Eastern Kentucky ‘Blood Feuds’. |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Kentucky mountain blood feuds started around the end of the Civil War and raged on, basically unchecked until around 1915, when organized law and justice finally started to gain control in the rough and tumble mountains of Eastern Kentucky. These ferocious, and dreadful inter-family wars constitute a chapter of American history that is completely astounding, and surprisingly swept under the rug. Sure, we hear about the most famous and probably bloodiest feud, the Hatfield & McCoys (my step-Dad is actually a “McCoy” descended from Randolph’s clan) but few know that we had several bloody battles, and downright wars right here in Hazard, and bordering counties.

What was the cause of these ‘feuds’ and why were they so completely brutal, and out of control? A combination of lawlessness, large families with unpaid debts,and of course, the end of the Civil War, with Kentucky being caught in the cross hairs of all the fighting as a “neutral border state.”

The Civil War proved to be a ‘brother against brother’ war, as well as ‘neighbor against neighbor’. Families who had farmed, went to church together, and known one another their entire lives, all of sudden found themselves on opposing ends of the cause.

Hard times befell those whose husbands, brothers, uncles, and fathers were off at war, and they were trapped in a nation with two armies willing to steal, pilfer, ravage and leave destitute defenseless widows, and fatherless children.

Many lost their homes, their lands, and their lives. Many widows would carry harsh feelings and ill will towards those who they felt had wronged them during the war. Many children would grow up to be vengeful, full of prejudice and hatred, with only retaliation on their minds, and justifying the deaths of their fallen kinsmen. Whatever the reason,  Eastern Kentucky, during this period of time was a very wild and dangerous place, fill with rage, murder, thievery, and outlaws.

Harry M. Caudill described this era in the mountains of Kentucky best.

“After Appamatox it was as though mortal enemies had been locked in the same prison without taking away the deadly weapons they knew so well how to use.

Perhaps in no other region of the United States, except the Southern mountains were the lives and property of a great number of pro-Union civilians lost in the war. In Pennsylvania, Kansas, and a few other border areas the people were subjected to occasional Confederate forays, but those areas were comparatively rich and the losses were soon restored. But in the highlands of the modest and slowly built-up accumulations of three generations were destroyed, impoverishing virtually the entire population.

Thus, the curtain rose upon one of the most fantastic dramas in American history….the ferocious Kentucky mountain feuds. Their story has gone largely unchronicled, but in savagery and stark horror they dwarf the cattle wars of the Great Plains and, in contrast, make the vendettas of Sicily look like children’s parlor games.”

 

Statistics:

During the half-century above mentioned, the nineteen counties of the plateau achieved a maximum average population of 15,000.

Research indicates that one of the counties disclosed between 1856 and 1915, nearly one thousand murder indictments were returned by the local juries.

Nearly 20 homicides per year occurred and many killings must have taken place in which for one reason or another, indictments were never made.

Hazard KY

The French-Eversole War

The French Eversole War in Hazard, the county seat of Perry County, involved entire armies, and before long, the two sides were locked in mortal combat over control of the courthouse, and it’s records. The feud nearly caused a total suspension of law courts in the county.

The Eversole clan holed up inside the court house the structure, and the most numerous French were outside, firing at them from doors and windows of various other buildings.

The battle only ended with the arrival of a company of militiamen who forced the besiegers to flee.

Knott County Kentucky

The Terrible ‘Knott County’ War

This war lasted for many years and included the followers of Cap Hayes, and Clabe Jones. Hays was a cavalry Captain in the Confederate army, and Jones, a pro Union guerrilla leader. When these two strong willed men resumed the war in Knott county, most of the population enlisted in one faction or the other, and in a pitched battle at McPhereson Post Office (later Hindman) a half dozen men were shot to death.

When Cap Hayes was not fighting with Jones, he was warring with Bad John Wright, his neighbor in Letcher County. Wright was in the confederate army, captured in the war and imprisoned in Ohio. He escaped, and built his fortune by enlisting in the Union army for the bounties which were paid. With his roll of “Yankee” greenbacks, he returned to his rebel unit , where he remained until the war ended.

He and Hayes eventually ended to war by decimated the Jones clan.

“Bloody Breathitt”

Breathitt county shocked the entire world with how brutal those years were. It was not unheard of for a murder sentencing to  be interrupted by a band of belligerent outlaws, the gavel snatched form the Judge’s hand and the court room to be forcefully adjourned at the behest of gun whirling kinsfolk and wild mountain men. Many Judges were not only ran out of town, but shot, on the spot, along with attorneys, sheriffs and even jurors.

Clay County

White-Baker War

A war of attrition where countless men died in gun fights on the dusty streets of Manchester.

Hardly a county in Eastern Kentucky was without a war, or a feud. After the Civil War, a struggle for political power waged within each and every county. Union and rebel forces fought for ascendancy by seeking to capture local offices, and in no more than four counties were the discredited Confederates able to succeed.

Former Unionists, then, would elect their comrades to fill the court houses, and election posts and would set out to charge and convict many an old foe for every crime imaginable, including those committed during war time. Dockets would grow to be full, and even though charges were vast, many soon learned that to convict would also mean putting themselves at risk. Many a Judge and Juror alike subjected themselves to target in handing down indictments.

In a number of counties, the law sought to protect the lives of the sworn Judges by installing steel boxes by the judicial bench. Many were simply too afraid to convict and either resigned or left the area outright. Jurors would become terrified, and shy away from handing down an unfavorable decision, even if all evidence pointed directly at the defendant. Thus brewed an atmosphere of more and more prejudice and hatred than ever before, and blood feuds ran rampant among every county in Eastern Kentucky, and most of the southern highlands.

I touched on only a number of the notable feuds in Eastern Kentucky, with the exception of one. The Hatfield-McCoy feud.

It is interesting, to me, to look back and really try to understand and analyze the reason for these things that happened so many years ago. When you think of Kentucky during the Civil War, you think mostly of it being a “border” state, but do we really ever stop and think what that really meant for the people who lived here during that tumultuous time? Picking a side. Shouldering a cause. Brother to brother combat, the loss of life and land, and frustration with poverty, destitution and lawlessness were all contributing factors brought on by the outcome and the Civil War, and geographical location itself.

Sometimes an enemy does not need to belong to army, or carry a bayonet. Sometimes the greatest enemy lives right next door.

