A Short Lesson in Hazard/Perry County History.

If you  frequent this blog, you know that I touch on multiple subjects, but one that I can never stay away from very long is Hazard, Kentucky. The Queen City of the Mountains. The epicenter of “Black Gold,” and the place I call home. As I have said before, this place has a way of pulling you and making you fall in love, but why does she deserve a royal nickname? My answer would be that nobody gets that kind of status without earning it. Let’s take a look at the crown and talk about a few of the dents, scratches and some of the jewels.

Hazard/Perry County Kentucky is a wondrous place. Full of history, and intrigue, our small town is full of surprises. Many people of prominence have visited here, and many people of prominence have hailed from here. Hazard has suffered historic catastrophes, erected unique landmarks and heralded extraordinary people way ahead of their times. Perhaps you know about some of these facts, or folks, perhaps you do not. Either way, I hope you learn something from them, and gain insight into this unique little town, and the people, and events who have paved the way for all of us.

1: Senator Robert Kennedy visited Hazard in 1968, one week before he announced his candidacy for the President.
 

RFK & Bill Gorman. Photo by Paul Gordon.


 He was later assassinated only three months after his visit. In Hazard, along with then mayor Willie Dawahare, he visited Liberty Street. Dawahare told Kennedy he needed 10% more HUD funding to pave Liberty Street and build more housing. Before leaving, Kennedy and Carl D. Perkins did a live television interview with our late Mayor, Bill Gorman, who owned a television station at the time. Kennedy’s visit sought to better help him understand poverty and the way of mountain life. He aimed to envision a new America, where everyone was able to hold steady jobs, provide for their families, and live comfortably. He later delivered a speech at Alice Lloyd College, with Carl Perkins in attendance,about the importance of young voters. 

 … I’ve seen proud men in the hills of Appalachia who wish only to work in dignity, but they cannot, for the mines have closed and their jobs are gone, and no one — neither industry, labor nor government — has cared enough to help …”
– Robert F. Kennedy, 1968

2: Bill Clinton delivered a speech on Main Street in July of 1999.
 

Clinton speaks to a very hot Hazard crowd.


 I was there, and as my Dad hoisted me atop his shoulders, I got to shake his, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s hands. I was 9 years old. I remember it being so hot that people were fainting, and water was being passed around in buckets. Downtown was a spectacle, shoulder to shoulder, and so tight you could hardly breathe. Clinton’s aim was to bring business to poverty stricken areas, long forgotten or ignored in the boom times of the 1990s. Around 2,000 people came out, waving American flags and suffering the 90 degree heat. 

“When I’m gone, I hope you will remember more than that the president came and you were hot. I hope you will remember that it was the beginning of a new sense of renewal for this region and for all the people of our country,”

3: The Great Flood of 1957: Hazard’s Catastrophe

Downtown Hazard during the flood of 57.

The flood of 1957 is one of the worst natural disasters to ever befall Eastern Kentucky. Swirling flood waters, reaching depths of ten feet, raged for more than 18 hours in downtown Hazard. Three people lost their lives, and many were left homeless. 50 homes were swept away by the raging current. Hazard was left without phone service, electricity, the Miners Memorial Hospital (old ARH) was left without power and much of it’s lab equipment was destroyed. Ft. Knox and The Red Cross had to bring relief. Flood waters reached downtown at around 11 am and rose nearly 6 feet in two hours. The streets were filled with slime as silt mixed with the coal dust that covered the buildings. Dewey Daniel, President of People’s Bank had estimated that river areas from Neon to Irvine had suffered losses equal to 250 million dollars. 

4: Willie Sandlin: American War Hero
 

Willie Sandlin.


A native of  Buckhorn, Sandlin was the only Kentuckian to receive The Congressional Medal of Honor in World War I. Of all Americans in service during that time, only Sergeant Alvin York received more decorations than Sandlin. Sandlin single-handedly destroyed three German machine gun placements, and killed 24 of the enemy at Bois de Forges. After the war, he settled in Owls Nest Kentucky, and was active in The Frontier Nursing Service, in Hyden Kentucky. In 2000, Sandlin’s family donated his medal to The Kentucky National Military Museum in Frankfort, Kentucky.

5: The Boom Days of Hardburly Coal Camp. 
 

Hardburly Coal Camp in the 1930’s.

If you’ve ever driven through Hardburly, you can still see the remnants of a once booming place. The Coal Camp back in it’s hey day was said to be a great place to live. By all accounts, the Camp was like residing in town, and the company provided handsomely for it’s miners and their families. Rows of homes, a commissary and everything needed to sustain a community was prevalent during this bi-gone era. There was a Union Hall, snack bars, doctors offices, and a movie theater, along with various churches. The area even had it’s own Sheriff. 

6: The Amazing and Colorful Life of Nan Hagan Gorman, our current Mayor. 
 

Mayor Nan Gorman.


Moving to Hazard, Kentucky in 1929 with her family, Nan Hagan grew up loving the beauty of Appalachia. After graduating from The University of Cincinnati, and attending the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, Nan worked as a freelance artist. She eventually would become the first to be employed by the Commonwealth, a job that lead to her designing the state seal, which we still use today. At age 50, Nan resettled in Hazard, marrying Mayor Bill Gorman, her high school sweetheart. He remained mayor for 35 years. After his death, Nan won Mayor as a write in candidate with a margin of 3-1. She continues to pay homage to her late husband’s legacy today. 

I have included a link to an article by Elaine Chao that details Nan’s extraordinary life.
http://www.politico.com/story/2013/11/embracing-her-old-kentucky-home-elaine-chao-nan-gorman-99487.html

7: Britt Combs, Hazard Kentucky’s first black physician.

 Born Sept 15, 1897-Died Oct 1957. Dr. Combs, in his day, was Hazard’s first and only black physician. His business, however, became so popular, he was forced to buy a bigger building, employ a staff, and have not only one, but two horses. 

