Tuesday, June 30

Sam Ward tells one that a mother and a kid came to his office one day for some legal advice. Sam thought he would give the kid a few nickels as he didn’t look like he had ever had too much candy. Sam didn’t have anything but a dollar bill. Sam said, “Sonny, run down the street and get me change for this.” After the kid had gone its mother said, “Judge, you shouldn’t have done it, you know that kid ain’t very bright. In a few minutes the kid came back and deposited $1.25 in Sam’s hand. Sam looked at the mother and said there is nothing wrong with that boy. Just let him stay as foolish as he likes, that kid will make it. 1963

Monday, June 29

3000 Miles From Big Bottom

My Uncle Matt Horn worked at the old Water Plant that sat near the bridge that spanned the North Fork of the Kentucky River taking you from East Main to Woodland Park. I spent so much of my summers there playing in the grass, and just sitting with Uncle and Auntie listening to stories they would tell me.

This little incident happened on one of the days that I was going to the Water Plant to visit with Uncle Matt and take his supper. Aunt Laura always fixed him a hot supper and I would put it in my basket that was on my mode of travel in my youth, my beloved bicycle, purchased from Kenyon’s. While I was awaiting the finish of his supper, all Hell broke lose in Big Bottom, people were shouting back and forth to each other, some crying, some laughing it off, and still others in a state of shock. I remember it so very well because at 9 years of age, I had big ears, made for listening to a lot I wasn’t supposed to. All at once, Granny grabbed me and said, “Child, the end is coming but you have nothing to worry about since you are still a child, but the rest of us….” She stopped as someone on the street below our porch was hollering up to her and asking her if she could see the future in the cards she read for friends. She laid her head back and laughed, “no card reading today, gotta get ready for a long trip…are you ready?”

I looked up and down the Big Bottom area and people were congregating hashing over the news that had been aired over the radio, I think. Radios were blaring from every direction. I thought, “now, something is going to happen when we see the sun turn red.” Granny had told me “Idy, at the end time, we will know for the sun will turn as red as blood.” It was getting dusky dark and I watched for the red sun, or red moon, whatever. Auntie came out with Uncle’s supper and told me to get on the road and take Uncle’s supper while it could be eaten hot. I balked and told her I didn’ t want to leave home cause the end of the world was coming and I didn’t want to be on the road heading toward Woodland Park when it happened.

Auntie took me in her arms and told me, “Idy, this has been happening since the world began. I know as a child it happened to me and you see we are still here. That is when she told me again what I had been taught that no one will know the day and time and that God would come like a thief in the night. She continued by patting me on my behind and telling me to take off and that she would be watching for me to get back. I knew Uncle was waiting on his supper so I took off. I passed neighbors and they seemed to be going on with their business of cleaning cars, weeding, gardening, etc. So, I took to the sidewalk for I wasn’t allowed in the street at that time. I peddled but kept an eye on the sun going down and to get the first glimpse of maybe a red moon. I finally got to Frost’s Filling Station and Mr. Frost was sweeping the area around his business getting ready to close for the night, and as usual, I stopped to chat with him and Mrs. Frost (two of the nicest people in our area), and he could tell something was not up to par with me and he asked me if I was sick or what was wrong and I told him, “don’t you know, the end of the world is coming today and I don’t want to leave Big Bottom (did I love Big Bottom or what?).

Well, he broke out in a loud chuckle and Mrs. Frost came to where we were standing and he told her about my worry. They stood looking at me trying to think of some way to console me I know. Mr. Frost took his broom and said to me, “IdaLee, I am going to lay my broom down right here in front of us, and if it gets up and walks away from us, then you will know the end is near and we all better pray.”

My eyes fell on the broom in front of us and I stood and waited for it to get up and walk. Well, it didn’t. And til today, about 68 years later my broom hasn’t taken a step. I continued over East Main while the Frosts made sure the traffic was clear enough for me to cross and I got to Uncle Matt who was sitting out on the little porch of the Water Plant waiting for me. He took me in his arms and told me Aunt Laura had called him and that he was to talk to me and ease my mind. Well, just being with him and hearing tales he would tell me took my mind in an instant off of watching for the red moon to appear when the red sun set. It was almost dark when I left the Water Plant and peddled home. I slept good that night remembering what I was told time and again, “God is in His Heaven, and all’s right with the world..” What a memory and that news spread time and again but I never let it bother me. But, before I close this one out, I will have to say when I married, went to California to be with my husband who was serving in the Navy that old fear did re-occur as I spent my first night in the low country of CA. Yep, when the moon peeped over the ocean near our house, it was blood red, Tom was out on the ship, and I was alone 3,000 miles away from Big Bottom, and really I had a chill up my spine, but soon found out that the big “red moon” came up every evening, and I learned to see the beauty of the moon then for the first time really and the fear, well it suddenly was gone.

Sunday, June 28


On a fine, cloudless, spring day after the war was over, a tiny airplane appeard over Hazard. It was up so high, I could hardly see it. It started making smoke and soon had constructed a giant letter P in the sky. My mother took one look and said, "That's a sky writer." She had seen them in Lexington before the war. Anyway the letters, which were described the next day in the Hazard Hearld as "About a mile high," kept appearing. The P was followed by an E and another P. Soon, the pilot had spelled out Pepsi Cola in the sky. He did it three times. After a while the letters faded away.

That night when Daddy came home from the store, he was grinning and laughing. He said that a lot of people couldn't read what it said, but when they saw words written in the sky they assumed that it was the end of the world. Preachers appeared on the steps of the courthouse, all preaching as loud as they could about the end of the world. I really believe the preachers were probably literate, but they weren't about to pass up a chance to save a few souls. The preaching lasted longer than the message in the sky. The end of the world might someday be announced by letters in the sky, but I have serious doubts that they will spell out Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola.

I wonder if there is anybody in Hazard who remembers that day?

Saturday, June 27

Lower Broadway

I clearly remember the Lower Broadway playground where we played a lot of marbles and baseball games. We used a broomstick and a small rubber ball like the girls used to play jacks.

I remember a Wild West Indian coming to Broadway school and doing a show on the playground. He traveled in a big 1933 Packard Limo. We had never seen anything like that. The show cost us 3 nickles. I have a vague memory of Ken Maynard and his big van with his horse painted on the side. That was around 1937 or '38 when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade at Lower Broadway. A Miss Magruder was my teacher.

Paul Townes was a brief friend. He was a year older than I. I went to school with his sister, Marie and of course his older brother Garland was my hero. One year the Hazard Bulldogs were to play in the District Basketball Tournament but it was against Viper in their gym. Paul and I were in a bad fix. We had to go but we had no ride and no money, honey. So after putting two devious minds together we came up with a plan. Paul would bum us a ride and I would come up with the coin. After school on Friday we eased on over to my house and got out the old man's steel piggy bank. He made it himself and said it was burglar proof. But I took the double edge blade out of his razor and broke it in half, slipped it into the slot and fished out eight quarters. Plenty enough for the trip. But it was all in vain. The Bulldogs lost. Steele and McGuire had sprained ankles and couldn't get the job done. Viper's Dupree brothers killed us.

Friday, June 26

Country Store

D. Y.’s Country Store, at the corner of Main and Lovern Streets, was a large general store that stood where First Federal Savings and Loan now stands. Inside sat a big pot bellied coal stove, a spit box filled with sand and several brass cuspidors (spittoons). Several handmade set-in chairs with hickory split bottoms stood near. Some of the fine men who polished the chair bottoms included Jesse Morgan, Judge John C. Eversole, Judge H. Cook Faulkner, Judge Will Begley, Judge R. B. Roberts and Judge Sam Ward. Attorneys were Scott E. Duff, Matt Dixon, J. K. P. Turner and Will Oliver, who had lost a leg.

The merchandise in the store was transported by boat up the river from Jackson. In the dry goods they had bolts of calico. They also had worsted cloth. The men called the brocaded material “skipped up woosted.” They carried lots of yellow domestic (factory), to made sheets, pill cases and chemise (shimmies) and step-ins. This was bleached with lye made from ash hoppers.

The store also had oil cloth, checked gingham, cotton flannel for men’s shirts, outing for gowns and night caps, white outing for baby clothes and Long Johns were carried for all the family. The building burned in 1937. It was the last wooden structure on Main Street. The First Federal Savings building was constructed on this spot in 1940.

D. Y. Combs owned land in the heart of Hazard and a large farm in Blue Grass Hollow that extended to the railroad. He raised cattle, hogs, and nice horses. He also dealt in lumber. He cut and snaked logs from the hills with oxen. The oxen were broken and trained when young to Gee, Haw and Whoa! The oxen were shod with cloven shoes. They were shod by securing them in a stout stock, then driving a stake into the ground and tying the lef to the stake with a rope. They got used to it and became docile. A team was five pair or ten oxen. Some of them learned to shirk by turning tail in the oxbows. To prevent this, their tails were tied together.

