The Early Years of My Life
Jack Jeffers Scott
Back to Stith Valley, Back to Scott Hill Farm
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 Homelife On The Farm in The 20's and 30's
2. The Fireplace Room
3. Old Meade County
4. Big Spring in the 1920's
5. The Formative Years
6. Tales and Musings From a Transition Time
7. Dad And The '37 Flood
8. World WarII December7, 1941
9. World War II Uncle Sam
10. A Year on The Farm 1948-1949
11. Blood On My Hands
13. My Flying Experiences
14. Ode To Jack On Turning 80
15. The Carriage
HOME LIFE ON THE FARM IN THE 20's AND 30's
We lived beside the road that joined the Stith Valley Road and the Big Spring Road. We called it the "Big Road" to distinguish it from the farm road to Granny's that went through the fields. A wagon or buggy would come by infrequently and once a week in the summer a car might go by. We would all go out to see it. Hall School was a mile down the road where the Big Spring Road joined ours. Burnett's Store was about a half mile down that road toward Big Spring where the Flaherty Road turned off. About two miles further was the village of Big Spring.
Big Spring had gone through its heyday in the mid -1800's when it was a stagecoach stopover. There were two hotels then. At this time Big Spring had a Methodist Church and a Baptist Church, a high school with one teacher, two grocery stores, a blacksmith shop and a saloon. We went to the Methodist Church there each Sunday in a wagon or carriage. In the winter we would heat bricks to put under the blankets for our feet and wrap up in old quilts for the trip. What few groceries we bought such as salt, pepper and coffee, we got at Burnett's Store.
Flaherty was south of us about two miles. There was a mill there where we had wheat ground for flour and corn for cornmeal. The Cosby and Craycroft Store was in a large old building that housed clothes, shoes, and cloth for sewing. I would ride a horse with a bag of wheat across its back behind me to be ground. Our saddle was an old army saddle and not very comfortable. We went barefooted all summer but would go to Flaherty in the fall if we had the money to get shoes. Ma had some rich relatives in Arkansas that would send us clothes their children had outgrown. We were the only kids at Hall School who wore knickers. The mail route was on the Stith Valley Road almost a half mile across the valley. Cousin Gill Wright and wife whom we called Aunt Lillie lived across the road from the mail box. Jim and I walked to get the mail from the time we were 3 years old. Aunt Lillie usually had cookies to give us for a treat when we stopped in there.
The house we lived in contained the two big log rooms with bedrooms above, and had been built in 1804. The spring was about 250 yards behind the house at the base of the hilt In the branch Dad had built a large box about 6 feet long, 18 inches high, and 18 inches wide, with a hinged lid. The box was fastened in the bottom of the spring branch, and water ran through it constantly. There we kept our milk, butter, cheese and left-over food to be kept cold. You seldom kept anything after a meal. Before the turn of the century, Aunt Lucinda Stith and her husband, Uncle Jessie Stith, owned the farm. She had enclosed the dog trot between the rooms of the house, so that it was a hall. Weatherboarding of yellow poplar planks was added to the exterior. They had aged to a beautiful gray color by the time we lived there.
There was a large bedroom over each log room with a window in each end of the house. The upstairs rooms which were unheated were a boys' room and a girls' room. The left log room (downstairs) had a large rock chimney on the end and a big fire place for heat. We always called this" the fireplace room". In it was a library table in the center, two bookcases, and several chairs. Here all of us studied or read while Mom and Dad read.
Dad would sit there and make his tobacco into plugs for chewing and crumbled tobacco for smoking in his pipe. I didn't find out till after Dad died that he and Ma got up at 4:30, had their coffee and smoked their pipes together each morning after they had their private breakfast before anyone else was up at 5:30. None of the children smoked until they left home. Mom and Dad had a great relationship together. I don't ever remember hearing them quarrel with each other.
When I was five I started to school. Early that year, Ma had to go to Arkansas to see her sister who was sick, and Granny stayed with us. That was the time I decided to try smoking and chewing at noon. An older boy gave me a homemade cigarette which I smoked and a piece of Brown Mule chewing tobacco to chew. By the time school was out I was almost at death's door. I managed to get home and crawl under the bed before Granny saw me. I thought I was dying. To this day, I have never wanted another chew of tobacco or a cigarette.
The farm had a nice generous garden beside the house. There were two sections separated by a grape arbor. The front of the garden toward the road was the high side for spring planting, and the back part was lower for summer planting. The garden was manured every year and would grow anything put there. In a corner at the front side was a mound that was used for burying cabbage and turnips to keep for the winter. There was an old orchard behind the house toward the spring, and a newer one on top of the hill. We had June apples and old-fashioned small peaches and cherry trees in the lower orchard, and fall apples and larger peaches on the hill. Grapes were plentiful in the garden, and there was a fig bush that Dad covered with fodder every fall to protect it from the cold. We always had a few figs. In the old rail fence rows we had wild strawberries in the spring and blackberries in July. There were plenty of walnut trees and hickories for nuts, plus a pecan tree that was uncertain. Persimmons abounded for both us and the wildlife. Dad was an outstanding gardener, and there were lots of tomatoes and okra, onions, lettuce, and radishes in the spring, and later bush beans, pole beans and butter beans. We had lots of cabbage for summer use and for burying in baskets for winter. We had lots of Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes, for daily use and for storage, and corn and popcorn, plus a cane patch for sorghum. On the steep hillside above the spring, Dad planted his wheat crop, and harvested it by hand, using a scythe and cradle. It was raked together and made into small shocks until taken to the barn.
Dad kept bees, and we always had honey. Eggs and chickens were abundant, and we raised a flock of turkeys for sale each fall. We also had mallard ducks and a flock of geese. Milk and butter were plentiful, as were cured ham, shoulders, and bacon along with sausage and lard for cooking.
While Dad was the provider of the outdoor food, Mom managed the indoor preparation Lizzie, the colored woman who worked for us, along with the girls, would can beans, corn, tomatoes and okra. From the orchard we stored apples and canned peaches and cherries. We had jam and preserves from the strawberries and blackberries, plus canned blackberries for winter pies. There were peach and plum preserves, too. It was rare that we bought anything in the way of food. Lye soap was made from surplus cooking grease and ashes. We did buy oil for our lamps to read by. Dad kept plenty of wood cut for the cookstove and stacked for winter use. In addition to the garden work, Dad always took time to help Mom can. He would get fruits and vegetables picked and cleaned up for her.
In the early 1900's, Dad built a shed on the back of the two large rooms. On the right was a bedroom for Mom and Dad, then a chimney, and the kitchen with a screened porch beside it for summertime eating. There was also a large pantry. The smokehouse was divided into one room for meat-curing and storage, and another to store canned goods in well-insulated boxes. The porch in front of the smokehouse was used to keep dry wood for the kitchen, to work on harness, to sit under and visit with neighbors on rainy days, and a play space for us. The porch on the front of the house had flowers and vines growing on trellises, and on summer afternoons we sometimes sat there, the grown-ups in rocking chairs and the kids on the edge of the porch or on the rock steps.
The corn crib behind the barn was double with storage space for the wagon in the middle. Above the right crib was a loft that Jessie and Mom had fixed up for a playhouse and a place to keep little kids out of the way. We had a small wagon for the girls to pull us around in. Dad made a double swivel-type wooden sled with steel buggy tires for runners. The high hills above the house made for good sledding. When the pond in the pasture froze over, Jessie and Mary would take us on the sled to the pond bank and build a fire. Then we would spend most of the day playing and skating.
