Monday, October 29, 2007


Rhoderick D. Ice

[This is a fictionlized account of events in Vinton, Ohio, in the early 1930s. I have tried to be accurate to the memory of K.C. & Rosa Ice, my grandparents. RDI]

"Tomorrow is Sunday. Where will we go to church?"

"Rosa, dear, we could try the Church of Christ here in town. Gallipolis is too far away."

"Do you know anything about them, K.C.?"

"Not much. Now, I've met the Rev. Brother Ed Harris of the Methodist Church. He came in when I was getting my office set up. He said we surely need a new doctor in town. Said I would have many patients coming to me."

"Who is the Church of Christ preacher?"

"I understand they don't have one. Jimmy Freshcorn, the Constable, is a member there. He said they believe in mutual edification, whatever that means. They don't have Sunday School or any other service than Sunday morning."

"Are all the Churches of Christ like that?"

"None of them were back in northern Ohio. At least that I knew about."

"Well, I suppose if we are going to live here in Vinton, we need to be part of this community. And Gallipolis is several miles away over bad roads."

Sunday morning the Ices walked a block and a half down the street to the small concrete block Church of Christ. Jimmy Freshcorn met them at the door.

"Doctor and Mrs. Ice! We are so pleased to have you visit us this morning. Come on in!"

"Folks, this is Doctor and Mrs. K. C. Ice. They are new here in Vinton. He is the new medical doctor just moved to town."

Jimmy proceeded to introduce the Ices to everyone. "This is Everett Wood, who owns the Grocery Store, and his son Hank who runs it. And Olga, Hank's wife. You know Wilda Sims, who runs the restaurant. She's Everett's daughter. Her husband, Willie, runs the garage here in town. He will be along in a few minutes. And of course my wife, Helen."

The Ices spent a few minutes getting acquainted with everyone and making themselves known.

Meanwhile Willie came in, along with two children.

Everyone took a seat on one of the folding chairs.

Jimmy walked to the front and held up a songbook.

"Let's begin our worship with 'Shall We Gather At The River,' number 51."

Jimmy sounded the pitch, and they all began singing with enthusiasm.

After singing two songs, Jimmy called on Everett Wood to lead a prayer. Everyone remained seated. Jimmy sat down also.

"Our Father in heaven, we ask Thy blessings on this little band of disciples which meets here from time to time. We have gathered together to let others know there are a few who work to do Thy will. Bless the sick and all those who were providentially hindered from coming here today. We pray that we may always be free to come and worship in spirit and in truth. We ask Thy help in living a holy life, although we are to do the best we can ourselves. Forgive all our unforgiven sins, and may we be worthy to be saved. In the Holy Name of Jesus we pray. Amen."

Jimmy stood up. "Thank you, Everett, for that good prayer. Now let us sing another song. Number 100, 'All Creatures That On Earth Do Dwell.'"

Following the song, Jimmy said, "I will lead off with a few words of edification. Then Everett will have a few words, then Hank, and Willie. And Doctor Ice, perhaps you would say a few words of encouragement."

Jimmy then spoke: "Friends, Peter said in Acts 2:38, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.' You can't be saved by faith only. You got to be baptized for the remission of sins. We want everyone here in Vinton to know we stand for the truth. You can't get to heaven without you be baptized."

Then Everett stood up where he was and began speaking. "Friends, we got to worship in spirit and truth, just like Jesus told that woman at the well. We just sing with the spirit and the understanding, like Paul said. We don't sing and play. We just sing, like it says. The whole town knows we stand for the truth. We are doing our good works and they must glorify God because of it."

Then Hank stood up. "Friends, Paul told Titus about the washing of regeneration. I was baptized and the water washed my sins away. Jesus suffered on that cross and sweat great drops as it were of blood. I mean... that was in the garden. The sword pierced Jesus' side and blood and water came forth. Jesus made it possible to work out our salvation with fear and trembling."

Then Willie stood up. "Friends, I can fix a car, but I don't speak too good. But I did obey the gospel and I was baptized in the river. I know Jesus suffered and died. And I hope to be worthy to be saved."

Jimmy called out, from his seat: "Doctor Ice, would you say a few words now."

Doctor Ice stood up. "Friends, Jesus said in John 3:16 that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son. It was the amazing love of God our Father that brought Jesus to our world. He died on the cross as God's Lamb, to take away sins by the sacrifice of Himself. And He rose to life the third day, to guarantee our own resurrection. I'm happy that Jesus is my Savior and that I have hope and forgiveness in Him!"

"Thank you, Dr. Ice," Jimmy said. "And now we will eat the Lord's Supper."

Willie came to the Lord's Table, a small folding table covered by a white cloth. On it were a circle of unleavened bread and a china cup containing homemade grape juice.

Willie spoke: "Let us remember how the Lord suffered. Just imagine His body lying up here on this table and the white cloth is His shroud. Let us pray: 'Our Father who are in Heaven, we thank Thee for the blood of the Cross. We don't want to eat and drink unworthily. We discern the body of Jesus. We pray in His name, Amen."

The group got up one by one and went to the table. Each pinched off a piece of the bread and ate it; then took a drink from the china cup.

After everyone had communed and sat down, Jimmy spoke again. "We are to give of our means. We are to lay by Him in store. Let each come to the table and lay down the gift."

Each came one by one and placed a coin or a bill on the white cloth beside the china cup.

"We have done our duty today," Jimmy said. "Hank, will you word the closing prayer."

"We have worshipped, Our Father; we have showed the world that we belong to the true church. Now go with us to our various homes, and bring us back again at the appointed time. In the Holy Name we pray, Amen."

Everyone shook hands as they walked out of the building. Some of the men stood in front of the church and lit cigars and pipes. Gradually everyone drifted away to their homes.

"Well, K.C., what do you think?"

"Rosa, it was different. I suppose we must take into account that this isn't northern Ohio. They are good people and we want to be part of this community."


Early Sunday morning K.C. & Rosa walked to the church-building for morning worship. [This church did not have Bible Classes and met only on Sunday morning.] Someone who was a stranger to them was standing at the door of the church. He appeared to be in his 70s and maybe 80.

The others were just arriving.

"I'm Dr. Ice, the medical doctor here in town. It's good to have you join us today."

"I'm Ford Morris. Glad to meet you. I do need a doctor from time to time."

Others joined in with their greetings and questions.

"Friends," he said, "I am just trying to remember how it was here sixty years ago. I have been out West, working in the oil wells, and even a cowboy at one time. But I am too old to do that any more. I just had to come back here to Vinton, where I was born and raised."

"You must be the one who just moved into the old Sims place," Wilda said.

"That's right. Grandmother on my mother's side of the family. Dad left here sixty years ago to follow the oil boom in Parkersburg. I was a lot younger then. I followed the oil boom on out West and made a good living for me and my family. The wife died some years back. I have a son in Oklahoma. But I could never forget Vinton."

It was now time and they all entered for worship. Jimmy Freshcorn led the songs. Everett Wood led the opening prayer. The worship service proceeded as usual, with everyone joining in with enthusiasm. Everett and Hank and Willie each gave their usual exhortation.