The poplar logs were huge, five to six feet in diameter. Oxen were used because they were slow in movement, but sure. They held back and didn’t get broken legs like mules. They had names like Buck and Berry, Tom and Jerry.

After the logs were piled, they were branded by D. Y.’s mark, rafted together and poled down the river to Frankfort for sale.

Wednesday, June 24

Window Trimmer

I lived in Hazard from 1939 until 1948. Hazard got a radio station and an airport at about the same time, so we thought we had hit the big time. The Singing Miner was on the air about then and Hazard even had a big-time radio star. We lived on Lyttle Blvd, then moved to Cedar Street. My father, Julian Murrill, owned Julian's Department Store, located next to People's Bank on Main Street.

This is a window display at my father's store around 1947. It had a single showcase that was designated the "jewelry department." There were departmens for men's and women's clothing and a shoe department in the back. It was not a large store. Clothing styles have changed.

My father started out in retail clothing when he worked at Wolfe-Wiles Department Store in Lexington in the 1930's. He did displays in the store windows and inside. His official title was "window trimmer." So naturally, when he got his own store -- Julian's in Hazard -- he always did very attractive window displays. He always believed they were the key to the store's success.

There was a fake pipe organ above the shoe department. The two female manikins were the first of that kind in Hazard. My father's other talents included sign painting, decorating churches for weddings, and patriotic displays during the war.

No Way I Was Going To Miss This...

Back in the '30s I remember the Broadway bridge that went across the big gulch to Laurel Street. It was an old rusty steel frame bridge with a wooden board surface. It had two wooden runners lengthwise on the bed to support the wheels of the cars. It was one way but still carried a lot of traffic. The boards were nailed down but they were still loose from age and the weather. I don't know how many times I stumped my big toe running across barefooted. Finally, with regret, I decided it would be better if I wore my shoes during the summer to avoid all that pain. I guess I crossed this bridge a million times going to school or downtown, our only connection with the outer limits of Hazard. There was no highway under the bridge then, just a creek and ravine that was as thick as a jungle. We threw a lot of rocks into the ravine and sometimes when we had an old model airplane we would put a big firecracker inside, set fire to the tail and fly it over the side. That was pretty spectacular when it exploded. But nobody else appreciated it as much as we did.

One day, in particular, I was crossing the bridge on the way home when I saw a big dog coming toward me. He was acting funny and foaming at the mouth. I knew he was bad news and had just started my retreat when the police car came up behind me. Someone had already called the cops. The policeman parked his car there on the bridge and went after the dog on foot. He told me to stay back but there was no way I was going to miss this. The cop pulled his pistol but the dog turned around and staggered back down Laurel Street toward my house. The cop fired once but missed. When he finally got closer for the kill he was right near my front door. Two more shots and he was finished. Man what a day that was. The Broadway Bridge is gone now along with many other landmarks in Hazard that always felt like home...

Remember - you can click on images to enlarge

Tuesday, June 23

Ideal Furniture was a tall, skinny, three story building between Newberries and Sterling Hardware. This business was organized by W. E. Mattingly, M. E. French and Ben D. Gatliff. It was a lovely store with good furniture and giftware. In the south corner, Fred Mattingly had a watch repair and jewelry shop.

Mr. Mattingly married Stella Combs, the lovely daughter of Spencer Combs. They had a nice church wedding. Yes, we had elegant weddings then. I remember the guests as they tripped up the boardwalk of Broadway on the way to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Calloway Napier, Stella’s sister. The guests were elegantly attired in picture hats and wore white elbow-length gloves.

Ideal Furniture Company was organized in 1918, The company installed a set of Westminster Chimes in 1941. For many years the chimes played every fifteen minutes and were heard at the top of each hour. Programs of sacred, classical and semi-classical music were played each afternoon at five pm and on Sunday mornings at 9:30. The Nation's Prayer Minute was announced each evening at six pm by the playing of Sweet Hour of Prayer. After the installation of the chimes, Ideal Furniture became known to many as The Home of Chimes.

Bill Mattingly later sole out and moved to Florida where he was engaged in the real estate business for several years, but the inoculation of Kentucky soil outweighed the sand of Florida and he returned to Lexington.

Home Office Supply Company later occupied the Ideal Furniture building. Today it houses a really nice restaurant known as the Sky Box.

Monday, June 22

His Smile Did More Than Medicine

The man in the drug store booth a few days ago picked up an empty coffee cup and passed it to a waitress. “How ‘bout you getting’ me one mo’ cup of coffee,” he smiled. “That’s pretty good coffee and maybe my friend here would like to have a cup.”

The man was Dr. Martin Palmer, a friendly Hazard physician, who was taking a few minutes break between house calls and office work. He was in typical mood, wanting somebody to talk to.

Dr. Palmer always seemed to be in a hurry when he was on his feet or behind the wheel of his automobile. And he generally was, for he covered a wide territory and many persons with that little black bag. He was willing to go whenever and wherever called. But when he sat down either in a drug store booth or by a bedside, he appeared to drop stress and strain.

He liked to talk, especially about unnamed cases in his own profession. He seemingly did this to bring out points that led directly to his hearers. I left him many times knowing that he had warned me about my own health although he had not called names and pointed fingers.

It isn’t possible to forget his encouraging words during the troubled times – his patience, sincerity and effort to bring about a speedy recovery from whatever illness had befallen his patient.

Someone once said, “as a tiny drop of water when compared to a great sea” are the hours of man’s leisure time.” It well described Dr. Palmer’s life. He was interested in doing for others without thinking of himself. This was the way he wanted it.

I remember a statement he made while sitting by the bedside of my wife – the very day of his passing. He had called a drug store about some medicine. As he returned with it, I asked if it was something new. Dr. Palmer replied that it wasn’t new, that it had been with us all the time and that when our Creator above wants us to use it, He makes it available to us. After studying about the remark, I realized the truth in it.

So often Dr. Palmer’s presence and his smile did more for his patient than did medicine. 1956

Sunday, June 21


Bobby Ray was a regular visitor to Downtown Hazard and was a fascinating character. For a while there I saw him maybe once a week. He was a little blond haired guy about seven years old, usually bare footed in dirty short pants, probably the only pair he had. I never knew where he was from, but I did know he was a tough kid, street wise, already at that age. I talked to him sometimes but he was not very friendly. Wouldn't talk about his self very much. So I left him alone and let him do his thing. He was smart and he was not alone. He had a little scrawny looking dog that was always with him. The dog was smart, too. Bobby and the dog would mosey into the dime store, just like the rest of us did, and survey the candy counter and the toy counter and whatever else might be interesting. Picking up items to examine closer he would reach down casually and hand the dog something small. The dog would immediately turn and head for the front door by himself. Once outside he would go to one side and sit and wait for his master to come out later. Now I don't care who you are, that was slick. If it was a candy bar, Bobby always gave the dog his share. It was then I realized that every time I saw the kid he was eating something. After a year or so I stopped seeing the kid and his dog. I hoped he had moved on to better things.

Saturday, June 20


I’ll not mention any names. One old timer was watching the wind blow up and down Main Street in Hazard. He said, “By granny, more women are wearing britches these days than I have ever seen before. I said, “Uncle, they have been doing that for many a day.” I said, “Did you notice them all summer with those short ones on?” He replied, “Son, dammit, those are not britches, they had on their bathing suits.” He said, “Back in my day I seen women wear overhauls over their dresses to help us men folks make a raft, or to feed the stock. That was alright for a woman to wear because she was helping do a man’s work. But now they come out here with all the plaids and so forth on.” He said, “Son, if one of them ever bent over to turn a log these kind would split right up the straddle, if they gave any kind of a heave at all.” He spit out a big wad of tobacco, wiped his chin and said, “son, I don’t know what is going to happen to our women folks. They just won’t wear enough clothes. They are going to take consumption and die off. Most men folks are trying to follow them too. I don’t know to this day who is the boss amongst us anymore."

"Times shore has changed since I was a sprie young fellow. Women in those days wasn’t dressed up unless they had on six or seven petticoats. You couldn’t tell when a youngun was going to be brought into this world in the olden days. Now you can tell when they start sprouting. Yes, son, times sure are different.” With that he bit off another hunk of Red Ox and walked down Main Street. 1962

Friday, June 19

Court House Club

Around the Perry County Court House was God’s given air conditioners, trees and grass. There was a wall all around the front with a flat top that provided seats for people. The steps held so many memories. At the top was a flat top where one sometimes saw a man taking a nap with his face covered with his hat.

