As I now remember it they must have scooped out a shallow trench put a layer of straw in it, piled a wagon load of apples in, and covered them with a heavy layer of straw. Then came a small wooden door-frame and door on the lower side and enough planks or slabs on top nailed together so they would hold up the dirt until the apples were removed that winter. Enough dirt was put on top so it would shed water and a small ditch around the outside. The Coddling moth evidently had not come on the scene yet so you could raise apples like this without worms. Uncle Harold Scott (sixteen years older than me) told me of seeing one of the Kaelins, who had recently moved to the neighborhood from Louisville, drive down the hill by his house early one morning with a BIG team of horses with polished brass on the harness pulling a big load of apples headed for Ekron. One apple tree stands out especially in my memory. The Striped June apple that stood behind the meathouse near the woodpile. We started frying them long before they got ripe. My standing order for breakfast was sausage, fried apples, hot biscuits and gravy. Of course it was my job to see that there were enough wood chips to keep a hot fire in the kitchen stove.
The next apple on my list was the Golden Sweet that was certainly good to eat, but we never used them for anything else. It was great sport to find a specially pretty apple in the top of the tree and knock it out of the tree with another apple. The other apple tree that stands out in my memory was the little Jennetan. Long after other apples were gone, even after a frost or two, I could still get them out of the grass under the tree to eat or bait my rabbit snares.
For those of us who wake up early in the morning feeling good, an EARLY BIRD club might be in order. It seems like the world is waking up and the birds are celebrating the occasion. To take a brisk 30 minute walk in the woods sets your mood for the day. You find that the permanent bird residents like the Cardinal have to share the singing time with the summer birds as they arrive. When the Bluebird arrives in the early spring I never see him until after I hear him talking to me like he was glad to be back. He never seems to raise his voice. Of course the other permanent residents like the Flicker and the Pileated woodpecker, get more noisy as spring gets here. You know that spring is here when the Woodthrush arrives and sings his peaceful far-away yodeling song. At our farm you know that April 17th is here when the Barn Martin arrives. For your brisk 30 minute walk in the woods you must know the birds well enough to know their voices to enjoy them, because you seldom see them after the leaves come out in the spring. Since we have been chosen to feel good in the morning we may as well make the most of it instead of wishing we were like someone else.
Just be an EARLY BIRD.
Not long ago before autos and planes,
Radios, television, atom bombs, Moon rockets, and things
You walked, rode a horse, buggy, wagon, or train.
One thing for sure if you were able to move,
No one brought it to you, you had to go get your food.
No one hired you to work and paid you to learn.
You were paid by the job at what you could earn.
You may say life then was more simple; maybe it was.
But you need about the same things now,
It must be the noise!
The noise most confusing is all the sales chatter.
They would sell you the moon with the sky for a platter.
You are told not to use alcohol, tobacco, and pot.
But "too much food and saten' usta give you the gout."
This noise tries to get you to going full speed.
Then "save" all your money buying things you don't need.
If you listen enough and believed half you hear,
You'd go stark raving crazy or ever so near.
There are many ways you could stop some of this clatter.
Go to the jungle or desert - it doesn't matter.
Get hold of yourself, the answer's simple enough.
You bought the things so go turn them off!
Since time began there's been rich men and poor.
The rich getting richer, but still wanting more.
Don't let this bug you, they've problems too!
Just get up and go and decide what to do.
You've got to know how and that is for sure.
There are more ways to go and more things to do.
More things to learn and it's all up to you.
To get it all straight, forget all the talk.
Learn one thing at a time, and you can still walk.
Back then you might work for your room and board.
Work a little extra if you needed more.
Young folks helped each other to put on a dance.
You walked your girl home if you got a chance.
You listened to your hounds chase a coon up a tree.
But one thing for sure entertainment was free.
When you got a family and they knew you would stay
You would get a job with much better pay.
Life was not easy I'll have you know
Problems were with us and problems do grow..