Our house was between the Hall School and the Shumate School, and was not too far from Big Spring. The school seasons in those years were between 5 and 6 months long. As we fed well and were well-known, most of the teachers boarded with us. They shared the large upstairs girls' room with Rena Lou, Jessie, and Mary, and ate with us, fixing their own lunch to take to school. I remember Mary Grinnell, Ava Burch, Ruth Foor, and others who boarded with us. It brought in a little cash during days when money was so scarce.
When the Depression was at its height, sometimes people would come looking for a place to work for food and a place to sleep. Major Walton's road-building business in Alabama shut down, and two of his ex-employees came north to look for food and a place to live. They came as hoboes on the train to Brandenburg Station, and Mrs. Walton told them to walk out to our place. We took them in, even though there was not much farm work to do. They fixed up the old chicken shed that was in the yard near the smokehouse to sleep in, and put an old drum stove in it for heat. (Dad had just built a new chicken house.) They were cheerful and honest and good musicians with a French Harp and singing. A family on a hill above us were singers who yodeled at night, waiting for another family on the other hill to answer with their yodels. With that, and Bob and Bennie to play and sing, we had good entertainment on summer nights. Bob and Bennie helped in the house, the barn, and the fields, and stayed with us about a year and a half until relatives up north got in touch with them and asked them to come there. We recall with pleasure the friendships, the singing and story-telling at night of those two young black men.
Usually we had a family in the tenant house, some good and some not. One day, Dad let a family move in to help with the tobacco. They were a rather sorry lot with several kids and a mangy dog. The first night they were there, Dad heard a commotion in the chicken house. He took his gun, stepped out of the back door, and fired out toward the spring. The next morning when he went to the barn he saw the tenants moving out. They later told someone they didn't want to live "no place" where a man could kill their dog in the dark.
The tenants I remember best were Tony and Elyce Poliafico. Tony had left Italy in World War I to avoid the draft there. He came to Detroit where he met Miss Elyce (pronounced Miss Elsie). She was a widow who was fairly well off, and they lived together several years before they married. She had children in Louisville, and they came by our house looking for a place to live. Dad let them move into the tenant house, use a cow, and have a garden spot in return for raising the tobacco and helping at the barn. Tony would not use a team of horses or mules, but did all his work with his "grub hoe". Miss Elyse would cook spaghetti for him, and they liked to cook groundhogs. Dad did get after him for sucking eggs down at the barn. Tony called me little Jackie and tried to teach me how to suck spaghetti off the plate without ever breaking it. He had renounced the Catholic Church, but one day when he ate some mushrooms that were poison, he asked Dad to call the priest at Flaherty to give him Last Rites. He did pull through.
Dad was a unique father, and I wish I had known him better. He was rather quiet but liked to talk to neighbors. He would get outdone with Ma's uncle, Allen Stith. Dad bought a mowing machine, and Uncle Allen borrowed it and kept it for a year. Dad had to go after it, and thought most of the "Dam Stiths" were like that, but he did like Uncle Sam, Dr. Stith. Dad especially liked our Big Spring neighbors, the Hagers, Hamiltons, and Bungers. John Burnett, the storekeeper, was also a friend, and backed Dad strongly when he ran for Sheriff. Ma and Daisy, John's wife, were friends but competitors in the community and church. Once Jessie was taking some eggs to their store to exchange for groceries. The mare she was riding jumped aside to avoid a snake in the road, and Jessie dropped the eggs. Jessie went ahead and got the groceries on credit and took them home. When she told Mom what had happened, Mom was really upset. She sent all of us kids out to look in hollow trees and rail fence rows until we found enough eggs that day to take to Burnett's store and pay for the groceries. She said she didn't want Daisy Burnett to say that Ma owed her.
Now back to Dad. He was kind to us children and was always helpful. He took good care of our livestock. He was well-known and liked all over Meade county. Jury selection was different in those days, and he served on the jury a lot prior to being Sheriff. He just went to school through the Eighth Grade, but he could do algebra. He loved to read, and we had a good home library. We took the daily Courier Journal and kept up on current events. He had the books of James Fenimore Cooper and G. A. Henty. He also had Josephus, a book he loved to quote. I can still hear him saying, "Josephus said...etc."
Dad showed me how to hunt. He could go out at night with his lantern and gun and show me the trees where the coons and possums stayed. He would rarely kill them, as their meat wasn't that good. Uncle Fletcher had hounds and liked to hunt foxes at night. Dad would take us along with him and Uncle Fletcher sometimes. The thing I remember most about this was them sitting around a fire they had built and talking while listening to the hounds baying out on the hills. Dad loved to hunt quail, and the whole family enjoyed a quail dinner after a hunt. He also showed me how to find where to set my traps and how to set them. I was the hunter and trapper in the family. He loved to hunt and would go early in the morning and often bring back squirrel for breakfast. He was interested in guns. He owned an 1832 Joseph Manton muzzle-loading double-barreled shotgun with percussion caps, and an 1875 32-20 Winchester Rifle, both of which he had inherited. He was a dead shot. The first 16 times he shot the muzzle- loader, he got 15 squirrels and a coon. He would use the rifle to kill the geese that were flying south, if we needed meat.
We had an old grindstone that was turned by hand for sharpening axes, scythes, hoes and other tools. I turned the handle slow while Dad held the blade. I could never have the ability to hoe the garden, tobacco, or corn as Dad could. He really knew how to use a hoe. If we needed a new pond or to clean out an old one, it would be done with a horse-drawn scraper. There was an art to doing it just right.
Our barn burned in the spring of 1927. We had recently bought our first car, a new Model T. It was in the barn and burned, along with about 35 sheep and 8 cows, plus hay and some farm tools and harness. We did save the corn crib. The neighbors all rallied round us; we had $200 in insurance which was used to pay for the car which had been bought on credit over Dad's protest. Camp Knox was expanding, so Dad was able to tear down a barn on the reservation, for the lumber and roofing. Neighbors helped to do this and to erect a new barn for us. Some of them also gave us a few cows and sheep to replace those burned. When Dad ran for sheriff in 1932, he rode all over the county on his horse. He never liked to drive a car.
In those days, the roads in the rural areas were kept up by the landowners. Every able- bodied man was required by the County to put in three days or more each year to keep the roads repaired. The County furnished equipment such as team pulled road graders and scrapers, dynamite for blasting rocks out and rock crushers. Dad was elected Constable, and one of his jobs was to supervise the road work. We had a small quarry on our land to get out rock for the worst mudholes. The roads were fairly good in summer, but almost impassable by car in winter and early spring. Tire chains were a must in winter. A few cars now used the roads, but buggies, wagons and horses were still the major users.
US 60 was the main road through the county. It was good except for the stretch from Brandenburg Station to Brandenburg. The farm trucks could run most of the time, but occasionally livestock and grain that had to be shipped were taken to US 60 to be loaded on the trucks.
Just after our barn burned, Jessie had pneumonia and was critically ill. Uncle Sam (Dr. Stith) who was living on his farm near Ekron, rode his horse to our house to help Ma with Jessie. Grannie came, as well as some of the neighbor women, and Jessie recovered. She was to remember in later years that she was a semi-invalid all of that next summer, being quite weak and without the desire to be active, which was unlike her.
The announcement Ma had sent to family members after Jack's birth in 1922, said,
"The cradle had been cut in sticks, when along came Baby No. Six,
Now we can only pray that Heaven holds on fast to Number Seven."
