Good Bye Forkland, I Am Moving On!

The flood was the beginning of the end of my years in the store. The experience caused me to be so frightened every time the water started to rise in the creeks that I decided to sell the market and move on with my life. I moved to a little town called Junction City and went to work in Harrodsburg as a waitress for about three weeks, then as a deli manager for a Big Value Store in Danville, and finally bought a building in Mitchellsburg, Kentucky and opened a small restaurant. Eventually, I moved back to my hometown of Frankfort and went back to work for the State of Kentucky where I had worked for 11 years previously. I retired from state government in May 2005.

I wrote this blog for my children and grandchild. It covers the seven and a half years of my life I spent living in the Forkland area of Gravel Switch, Kentucky. During this time, I owned and operated a small country store known as Judy’s Market. There was good times and bad times during these years but mostly good times. My twins, Anne and Leigh, look back fondly at their childhood days growing up on the Fork. It was an experience we will never forget nor will we ever forget all the wonderful people and friends we made. We learned so much about life during these years and what it means to be loving, loyal, honest, and giving like the people of the Forkland community and that family and friends are the important things in our lives. I feel I have covered the most outstanding times in the store and am closing out this blog. If, in the future, something comes to mind that I have left out, I will come back and add to what I have already written. If you should happen upon this blog and are interested in reading about this experience, please go all the way back to the oldest post and begin at the beginning when I first bought the property and began my life as the owner of a country store. It will make a lot more sense to you if you start at the beginning. Also, please leave me a comment and thanks for stopping by. I am now in my senior years and have started another blog to cover my retirement and how I spend my days. You can go to it by clicking, “Living on the Other Side of the Hill” in my sidebar on the left.  Thanks to all the people of the Forkland area for making my years so memorable that I could write these “Tales of the Rolling Fork”.

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The "Green Goddess" Gets a New Home

Since the Cougar was totaled after the flood, the Green Goddess was the only thing I had to drive until I could get something to take the place of the Mercury. Anne and Leigh was not at all happy about this situation. The Goddess had been cleaned up and no longer was filled with mud but she creaked and the doors were kind of loose, she had dents all over her from being banged around on her trip down the road and into the creek bank. She also had a slight, musty odor about her. There was some rust in places, and the right rear view mirror was still missing. The electric windows no longer worked and she was generally just a mess but sometimes we have to just make do with what we have at the moment.

I distinctly remember one day when we had gone grocery shopping in Danville and the girls were so low in the seat you could barely see the tops of their heads. God forbid, we should see one of their friends while riding around in this rattletrap. We came out of the grocery, loaded the bags into the back seat and Leigh slammed the back door real hard. I quietly told her not to do that again because the door was liable to fall off right there in the parking lot. She jumped in the front seat and told me she would certainly not be riding home in this stupid thing without a door should it happen to fall off and that the situation was bad enough at that moment. They were still at that age where they were embarrassed at just about everything that happened in those days and this car totally took the cake when it came to embarrassment but she was running like a top despite all her other flaws!

A week or so later, the girls and I was in Harrodsburg and stopped at a car lot there to just look around and see what they had to offer in the way of used vehicles. I had the money from when Leonard Roller hit the Mercury before the flood and then the money from it being totaled out after the flood. I don’t think I was supposed to own that car.

The girls spotted a small, white chevy spectrum and wanted to try it out. It was not nearly the car the Mercury was but they thought it would be perfect for them to learn to drive. We tried it out and it seemed in pretty good shape and looked almost new. I am sure at this point anything better than the wagon would be just what they were looking to get. They talked me into buying this car and I wrote the salesman a check for it. I had to get someone to take me over to the lot the next day to pick it up. The thing was great on gas and had front wheel drive and was easy to handle.

A couple days after we became the new owners of the spectrum they wanted to drive it around the parking lot and fill it up with gas. I was busy in the store and told them to be very careful. The next thing I see is the little, white, spectrum going away from the store and up the winding road toward Frank Gorley’s house. I take off on foot after them telling myself to be calm and not to kill them when I catch up. I was lucky in that they pulled in Frank’s driveway and did not know how to turn it around. I am sure I had a few choice words to lay on them over this episode but we laugh about it today and keep it as one of our special moments.