Problems came up that were far from funny.
But the problems we had were not usually money.
Now today you have problems with money I know.
Never enough money and problems just grow.
Now I can't advise you on what you should do
But one thing I've noticed and pass on to you.
There's no way on earth to make more than you spend.
And it makes matters worse to go get a lend
You can be rich or feel rich as they say
If you will only spend just a little less than your pay.
Webster says that Modern is present or recent times, not Ancient. So you see when someone asks me how things were back in ancient times, I really can't answer. I have always lived in Modern times! Of course when I was a boy, if you had a rubber-tired buggy, a telephone, an ice box and a good wood cookstove (Range) you were modern. The things we have now came gradually and you forget just when they came. We all had to go see our neighbor's new wheat binder that cut the wheat and tied it in bundles. Then we would shock the wheat. (stand 6 or 8 bundles together and put 2 on top for a cap). Then sometime during the summer the steam engine pulled the threshing machine through the country and the farmer, with the help of his neighbors, would haul the bundles to the threshing machine to separate the wheat from the straw. The machine blew the straw into huge stacks and they were a lot of fun to play on. Then in a few years Henry Ford started making Model-T's. A doctor would get one, then someone else would get one. We all wondered if they would be practical. Many tales were told about pulling those first autos out of the mud with horses. Many tales were told about the cars scaring horses and making them run off with the driver holding on for dear life. What a nuisance those first cars were but you did not have to feed them all winter and not use them! When I was in high school our teacher heard about a Crystal Radio. He ordered a kit, we put it together and strung up a 100 ft. antenna. We took turns listening over the earphones. There was not much to listen to -- I think maybe WLW-Cincinnati started about then. In a year or two you could buy a battery radio that you could hear without earphones. We wondered how practical these things would be but we were Modern.
Sometime in the late 1930's I wanted to see if those modern airplanes operated like my car, so I learned to fly a little two-seater Taylor-Craft. I really enjoyed the flying but my pocketbook could not take that very long. Maybe that was too modern. As you see, one thing has led to another and look what shape we are in.
I hope this computer word processor my son gave me in 1987 holds up for awhile. It does beat the 1934 Remington portable typewriter I have. Don't believe I want one of those Super Computers I hear about. Wonder if they will be any good?
Dad often let families move into our tenant house for the winter to make railroad ties or just to stay for a while. I well remember the talk about this family that Dad let move into the tenant house without Mom's approval. She had heard they were not very desirable neighbors, but Dad let them move anyway. They moved in one day along in January and every one seemed contented. After supper that night we all heard a slight commotion at the hen-house out back. The woods came almost to the foot of the hill behind the hen-house and a path almost directly to it. Dad got his shotgun and went out back to straighten things out. He soon heard a slight noise in the path at the edge of the woods. One shot made everything quiet and all of us went to bed.
The next morning there was a dead dog in the path behind the hen-house at the edge of the woods. We did not see the new tenant that day, but about ten o'clock he came in with a wagon and moved out. We heard later that he told someone that he'd be damned if he would live anywhere that a man could come out the back door in the dark and shoot and kill his dog fifty yards away.
All of my life I have heard the saying, "He who doctors himself has a fool for a doctor". I suppose this would be when you are giving yourself some questionable medicine. It seems to me that there should be some dividing line between necessary maintenance and doctoring. The question here is, who would mark the line?
I am reminded here of an example of truck maintenance at the CCC camp in Cadiz in the 1930's. There were several one and one half ton trucks to take the boys out to farm jobs. All but one of them were operated by regular teenage enrollees who had the job of driving and looking after their own trucks. This one truck was driven and maintained by an older man who lived outside the camp. His truck always seemed to look better and run better than the rest of the trucks. One day I ask him how he happened to always get the best truck. He laughed and said, "I don't. The others pick theirs before I can get here and I always get the worst one. I keep my truck a little cleaner than they do, check the tires, oil level, radiator, belts or anything that seems to need it. The biggest difference is the way I drive my truck. I get my truck load of boys to the field with the others but I do not mistreat my truck. Never race a cold motor, change gears before the motor starts to labor, slow down before I am ready to stop. Never try to see just how much the truck can take. That is for the test drivers at the factory."