Dr. K. C. Ice gave the final exhortation, and then extended the invitation.

"Jesus sent His disciples out into the world with the everlasting Gospel. He that believeth and is baptized will be saved. We extend the invitation as we always do. Believe that Jesus died and rose to life again. Repent of your sins. Confess Jesus as Lord. Be buried with Him in baptism for the remissions of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. If anyone needs to do this, won't you come as we stand and sing our song."

Willy began singing: "Just As I Am Without One Plea."

As they were singing, Ford Morris walked up front.

K.C. took his hand, and said: "Mr. Morris, what can we do for you?"

"I want to be baptized into Christ. I have attended church off and on everywhere I have been over the years. But I always thought I should get my life in order first, and then I would be baptized. Now I am ready to turn myself over to the Lord and ask Him to save me."

K.C. then announced: "Ford Morris has come forward asking to be baptized into Christ. I have just one question to ask him, the one Philip asked the Eunuch. Ford Morris, do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?"

"I do. I really do believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I wish that I had obeyed Him years ago, and I am sorry that I didn't do it. I am ready now!"

"God bless you for that noble confession. The angels in heaven are rejoicing over your faith in Christ."

"Willy, where do you do your baptizing?"

"Dr. Ice, we go down to the river bend where the water is always deep enough. We can go there now."

"I'm ready now. Just lead the way. These old clothes can get wet and dry out again. But I want to be right with God! I want to be baptized into Christ Jesus and be saved by Him!"

The little group walked just out of town and down to the river's edge.

"Dr. Ice," Willy said, "let me do the baptizing. I'm usually the one who does it, and you have your good clothes on."

Willy took Ford Morris' hand and they both walked out into the water until it was about chest high on them. Then they turned and faced the congregation.

Willy raised his hand up high. "Ford Morris has made the good confession of faith in Christ Jesus. And now, by the authority of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for the remission of your sins and for the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

Willy Sims then immersed Ford under the water and brought him up again.

Jimmie Freshcorn began singing "Oh Happy Day, When Jesus Washed My Sins Away."

Everyone joined in.

As Ford Morris came out of the water, each one reached out to him to shake his hand or to hug him. All were telling him how happy they were that he had 'obeyed the gospel.'

"I thank God," Ford said, "that I have finally been baptized in this old river and put right with God! And I am happy that I am back home here in Vinton. I hope to stay right here the rest of my life and be faithful to God."

"Let us pray," said Dr. Ice. "Lord, we have just witnessed the new birth of Ford Morris. We know You have forgiven him all his sins and translated him into the kingdom of Your Dear Son. We ask You now to bless him and use him to bless others. And bless all of us here today. We give You the praise and the glory and the honor, in Jesus' name, Amen"


R. D. Ice

My first Halloween costume? That would have been some years ago. Halloween was different then. It was more a time of doing devilment than a celebration for kids. The old timers told of boys putting a cow in the school principal's office. Imagine forcing a cow up the stairs and into the office in the dead of night.

In 1935 we moved to the Farm on Refugee Road about nine miles from Columbus, Ohio. This was the fourth house and second State since my birth in Whitehouse, Kentucky, in 1929. This was a farming community. Granddad was a medical doctor who planned to retire on this Farm and recreate his childhood among the West Virginia hills. Ohio was flat! This made for an interesting story, but I'll tell that later.

I was very eager to begin the first grade! We drove around the schoolhouse to look it over. It was an impressive two story brick building, with a "T" shaped building that had no windows, at the south end. This was the gymnasium/auditorium.

My teacher was Miss Naomi Rawn. She taught both the first & second grades in the same room. I was so excited! All the children were about my age! I was already used to being around people from my past experience, being in church and living for a while in a college town. I really enjoyed talking with all of my fellow students and hearing about their farms. I think it was two weeks later that we had Parents Day. All the parents came to sit in our class to see how things were done. We enjoyed having them there. It was an exciting time!

"Grandmother, would you make me a Halloween costume?"

"A Halloween costume, Roger?"

"Miss Rawn is having a party for the first and second grades. She had us cut out pumpkins from orange paper. She put them up in the windows. She got some cornstalks and some stalks of wheat and put them in the corner near the window. We are to have pumpkin cookies and lemonade and milk too. We will all have fun! Make me a costume, will you?"

"Certainly Roger. I'll find something to make it out of."

Now, we weren't poor. We just didn't have money. We had lots of milk and lots of eggs and all the things we grew in the garden. Grandmother was always canning food and putting the jars in the cellar (we didn't call it a basement like city folks did). She canned tomatoes in with the corn and with other things to keep them from spoiling. It sure tasted good! She even canned sausage, frying it first and pouring hot grease into the jars to seal them so the meat wouldn't spoil.

But we didn't buy things from the store if we could help it. That took money. Grandmother always said: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." That was her motto. But Grandmother was a seamstress. She made clothes for people in her younger days. I knew she would find an old shirt or a curtain or something like that and do wonders with it.

"Roger, look at this brown and yellow plaid shirt. I could make a clown costume. How would that be?"

"A clownnnn? I don't know. That just doesn't seem right. Edna Zarbaugh and Jessie Strawser say they are coming as witches. I don't want to be a clown."

"Well, Roger, I'll look up in the attic. Maybe I can find something. There is an old black hat up there. I could do something with the hat. I'll go up and look."

I followed Grandmother upstairs into the right hand bedroom. She went into the closet, reached up to lift the panel above her head which opened into the attic. Then she climbed up into the attic. I climbed up too (and she didn't tell me to go back). There was no floor in the attic. Bare rafters stuck out. But I could see some boards which she walked on to get to the things. There were all sorts of old clothes, feathers from a feather tick (sort of a mattress stuffed with chicken feathers), old newspapers and magazines, and boxes. Lots of boxes.

"Roger, here's that black hat. I can put it over a coffee can and stretch it with a hot iron and make you a stovepipe hat. That will be something that will look good. And over here are some dark brown curtains."

"Grandmother, the hat ought to be fine. The stovepipe hat will be a lot of fun. The other kids will like it. But what will the curtains look like? What will you make with them?"

We had no electricity until around 1941 or 1942, even though we lived only nine miles from Columbus, the big city. Grandmother put a metal plate over the burner of the kerosene kitchen stove and put the iron on it. The heat from the fire heated the iron, and the plate kept the iron from getting dirty from the fire itself.

"Grandmother, that iron is surely hot! How will you pick it up?"

"I'll use this handle," she said. She picked up the handle and snapped it into the iron. She put the hat over the coffee can, then molded it and pressed it with the iron.

"There, Roger, you have a stovepipe hat."

"Grandmother, it is just beautiful! All the other kids will want one like it! Thank you for making it!"

"Now I'll get the curtain and we'll see what I can make out of it. What would you think of a cape?"

"A cape? Like in that picture. The man with the stovepipe hat and a cape around his shoulders."

"That's right. I'll cut a hole here in the middle for your head to go through. Just a minute. I'll cut it and then we'll see how it looks."

"Grandmother, I can see myself in the mirror. The cape looks just fine! All the kids will like this and wish they had one too! You're the best Grandmother there is!"