8: Hazard/Perry County in Popular Culture. Many songs have been inspired by, or have mentioned Hazard. Those include: Mrs. Clara Sullivan’s Letter-Pete Seegar, The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore-Jean Ritchie, Nine Pound Hammer-Merle Travis, High Sheriff of Hazard-Tom Paxton, Hazard Kentucky-Phil Ochs, Funky Grass Band-Portor Wagoner, and lastly, From Hillbilly Heaven to Honkey Tonk Hell-Kenny Chesney.

9: Ernest Sparkman; A Pioneer in Radio Broadcast.
 

Ernest Sparkman while playing for UK.


Ernest Sparkman was a past President of the Kentucky Broadcaster’s Association, and started WSGS, the first FM broadcasting station in the Eastern Kentucky coal fields. Sparkman also started the East Kentucky Sports Network and broadcasted the games for nearly forty years, longer than any other broadcaster. Sparkman was not only a great sports caster, but also played the game very well. He played basketball under legendary coach Morton Combs, and later under Adolph Rupp himself. Under his leadership, WSGS became an invaluable asset to the mountains, and even today his legacy is being kept alive by his sons. 

10: The Story Behind “The Mother Goose House”. 
 

The Mother Goose in the 50’s.


George Stacy completed the home known to everyone in Hazard as “The Goose” in 1940. Taking the Stacy’s nearly 6 years to complete, the building is made from sandstone that was hauled to the site by the builder’s sons from nearby creeks all over the area. No one seems to have ever figured out why George Stacy, a regular man from Hazard who worked for the L & N Railroad, came up with the idea to build his home like a goose. The Stacy’s resided there for many years, and later added a grocery store. It is rumored that the building contains rocks from various states and Canada. The home has been featured in many national newspapers and television shows, including The New York Times, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. 

So that’s my short highlight reel. There are plenty more that I agree need to be incorporated, and you’ll have to stay tuned to read about them (or to make sure I don’t forget any). Hazard, and eastern Kentucky in general, has such a rich and strong heritage, its not just a privilege to learn or remember where we came from, its our obligation. Talk to your grandparents, talk to your grandchildren, read a locally written book, go see sights, do whatever you can to learn whatever you can about these mountains, especially if you are from them. If you aren’t, don’t let that discourage you. We are all friendly, hospitable and anxious to show the world it could learn a lot from the history we have. 

 Souces for this post include: 

www.wsgs.com

www.hazardkentucky.com

www.cityofhazard.com 

 www,politico.com

Stay at home moms, working moms, pressure, and slowing it down: we’re all doing fine.

I’ve been a stay at home mom for a two and a half years now. The road to where I am has been long, and challenging, and different. Growing up, I never, ever would have expected that I would be a stay at home mother, and I certainly didn’t grow up dreaming about becoming one. My station in life just, sort of, happened. Yes, I stay home and care for my boys all day. I cook. I clean. I do laundry. I decorate. I make sure the pantry is stocked, and I inquire about bills. I sift through stacks of mail, and have a filing system. I try to make my children and husband as comfortable as possible, and put their needs above my own. But no, I’m not Betty Draper, with my hired nanny, my perfect dresses, with nothing to do but smoke cigarettes all day and worry about my husband’s needs. I raise my children, and run my home. That, all in itself is a job, and unless you’ve ever done it, you have no idea how difficult and overwhelming it can become. I am still my own person, not just a wife and mother. It’s easy to forget that when you’re swimming in a sea of baby bottles, pull ups and enfamil. Every now and then, I remind myself, I’ve still got it.

When Greyson was born, I had this idea that I would be able to raise him, work full time, go to school full time and still have pieces of myself left over for fun, and leisure. I’m laughing at my own naivety as I type this. It took me two months to leave my job, and while I finished up my program in school, I never used the education I received. I simply remained at home. I know many women who are supermoms and are able to do this, but I guess I’m just not. I couldn’t do it. My need to be the perfect wife and mother encompassed anything else I had going on in my life. I know all you feminists out there, who are reading this are rolling your eyes and disowning me in your minds. Had I been reading this a few years ago, I would too, but this was MY choice. Something I wanted. In many ways, that first year I was obsessed with being perfect. I clipped recipes out of cookbooks, I scoured Pinterest for ways to make home made baby food, tips on how to clean every square inch of my home, and even looked into baby sign language for Christ’s sake. I was worn out. Running here and there, trying to cook gourmet meals every night, trying to make sure my baby was being stimulated enough every day to be developmentally advanced. I was a woman possessed. What if I’m not doing a good enough job? The pressure, man, the pressure. Then I realized, what does good enough even mean? Are my children fed, clothed, loved?  Yes. Does my husband look forward to coming home after work everyday? Yes. Am I happy with myself, the job I am doing, and how I’m raising my children? Yes.Well, then, I guess I AM doing just fine.

 I think a lot of women, especially mother’s feel the need to prove themselves more. I know I felt that way at first, as a stay at home mom. I was ashamed that I couldn’t contribute financially to my household. I felt that I was holding my husband back, my children back, myself back. I failed to see the fact that, by staying home and caring for them myself, I was saving us thousands of dollars a year in child care fees. I also failed to see the happiness my babies would gain from being able to be with their mother every single day. I failed to see the level of anxiety that was avoided in having to send them to daycare. I failed to see how absolutely lucky and privileged I was to be able to love on them every single day, teach them myself, and be the complete over see-er of their growing up. I could make everyday magical, but I wasn’t seeing that either. The only thing I could see was on paper. I wasn’t making any money. My husband was left with all the financial responsibility, and I hated that.

 When River came along, I considered myself a well seasoned pro, but let me just add, that nothing can prepare you for the task of handling two. I couldn’t even fathom three, or above, and to those women who have multiples, kudos to you, because I have no clue how you do it. Again, I threw myself into perfection. I prepped for his arrival for months in advanced. I nested like a crazy person. I felt like a failure because I wasn’t able to breast feed. Bringing him home, I quarantined him from the world, afraid he’d catch pertussis or something more sinister. I stayed up for 18 hours at a time, I mixed bottles that I couldn’t remember mixing. I watched entire seasons of shows on Netflix at 4 and 5 in the morning because that was the only time I could get some silence. I was still obsessed with perfection. Even while I was suffering from severe anemia, on iron pills and deathly tired, I was cooking three meals a day, making sure Greyson was doing his alphabet flash cards, rotating River from back to belly every three hours, and managing to keep the floors mopped every week. Ugh. I can’t believe I didn’t worry myself into an early grave.