There was a mechanic to do repair work on the trucks, but that was different. That was a job for the shop. A truck that had a good driver did not need as much repair work as the others and did not need it as often. We inherit a body with a brain that often asks too much of the body. We take the brain to school for 18 to 30 years and really do not teach it to look after the body. The body is a liquid fueled, liquid cooled, liquid lubricated, electric controlled machine that has safety devices, automatic controls and altogether so complicated that it is no wonder we are likely to do a bad job of looking after it. The unconscious controls the brain has over the body gives us a lot of trouble. If you are nervous or scared, the body prepares you to get away and if you don't, you just get ulcers. If you are unhappy, it just really does not know what to do and does not do anything, and that brings things to a real standstill. Happiness makes the whole body do its best and that is our goal.
All that a free country can offer is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have heard it said that most people are as happy as they want to be, and others would not know if they were happy. As you see, having this complicated brain can be a burden if you don't know how to use it. For the brain to function properly, it must have a goal - a hero to imitate, a job to be done. Without a goal it may mistreat the body - use drugs, get into crime, ANYTHING.
For the body to function properly, IT MUST BE USED. Even though you only use your body to get to work, you could not work when you got there if it was not working right. Of course the brain and the body are the same unit but I have seen people obsessed with one idea or the other and it would make you wonder. If we inherit a body that has great strength, it is easy to be a wrestler; if we inherit a body that can sing, it is easy to become a singer. Most of us inherit a body that is just average and we must train it to do what we like to do best, and many times make some wrong choices.
Even though the body is liquid fueled, liquid cooled and liquid lubricated I have seen many people limit their liquid intake from laziness (they did not want to have to find a bathroom later, or they did not know where the water could be found). Limiting the liquid intake can cause problems even with lubrication of the joints and elimination of waste. In hot weather it is especially important to drink plenty of liquids.
Many people eat because they have nothing else to do, and many eat because they are unhappy. Naturally, this causes other problems.
Each of us has his own problem of being what we want to be and doing what we want to do. It probably would help if we could just see ourselves as others see us in solving some of our problems. The choice of how to live is up to us and he who does not study history is doomed to make the same mistakes again. The Jewish-Christian Bible should be studied even if you are not religiously inclined. You find how they lived and solved their problems. You find what happened when they made wrong choices. You find what their great men and women accomplished and how they did it. These are the stories you need to hear when you are very young because that is the time you are shaping your life. A friend or two is much better than a paid psychologist in helping us though trying times. We have specialists in every subject imaginable and we need to learn what we need to know from each one. We are our own manager and it is up to us to do the best job we can.
The retiring age of sixty-five is probably an average age that the aging process prevents a person from holding a job. However, several of our Supreme Court judges are over 80 and still working. (They are doing something they like to do.) I believe that 120 seems to be the maximum age our body can attain under the best of care. The saying "If you don't use it, you lose it" seems to apply to our body, because I have seen many people retire and pass away so soon, it was frightening. With this in mind it would appear that if and when you retire, you had better find something you like to do and get at it. It is sad the way some people treat their bodies. Actually it is a crime that they must pay for later. It is sad the way some who inherit a great brain, never use it. Just get into more mischief. Just like the truck driver, we can take a body and brain the others don't want and soon out do all the others if we try. You had better take good care of your body because your life depends on it!
Our family moved to Arkansas for two years when I was four. Dad and Uncle Dave Fontaine farmed Grandpa Fontaine's farm in the Arkansas river bottom at Alma. They divided the work according to their preferences. Uncle Dave liked the machine work with mules and Dad did not.
