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Downhomer
Old memories and the way home

Back when I was young, no self respecting child would walk a roadway if there was a path up along the hill above it that they could just as easily take. There are a few of those old familiar footpaths still around. Sadly, most of them are now grown over and abandoned by an onslaught of people carving out new habitations. Some of the places that older folks remember are long gone, their dimensions and boundaries permanently altered by the buying/ selling frenzy of a fluid population.
However, I still recall some of those old paths, remembering best the ones that were important to me. One, still keen and fresh in my memory is the one that went from my old Branham home place to where Uncle Ben and Aunt Martha Branham lived. Of course, a well-defined and normally traveled road went down from its beginning up the hollow, clear out to Rt. 40. Before that though, it went right by the house where those Branham cousins of mine lived. The way between these two places was called Lick Branch Road. However, back up at Pap’s on the right hand fork there was another way to go to that other home, this secondary way a footpath that went along the hillside in a narrow curving line. Going this way, it cut off the bending of the road down below it, thereby making it a much faster, and to us children, a more enticing way for our always-adventurous spirits to take. I can’t say whose footsteps first marked out that path, but it was a satisfying way for children to follow. Thus, we always chose that particular shortcut. You never knew what you would see on that path that ran on the hillside so much higher up than the road down below it.
Walking our favorite path, some times a grouse would fly up from under our feet, or a rabbit would hop away, and even sometimes, a snake that would bring us to a standstill till it had slithered away. Of course, we always knew better than to yell SNAKE! For that would bring a grownup running, and we’d be scolded for going that way in the first place.
Even so, and always whenever a grown up wasn’t watching, we took this shortcut, delighting in warm weather to see what we’d see. In winter if we followed this hillside way, and if it had snowed, we dared each other to see who could manage it without slipping or sliding. If we did slide a little, we just took a quick two-step to right ourselves and recover our balance, which was easy to do considering that our feet were young and agile.
In that same area where my grandfather‘s house stood, and on the opposite side of the road, there was another one of those old footpaths, this one curving up along the hill to the Angie and George Wells place. Of course, you could go there by walking the road, but why would you do that if you could walk the hill. I loved going to that house. Uncle George kept bees, and if he was due to ‘rob them’ and didn’t we always make it our business to know this, why then, you could always have a taste of fresh honey. In addition, that family always raised a plot of sugar cane, which they always made into wonderful tasting sorghum. I still remember the invitation to dip a stalk of sugar cane into the cooling off molasses for a taste.
If in your meanderings you chose to go on up the Lick Branch Hollow past George and Angie‘s, you would come then to where Lang and Grace Dutton lived. This was a favorite gathering place for the kids at that time. That house sat up right against the mountainous boundaries of that hollow, and a gush of ice cold water came down out of the hills, over a rock wall there to form a favorite swimming hole. We were always allowed to swim there, for there was not any human refuse dumped into that water, as is common practice these days. After I grew older, and after having moved back home after all those years of displacement, I often took those old hillside roads to go to some of these places, liking to revisit them.
Even though the years of ensuing time has gone, I still treasure those old pathways of my childhood that others laid down for me to follow, and I have never forgotten those old friends and neighbors that peopled my life. I see them like it was yesterday, and though most of them are all gone now, they live on, entombed forever in the recesses of my mind.
I remember once when I was very young and came up missing, never answering to a calling for me. My Uncle John R. Branham prepared himself to be lowered into the family well to see if perhaps I had fallen in. When I woke from the nap I had taken in the hay mow, I saw my mother stretched out in a faint, surrounded by a great cloud of people who had gathered in a cluster of anxious neighbors come together to search for me, and I can still remember all their concern. No wonder then that I like to go back in my mind to walk the old paths of my childhood, and that I always like best the ones that leads home.