"I'll make you a mask from this piece I cut out."

I was six years old. This was my first Halloween party. Some of the parents were there too. We children had the best time! We had good fun and lots of cookies and things and we were very happy! We were all proud of our costumes, especially me.



"Grandma! Grandma! Today's the Last Day of School!"

"That's right, Roger. It's May 26th. School will be over today. Next fall when school starts again, you'll be in the third grade. I'm proud of you. You are a good student."

"Grandma! Think of the food today! My friends have been telling about what their mothers plan to bring. I like to eat and this will be my day!"

"Yes, Roger. I know you like good food, and so do I. I have made a big kettle of chicken and dumplings, a pan of macaroni and cheese with tomatoes in it, and I baked three pies. I'll load it all into the car after while and bring it to the school. All the families will be there. We'll have a celebration. This is a day for the school families to get together."

"Grandma, I'm sure glad we live on a farm and can raise all those good things in the garden. I even like spinach. Popeye eats it."

"Yes, Roger, we certainly are blessed. And don't forget that our good friends are a blessing too. Friends are more important than food. But now you must get ready to get on the bus. It will be here soon."

In this year of 1937, the schoolbus was a 1929 Chevrolet truck chassis, with a custom built wooden body. It was well-used, but still serviceable. The Depression motto was: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

The bus stopped on the road in front of Roger's house. He stepped up into the bus and looked for a seat.

"Hey, Roger, sit by me!" That was Eddie Niday, one of his good friends.

There were no more stops after Roger got on. The bus went the half-mile to the school.

The Brice Grade School was a large red brick building, with four classrooms. Two grades met in each classroom, with one teacher who taught both grades. Miss Naomi Rawn, Roger's teacher, would teach the First Grade for a half-hour, then teach the Second Grade for a half-hour, alternating. Each of the three other teachers did the same for the two grades in their rooms.
Roger and his friends went immediately from the bus to the classroom this morning, as they always did. I should say that all the students were good friends. This was a rural community, even though it was in the shadow of the big city nine miles away. Rural ways were the norm.

Each student took his or her seat and sat quietly.

Miss Rawn rapped for attention. "All right, boys and girls. Today is the Last Day of School. We want to get our songs and recitations ready for our part of the program. Things will begin around 10 o'clock. Roger, come up here and tell us about the 'Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.'"

Roger stood by Miss Rawn's desk and began his recitation. Then Jessie Strawser read a poem about the "Brave Little Pig."

Meanwhile "Jiggs" Bennington and other farmers and their wives began bringing the food for the festivity into the gymnasium. The farmers "worked wonderful hard and ate wonderful good!" It was their way of life.

Grandma Hefflin drove up in her almost new 1936 Willys car. First she took the kettle of chicken and dumplings down to the lunch room in the basement of the building to keep it warm on the stove there. While the kettle was keeping warm, she went back to take the other things into the gymnasium.

In the gymnasium, tables had been set up along one wall. Pans and dishes of food were being put in place on the tables.

As it neared 10:00 a.m., the people began taking seats on the folding chairs facing the stage, which rose about six feet above the floor of the gymnasium.

Jim Thornton was master of ceremonies. He came out to center stage. "Ladies and gentlemen. Today is the Last Day of School. Our students have prepared a program for your entertainment and also to show you something of what they have learned during the past year. And now let the program begin! Miss Naomi Rawn, bring your students out."

Miss Rawn came on the stage followed by the First and Second Graders, who formed two lines. As she directed them, they sang a song about the sunflowers and the birds and the beauty of summer.

Roger Hefflin stepped to the front of the stage and told his story about the "Poor Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly."

"Poor old lady, she swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed that fly? Poor old lady, she swallowed a spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. I don't know why she swallowed that fly? Poor old lady, she swallowed a bird. How absurd to swallow a bird. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don't know why she swallowed that fly? Poor old lady, she swallowed a cat. Think of that, to swallow a cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the bird. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled insider her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don't know why she swallowed that fly? Poor old lady, she swallowed a dog. What a hog, to swallow a dog. She swallowed the dog to catch the cat. She swallowed the cat to catch the bird. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, that wiggled and jiggled and tickled insider her. She swallowed the spider to catch the fly. I don't know why she swallowed that fly? Poor old lady, she swallowed a horse. She died of course."

The people clapped their hands in appreciation.

Then Jessie Strawser read her poem about the "Brave Little Pig."
"The brave little pig
went to visit
the County Fair.
As he trotted along the road
he met a doggy,
who began chasing him.
He ran and ran!
Help! Help!
Bad dog! Run away!
He saw Farmer Brown
and scampered between
his legs. Safe now!

The people clapped their hands again.

As Miss Rawn and her students filed out, Jim Thornton spoke.

"And now we have Miss Florence Reynolds and the Third and Fourth Grades."

When they had finished, Jim announced Miss Marie Swonger and the Fifth and Sixth Grades.

And finally, Mr. James Roth, who was also the school principal, and the Seventh and Eighth Grades.

Now Jim Thornton walked to the front. "Ladies and gentlemen. This concludes our program. We're proud of our children and our school! Let's give them all a big hand!"

All the people clapped their hands as hard as they could. Some whistled and shouted and stamped their feet on the floor.

Jim Thornton waved his hands for quiet. When the crowd became silent, he spoke. "Isn't this a great day! Our thanks to all who have brought food and to the marvelous cooks who have prepared it. But before we begin our feast, we want to ask Reverend Allan Smith of the Brice Methodist Church to come up here and return thanks for our blessings."

Reverend Smith walked up the steps to stand on the stage. "Let us pray. Our Father who art in heaven. We thank Thee for this beautiful day, the bright sunshine that makes things grow, the beautiful flowers and the grass. We pray Thy blessings on these students and teachers. We ask Thy guidance for them as they march into the future. Bless all this good food and bless these wonderful cooks who prepared it. Bless all of us as we share in this bounty from Thy hand. Bless our U.S.A and bless our President Roosevelt, and may this Depression soon be over. For Thine is the power and the glory, in the name of Jesus, Amen."

Jim Thornton came to center stage again. "Ladies and gentlemen. It'll be a few minutes until the ladies have it all ready. Go outside and run around the yard a few times and then come back in."

The ladies really had things ready now. But there were a few pots to be brought up from the lunch room in the basement where they were being kept warm on the stoves.

On the tables were baked beans, potato salad, chicken and dumplings, deviled eggs, lots of homemade bread, ham, roast beef, meat loaf, macaroni and cheese with tomatoes cooked in it, lots of cakes and cookies and pies. Cool Aid and coffee and iced tea. The Depression was forgotten on the Last Day of School! Good time were here today!

By now the others already had their pots and pans in place. Grandma Hefflin brought in the big kettle of chicken and dumplings and put it on the table. She looked around to the others, then nodded her head to Jim Thornton.

Jim was holding a cowbell. When he saw Grandma nod her head, he began ringing the cowbell as loud as he could! "Food!" he shouted. "Come and get it! Food! Time to eat! It's the Last Day of School Dinner!"

Each family had brought plates and silverware for its own use. No disposables in that depression era. Recycling was the only way possible. You used it and washed it and used it again.

