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A Dump Truck, A Hot Seat, and A Broken Ankle

Bruce and Barbara Crain were two of my very best friends. I knew them before I ever moved to the Fork. I used to live across the highway from their place on Craintown Road before I bought the store and they were such wonderful neighbors. Bruce did not live on the Fork but he worked on the Fork. He drove a dump truck and hauled gravel from the banks of the creek. He had a backhoe parked in the creek to load his truck and he sold the gravel to anyone that needed their driveway done or needed gravel on their place anywhere. Bruce was always in and out of the store between hauls and if there was not a fire in the old woodstove he would “plop” down across from the counter and tell me how his day was going or visit with Peg or Hubert or whoever happened to be there when he came in. Sometimes, Bruce, would stop by several times during the course of a day. One morning, he came in early, sat around for a while and left. It was pretty chilly that morning and I decided to build a small fire in the woodstove to take the chill off the place. Two or three hours later, Bruce was back and as usual “plopped” himself down on the woodstove. Well, the store counter was across from that stove and he hit that counter running!

I went into a fit of laughter which did not go over well at all with Bruce. Evidently, he really got himself one hot seat that day. He never did “plop” down on that stove again without checking it out first.

Bruce was delivering me a load of gravel for the parking lot one morning and I ran out the door to show him just where I wanted it dumped. I started to step off the porch and turned my ankle falling with my left foot doubled up under me. I heard the bones breaking when I hit the concrete. Bruce jumped out of the truck and ran to me. I was crying and telling him to call 911. Lewell and Jewell Mills came by and stayed with me until Bruce went inside to call an ambulance. They put blankets over me and cold compresses on my head.

The ambulance came and Mike Gorley cut the leg of my jeans all the way to my thigh and they put me on a stretcher and took off to the hospital in Danville.

I spent thirteen days in the hospital with every bone in my foot broken from the fall. Ten screws and a plate in my foot was the result of the surgery. I was on crutches for months and months.

The Forkland community went all out to help me during this time. My best friend, Bonnie McCarty, a registered nurse, stayed with me the night I came home and took me back and forth to the doctor to get my cast changed. Bruce and Carolyn ran the store without pay and Barbara Eisenbeis did laundry and helped out whenever she could. Anne and Leigh cooked meals and waited on me. I was in bed for several days after coming home and then had to run the store while on crutches for a long period of time. The girls were trying to cook dinner one night right after I came home from the hospital. Bruce had brought some fresh asparagus from his garden and I loved asparagus. I was in bed, not able to even get around by myself. I could hear them in the kitchen. One of them said, “fix her some of those sticks she likes so well”. Another time, I saw a lizard on the wall of my bedroom and started screaming for them to come and kill it. We lived right on the creek bank and there was all kinds of critters around. The first thing they did was go get Miss Kitty and try to make her climb up the wall after it. When that did not work, they got their BB guns and tried to shoot it. The thing got away and, Susan, one of Carolyn’s girls found it under the bread rack in the store about three days later and picked it up and carried it outside.

Anne and Leigh would fill up the pop machines at night and help clean up the store before closing. If they were not at home, any customer that happened to be in the store would do it for me.

Marjorie Ellis cooked meals and sent them to the house for me and my girls. Hubert, her husband, would knock on the door around dinnertime, the girls would run to the door and there would stand Hubert with a picnic basket.
He would come into the kitchen and the girls would immediately start looking to see what he brought them. Usually, there would be homemade biscuits, casseroles, and some kind of pie. They were delighted with the goodies. I am sure everyone that knows Marjorie knows what a great cook she is and her food was delicious. I could never thank everyone enough for all the wonderful, helpful, things they did during this time. (To be continued)


Courtships, Coondogs and Convertibles

It seems as if people in the community enjoyed coming by the store to get their picture taken if there was an event and they had to get dressed up or if anything unusual happened. They liked showing off their dogs, horses, buggies, children, and anything that made a good picture. I loved getting out the camera and seeing everyone pose for that snapshot of themselves.