This was in Ma's handwriting, and may have been her own composition. Jim was born in 1924, and Ma had a long convalescence afterward, with complications. There was no announcement after Number Seven. Later, Ma wrote an interesting account of Jim's birth and of all the visitors who were in the house at the time.
Two major events occurred before my memory. When Walter was a toddler, he crawled through the fence into a pen with a sow and pigs. The sow attacked him, and he was badly injured. Uncle Sam Stith came to treat him, and he had a long but complete recovery.
One day Mary was carrying her doll and fell down the steps in the barn. The broken doll cut Mary's face severely, and again, Dr. Stith took care of her. She was left with a scar, but it was not deep.
Dr. Stith took care of most of our major injuries and illnesses, but for minor ailments, Uncle Jake Williams, an experienced horse doctor who live on the adjoining farm, helped us.
The Twenties and Thirties were trying times, but with fortitude and hope, we survived.
THE FIREPLACE ROOM by Jack Scott, 2002
I was born in the Fireplace room. It was on a cool morning on July 22nd, 1922 and there was lots of company around. The old log room, with it's large fireplace had seen many uses in the past 120 years. Birth on a farm in Kentucky in that era was a family affair. My five siblings had been sent to Granny Scott's house about a mile across the fields and woods, but plenty of people were still around. Lizzie, our colored friend and helper, who lived on the hill above Granny's place was there, along with Aunt Maggo, Dad's sister. Dad was there as was Mom's brother, Uncle Jess. Uncle Sam Stith, Morn's mother's brother got there at the last minute, riding his horse from his farm near Ekron, about five miles away. Ab, the black man who helped around the place and usually slept behind the kitchen stove was around somewhere.
Uncle Jess and Dad helped when Mom needed to hold on to someone on each side. Mom was great for planning ahead, so plenty of old clean sheets were on hand plus homemade diapers and belly bands to wrap around my navel. Lizzie had seen to it that the customary axe was under the bed to cut the pain. I came out, looking pretty scrawny and Lizzie was heard to say, "lawsy me miss Ruth, you should have quit before you run plum out." The good old family names had already been taken by two older brothers, but I was in luck, just the same. Our white mare, Old May had a mule colt the day before they had named Jack so all said that would fit me also.
As was the custom in those days, Dad took the afterbirth out on the hill to bury it. Things move along pretty well and Lizzie and Aunt Maggo fixed dinner for everybody. Mom loved to talk so while she rested some, she had someone to talk to the rest of the day.
The Fireplace Room was the center of our home activities. On the old library table in front of the fireplace, Mom taught my sisters to sew. Dad would read to us and we did our studying there, with the lamp lit in winter. The old log walls made it fairly cool in summer and, along with the fireplace, it was the warm place to be in the winter. That was the room where Dad made his cigars and tobacco plugs while we all read and talked. I've often thought since that time of the many family things that went on in that room.
OLD MEADE COUNTY
Flaherty School is almost in the shadow of that big hill over there. What's the name of that hill? Bee Knob Hill, that's right. Did you know it's the highest hill in Meade County? My school, where I went, when I was your age, was on the other side of the hill. It was a little one room school with an outdoor toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls. In the middle of the room was a big iron stove to heat the room. The teacher sat upon a platform, about a foot high, at the front. In the back of the room was a water bucket for drinking water. There was a dipper in the bucket for everyone to drink from. One day we were told not to all drink from the same dipper and that everyone was to bring their own tin cup to drink out of. We put a board with, a nail for every cup, on the wall above the dipper. On Friday afternoons the teacher would take all the school on a walk somewhere. Sometimes we would climb Bee Knob and go in a cave up there. Our school started in late July but we got out the middle of January. In the fall some of the bigger boys had to take off from school to cut tobacco and pick corn. We all took lunches to school: Sausage and biscuit, or a piece of ham on a biscuit, or maybe, a piece of homemade pie. We all walked to school,, barefooted in warm weather and work shoes when it got cold. There were about 22 of us in the school, from the first grade through the eighth. At recess, the teacher would get a ball game started or ante-over on each side of the school. In this game sides were chosen, one for each side of the schoolhouse. Someone on a team would throw the ball over and if someone on the other side caught it, they would run around the building and throw the ball at someone on the other side. If they hit them that person was out. It continued till all of one team was out.
Back then all of the roads were dirt and mud roads except US Highway no. 60, which had just been graveled. Our farm was in Stith Valley just over the hill. Flaherty was the main village near us. There was a big store there that sold shoes, and clothes and farm supplies. Next door to the store was a mill. We would take our wheat and corn there to have it ground into flour and meal to make biscuits and cornbread. When I was your age, Dad would put a sack of wheat and a sack of corn, over the horses back and a old saddle on the horse. I would ride to Flaherty, about an hour away, and have them ground into flour and meal to take home so we could have biscuits and cornbread. Another town was Big Spring. That's where Meade, Hardin and Breckenridge counties come together. There were two stores there and a blacksmith shop. Dad would
take the wagon to Big Spring to get the iron wagon tires around the wheels repaired and shoes made and put on the horses. The blacksmith shop was a large barn like building filled with farm tools waiting to be repaired, Pieces of iron, for repairing things, hung from the walls. At the front of the building was the smith's forge. The forge was a large bowl like Brick stand, with a place in the middle to build a fire. At one side was a air pump that could be powered by bellows on the ground or by turning a large wheel. An air hose went from this to a hole in the firebowl. When a fire was started, coal was put on it and the air pumped under the coal to get the fire very hot.. The iron, to be into wagon wheels, plows, horseshoes or whatever was held with a pair of tongs by the smith, and placed over the heat. When the was a cheery red, the smith would place it on a large anvil and hammer it into shape for whatever he was making. I knew the smith and he would let me turn the wheel to blow air on the forge so the coals would get really hot. The iron would get soft enough to hammer into whatever shape he wanted. There was a one room high school with one teacher and only five students. Not many people went to high school
There were a few cars then but they could be used only in the summer when the roads weren't muddy. Everybody either walked, rode horses, or went in buggies and wagons pulled by their horses. Sometimes a wagon would have a hard time getting through mud holes. The law then required that every man work on the roads twice a year. They would bring horses and dirt scrapers, wagons of rock and sledge hammers to bread rock up and repair the worst holes and use a homemade grader to drag the road so it would be fairly smooth.
We didn't have electricity then so all of our homes had no running water, bathrooms, electric stoves, refrigerators, or fans. At home we had a spring, about 300 yards back of the house, at the foot of a hill. We carried our water from the spring and kept our milk and butter in a box the water flowed through. We had a big family, seven children and a hired woman and sometime hired men. There was a grocery store about a mile and a half from the farm. In those days we brought very little from the store. Do you know what Mom And Dad bought at that store? It wasn't much. Just a little coffee for mom and dad only, a little sugar, salt, pepper and vanilla. All the rest of our food we produced on the farm. We had a large, good garden, an orchard, and wild fruits. In our garden we raised our own potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, lima beans, carrots, peas and okra. We also had corn, pumpkins, peppers, asparagus, onions, radishes, and lettuce. Just about anything else that would grow in a garden. Our orchard Several kinds of peaches, and different verities of apples. We had pears, plums and grapes. A lot of grape juice and tomato
juice was made plus we dried apples on the roof of our large hen-house. We had our own milk and butter, our own meat house for salting and smoking meat and storing our meat and lard. We raised chickens for eggs and meat, and a flock of turkeys to both sell and eat. We also hunted for wild meat such as rabbits, squirrels, quail, plus fish we caught. Two of our relatives had ice houses . In midwinter when the ice was thick on the ponds, we would help them put up ice. Once or twice in the summer we would get ice to make ice cream. Occasionally a group would go together in the fall and kill a beef With no way to keep the meat, each family got only what they could eat in a few days.