 

 

 

 

29 Things ALL Hazardites and Perry Countians Know to be True. |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

1: The Hazard-Perry Rivalry Is Real Deal Stuff.

2: You know it’s coming a flood when Dipsy Doodle curve is covered.

3: You either live in “the city” or live “out in the county”.

4: The resident doughnut is from The Pantry Shelf

5: Perry Central’s Gym is not just John C Combs arena, it’s also called the “Punkin Palace”.

6: The park is the source for a lot of nostalgic and was once a place where you could cruise with your friends, and socialize.

7: The Icee stand at the park is sacred. Strawberries and cream, anyone?

8: Larry Love is synonymous with the Hazard Herald.

9: Lost Mountain USED to be THE party spot.

10: Fourseam USED to be THE party spot.

11: Big Creek USED to be THE party spot.

12: Red Star USED to be THE party spot.

13: The ‘Thinking Spot’ USED to be THE party spot.

14: Bobby Davis Park is where everyone goes to picnic and have their family pictures done.

15: Homeplace was where you played league softball, or had school field trips.

16: Coastal is where everyone gets arrested for DUI…

17: We are all still mourning the loss of Village Spirits, or maybe that’s just me.

18: Circle T is where you go at 4 am for a Big T Burger and a peanut butter milkshake.

19: France’s is where you go at 4 am for a Buggy Burger and a peanut butter milkshake.

20: Hazard’s gym is not Memorial Gym, but Mem Gym.

21: LO Davis drive is essentially, Gym Hill.

22: The Backwoods is a community, not a description of the boonies.

23: Old Hazard High is in said backwoods, New Hazard High is a completely different place.

24: Bulan is also “Pistol City”.

25: Buckhorn is almost it’s own place, but it’s so beautiful.

26: Our small subset communities are tight knit and like families.

27: We are rebuilding our economy, and trying to re brand Hazard, downtown and perry county.

28: Bill’s Grocery in Bonnyman has the best damn hot dogs you’ve ever had.

29: We can say whatever we want to about our hometown, or county, but, BY GOD, nobody else can!

 

List your favorite Hazard or Perry County-ism and be sure to share with all your fellow Hazardites and Perry Countians!

 

 

For All My East Kentucky Girls: Keep on being a different breed. |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Eastern Kentucky. The region defined as all of the Eastern Coalfield, several counties in South Central Kentucky and a few in the eastern part of the Bluegrass. We are a diverse, and cultured region of people, especially since we partly belong to Appalachia. Our region largely depends on our natural resources, coal, natural gas, timber, etc. We are the daughters and wives of coal miners, farmers, and hard laborers. We’ve inherited a vast land, full of history, and a legacy that’s not so accurately portrayed in the media. 

We’ve originated from a line of kick ass women who were not afraid to tame this wild land and make this place their home. These women did it all. Raised families, tended farmlands, learned their hand at keeping livestock, and received their education. Never afraid to do it for themselves, get their hands dirty, or pass on traditional cultural norms for females, these women have paved the way for us….

As a result of our past, history, culture and industries, we East Kentucky women are certainly in a league of our own…

East Kentucky ladies never forget their raising…

As a whole, poverty is a very real thing here in Eastern Kentucky. It’s an ongoing issue that has plagued the area for years. It’s sad, but it’s something that isn’t going away anytime soon. Some of us may have grown up in less than stellar conditions. I count myself fortunate to have had parents who had an education and were able to provide for me, but I know so many who weren’t afforded that luxury.

East Kentucky women never forget that where you’ve been isn’t where you have to be in life. Many of us have hailed from very humble beginnings, only to strive for bigger and better things.If anything, the way that our area is portrayed in main stream culture is a motivator to never stop making yourself better. I know so many inspirational women, even from my hometown, who not only work hard everyday to better themselves, but to better the lives of the members of their communities.

Despite this fact, even though many East Kentucky women may prove to be educated, or even wealthy, none of them ever forget their raising. I’ve never met a woman from here who ever grew too big to be proud of the area she’s from. That’s certainly not our way, and if it is, go ahead and leave out the fact that you’re from Eastern Kentucky. If you can’t be proud of that, we don’t need you to lay any sort of claim to us anyway.

East Kentucky ladies can hang with the boys…

In an area full of reclaimed or abandoned strip jobs, farms, and forests, East Kentucky women remain well versed on how to be one of the guys. We usually aren’t afraid to drink a beer, shoot a crossbow, or come along for turkey and deer season. Do I hunt? No, but I have MANY friends who tag as many deer as their husbands or boyfriends. I also have many friends who are just as good at catching small mouth, mixing up a bourbon, or hitting the trails on a dirt bike.

To East Kentucky girls, male/female boundaries just aren’t really there. When you come from small towns where there are only a select few things to do in your down time, you find yourself passing the days the same as everyone else, be it male or female.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rolled a four-wheeler, caught night-crawlers to go fishing, or drank a Bud diesel at an abandoned coal tipple. The point is, you’ll never have to be worried about bringing an East Kentucky girl around your buddies, because chances are, we’re a hell of lot more fun than they are anyway.

East Kentucky ladies know their Appalachian Delicacies…

As daughters of Appalachia, we hail from a very long line of strong women who not only grew or killed their own food, but have passed down those recipes that have been perfected from generation to generation. I’ve never tasted any type of cuisine that I like better than pure, old fashioned mountain cooking.

I’m talking about fried okra, pickled corn, and garden raised vegetables. There’s nothing like home made ice box cake, blackberry cobbler, or fresh strawberries picked right from the vine. Let’s not forget the perfect way to make gravy…..one for every food and occasion. Brown gravy, sausage gravy, chicken gravy, mushroom gravy….You ALWAYS have to respect the gravy. RESPECT IT!

Other ladies may be content in making their fancy, schmancy, gluten free, low carb meals, but East Kentucky ladies know that isn’t even real cooking. If you can’t dip it in egg, flour and corn meal, douse it in lard and make it extra crispy, then we don’t want to fool with it.

And East Kentucky women do. We have it going on in the kitchen. There’s nothing we enjoy more than fattening up our men, and showing off our ‘fryin’ skills. At least, I do…and I have the cast iron to prove it.

East Kentucky ladies have a lot of heart….