Education and Common Sense
Like drinking poison

“Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The comment was scrawled in my handwriting on a lavender program from the 2003 Women for Christ Rally at the Mountain Arts Center last April. Evidently, either Ruth Graham McIntire or Lisa Marie Bolin, who were the speakers for the occasion said the cogent words. I am using the program for a bookmark in the book I am reading, “Modern-Day Miracles,” by Paul Prather, who used to be religion editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader. I had borrowed the book from Garnet Jones, Eileen Mullins’ sister, when Eileen and I spent the night on one of our Haven of Rest trips.
Under the first note was this: “Forgiveness is a process and a choice.”
I thought about both truths. Resentment does poison one’s personality as well as undermining his or her health. I am convinced that many people are sickly and die young because they remember hurts and cherish them in their hearts. It makes me physically ill to be mad at somebody.
I remembered reading a book by Catherine Marshall, the author who wrote “A Man Called Peter” about her husband, Peter Marshall, as well as “Christy” and other inspirational books, such as “Something More.” In the book, she recommended that we write down the names of every person who had ever offended us or hurt our feelings that we were still remembering with ill will. Then she said, we were to go over the list, name by name, and ask God to help us forgive that person. We did not have to mention it to the other person, who might even be dead. At any rate, the person probably had forgotten all about the hurt, if he ever knew he had hurt us. Then we were to burn the list.
I have been blessed to have been born into a loving family and was loved exceedingly by my mother and father and my two older brothers. I did not have a very long list. I did forgive my mother who unburdened herself of all the resentment she had of my father’s shortcomings, when I was only ten years old and she was going through--as I realize now--a difficult menopause.
I forgave the features editor of the college annual that I was assistant editor of, for counting the votes for campus favorite wrong, and putting me in as one when I had to redesign the whole section when I found he had been dishonest. I had quite a list of “resentments,” many of them minor, but enough to remember. The pastor’s wife who was my friend and fell in love with another man in the congregation and left her husband and married the other man. I was not directly involved, but I was grieved. 
I spent a whole morning writing grievances and asking God to help me let all those resentments go. I prayed for each person, even the dead ones. Then I burned the paper. 
I felt like I had just been washed on the inside and whitened and disinfected with bleach. Now when I have resentment building up, I get rid of it as soon as I can, so it will not fester inside me and cause me to be sick or get mean. 
I never intentionally hurt anybody’s feelings, so I do not, the June Rice School of Tact notwithstanding, know if I have hurt anybody’s feelings. So if my blunt truth telling has offended anybody, it was not intentional, and it is not making me sick. The person who has taken offense is the one who is drinking the poison.
Truly, resentment is like drinking poison, and we can’t expect the resentment to hurt anybody but ourselves.


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Remembering the trivial … and the tragic