Some of the people met and sat on the wall at the court house. That was their neighborhood club where they chewed cuds, rolled cigarettes, whittled cedar shavings, swapped knives and spat ambeer. They were good citizens and didn’t bother anybody.

Some of them who met there were: Cary and Moody Horn, Jerry McIntosh, John Flat Williams, John Buck Combs, Ed Ivy, “Cigarette” Joe Smith (our surveyor for 60 years), Boo-Daddy Standifer, Fiddler Joe Cornet, White Jim Combs, Tug Fields, Zack Duff, Roy and Brown Baker, Taylor Bingham, and Red Bob Combs. When one heard a loud, “”wha!” wha!” you knew that Tug, Cary or White Jim had just told “another good un.”

I dedicate the following poem to these gentlemen ...

Under the Sugar Maple shade they sat on this flat wall, talked, laughed, smoked, spat and had a ball. Gone, all gone, now in their graves they lie, stop - listen and wipe a tear from out your eye. As you walk along Main Street, you get a message clear and sweet. We once lived and loved this city, so to the Court House Club, I leave this ditty.

Thursday, June 18

Music To Make The Rafters Ring

Social events in Hazard and Perry County included Barn Raising, log rolling, rail splitting, quilting bees, bean hulling, corn chucking, and the boy who found the red ear got to kiss the girl of his choosing. There were play parties and running games, similar to our square dances. “Chicken in the bread tray, Picking out Dough, Granny will your dog bite, No, Chile, No.” Chase the buffalo” and “Skip to My Lou” were favorites. They had good fiddles and banjo music as we all know and made the rafters ring.

On the farms of Perry and neighboring counties were well-built farm houses. Some were large two-stories with nice hewn stone chimneys at each end, always a large fireplace with plenty of room for a large back log. There was a parlor that was kept shut up and used only for courting and company. The parlor had a bed where the preacher, sometimes called a “Circuit Rider” slept. The bed had two straw ticks, a big feather bed, a large bolster, two pillows that set upright. The coverlet was homespun and the pillows were covered with starched cases with embroidery.

There was a marble top wash stand with a fancy bowl and pitcher and a soft Sunday towel. The family used salt sack towels that had been battled out and bleached. Under the bed was a chamber pot and the windows were lace curtains. On the floor was a loom woven rug carpet, clean as a whistle. On the wall hung an enlarged picture of Grandpa and Grandma.

Tools that were used on the farm included Dogwood gluts, hickory maul, grease lamps with round wicks, fireplace hooks for swinging kettles, ash hoppers, broad ax, quilting frames, knitting needles, cedar water bucket, drinking gourds, hemp breakers, wool and cotton cards, spinning and flax wheels, loom for weaving linsey, blankets and carpets, hand cradle for oats and wheat, bullet molds, powder and lead, andirons, baking skillet on legs with the lid edged to hold hot coals, sad irons for ironing, firkin the lard and butter, meal and flour barrel, wooden tray to make biscuits, coffee grinder, churn and dasher, sassafras poles for threshing wheat, oats and sometimes beans, water keg, molasses barrel, karaut keg, a stone jar for milk and also for ketchup, apple peeler, nut meg grater, shuck scrub broom, stile block for mounting horses, side saddles and riding skirts, shoe button hook, boot jack, cider mill to use up the apples, slate and pencil for figuring (ciphering), crackling squeezer, wooden butter mold with flowered imprint, shoe peg and awl, shoe last and stand in three sizes, black snake whips, bow and arrows, sling shots, vaulting poles, whistles, pea shooters, homemade sleds, fishing poles, and froe to rive boards to cover the roads.

You will notice in this list a hemp breaker. On our farm we called it a hackle. They used it to break the fiber of hemp into shreds to make strings and ropes. Yes, hemp was marijuana, but nobody ever bothered to smoke it. There was a large hemp building on Route 60 near Winchester during World War II and they grew hemp for the army.

The patch of hemp on our farm was well fenced, but occasionally an old silly cow made the mistake of taking a bite of the forbidden green. She rolled her eyes and her body on the ground and tried to jump the moon.We must have grown great charactered men in olden times. They worked hard, joined the church and obeyed the Laws of Moses. You will notice that all the tools we mentioned were operated by human energy. Maybe that is the answer.

Wednesday, June 17

When we played the organ, they wondered why we used our feet

1896 ... We had a big meeting at the mouth of Grapevine Creek Sunday from 10:00 a.m. til 5:00 p.m., two hours for dinner. There was a crowd – the schoolhouse was packed – and it was so hot I could hardly get my breath. Papa preached morning and evening; thirty-five joined, and he had to baptize most of them, as they had never been baptized. Some people had to stand out in the rain.

Monday morning we bade all goodbye, and started to Big Creek. The roads were worse and worse. One man went along to hold the buggy. We went up the Kentucky River then up Campbell’s Creek, then across an awful mountain to Forked Mouth Creek. Oh, me! A bad boy would say it was “forked lightening.” We got down it alive, by walking and climbing and leading and holding the buggies. The mountains and rocks just covered up the road entirely. We passed a little school-house and all the children ran out to see the buggies. They were curiosities to them. One little boy said he lived up a creek, but didn’t know its name. He saw big rattle snakes up there too. One funny man was riding an ox, and he had a bed quilt for a saddle and bark for a girth. Another man had an ox geared up like a horse and it was plowing for him. An old lady was carrying her baby and a little pig was following her like a dog. When she stopped, it lay down at her feet. One little house had a pole put up in the front yard, covered with egg shells, like a snowball bush. It was funny to me.

Well, after a hard journey over mountains and more creeks we reached Big Creek. Papa had been there before, and the good people came walking up the road to meet us. I never saw cleverer people, though they are not rich or proud. Kate and I stayed at Mr. Field’s up on Big reek, and Papa and Mr. Little had to stay down at Mr. Wiley Couch’s, as there was not room for all of us at one house. Papa preached in the school house for four days, and twenty-seven joined the church. We met some nice girls at Big Creek. One of them told us she could sing twice as loud as we could, and I believe it. We went fishing and caught some nice fish and ate them. The people were so clever, we enjoyed our visit there. The little deaf boy who joined the church before was there; he is a smart boy, and can talk a little. He is going to the institute at Danville. His name is Willie Fugate.

On Friday evening we crossed the mountain and went to Hazard, the county seat. It is a little town of about one-hundred people. It used to have a bad name, because so many people were killed there. It is better now. The Methodist Church is not quite done, and ours is just begun. The river runs between the town and the mountains. They never had a church here before. Papa preached in the Court House. Many people came, and twenty-three joined. He preached in the jail one day, and three poor prisoners joined. It was an awful place, and I felt sorry for them. The doors were iron bars, with big locks and bolts to hold them safe. A mountain preacher came to church, and he had been shot in the ear by some bad men. They said he killed their hogs. A big freshest came down the river and carried away hundreds of saw logs. They said a water spout broke on a creek called “Kingdom Come.”

We walked up the river one day and met two men carrying a hundred fish, called red horses. They were very pretty. We climbed to the very top of a big mountain with Mr. Sawyers, and he said we could see the Cumberland Mountains away off. There were some Indian graves up there. The mountains were covered with trees broken down by the snow. On Tuesday morning Papa preached in Hazard the last time, and we started after dinner, to Jackson, forty miles away, over the mountains. They have no regular hotel in Hazard. Somebody burned up the hotel about a year ago.

We drove twenty miles Tuesday evening down the river, up Lotts Creek, down Lost Creek, to Mr. Watts’ which we reached about dark. The road was pretty bad. We were almost turned over in Lost Creek once, in a hole full of big rocks. Mr. Little’s harness kept breaking, until he tied it with wire. One clever old lady said I looked the “naturalist” ; I don’t know what she meant. Maybe she thought I favored Papa. When we played the organ, they wondered why we used our feet. They couldn’t understand, but they are as clever as can be, and one of them told Papa that they were poor, but their souls were worth as much as a rich man’s soul. We saw no churches, and met few preachers, and they were not educated. We got up at 4:00 this morning, and started to Jackson at 6:00 a.m. and by hard driving, reached here at 12:00. So our journey over the mountains is ended and we are alive. 1896...