Most of us are well bred, God fearing ladies, who want nothing more but to raise our families, be successful at what we do in life, and help our communities. So many of us, rich, poor, or in between, go to church every Sunday, join committees to better our towns, or lend a helping hand in any way possible.

If someone passes away, be sure that we are the first in line to take food to the families. If someone is struggling financially, be sure we are the ones who will slip money into the pockets of those in need. If someone is ill and needs help paying for medical expenses, be sure that we are the ones organizing events to help raise money, supplies, etc.

It’s in our blood, a trait passed down for generations, to want to help and be nurturers. We’ve mothered this land and the people on it for so long, it’s only natural that we pave the way to lending our hands for the greater good. It’s always been our way.

East Kentucky ladies know what hard work is and they appreciate it….

Many of us had family members that worked in the coal mines. My Grandfather was a tobacco farmer from Clay county who supplemented his income by raising pigs. He was a good man, who made an honest living, but he died early from years of breaking his back to make sure food was on the table for his family.

Many of us still have husbands, or friends, who break their backs, whether it be under ground or on a strip job, all so they can provide for their families. These jobs are by no means for the faint of heart. My family, personally, were never the products of coal, but I know many friends, and acquaintances who have struggled with the uncertainty of the coal industry today. I also know many who have gained great wealth from hard work in that same industry.

An East Kentucky women will never not appreciate how hard you work for them. Whether it be in the coal mines, as an attorney, doctor, or even if you flip burgers. To us, hard work is hard work, and a well earned dollar is still a well earned dollar.

East Kentucky ladies also know and understand the meaning of hard work for themselves. I love seeing strong, educated women making an impact in the work force. These days I see so many ladies from our area who are lawyers, doctors, young professionals, and entrepreneurs. We no longer are expected to stay home and simply be complacent wives and mothers, although there’s nothing wrong with that. I stay at home with my children, myself.

East Kentucky women are getting out there and making waves in the professional world, and it’s something to be proud of. Work ethic is like breathing to us, and you most certainly have to have it. You can’t survive in this area if you aren’t willing to work, or learn some kind of trade. Unless you want to pigeon hole yourself into the endless cycle of government assistance, but that’s for another time and place…

East Kentucky ladies know the perfect balance, and that makes us unique….

East Kentucky ladies know the recipe for the perfect balance in being a Kentucky woman. Not only are we Kentucky, but we are also Appalachian. We understand how to be strong and soft. Masculine and feminine. We know the beauty in letting ourselves be taken care of, but we also know that we need no one to take care of us. We can do it all on our own. We can be the bread winners too. We are strong, proud, and impetuous.

We are descended from a line of historically strong females who had enough guts and gall to forge their own way in these rough and tumble mountains. A line of females who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, make their own fortunes, and depend on no one but themselves. These ladies also understand the importance of fostering an emphasis on family, and the home. Without them, none of us would be here today.

This article is for all the ladies out there, from my region, who are strong, independent, women. Those who are raising their families in Eastern Kentucky. Those who are working in Eastern Kentucky to better these small towns and mountains that we all love. Those who are not only proud to be from this area, but who have made a success out of being here.

It’s important for the world to know that we aren’t all barefoot, (even though I do enjoy going barefoot from time to time) pregnant hillbillies, married to their cousins, unable to read or string two sentences together. I’ll never tire of saying that I’m proud to be an East Kentucky girl, may we always keep on being a different breed.

 

Pictured Above: Hazard’s first ever contestants for Coal Carnival Queen. Sometime in the 30’s or 40’s.

 

 

Circle T Restaurant in Hazard KY |The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Hands down one of my favorite places in the entire world, Circle T is the epitome of a small town, down home restaurant. I’m on a first name basis with all the gals that work there, and most of the other customers. Partly because I have to take my three year old there every Tuesday for chicken and dumplings and usually on the weekend for a cheese burger and fries.

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Circle T has been a staple in Hazard/Perry county for many years, and has served many people. Practically everyone from here has been eating at Circle T for years, along with everyone else in their immediate family. I always enjoy Circle T because it’s a place for literally everyone. Rich, poor, bad, good. Everyone is welcomed, and everyone is satisfied. Open 24 hours a day, with delivery and pickup, you can eat this deliciousness any time you want it. I’d be lying if I said this place wasn’t a late night/early morning for myself and my friends when we were teenagers. There’s nothing like eating a BIG T burger at 4 am….

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If you’re a fan of real country food, this is your place. They offer daily meal specials, along with seasonal dishes, specialty drinks and dessers. Their lemon sours, and milk shakes are amazing. (Peanut butter milkshake. Get it.)  Right now, they offer a variety of summer salads that are to die for. I’m a fan of the chicken and dumplings with mac and tomatoes and fried okra. Their Roast Beef Manhattan isn’t too shabby either. I’m country as corn bread, and this place is just a total mecca for true country cuisine. Honestly. Their Kentucky Silk Pie is also pretty amazing. Their entire menu is pretty much awesome.

As you can tell by the picture on my featured image, I honestly do not need to give an explanation or testament to how amazing the food is. It’s wonderful. But the food alone does not make Circle T what it is. WKYT did an article last winter about Circle T. During the blizzard we had many local businesses that closed, but Circle T was open 24 hours, even through 14-15 inches of snow and bad weather. They didn’t close because the owner wanted to be able to serve people a hot mean. That in itself is a testament to why I love hometown, and places like Circle T. This place is where people gather in the morning to eat breakfast, drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. It’s where teenagers come to hang out. It’s where entire businesses take lunch breaks to every single day. It’s where kids like my oldest (who is only 3) beg to go eat. It’s places like this that make Hazard so special. Places that have been here for years, made their mark, and hold special spots in the hearts of Hazardites, like myself.

If you’re in Eastern Kentucky, or the Hazard/Perry area, you have to stop in here and eat. If nothing else, just to get that “Mayberry” diner atmosphere, and enjoy a peanut butter milkshake. You won’t regret, I promise.

Check them out on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Circle-T-Restaurant/260459463988132?fref=ts

519 Combs Road Hazard KY

Phone: 436-6984

Spring has Sprung in Perry County KY|The Bourbon Soaked Mom|

Some pictures I snapped while on a Saturday evening drive with my youngest son, River. We had the best time last weekend, and really enjoyed how green and beautiful everything is. It is my belief that Hazard/Perry County is one of the most beautiful spots in the state of Kentucky. Have a look at some of these pictures and see for yourself.