I understand that being a mother is hard in every aspect, whether you are a SAHM or a working mom. I’ve not  written anything about being a working mom, because I’ve never been one. I usually only write from experience. Working mothers, don’t condemn me yet, however. Just because I’ve never experienced being a working mom first hand, doesn’t mean I don’t understand how hard it would be. My Mother basically raised me in Robinson school. She worked every single day and still managed to be a very hands on mother. I couldn’t imagine having a career on top of doing everything else in my life, and I can’t honestly say that I could do it. I cant contribute much to “the great debate” other than what I have observed personally. SAHM’s yearn for things that working mom’s have, and working moms yearn for things that SAHM’s have. I would love to work again. To have adult conversations, and a paycheck every friday. To do adult lunches, and wear nice, vomit free clothes again. I’m sure all working mother’s would love to stay with their children all day, and only worry about house hold duties. I get it. I understand it. I empathize every situation. The grass is always greener. We are women, it’s what we do. We want the opposite of what we have. If you’re more of a Joan, than a Betty, there is nothing wrong with that. If it’s the other way around, nothing wrong with that either! Why do we always pit them against the other? Both roles are beautiful.

If I can attest to anything, in my nearly three years of motherhood, it’s that we are all in this game together. We all want the same things, essentially, for our children. To love, be loved, be successful, and be happy. Our children will grow up together. Our grandchildren will grow up together. Let’s quit the Mom wars, the ideas of perfection, the worrying and comparing. It’s unhealthy, and it’s unfair. No one’s lives are the same, everyone and everyone’s story is different. One’s idea of perfection may not be your idea of perfection, and that’s what makes life so crazy and beautiful. We all have the freedom to be different, and this includes being a mother as well. I see the judging on Facebook, the supermarket sideways glances, the whispering in inner circles. Does it really do any good to compare being a stay at home mom to a working mom? Does it truly make a difference if she uses organic and she’s a vegan, or she wouldn’t be caught dead serving canned soup? What difference does that make? What matters is the common core we all share, the fact that we are mothers. Occupation, or no occupation, Motherhood is equally rewarding and equally challenging. Aren’t things complicated enough without bringing in minute things that have no bearing other than symbol and status? Sometimes, it’s exhilirating to slow down, and enjoy just being a mom, because it’s a privilege that in denied to many. Slow ride.

With this being said, I’m guilty too. I’ve worried about gluten allergies, I’ve bought kale, I’ve thought of juicing. I’ve compared my Mothering skills to others. I’ve judged other women’s methods of discipline. I’ve modeled my parenting after behavioral studies. I’ve looked into the best schools, weighed pros and cons of certain systems of learning. I’ve been a crazy woman, worrying about the present,  trying to dictate my children’s futures. It’s no way to live, and no way to raise your children. I want my kids to remember me as fun loving and care free. Not simpering at the super market, telling them their juice has too much sugar. Regardless of the weight and responsibility of having little ones to raise, I think it’s time that all of us “moms” need to slow down, relax, and despite occupation, money, ideas, and theories, just enjoy being blessed enough to have little people that call us Mom. I wouldn’t want someone judging every move I make as a Mother, because, let’s be honest, I mess up all the time. I make wrong choices. Most of the time, I feel like I’m searching for a lightswitch in the dark. That’s what life is all about. Learning on your own, and not feeling pressured by what the media, or society says. Yes, I make my children beefaroni at least twice a week. Yes, Greyson rides a bike without a helmet sometimes. Yes, I’m weak when it comes to punishing them. Yes, I love them more than anything in the entire world. Any short comings I have, do not make me any less of a Mother. Sometimes, its better to stop, breathe, look at the bigger picture and realize, we are ALL doing fine.

The Road Trip everyone in Eastern Kentucky needs to make.

Today I went road tripping. The weather was perfect, the fail foliage was at it’s brightest and most brilliant, and I drove my pre-baby car for the first time in months. True to form, I wanted to travel down a south-eastern Kentucky road, with my windows down and a grape crush in my hand, and that’s exactly what I did. As I wrapped my jetta around every country curve of Pine Mountain, and then, smelled the hay bales in the valleys of Cumberland, my best friend and I were overwhelmed by the beauty and quaintness of the area. It’s true, I’ve not spent much time around The Cumberland-Harlan area, and today was my first visit to Kingdom Come State Park, but I must say that I have never been to many places that are more breath taking. I even managed to discover some hidden little gems along the way that made my heart smile. The JD Maggard Country Store and The Oven Fork Mercantile. The trip took us maybe four hours in all to complete (including stops and all our plundering) and we went from Hazard, through Whitesburg, over Pine Mountain, into Cumberland, stopped at Kingdom Come, and then back over the mountain in Harlan over to Hyden. The trip was perfect.

Pine Mountain, Ky.

Pine Mountain in the fall is, simply put, lovely. Everything about the drive is just absolutely perfect. If you ever get the chance to take the day to hike Bad Branch Falls, I would recommend you do so. There are so many pretty spots to just pull off the side of the road, and take in your surroundings, or have a picnic. It is amazing to me that such a magical place exists only a short distance from my hometown. My mother and I drove my two year old, to the top a few weeks ago, and he could not believe his eyes. He was completely awestruck. It truly feels like another world up on that mountain, it is just so gorgeous.

Pine Mountain.

 On our way back down Pine Mountain, we came across the most darling little country store, and I absolutely lost my mind when I found it was STILL OPERATING and was open. I literally grabbed my camera and almost ran inside the store.

Maggard’s Store

What I found out INSIDE was even better. The Maggard Country Store is celebrating it’s 100th year of operation this year, and not only is it a testament of history, but it is also the store that the infamous “bologna” scene in Coal Miner’s Daughter was filmed. You know the one. Where Mooney goes and buys the bologna and talks about how it makes ya “horny”. Yes. I almost died when the owner told me the story, and to beat it all, they still have the scales in there!