Raising cotton then took a lot of hoe work after the cotton was planted. They would hire 5 or 6 women to chop out the weeds and thin the cotton to one stalk every 15 to 18 inches (chop cotton). Dad's job was to keep the hoes sharp and see that a day's work was done. Of course he was to chop cotton too! The first day or two the slowest of the women could chop rings around Dad. I don't know how long it took but later on Dad could keep the hoes sharp and stay with the best of the "cotto' choppers."
After we moved back to Scott Hill Farm it was amazing how Dad could use a hoe in our garden. It was also amazing how fast he could file a hoe. Working horses and mules was not done unless absolutely necessary
I have a faint recollection of being out where they were baling hay one day. All I remember was that they had two mules to a turn-stile like contraption that furnished power to the baler just beyond the turn-stile. The baling part looked like a baler today but of course they were feeding the thing from the top with pitch forks and one man on each side would feed the baling wire through to the other when the bale was ready to tie. I feel sure they would never bale hay unless they were going to sell it.
The great change in farming in the last sixty years was brought out to me when I hired one acre of corn planted last year (1984). In less than fifteen minutes the one acre was "no-till" planted, fertilized, and sprayed. In October, the corn was picked and crib-measured at one hundred and forty four bushels. Sixty years ago when we wanted one hundred and forty four bushels of corn on this farm we used our team of horses or mules to plow about fifteen acres. This took about four or five weeks, and working the ground and planting took another three or four weeks. Then the job of cultivating the corn to keep the weeds out took four or five weeks. The farm was too poor to grow hay so we used the corn stalks instead of hay. The job of cutting the corn and putting it in "shocks" took about three or four weeks. We seldom gathered all the corn out of the shocks at one time, so we really did not know how much we made. We just got by! We fed the horses, four or five cows, a sow and pigs, and the chickens. Of course we ground some of the corn for our corn-bread. To set the record straight, I used my own $450 corn picker to pick the corn and that took about 4 hours. The $100,000 grain combine could have finished the job in about another fifteen minutes.
Soon after we bought our new Case tractor I tried out the new mower. This new Live Power-take-off on the new tractor opened up a new way of mowing. When you came to a bush in the hay field, you eased up to it and let the mower cut a little at a time. The old way was to stop and cut the bush with the axe or drive on and hope the mower cut the bush instead of breaking a section, or worse. With the new mower I could cut young bushes taller than the tractor. Our plan was to build the old farm up so that we harvested something from every field often enough for bushes to never be a problem again. This idea worked very well for the crop land but it finally took the Bush Hog and the sprayer for the pasture fields and the fence rows.
Perhaps some young people will wonder why I have such an obsession with bushes. Well, after having to cut bushes every year when I was growing up on the farm, and seeing no progress in getting rid of them, I was wondering how the problem could ever be solved.
The BUSH PROBLEM has been solved with machinery and chemicals, but we have a new problem now - HOW CAN WE EVER AFFORD THEM!
Back about 1950 we were trying to tame the old farm. The old permanent pasture field had grown up in bushes and had grown past the mowing stage. We found a Mr. Probus who wanted a job for himself and his three boys. I drove our one-ton pickup to Hudson, over in Breckinridge County, and moved the family's belongings to our tenant house. Since most farm tenants in those days moved about January 1st, I suppose that was when the move was made.
The trade was to raise a crop for one half, and work for $1.00 per day when I needed them. I sure needed them in that old pasture field! Mr. Probus kept the four double-bit axes razor sharp and the four started in on the old pasture field. They cut a strip of bushes about 20 ft. wide and went across the field like a slow moving mowing machine. All during the month of January the four would cut bushes one half of a day and it would rain the other half. They worked out $60.00 for the month. In February I persuaded them to pile the bushes so I could burn them, but that job never got finished. That part of the field grew back.