Tuesday, June 16

Long Live The King

There was a big variety of sports to keep us kids busy in Hazard. Basketball, football, baseball, fishing, swimming, hiking, hunting and more. But one of the lesser known was a contest that demanded a high level of physical skill, concentration and intelligence. The perfect game for the poor country boy who couldn't afford all the equipment and hype of the major sports. It was fairly simple. For ten cents you could buy a sack of 50 marbles at the dime store and you're ready to go! You could spot a marble player a block away. Dirty bib overalls with two high capacity front pockets full of something that rattled like a sack of diamonds with every step. The knees of his overalls were either dirty or worn through and for a little class, a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars topped off with a Kentucky Wildcat baseball cap. The main stream marble player had all the tools of the trade. He had agates, pee wees, crystals, cat's eyes, solids, log rollers and special shooters which we called Taws. The Broadway School playground was an excellent playing field. The dirt had a hard surface and it was perfectly level. All we had to do, to get started, was draw a big circle with a sharp rock, about four feet in diameter. Three or four players could join the game by putting 10 marbles in the center of the ring. We would each lag our shooters to the line and establish the shooting order. When it came your turn you knuckled down with your taw and fired across the ring. If you knocked one or more marbles out of the ring you got to shoot again. A young skinny kid we called Junior was always the guy to beat. He not only was a great shot but he used a steel ball bearing for a taw and he was deadly with it. With the added weight of the "steele" he could knock out a marble and his taw would stick in that spot. Then he would routinely knock out every marble left in the ring, working from left to right, in and out, reminiscent of a professional pool player. After it was all over and he had cleaned everybody out, he said "so long." Leaving with that cocky little walk. That's why we called him the Marble King. And I was never able to beat him. Long Live the King.

Monday, June 15


This little memory is about two friends whose joint efforts made many little boys and girls around Big Bottom and the areas in between very happy.My Dad, Howard, was one and the other was Jimmy Mongiardo. Daddy lived in Hazard and Jimmy ran a store and theater down in Duane. He, his Mom, Katarina and Dad lived above the store. It was there that Katarina taught my Dad the culinary art of making Italian dishes. They ordered supplies from New York I think it was and Dad always put his order in of things he could not get locally so he could make his dishes extra tasty. I remember Daddy bringing home some escargot and when I found out what it was, I almost fainted. His parents were cooks beyond compare, believe me.

His Dad could sit down at the piano and play like a pro, but never, as I recall him saying, never had a lesson in his life. He could beat the ivories with one of his favorites, RED WING, and made a feller tap his toes. I remember Jimmy and his parents with awe and a lot of laughter when you were with them.

Well, Jimmy ran the little theater there in Duane and the movies were on big reels. Dad did not own a car so he got a taxi and he and I would ride down to Duane almost every weekend during the summer months for a very special reason. Jimmy would tell Dad, “come on down, Howard, and pick up a reel or two late this evening.” Jimmy would lend the reels to my Dad without pay and Dad would bring the reels home to Liberty Street where we had a big “play yard”. Daddy owned a nice 16 mm Bell & Howell sound projector and he would get the movies ready to show when it got dark enough to see them. In between time, he and my Mom would stretch one of Mom’s big white sheets on poles Dad had put up for that purpose. Mom and Dad would then pop corn and make kool-aid by the bucket, and put big chunks of ice so it was cool. Very tasty because the sun would be going down and a good cold drink of kool-aid was something a lot of the kids never got. The kids started coming from all directions and the only rule my Dad had was that they would not be rowdy, sit and watch the movie and not cause a big disturbance. Looking back, I know they knew my Dad well enough not to disobey him.

Darkness would settle in and Dad would turn the Bell & Howell on, attach a reel, most of the time it was Westerns, and the sound went out over the street, and the picture appeared on the sheet. It was a time when movies did not cost much but there were so many that never darkened the lobby of a theater, so Dad tried to make sure these were the kids that he played to. If he had time, he would play the second reel, but sometimes it was too late. They were so engrossed in the “shoot em up and bang bangs” and drinking kool-aid and eating popcorn , and happiness abounded there in our yard almost every weekend.

The smiles on the faces of the kids was enough reward, and “thank you, Mr. Howard”, made Daddy so happy. He would say “you were good, so maybe we will have another one next weekend.” And for many weekends they did.

When Jimmy’s son, Daniel, won his election, I called Jimmy and after all these years, he remembered me and we talked about those days and he told me that he still missed my Dad. Two men from different backgrounds but they had one big thing in common, it’s called FRIENDSHIP, sometimes a very rare commodity..

Sunday, June 14

All In A Name

1939 ... Predominant name in Hazard? You guessed it – Combs is right. Names and numbers are the stock in trade of telephone companies. Hazard names listed by the local exchange are fairly revealed by the directory of the Ashland Home Telephone Company. According to it the most predominant name in this territory is Combs, which is listed 19 times. The second most listed family name is Baker. The predominant names of many other American cities, such as Smith, Jones, Brown, and Johnson fall far behind in Hazard, all of these being exceeded by the Campbells at a total of 10. There are nine Johnsons, eight of each of Smiths and Browns and four Jones. Only the letter “X” has no names. The letter “Q” is represented by Richard Quillen. There are no names with less than three letters in the local directory - Cox, Day, Dix, Gay, Igo, and Ray. The longest name in Hazard is Whittinghill with twelve letters, but his name is closely followed by the 11-letter names of Wetherspoon and Crutchfield.

Among the interesting telephone numbers; Main 1 is assigned to Dr. A. Karl Tatum. O.K. Taxi has No. 10, the Perry County Jail - No. 20, the Major Store - Main 100. Main 13 is held by the Hazard Oil Corporation of Lothair. A unique number is that of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company on East Main Street - 1024 which represents their slogan “10-2-4”. ‘ These well-known Dr. Pepper numbers represent the times of day - 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. when they suggest a little “pick-me-up” to avoid an energy slump. The highest published number in the local exchange is that of Pine Lodge Tavern, 9109. Those who have occasion to wonder what constitutes a “baker’s dozen” may find it interesting to look opposite the listing, “Gene Baker Motor Company.” The number is Main 12.

Do you remember your phone number when it contained the name of the street and three to four digits? Click on "comments." Check out these local Hazard numbers from 1936.

Saturday, June 13

Every table was in action and I just sat there ...

The year was 1958. The date was March 3rd and the reason I remember it so well it was my 13th birthday. I had finally become a teenager. It was on a Saturday, this birthday of mine and there were at least 6 or 7 inches of snow on the ground and it was very cold as I remember.

Now Saturday's were "town days" back then. Everyone always came to town, especially the kids. We went to the "Show" (movies) to see the Saturday western double features and then to the Drug Stores for a 5 cent cherry Pepsi. That was about it. What I didn't know was that day would be burned into my mind and heart forever as this was the day I would embark on something totally new and exciting to me.

I had a friend who was quite a bit older than me, Larry. He had his driver's license and worked part time for the Firestone Store in town. I ran into Larry on the street and he asked me to go with him on a delivery that afternoon. The delivery was in town so I knew it wasn't going to take very long so I agreed to go. We got back to the store around 4:00 in the afternoon and I still had no idea what was in store for me. I was soon to find out, however.

I looked at Larry and said " I can't go in there, my mom and dad will kill me." Larry just smiled and told me to come on in, it would be okay. He opened the door to the eight Ball and held it for me, waiting for me to go on in. I just stood there, scared stiff and then finally, I mustered the courage to go in, not knowing how much that step into the Eight Ball Pool Room would change my life.

Dark and smoky was a mild description of this place. I had a hard time seeing where I was going let alone what was going on. I found a chair along the wall and as my eyes roamed the room, I suddenly was in awe, to say the least. My heart was pumping so fast and the excitement I felt was like none felt before.

After sitting there a few minutes my eyes started to focus and I could see the six Brunswick pool tables, two pinball machines, the jukebox and pop machine. Every table was in action and I just sat there, watching, taking in as much as I could as fast as I could. It was the most exciting day of my young life and the best birthday I had ever had. But, as excited as I was I was just as scared, fearing my mom and dad would find out I was in there.

Now I had been in Pool Rooms before, the Royal Bar and Main Street Lunch were both located on Main street and both served food and beer. Four pool tables were in each place. I was allowed to go in and eat but that's all. No pinball or loafing in there. The Eight Ball was different. It was located below street level and didn't serve food or beer so the kids could play there (with their parent's permission). Some of the old-timers in town called the Eight Ball "The Underworld" because of its location.

As I sat watching all the action a short, very fat man smoking a huge cigar came and sat down beside me, grinning and blowing smoke in my face as he watched my reaction. I didn't know who he was but soon found out. Paul "Dog Head" McIntyre. He and his brother Don "Banjer Belly" McIntyre ran the Eight Ball. The rack man was Charlie "eye" Robinson whose brother "Hardwater" who was one of the best pool players around at the young age of 16.
Dog Head asked me what my name was (he knew) and I told him but asked him not to tell anyone (meaning my parents) that I had been in there. Dog Head just grinned, blew more cigar smoke my way and said nothing.