Scales used in the movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter”.

The grandson of the original store owner was kind enough to show me around, and didn’t seemed phased at all that I would come traipsing in, exclaiming over all the trinkets, knick knacks and antiques that are displayed with the bags of chips and RC Cola’s. In fact, he said he was just used to it. Apparently they get all kinds of tourists that come along and want pictures and stories. Poor feller, I really gave him the run down though, and even made the poor guy tell me the history behind a solid wood, mint-condition Frigidaire that hadn’t been moved since the 1930’s. I’m sure he thought I was nuts, but he was such a good sport, and if he happens to be reading this, (I made sure I gave him the web address) I thank you, sir, for putting up with my fan girling, and continuous questions!

As if this wasn’t enough to make my entire day, a half a mile down the road, I found the Oven Fork Mercantile Store. Oh my goodness, this place! It was closed, so I was heartbroken, but just being able to stand on the front porch and snap a few pictures was enough to tide me over until I can come back and go inside. The shop is a part of the Kentucky Craft Trail, and is seriously so unique and interesting, I was in love with it.

Over Fork Mercantile

If I am not able to open a place like this to call my own by the time I’m 40, then my life will not be complete. They serve home made fudge. How cute is that? I mean, come on!

After I got over my initial sadness in not be able to go in and waller around in dust and antiques for hours, we decided that it wouldn’t hurt to visit Kingdom Come State Park. I’ve never been, or if I have, I was very young and can’t remember. After wondering for several minutes if my poor, beat up Jetta was going to make it up a very steep, and winding two lane road, we finally made it the top, and was I surprised. The place is absolutely gorgeous. Camping areas, picnic areas, a playground, many overlooks and hiking trails. They also have a lake that was beautiful, and would be a great spot to take your children too. I caught myself looking at this, or that, and wishing I had my kids with me, because I know G especially would have loved it.

Kingdom Come State Park

This was Bullock’s Overlook, which is the highest point in the park.

Bullock’s Overlook

Just to be an impromptu trip out of my house, that cost me 20 bucks in gas, you can’t beat this. Being able to see little pieces of history, and revel in the beauty of our state parks is just amazing, and of course, doesn’t break the bank. For those of you, who, like me, love to drive and explore, but rarely have time to do so, just make time for this day trip, trust me, it’s worth it. Let me just say this though, if you are going to do it, do it quick, because the leaves are peaking, and I cant imagine it being any more beautiful than it is this time of the year. Enjoy.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier: A Tale of Romantic Suspense.

 In honor of Halloween quickly approaching, I had to write about a book that was chosen by Alfred Hitchcock to be the inspiration for one his extremely creepy films. Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite novel is, Rebecca is always my answer. I read the book when I was in highschool. I was really big into the old Hollywood movie scene, and was going through a period where the only channel I watched, was Turner Classic Movies. Late one night, I caught the movie Rebecca, which was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s first films, and in my opinion one of  his best. After being completely enthralled with Sir Lawrence Olivier, and Joan Foantaine (Olivier was the husband of Vivian Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara) and Fontaine was the sister of Olivia De Haviland (Melanie) I found out that the movie was based on a book by Du Maurier. Du Maurier also wrote “The Birds,” whom Hitchcock, as you probably know, adapted for the big screen as well. I could not wait to get my hands on this novel. I went straight to the library and checked a copy out. It took me a day to finish it.

Daphne Du Maurier was an English writer, and a master of suspense. She is still revered today as an author who bases her work on her ability to gain and hold the reader’s suspense throughout an entire novel. (Something I really enjoy.) Rebecca is no different. The story is told from the point of view of the second Mrs. De Winter, which is symbolic to the theme. Her real name is never revealed. The setting is the Cornish coast in the 30’s, on an extremely opulent estate named Manderly. Hence, the first and most famous line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again… I came upon it suddenly; the approach masked by the unnatural growth of a vast shrub that spread in all directions… There was Manderley, our Manderley, secretive and silent as it had always been, the gray stone shining in the moonlight of my dream, the mullioned windows reflecting the green lawns and terrace. Time could not wreck the perfect symmetry of those walls, nor the site itself, a jewel in the hollow of a hand.” An ordinary girl gets thrown into the raging waters of the rich, and high born, and has absolutely no clue how to deal with it, or how to deal with her dead predecessor, her husband’s first wife.

The novel is centered around the lives of Maxim De Winter, and his new bride. After a whirlwind courtship in Monte Carlo at the Cote De Azur, they are married. An air of mystery surrounds Maxim, as whispers of his fragility and state of mind come into play, after the untimely and strange death of his beautiful, and beloved first wife, only a year prior. The second Mrs. De Winter is extremely young, is of no breeding, and has no idea how to run a large estate such as Manderly. Nor does she know how “to be a great lady”, as it is put in the book.

From the moment she walks through the doors, everyone from her husbands closest friend, down to the house staff is comparing her to Rebecca. She begins to develop a morbid curiosity about Maxim’s first wife and becomes almost obsessed with the idea of Rebecca, and also the idea of Rebecca and Maxim together, in their old life. The current Mrs. De Winter also becomes increasingly jealous of Rebecca’s rumoured poise, wisdom and beauty, as told to her by various people in her husband’s rank. To make matters worse, Mrs. Danvers, the extremely creepy head maid, was Rebecca’s nanny growing up and the person who had practically raised her. She becomes bitterly jealous of Mrs. De Winter and continues to torture her psychologically. Danvers takes her to Rebecca’s rooms, where nothing had been touched since the night before she died. She has an extremely unhealthy obsession with Rebecca and preserving her memory. She shows her lingerie, brushes, her fur coats, and makes her smell Rebecca’s perfume, then tries to persuade her to commit suicide.

As the novel goes on, a plot twist knocks you off your feet, and has you reading every page as quickly as you can to see what happens next. Did Maxim truly love Rebecca? Was she as beautiful, kind and glamorous as they say? Did she honestly die in a boating accident? What was the nature of the relationship between husband and wife? All of these questions are answered in the final few chapters of the book. There is even a British inquest to read through, which I thought was extremely interesting. By the end of the book, you will realize the complexity of the human character, and that sometimes, you can not always judge a book, person, or relationship by it’s cover. You’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor, and think about the book for the next several days.