Red Nielsen needed a car and wanted to buy the Goddess. I sold her to him for $500 and he drove that car for years. It has to be one of the best station wagons ever made or put on the market.

Years later, Leigh was living in Lexington and swears the “Goddess” was parked at a house next door because the right mirror was missing and it was a pale green. She says the car still haunts her to this day!

The Flood

Many people in the Forkland community will always remember the morning of June 18, 1992. Our beautiful little valley, framed by a ridge of scenic knobs swelled with roaring flood waters. Every creek and stream rising beyond capacity as approximately 4 inches of rain fell within an hour.

I had been running the store for a little over six years. I awoke that morning to fog hovering over the creek that twisted and turned behind the building. The radio was giving out flash flood watches for Kentucky and Boyle County. Several of my regulars had been in to get a cup of coffee and leave to start their work day. We all knew the local creeks and streams could be dangerous, but business was being conducted as usual at my place.

Hubert came into the store to get his morning coffee and we talked about the weather reports.

My phone rang and Hubert answered it for me. It was Peg calling to tell me to get out of the store because the creeks were rising near his place.

Hubert and I checked the creek behind the store and you could see the bottom. The curving, little creek was calm but I decided to leave because it was raining so hard and I knew it could get bad.

I walked out the front door and called to Ed Eisenbeis, a friend, that rented the building next door to do furniture refinishing. I told him we had better leave.

Before we could leave the premises, my pepsi delivery man arrived and we waited for him to unload my order. A total of about ten minutes. The water was starting to rise in back of the store as the pepsi truck left.

I took the money from the register and Ed and I started to my car. It was too late! A wall of water over our heads was coming down the road toward the front of the store. We ran back inside and was trapped in the building.
The doors on the three car shed next to the store began to creak and bang. They dislocated from the building and floated by us as we silently watched from the windows of the market.

Next, my Mercury Cougar backed out of the shed and headed down the road as if someone was driving it. The “green goddess” Chevy wagon floated by backwards, and Ed’s Suburu Brat truck was picked up and the back end set down on the store porch.
A very large tractor with a cab on it, belonging to a local farmer, parked on a goose-neck trailer, came down the road and lodged in my parking lot.

The three car shed exploded and the roof wrapped around a telephone pole on the right side of the store. My propane tank broke loose and began spewing five hundred gallons of gas into the air as it disappeared from sight. (The shed that washed away, the basketball goal the roof wrapped around and my car that washed away.)

We saw water coming in the store through the floor and thought the next thing it would be coming through the walls and the building would come down or explode like the shed. The water had surrounded us on all sides and was so high and swift there was no way out. We were terrified!

We thought surely we were going to drown. Ed and I could both swim but an olympic swimmer couldn’t make it through that roaring, rolling current. Plus, the debris would have killed anyone.

In addition to the vehicles, there was roll bales of hay, tractor tires, logs, mailboxes, blacktop, fences and huge rocks being washed down the road in front and back of the building.

Ed began calling Rescue 911 to ask for help. The only way out for us would have to be by helicopter. The dispatcher was no help. We called the National Guard and was told to call the Mayor of the City of Danville. The Mayor’s Office did not answer. We called the County Judge-Executive, Mary Pendygraft, and she tried to help us. Judge Pendygraft contacted Frankfort for a helicopter and kept in constant touch.

Suddenly, as quickly as it started, the rain stopped and the flooding started to recede. The water went down almost as fast as it came up. Tracy Mills, a neighbor, in a four-wheel-drive

truck was able to rescue us and get us to safety.

Residents in the area lost a lot of property. Tobacco and corn crops were ruined and we were knee deep in mud. I lost a building, two cars, a lot of small items and my property and store was a mess. These material things did not bother me. I was glad to just be alive!