Larry came over and between the two of them they gave me a really hard time about being in there and what my parents were going to do to me. I was still excited but even more scared when Larry looked at me and said, " come on, let's shoot a game of pool." My eyes got big as saucers and I said, " I don't know how!" Dog Head looked at me and said, "go ahead, Larry will show you how. It's not that hard. Thus, my pool-playing career was about to begin.
When I went home later on that evening I was still as excited as I could be about the Eight Ball and the fact that I had just played pool for the first time. But I was also worried. Worried that my parents would find out. I had never done anything in my life that I enjoyed any more than playing pool but I knew my mom and dad would never give me their permission to go to the Eight Ball and play.

Dog Head had given me a card to have my dad sign, giving me permission to play. You had to have a picture of yourself on the card also. I knew it was no use to ask my parents but I wanted to play so badly I was desperate. I called my best buddy Jerry and ask him to come over to my house, that it was an emergency. We lived on the same street and by coming the back way Jerry was there in less than five minutes. Jerry and I grew up together with only six months (March - October) separating us in age. We were just about inseparable in those days and there wasn't anything we wouldn't do for each other.

When I told Jerry what I wanted him to do he looked at me and said, " why do you want to go down there and knock those stupid balls around? That can't be any fun!"

I had already set the wheels in motion for Jerry's part in my plan to get into the Eight Ball. I had a copy of my dad's signature ready and waiting for Jerry to practice coping so he could forge it onto the pool permission card. After a few minutes of practicing Jerry said he was ready. I handed him the card and showed him where to sign my dad's name, my heart in my throat with fear Jerry would mess up and I knew I couldn't get another card as Dog Head would know something was up. But, my old buddy was steady as a rock and when he finished signing my dad's name it looked good enough to take to the bank. I breathed a sigh of relief and said " now, for step number two," which was pasting my picture on the card.

Jerry and I talked for awhile and then he went home, our actions sworn to secrecy. As I lay on my bed staring at the ceiling I was counting the hours, minutes and seconds until school was out on Monday so I could head back to the Eight Ball.

When the bell rang that next Monday afternoon I made a "b" line for the Eight Ball. Now I didn't have enough nerve to go down the front steps (for fear of being seen) so I went to the back door where Larry and I had first went in. I forgot that my mom's office was right in back of the Eight Ball. As a matter of fact, I was so excited that I never gave it a thought.

I gave Dog Head the permission card and he looked at it real good and then said, "okay, you can shoot some pool, fat boy." (I was a rather portly youngster in those days).
I was in hog heaven so to speak but it didn't last long. When I finally got home (long after dark) the first thing my mom and dad asked me was "what were you doing in the Eight Ball Pool Room today?" My heart sank. My first instinct was to lie so I did, saying, "I wasn't! I've never been in there, I added." My dad gave me a very stern look and I knew he was mad. "Don't tell me you weren't in there today," he said. "I know damn well you were and it wasn't the first time so don't lie to me!", he roared. I just stood there, crushed and heartbroken, as I knew the thrill of my life was history. "You won't be going back there," my dad said, his lips drawn tight with a grimace on his face that I had seen many times before (like every time I screwed up and I did that a bunch of times in my young life). My dad's two favorite words were "by hell" and that night he seemed to say them quite often.

The next morning my dad went to the Eight Ball, got my card and told Dog and Don not to let me back in. My life was shattered and there was only one thing I could do to save face. Run away! I didn't want to face all the guys at the Eight Ball, as I was too ashamed. Not of lying to my parents or Jerry forging my dad's name but ashamed that my dad barred me out of the Eight Ball. So the next day I left for school but didn't go. I hid out until both my parents were gone from the house and then I went home, put some clothes in an old brown paper sack and hit the road. I didn't have a clue as to where I was going, only that I was gone. I made it about 2 ½ miles from home, walking all the way and figured it was time to take a rest. I sat down on a rock wall beside a red light hoping to catch a ride out of town.

I did catch a ride but it was one I didn't want. I heard a voice say, " you get in this car right now!" It was my grandmother and grandfather Pokey and Big Ike. Now Pokey was a tough old bird who ran the family like a "Godfather" would and I was too scared not to mind her. She asked where I was going and when I told her she was furious. "You don't have any business in that old Pool Room", she said. I was doomed. How could I live? How could I face everyone? Most important to me was not being able to shoot pool at the Eight Ball. I was sick to death. I stayed in my room the rest of the week, going to school and coming out for meals (we didn't have TV in those days) not knowing that the worse was yet to come.

Saturday morning rolled around and my mom, Pokey and my Aunt Chris (one of my mom's sisters) went to the A & P to trade (buy groceries). When they returned I helped carry all their groceries home as we all lived real close together. When I got through carrying the groceries I looked up and there stood Jerry, grinning ear to ear. My Mom really liked Jerry and most of my other friends, especially Mike (Red). She asked Jerry " what are you two up to today?" Jerry looked at her and said "I'm going to the Eight Ball to shoot some pool and wanted to see if Richard wanted to go with me." I almost died when Jerry told us that his dad had signed his card without any argument at all. I looked at Jerry and told him I couldn't go and ran into my bedroom, tears filling my young eyes.

It wasn't but a few minutes after Jerry had left that my dad came home. The house was real quite and I knew he and mom were talking but I couldn't hear what they were saying. I thought maybe they were thinking about sending me to "Greendale," which was a reformatory for bad kids. I was hoping they would but knew I couldn't be that lucky. (Greendale was a horrible place)

My mom finally came to the door of my room and said "Richard, come out here. Your dad wants to talk to you." Oh boy! Here it comes again. More of the "By Hell" stuff. So with a very heavy heart I went into the living room. There was my dad, sitting in his favorite chair with his lips drawn tight and that stern look on his face. What now, I thought. What is he going to jump me about now?

"Son, I want you to listen and listen good," he said. "I'm going to let you go to the Eight Ball." I couldn't believe my ears! I was jumping for joy! I was so happy! "Now By Hell, wait a damn minute," he said. "I'm going to go with you and sign your permission card but here are the ground rules." First of all, no gambling and you can only go in there on Saturdays and after school. You have to pass in school and be home on time. I didn't even hear or care about the rules. I was back in and that's all that mattered. So here we went, down town to the Eight Ball. I was so thrilled I didn't know how to act. When I got there Jerry said "Let's play a game of pool," and that we did. That we did!

It came fast to me, faster than anything ever had in my entire life. First it was rotation (61 or slop) whichever you wanted to call it. Then came 9 Ball, 8 ball and double check. 9 ball and check were gambling games but we played them for loser pays unless one of us played with "Mark" who never had any money and always wanted someone to "buy us a game."

Dog and Don wouldn't let beginners play on the front two tables much but Jerry and I both improved so fast that soon the front two tables were ours to master.

Bank pool was a fun game but to expensive for us starting out as it was $1.20 per hour per player. The guys would could play bank were only charged 15 cents a game and sometimes we would play four handed partner bank with Dog and Don (1 & 9 buddies) so we would only have to pay 15 cents. Don and Dog always won in the early days. 61 and 8 ball were 10 cents or 3 for a quarter. 9 ball and check were a nickel for two players. It was so much fun it didn't matter about the prices.

Thursday, June 11

When I was twelve I was a Tenderfoot in Troop 90. Later in Troop 100, I advanced to First Class and before I left Hazard in '46 I was a Life Scout. I did very well in the Boy Scouts, mainly, because the Regional Scoutmaster, Mr. Hayes, lived in the apartment under me in the house behind the High School. Hayes was also a Captain in the Salvation Army. He later moved to Houston, Texas. By no fault of my own, my family also moved to Houston a year later and believe it or not we hooked up again.

Growing up in Hazard, over the years. I got to know a lot of different people. Young and old, rich and poor, good and bad and just indifferent. I remember Soupbean Miniard when he broke his leg playing football with us in Kay Greer's side yard. I thought that was tough but Soupbean took it in stride. Showed up in school the next week, cast and all. And that Kay Greer; he was big when he was little. He grew up to be a Monster. I remember when he took Western to the N.I.T. Championship. Bill Ross was the best high school kick-off returner I ever saw. Ran several back for touchdowns in 44-45, when I was a lowly manager on the team. During that same time my ole pal, Charles Davis, Jr. or "Brom", was struggling to make the team. To help him out, during practice when Brom was playing defense at end, I would sneak in close to the huddle and listen to coach Pop Collins call the plays. If they were coming his way I would give Brom a signal so he would be prepared. He would have made the team anyway because the Bulldogs were a little short on talent during those years. That was the same year Middlesboro came over and the game ended in a free-for-all, including the players, coaches, students, husbands & wives, and police. I thought I would be better off climbing to the top row of the bleachers where I could get an clearer view of every blow. Hazard lost the game but won the fight.