Along the last of February the boys told their Dad that he could stay if he wanted to, but they were going to town. They all went, but I had my bushes cut. No one at that time could imagine that 15 years later you could buy a rotary mower (BUSH HOG) that, in one day, could cut and chop up as many bushes as they cut in a month. (There could have been a few bushes too big). Of course the rotary mower costs from $500 to $1000. (Our 7 foot A.C. rotary mower cost $725.00 in 1969).
Scott's Cave is the primary drainage for Stith Valley and areas north of Maple Corners. The entrance, located in a cluster of trees in the middle of a field, is a karst window. One must climb down into a twelve foot deep pit to reach the entrance. Upon entering the three foot high entrance, one immediately finds the cave stream. The left hand passage becomes a stoopway with knee deep water and is flanked by mud banks. I have not explored this section for more than 100 feet, but it is very promising. The main section of Scott's Cave lies to the right of the entrance.
Scott's Cave is famous for its mudhills. Some of the mud slopes/slides are perhaps fifteen feet long. They aren't particularly gooey, but are incredibly slippery when your wet shoes drain onto their surfaces. Scott's Cave possesses a rather large main trunk passage and, if not for the mud fill, would be quite impressive.
Water runs throughout the entire 1500 foot main trunk, and pools of water over six feet deep are not uncommon. The blind fish Amblyopsis spelea has been observed in the cave, as well as blind and surface crayfishes. Near the back of the cave, after the last big mudbank, a huge detached flowstone cascade fills part of the passage. It is here that things get interesting. In this part of the cave, one must traverse deep rimstone dams. One dam has water that is almost five feet deep (how it was measured will be discussed shortly). Other pools are +/- three feet deep and one large pool that blocks the passage is of undetermined depth - probably in excess of seven feet. By climbing around the left on hand and foot holds, one can avoid this deep pool, only to get almost totally wet in the next pool which is four feet deep. There is one more pool, which is by far the hardest to cross, but luckily there is a side lead to the left of it that bypasses it. After this pool, the cave ends in a breakdown filled room with the cave stream roaring down through it. There are a few side lead possibilities, and with a little constructive vandalism, one may be able to push through the pile. All evidence points to a continuation of the main trunk passage. Back at the first of the rimstone dams, a passage can be seen at the top of a large mudbank. This passage, known as "You-Gotta-Be-Kidding Canyon", is very similar to Carefree Canyon in Cundiff Crystal Cave, Hardin County, except that it is worse. Typical canyon width is six to twelve inches, with wide spots of eighteen inches. The canyon height is generally eight to twelve feet. The length of this passage is hard to estimate because of the meanders, but a safe estimate is 500 feet. The last exploration team into the canyon pushed it a long way, but turned back when it just kept going.
After exploring the canyon, I quickly found out the wrong way to climb down a mud bank. I slid down it and into a pool behind a rimstone dam and sank up to my chest in water! And to think I had bent over backwards on this trip to avoid getting wet. Heading out of the cave, getting up the first mud slope proved to be more than just difficult, but rather impossible! I chose to go up first, and didn't get halfway before sliding back into the water and knocking everybody at the base of the slope down. By following the stream, we found a way to bypass the mud slope, and soon made our way out of the cave.
This was one of several cave reports sent to me by the cavers.
I consider myself an honorary member of their group.
One of my favorite hog stories is about old Spot. I bought him from a farmer down on the Ohio river below Brandenburg and brought him home early one morning in August of 1974. We did not want his lot rooted up so we put two or three rings in his nose, and since he was new to our farm we vaccinated him for erysipelas. Spot did not like this kind of welcome, but did not complain too much. After unloading him in his private lot I forgot about him until about eleven o'clock when I went back to unload the truck bedding in his house. He not only was not in the house, but had found a hole under the fence and was out of the lot.