Sundays were always special days. We went to church in Big Spring. Mom was very active there, playing the piano and organizing various events. It was a little over three miles and in the winter time in the open wagon, that was a long way. We'd wrap up in blankets and put hot bricks inside the blankets. We usually had company for a late Sunday dinner and in the afternoons we would explore the woods and caves. There was a good cave on our grandmothers farm next to our farm. You had to climb 20 feet down a narrow rock chimney to get in, but it was a large cave. During the war of 1812 salt peter, used to make gunpowder, had been mined in the cave. There were a lot of names on the cave walls going back to the 1800's. A few month's ago I was in the cave and found my name that I had put there in 1930. I was 8 years old then. This was before we had flashlights. We would take an old lantern and candles to explore the cave. I would go in by myself sometime and spend several hours there. Another Sunday afternoon exploring we did was hunting for bee trees to get the wild honey. I remember one Sunday afternoon when our preacher and his family were there. Dad took the whole group into the woods and found a large bee tree. We went back to the house to get an axe plus buckets and a washtub. A large hole was chopped in the tree and we got a washtub and several buckets full of wild honey. It was really good. We didn't buy much sugar so honey was one of our main things we used to sweeten things. We also raised a small patch of sorghum cane. A man in the neighborhood had a sorghum mill to grind the cane in to get the juice out and boil to make sorghum molasses . A mule was used to turn the grinding gears. He was hooked to the end of a long pole and walked around and around. sorghum was kept on the table all the time to use with hot biscuits and butter after our regular meal.
We're getting short on time now. I would like to come back some time to tell you more: like when the railroad from Louisville to St. Louis started at Rock Haven and was built in both directions, about river traffic at Brandenburg, or the big apple orchards around Ekron. Also how the last Indian battle in Kentucky was just below Rock Haven and how the underground railroad to get slaves across the Ohio River to Freedom in
Indiana had a river crossing at the same place. There is a lot of history that took place in Meade County. It sure is worth knowing about.
BIG SPRING, MEADE COUNTY, KENTUCKY, IN THE 1920's
When I started life in rural Kentucky in the early 1920's, Big Spring was the first center of my universe. The population was about 200 people but that was big to me. There was the Methodist Church where I went to church every Sunday. Mom was the leading force in the church She was the pianist, the leader of the children, the one the minister turned to for advice. Dad was a quiet and staunch member whom the pastor looked up to. In those days US 60 was the only gravel road in Meade County. All the others were dirt and impassable in winter except by horse- drawn vehicles. Cars were few and far between. We went to church in a farm wagon drawn by Old May and Beck. Mom and Dad sat on the spring wagon seat, holding the newest baby, while all of us children rode on quilts and blankets piled in the back. On cold days, we had hot bricks wrapped in the quilts to keep us warm. The Church was about four miles from home around the big road but much less over the hill if you rode horseback. The church was the first building as you came into town, but just down the road were two grocery stores and the hotel. Across the street was the Post Office and around a corner from it was the Blacksmith shop. The Blacksmith Shop was my favorite place in the town. You could get your horses shod, your wagon and buggy wheels fixed and farm machinery repaired. As a small boy, I felt like a man when the smith would let me turn the crank that fed the bellows to heat the metal for shaping. Miss Zell Moreman's house was a large brick house across from the church There was a large rock stile--block to help you get off your horse. In the house there were velvet setees and much fine furniture. Miss Zell was the church treasurer, and it was said that she hid the church's money in various mysterious places about the house. We visited her often and I felt I must be on my best behavior in this elegant place.
Down from her yard, the Big Spring flowed from beneath a small rock cliff. Several yards from the opening, the creek that poured from the spring went underground for a few more yards before appearing again. Across from this natural bridge was a large Oak tree that was famous as the corner where Meade County, Hardin County and Breckenridge County met. There was a large grassy space all around it. Beyond that space was the frame home of Miss Tula Meador, a close friend of Grandma Scott. Later, I was to drive Granny there many times in her buggy, pulled by Old Mac, over the hill from her house to Big Spring. I spent many a night there.
Back to the town: before coming into town you passed the large Hardaway farm that lay back, down a lane on the right side. On the left side was the farm of Jim Moorman, Miss Zell's husband. They had a strange relationship. He lived mainly on the farm while she lived in town. When together, they bickered constantly. The Methodist parsonage was on the left before you came to the church. As you approached the church there was a large grassy area for hitching the horses and wagons and beyond that the cemetery. Between the church and the commercial part of town was the school property that included a two--room elementary building and a separate one--room high school building. This was the Big Spring High School where Walter and Rena Lou attended their first two years. The white-painted hotel, with Victorian overtones, was frequented by many drummers, or salesmen, who came through on their way from Louisville to Nashville. In front of the grocery stores and hotel was a board walk with rock steps leading to level changes. To the side of the hotel was the old Clarkson /Hardaway Mansion. There were tall white columns with ivy, and flowers grew beside the walk A broad stairway led upstairs from the impressive entrance hall.. On up the road, on both sides were several nice homes. The road up over the hill to Stith Valley turned off to the right and became a wagon trail.
Big Spring had its rougher side. There was a saloon and on Saturday nights, after a bit of drinking, a group assembled around the grassy area of the old oak tree. Usually arguments broke out and fights erupted. I remember one, where two "leading citizens" got into a fight with much rolling around with punching and gouging of bodies on the ground. One bit the other's ear off. He later wore his hair long over that ear. If things got too rough someone usually called the sheriff. If the Hardin
County Sheriff came, the fighters went into either Meade or Breckenridge County and continued the fight.
By Sunday morning all was forgotten and both the Methodist and Baptist Churches would be full. Ma was great in putting on performances by the children on Christmas and Easter, and each child had a part I remember one Christmas when I was about four, Marguerite Burnette and I were to sing together. The church was decorated with a large tree and many ornaments. New shoes were rather uncommon in those days. Before starting to sing I spoke loudly, "I'll be damned Marguerite, where did you get those new shoes?" After a long pause the program resumed. I was quite a singer in those days. Sometimes when we were at Sunday dinner at a neighbor's home I was asked to sing. Several times I was given a nickle to stop. Sunday was always a big day for neighbors and relatives to get together for dinner. Many times we would have the preacher and his family come to eat with us. Dad was a great woodsman. He always knew where the bee trees were. If he and Ma thought the preacher needed honey to take home, the entire group would troop to the woods to cut a bee tree and have honey for all to take home with them.
The spring in the center of town always maintained a steady flow. At times when we had an extremely long and hard rain, the spring would flood and send water into the downtown streets. This spring flowed underground a great part of its journey toward the Ohio River. It was known as Sinking Creek and flowed near the Foote farm as it made its way through Breckenridge County. It would still be underground much of the time. Adjacent to Stephensport, Kentucky, there is a large wildlife preserve called "Yellowbanks". Here at Stephensport, the waters of Sinking Creek, having had their beginnings at Big Spring, flow into the Ohio River, starting a journey into the larger world.
The 19th century lived on in rural Kentucky in 1922. Life on the farm revolved around families and land. In our valley lived our relatives and friends In our church and one room school we knew each family. Food and fuel were plentiful and depended on the work of each individual in our family. From my earliest memories there was water to carry from the spring, wood to be brought in from the woodpile, chickens to feed and eggs to gather. Milking, feeding the cows, the hogs, the horses, and the sheep were added as we grew.