The next day was a beautiful, gorgeous, day in Forkland. Clean up crews were at work and people in the community stopped to visit and help each other. You could almost step across the little creek behind the grocery without getting your feet wet. I swore when I got out alive that I would never stay in my home another night. Two days later, everything looked different. The Fork was calm and serene again. We were all so thankful no one was hurt or killed. I had always heard of flash floods but I had never seen or been through one.
The green wagon was pulled out of the creek and started right up with water running out of every crevice and covered with mud inside and out. The Cougar was in the top of a tree about a mile down the road. It was beyond repair and had to be totaled. My propane tank was found about fifteen miles away lodged near a bridge.
Every time it rained after this experience I was terrified it would happen again.

The only thing that saved the store building that day was the roof that wrapped around the telephone pole next to the store and parted the water making it run in the front and back instead of hitting it directly. Many times in my life there has been someone up there watching over me. The day I was trapped in that store I truly thought I would never be alive today to tell this story.

Mule Hill and Gravel Backroads!

Pass by Judy’s Market on Minor’s Branch Road and travel about a mile and there will be Mule Hill looming between the trees and bushes. During my time on the Fork, it was gravel and winding, and I am sure it got it’s name because a mule was all that could get up it in the olden days. It was so narrow you could not pass but in certain places. In winter months Mule Hill was often too slick or treacherous to attempt unless you wanted to end up in a ravine or some holler.

Red lived on the other side of Mule Hill from the store and so did Lewell and Jewell Mills. Lewell and Jewell had somewhere around eight or nine children, all of them girls except for one boy, Dean. They were all good people, a very close family and enjoyed their life. Most of the girls were grown but some of them lived with Mom and Dad and so did Dean. The others were pretty close by or home on weekends and holidays. I heard tales of Lewell tying a car hood to the back of his truck, loading the girls on the hood and pulling them thru the snow and down Mule Hill like a big sled. They were great neighbors and customers. Lewell was a real character. I think the only moonshine I ever had was a bottle Lewell got for me from one of his friends that still made the stuff. I kept it in freezer in my kitchen because Lewell told me it was better that way and would not freeze.

Lewell Mills

One Sunday morning Bruce Crain came by and when he found out I had some moonshine he wanted to taste it. He said he had never had it before. I got the bottle from the freezer and Bruce took a big “swig” right from the bottle. He went into some kind of fit!! He said it burned all the way down to his stomach. He was coughing and wheezing and carrying on like he was going to bite the dust right there in my kitchen. Bruce left and three days later he came into the store and said he could still feel the burning in his gut!

There was a lot of gravel backroads in and around the fork. It was nothing to be out for a ride on Sunday afternoon and come upon several vehicles pulled over on a gravel road with people standing around visiting, their radios turned up,with country music blaring, and a cooler of beer shared by all. This always amazed me growing up in the city. You never knew what adventures you might behold on a gravel backroad. Once while making the trip over Mule Hill on my descent I passed a burned out car on the side of the road and someone had painted a sign with white spray paint on the side in big white letters. The sign said “SEE ROCK CITY” with an arrow pointing straight ahead. I thought this was hilarious!

We traveled those backroads like they were super highways, with radios blaring. I never saw a law enforcement officer on one of those roads in all my time I lived on the Fork.

There was a song out by Ricky Van Shelton at this time that describes exactly what you feel when riding the backroads. Below is a verse from the song:

I’ve got the radio blastin

I’ve got the windows rolled down

And I’m cruisin’ these backroads

On the outskirts of town

I can feel the wind a-blowin

Hear the big engines whine

When I’m cruisin’ these backroads

All my troubles are behind.

I think that says it all!!

The Bookmobile Comes to the Fork

One of the highlights of the month while I was running the store was the day the bookmobile came and parked in my lot and the Forkland residents would come by and check out books. It usually came about one thirty in the afternoon so I had finished with my lunch crowd by that time. If someone was loafing by the old stove I would get them to yell at me if a customer needed help. If there was no one in the store, I had to try and keep an eye out for a car that might drive up and someone go into the market.
Anne and Leigh were always excited to get home from school on the day the bookmobile came because they knew I would have checked them out a whole new bunch of books to read. It was such fun to ramble through all the choices. I like to read biographies and the ladies that ran the rolling libary would always try and bring me new ones to read. Sometimes, Peg would be loafing by the stove and I would come back into the store with all the books I could carry and he would ask me, “what in the world are you going to do with all those books?” I usually read them all in my spare time. The shelf under the store counter was always home to a book I was reading and others lying in wait.