 

Du Maurier explores jealousy, the examination in the differences between public relationships, and private relationships, mental illness, obsession, and the lives of powerful people as opposed to ordinary people. While all this is whirling about your head, she also manages to paint the picture of a love story. Grab a blanket and get comfortable, it’s a lot to take in.

I suggest watching the movie after reading the book. I can reveal too much detail without revealing spoilers, but the movie was heralded as one of the great technical victories in production of it’s time (1940) and earned Fontaine an Academy nod. Not to mention, Lawrence Olivier is just amazing in every aspect, especially for a great stage performer who was not much on acting for film.

In short, read the book. It will make you feel warm and fuzzy, give you goosebumps, have you trying to figure out a mystery and make you use your brain all in one. Oh, and the library does have it. I’ve checked. Happy reading, everyone.

Sick Rainy Soup: The one thing my child always eats.

This morning my oldest baby woke up with a 100.1 fever. It came as no surprise because I have been ill the last couple days with a cold myself. I always feel even worse when my babies are sick because I feel so helpless. One thing I always do. however, is make Greyson this soup that seems to always make him feel better. Technically, I call this zucchini-cauliflower soup, but to G, it’s his Sick Day soup.
             

He loves soup, but he is a very picky eater. He usually picks all the meat out of everything, so for this recipe, I decided to hold the chicken and do a vegetarian version. The soup is actually something I came up with and threw together on a nasty, snowy day last winter with basically all I had left in my fridge, and it turned out really well, and surprisingly enough, my two year old loved it. It is super easy and versatile and any kid will love it. Here’s what you need:

  • Two cans of chicken broth.
  • One can of cream of broccoli soup (or cream of chicken or mushroom)
  • One chicken bouillon cube
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Dill Weed
  • Celery Salt
  • Parsley
  • Half a head of cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Shells or macaroni noodles
  • Zucchini
  • Green onions (or yellow)
  • celery

1: I always start off by bringing three cups of water, your broth and cream of (whatever) soups to a boil and also your bouillon cube.

 2: While that is boiling, go ahead and chop your veggies. You can also use the freezer mixed veggies if you want to, I do that a lot as well.

3: Add your vegetables into the boiling broth, and cover. Turn on medium heat and let simmer around 25-30 minutes or until vegetables have gotten soft. Remember to also add your herbs,spices and flavorings as well.

 4: Once your vegtables are ready, go ahead and add about a cup of your favorite kind of pasta. I use the medium sized shells because they will not turn into mush, and tend to stay al dente.

5: Simmer on low for around 10 or 15 minutes to let pasta cook.

6: Taste, add flavors to your desire and enjoy!

Enjoy!

You can also add any other type of veggie you like, sometimes I even dice up a red potato and put in there because Greyson likes them. If I am cooking this for my husband I will slow cook two chicken breasts and add Lowrys seasoning to them, shred them and add to the soup later. You can also add canned chicken if you are looking for a quick fix, either way is delicious.

Hope everyone is staying healthy and warm on this nasty day! 

Eastern Kentucky Lore and Legend: Haunted Places to check out this Halloween.

Eastern Kentucky is steeped in history, folklore and legend, so naturally we have some haunted places. I have heard of, or been to almost all of these, and can I say that every one has given me a feeling of uneasiness. I am a firm believer in the afterlife, I think ghosts or spirits are real, and perhaps these places are where those who are at unrest come to dwell. Who knows? All I know is, when I was young, I used to run around with my rowdy friends and ghost hunt on Halloween. Would I do it now? Um, probably not. But it was fun, and spooky, and all of the things you looks for when you go looking to get the crap scared out of you. Here is a list of some local places to go and get your scare fix, or maybe just to drive by and scare the crap out of your children.

1: Tunnel Hill in Napfor Kentucky. This area is close to Chavies. It was a favorite when I was in high school. I must admit though, I’ve been through the smaller tunnel one time, in the dark, and had to run out in flip flops because a train was coming. I’m not sure about the whole story, I have heard numerous ones. Ghost trains, someone was murdered there, a worker was killed. There are two cemeteries located directly above the tunnels, which are supposedly even more strange than the tunnels themselves, and very old. I have also heard of a secret chamber located among the man holes. It is hard to find out exactly what the deal is, but beware. Trains still do run through these tunnels. Always keep an ear out, and be careful. I had a friend who went through and had to jump in a man hole to keep from getting hit. It’s no joke. Scary.

The smaller tunnel, and one I was chased out of.

2: Johnny “Booger” Young’s (Young’s Fork)  in Lotts Creek. This is a huge local legend. According to what I have heard and read, John Young was able to do super natural things. Making chickens die when he pointed to them, apparating objects, just general spookiness. Many folks on message boards claim they have had relatives who knew him or were friends with him and it is said he had expressed alarm at being able to do these things, and didn’t like it, or even know what or how he did them. It is said that he went crazy after he accidentally shot and killed his son, when he thought he was a home invader. He is buried in Young’s Fork Cemetery. When I went there years ago, his tombstone was very old and made from (presumably) limestone, and seemed to glow. Spooky place. I have also heard that his family doesn’t like people up there in the middle of the night, so go with caution. You don’t want to be trespassing on some one’s land.

3: The Fan in Hyden, Ky. This one really did give me goosebumps, and I only was the passenger on a four wheeler passing by in the early morning hours. All we did was drive by it, but gosh was it spooky. The Hurricane Creek mining disaster is the sit of the most deadly mining accident in US history. It also lead to  stricter policy of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1968. 38 men lost their lives. There have been many reports of hearing men talking, screams, and being able to see a coal miner walking down the road late at night. I even have a friend who can corroborate that story. It was said they were driving down the road late one night, and when they approached the old mine, they saw what appeared to me an older man with a lunch pail and mining gear on. They said when they went by him, he waved. They were on four wheelers and obviously were pretty shaken up, when they went back, he was gone. Honestly, this one scared the day lights out of me, and I’ve never been back.