The garden was a source of food and of pleasure, as I watched the plants grow. The orchard supplied fruit all year. To me work was a pleasure as well as a duty. There was always time to play, to roam in the woods, to explore caves and to fish in the ponds. Picking wild strawberries and blackberries, gathering nuts, hunting wild roots to dig and sell; these things made my life interesting. Later Dad taught me to trap and hunt. Dad would take us hunting showing us where to find the squirrel trees. We would go coon hunting with him at night and occasionally there would be an all night fox hunt, consisting of building a fire, sitting around it and listening to the dogs, with their many voices, following a trail.
Almost every Sunday, after church and Sunday school, we would have the preacher and his family or neighbors for dinner or go to someone's house to eat and spend the afternoon. There was always singing, around the piano. Mom was good at playing the piano and organizing group singing. Occasionally there would be a large family gathering or a party. School plays or 4H meetings, with mom as the leader, added to the getting together. Spending the weekend with my widowed grandmother and helping her with special things such as making candles from tallow and learning to harness and hitch her horse to the buggy expanded my learning. To drive her to Big Spring in the buggy to spend the night, where I could watch the blacksmith and learn from him, was a treat.
I saw few people from outside our valley but occasionally the Raleigh Man came through in covered spring wagon selling spices, salves and medicines. He would talk of what went on outside our community. When I was 6 or 7 I would riding our old mare to Flaherty with wheat and corn to be ground for flour and meal. It made me feel pretty big to go that far from home.
The Sears Catalog was a source of wonderment to me. It contained things I had never seen and couldn't understand. I learned from it. With rough mud roads cars were a rarity and I must have been 10 before I saw an airplane fly over from Fort Knox. The twentieth century was on it's way to the valley., I do know that in my first 10 years of life I knew that work was essential to living and that it was a pleasure to me.
TALES AND MUSINGS FROM A TRANSITION TIME
This was a life-changing time. In 1936, we were still in the Depression, but hope was coming back. We lived in Brandenburg at the old Fontaine House on top of the hill above the Baptist Church. We moved into that house after living a year in Dr. Stith's house near the Old Buckner Home and the W.D. Ashcraft place (in Brandenburg). Our place was rented from John Morgan Richardson, an odd character in the town who had ties to the Fontaine family.
We had 4 acres of land with cow pasture, chicken yard, and garden. There was a useable outhouse, a large smokehouse, and henhouse. In the smokehouse were shelves with glass jars containing various things. Two half-gallon glass jars were filled with tapeworms, of which John Morgan was the victim. We had a good garden, a few hens for eggs, two Jersey cows (we made butter, sold some milk and the calves) and also my Duroc Red Sow, Daisy, who produced pigs for our meat and for market.
Our neighbors were Mr. and Mrs. Jim Bondurant, the 4th District Highway Commissioner at that time with an office in Elizabethtown; the Jodie Thompson family with several children who lived in the old Hamilton house; Mrs. Mollie Hatcher and Cousin Barb Shacklette; Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Rice; Eugene Fontaine, president of the bank, and his wife Mable; Mary David McGehee and her mother, whose ancestral home was the old Dr. Pusey Place with its pretty flower gardens. They rented part of the big old house to the Ned Brown Family with their several young children. Next to them was a large open field owned by Cousin Mary Ashcraft and her husband, W.D. (Will) who lived in the old Lewis mansion, home of Cousin Mary's family. Below us on the alley were three nice colored families, Aunt Polly Poole, who washed for people; her daughter and husband, Phoene and Ruie Jackson, who had their own house and worked at jobs; and Uncle Anderson Goodman of Civil War vintage. The latter lived in a small shack alone, and neighbors shared food and necessities with him, checking on him when the days were cold, and he was not sitting out on his porch I could go on and on, but these were the families right around us. We lived in a world of days gone by.
Both grade school and high school were a short walk from our house. I finished grade school in April of '36. My brother Walter decided to rent a farm and tobacco farm on US 60 about halfway between Lexington and Winchester. He asked me to come there to help with milking and the tobacco crop. The owner was an old lady, Susan Darnaby, who lived in a large old house set back from the road. The tenant house was down a narrow road beside the Windmill Restaurant. Walter, Amanda, and I were comfortable in the house. Amanda was a nurse and worked in Lexington.
We had a path through two fields from the house to the barn. We planted a garden beside the tenant house. Each morning at five we were at the barn milking the 27 Jerseys. There was a day labor hired man to help us. Usually I milked seven cows while Walter and the hired man did the rest. On one weekend, both Walter and the hired man were gone, and it was up to me to milk all of the cows, morning and night. This took most of my day.
When it became time to set tobacco, about six acres as I recall, we were able to get a used horse-drawn setter. We had three work horses that had been purchased for about twelve dollars each from the Dust Bowl areas of Kansas. It was my morning job after milking to bridle two of the horses and ride them bareback, as fast as they could run for about 30 minutes each. This was to get them so tired that they would settle down and pull the setter at a slow pace. I got my fill of riding that spring.
Across the road from the tenant house a farmer raised hogs. His fences were not good so some of the young shoats would get out, cross the road and get in our garden. It soon got old, running them out of the garden. Walter had a 410 shotgun so one day he took a shot or two at them from a distance. That kept them out of the garden, but the neighbor claimed one of them he had planned to keep for breeding purposes lost a testicle from the shooting. He went to court in Lexington and sued Walter for damages. Walter got a lawyer from nearby, who had a brother in Meade county, to counter-sue for damage to our garden. The whole thing turned out to be a farce. I was called on as a witness to both the garden damage and the shooting. The court was in an uproar of laughter over the case? and it was thrown out. It did color my opinion of courts and lawyers for years to come.
By late June and early July, the drought of '36 had set in. The pasture and hay dried up as did the tobacco and garden. The milk production went down and by late July, Walter was broke. He sold what little he had left. Amanda's income kept us in groceries, but it was time to move on. Walter packed what was left of their furniture in the farm wagon, along with a little feed for the horses. Driving the team with the extra horse on a rope behind the wagon, we started for Meade County. Amanda drove the car. It was a long and slow journey down Highway 60 through Lexington, Frankfort, Shelbyville, and Louisville down to Stith Valley. I went with Amanda back to Brandenburg.
Jessie and Frank were visiting there from Washington. Jim and I went with them to spend the rest of the summer in Washington. We left home on my birthday, July 27, 1936. I was now 14. Near Shelbyville, we met Walter, with his wagon and horses camped on a farm. After we had lunch with him, we went on our way. We followed 60 east to Washington.
Jessie and Frank had an apartment at 230 E Street Northeast in downtown. We were a short walk to the capitol, the White House, the House and Senate Office buildings and the Supreme Court. The main railroad station was also close. We could even walk downtown to the ten-cent store where Jessie worked. Frank worked for the government. The apartment was comfortable, and even had a small walled outdoor backyard. Jim and I got well acquainted with the Library of Congress. There was a small subway between the House and Senate Office building which we learned about and rode. It was almost 50 years later that Washington developed a subway system. We went to a swimming pool in a mixed neighborhood not far away. Washington was a safe place then both night and day and it was a great education for two country boys. When we returned to Brandenburg, I started my first year of high school
It was the period of the 1940's that brought tragedy to this place and to our country. In 1942, the old house burned on a beautiful Sunday morning. A boy who was living in the house with his parents, lost his life in the fire. Ruth Scott, Jack Scott and Alice, Rena Lou and her son Scott, drove up the road just as it was happening. Ruth grieved for the family who had lost their son. She also grieved as she remembered the years of raising her seven children in this house, and now it was gone. In the ensuing years, Ruth took up painting, and she was to paint a likeness of the house many times, in oils and acrylics, and in water colors. Her husband Walter had passed on in the aftermath of the 1937 Flood when he, as sheriff, supervised the care of refugees day and night, wearing his health down, and dying at Baptist Hospital of internal infections. It was Ruth's hope that her son Walter, who by now was the owner of the place, would once more make it a family home. Walter later built a house and with his wife, Delean Brown, raised a family on this land.