The children used to bring me school pictures every year and I would put them on the bulletin board in the store for all to see. They liked seeing their picture when they came in to buy something.
Sometimes, if someone was just going to church, they would stop by so that I could see them in their church clothes and get a picture. I took pictures of anything and everything!

Once when Monkey and Allen took the top off an old car they had to make it into a convertible, they drove it to the store and I got a picture. That car looked like it was a mile long.

We had a lot of draft horses in the area used for farming as well as just trying to outpull the next guy’s horse. The horse pull was a big thing to a lot of the guys. They loved entering their horses in competitive driving where they are judged, in harness, pulling various types of carts and wagons and would travel for miles to county fairs, and state fairs to these competitions. Local horse pulling events in someones barn or field often took place at night and on weekends.
Coondogs were also a big thing on the fork and coon hunting a sport that many enjoyed. I knew all about blueticks, redbones, black and tans, and walkers from listening to the conversations of the hunters. These were all breeds of coonhounds. A coondog has a voice that carries a long way and is bred for hunting. A reliable hound had the instinct to tree game and remain until the owner arrived.

Buster Tapscott liked his coon hounds and would bring them by the store to get a picture when he had a new one or wanted to sell one of them.

Buster also had a new wife when I was in the store. No one knew where he got Pauline but some thought she was a mail order bride. She was a lot younger than Buster but was totally devoted to him. They built a little house down off Little South and seemed to be very happy. They often came by the store to visit. Buster had been a previous owner just like RayBoy but Buster had left his mark on things around the place. According to the locals his first wife had preached in the building next to the store and held church services there. She passed away before I moved to the Fork. Buster, evidently, fancied himself as a carpenter but if you ask me he was a jake-leg carpenter. The cabinets in the kitchen looked like they had been trimmed out with a chain saw and he built a closet in the bedroom and left the light switch inside the closet. He cut a square hole in the wall and trimmed it with quarter round and you had to stick your hand through the hole to turn the light on in the bedroom. Buster’s way of fixing things left a lot to be desired! (To be continued)

A Forkland Halloween and Trick or Treat

Halloween was always a fun time on the Fork. The Community Center had a halloween carnival in the gym for old and young alike. Everyone dressed up in costumes and enjoyed the evening. There was homemade cakes for the cake walk, a spook house, costume contests and lots of door prizes.

One year they had a real goose and the kids could try and ring its neck. The line was long and Hubert Ellis and Frank Gorley was in charge of the goose. The goose was getting poked and prodded and yelled at by the kids and was becoming more agitated by the minute… Then, it somehow, managed to get out of the roped off pen they had it in. The goose began running through the crowd biting everyone that got near it. It was hilarious. The more they chased it, the madder it became and not only was it biting but flogging everyone in sight! Someone finally caught the thing but that was the end of that event for the night. Frank made the comment he would go home and get Clarice (his wife) and they could ring her neck.
They also had a “most hen-pecked husband award”. Several men was nominated and whoever got the most votes got the award. A vote was a penny and you could vote as many times as you wanted. The winner got a nice apron. This particular year the winner was Jo Allen Hays who won by a landslide.
I remember taking my girls, Anne and Leigh, Patty Westerfield, and Stacy Edwards trick-or-treating and Jo Allen was home by himself and he gave them beenie weenies for a treat. That same year, we stopped at Mike Hay’s place and he was home alone and gave the girls chocolate pudding! I was driving them around and laughing like crazy at the stuff they got from the houses where the women were not at home. We always had to go by to see Marjorie Ellis because she would dress up like a witch and decorate her back patio.

If the store was open on Halloween, we always had treats for the children that stopped. We took pictures of the costumes and had fun getting dressed up to go to the carnival.

One year my girlfriend and I got dressed after my twins left and went down later. They did not know who we were and kept calling my house and wondering where mom was and I was following them around the entire time. (To be continued)

Checking Turkey, Deer, and Weighing Critters

The big, old scales on the front porch of Judy’s Market was used to weigh feed, dogs, cats, adults, children, deer, turkey, and anything that needed weighing. It stood like a regal king watching over the place. It caught the eye of any stranger passing by and brought many a customer into the store out of fascination with the scales and wanting to get on it. I have seen vehicles pull up there just for the purpose of weighing a dog that was out for a ride with his master. I don’t know who put it there, how long it had been there, or if it was even accurate. Some people thought it was correct and some people would say it was off a little. There was not a way to adjust it, so we just assumed it was correct most of the time.