Lines formed on both sides of the tables. People began spooning up the various items and piling them on their plates, then reaching for something to drink.

Roger filled his plate with all the goodies he could get on it and took a thick slice of bread. He picked up a glass of milk. Then he went out into the yard to sit on the grass, to eat with a group of his friends.

"Sit down and join the crowd," said Harold Lamp.

"Thanks, Harold." Roger sat down carefully, trying not to spill anything.

"What're you going to do this summer, Eddie," Roger asked?

"Wouldn't you know it," Eddie said. "We're going to move this summer. Dad has a new job and we are to move to Columbus, to the north side, somewhere up on Stelzer Road."

Roger's face looked so sorrowful. "Eddie, you can't do that. You're my good friend. Who will I have to play with if you move away?"

"We will all surely miss you this summer," said Harold. "We had such good times together."

"I'll miss you, too," Eddie said. "All my friends are back here. What'll I do in a new place? But I don't have any choice."

"Grandma has me taking piano lessons," Roger said. "Miss Zettler comes once a week to give lessons here at the school. I ride my bike to get here. Grandma pays her fifty cents for each lesson."

"Roger, you are lucky," Eddie said. "I wish I could look ahead to things like that."

"Well, Eddie, look on the bright side. Maybe your mother will do something special for you this summer. After you get moved, that is. You might even like your new home. But I sure will miss you."

"I may go to Day Camp this summer," said Harold. "My Dad wants me to go. I'll go swimming every day and get to play games and such."

They got up, still feeling sorrowful, but not too much to keep from going back for seconds on the chicken and dumplings and potato salad. It was a good day. They played hard, using every moment of the time they had.

Finally it was time to go home. The three friends said their good-byes. Would they ever see each other again? They stood sorrowfully in silence a few moments, then ran to get on the schoolbuses.


R. D. ICE 1995

"Look at all the cars! Where'll we find to park?"

"Over there, Fred, behind the Community Building. Isn't that a parking place?"

Fred and Geneva walked around to the front door.

"Hello!" they shouted as they walked in the door, waving at everyone. The people were all talking and laughing and shouting at each other. You had to shout to be heard above all the noise.

Fred and Geneva circulated through the crowd, shaking hands, talking, joking, just enjoying this time of good cheer. The Spring Carnival was one of the high points of the year.

"Geneva, come over here." Shirley was calling her. She and some other women were sitting at a table.

"Shirley. Tracy. Heather. Isn't this some party!"

The kitchen had opened promptly at 5:30 pm. Hot dogs, potato salad, baked beans, potato chips, pie, and lots of coffee and pop. Fred headed in the direction of the serving counter.

"Here you are. Two hot dogs and potato salad. That's $1.75."

Fred paid, then took his food and sat down beside an older man, who was crippled with arthritis.

"Andrew, who let you out?"

Andrew's eyes sparkled with glee.

"Who do you think you are, coming in here and talking to me like that? The old lady kicks me out once in a while. But who let you in?"

"How're you doing, Andrew?" Fred asked seriously.

"Not very good, Fred. I hardly can get around any more. That arthritis has got me down. Look at my hands." They were gnarled and fingers twisted.

Geneva came over to speak to Andrew.

"How's Martha doing. I see she is here tonight."

"She's not very good, but she had to come anyhow. Geneva, how's your feet?"

"Doing better, Andrew. You can see these fancy shoes I've got on. (She had on a pair of the special sandals you wear when you have a foot operation.) It's been four weeks now. The doctor says the toes are healing just like they should do."

A man walked up.

"Andrew, I hear you are going to vote Republican this time."

Andrew looked up to see Bud Reeder. He scowled in mock horror. "When the moon turns blue," he said. "Get out of here, Bud. Go home!"

Bud grinned from ear to ear and slapped Andrew on the back. Others came and went. Everyone thought a lot of Andrew, who had just turned 80 years old. He was one of the patriarchs of the community.

"Fred!" Herbert slapped Fred on the back. "Lots of pies and cakes tonight. You gotta walk and walk and walk some more when the music plays."

"Here comes the music now," Fred said.

Three men came in the door carrying a guitar, a banjo, and a mandolin. Ed, Bernard, and Hayward. This was the music for tonight. They went up on the stage and began taking their instruments out of the cases.

Clifford had come earlier. He was already up on the stage and had his fiddle out ready to play. He would play with the group for a short time, but would not be able to continue. His health was not very good anymore. He had "black lung" from working in the coal mines. He had a lot of trouble breathing. Damp weather especially bothered him.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" Tom was shouting as loud as he could. "It is time to begin the cakewalk! Our thanks to Ed and the rest of the band for the music. Get over here and let's get things started! It's time to cakewalk!"

A rectangle had been marked out in front of the stage, at the opposite end of the building from the kitchen. It stretched from wall to wall, and about one-third the length of the building. Numbers were painted on the floor about two feet apart, around the rectangle. Three tables were in the middle. On them were pies, cakes, and loaves of homemade bread.

Fred, Geneva, and others took their places around the outside of the rectangle.

"Just look at this pecan pie!" Tom shouted, holding it up so everyone could see it. "Some walker is gonna get this! Let's walk!"

As the band played a country song named "Faded Rose," the people began slowly walking around the rectangle, counterclockwise.

Bert and Milt walked around the inside and collected a dime from each of the walkers.

When Milt came to Geneva, she held out a quarter. "This is for both of us." Milt gave her back a nickel.

The music played and the people continued walking.

The music suddenly stopped. "Take a number," Tom shouted. Each of the walkers carefully put his or her foot on a number painted on the floor in front of them and held it there.

Milt had a coffee can containing numbers marked on pieces of cardboard, which he shook. Then he went to Elise, one of the children who were walking, and asked her to pick out a number.
He showed it to Tom.

"Number 34!" Tom shouted.

Each moved his or her foot to see the number again.

"Nobody on it!" Tracy shouted back.

"Pick another one," Tom said.

Milt walked on further to Brandon, a young boy, and held out the can to him.
Then Milt showed the number to Tom.

"81!" Tom shouted.

"That's me!" Lorada shouted, jumping up and down with glee.

Tom took the pecan pie to her. She took it to the nearest table and put it down. She would get it later. No one would bother it.

Others were still sitting at the tables near the kitchen. Some were eating. Some just wanted to talk. Some like Andrew couldn't cakewalk anymore, and just watched the others.

"Let's do it again!" Tom shouted, holding up a German Chocolate cake this time. "Everybody walk!"

The band began playing "Under The Double Eagle," and the people walked slowly around the numbers.

When the music stopped, Tom shouted, "Take a number!"

Milt again held out the can to a child.

"Number 1!" Tom shouted.

"I got it!" shouted Brandon. His mother grinned from ear to ear.

Tom presented him with the cake, and he took it over to place it on a table until the walking was over. He ran back to join the walkers.

The walking continued, and Brandon won again; a pie this time.

"Brandon, how did you do that?" Fred shouted. "You got two things and I got nothing! It isn't fair!"

Brandon just grinned. He was proud that he had won twice.

Mildred and Susan, her daughter, came in and walked a few rounds and then left. Others came and went as the evening continued.