The era of World War II saw segments of the family move in many directions to work in Defense Plants, and to serve in the Armed Forces. Walter and Delean kept the farm going, using methods of conservation to produce all that the land could provide, and going into the dairy business to help with the nation's food production.
Walter and Ruth's other three sons who served their country overseas were:
William Fontaine Scott - Army Air Corps, flying bombing missions over
Germany, and receiving several medals for heroic action
Jack Jeffers Scott - Navy, serving as part of the Task Force that captured
the German Submarine, the only ship captured on the high seas since the war of 1812. Because of this capture, German codes were broken.
James Fontaine Scott - Army Infantry - participating in action in Europe
moving toward the Bulge prior to that famous battle. He was a part of tEhe Army of Occupation in Germany.
Standing now are family members of each of these veterans. Nicholas Scott represents his father, William. William Lee Scott represents his father, Jack. Brenden Scott represents his father, James Scott.
Dad and the Thirty Seven Flood
1936 was the driest year I had ever seen in Kentucky. There had been a series of hot, dry years in the mid Thirties. The dust bowl of the mid west spread dust all over the center of the country. The Depression had already taken its toll on the nations morale. January '37 came in with rain. It would rain and then freeze, Rain and freeze, and so on. Then a little ways into January the rains started in earnest.
Dad, (Walter Lee Scott) was the Deputy Sheriff of Meade County. As the rains continued Dad had to be away from home day and night warning people about the rising waters and helping them get to safety. Many roads were blocked and these had to be seen about. The Ohio River started rising rapidly. West Point was soon under water and U. S. 60 to Louisville was closed. As rains continued boats started in to Brandenburg loaded with refugees from Louisville. Dad would come home for a little while to eat and sleep a little but calls kept coming in that he was needed here and there. He began to look tired and run down but he kept on helping others that he thought needed help. Finally the flood waters went down but the clean up remained. Dad had developed an infection and Dr. Stith put him to bed at home. He continued to get worse so Dr. Stith sent him to the hospital in Louisville. There they found he had developed uremic poisoning. This was before the days of antibiotics. The doctors were unable to help him. Dad died on 12 March, 1937. Our entire family and Meade county mourned his death
WORLD WAR II MEMORIES, MEADE COUNTY, BRANDENBURG DEC. 7, 1941
Fort Knox was building up. There was a need for housing for soldiers and their families so Mom had made two apartments in her house and two Fort Knox families were living there. Alice and I had remodeled a small barn into a house and lived nearby. The Methodist Church was full that Sunday morning. Several single soldiers were in attendance. As usual, Mom asked two of them to come home with us after church for dinner.
Some time that afternoon the radio announced the attack on Pearl Harbor and directed all military personnel to report immediately to their post at Fort Knox. Our two guests left along with the two renters.
I was working with construction crews at Fort Knox at that time and the pace picked up immediately. The war effort was 'all out'. I was 19 at the time . In 1942 I joined the Navy . I knew nothing about the Navy but thought it might be better than what I saw of the Army. Looking back, I'm not so sure.
WORLD WAR II MEMORIES, MEADE COUNTY, UNCLE SAM
I came home on leave from boot camp in the fall of '42. Alice was teaching the Rock Ridge School, a one room school that stood at the corner of 933 and Rock Ridge road. She was boarding with Mrs. Jennie Cain and walked about a half mile to school each day. Some students were older than she was. I got a ride from Brandenburg to the school and we spent the night at Cain's. Saturday morning we walked down the hill and crossed Doe Run Creek, going up the hill to Weldon where we got a ride to Brandenburg. We went to my mother's house for the weekend.
That afternoon mom's uncle, Dr. Sam Stith, came to the house to ask me drive him out in the county to deliver a baby. Dr. Stith was in his 70's and came out of retirement due to wartime doctor shortages. Mom still had our pickup truck so off we went. The place was way out on a rough dirt road (as were most of the roads in Meade county). The surroundings were rather poor with the chickens and a few pigs in the yard with a pile of wood for the winter. I stayed out in the yard with the father and children while Uncle Sam proceeded with the delivery. When all was over he came out and said to the father; I know you can't pay me anything but fill Jack's truck up some of your firewood.. We did go home with a nice load.
Late Sunday night, he came by again and asked me to go downtown with him to an apartment over the old picture show building. A man had drank a bottle of roach poisioning thinking it was a bottle of tonic. He was in a bad way, but we finally got a needle in his veins and got him able to stand a trip to Louisville to the hospital. He survived and spent many more years working in Meade county. I don't know if all of Uncle Sam's weekends were as busy as that one.
A YEAR ON THE FARM
Fifty years ago, in July 1948, Alice and I bought the Guston Farm. Joan was five, and Rachel was two. When we got out of college in the Spring of '48, we had taken a job teaching Agriculture at the Horse Cave High School and moved to the old Moss farmhouse on the Hill above Bear Wallow. We hadn't been there but 3 months when the school board announced that they were closing the school and forming a new school district with Cave City. They had a Ag teacher with seniority at Cave City so I was offered the Ag teaching job at Cub Run. That really didn't look too appealing. Alice and I both wanted to go back to Meade County. In looking around we found that a teacher was needed at Irvington to teach a veterans' farm agriculture class. They also offered Alice a job teaching in the junior high school there. We had talked about living on a farm ever since our marriage in 1941. Now was our chance to find a farm we could buy in Meade County. We did a lot of looking and found just what we wanted near Guston. It was a mile from that village and close to both Irvington and Brandenburg. The house was comfortable though heated with a wood stove plus an oil heater There was no bathroom. The out house was a "chicken and hog variety", which we soon moved to a pit we dug. There was a good smokehouse out behind the house, plus a fairly good chicken house. The hand-pumped well was a good one and located on the path to the barn. The barn was some distance from the house. It was a combination tobacco barn and stock barn. It was a rather large barn about ten years old and in good condition. Wathen Kennedy and his family had lived there and also owned a larger farm next to it. About one third of the farm was on the north side of the L&N railroad which ran through it and the balance on the south side of the railroad. South of the barn were gates and a railroad crossing for machinery and livestock. There was a good garden beside the house. A gravel road that ran from Salem Baptist Church to Guston ran in front of the farm It crossed the railroad on the west end of the farm and then ran beside the railroad on in to Guston. Ekron was just east of the farm and on the railroad. The fences were in pretty good shape. We didn't get possession of the farm until September. We were kept busy moving, getting the farm in shape and buying some livestock and farm machinery.
Both of us kept busy. We took the children to Brandenburg in the morning where Mrs. Bondurant kept them. Alice and I went on to the Irvington School. My classes were on Saturday mornings and Tuesday night. The rest of my work time was spent visiting the students on their farms and advising them on their farming practices. Each was required to keep a workbook. Most of my time was flexible so there were times I could keep Joan and Rachel when I was working around the farm. I know it was a very stressful time for Alice with two children and no bathroom, an outside toilet and water supply plus teaching in Irvington. We were both young and glad to be back in Meade County on a farm. I was 26 and Alice 23. We had good neighbors. One was an older couple, the Mills.