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Taken from Crawford Mountain

 

 

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Crawford Mountain

 

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Lost Mountain Strip Job

 

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Lost Mountain Strip Job

 

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Junction at 476, Rowdy Low Gap

 

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Lost Mountain Strip Job

 

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Rowdy Mountain

 

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Ary, KY

 

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Lost Mountain Strip Job

 

 

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Ary, KY

 

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The old Hale Log Home, Homeplace, Ary KY

 

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Swinging Bridge on 476, still in use.

 

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View of the Hazard Bypass from Skyline Drive

 

 

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“Thinking Spot” Skyline Drive

 

 

Bill’s Grocery and Country Store in Bonnyman KY | The Bourbon Soaked Mom |

Bill’s Grocery has been a staple in Bonnyman for decades. Dating back to the 1940’s, when this little country store was owned and operated by Dayton Dunn, folks would do all their “tradin” and socializing at this little Mom and Pop spot, including those who worked for Blue Diamond Coal. Not much has changed around Bill’s. When you walk in, you’re greeted by the same oiled wooden floor, antique coal- fired stove, and of course, Bill Helton behind the counter, who’s been running the place for the last 35 years.

 

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Country stores like this are an endangered species. When you find gems of this sort, it’s important to preserve and appreciate them. Of the many country stores that I stop at and nose around in, Bill’s is among the best kept and purest that I’ve ever been in. Antique cook ware, tools, signs and glassware adorn the walls. Rocking chairs, benches and stools are scattered about for those who want to take a load off. A half worked puzzle waits for Bill to finish, and his sweet wife entertains the masses who are waiting for their hot dogs or pickled bologna. I was taking my son to soccer practice at Kaikumba field a few days ago, and as we passed the tiny grocer, I was ashamed that I hadn’t thought of profiling it before this. Bill’s is such a staple, and I am so used to it being there, I simply overlooked it. Going in there today has made it even more clear to me that more people should see what an amazing little piece of history we have right here in Perry County. IMG_2302 (2)Walking in, we were greeted by a puppy on the front porch, and in the midst of an April shower, we sat on the stoop and patted the friendly hound dog. I laughed to myself and realized that it really doesn’t get any more country than that. Inside, you can just sense and feel all the history. Opening those doors is the equivalent of stepping back in time a few decades, when people wrote letters, there was no such thing as a cell phone, and if you wanted to talk to friends, this little store was the spot to do it. Sandwiched between a coal burning stove and several rocking chairs sat a couple of members of what I presume was the “old guard”. Several gentleman who were enjoying hot dogs and NE-Hi’s in glass bottles were bantering back and forth and just having a good time, enjoying each others company.  I can whole heatedly vouch for this store’s “small town” authenticity, because upon walking in, I was recognized as ” Argene’s granddaughter and That Pepsi Man’s Little Girl.” It’s true what they say, in Perry County, everybody either knows you or someone in your family. It’s easy to feel at home when everybody is intertwined, there’s always much to talk about that way.

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Young and old alike hold this spot dear to their hearts. My generation speak of waiting on the front porch of Bill’s to catch the school bus, or going with their grandparents for a quick and cheap lunch. Many youngsters still stop by on their way to fish to pick up a sandwich and a bag of Grippos, or a candy bar, or bring in their children to show them off to all the familiar faces. Local message boards are filled with stories of Blue Diamond Mining families who remember Mr. Dunn and his era, doing their trading and grocery shopping in the same store, among the families of the same people who frequent now. It’s no surprise the community loves the store and it’s owners so much. For a store that symbolizes so much for past generations, it also serves a reminder to my generation, and those to come. Hard work, and good people can and do persevere. Not only has Bill’s survived, but even today the place is positively thriving. I was in there for only 30 minutes, but I lost count at how many happy folks that were served up hot lunches and cold drinks in glass bottles. It’s hard not to be in a good mood here, one of the many things I like about it.

IMG_2318 (2)I encourage anyone who has not been here to stop by if you’re passing through and give Bill and his buddies a visit. Not only is it a place to get good food, have good conversation, and take a rest, but it’s also one of those spectacular little places that will give you a glimpse of the past, and perhaps make your day a bit more cheery. There certainly aren’t many places of this caliber around here anymore. I promise you’ll neither be disappointed or hungry when you leave. In a region, economy and time when everything is constantly changing, Bill’s has managed to weather the storm and stay the same. That is something that is both refreshing and comforting. There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll leave with a big Eastern Kentucky smile on your face.

 

Bobby Davis Park. Hazard’s Historic Spot for Beauty and Remembrance.

 

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Bobby Davis Park in the 1950s.

 

Springtime is finally here, and after the terrible winter that Eastern Kentucky has just suffered through, I am more than ready to enjoy one of my favorite spots in my hometown, Bobby Davis Museum and Park. My home is only a couple of miles away from this beautiful, as well as historic piece of Hazard, so I am privileged enough to be able to venture down and enjoy it whenever I want to. Many people have no clue how special this place is, and what a true labor of love it was for the man who founded the memorial, and later to our late Mayor Bill Gorman, who had an extensive role in making the park what it is today. To be able to really understand the true significance of the park, as well as it’s real beauty, I feel it’s important to look back to see how, and above all,  why it all began.

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Lawrence Davis, one of Hazard’s most prominent business men, was at the epicenter of the war effort in Hazard during WWII. Davis helped to found (perhaps) the first Civil Defense Council in Eastern Kentucky, directly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Davis, and his committee of a select few prominent Hazard businessmen organized scrap drives every week, with all stores closed on Wednesday afternoons. Perry County never missed filling, or going high above any quota set for gathering scrap metal, or purchasing bonds. There was also one other factor that kept Davis pushing so hard to support Uncle Sam. His only son had joined the war effort and was overseas fighting for his country.

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Between developing a subdivision in Miami (where Davis spent his winters) and his involvement in the Defense Council, Davis was an extremely busy man, but somehow he managed to purchase an unnoticed 4-acre tract of land within the city limits of Hazard. His intent was to eventually develop a modern home and property for his only son, Bobby, who was in service at the time. After years of planning, the bottom dropped out of all of his intentions when in the summer of 1945, the Davis family received word their only son had been killed in Germany, the result of a train accident.