I remember the big flood when we were cut off briefly from civilization and some guy in a Piper Cub flew over the football field and dropped a few supplies. That was a disaster too because he forgot to tie the parachutes firmly to the crates. A few crates crashed on the field and several others hit peoples' roofs up on the hill. Also, the Health Department decided all the school kids needed Typhoid shots. My arm was so sore for a week I couldn't touch it.

There were very few black people in Hazard when I was a kid and the only one I knew worked at the Royal Bar & Grille & Pool Room. I was totally ignorant of any prejudicial problems back then. Mose was the Janitor, a cook and also took care of the pool room in the back. He racked the balls and handled the money. I spent a lot of time in there at night, especially on Saturday when they had the big nine ball games. If my dad had too much to drink on any night he would take him in the back room, put him on the cot and let him sleep it off. I liked Mose. He was a good guy and had a crippled right leg. But he never complained. He was always good to me when I went in. Usually gave me a bottle of Coke. What a guy he was...

Wednesday, June 10

Grand Ole House

When the Rev. A. S. Petrey built his home in the Big Bottom section of Hazard in 1914, there was no East Main Street, only mud. The large area of land covered the Big Bottom of the valley. Petrey's home was merely the third house in the bottom, with lots of farmland in between. Rev. Petrey had the house constructed in the style of a southern mansion, with a porch, brick pillars and white columns, and a large veranda.

One person in Hazard who knew the house from the ground up was Paul Harmon Petrey, Sr., a local certified public accountant. The reason is - he was once stuck between the ground and the foundation of the house when he crawled in to retrieve his kittens.

Paul was only nine when his father built the house, and they lived there only a short time, but he still had vivid memories. Being the only boy raised with eight sisters, he could not forget much.

Paul remembered the big maples in the front of the house and the first ball games that were played in the area. The house had two bathrooms, with the plumbing set in between, but no running water as we have today. The water was pumped into the house from the well out back. Also in back were a coal house, a barn, and various outdoor buildings. A huge garden occupied the space that was later home to A & P.

The last one of the nine children of A. S. and Sarah Harmon Petrey was born in the house. The clan includes: Maude Greever of Hazard, Ruth Petrey, Gertrude Spaulding of Hazard, Marie Dalrymple of Texas, Paul of Hazard, Senethan Blakemore of Florida, Dorothy Combs of Hazard, Kathleen Haydon of Tennessee and Helen Hooten of California.

In 1918, Rev Petrey sold the grand ole house and moved to Whitesburg for a short time to help with the pastorate of the First Baptist Church there. Upon returning to Hazard, the family moved into a large house on Broadway.

The buyer of the place was Dr. B. R. Bodkins, who converted it into a hospital. Shortly afterward, the noted flu epidemic hit the area and many people died there.

The place was then bought by P.T. Wheeler, who built a buff brick house next door. The home was later purchased by Mr. And Mrs. J. O. Harper.

Dave Huff, owner of Huff Drug Store on East Main Street, then leased the property from Courtney Wells. In turn, Huff subleased the land to Pizza Hut.

This historical landmark of Perry County was torn down in 1977 in the name of progress.

The next time you are enjoying a pizzi pie at this particular Pizza Hut in Hazard, stop for a moment to think of the history of the grand ole house that stood on this plot of ground between East Main Street and Highway 15 for 63 years.

Tuesday, June 9

Why aren't you in the pool?

After World War II ended, things in Hazard began to return to normal. Gasoline rationing ended, bananas returned to the grocery stores, and soldiers were coming home. My father bought a car. It was a 1946 Hudson Super Six and it allowed us go visit relatives in Prestonsburg. We even drove to Viper to have picnics and swim in the river.

Lawrence O. Davis, a friend of my father, started building a new house. He owned a plot of land on a hillside about a block from Baker Hill. The house was to be a showplace with its own swimming pool. As far as I know, there were no homes in Hazard with a swimming pool.

Mr.Davis decided to build the pool first and hoped to have it finished by the time his son, Bobby, came home from Germany. But Bobby never made it home. He was killed in an accident before he could leave Germany.

The pool was finished, but the house never got started. Mr.Davis gave the land, and the swimming pool to the city. It was to become Bobby Davis Memorial Park. The pool quickly became a gathering place. Swimming lessons were organized and picnic tables were brought in. Concrete walkways wound beneath large beech trees. There was talk of tennis courts and maybe someday a library.

Mr. Davis often sat near the pool watching neighborhood children playing in the water. One day he noticed a young boy who was just standing around watching the activity. Mr. Davis asked him why he wasn't in the pool, and the boy said he didn't have a bathing suit.

Hearing that, Mr. Davis handed the boy a ten dollar bill and said, "Go downtown and buy yourself a bathing suit." A short time later, the boy reappeared with a new bathing suit in his hand. He paid 98 cents for it. He handed $9.02 to Mr. Davis and headed for the bathhouse.

Monday, June 8

Back To Yesterday

Come with me and we'll spend some time together for I have magic, it's called memories, so let's leave today behind for just a brief interlude while we stroll down Main Street, Hazard.

Maybe we'll stop by Don's and buy a burger and fries and a piece of Zeta's pie, or we can go to The Sweet Shoppe and talk with Nell, Dell and Babe while eating the best hot dog in town, then we could sit and listen to the juke box at Steele's Drug.

Come on now, here's Scott's, let's go inside and look around. See any old faces? I do. Here's the candy cases. Give me a quarter's worth of...ah, just mix it up! Don't eat too much for we have other stops to make.

Ummmm, the aroma from Newberries tells me we need to siddle up to the snack bar. Move, over Phillip Wright, I'm a little hungry, hear my stomach talking to me? "I hear that Miss Idy," Phillip says with a smile which always lifts my spirits.

Seems like the Hazard Drug is busy as usual where Howard Smith and Joe Duncan are very nice. I might just look through the glass to see what is going on. Oh there's Sanders Petrey, Pappy Edwards and Johnny Horn deep in conversation. I'll bet their replaying a basketball game in their minds once more. Hold on just a sec, "Hey, Lauana Hogston, fix me a pimento cheese to go." The best sandwiches in town.

Hold on for I am turning this carpet around. I want to see what Sterling Hardware has in their window to lure summer vacationers. I see Rex Farmer who looks busy with a customer.

Oh I meant to get us a milkshake, walk with me inside here and let's ask one of the Fout's clerks to fill our order. We might say hello to Clyde Baumgardner or Leighton Abshear while we're here. They fill prescriptions for my parents quite often.

By looking across the street I can tell that Rita and Johnnie's are having a good day. Shafter Combs' windows are appealing, aren't they always? This carpet is stopping at the Virginia. What are they showing today? And then there's the Family Theater way down the street there. I'm sure someone is buying a ticket from Ma Combs as we speak.

Hang on, this magic carpet ride is heading toward Big Bottom....whoops, another day, another time. Let me straighten this thing up and I guess our day back in time is over. Yep, here we go into the here and now, but we'll be back to yesterday.

Sunday, June 7

Salt of the Earth...

Cromwell Sluder played an important role in my life. My dad's shop was next door to Sluder's recapping shop; I spent a lot of time in there and also worked for him. I could be found changing tires, patching innertubes, making rubber floor mats from old tires, and what ever else came up. Sluder was adventurous and we were always fooling around with stuff like electric trains and model airplanes. Any time I came in after school or running all day on Saturday the first thing he would say was, "Sonny, you hungry?" He already knew the answer. He would flip me 50 cents and say, "Go clean yourself up and get something to eat." He also got me a job setting pins in the bowling alley next door two nights a week. That was always good for a dollar. We even took a week vacation once and went to Akron and Cleveland and toured all the rubber plants up there. Years later in around 1952, I revisited Hazard and the first place I went was Sluder's place. The first thing he did was to look at my tires. My rubber was fairly new so he looked at the spare, took it out, and recapped it the same day. That's the last time I saw him. Cromwell Sluder was the salt of the earth...

Photo - Sonny Watts, 1945, sitting on one of Cromwell Sluder's tires across the street at the Methodist Church entrance on High Street in Hazard. Sluder likely took this picture.

