Friday, February 23, 2024



In 1953, my 9th year of my life on this earth, 1 was suddenly transported from the place of my birth, Savannah, Georgia, USA,  Transported by a drive of 500 miles, in a brand new, $2300.00, 1953 Pontiac, to Clear Creek, Kentucky. This move was to become the most loved five years of my first 20 years of life. 

That huge car, also transported us through time from 1953 to 1893. We stepped out of the car from the century I was born in, into the century before.

In a few blinks of an eye, I was transformed into a child of the Appalachian Mountains, a mountaineer child, a child awed by the new accents, a new language, I started to sang my words, and sucked up the sounds and stories of this mountain language like a sponge. A world that made me giggle at first, when the words far tar, meant fire tower.  

The mountaineers stories fill my head with clans, family ties, kinfolk, family feuds, shootings and men with guns in the woods. Long guns, shot guns, pistols and most folk packed a gun. I was living in a world of frontier stories you may have read about in Zane Gray or Louis L'Amour book

I heard this over and over. Thars moonshiners in them thar hills that  sooner shoot you than eat! You'uns see anything up that holler, you don't say nuthin, you don't see nuthin and you keeps ya mouth shut and get ya self outa there. they is all blood-kin, and ya wanna watch out what ya say and where ya say it.

At age 12, I looked forward to Saturday, because we visited daddy's pastoral flock and  I rode in the coveted front passenger seat, with my dad driving, and we drove to the Church he was pastor of.  I was 12 and loved to go with my Dad to visit the homes of the members of his church.  Saturday was the day I listened to stories, protected Daddy from cats and dogs, platted the tail of a mule and got kicked in the stomach, was showered with fresh milk by a teen boy milking the cows, climbed in barn lofts. We visited homes that barely clung to the side of a mountain. #1 on the most memorial memory of those days, was the great Dane dog with 12 large puppies. I will never forget them.

 #2 on the most memorial memory 

The big green car with daddy white knuckling the steering wheel, rolled slowly down and down and down the Devils Switchback road towards the church as we left our house that  perched on the edge of the mountain we lived on. Daddy's tenor blended with my alto and the words of Amazing Grace probably echoed off the mountains. 

We had a wonderful day and the last house we visited, was very close to the church. We left the front porch and down to the car and headed towards the church and home was 40 minutes away.

We drove for maybe 20 minutes and as we went around the curve into the straight part of the road, we saw 3 men. They were staggering down the mountain, two of the men practically dragging the one in the middle. they staggered into the road in front of us, and we could see there was a lot of blood on the front of the middle man. The fact they came out of the woods, down the mountain and their  overalls and dirty long hair, screamed Moonshiners, not to mention the blood.

Daddy smashed the brakes, I screamed, no daddy, don't stop! He is covered in blood. the car rolled to a stop and Daddy got out to talk to them, a few words and he brought them to the passenger side, MY side of the car, and opened the door behind me. They put the bloody man in the middle and one climbed in on my side, the other went to the other door, Daddy got back in the car and started it up. By the time the last door slammed, I had turned my self around and pressed my back against the glove compartment with my feet drawn up

Terrified I stared at them and suddenly forgetting every thing I ever heard, I said "What Happened"?
The man in the middle pointed to either side with his thumbs and said

Deese men be my Blood Kin, we's tryin ta get ta do horsespital down yonder, I got me 3 shoots in my belly and I needs a doctor. 

I have no memory how far the hospital was, I just remember what he said and that my mouth never stopped peppering them with questions. they were feuding moonshiners, it was and adventure and evidently the warnings I heard about keeping my mouth shut went right out the open window. We survived, and we have no idea if he survived those 3 shoots in his belly. Daddy dropped them off at the hospital and Its been 65 years since I left Kentucky, and shoots in the belly still lives in my memories.

I do know I loved every moment!


The snips are google maps as the source, and the house and church and both the roads are what they look like today. In 1953 the road had no markings, was full of potholes. 65 years ago the church was a small white church, now it is  a large brick church.

Looking back I can see that living in the state of Kentucky, 1953-1959 was very similar to life in Kentucky during the feud between the Hatfield's and McCoys, an American Feud (1863-1891) 

We lived about an hour away from Harland county, in coal Country. Some of our church members worked in the coal mines.  Click on this link to 1950's Harlan County Kentucky to see the world we lived in.

Joining Yam for Final Friday Feature


CheerfulMonk said...

Wow! I'm glad you had a chance to live there as long as you did, and I'm sorry it had to end.

easyweimaraner said...

wow that was a memory.. oh my... seems this guys came from normandy, there some peeps end that way every season... we wish this man well and we hope he survived bevcause you and your daddy came to help them out...

Cathy said...

Love it. We never know how others have lived until they open up and tell us. Open up more often Sandra - please.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
Crikey gal, that's some FFF offering (even if unintended)!!! Fabulous post. YAM xx

eileeninmd said...