When I heard last week that Prince had passed away, it reminded me of a tendency we all have: Remembering exactly where we were, and who we were with, when we heard that someone famous has died. The same is true of news of any other tragic event. The Challenger disaster and 9-11 come to mind, as does, of course, the death of John F. Kennedy.
That’s just the way we are built. But something else I’ve noticed is that sometimes the same thing applies to the “firsts” in our lives; things that would seem totally insignificant to anybody else.  Of course, memories of the first car you ever bought, your first plane ride, or even your first day of school will, more than likely, be mysteriously forever filed in the far recesses of your brain.
But since we’re all individual beings, different items seem to take precedence. Personally, for instance, I can remember the first time I ever saw a wrestling match on TV. Furthermore, I can still remember the names of the wrestlers. I was surrounded at the time by so many people that I can’t tell you who they all were, but I was 10 or 11 years old and in Bill Hampton’s living room at 11:30 on a Saturday night looking at a 17-inch TV.  The show was televised live from Dayton, Ohio and the first match I ever saw was between a dirty wrestler named Edmund “Daffy” Francis and a clean wrestler by the name of Nick Roberts. Of course, the dirty wrestler won. Everybody who was watching it with me (and that included as many adults as there were kids) got all torn up about it. Of course, those were the days when wrestling was real, regardless of how old you were.
I also have vivid memories of the first time I ever went to the movies --- or, as I would have said then, the first time I ever went to the “show. “ My oldest brother, Ulysses, who had been in the Navy during the time I was very small, for some reason, decided to take me. 
I can remember our walking the railroad tracks through Greentown to town, me having to take two steps to his one in order to keep up, and we saw a Hopalong Cassidy western and a movie called “Dick Tracy Vs. Cueball.” Now, due to an event related to  a stroke of pure luck and having nothing whatsoever to do with memory, I also know the exact day I saw those movies and that I was exactly nine years, two months, and two days old at the time.
Here’s how I know that:  A few years ago I was doing a bit of research at the library and while looking through a copy of a 1948 edition of The Paintsville Herald, I came across an ad for the Royal Theatre. (Remember the Royal? It was on Second Street, across from Paintsville Elementary.) Anyway, as I thumbed through that old newspaper, there it was in black and white, written for the whole world to see. The ad read, “Saturday, June 12, double feature program: “Renegade Trail,” with Hopalong Cassidy and George “Gabby” Hayes. Underneath that, it read, “Dick Tracy Vs. Cueball,” with Morgan Conway and Ann Jeffreys. The short subjects were also listed.
I’d bet my autographed picture of the Judds that there’s not another person on this planet that cares about stuff like that. But, personally, it’s just something else that for some unknown reason I deposited in my personal little memory bank. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever put anything really useful in there. Then again, I guess if we really had a choice, we’d all prefer remembering the little trivial stuff that happens over somebody’s death or some tragic world event.


Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

You’ll wonder where the yellow went...

Since I was 18 months old I have been going to optometrists and ophthalmologist for one eye ailment or another. However, now that I am older my vision is more impaired than ever so I’m still a frequent visitor of them. I knew I had trouble performing certain tasks because I couldn’t see as well, but over the weekend I realized I had to start paying more attention to what I was doing.
Before I visited my sister a couple of weeks ago, I had found a small travel-size tube of Colgate toothpaste and dropped it into my overnight bag. That was nearly a month ago and I was intrigued that it didn’t have a distinct flavor. But I didn’t think too much about it because I thought it was just an old tube so I kept using it after I returned home.
While I was in the hospital I asked Ronnie to bring me the travel-size tube that was on the second shelf of the medicine cabinet but he said he couldn’t find it. Instead he brought me the whitening toothpaste that I hadn’t used in months. I dropped the subject. I was sick and I’m sure he was tired of me being sick.
Then last Friday night as I was getting ready for bed I took the toothpaste out of the medicine cabinet and decided to look directly at the tube I had been using for the past month. It read: Cortisone10.
Needless to say, I was upset. I woke Ronnie out of a dead sleep and tried in every way possible to blame the mix-up on him.
“Sara, how can you blame this on me,” Ronnie asked.
“Fluoride has not touched my mouth in over a month!”. I cried. “How could you let this happen?”
Ronnie was wide awake by this time and couldn’t figure out what he had done wrong. “Well, I bet you teeth don’t itch,” he laughed.
All I could think about was my poor dental hygiene and how I had endangered the few teeth I have left. I couldn’t believe how stupid I had been. Why didn’t I check it out sooner?
“Well I hope you brushed your eye teeth,” Ronnie said.
I was not amused. I started to feel sorry for myself and then I remembered that wouldn’t help a thing so I grabbed a tube of real toothpaste and I’ve kept it beside me ever since.
I would also like to say that I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Joe Conley. I have been going to Dr. joe for 61 years. Not only was he my doctor, he was my dear friend and I will miss him so very much. He was a kind, affable person who cared about his God, his family and his community. I, like many of you, have fond memories of him and he will be missed. He had the greatest smile!
Don’t forget to smile awhile!