Saturday, June 6

Look Out

One of the better pals I ever had in Hazard was only in town for a couple of years. His first name was Wallace and I have been racking my brain trying to remember his last name. But to no avail. We were around 12 years old and we hit it off right away. We, both, had the same mentality, which was to get out and run every day, having a good time, taking chances and pushing the envelope. We rode our bicycles, swam in the Kentucky River, played marbles, explored down town and whatever other impulse we might get. We were also great movie fans and we saw them all. Tarzan, Tex Ritter, Zorro, The Durango Kid, John Wayne, and The Dead End Kids. Around that time the Family Theatre began the famous Midnight Show on Saturday nights. Which, if I remember correctly, started at 11:30 pm. Usually a double feature of Frankenstein, Wolf Man, Dracula, and other black & white monster movies. Well, it was something to do. Sometimes it was scary. But sometimes we just had a hard time staying awake. Now Wallace was very impressionable. For Instance, during a movie if the good guy or gal was in danger of getting run over by a truck, the hero would dash out into the street and knock the innocents out of the way, saving their lives while risking his own. We saw this happen many times with many different versions. Wallace loved that. So much that he would often practice his move on me, lacking a real damsel in distress. I don't know how many times he would run up behind me and yell "LOOK OUT", knocking me down or grabbing me and rolling down a hill. Usually messing up our clothes or skinning our elbows. Well it all came to a climax early one Sunday morning going home from the midnight show. Discussing the events of the night with two of the other guys I hear this terrible scream. Instinctively turning around I was bulldozed by this raving maniac like a fullback hitting the middle of the line. The collision drove me into the hedge by the side of the street. Pulling Wallace with me we both went over and through the hedge and falling further down in the total darkness. Apparently some one was doing a little excavating there and we fell into a hole about six feet deep. It had, at least, two feet of black dirty mud at the bottom which smelled a lot like dead fish. When we finally got our bearings, we climbed out of the pit and sat down on the curb. We were a mess. Both covered with slime including Wallace's face. Both scratched up here and there. After a while when we were breathing normal again and assured that there were no broken bones I looked over at Wallace and said, "Thanks a lot, Wallace, for saving my life." We laughed all the way home.

Friday, June 5

The day seemed a week long

1896 ... My Papa, the Rev. E. O. Guerrant, promised to take me with him the next time he went up into the mountains to preach. We started on the 10th of July 1896, and at Lexington took the Kentucky Union Railroad for the mountains; we went one hundred miles to Jackson, in Breathitt County. The road went up the Red River, where the big cliffs stand up on both sides of the road, hundreds of feet high. Many of the mountains have rocks on top like domes, bigger than a church; they are grand. The river was lined with beautiful flowers of ivy and laurel.

I saw some men cutting oats with a big scythe, with fingers on it; Papa told me they were cradling. One big tree was growing on top of a big rock. About six in the evening, we reached Jackson, on the North Fork of the Kentucky River. It is a very nice town and we have a church and a college there ... a few years ago we had none.

On Wednesday morning we started for the mountains in Perry County. Mr. Charles Little, Papa’s friend, went along with us, and took his niece, Miss Kate Patrick, to sing. He had two buggies; we rode in one, and they in the other. Papa brought a little Estey organ and we tied it on behind our buggy.

We went up the Kentucky River ten miles to the mouth of Troublesome Creek. Here we got into trouble enough. We had to get out and help the buggy down the rocky stair steps in the road. We went up Troublesome a mile, then up Lost Creek ten miles, then the man there said there were ten thousand saw logs in the creek. I never saw the like. The little houses all had martin boxes, but no yard or shade.

Down on Troublesome, we saw some ladies bare-footed, and one old lady had on shoes, but no stockings, and one had on a dress shorter than mine. I guess she must have been an old maid.

The mountains were very steep, but had corn growing on their sides nearly to the top. They can’t plow them up and down, but crossways. We saw coal mines all along the road, just sticking out of the mountains. Sometimes we rode over solid coal beds, and the biggest trees I ever saw grow along the creeks and rivers. They are awfully big. We saw a big boy, who had only a shirt on, and most of the men were barefooted.

When we went ten miles up Lost Creek, we turned up a creek called Ten Mile Creek. Well, it was awful. I thought we had passed bad roads, but we were just beginning them. Three men went along to cut trees and roll rocks out of the road. And such a road! Over big rocks and logs and steep banks and deep holes and around splash-dams. I thought our buggy would be smashed all to pieces. The horse pulled our trace in two, and a big rock broke a spoke out of the buggy. Sometimes we had to walk and climb. When we rode over the rocks, we couldn’t keep our hats on. Sometime I bumped into Papa, and sometimes he bumped me. It was too funny. Papa got a man to lead the horse around a big tree on the mountain while he and another man held the buggy. The horse got strangled and the man cried out, “Here’s a dead horse,” and scared me nearly to death. But they got the horses up and we went over a mountain to the Grapevine Creek. Here we had a time getting down the mountain, the path was so steep and sidelong . Mr. Little’s horse went over the mountainside and he jerked him back and he fell down, with the buggy on him. Papa and some men helped to take him out, then the buggy got away and ran down the mountain and broke the shaft. Then they all took our horse out and got the buggy down to the foot of the mountain by the hardest work.

Papa said that this was my vacation trip. I think it was. I never saw as much in my life. The day seemed a week long. The road down the Grapevine was no road at all. Mr. Little and Papa had to walk and lead and roll logs out of the way. It took us five hours to go seven miles. We came to the mouth of Grapevine about dark, twenty-seven miles by the road we came and forty by the river, above Jackson. Papa had a friend there named Dr. Wilson, but we could not get our buggies to his house, so we crossed the river and stayed at Mr. Tom Johnson’s. Papa and Mr. Little crossed the river and stayed at Dr. Wilson’s.

Mrs. Sawyers, our missionary, was there. Papa is preaching in the little school-house, on the bank of the river, and it is crowded at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Miss Kate Patrick and I play the little organ, the first one ever played in this county for worship. Emma Johnson has the only one in the county. The people are very clever and attentive, and most of them walk to church. Almost twenty-five have joined, and Mr. Johnson was the first one, and an old man nearly seventy, and a real pretty girl named Dora Duff. Mr. Johnson is the leading man in the county, and lives in the only brick house.

We went swimming in the river one evening; it was about a foot deep, and we had lots of fun. It is cool and quiet in the mountains. Sunday we are going to take dinner to church and have an all-day meeting. Next week we are going to Hazard, the only town in Perry County. They say the road up Campbell Creek is worse than Ten Mile and Grapevine. If it is, I pity it. But I guess we will go it. Papa is going to preach on Big Creek next week. When you get tired and want a vacation, come to Grapevine. The people will be glad to see you. ...1896

Thursday, June 4

Major's (part 2)

Uncle Joe Mazer was a little, wizened man, bent and used a walking stick for getting around. He opened the Major store early. He had a superstition, that if you sold your first customer, you would have a good day. So he bargained and you got the item wholesale if necessary to make the sale.One morning a vegetable peddler gave him a complaint and wanted an adjustment on a pair of shoes whose soles he said were “pore paper.” Uncle John protested and they had bitter words. Uncle John telling “Mr. B” off in all the English swear words and adding a few Yiddish. This infuriated “Mr. B.” so he said, “You old weasley polecat, I’ll get even with you.” So he rode his mule home and pondered. When he put his mule in the barn, he saw the answer. An old hen had just hatched her brood of chickens and he noticed she had left four unhatched eggs. So he took them to his wife and told her to save them and all she could up to two dozen.Next time he went to town, he took the eggs in a poke. He gave them to his 10 year old son with instructions to sell the eggs only to Uncle John. He put his vegetables down on the sidewalk and left them with the son. Pretty soon Old John bargained for the eggs and got them.Come next Saturday, “Mr. B.” waited across the street until Old John came out and then he hollered, “Hey! you old Polecat, how did you like them little chicks in the shell?”Uncle John turned purple with rage.In the early years, Major’s sent their alterations to Nunn’s Pressing Shop, located in Taxi Alley. In later years, Mrs. Pauline Adams and Jack Kelly did alterations. Those who worked there were Miss Lily Peters, Lois Peters, Hoyt Baker, (Mrs. Nick Perry) and Lena Roberts Lovelace. Others too no doubt, but Mrs. Bea Mazer was the guiding hand.In the last 1920’s some of the employees at Major’s were Gertrude Hurst (Mrs. Shafter Combs), Marie Howard (Mrs. Ed West), Ruby Napier (Mrs. Claude Cook), Mrs. Zona Whtley, Ora Clutts and Mrs. Carl Brown. Duard Hancock kept the books as well as Ruth C. Roberts. Others who worked there over the years include Gypsy Campbell, Grace Strong, Coralee Sparkman, Marie Roberts, Irene Rogers, Helen Campbell, Lloyd Combs, Ella Speaks, Ora Clutts, Gertrude Combs, Marietta Rogers and many others.Major’s Store was truly an establishment that would rival a city store and had everything a department store should have. The Major Store building was later occupied by Sterling Hardware.Today - the building is home to Hazard Insurance Agency and is filled with large historical photos of Hazard. Be sure to check it out the next time you are on Main Street in Hazard.