Fred finally won a pie. He was happy. He held it high and did a little dance step. Then he took it over to a table.

At last all the goodies for the walkers had been given out. The band began packing up their instruments.

"Let's give the band a big hand!" Tom shouted. "We sure appreciate their music tonight. Many thanks to Ed, Bernard and Hayward. And to Clifford."

Everyone clapped their hands in appreciation.

The band picked up their instruments and went out the door.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" Tom shouted. "We're gonna auction off these special pies and cakes on this table! Kenny, come up here and do the honors!"

Kenny came and stood in front of the table.

Tom held up a white cake decorated with clowns and bears.

"All right, we're gonna sell it!" Kenny shouted. "Two dollars. Who'll give two dollars?"

A hand went up.

"I got two dollars, who'll make it three?"

Another hand went up.

"I got three, who'll make it four?" Finally the bidding was up to eight dollars.

"I got eight dollars, who'll make it nine? Eight dollars, who'll make it nine? All right. Going once, going twice, sold, for eight dollars."

"Give that to Clyde back there." Milt took the cake to him.

"Look at this huge Rhubarb pie!" Tom shouted. "Is it delicious!"

"All right, we're gonna sell it!" Kenny shouted. And the bidding began. This continued until the seven items on the table had been auctioned off.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" Tom shouted. "That's all for tonight. Many thanks for coming. We appreciate your support. We hope you had a good time. Come back again this fall when we have the Fall Festival. Good night to all!"

The people began leaving. Saundra and Valli had already cleaned up the kitchen. Tom locked the front door. Others would sweep and clean. They would go out the back door, locking it.

"Whew!" said Fred. "I really enjoyed it. But I'm glad it's over. I need to get my shoes off."

"Me too!" said Geneva. "My toes hurt. I really walked too much. I shouldn't have done that. But it was such fun!"


This is the Christmas I knew growing up on the Farm in the 1930's.


Roger Hefflin came running into the room, followed by his little sister, Janice.

"Grandma! Grandma! It's time to put up the Christmas tree!"

"Christmas tree! Christmas tree!" shouted Janice, bouncing up and down.

"Why Roger, we haven't had Thanksgiving yet. We don't put up the tree until the first of December."

"Grandma," said Roger, "can we have a turkey for Thanksgiving? I want a turkey!"

'I'm sorry. We can't afford a turkey. We would have to buy that. Where would we get the money?"

"I hate being poor!" said Roger. "Why can't we have a turkey like other people do?"

"Turkey! Turkey!" shouted Janice.

"Why Roger, we're not poor. Just look at all we have. Plenty to eat, clothes to keep us warm. And just think of all our friends at church. We are rich in all the things that count. We don't have much money, we have enough to buy what we must have."

"I still wish we could have a turkey."

"We'll have that red rooster that always fights with you children. Can't you just taste it? Fried chicken, lots of beans and dumplings and some of those gooseberries out of the cellar. And a big dried apple cobbler."

"Well," said Roger, "I did want a turkey. But gooseberries and apple cobbler! Yum! Yum!"

"Yum!" screamed Janice.

Thanksgiving came. All the relatives lived too far away to come. But the little family thanked the Lord for His blessings. Grandma Rhonda, Grandpa Kendall, Roger and Janice.

"Grandma! Grandma! It's December first. I saw it on the calendar."

"All right, Roger, we'll put up the tree."

"Grandma, let me help."

"You're too small, Janice. The tree is heavy. Let Roger bring it down."

"Roger, go upstairs to the front room and look in the closet. The tree is packed away in a box with the picture of a tree on it. Bring it down."

Roger ran up the stairs and soon came down dragging the box. He was a proud ten years old and liked to do things. He was a "big man."

"Janice, watch out! I'll fall over you."

Grandma helped him carry the box into the family room. She cleared away the books and magazines from the table. She put a white cloth on the table, then opened the box and took out a piece of green velvet about three feet square. She placed this in the center of the tabletop.
By now Roger had the tree out of the box. Its branches were made of wires with green paper wound around them. These folded out from the central trunk, which was a dowel with brown paper wound around it. The whole tree stood about two feet high. Grandma had found it at an after-Christmas sale. It had now become a family tradition to use this same artificial tree each Christmas.

Roger dug out brightly colored balls to hang on the tree, plus a star to put on top.

"There," he said, "it's ready."

Grandma lifted the tree to the tabletop and set it in its holder.

The Hefflins remembered Jesus every Lord's Day at the 5th Avenue Church as they worshiped in Spirit and truth. The world remembers Jesus at Christmas and Easter.

"Grandma," said Roger," tell us the story of Christmas. I always like to hear it."

Grandma sat in her chair and the children sat at her feet.

"Children, Jesus was a real person. The apostle John tells us that the Word became flesh. He means that God-the-Word became a human being just like us. King David, speaking as a prophet, said of Jesus: 'But a body You have prepared for Me.' So Jesus came to be God's Lamb."

"On the night He was born, shepherds were in the fields with their flocks of sheep. All at once an angel came down from the Lord. The angel said to them: 'For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.' Many other angels joined in praising God. They said, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!' The shepherds hurried off to Bethlehem and found the baby Jesus lying in the manger just as the angel had said."

"Grandma, what does it mean that Jesus is the Savior?"

"He came to be the Lamb of God and the Light of the world! The apostle John said: 'Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.' John means that Jesus brought us God's undeserved kindness and God's truth and love. You will understand more as you get older. Remember the song: 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.'"

"Grandma, I love Jesus!" said Roger.

"I love Jesus too," said Janice. She climbed up on Grandma's lap and gave her a big hug.

"Children, remember that Jesus gives us hope! Jesus came to save us so that we could go live with Him in heaven for ever and ever. Jesus came to give us God's love."

The weeks passed and Christmas was near. A few presents were placed under the tree, along with a dish of hard candy. Grandma would buy most of the presents at the after-Christmas sales when prices were cut.

"Children," said Grandpa Kendall, "tomorrow is Christmas eve. Instead of the regular Sunday night worship at church, we'll have a Christmas celebration."

"'Bration! 'Bration!" shouted Janice, bouncing up and down as she usually did.

Sunday evening the little family got in the car and started into the big city. The church was on 5th Avenue at the edge of town. The houses surrounding it were old and so was the church. Seventy people usually came to worship there.

"Kendall!" said Mark Philips, the preacher. "Good to see you. And Rhonda. Roger, hello. Janice." He shook hands with each in turn.

The other children came running up, about eight of them in all. They hugged each other and chattered excitedly.

"Take your seats, everyone." Dave Bly, the songleader, was at the podium.

"Let's begin by singing 'Silent Night.'"

The congregation sang with much emotion. This was a holy evening. They were remembering the birth of their Savior!

The preacher gave a devotion about Jesus and who He was and why He had to come.

Dave Bly led the congregation in a song about coming to Jesus and accepting His Salvation.

Now Dan Smith, one of the church elders, led a prayer to close the service. Then he announced: "Everyone down to the basement. We have a party prepared."

The children led the way as everyone went down the stairs.

Dan Smith rapped for attention.