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After a month spent in deep mourning for his only son, Davis soon found a new form of use for the four acres of land he purchased and soon he gathered a few of his closest friend and told them of his intentions to build a living memorial for his late son. Being a master at landscaping and calling on the best architects available, Mr. Davis built the library that overlooks Davis Street above Hazard in one of the loveliest spots in Kentucky. The original plan to have 20,000 volumes of the best books available to readers of the city and county has been completed. Davis also spent a quarter of a million dollars of his own money to install a swimming pool and picnic grounds that are used during the summer seasons.The swimming pool, during that time, was one of the first public swimming pools around the area, even offering swimming lessons.

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The piece of the memorial, however, that was closest to the hearts of The Davis family was the reflecting pool, surrounded by four walls of native stone, with bronze plates displayed, that held the names of 188 Perry County boys, including Bobby, who gave their lives in the service of their country during WWII. Beneath each plate was an azalea that blossomed every Memorial day in May, the plaque at the entrance of the park read simply, “Let time never erase the memory of these Perry County boys who made the supreme sacrifice during WWII.” To my understanding now, the reflecting pool has now since been converted into the Heritage Herb Garden, but you can still see the bronze stones with the names inscribed, an eerie, but heart wrenching tribute to our lost county boys all those years ago.

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Late in the 1950s the City of Hazard elected not to fill the pool when larger and better equipped swimming pools were built around the community. After the late 1950s and 1960s when the park was somewhat neglected the Perry County Garden Club began plans for revitalization. Other individuals and organizations in the community pitched in to clean and restore the park in the early 1970s. Hazel Davis, wife of Lawrence, was a member of the Garden Club in Perry County, and it was said that the reflecting pool and the rose gardens were her favorite places. After the completion of the museum, LO Davis built himself and Mrs. Davis a home to overlook the rose gardens, where they would spend their summer stays in Hazard.

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Bobby Davis Pool in the 50’s, Jonnie Jane Shackleford is the lifeguard.
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The area that used to be the swimming pool.

 

Late in 1983 restoration began in the Bobby Davis Memorial Park to fulfill another dream for the stone building, and that was to fill it with artifacts and photographs depicting the history of Hazard and Perry County. Mr. Davis with the help of W. R. Hall established Perry County’s first local history museum.

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In August 1984 the City of Hazard Officially dedicated the Bobby Davis Museum and Park. This had been the dream of Lawrence Davis as he had inscribed on the plaque located outside the main door which states:

“This library, museum and park was built and given to the people of Perry County by Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence O. Davis in memory of their only son Robert Oren Davis killed in Germany July 13, 1945 “

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On December 18, 1992 the building was gutted by fire. The Mayor of Hazard, Bill Gorman, immediately initiated construction of a new and better museum building, and by August 1993 the structure was ready for dedication. In  a 2014 article written by WKYT, Martha Quigley, the museum’s director is quoted as saying, “I remember the night of the fire. He was standing out front seeing what was going on. Tears were rolling down his face. He felt very close to this park and he felt very close to what we do here.”

Since the fire, the building and museum has been fully restored. Not only does the building house a library, but also oral archives, photographs, historical documents, oral history tapes, personal artifact collection and a Museum Store with homemade crafts and goods. Many citizen committees and community organizations have breathed new life into the Park, restoring it to it’s former beauty while bringing new forms of enjoyment to the people of Perry county by way of the property. Many weddings, showers, and parties are held here during the summer and fall months, and activities such as “Summer in the Park, “The Heritage Herb Festival”, and “Cocktails in the Garden” have rejuvenated interest and attraction.

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I went to park/museum today to take the photos that you see pictured, and even these do not do it justice. As long as I can remember, I have always been in awe at how beautiful and peaceful this wonderful little place is. Many Hazardites have fond memories here, maybe from the 1950’s when you could come and swim in the public swimming pool. Perhaps a family member’s name lies inscribed in bronze as one of the few and brave who lost their life fighting for their country. Others have been married here, taken play dates here, or simply just come to enjoy what a beautiful and historic place it is. That would be the category that I fall under. Whatever the reason, this place is near and dear to many hearts in Perry county, both young and old, and continues to inspire us and make us appreciative of the circumstances by which this memorial came about, and the man whose dream came into reality in honoring the son he loved so much, but tragically lost. Let us all remember the sacrifices of those who served, but also gain new appreciation and admiration for this park, as well as the late Davis family who contributed so much to our lovely, Hazard and to the people of Perry County.

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Bobby, Lawrence and Hazel Davis

Photo Credits for Davis Family Picture and 1950s Bobby Davis Postcard: WSGS & Hazard-Perry.Com

Additional Sources:

cityofhazard.com

wkyt.com

Profile of a Young “Eastern KY” Professional: Celena Baker

A young professional is someone that is defined as a 20 or 30 something, who is ambitious, successful, career oriented, business savvy and independent. Eastern Kentucky, currently has a situation concerning young professionals. Most of my generation, who were born and raised here, will seek education elsewhere, and more than likely, move away after they graduate, providing services in another more profitable area of the state or country. This has been a local story, for quite a while. While this is completely understandable, it also makes it appropriate for me to shine light on a young professional who has not only received her training right here in Eastern Kentucky, but has also settled here, built her OWN business here, and has enjoyed much success here, while also giving back to her community.

Celena Nicole Baker, owner and operator of the newly opened salon and spa, “The Parlour” is a well know hair stylist and entrepreneur, around Eastern Kentucky. January marked the 10th anniversary for Celena’s career, and it proved to be a happy occasion for her. She was also able to celebrate a life long dream, bringing a full-scale operational spa and salon to the people of Hazard and Eastern Kentucky.

In addition to being born and raised here, Ms. Baker received her education and training here. She decided to render her services to Eastern Kentucky, after graduation. Baker has been working for herself since the age of 21. Once upon a time, she was co-owner of the popular salon “NVU”, for nine years, until leaving to start her new business venture. “The Parlour”, has allowed her to materialize her dream of creative and entrepreneurial freedom.

The Parlour is located at 8 Bomber Drive in Hazard, Kentucky and offers a variety of services. Erica Anderson and Teresa Patrick also offer hairstyling, manicures, pedicures, and as of April, these services will include facials, and spray tans.