The store was a check station for deer and turkey and we always weighed the turkey and some of the deer was dragged up there to get weighed also.

Deer and turkey season was an exciting time on the Fork. Hunters started arriving the night before gun season opened to get ready for the next morning. People on the Fork that owned farms or land suitable for hunting always had friends they allowed to hunt on their place. There was a lot of deer in our area and I checked most of the ones killed at the store. I had to apply for a license to be able to be a check station. Each hunter would have a tag he put on the foot of the deer he killed and then he would have to bring it to a check station to be checked in. I had a book that I entered the gender, and the hunter’s information. The game warden would stop by the store and pick up the book after the season was over. We always checked some really big deer each season. I would take a picture of each hunter with his deer and then have two made so he could come back and pick one up at a later date. I, also, kept an album in the store for customers to look at when loafing. Business was really good each year during the hunting season. I sold lots of lunch meat and supplies to those living in campers and tents for days at a time. They all seemed to enjoy hanging around the store swapping stories about the one that got away and showing off their kill. I stayed open later during the hunting season so they would have a place to come get a sandwich after coming out of the woods.

Opening day of deer season we were really busy checking in deer and trying to help the hunters. Carolyn usually worked that day because most of the time it took both of us to handle all the traffic. Pickup trucks filled the parking lot and most everyone had a deer in the back of the truck. Sometimes, on a cold, opening morning of deer season it sounded like a battle ground from all the gunshots you could hear in the distance. You certainly did not want to be out walking in the woods at this time.

I think the hunters enjoyed sitting around in the store visiting with each other a lot and never failed to give me their business

Watching all the fun these guys seemed to have every year made me want to take up the sport. I was a pretty good shot with a rifle but had never been hunting in my life. A friend and his wife allowed me hunt on their place on the other side of Gravel Switch. I borrowed a 30-06 rifle with a scope and during gun season was out there with the rest of the hunters on freezing cold mornings and afternoons. I hunted mostly during the week because the weekends were so busy in the store and Carolyn could handle the weekdays. I loved it! The anticipation and waiting to see a deer appear in your sights was a high. My first kill was a small deer and was killed on another farm down near Little South. A friend and I was in an old barn on the property and several deer came out into a field not far from us. When I got back to the store with my deer, they all teased me and said I had killed Bambi. I didn’t care, I was just as excited as if I had killed a ten point buck. The meat is much better from a small deer anyway. I always had deer meat in the freezer. I love the tenderloin and on Saturdays when Carolyn was watching the store I often cooked large platters of tenderloin in my kitchen and served it to the customers. They never turned it down.

Turkey season was not as busy as deer season but I did check in several turkeys every year.

We did not have that many wild turkeys in the area at that time but they were becoming more plentiful. (To be continued)

Hippies, Outhouses, and Penn’s Store

There was another country store about two miles from me that was the oldest country store still in operation this side of the Allegheny Mountains at the time. It may be the oldest store in operation today. It is Penn’s Store and was run at the time by Haskell Penn. He was a great guy and everyone called him “Hack”. The store was something to see and still is. It is located on Little South across a bridge from the main highway and sits back against a mountain. It looks like something out of the Old West and has been in the Penn Family since 1850.

One of the greatest things we had happen at Penn’s Store during the time I was in Forkland was the dedication of an outhouse that was built beside the store and the country music star, Chet Atkins, came in October of 1992 to perform. Everyone on the Fork as well as people from miles around came and little Penn’s Store was the center of attraction. They now have “The Great Outhouse Blowout” there each year and locals actually race outhouses! You can visit the Penn’s Store website at www.pennsstore.com/

The store is now run by other family members but Hack ran it for years and was a real character loved by one and all. I remember when I had some caps made for my store with “Judy’s Market” printed on them. I sent Hack one of my caps and he wore it in his store all the time. I don’t think Hack could drive because he had people take him to the bank and where he wanted to go. Once when I fell and broke my foot, Hack had someone bring him to see me. We were good pals. My niece and her husband came for a visit and I took them to Penn’s Store on their tour of the Fork. Hack told them that Miss Judy got more for her soft drinks than he did.