Wednesday, June 3

Major's (part 1)

Major's Department Store first opened on Main Street in Hazard in 1912 and was run by three brothers - Herman, Max, and Joe Mazer. The Mazers changed the spelling of their name because their store was truly a top-ranking major store. Before coming to Hazard, the Mazers came from Cincinnati to Middlesboro where they had a store. Max Mazer came to Hazard as a pack peddler and found it such good pickens he returned to Middlesboro and told his brothers that he had found a money tree loaded with black gold. So Uncle Joe, on Max’s advice, came to see for himself. Like Joseph Smith when he was leading the Mormons and came to Salt Lake, Uncle Joe implanted his staff (his cane) and said this is the place. Here I raise my Ebenezer and that has been true, it has really been a monument to the fine Mazer family for nearly 60 years.

Joseph (Uncle Joe) brought his relatives, Herman, Dave, Al Ethel, Uncle John and Morris, to Hazard. Herman had an attractive and lovable wife, “Miss Bea.” She had a radiant personality and presided with dignity and calmness (it was needed). Herman was liked by the men and was said to be a wonderful card player.

The Mazers were good citizens. Hazard was made a better place in which to live by their coming. They did not harvest their wealth but invested their earnings in homes and rental property. They had property on High Street, Broadway and the Backwoods.

They operated the store together until 1929, when Max Mazer sold out to his nephew Morris Mazer. Max went on to establish Miner's Store, which was operated by his wife and daughter. In July, 1946, the Mazers sold their interest to Arnold and Irving Glick of Cleveland, Ohio. The Glick brothers operated department stores in Cleveland for decades. At the time of the purchase of Major's Irving Glick came to Hazard to manage the store. Under Mr. Glick's direction, Major's Store was completely modernized and many new customer services were added. In October, 1949, Mr. Glick brought Carl A. Weiss to Hazard to take over the management of Major's. Mr. Weiss had previously been manager of Glick Brother's Store in Cleveland

Morris Mazer was a good worker and level headed. Al and Dave later had their own stores. Herman and Miss Bea had a lovely daughter, Roside, who later married Dr. Rosenbalm. They moved to Birmingham.

Al Mazer and wife Mollie moved to Falmouth, Kentucky. Morris married an attractive small girl named Jean and had a very very small little cute son named Ralph. Ralph eventually opened up a business in Cincinnati.

“Uncle Joe” was a reticent man, very hard to talk to and had a terrible temper. He carried a heavy cane with a steel thimble on the end. Hazel Noble Strong, Arnett Strong’s mother, was working shoes and had them out of the shelves and stacked high when Uncle Joe came by and with his cane knocked them over, scattering loose shoes everywhere. He said, “Picketty Up.” Hazel responded, “Picketty Up yourself. I quit.”

Tuesday, June 2

Grand Vue Drive-In (Part two)

According to Gene Combs, who bought out his partner, Dick Johnson, in the mid-60’s, Hazard's Grand Vue was the first drive-in this part of the country to play first-run movies. One of the first major features was “Samson and Delilah.” Traffic was backed up for several miles in each direction – as far as the Colonial Club on one end and past Combs on the other end – with people waiting to get in to see this film.

Other popular movies included: “The Ten Commandments,” which ran for five days; Walt Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog,” and “Gone With The Wind,” which ran several different times over the years. In the early '70s “Walking Tall,” drew a huge crowd.

On one occasion, a nearby auto accident knocked out a power pole that affected only the sound system at the drive-in. However, this caused no alarm, nor refunds because the film happened to be a silent one, Charlie Chaplin’s “City Lights.”

The Grand Vue offered the people a form of entertainment other than movies. Country music and western celebrities of the day came to Hazard to perform from the top of the concession stand. Among those bringing their stage shows to the Grand Vue were: Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Mack Brown, Lash LaRue, Don Red Barry, the Carter Family, featuring June Carter Cash and Mother Maybelle, and the Carter Brothers. One Flatt & Scruggs show, which was taped by the NBC network drew 1,500 people. The Ink Spots, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Actor - Fuzzy Knight, Smiley Burnett and Tim Holt also made personal appearances.

The Grand Vue owners were also community minded. They offered their facilities to the Perry County Ministerial Association and the public for the purpose of Easter Sunrise Services for many years. The annual fireworks display was an event people looked forward to each 4th of July. Some will remember their "dusk to dawn" shows when the public was treated to five different movies. Then there was a period where the drive-in was used as a race track for go-carts on weekends, known as the Grand Vue Speedway.

Every Walt Disney film ever produced was shown "first run" at the Grand Vue. Surprisingly, Disney films were the most expensive to obtain. One in particular, “The Shaggy Dog,” proved to be the most expensive of all because the distributors forced theaters to charge 50 cents for children and required 50 per cent of the gate.

The end of an era came in 1977 when the Grand Vue Drive Theater ended its long run of nearly 30 years. The fence, marquee, concession stand, screen, playground and speakers were all dismantled to make way for progress. The Grand Vue Plaza Shopping Center would be built here.In recounting his memories of the Grand Vue’s performance, Gene Combs stated that they, the management, “enjoyed seeing so many people and made a lot of acquaintances and friends over the years.” They employed an average of ten people during each of the March 1 – November 1 seasons. The employee of the longest tenure was Mrs. Emily Emeurer, who was the concession stand cashier for over 20 years.When the Grand Vue opened in 1949, the price of admission was 49 cents. Rising costs and inflation forced them to to increase the price of admission to $2.00 by the 1970s. Children under 12 were still admitted free.The last movies ever shown at the Grand Vue Drive In were seen on March 13th 1977, a double billing – Clint Eastwood starring in “Hang ‘em High,” and Max Baer’s production of “Ode to Billy Joe.”

Monday, June 1

Grand Vue Drive-In

Remember those sultry, summer days when you were a kid and you would rush in the evenings to get a bath and scrubbed up to go to the drive-in movie? You really didn’t care what feature was showing: you had only visions of the pop corn, soft drinks, snow cones and the playground with the slides, swings, merry-go-round and that ferris wheel that looked so gigantic.

Then you got a little older and the drive-in became the location for the dating game. You still went a little early; not to go to the playground, but to be assured of a parking spot on the back row. You still didn’t care about the movie.

Where people parked in a drive-in movie divulged quite a bit about their ages. Married folks with children usually parked on or near the front or “cowboy row", so they could watch the kids at the playground. Elderly people also parked in this area so they could see better. Married couples with or without children parked around the concession stand because it was closer to the food and the bathrooms and they were now interested in the film. Teenagers flocked to the rear section and welcomed the fog that settled during the evening.

Most us here in east Kentucky are very familiar with all this because the drive-in movie was the only form of summer entertainment for so many years.

The Grand Vue Drive In Theater opened on October 22, 1949, under the management of J. C. Amusement Company, a partnership of Gene Combs and Dick Johnson. This was before television found its way to eastern Kentucky.

“Blue Lagoon," a 1st run Technicolor movie starring Jene Simmons, was the first feature shown at the Grand Vue, which was located on the Combs Road in the Airport Gardens section of Perry County. The price of admission was 49 cents for adults, children were admitted free, and the lot held a capacity of 300 autos. At that time, there were only a few residents in the area, no hospital, schools, or businesses. The Grand Vue was the first of its kind in the Hazard area.

The 1957 flood, which got two feet over the top of the concession stand at the Grand Vue, brought about a lot of changes. The screen was enlarged for Cinemascope to 60 x 80 feet, to make it the largest in eastern Kentucky. Also, the sound system was converted to stereo and the lot was enlarged to handle 500 vehicles.

When the screen was first erected, the J.C. Amusement Company received a bit of static from the federal Aeronautics Association in Washington. The screen supposedly interfered with the flight traffic pattern of the nearby airport. The Grand Vue owners were told to tear down the screen. In arguing that the screen offered no obstruction, Dick Johnson told the Federal folks, “If they (the pilots) fly into it and that doesn’t kill them, we will.” The controversy soon died down and business went on as usual.

In 1957 - Kenneth Zimmerman took over as manager and maintained the position until his retirement in the spring of 1975. His wife, Goldie, put in her share of the work wherever needed. In the earlier years, this job was handled by co-owner Gene Combs, Ken’s brother-in-law, and, the concession stand was operated by Gene’s wife, Katie.