Celena is a very passionate animal lover, and offers cruelty free color, as much as she can, and she also carries a line of cruelty free products for those who share her love and enthusiasm for animals. Celena is  active in animal rescue, and feels strongly about putting an end to lab testing and torture.

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While being your own boss has it’s perks, it can also prove difficult. For a hairstylist, time is not only your own, but those of your clients. If someone is on a strict appointment schedule, it is important for clients to call and say they are going to be late, or if they have to cancel, to do it in a timely manner so that the hairstylist can fill the vacant slot in order to not capitalize on their time. This also allows the business to give consideration to other clients who are waiting to have their hair, nails or facials done. One missed or late appointment can throw the entire day and schedule off track. Upon writing this blog, Celena urged me to remind people of this, as it affects not only her, but all stylist in our region, as well as their clients. It is so important to remember to be efficient and courteous as clients, and afford your stylist the same respect that they afford you. These things are especially true in a small town.

Celena feels extremely blessed for the clientele and following she has obtained and catered to, since her early years. She loves each and every one of you. One of the best and most rewarding parts about being a small town business owner is the amount of love, loyalty and familiarity received throughout the years of service. Clients are not only clients around here, but quickly become family.

I’m not writing this piece about Celena just because she is my hair stylist, but because I admire her in many ways. To me, she represents a dying breed for our younger generation. She possesses the drive, intuition, intelligence and brawn to forge her own way in Eastern Kentucky and has made an absolute success of it. She is the epitome of a young person who has stayed true to her roots and has used her knowledge and skill to give back to her community and her hometown. To have the gumption to start a business, build it up, give it your all, while chasing your dreams, and then eventually go completely out on your own and take a leap of faith is something extraordinary. To do so in a small town where few have the want or ability to push any new start ups, or even think of going into business for themselves, is something commendable.

“Providing local” walks hand-in-hand with “buying local”, another integral part of revitalizing our region. Our local economies were hit the hardest, in the recent “recession”, and our local economies will be the last to bounce back. When they do bounce back, I firmly believe it will be on the backs of our local people. I know that large businesses monopolize the sale of goods and services in our area. We should all realize that those businesses take our money, lock it in a box, and ship it too their bank, which is not in eastern Kentucky. It is much better to keep our money circulating in the mountains, but I know that buying local is often associated with a slightly higher price tag. Some of us need the products and services for the lowest price they area available. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you have been blessed with the ability to buy local, you should.

I believe it is impressive what Celena has done, and is continuing to do. She is not just providing a great salon and spa, she is providing another way in which we can support our local economy, and for that, we should support her. We can all learn a lot from her, and her journey. Not to mention, we can count ourselves lucky that we have folks like her to keep all the ladies of Hazard and surrounding areas looking fabulous.

Phone Number: (606) 438-7714

Look for the official “Parlour” Facebook page for more information about what services are provided and how to book an appointment.

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Remembering Hardburly Coal Camp

When you think of Eastern Kentucky, one thing is sure to come to your mind. Coal. Perry County, the piece of Earth that I call home, is no stranger to the coal business. Black Gold has been hauled in and out of these parts for years, and still is today. Bulan, nicknamed “Pistol City” in the early 1900’s for it’s fast ways and dangerous territory, lies on the outskirts of the one of the most famous coal field towns in Eastern Kentucky, Hardburly.

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Nestled back deep in the Eastern Kentucky hills, lies the remnants of a once thriving coal camp. You can still see the rows of cookie cutter, box homes that were built by the Hardy-Burlington Mining Company, dating back as far as the 1930’s. The ruins of the commissary lie uninhabited, a keep out sign hanging ominously. The old post office, established in April of 1917, is closed but still stands. A lot of these homes have been restored, and wear the tag of homes long lived in and much loved. Kids still play out in their yards, adults still come and go for work as usual, but the tipple is long gone and, no coal is hauled on the two lane. No more dusty men carrying their lunch pails, no more hustle of mine life, no more boom town days when life was good, profitable and Hardburly itself was a city to rival that of Hazard. By all accounts, Hardburly, back in it’s prime was a special place.

harburlyBulan, Duane and Ajax, in the early days were comparable to the Wild West. During the early days of the mining boom, an influx of outlaws and rough and rowdy characters marked their territory here, hoping to get rich from land. Fights, murders and crime sprees were common in the area, and Bulan soon earned itself the nickname “Pistol City”. Not even a Hollywood movie director could have thought of some of this stuff. Many old timers around these parts have passed down stories from generation to generation about these areas. Bulan, Pistol City and Hardburly remain areas that are still steeped in legends and lore. With so much of our history and heritage being lost with people passing, or folks moving away, its easy to lose a grip on what made these places so special, and a way of life that has all been but forgotten.

 

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I am lucky enough to be acquainted with a very special man who remembers what Hardburly was like during it’s prime. Mr. Ellis Fugate, who was born and raised in the area, was kind enough to share some memories with me. Mr. Fugate is also a WWII veteran, and shares the most wonderful stories of this region and his youth on his Facebook page. His stories are as eloquent as his memories, and I love to hear anything he has to say. Mr. Fugate is not only a true gem, gentleman and person, but somebody I am glad to call my friend. The words that he has penned are much better suited to paint the picture of times gone bye than any article, or any history book could ever convey.

Ellis Fugate:

“Duane is a little town about which I have known all my life. I did not frequent the town very much until I was in my late teens and early twenties, but it was there, and I heard stories about the place in earlier times. It was nicknamed “Pistol City” because, if you were trying to make yourself out to be a bad man, you could get that idea knocked out of your head as quickly in Pistol City, as nearly any place around. People got killed there with remarkable ease. I knew some folks who ran a business there for years and they said that nearly everyone carried a pistol on his person, though who did and who didn’t carry a weapon would be only a guess. Duane is pronounced with two syllables. Strangers to these parts, seeing it written down for the first time, try to pronounce it with only one syllable, Dwane. But local yokels call it ‘Dew-ane,’ both syllables getting about the same weight. The post office for Duane was called Bulan, and it still is today, though now it is housed in a relatively new structure down the road a ways where the Lotts Creek road takes off to Cordia School and other features in Knott County.”