"All right, children, close your eyes. We have a big surprise for you."

Elza Sims came in, dressed in a Santa suit.

"Open your eyes," said Dan. "Santa has come to visit us. He may have some presents for you."
Elza went around the room and gave each child a paper bag containing several pieces of hard candy and an orange.

"What do we say, children" asked Dan?

"Thank you, Santa, for the presents!" shouted the children.

"Thank you, Elza," said Roger. Everyone laughed.

"Let's sing!" said Dave. He proceeded to lead some carols. Everyone sang with feeling.

Mark Philips, the preacher, stood and rapped for attention.

"We've had our fun," he said. "Now let's get serious for a moment. Shall we pray."

"Dear Lord, we are so happy that Jesus came into our world. On this holy night, we celebrate the birth that gives meaning to everything we hold dear. Especially touch each of our children with Your presence and Your love. Make us all understand the great mystery of Jesus the Light of the world; of the wonderful Savior You sent us; of the hope that we have; of the victory in Jesus. Bless us and fill us with holy joy! We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen."

Everyone shook hands all around. "Merry Christmas, everyone!" was heard many times.

By now the children were tired. Grandma and Grandpa loaded them into the car for the trip home. They would all be up early next morning. The day of all days, Christmas, at the Hefflin Farm.



"Grandmother, I really did want a little sister. But she cries so much. Does she have to do that?"

"Why Roger, she doesn't cry that much. Janice is only two months old. And crying is the only way she can ask us to help her."

"I don't cry."

"But you did when you were a little baby. You are a big boy now. You will be six years old on your birthday June 25th."

Roger walked over to the cradle and looked in at Janice. Then he came back to Grandmother.

"Grandmother, is Mother ever going to get well?"

"Roger, we pray that she will get well. She has been sick a long time. Your Grandfather is a very good doctor. He is doing everything he can to make her well again. He even called in Dr. Snow from the Hospital in Gallipolis, who is a specialist in these things."

"Are you my Mother now?"

"No, Roger, I'm your Grandmother. Gladys is your Mother. You only have one Mother."

"But you take care of me all the time."

"I know that, Roger, but I'm your Grandmother. Your Mother's health has never been good. She couldn't take care of you, and so I did."

Roger went out to play. He got on his tricycle and started down the sidewalk.

"Hello, Roger." It was Gretchen Pugh, a little girl his age. Her little brother, John, was four. He often came out to play also.

"Gretchen! Let me ride your tricycle!"

She pushed it over to him. He got on and began to pedal furiously up the sidewalk. He swerved into the step leading up to her house. The front wheel broke off and Roger went flying into the grass.

"Roger, you broke my tricycle!" She began to cry.

"I'm sorry, Gretchen! I didn't mean to break it. My Dad will fix it. He can fix anything."

That night Roger got ready for bed. Grandmother Rosa slept at the head of the narrow cot, with baby Janice lying beside her. He slept at the foot.

Roger slept soundly. He did not awaken when there was a time of crisis about 8 pm, when Grandfather Hefflin said, "It's over. She's gone." It was April 28, 1935. Gladys would have been 24 on May 13th.

H. K. Butler, the undertaker, came about 9pm to pick up the body.

Early in the morning Roger bounced out of bed, and ran into the kitchen. "Grandmother! Grandmother! The sun is shining so brightly!"

Grandmother frowned and shook her head. "Roger, be quiet today. This is a time of sorrow for us. Your mother won't be sick anymore. She has fallen asleep."

"She will wake up soon and be well?" he asked.

"No, Roger, she will never wake up in this world. She has gone to be with Jesus."

Of course Roger did not understand. He had heard the family talking about death, but he was not quite six years old. Also he had formed a bond with Grandmother and did not feel the sense of loss he might have felt.

Grandmother Rosa rushed around, putting things away and cleaning up the sickroom. Then she began packing clothes in suitcases and preparing things for the trip to Kentucky, to the home of Gladys' mother and father.

"Roger," Grandmother said, "we will drive down to Ashland, Kentucky, late this afternoon and stay over in a tourist home. Then tomorrow we will drive on to Whitehouse to your Grandfather and Grandmother Webb's home."

It was 45 miles from Vinton to Ashland and 80 miles on to Whitehouse. But in those days of narrow roads, some of them dirt, travel took more time.

Later that morning, Katrina Pugh, Gretchen's mother, came to the door with a covered dish.

"Mrs. Hefflin, I'm so sorry about the death of your daughter-in-law. It surely is a time of tragedy. She was so young. I've brought you a noodle casserole to help out. If there's anything I can do, or my husband, please call us."

"Thank you. You are very thoughtful. We appreciate your love and kindness."

Others came to call and some brought food. Jimmy Freshcorn, the constable, Mayor Thomas Bidwell, Everett Wood from the VFW, Miss Effie Cheltenham. This was a closeknit community. They were like a family.

Meanwhile H. K. Butler, the funeral director (as we speak of the undertaker today), had prepared the body of Gladys for burial. He obtained the services of Brother Dan Scott, Preacher for the Christian Church, to go along with him to Whitehouse. Brother Scott would help him with things, and would preach the funeral when they got there.

They drove to Cattletsburg, Kentucky, just outside Ashland, to put the casket on the train. The train took them along the Big Sandy River all the way to Whitehouse. Whitehouse had been a coal camp of perhaps 1,000 people. But the mines closed down in 1933. Some fifty people now lived there. The road over the mountain to Whitehouse was a narrow dirt road, barely wide enough for one car and very steep. Most people went into Whitehouse by train.

Grandmother Rosa had things ready, and so it didn't take long to get the car loaded. Virgil Hefflin, Grandmother Rosa, Roger and Janice, and Reta, Virgil's sister. Grandfather Hefflin could not leave Vinton, as he was the Medical Doctor for the area. They would be gone at least a week, perhaps more if they had any car trouble.

Finally they got started. They drove along the Ohio River to Ironton, Ohio, where they crossed the bridge into Ashland, Kentucky. They drove through town to a tourist home (there were no motels as yet) just before they came to Cattletsburg. Here they would stay overnight and get an early start in the morning.

Roger was up before anyone else. The woman who ran the tourist home had a good breakfast fixed for them. Roger especially enjoyed the food.

"It would be much easier to go by train," Grandmother Rosa said. "But we do need to take the car along. It is much easier to just pack everything into a car. There are so many things to take with us."

Roger was enjoying it all. He liked to get out in the car and go places. There was so much to see, so many new things.

They drove to Paintsville, Kentucky, then turned out the narrow road that led toward Inez. Just beyond Boone's Camp, Virgil turned up the very narrow dirt road that led to Whitehouse. The road led up over the mountain and was just barely wide enough for the car.

They met another car, and that car had to back up to a wide place so that they could pass. By the time they reached the peak of the mountain they stopped the car for a few minutes to allow it to cool down a little. It was downhill then to Whitehouse, past the abandoned oil well that always had a gas flame burning, past the entrance to the abandoned coal mine, then past a white Church, and into the town.

Aunt Lou owned a general store, which Roger remembered with glee. He loved the crackers and candy which Aunt Lou gave him out of the store.