Apr 27, 2016, 08:13


Downhomer - By Eileen Parrigin Young
All about mushrooms

One afternoon not long ago, niece and nephew Steve and Mandy Walters came to call. This in itself was not unusual. Steve, the son of my husband Walter’s sister and brother-in-law Pearl and Wince Walters, often come by to check on us. Mandy, like myself, always has more to do than there are enough hours in the day to get it done, comes as she is able.
That Sunday afternoon visit had a double purpose…first just to visit, secondly to ask about the Morel mushrooms that I often write about. This happens to be a pertinent topic, for it is the time of year to hunt for these goodies. Of course, they do tend to pop up best after a warm spring rain. In as much as we are going through a dry stretch in Kentucky right now, there might not be a lot of them to find, and forget about picking enough to sell for large sums of money to some restaurant. You’d have to go out at daylight, and hunt till dark to make any money if that’s why you’d hunt these wild fungi, and why would you. They are so absolutely delicious that I couldn’t imagine selling them, much preferring to eat them myself.
As for learning to identify these mushrooms, once you see a morel, you will always know them. They grow around apple trees, on creek banks where there is a lot of decaying tree residue, around elm trees, and just anywhere they want to. They often grow in an area that has been timbered, and will even spread into the yard under the right conditions. I do know there are people who are trying to domesticate this wild fauna. I know about one man who planted himself several rows of dwarf apple trees. Then he put straw between the rows in this orchard, after first putting out some of the commercially available mushroom spawn that he had bought. He kept the area well watered and in due season (or two), up came morels. Bottom line that is a necessary requirement for this kind of endeavor is time, a lot of time that you’d have to wait to gather the fruits of that labor.
I have also been asked about some of the other kinds of edible mushrooms. While I myself am very cautious in what I pick, I do know some I would take a chance on, like those puffballs that are fruiting just now. I have eaten these, when they are in their fresh and firm stage. Sliced into steak sized slices and sautéed in a little butter, they are good, but not in comparison to the morel. Of course, when the puffball gets to old to use, it will send out a foggy puffy breath of itself, hence the name puffball.
Then there are the Shaggy Manes that come up in early fall. These are of the family of inky cap mushrooms, have to pick as soon as they come up and used before they turn into an inky mess. I have picked a lot of these, do not really care all that much for them.
I have been fortunate that I have seen several specimens of the Maitake mushroom growing in this area. I have watched their growth, waiting for them to be larger in size, which can actually be as big as a bushel basket. However while I was waiting on the right size for the specimen I knew of, some other avid hunter beat me to the end product and picked it.
Also called Hen of the Woods, this mushroom looks exactly like a mother hen with her feathers spread out to cover her babies, is light to dark brown in color, grows in the fall at the base of oak trees, and is a supposed cure for cancer. My brother brought me one from Ohio that was big enough to fill a plastic garbage bag. These are being raised commercially, and now that I can no longer roam the woods, I buy my Maitake from the Oregon Mushroom Company. They can cost about $18 per pound, an average price range. I also have bought Morels from this particular company, and have been pleased with their products and the quickness of their shipping.
In Missouri, where my son Vaughn lives, they pick a mushroom which they simply call Reds. This mushroom grows on Hemlock trees, is one of the Reishi family of fungi, and though I have seen it growing here, I personally wouldn’t fool with it because of its being easily confused with some of the very similar and more dangerous ones.
Speaking of dangerous mushrooms, my father always gathered that white meadow mushroom which is a version of those store bought ones. I do know how to identify these in the wild, and have picked them. It is our most commonly seen fungi. It grows in pastures and back yards all over the place. I stopped picking these when I learned that the most deadly mushroom known to foragers is one that is identical to the meadow mushroom. Called the Destroying Angel for a reason, one tiny piece of this so-called Destroying Angel in a batch of good mushrooms can turn the whole bunch deadly. Therefore, for me it is best to buy these white button mushrooms at the grocery store.
It is much better to be cautious if the end result of eating this wild mushroom would be death, as would surely happen if you ate even a bite of the one so similar in appearance to the good ones.



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