Henry Allen and his son, William Henry had a farm implement company at the old tobacco warehouse on top of the hill in Brandenburg. They sold International Harvestor equipment. At this time great strides were being made in new types of equipment. We bought a new International Cub Tractor with a plow, disc, and mower. It was about 15
horsepower but adequate for what we needed. We also bought a trailer to pull behind the wagon. The Allens sold it to us on credit. We went to Louisville and bought 26 Blackface ewes and a ram. Mr. Bondurant loaned us a Jersey cow for our milk and butter, and we bought two cows that would calve in the spring. We needed feed for the coming winter. We were able to buy about 8 acres of corn a neighbor had cut and shocked and left in the field. It was a pretty big job to shuck the corn and haul it and the fodder to the barn, but we now had winter feed for our livestock.
That winter our son-to-be, John was on the way. We needed a telephone urgently. John was due in March A neighbor, across the field and Alice got together with a plan for Alice to hang a sheet on the front porch if she needed help. In the meantime I contacted Johnny Bircher who was in charge of the Meade County Telephone Company. He told me he would hook up a party line at the exchange if we would build the line. I went to Frankfort and got several rolls of war surplus copper wire and some insulators. I got together with four of our neighbors who wanted telephones and were willing to help me build the line. We cut Locust and Cedar telephone posts and started building the line from Brandenburg to our farm, about nine miles. Frank Penas found an old army surplus phone for us, one that you talked, then pressed a button while you listened This was all right for necessary conversations, but not good for chats and visiting. The system was the tried and true method where each one on the party line had a different ring. Two longs and a short, two shorts and a long and on and on, so each would recognize their ring. We made good progress and by April 1st had the line built and the phones working. A far cry from the phone systems of today. John came on March 29th
Alice had quit her teaching job well before John came. On the day set by the doctor, I took Alice to the Brandenburg Clinic where John was born several hours later. She was taken by ambulance to our home late that same day. Mrs. Bondurant came with us and stayed a few days. Joan and Rachel stayed with Aunt Maggo in Stith valley. Lizzie, the colored woman that was with Ma when I was born, came and stayed a little over a week. Alice had a rough time. Ma came from Washington and stayed several days. Now we had three to take care of. My teaching schedule allowed me a little free time. The farm work was busy. The sheep were penned in the barn and the lambs had arrived in January. It was a cold winter and it was necessary to have a bottle of Bourbon at the barn to give the lambs a drop of if they were slow getting started . Alice helped with that part, if a ewe was having a hard time with the birth.
If a lamb was too weak, we brought it in the house to stay warm, and bottle-fed it. There was the cow to milk morning and night plus feeding the livestock. The hen house was close to the house so it was convenient to feed and water the hens and gather up the eggs daily. Joan was a big help around both house and farm and Rachel learned from her. That spring, when Joan was six, she learned to drive the cub tractor. I cut some poles and found some used lumber and metal roofing and built a machinery shed just outside the yard gate to the left of the farm road to the barn. I knew a little about shearing sheep but was not good at it. We got Deward Durbin to help with the shearing. Wool was a good price that spring as were lamb prices. The sheep profits were good. We had wintered 10 feeder calves that we bought in the fall One late afternoon when I needed help in getting the calves to the barn, it was freezing and thawing, and Alice left Joan and Rachel to care
for John, and she helped me drive them through the mucky barnyard. She had on slip-on shoes, and when they went down into the mud, her feet pulled out of them, and she kept running in her stocking feet through the mud and slime. She did not recover the shoes. I think she made a decision that day. Returns when we sold the calves were good. I borrowed a manure spreader from Gerard Foote, and got the winter manure cleaned from the barn and spread on the fields That spring we planted eight acres of corn and put out an acre of tobacco. Some of my ag students helped with the corn planting and tobacco setting. We had a sickle mower we bought when we got the tractor.
There was always pasture to be clipped and fence rows to be cleaned out. The farm railroad crossing was ok. We had the pasture and hay fields across the railroad. Sometime it was a job driving the cattle and sheep across when they had to be brought. From the barn. One day the jersey cow we had borrowed from Mr. Bondurant for our milk cow was contrary in going across. I picked up a small rock and tossed it at her to get her across. A neighbor driving along the road saw the incident and told Mr. Bondurant about it. We then bought our own milk cow.
Growing tobacco was a year around job. In January we prepared the plant bed by piling brush and logs on the site for the bed and then burning it thoroughly to kill the weed seed in the topsoil. The job took a couple of days. We then raked and tilled the soil lightly, to mix the dirt and ashes so it would be ready to plant. The outside perimeter was lined with logs so the tobacco canvas that covered the bed after seeding could be attached and stretched tightly over the bed after the tobacco seed were sown. The tobacco seed are extremely small and must be mixed with ashes or sand so they can be sown. On a pretty, sunny day in late February we were able to get the seed sown. Throughout the year there was always something to be done for the tobacco. We had to thin the plants in the bed, and if a dry spell came, water them. When warm sunny days came in late April we took the canvas off so the plants could harden before being planted it the tobacco patch. We got the land tilled by plowing and disking until we had a good seed-bed. The land was fertilized with 10-10-10 and laid off with a small single shovel plow, with cross rows 3 feet by 3 feet. On a sunny day in early May, after a nice rain the day before, I got some of my class to help. We pulled the plants and set them in hills made with a hoe where the 3 by 3 rows crossed. With extra help we had the plants set out by the end of the day. In setting the plants a person walked down the row with a basket of tobacco plants. A plant was dropped on each hill prepared for the tobacco. The person setting the tobacco carried a wooden "tobacco peg". He bent and picked up the tobacco plant, made a hole in the center of the hill, placed the tobacco plant in the hole and tamped the soil around it. This continued until all the tobacco was set. Each farm had a tobacco allotment which had determined how much tobacco we could grow. Ours was l.l acre. Tobacco setting went well that day and we were done by dark.
All summer the work went on. Plowing and harrowing between the rows to control weeds and hoeing out with a hoe if needed. Then there was the job of picking the tobacco horn worms off the plants. If these worms were left they would soon have the leaf eaten. The procedure was to pick the worm off the leaf with your fingers, throw it on the ground and step on it. Late in July and early August the tobacco was topped, suckers developed that had been broken off. Late in August the tobacco started turning a pale yellow. Soon
it was ready to cut. Tobacco sticks were checked over and taken to the tobacco patch They were driven into the ground with one for every five or six tobacco stalks. Cutting was hard work. A cone spike was placed on the top of the stick. Using a tobacco knife the stalks were cut off about six inches above the ground You grasped the stalk with both hands and pushed down on the sharp cone and on down the tobacco stick. If the weather was dry we would leave the sticks in the field for a couple of days to start curing there. The tobacco was loaded on the wagon and taken to our tobacco barn. It was quite a job to hang the loaded tobacco sticks on the tier poles high in the barn. Our barn was fairly new so the job went well. Again I was able to swap some work with some of my students so help was adequate. In November it was time to take tobacco down from the tiers, take it off the sticks and pack it the barn so it would be ready to strip. For this to be done the tobacco had to come into proper "case" or moisture so it could be stripped from the stalks. In those days the tobacco was divided into five categories depending on where it grew on the stalk. These were trash from the bottom of the stalk, bright leaf, leaf, lugs and tips. Each leaf of the same kind were carefully arranged into hands of about 20 leaves and tied around the rib end with a tobacco leaf. Each type was carefully arranged in a stack so they could be loaded and unloaded from the truck taking them to the warehouse without mixing. We looked at warehouses in several towns and decided we might get the best price by taking the tobacco to Bloomfield, in Eastern Nelson County. Our tobacco was placed in line with other crops on the warehouse floor. The buyers walked down each row of tobacco, quickly examined each crop and made bids on each type displayed. Tobacco sold well that year and we were happy with the price we got. We sure needed the money to pay on some of our debts. This was the money most farmers depended on for paying annual debts and for Christmas money.