Here was $125.00 gone and for that kind of money I was going to do what it took to get him back! I told my wife the news and started. First I found where he had gone under the fence and out of the big hill pasture back of his lot. He was now in a big unfenced woods. I soon found his tracks headed west up the old log trail. After about one fourth mile he headed south, down the hill, under the fence and into a fifty acre pasture with cattle. Just on a hunch I went on south and soon found where he had scooted under the fence on the other side of the pasture. The tracks were fairly easy to follow through the woods up this hill, but on top was another fifty acre pasture with cattle. His tracks were more or less headed south but fifty or sixty cattle can make one hog track hard to find. After checking the south fence the second time I managed to find where he got under the barbed wire with very little trace. Following these tracks down the hill through the woods did not take too much time, but at the bottom was an old abandoned grass pasture with many rocks and sinkholes. All I could do was go around the field. Sure enough, on the south side of the field he had tried to get through the fence but this was hog fence. His tracks went east, then started down the farm road but returned to the old pasture field. I walked back up into the old pasture field a short way and stood there wondering what to do next. I guess it was a matter of getting my eyes focused, but the next thing I knew, there was old Spot about fifty yards away, looking like he did not know what to do either. My first idea was to drive old Spot the three miles back around the road, but he soon showed me that he could go around one side of a sinkhole as fast as I could go around the other.
"Well," I said, "Go where you want to go, but get going. I may see someone and get help."
Old Spot was not half as dumb as I thought he was. As soon as he saw I was going to do it his way. He got going right back the way he came. Well, there was one hitch. If I was going to know whether he went home or somewhere else, I would have to keep up. Jogging is fun in its place, but this soon almost got out of hand. I tried to stay just barely in sight so Spot would not feel like I wanted him to go faster. Anyway, we finally got back to the farm but Spot missed the last hole under the fence. I drove him down the hill to the blacktop road, but that was as far as he would let me drive him.
While Spot rested in a briar patch above the road, I went to the house to get my wife to help. We drove back on the tractor, but again Spot showed that the only way to do this was his way. My wife drove the tractor back and I followed Spot back up the hill. He soon found the hole under the fence he had missed, went back down the hill and into his lot.
At three o'clock I had my $125.00 hog back home and was ready to eat dinner.
One morning in early December (1972) about daylight, Delean came to the milk parlor and informed me that a hog was in our pasture field. I was milking the last cow so I soon finished and opened a lot gate at the east end of the lane to hold the new hog.
The old pasture had only two barbs on the fence next to the woods, so the hog had no problem getting into the pasture field. What worried me was that the fence next to the corn field had only two barbs, and the corn had not been gathered. That hog could not stay in the pasture field!
I went to the gate at the west end of the lane leading into the pasture field. There was the hog, alright, all 575 pounds of him! I started to go around him to drive him down the lane, but he drove me down - that is, he started, but I moved FAST and got back through the gate and fastened it. With the gate between us, I was not scared, but I was angry that someone's hog had run me out of my pasture field.
The next thing to do was to find out who's hog it was. We phoned neighbors in every direction but could find no one who would claim him. Two of our closest neighbors said the hog had chased them off and on for about two weeks, and were proud we had him now.
That left me only one option - to get rid of him. Delean called the Sheriff and he sent a Deputy to help if there had to be any shooting. Earl Wright and Pious Whelan came over to help and we were ready to begin. I went after the hog on my new 20/20 John-Deer tractor. The tractor could outrun him, turn faster and really had him whipped by the time I got him to the barn. Delean and Earl each had a pitch-fork to guide the hog into the barn stall. Pious and the Deputy both stayed in the Deputy's car. Pious said he wanted no part in this and the Deputy said he would shoot the hog if it came to that. We nailed the stall door shut and, this being Saturday, called a trucker for Monday morning. The hog was quiet Saturday night, but Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Monday morning, when a cow or a person went by the stall he wanted to get them.
When the trucker came, we fixed a chute directly from the stall to the truck, opened the stall door and poked the hog out. We told the trucker to tell the stockyard workers that this was a dangerous animal.
Copyright © 1994 Walter Scott