“Jakes Branch is a stream that flows out from the hills between Duane and Dwarf. It has several branches the names of which I do not know, so I will just call them all Jakes Branch. Jakes Branch has its beginning somewhere in the hill north of Hardburly and empties into Trace Branch between Duane and Ajax. In the old days when butter was really butter and fanny was a girl’s name, I used to peddle in the coal camp called Hardburly. I sold many things raised on the farm and coveted by the housewives of the miners who lived in the camp.”

“I will describe this camp for you. People my age need no description but the young folks of today have never seen living like they had in the coal camps during the years prior to, and during World War II. The houses were built by the coal company that was operating the coal harvesting business. They were sometimes built for two families to live in one house. The houses were two stories high and divided so that one family lived upstairs and downstairs on one side of the house while another family had the same facility on the other side. Rental properties have always utilized that arrangement and the camp houses used it because it is easier to provide housing under one roof than it is to provide it under two. Many of the houses were of individual architecture but some of them were the duplex design.”

“These houses were very close together. Some were closer than others but many were within twelve to fifteen feet of each other. There was room for washing clothes and other duties behind the house but very little front yard. Typically, they were built on both sides of a narrow dirt road, and that road was never a highway. While I peddled in Hardburly, I never saw a paved road to any of the houses except those fronting the drive through camp. Houses like this were provided all the way to the top of the hills. Access was by switchback roads that angled up the hills to the very last house. To get to the camp from our home, we would walk up the left fork of Combs Branch and cross the hill, entering the camp from the north. This was an arduous journey for us, so we would ride horses or mules into camp and tie them up in some convenient spot, leaving the produce or whatever we were selling on the beast of burden until it was sold.”

“I have taken loads of frying chickens, eggs and various fruits and vegetables to sell in the camp in this manner. Many a time have I stood in the back door of a kitchen and asked a housewife if she wanted to buy a frying chicken. Sometimes she would come out to see if the chickens were fat or as large as she thought they should be, but sometimes she would be wringing out clothes or mopping the kitchen floor, and she would say, “Bring me two.” When I had complied, she would say, “What else you got?” I usually had green beans, which everybody wanted. If I had roasting corn, they usually bought all I had. You can’t carry many messes of roasting ears on a mule. Some of the ladies would come out and look at the chickens, saying how scrawny they were, shaking their heads, then offering about half the price that the chickens were worth. But when they saw that I was selling the fryers for fifty cents to others, they would begin to nudge up the price they had offered. I told a lady once that she was being foolish trying to bring down the price. She wanted to know why I thought she was being foolish. I told her that she could have had her choice of the chickens when I had a mule load, but she waited until I had only two chickens left. She handed me a dollar and said, “I’ll take’em both.” But in the fall of the year when apples get ripe, the people in the camp went crazy for apples.”

“We had no apples to sell. Our orchard produced what apples we used and a few to give to neighbors, but Lewis Smith had a large orchard on his farm on Troublesome Creek just a half mile below Dwarf. He came into possession of a Ford Model A pick-up truck and used it servicing his orchard with various sprays that he used to control pests. He also used it to transport apples into Hardburly every fall when apples got ripe. We would load this truck with bushel baskets of apples and drive across the hill to Duane, turn left at the junction in Duane and proceed the three miles or so to Hardburly. This is county road 1146 now, from Duane to Hardburly, but in those days, I don’t think it had a number. We called it Hardburly Road. It was a bit rough driving but by being careful we could negotiate it easily enough. Steering around the chuck holes in the road and crossing the railroad several times, we finally came into the main street of the camp. We usually drove up the hill first to where Lewis knew some folks that had asked him to bring apples. Sometimes we would sell the whole truckload without moving the truck from that spot. Sometimes we would have to move around to another hill and enter another road up a hill. But I don’t remember ever bringing apples back when we went into Hardburly.” 

“This is how we did things back then. It may not have been the best way, and God knows it was not the easiest way, but it was our way. We saw a need and filled it, and that is what business is all about today, filling a need, and making a profit in the bargain.”

Ellis Fugate

I want to thank Mr. Fugate again for his words. Taking his knowledge of this area and time in the world is great, for two reasons. The first is what he saw, heard, and otherwise experienced about Hardburly, Kentucky. A picture of what the area was like circa 1940 is given by someone who witnessed it firsthand. Accounts like these are important and should be written down and shared.

The second reason is the way we are able to get glimpses of how Mr. Fugate perceived what he saw and heard. Giving his real-life experiences of Hardburly gives us a personal feel from someone who has lived and been shaped by these mountains. The same type of place found all over eastern Kentucky. Mr. Fugate’s account is important because it is written from a mind molded by this region. It shows a part of who we are, and it shows some of those intangible attributes special to this place. That is heritage.  If you are from this area, you should value our heritage, and if you are not, it is well worth the knowing.

 The research I sought for this piece was tough. There was not a lot I could find about the coal camps, or the folks that lived there. I invite all of you who read this to share a memory of Hardburly, if you’ve been there, lived there, raised a family, or simply know some history of the area. To better understand where our communities are going, it’s important to understand where we came from. Hardburly is such an important and interesting piece of Perry County History, and needs to be preserved and appreciated.

 

 

Glory Days: A story of Hazard.

Nostalgia has proven to be one of my favorite emotions, and it has the ability to bond large groups of people together, by one common thread. Most of what I write about, as well as the success of many of these articles, can be attributed to one thing: nostalgia. In keeping with that theme, I wanted to tug at the heart strings of my fellow Hazardites, by remembering the “Old Hazard.” The sprawling, bustling, little city that so many of our mothers,fathers,grandparents, aunts and uncles recall in long worn stories, passed down for years. The “Hazard” described in these tales exists only in the minds of the story tellers, but its not lost on those like me, the recipients, who marvel at the wonder of times long gone. We look to it as an example and inspiration. This long gone time was the era when men and women went dancing on Saturday nights. Ladies brought out the bridge tables on designated dates and gambled the night away to the sound of ice clinking in their glasses. Men starched their shirts before going into town, and women never left home without their hats perfectly pinned and hands delicately gloved. There were no “pill problems” to speak of; no such thing as “those who abuse the system,” and the worst anybody could ever do was to be “caught” trying pot. Looking back on these memories, the photographs, the tales and the legends, it’s hard for me to imagine Hazard as this almost fantastical place, but it was. For all it was worth then, it’s worth remembering now.Hazardblog