As I look back I enjoyed the year. I'll add more later, but this needs to be said. Alice and I had talked, many times, of a pleasant pastoral life on the farm. During this year I enjoyed many aspects of our life and yet I was always looking ahead for bigger and better things. We lived out in a very rural neighborhood, and while we had pleasant neighbors they were not very inspiring. We only had one car. When I was away on my job Alice had no means of transportation. We did have a washing machine but water had to be carried from the well, heated on the stove and poured into it. When the washing was finished, the water had to be emptied from the washing machine and from the rinse tubs. The washer had a wringer attached, but the clothes were taken outside to dry both winter and summer. They were carried out of the kitchen, through a screened back porch, then to a clothesline. In late afternoon, they were brought back into the house, and if all were not dry, they were re-hung on the screened porch to finish drying. A colored woman came one day a week and helped Alice with the washing. Alice did the daily diaper washing. All of the water for drinking, cooking, dishwashing, and bathing had to be carried from the well, too.
When the vegetables were ready in the garden, Alice canned tomatoes, green beans, and beets. We cooked vegetables every day, and had eggs from the chickens and milk from the cow to make pies every day. Joan started school that fall, and Alice sewed her clothes for school, as well as clothes for Rachel and John. Our money was short, so Jessie sent a
winter coat for Rachel. Joan had one from the past year that she could still wear. Joan caught the school bus in front of our house and rode to Ekron School to First Grade.
We went to church at Brandenburg Methodist Church on Sunday mornings, and that was our only social life, so Alice was lonely for adult company. We had little time for reading and of course no radio or TV. Sometimes Alice would pack up the children and go with me to visit Mary Foote while I was teaching my class in Irvington. John cried with cold almost constantly the first few months, and that made life difficult. Alice joined the Ekron Homemakers Club, and went once a month to that.
Altogether this added up to Hell for a young wife to contend with Alice bore it all fairly well but it did great harm to the dream of a pleasant, pastoral life.
When an opportunity came for me to take a job in west Kentucky with the Farmers Home Administration, we decided to sell the farm and take the job.
MY FLYING EXPERIENCES by Jack Scott
In my early days on our farm, airplanes were never a part of my life.. World War I had ushered flying into another method of waging war but little of that came to my attention Lindbergh's Atlantic flight made himMa a hero to all. As the rumblings of war in Europe and the Japanese attacks on China came into the news airplanes became a renewed interest. In the early thirties Fort Knox acquired an airfield and a few planes. Our entire family would gather on the hillside to watch the planes engage in aerial maneuvers, on a few summer evenings.
My brother Walter was the Soil Conservation Agent in Boyle County and lived in Danville prior to WW11. He took flying lessons and purchased interest in a small plane. He took me eying with him a few times to look over the farm projects he was working on. After my brother Bill finished West Point he became apart of the Army Air Corp and became a pilot of the B17, the Flying Fortress. He had an illustrious career as a pilot over Germany during the war.
After my time in the navy Alice and I attended college m Lexington . After teaching and working with the Farmers Home Administration, We moved to Henderson to work with the Ohio Valley National Bank My main work was managing some 16,000 acres of farm land on 36 farms. The work was interesting and kept me busy from daylight until dark There was a small dirt airport, just out of town on the way to Smith Mills. I decided it was time for me to take up flying as a means of keeping a better eye on my far flung farming operations. The owner of the airstrip had a much used Piper Cub. He took me under his wing, so to speak, and taught me how to fly just a little. We flew low over the various farms checking on the crops. I sat in the front with the stick between my knees and thought I was quite a Pilot. It was the days of simple small airplanes.
Another friend I got to know, at the airport, Had been a test pilot for the Airplane Company in Evansville, Indiana, who built, the built the P47 Thunderbolt, during WWI I.. This was one of my favorite airplanes of the war. It had a massive single engine in front and was heavily armorer The P47 was our best plane for ground support. It's powerful engine and massive firepower made a difference during the war. The former test pilot had a Stearman Biplane he kept at the Henderson airport.. I flew with him many times as we looped, rolled and dived over the cornfields.
One sunny afternoon when I went to the airport, my friend asked if I wanted to go up with him. I got in the rear seat of the open cockpit. Jim suddenly turned to me and said that he would like to do some low level stunts for a photographer who was there and that I might want to get out for a few minutes while he did this and then go up higher. I agreed and got out of the plane. Jim took off and did a loop above the field and then came by me doing a slow roll. Suddenly the plane's engine missed and the plane dipped so that a wing tip hit the ground just past me. The plane was build of wood and was very lightweight. It totally disintegrated. I ran down to see if could help Jim. I did get his tongue out and got him started breathing, but it was no use. He was dead when the ambulance arrived. I was almost in shock, as I could see myself in the plane.
I went home and laid down to try to get back in focus. Alice came home in a little while and asked me what had happened. She said I looked like a ghost. While I was to fly more with others, I gave up any thought of flying my own plane. Perhaps it was for the better.
Our Dad, Walter Lee Scott, was named for his cousin, Walter Jeffers, as was I, Jack Jeffers Scott. The Jeffers family were prominent citizens of Frankfort, Kentucky. We were an "old" family with deep roots in Stith Valley in Meade County, Kentucky.
A dreadful disaster occurred in the life of our family in 1925 when our barn burned.
Our losses were greatour Model T Ford, horses, cows, sheep, feed, a buggy and other farm equipment. The loss was enormous to our family. Then neighbors, friends, and family members made many contributions to help us, including livestock, feed, farm tools and other things needed to carry on a farming operation.
Cousin Walter Jeffers gave us a handsome 2-horse carriage, suitable for the mansions of Frankfort, but a bit ostentatious for Stith Valley and Big Spring. The carriage was totally enclosed, had 4 doors, and windows front, back and on the sides. There was a flap in front which the reins slipped through, from the horses to the driver. Fenders served as a cover for each wheel, keeping mud off the passengers as they climbed the steps into the interior. The seats were leather, with springs for a gentle ride. Ornate lights on each side gave a touch of elegance.
While Dad appreciated the gift, neither he nor any of the family would ever drive the carriage. It would have seemed inappropriate in our neighborhood. After much deliberation and many thoughts on how best to get it out of our family, Mom and Dad decided to give it to the Sipes family who lived over the hill and farmed a large farm in Big Spring Valley.
The Sipes family had several children, and every day their children drove to a High School at Flaherty about 3 miles away. It was a cold ride for them in their farm wagon, which was totally unenclosed. The family were most appreciative of the offer of the enclosed vehicle. My sister, Jessie who was high school age, started walking over the orchard hill to the Sipes every day to ride to the high school at Flaherty. This enabled her to go to high school without boarding away from home as she had been doing previously. The arrangement worked very well for all of us.
This was the closest our family ever came to living in high style.