Miner Memorial in Hurricane

4: Cushing Hall, The Hunger Den. and Lily Dorm at Alice Lloyd College. Alice Lloyd College is an old campus, and has a very fabled history. My husband went there, and my mother in law works in the business office. I have often heard of many supernatural, or strange things going on in many different parts of the area, but the places I hear about most are Cushing Hall and the Lily Dorms. My mother went there in early 80’s, and always said she had an uneasy feeling walking around campus late at night, in the cafe, or just in her dorm room. Some say, they hear unexplainable noises late at the night, have things moved and misplaced mysteriously, see weird things. With a past like Alice Lloyd, I think it is feasible to say there could be something there. I have also heard that the spirit of Judy Howard, a student there in the 80’s, who was very tragically abducted and murdered, still roams the halls of her old dormitory. Could be true, could just be another piece of folklore, again, just repeating what I have always heard.

Cushing Hall Today.

5: The Old Hospital in Airport Gardens. There have been so many people who have spoken about this place, especially the old morgue. The old Miners Memorial Hospital, or the old ARH, was abandoned in the 80’s, and eventually was turned into an office building. Many people have reported working there late and seeing unexplainable things, from apparitions to hearing noises. A lot of activity comes from the basement, however, where the old morgue used to be. People who live in the Airport Gardens area have reported seeing and hearing strange things as well. LEX 18 actually did an article about the haunting a few years ago. Here is the link: Old ARH

6: The Old Hazard High school and Memorial Gym. The old high school and Memorial Gym have had a long history of haunting. Strange things seem to always occur late at night, or when people are alone. I have had several people who have been to basketball practice late in Mem, and reported lights coming on, going off, inexplicably. Hearing a basketball bouncing on the court, and looking and seeing nobody. Hearing people cheering, only to find an empty gym.

A vendor in Memorial Gym in the 50’s,
Old Hazard High School in the glory days.

 The old Hazard High still stands, but was badly burned a few years ago. Strange things still continue to go on there late at night, and when it was made into apartments after the new high-school was built, even stranger things were reported. Both are located in the Backwoods area of Hazard.

7: The Hale Log Home in Ary, Kentucky. Located on the grounds of Homeplace, this log home has scared me since I was a little girl. I am told that it was used the late 40’s and early 50’s as a boarding home for nurses who worked at the Homeplace hospital. It was also the home of Lula Hale, who was one of the workers and founders of homeplace, and helped run the grounds. They used to do haunted tours, many years ago. I have been inside only once, and was really too small to recall much, except that it gave me the willies. They used to have it programmed to play music when you stepped on the back porch……or now that I look back on it….Was it programmed or something else??

8: Frozen Creek Ky. In 1939 a torrent of rainfall and horrendous thunderstorms caused a 20 foot wall of water to erase most everything in it’s path, and taking 53 lives. Some of those including children and workers in an orphanage in Frozen Creek. After rushing down to the storm cellar in refuge from a tornado warning, the basement was flooded and they were all drowned. I went to this campus when I was 15 years old. It was in ruins, people had drawn graffiti all over it, but IT WAS SCARY. I can saw first hand that I walked down the main hall of the male dormitory and got halfway through and had to turn back. Old rusty bathtubs, echos and strange scratching noises. No thank you. I’ll never go back. It was a popular ghost hunting place when I was younger, but I have heard that they recently tore it down. I found some pictures, however, and just looking at them makes me have goosebumps.

Whatever you do this Halloween, remember, be careful. Most of these places are publicly known, but are on private property. Some of these folks may not take kindly to you barging onto their land. I listed these because I was dumb enough to visit most of them, in my younger days, but I did not vandalize, or steal, or damage anything. Go visit, and take in history, if anything. If you get scared, then good, you should. But above all, respect our heritage, our tradition, our legends and pass them down so they aren’t forgotten with the times! Happy Halloween, and Happy Haunting!

Know your Kentuckians: Hunter S. Thompson.

 ******** I’ve decided to add a series of segments on this blog called “Know your Kentuckians.” Ever so often, I will give you guys a little post about someone from this great state. When the idea came to me, I knew I had to start the series with someone sure to entertain you. No one fits that bill quite like Mr. Thompson. Enjoy.***********

If you’re from Kentucky, and you have no clue who Hunter S. Thompson is, then shame on you. Further more, if you only know who Hunter S. Thompson is because of the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, then shame on you again. For those of you who still have absolutely no idea what or who I am talking about, Hunter S. Thompson was an American author, and journalist who was born in Louisville Kentucky, and basically ended up becoming one of the most prolific, controversial, and colorful authors of our times, inventing a new genre of writing called Gonzo journalism, and continuously dabbling in general bad-assery. Thompson followed/lived with The Hells Angels, was known for his blatant hatred for Richard Nixon, and even ran for Sheriff of Aspen, on the freak power ticket. You may not agree with all the Hunter Thompson said, stood for, or did, but you have to recognize, he was one cool dude…..

1: He got the crap stomped out of him by THE Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. After writing about them, and living and riding with them for a year, the members felt they were being exploited and wanted to share in the profits of his book. Hunter refused and got a very savage beating. Read the book. Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs 
 “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to slide across the finish line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, and shouting GERONIMO!!!

2: He ran for Sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, on the Freak Power ticket. His platform was decriminalizing drugs (for personal use only),tearing up streets and turning them into grassy, pedestrian malls, and renaming Aspen, “Fat City” to deter investors. He also shaved his head during the campaign. The reason? He wanted to be able to refer to his buzz-cut, uber-conservative opposing candidate as, “my long haired opponent.”  Thus born was Thompson’s first article in Rolling Stone magazine, titled The Battle of Aspen. He narrowly lost. Come on, that’s hilarious, you know you laughed.

3: “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” marked the beginning of Gonzo journalism. This article was not widely read, but was the beginning of Hunter’s signature style. “Naw, naw…what the hell kind of drink is that for Kentucky Derby time? What’s wrong with you, boy?” He grinned and winked at the bartender.We gotta educate this boy…..get him some good whiskey.”