It was the evening of April 29th, 1935. H. K. Butler and Brother Scott were at the Webb house, where Gladys' mother and father lived.

The Hefflins arrived. They unloaded only what was necessary at the moment. The people who lived in Whitehouse had brought in food for supper. It was a sad time.

The funeral took place the next day at the Webb house.

After a restless night sleeping in very cramped quarters (since there were so many people), the day dawned bright and clear. Grandmother Nancy Webb had a fire going in the cookstove. She had fried bacon and made lots of homemade biscuits. There was butter and molasses. Roger was too young to realize the sadness of the moment, but was pleased by the food.

About 10 o'clock the people began gathering at the house for the funeral. The adults were in the yard beside the house getting things ready and mostly just talking. The children were playing in the front yard: Roger, Alice Jean Butcher, Margaret Jean and Melchorine Welch and their brother Martin, and Jim and Joey Johnson.

"Roger, it's time," called Grandmother Rosa.

The casket was sitting on two sawhorses.

Grandmother Rosa lifted Roger up to see his mother.

"She's asleep, isn't she?" Roger said.

"Yes, Roger. She will sleep until Jesus comes. She is at peace."

The people sat on the ground and wherever they could find. Orby Beard, who was studying to be a Christian Church preacher, (who was dating Gladys' sister, Edith), led the group in a few songs. "Safe In The Arms Of Jesus." "When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder."

Then Brother Dan Scott stood in front of the casket and began his sermon. "Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His saints. Dear friends, the old must die, but the young may die. It's so sad when one so young is called home. But we look always to God and His glory. We feel deep sorrow, but think of Gladys and her joy at being with her Lord. Paul said: absent from the body, present with the Lord. Trust in God and ask Him for comfort and consolation at this time of earthly sorrow."

Let us pray. "O Lord, this is surely a time of great sorrow. It is hard to give up one so dear to us. But this is the way of life. We rejoice also because we know Gladys has graduated from this earth and stepped out into eternity to be with You. Wrap Your arms of love around all of us here as we mourn this loss. Touch us with Your mercy. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Then Orby led them in singing "We Are Going Down The Valley One By One."

Everyone filed by the casket to give their last farewells.

This time Reta lifted Roger up so he could see his mother one last time. "Take a good look, Roger. This is the last time you will ever see your mother."

But Grandmother Rosa was "Mother" to him. He did not understand.

H. K. Butler closed the casket. Brother Scott led the way. The pallbearers and the others followed to the cemetery and the grave site on the mountainside at the edge of town where Gladys would be buried.

Brother Scott read the 23rd Psalm and led in prayer. The casket was lowered into the ground.

Gladys would sleep there on the hillside until Jesus comes.



"Fred Frye, you old son-of-a-gun! What are you doing in these parts!"

"Carl Norris! We sure miss you since you retired. The office has never been the same. I came to ask your help with a problem."

"Well, now, Fred, let's go look at my garden. We can talk about your problem later."

"All right, Carl, lead the way."

They walked around the house to the garden.

"Just look at these tomatoes! Did you ever see anything so pretty. And this corn, it's Indian Corn, you know, with the different color kernels. And squash. Just look at that pumpkin, did you ever see one so big. It will be a prize winner at the Fair."

This went on for some time. Finally Carl led the way as they walked back into the house.

"Now, Fred, let's look at your problem."

Fred whipped out some papers and spread them out on the table. Carl came over and examined them. He took out a pen and wrote some notes on the papers.

"Here you go. Look right here, and here. The McClouskey Brothers have what you need. It will fall into place easily."

"Thanks, Carl! You are a lifesaver! Sure you won't come back to the office and take your old job back?"

"Never! I intend to stay right here and grow tomatoes and corn. Just look at those beautiful fields! I'm having the time of my life. No problems. No phone calls. No deadlines. I've got it all and I intend to keep it."

When Fred got back, he told of his experience. "He'll be happy to help you. Just go look at his garden."

Gilbert Foster was the mayor of the little town near where Fred now lived. He had a problem. He took his dilemma to Carl Norris, whom he had heard was a whiz at problem solving.

"Carl, I need your help. I have this problem..."

"Mayor, come look at my garden," Carl said. Then he led the way.

"Gil, did you ever see such squash and pumpkins? And okra and blackeyed peas. Isn't this a beautiful garden!"

"Humph," said the mayor. "It'll do. I see you did put your rows north and south like you should. But you don't have your tomatoes tied up with green string. That white string will never do. And you ought to get you a white mule to work the ground with. Not a tractor, but a mule, and it has to be white. Then you'll really have a garden to make you proud."

After the mayor had left, Carl scratched his head and thought to himself. "A white mule? Would that really help? Naw! No way! Where could I find one?"

He picked up the local newspaper and searched the items for sale. No mule. He drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. He got up and paced the floor a while. Then he got in his car and drove down the road.

He drove through the countryside, up this road and down that one. Finally he spotted a white mule over in a field. He backed up and turned in the driveway.

"Hello," he said. "Do you want to sell that white mule?"

"No!" said the farmer. "Me and that mule are going to grow old together. I wouldn't sell him, no way!"

"Give you a hundred dollars for him."

"No way!" said the farmer.

"A hundred fifty?"

"No way!"

"Two hundred."

"Sold!" said the farmer.

Carl took out his wallet and counted two hundred dollars into the farmer's hand. "I don't have my truck with me," he said. "I'll come back tomorrow to get him." With that he drove off.

The next day he drove out to get the mule.

"Mister Carl, I'm really sorry. I don't know what to tell you. But that mule is dead. I can't give your money back. I went into town last night and spent it all, every cent of it. I don't have a penny left."

"Never mind. Just help me load the mule into the truck."

Two weeks later Mayor Foster came up to Carl in the store.

"Carl, what about that white mule? Did you ever find one?"

"Yes, I did find one, and I bought him. But that mule died before I could get him home."

"Died, you say? Before you got him home? That's tough. What did you do about that?"

"Why, I sold chances on him. I visited around and sold a hundred chances at ten dollars apiece."

"Bet you had a lot of unhappy people when they found out the mule was dead."

"Just one. And I gave him his money back."


[This is historical fiction based on things that really happened. I am remembering the past and using my imagination to fill in some of the details. I have used names and places in a fictitious way. RDI]

"Bernice, I'm happy here with you and Bertzel. But I sure do miss the hills back in Kentucky. Your Father and I lived in that coal camp. I fixed breakfast every morning for the ten hungry men who stayed in our boardinghouse. Biscuits and gravy and fried meat and lots of coffee. Those were happy days. I was young then."

"Mother, you're still young. You're only seventy. Think how long Great-Grandmother lived. Wasn't she a hundred and two when she died?"

One morning Nancy didn't come out of her room. Bernice tapped on the door, and then went in. "Bertzel! Something has happened to Mother!"

He came running. He could see that Nancy's face was all twisted. She lay motionless and unresponsive.

When the Doctor came out to speak to them, his face was sad. "I'm sorry. It's a massive stroke. Your mother likely will never be any better."

Bernice clung to her husband and buried her face in his shoulder.