It is impossible to think, or talk  about Hazard history, without thinking first of Jerry’s Restaurant. Located across from what is now Shell Mart, Jerry’s was opened on November 12, 1968, and it was known as the very first “chain” restaurant to grace the town. The restaurant soon became a local hangout for teenagers and a favorite among locals. Boys would cruise by in their hot rods (67 camaros, 78 z28s, even old Studebakers) and burn their tires, to impress all the beautiful women. Families would clamor to purchase the “J-Boy Boxes”, “Champ Sandwiches,” and “Ground Round-topped with an onion.” Fast food wasn’t supposed to taste as good as Jerry’s, but it did. The strawberry pie was so red and perfect, it’d make your eyes burn and the chocolate fudge sundaes were piled so high and frothy that you’d have to share it, because it was too much for only one person. Cat Sizemore was the owner, with the likes of Big Ernie as the cook, Bobby Riley as manager, and longtime waitress Madelyn Riddle, who knew everyone’s order before they even sat down.

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Many people would make the trip to downtown on the weekend to visit the Family Theater or The Virginian, where movies would cost you 25 to 50 cents. After the movie was over, you could walk to The Sweet Shop and get a spectacular ham salad sandwich with a thick vanilla milk shake. If you were lucky enough, you got to occupy a bar stool by the window so you could admire all the handsome boys who would sit on the rail by The Grand Hotel, to watch the ladies walk past. Boys would usually journey down to the 8-Ball Pool Room, ran by Charley and Johnny Robinson. You would have to produce your “pool card” that was supposed to be signed by your parents. Joining the 8-Ball Pool club was a right of passage, and after you had mastered the art of that establishment, you got to venture on to The Royal Bar where the “experienced” players played and drank beer. Taxi Alley was always full of cab drivers awaiting their next customers.

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Among the many special restaurants in Hazard was Don’s, Gross’s Steak House and The Shamrock. Kids at Don’s would scarf down their hamburgers, so they could look at the comic books up front that were displayed, cleverly, on a revolving wire rack. You could score one for 10-12 cents. Folks would order stew and dumplins by the platter at Gross’s, and The Shamrock was owned by Grapevine and Maggie Whitaker and remained one of the few places were you could drink coffee late into the night. You could go to Rexalls during long hot summers and purchase a lemon sour, but be sure to add salt, or to Fouts drug store for a fountain float. Not lost among these ranks were the Chat n’ Chew, Smiley’s, Bailey’s, and of course, you had to get Nola’s fried chicken and gravy at The Kentucky Inn. Hazard, in those days, had all the charm and sweetness of a small town untouched by commercialism, and was purely owned and operated by the souls who lived and breathed life within those city limits.

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A peak inside Fouts Drug Store on main.

 

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The Shamrock

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Fathers, husbands and boyfriends would come to window shop at Papania’s, Lasslo’s, or Stiles for that perfect piece of jewelry. Little boys would receive their first knives from Davis Hardware, and you bought your first pair of Converse sneakers from Dawahares. You could go down to Scott’s 5 & dime and flip through stacks of records or locate some special toy. Later, this spot would be known as T, G, and Y. George’s shoe store had all the Aigner purses and shoes you could ever want, and whenever you had worn them out, you had to go to Halcombs, across the bridge, to get them repaired. You could go down to Home Office Supply and listen to 45’s, before you could buy them. The place was off limits to many, because it was a teenage haven. Little girls would exclaim over the peaches and cream dresses sold at Tots-n-Teens, and at Christmastime, children would line up to see the window display at Shafter Comb’s store. The Holidays were a magical time, in downtown Hazard, and something that shop keepers and town leaders took a lot of pride in. Lights would be draped over the streets, and the entire strip was transformed into a dream like winter wonderland. Every window showed their best merchandise and everyone was cheerful. By all accounts, those were special days.

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Main Street Hazard 1957

I describe these things as I have read about them on message boards or on stories told on social media. Most have become tributes or oral accounts of these days that escaped us, so long ago. I’ve never walked the streets of downtown Hazard, packed shoulder to shoulder with my fellow citizens. I’ve never had a hamburger at Don’s, or gotten a root beer float at Fout’s Drug store. By the time I was old enough to really remember Hazard as a kid, the five and dime was long gone, Dawahares had moved to high street, and the only restaurant on the strip, that I ever recall, was The North Fork Grill, and even that didn’t last long. My generation will never know that special place our town was then. If you notice, I’ve not really put a name to this era or decade I am talking about, because it seems that it was every decade that preceded the 90’s. Even in the 1980’s, Hazard was busy. We’ve long lost that special, small town feel that lit up Hazard, and made her so special, and dear to our hearts.

As I was driving downtown today, I recognized some of these places from past pictures. Most now are attorney’s offices, random businesses, or just simply left vacant. My own husband works now in the building that was once The Shamrock Restaurant. Hazard has suffered a great blow with the advances of chain restaurants, commercialism, and super companies like Wal-Mart and Lowes. There is no room for small town country stores anymore, and it certainly shows downtown. We no longer have bumper to bumper traffic, you see more people wearing pajamas downtown than you do in your home.

I will always remain adamant that, despite everything, I still love Hazard, and I am always proud to tell people that this is where I am from. Am I a little sad that myself and my children will never get to experience “the Hazard” that so many remember fondly and with such pride? Of course I am. I also remain optimistic that organizations like InVision, and Fantastically Hazard are working hard at re-branding the Queen City and revitalizing downtown into a place we can all be proud of. I remain optimistic that city leaders will put their heads together to think of new and exciting ways to bring positive attention to our town and our area and help make it special again. Lastly, I remain optimistic that there are still sentimental, nostalgic folks out there, like myself, who still see the beauty of things, even though they may just need a little dusting off.

So, this one is to you. I dedicate this piece to those of you who have walked down main street and recall these places in your memory. My childhood didn’t produce those pictures. I am a product of what, I hope, will be described as a displaced generation. I want for my generation to be the only one who won’t have that caliber of memories about this place. Therefore, this piece is also dedicated to those of you who have an opportunity to change that for our children. May they have memories as fond as anyone before us.

Pictures Courtesy of:

wsgs.com

hazardkentucky.com