4: He unknowingly would become a pop culture icon. If you have ever watched the movie “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, it is based on the true life experiences of Thompson and Attorney Oscar Acosta, on a drug fueled trip to Nevada to cover a motorcycle race for Sports Illustrated. With the 60’s counterculture movement being a large theme for the book, the New York Times heralded it as “the best book yet written on the decade of dope.”
““No sympathy for the devil; keep that in mind. Buy the ticket, take the ride…and if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well…maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion: Tune in, freak out, get beaten.” 

5: He was politically minded, often exploring the darker side to politics. Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 72, was often times dark and brooding.  “The main problem in any democracy is that crowd-pleasers are generally brainless swine who can go out on a stage & whup their supporters into an orgiastic frenzy—then go back to the office & sell every one of the poor bastards down the tube for a nickel apiece.” Did I also mention that he really, really, really HATED Richard Nixon, with a passion.  “Richard Nixon has never been one of my favorite people anyway. For years I’ve regarded his existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosomes that corrupt the possibilities of the American Dream; he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad. The Nixon I remembered was absolutely humorless; I couldn’t imagine him laughing at anything except maybe a paraplegic who wanted to vote Democratic but couldn’t quite reach the lever on the voting machine.” I guess I should also mention that he hated George W. Bush too……..“Bush is a natural-born loser with a filthy-rich daddy who pimped his son out to rich oil-mongers. He hates music, football and sex, in no particular order, and he is no fun at all.”

6: Thompson was an avid sports enthusiast, and loved basketball. He would begin his career in journalism as a sports writer, and would ultimately end it the same way.
” I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.”

7: “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your (old) age. Relax — This won’t hurt.
Thompson took his own life in 2005. He was battling depression, as well as chronic medical problems, and probably mental illness. He regarded his life as over, as his wild lifestyle and larger than life persona was too much for him to keep up with. Even in death, Thompson left on his own terms. He had carefully planned his passing, leaving a single word “councelor” on his type writer. All the good ones are usually crazy. He certainly was, and in more ways than one.

On August 20, Thompson’s ashes were fired from a cannon at a private funeral that was funded by his long time friend, Johnny Depp. They also shot fireworks, and played “Spirit in the Sky” and Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”. An estimated 280 people attended, including Sen. John Kerry, Bill Murray, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro. Depp says of his actions, “”All I’m doing is trying to make sure his last wish comes true. I just want to send my pal out the way he wants to go out.” Indeed, I am sure this last act was exactly what he wanted.

If this tid bit about the madness and insanity that was Hunter S. Thompson does not at least spark a little interest in the weirdly eccentric Kentuckian, than I’m not sure what will.

“That is why I say that I am “stuck with Kentucky” again this year. Hell, a blue-grass boy with a gambling habit could do a lot worse than being stuck with the SEC champion and No. 1 seed in this final showdown among the nation’s best college basketball teams. It is the most dramatic event in sports — and nevermind the World Series or the Kentucky Derby or even the three-hour Superbowl. I love all these things, but for long-running, heart-breaking, high-speed big money athletic competitions in the U.S.A., nothing compares to what Dr. Vitale calls “The Big Dance.”

Symptoms of a Quarter Life Crisis.

In a few short months, I’ll be turning 25. Sigh. I feel like I’ve been 25 for forever. Honestly, I had two children before 24, and just sold my mini van. I may be turning 25, but in stay at home mom years, that equals at least 36. Looking back on the last several years, I have realized subtle changes in my mannerism, thoughts, style and just every day life that have became precursors to the ever dreaded quarter life crisis. But you know what, who cares? I don’t give a damn that I’m turning 25, and I am proud that I’ve finally grown up, at least a little bit. Here are the symptoms of a quarter life crisis, as told by me. 

1: You watch the news, and keep up to date on current events so you can keep up an adult conversation. Isn’t this awful. I do this ALL THE TIME. I love the news. I have the WYMT app on my phone. I buy the newspaper. Ugh, god. I’m turning into my mom.

2: You take vitamins. Yes, I know the importance of vitamins, and I take them. They’re disgusting but I still do it. I want to be here to see my grandchildren one day.

3: Speaking of grandchildren, you start planning for the future. Suddenly you start to think about retirement funds, college funds, 401ks, financial planing. All this is breaking me out in hives as I type.

4: You buy a practical vehicle. I love my Jetta, and I still have it. But I rarely ever drive it. I loved my mini van, but I think Kyle got tired of me being so obsessed with it, so he went out and bought me a BMW SUV. Something cute and practical. Thanks Babe.

5: You buy Southern Living, and Ladies Home Journal now instead of Cosmo and Glamour. This was hard for me. I had to let go slowly. Somehow, sex tips and street fashion are just irrelevant to me now. I would much rather read a magazine with a nice roasted chicken recipe and coupons to Lands End. OH MY GOD. I just said that….

6: You quit shopping at shit stores and look for quality. No, Forever 21, I will not buy your crappy dresses that are ruined after one wash. That was all okay when I was only going to wear it once and toss it out anyway. Now I have to have nice things that will  hold up in the wash after my 7 month old has puked sweet potato on it. Hello, J. Crew!

7: Long Hair is nice in theory, but you have way more important things to deal with. I cut off around 9 inches of my hair this summer. I was sad to see it go, but I spent a lot of time on it, that I didn’t have. My chic little bob is much easier, and way more low maintenance.

8: Clubs disgust you. I can’t even. The people, the drunkenness, the loud, awful rap music. Vomit. No NO NO NO. A Thousand times, no.

9: You have a collection of cook books. : / : / That you actually use….

10: Your taste in alcohol has suddenly became regal. Heaven Hill, we used to have a good relationship, but I’m just better than all that now. If it isn’t wheat ale, Kentucky Ale, IPA, or Basil Hayden, sorry I can’t drink it.

11: Friends start to dwindle.  Now it’s quality over quantity. I would much rather have a couple true friends, as opposed to a lot of fake ones.

12: Your friends start having children…..on purpose. That’s sobering.

13:Everyone you know is either in grad school or holding real jobs. Ahh, adulthood.