The minute the school bus stopped out front in the afternoons, the girls would come running into the store and look at all the books to see what new adventures they would go on while reading.

My children all love to read and I am so glad we impressed upon them the importance of books when they were young. To this day they are all avid readers.
It is amazing when you live a simple life in the country how exciting something like the bookmobile coming by is to your life. We had many great hours of reading time thanks to the Boyle County Library and that rolling library on wheels. Just goes to show that a lot of the best things in life are free and living simply is not so bad in this hurried world of today.

Another Piece of Art that Adorned the Wall in Judy’s Market

The Non Conforming Sparrow

Once upon a time, there was a nonconforming sparrow who decided
not to fly south for the winter.
However, soon the weather turned so cold that he
reluctantly started to fly south.
In a short time ice began to form on his wings and he fell to
earth in a barnyard, almost frozen.
A cow passed by and crapped on the little sparrow.
The sparrow thought it was the end.
But, the manure warmed him and defrosted his wings.
Warm and happy, able to breathe, he started to sing.
Just then a large cat came by and hearing the chirping,
Investigated the sounds.
The cat cleared away the manure, found the chirping bird
and promptly ate him.

THE MORAL OF THE STORY

1. Everyone who shits on you is not necessarily your enemy.
2. Everyone who gets you out of the shit is not necessarily your friend.
3. And, if you’re warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

What bird????

Deer Hunter Weekend

I used to keep several framed articles, poems, jokes, etc. on the walls in the market for all to enjoy. This one was from the newspaper but gave many a deer hunter something to think about!

SATURDAY

1:00 a.m. – Alarm clock rings

2:00 a.m. – Hunting partner arrives

2:30 a.m. – Throw everything except kitchen sink into truck

3:00 a.m. – Leave for deep woods

3:15 a.m. – Drive back home and get gun

3:30 a.m. – Rush to get back to woods before daylight

4:00 a.m. – Set up camp; forgot tent

4:30 a.m. – Head into the woods

5:00 a.m. – Skin hand and ankles climbing into deer stand

5:15 a.m. – See deer

5:16 a.m. – Shoot deer

5:17 a.m. – Bury dog I thought was deer

6:05 a.m. – See eight deer

6:06 a.m. – Take aim and squeeze trigger – click

6:07 a.m. – Load gun while watching deer go over the hill

8:00 a.m. – Head back to camp

9:00 a.m. – Still looking for camp

10:00 a.m. – Realize you don’t know where camp is

12:00 noon – Fire gun for help; eat wild berries

12:15 p.m. – Run out of bullets; eight deer come back

12:20 p.m. – Strange feeling in stomach

12:30 p.m. – Realize you ate poison berries

12:45 p.m. – RESCUED!

12:55 p.m. – Rushed to hospital to have stomach pumped

3:00 p.m. – Arrive back at camp

3:30 p.m. – Leave camp to kill deer

4:00 p.m. – Return to camp for bullets

4:30 p.m. – Load gun, leave camp again

5:00 p.m. – Empty gun on squirrel that is bugging me

6:00 p.m. – Arrive back at camp; the eight deer are grazing by camp

6:01 p.m. – Load gun

6:02 p.m. – Fire gun, shoot hole in truck radiator

6:05 p.m. – Hunting partner returns dragging deer

6:06 p.m. – Resist strong urge to shoot partner

6:07 p.m. – Fall into campfire

6:10 p.m. – Change clothes; throw burned ones in campfire

6:15 p.m. – Take pickup; leave partner and his deer in woods

6:25 p.m. – Pickup boils over; STOPS!

6:30 p.m. – Stumble and fall; drop gun in mud

6:35 p.m. – Meet bear

6:36 p.m. – Take aim; gun blows up, barrel full of mud

9:00 p.m. – Bear leaves; wrap “effin” gun around tree

Midnight – HOME AT LAST!

SUNDAY

Watch football on TV while slowly tearing up license; mail them to game warden with very clear instructions where he can put them.