This is a continuation of a family history written by my grandmother. Click here to access Part 1.
In 1924, my father had saved enough money to buy a home for us and he hunted for a camp near schools. He went to work for Pike & Floyd Coal Company, an English based company. [In 1910, the Pike-Floyd Coal Company established its first production facility in Betsy Layne, Kentucky.] They had good elementary schools and a small high school. We were only 13 miles from Pikeville in Pike County, Ky., which had a two-year college. He bought a lot and had a house built on it for $1,800.00 cash. He and my mother finished most of the inside. We had two large bedrooms, living room, two porches, and of course the privy.
We had a large kitchen and cooked with coal because it was very cheap. We had fireplaces in all of the rooms. The kitchen was big enough for a large table, six chairs, icebox, and coal range plus the traditional kitchen cabinet, which held my mother’s cooking supplies. We also had a water table. There was a bucket of water, a basin to wash your face and hands, and soap and towels. We had a large pantry off the back porch which had been built for a bathroom and dad never dug a well so we had no bathroom.
We had a large meat house which housed our meat, four 30-gallon barrels for pickled beans, corn, sauerkraut, and cucumber pickles. We also had a large bathtub (came from a YMCA) and a stove to heat water. My father put three large barrels outside the meat house to catch rain water and put pipes from outside to the inside (coal water only). This could run down into the tub. We heated the water on the stove to bathe in. We also cooked in the meat house during the summer. It was too hot to cook in our home as we had no air conditioning and no fans. The weather got very hot and humid during the summer months.
My first memory of my childhood years was in 1924 when we moved to Betsy Layne where my father had built us a home and we were to remain until we all left Ky. in the early 40’s. My mother had made me a navy blue cape with a red silk lining and I wore it on the train to my new home. Our new home was quite different than what we had been used to. At first, we only had kerosene lamps on the walls throughout the house. A few months later we got the electric lines in and we had our lights throughout the house.
We always had a phonograph and a radio in our home. In later years, my father never missed the Amos ‘n’ Andy and Lowell Thomas show.
My mother listened to soap operas on the radio and read a serial story that ran every day in the newspapers. We got our paper one day late because it came by train from the western part of the state. Things were not as easily gotten as they are today.
I cannot remember when I exactly started school. I think I went to primer class the year after we moved there, so I would have been six years old. My mother taught us to read and do our multiplication tables before we started school. My brother was two years ahead of me in school and very smart, which made it harder for me to catch up.
My Grandma’s Brother, Raymond Stafford
The coal company paid for the school teachers at that time but later the state took over the cost as the school was well established.
We had been in our new home about six months when one morning about 11 o’clock a wagon, drawn by two mules, came down our road, which was right near our front gate. There were 11 people in the wagon who turned out to be our best friends and neighbors as long as we were there and even in later years. There were five girls, four boys, and Mom and Pop Howard. The mother was very heavy as was two of the girls.
To be continued…