14:  You know absolutely nothing about today’s music, and turning on the radio leaves you clueless.

15: You’re interested in what is going on in your community. Who is running for what, voting, organizations, etc. You want to know what kind of neighborhood your children will be growing up in, and maybe take part in making it a better place.

16: You find yourself getting nostalgic about 18, and days gone by where when you were still cool, and knew all there was to know about life, love and the great unknown.

                                                                 Back when I knew it all…….

Why I was PROUD to be at Commonwealth Stadium this weekend.

Okay, obviously, UK football has been kicking some serious tail this season. If you are familiar with the program, we have been in a slump for the last several years. I stand behind my team, and I love UK Football, regardless, but it is awesome to be able to go watch a team that has fun, and gets the W. I barely recognize this program, or this team. I mean come on, we almost (and should have) beat the Gators…AT THE SWAMP. (Game clock was bullshit, there, I said it.)  I had the opportunity to meet Coach Stoops at the UK football Women’s clinic this summer, and he, as well as his coaching staff, and his team, promised some major changes. Well, kudos, Coach Stoops, because UK Football is making all of us at BBN seriously proud. 5-1,tied for first in the SEC East, and kicking Steve Spurrier’s tail. HELL YES!

This past weekend, I attended the game against the University of Louisiana-Monroe. While the Cats were predicted to be the obvious winner, and we kinda-sorta beat the tar out of them, can I just talk about how proud I was to be there, and to be a part of the greatest fan base in all of college athletics. While some people may not view beating ULM as something to be bragging about, I am speaking of more than just winning. I am speaking of the atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium, the excitement,enthusiasm and sheer bad assery that is just KENTUCKY. If you weren’t there, let me recap all the reasons that made proud to be in Lexington that dreary and (rather cold) day.

*A packed house, despite rainy weather and cold temperatures. The devotion of Big Blue Nation is just amazing. This wasn’t a high profile game, but we still showed up in full force.

* My Old Kentucky Home. This always gets me teary eyed. When everyone in the stadium is collectively screaming, WEEP NO MORE MY LADY, and you look around and there are thousands of people, singing about their home state so freakin loud and proud, you can’t help but swell out your chest and thank the good lord you’re from the Bluegrass.

* It was Hero’s Day at Commonwealth Stadium. We honored our troops. Not only did BBN display Kentucky fans and soldiers who are stationed in Kuwait, giving shout outs on the jumbo-tron, but the half time show, was centered around our great nation, complete with the band playing patriotic songs, spelling out USA, and stretching a gigantic American flag across the field. Not to mention, Jared Lorenzen lead the crowd in the USA chant.

* Javess Blue’s one handed touchdown catch. Um. Do I need to even write anything else?

*Bud Dupree was/is a beast. He rushed the quarterback, he sacked the quarterback, he blocked a field goal. Basically, Dupree made big plays, and proved himself to be a leader.

 * It was the first time since 1986 that Kentucky defense produced two pick-sixes. This is coming from a defense that had only three interceptions, and did not make one defensive touchdown all last season. Josh Forrest, and Marcus McWilson both returned inceptions for touchdowns.

 *We scored so many points that I wondered if our mascot was going to be able to do all those push ups. He battled through it, though.

*BBN is showing our football program, coaches, staff, and players that we are behind them, and more importantly, are proud of them. This team is showing BBN that they really are “changing the game.” Coach Stoops said it best after our win against South Carolina, “We’re just getting started, bro.”

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Donating to an Amazing Cause.

October is breast Cancer awareness month. I cannot begin to fathom the enormity of a breast cancer diagnosis, or any kind of cancer for that matter. I have known several, incredibly strong women who have been diagnosed with it, and beat it. My cheer-leading coach in high school, dared us to cry when she told us, and even during rounds of chemo and surgery, she rarely missed a game or practice. But I’ve also know several incredibly strong women who have the lost battle. Speaking of cancer in general, my Uncle is pretty much a walking miracle, and has just (very happily) celebrated his 10th year of being cancer free.Cancer doesn’t care how strong, or vital or beautiful you are, this disease doesn’t discriminate.

My dear friend, and cancer awareness and prevention advocate, Deana Holbrook Robertson, brought The Susan G. Komen “Passionately Pink” fundraiser to my attention, and asked me to get the word out about this amazing program. Deana has suffered unimaginable losses at the hands of cancer, and understandably, this cause is very near and dear to her heart. She writes, “I can’t think of a single person who has not been touched by the Big C word.  Yes, CANCER, of any kind.  Like you, I’ve lost so many to this horrible illness.  If numbers matter, 8 aunts, 1 uncle, a grandfather and grandmother and even my sweet Mother.  Even now, I have two cousins and extended family member fighting for their lives. For these reasons, I support cancer research of all kinds.

Today, I’m asking for Passionately Pink warriors to help continue the fight and assist the research that WILL someday find a cure.  If we can find a cure for one kind of cancer we can find a cure for ALL cancers.  These are the reasons I asked my dear friend to share this with you.
75% of what we donate stays in our local area and 25% goes to the national level.  I appreciate your support in advance.”
 
 
Above I have included the link to go to, to be able to donate to this amazing cause. The Susan G. Komen Foundation educates, supports research, offers grants that provide financial and emotional assistance and advocates for better breast cancer policy. The foundation empowers others, ensures quality care for all, and invests in science to help find a cure. 
So please, go and donate to this fund, and help put an end to this awful disease that has robbed so many of their beloved family members. Please, like and share this post to get word out about donating. Together, we can make a difference. 
(If you donate, please put Lx after your name. Thank you.)

In memory of Sonja Holbrook, who was 1 of 18 kids, a dedicated teacher in Knott County, and held a strong passion for making a difference. She was a mother of three, and Grandmother to four grandchildren. She is described as being superwoman in the flesh. I never got the privilege to meet this strong and beautiful lady, but by knowing Deana, her daughter, who has kept her legacy alive, I feel that I have also gotten to know her, and I just know she was a truly special person. Let’s remember and honor those we’ve lost, and look forward with hope, and unity as we find a cure.