Wow, that is some memory. It was nice of your Dad to help out the man.
I think the Great Dane with the 12 puppies would be a happy memory.
Take care, have a great weekend.

Sparky said...

Your story jogged a lot of my childhood memories. I've never visited that part of Kentucky but my 2nd step-mom, Myra Cook what was, grew up there during the first Great Depression. She wove some tales similar to yours about those days. Her Dad was Sheriff of Letcher County. Unfortunately, she suffered a lot of hardships which left her beaten and traumatized. She did believe in Jesus, though. Sweet lady.
I enjoyed this post a lot. You're a very good writer.
Blessings. xx

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

That was quite the story, Sandra, and the illustrations were perfect as well. You are quite the story teller and thank you for sharing this memory of your past life.

photowannabe said...

What an adventure for your young age. I can see how it molded you. I'm sorry you had to leave that part of your life. But...we have got to learn some fantastic tales from you.

My Mind's Eye said...

I 200% agree with YAM
Sandra you out did yourself on this post WOW Clapping wildly. You gave my mind's eye a perfect visual.

And reminded me of a story from Bryan about the time he went up into them hills on a job. He was an internal auditor for the power company. Part of the audit required him to venture out into the wilds of the moonshining hills.
He was accompanied by a local employee of the district office. As they drove up into the hills the local guy told him since there so many moonshiners it was best to let a local do the talking. That was A OK with Bryan he didn't want to ruffle any feathers. They parked by a hill in a drive way. Evidently there were folks watching from all over. The car was a rental no one recognized it so suspicions were high. When Bryan got out of the passenger seat he was staring right into the barrel of a shotgun as the man asked him what he wanted. The local guy got our quickly to calm everyone down. NOPE you did not mess with the moonshiners up in the hills
Hugs Cecilia

Chatty Crone said...

First off - I am glad you had such wonderful memories to remember - not sure how you remembered all those facts though - that is incredible. Quite an adventure.

Mevely317 said...

My 9-y/o self would be SO envious of 9 y/o Sandra! Well, maybe not the kick in your stomach part. I'd have loved hearing you and your daddy harmonizing Amazing Grace. The only lore I can recall of that part of the country was a library book I borrowed while in grade school: Mountain Laurel.

I'm sure impressed by your memory for detail ... heck, you still have that knack. A policeman's perfect witness, as it were!

Ginny Hartzler said...

WOWZERS!!!! How I loved this! You should write a weekly story here about each of your adventures there. It doesn't even have to be an adventure, just about your daily life. Think about it. You could call it something like Throwback Thursday. You could write a book and it would SELL!! Just think Little House On The Prairie. I LOVED this!! Especially the paragraph where you describe what it was like when you moved there. TRULY MAGICAL! You make it sound like an otherworldly fairytale. Your writing is superb. It gave me so many vivid images in my head, you are so talented!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Sandra :=)
WOW!! What an amazing true story of part of your childhood. You told it so well and I was transported back with you to Kentucky when you were 9. It was kind of your father to stop the car and help the wounded man. that was quite an adventure. but I'm so glad you were happy living there and have such happy memories of singing with your father as he drove the car, and the sweet memories of the Labrador and puppies.

Rose said...

I so loved reading this...been traveling back in time myself...I often get on here to look for old photos and even have found a video or two of Middlesboro, KY...has photos of the old days in it. It is so changed now, it is hard to comprehend.

LC said...

A dear cousin of my husband was raised alongside him in Biloxi, MS, the location of a military base. She met one of the airmen, fell in love, married the native of Kentucky and has lived in Kentucky ever since with kids and grands and great-grands. She is a joy but age for us all is making regular trips to visit challenging. Enjoyed your going back in time!

The Adventures of the LLB Gang said...

What a wonderful story/memory today S! I felt right there with you!

Susan Kane said...

This took me back as well. I lived in our rural farm. At that time 1950s, mom said that they were moonshiners in the hollers.

Well written! I was there with you. More please.

Brian's Home Blog said...

Having grown up in West Virginia and loved that story and can so relate. My first job out of college required a trip to a hospital in rural Kentucky. All went well. After work I stopped by a local watering hole and I was still in suit and tie. The first question they ask was "are you a revenuer?". Once I told them why I was in town the drinks were on the house.

Linda said...

WOW!!!! I love hearing your stories!!!!MORE! I would love to hear MORE!!!

Ann said...

Those are some memories. You could write a book with stories like that.

DawnTreader said...

What a story! And well told! :)

carol l mckenna said...

Wow! Quite the experience in Kentucky ~ maybe write a book????

Wishing you good health, laughter and love in your days,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

DeniseinVA said...

Your memories of your time there would make a great book and a great movie. Fascinating story. I would love to hear more stories of your life there. I hope you will share them sometime and thanks for sharing these.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

This was a wonderful read. What a great story you shared and those are awesome things that you remembered. Thank you.