"Thanks, Doctor," he said. "We appreciate you telling us. We were afraid of that. You're sure there is nothing that can be done?"

"I'm sorry. I have seen this many times. All you can do is make her comfortable for the time she has left. She could live a few more years. She may seem more alert at times But it will probably be only a few months. She will require full-time care. You will need to see to that."

Bernice and Bertzel sat on the couch and just held each other. This was a crisis that would not go away. Bertzel's job had brought them to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, far away from the Kentucky hills.

"We've got to make a decision," Bertzel said. "The Doctor said you wouldn't be able to take care of her by yourself. Our family is back there. Who could we hire to help and what would it cost?"

"I know," Bernice said. "But what can we do? I despise putting her in a nursing home. But at least there she would be taken care of around the clock. We've got to take her back to Kentucky. She would be at home back there. She would hear people who speak words like she was used to."

"But how will we pay for it? We don't have that much money."

"Father had Miner's Insurance. It'll go farther back home. We'll have to pay some extra, but I think it could be done. And there are relatives near Paintsville who would look in on her from time to time."

"Well, if you think so. We can't very well ask her how she feels about it. We could try to tell her, though. Maybe her eyes will show us." They went into her room.

"Mother. How would you like to go home to the Kentucky hills?"

Although she could not utter a word, it seemed to them that her eyes sparkled with joy at the thought of going back home.

"It's settled, then," said Bertzel. "We will make the arrangements and plan to take you home to the hills."

By Monday of the following week things were ready. A mattress had been placed in the rear of the station wagon for Nancy. Pillows would be packed around her. She would ride in comfort.
With everything finally ready, Bertzel drove across the bridge into Illinois heading east. They would soon be in the western edge of Kentucky, with some 330 more miles to go to the hills in the eastern part.

A car came toward them, careening out of control.

"Look out! He's going to hit us!"

The oncoming driver sideswiped the station wagon and sped on without stopping. The force hurled them into the ditch, turning the station wagon over on its side. They sat, stunned, for a few moments, then Bertzel pushed the door open to climb out.

"What happened?" A State Trooper looked in the open door.

"He ran us off the road!" Bernice shouted. "He must have been drunk! And he didn't stop! My Mother! My Mother is hurt!"

Bertzel climbed out and then helped Bernice as she struggled up over the seats to get out of the station wagon.

They followed the Trooper as he went to the rear and opened the door.

"Mother! Are you all right?" Bernice asked.

"She can't speak," Bertzel said to the Trooper. "She's had a stroke. We are on our way back to her home in East Kentucky."

By now the Emergency Squad had arrived. The medics lifted Nancy out and put her on a stretcher, then began checking her vital signs.

"She's going to be all right. Those pillows protected her. She has a nasty bruise on her forehead, and a few scratches. But she's OK. We will transport her to the clinic and have her checked by the Doctor. Both of you better get checked too."

"It could have been worse." Bertzel and Bernice were at the Motel. "Bernice, your Mother will be all right. And we're OK. It surely could have been worse. The garage will pound out the fenders so we can drive the station wagon. We can go on tomorrow."

The rest of the drive was uneventful. They arrived at the Silver Star Nursing Home. Nancy was carried in and put to bed.

"I can hardly bear to leave her here and go back to Cape Girardeau," Bernice said tearfully.

"I know. But what choice do we have? It's for the best. She will be at home here. And they will take good care of her."

Bernice shook her head. What else could they do? She was resigned.

"Bertzel, while we are here, let's drive out to Meally, to the cemetery where Dad is buried. I want to put flowers on his grave one more time."

"Sure," Bertzel said. "It'll help get your mind off things. We could drive over the mountain to see the old home place too."

A few days later they said their last good-bys to Nancy. Bertzel had to get back to his job. He had been gone too long now.

The Silver Star Nursing Home was clean and smelled reasonably fresh. One of the aides was making her morning rounds.

"How are we today, Nancy? I'm Ann, your caretaker for today. I'll be seeing you often. Just ring if you need anything. Oh, I'm sorry. You can't do that, can you? Well, we'll look in on you from time to time. You're at home here in Silver Star and you'll get loving care from all of us."

Nancy mumbled, "Nora."

And she did get loving care. From Ann, Janice, Judy, and others who were care-givers in Silver Star. These care-givers also had grandmothers and aunts and uncles and many relatives. They dearly loved them all and understood what was needed. They did feel concern for these patients. Yes, they were worked to death and there was never enough time. But they did the best they could. And it was sufficient.

Roger, a grandson, came to visit. His wife, Amy, was expecting their first child.

"Grandmother. How are you today? They're taking good care of you. You're looking well. This is a nice, clean place. Your room looks so cheery.

Grandmother, this is Amy. We're going to have a baby! Isn't that grand!"

Amy leaned over to give Nancy a big hug.

Nancy slowly reached up to touch Amy's tummy. "Nora?" she said.

"That's right," said Amy. "We're having a baby. A few months yet."

Nancy managed a lop-sided smile. If she could have spoken, she would have said: "I'm so happy Roger finally got married and that I will have some more grandchildren." But "Nora" was the only word she could utter.

Ann and the others could understand "Nora." They could read faces and interpret the signs. Sometimes they got the bedpan in time. Other times they just cleaned up. Ann's husband, Jim, mopped floors and kept things clean. As nursing homes go, Silver Star was one of the best.

Several months went by. Bernice and Bertzel came at least every month to visit. Relatives came more often. Everyone was so busy these days. The nursing home staff did its part. Nancy received good care. The Doctor came to check every now and then. He prescribed medication. Nancy was turned in the bed every few hours. No bed sores for her. If Nancy could have spoken, she would have said: "I am at home. These are my family. It's good to be back in these Kentucky hills where I belong."

She mumbled, "Nora."

But time runs out. Nancy grew worse. Her eyesight failed. She could not eat, only sip water. It was pointless to use heroic methods. Her legs and feet became very cold and turned blue. Her hands were like ice.

Then one night Nancy went to sleep and would never wake up in this world again. The Doctor was called and he came to check and to sign the death certificate. Nancy was at rest.

Families come from miles away to get together at two times: Weddings and Funerals. Some who are in foreign countries are unable to come. But everyone else will attend the occasion to honor those getting married, or those being buried. Joy. Sadness. But also a time of family reunion. Seeing those whose faces have grown strange as so much time has passed.

The mourners wept as they filed by the casket for one last farewell. They said things like: "She just looks asleep." "She is at peace." "She looks thirty years younger, doesn't she." "He certainly is a wonderful funeral director. He really cares."

Preacher Scott from the Christian Church preached the funeral. He gave his usual message of hope and comfort. Then the mourners went out to their cars. With the funeral coach leading, the procession began to the little village of Meally, a few miles out from Paintsville.

The casket was carried to the grave site. The mourners gathered around.

Preacher Scott read the 23rd Psalm and then prayed. He shook hands with the family. Some gave him a big hug.

It was over. Nancy would rest here forever amid the Kentucky hills until Jesus Comes and the graves open and the dead arise.

The mourners turned to leave and go their separate ways until the next time they would be called together for a wedding or a funeral. Family means so much, especially as we get older.