Some of the shelves in the store was slanted and he had smaller cans on the little end and larger cans where the shelf was wider. He also kept his money in a cigar box. There was a pot bellied stove right in the middle of the old wood floor when you came in the door. Hack cut and sliced bologna and deli meat with a butcher knife. He did not have a meat slicer. Hack lived not far from the store and would walk over each morning to begin his day. He also wore bibbed overalls the entire time I knew him.

The Penn Hole or swimming hole I mentioned earlier was right past the store where we all would go to swim and play in the creek.

Hubert and Peg told me that Penn’s Store was “the place” back in the sixties when the hippies invaded the Fork. They all loved Hack and the store and settled throughout the community. Hubert talked about one girl that lived there at the time, wore brogans and a long dress and her name was Suzie Clearwater. They would come and sit on the porch and talk with the locals. For years the “hippies” would come back to Penn’s Store each year for a reunion. I used to go down and enjoy visiting with them and listen to the music.

My niece took the picture of Hack and me the day they came to visit. I have always cherished the picture and had one made for him that he had in his store for years. A local artist painted the store and had prints made. I have one on my wall to this day because it holds such great memories for me. (To be continued)

Singing, "Jammin", Talent and More

Carolyn worked for me in the store on weekends and just about anytime I called her. She was a lifesaver many times when I had something else to do. She was the daughter of RayBoy and Arvalene that owned the store before me and she grew up in that store. She knew all there was to know about running the place. She was a wonderful employee and worked for me for free when I fell and broke my foot. Carolyn was a great friend and I could call on her anytime. She used to bring her daughters, Susan and Jamie, to work with her and they would play in the store. Susan and Jamie knew every customer.

Carolyn had a voice you would not believe and she wrote songs and music and played the guitar. Once in a while, she would bring the guitar to work with her and play and sing for the loafers and customers. She always drew a crowd. I can remember being in my kitchen on Saturday mornings and hearing Carolyn singing. I would go into the store and it would be full of people listening to her music. She was one talented lady!

Carolyn would fire up that big, old woodstove and have the pipe glowing. One morning, I went in the store for something and I had a big Easter basket with a chocolate rabbit sitting on the top shelf behind the counter. It was on a punch board and people were taking chances on winning it.

I, immediately, noticed the chocolate rabbit was gone out of the basket. I asked Carolyn what happened to the rabbit. The stove was so hot, it was melted in a pool of chocolate!

Each year when I had the “jam” outside Carolyn would play and sing along with so many of the local people. They all brought their own instruments such as fiddles, drums, guitars, etc. and set up on the front porch of the store. There was so much talent in that area. Everyone knew how to play and sing. We even had people come from Perryville and Parksville and Mitchellsburg to join the “jam session”. The neighbors would bring lawn chairs and set them up in the parking lot and listen to the music and watch the dancing. Sometimes this went on until the wee hours of morning and no one complained about the noise. I would put the date on the sign across the street and everyone was invited. No one ever got out of control or caused any trouble in all the years I put on this event. There may have been a few people feeling good but there was no trouble. (To be continued)

A Six-Toed Cat Named Miss Kitty

Miss Kitty came with the store. Not a single soul seemed to know how old she was or how long she had been there and where she came from. She had six toes on both her front feet and all her kittens had six toes just like her. She had kittens about every time she was capable of having them. They were easy to give away because of the oddity of the six toes. Everyone seemed to want one of her kittens. She was a great cat and slept on the front porch of the store on a feed bag most of the time.

Miss Kitty was the name given her by Leigh and Anne since we did not know her real name. Not very original but they liked it and she seemed to answer to it after a while. Miss Kitty was a great hunter. She would bring ground squirrels, mice, rabbits, and sometimes a live fish she caught out of the creek and lay them on the front porch of the store. Once, she even brought a dead snake and left it there. I thought it was alive and knocked over the trash cans trying to get away from it. Finally, I realized it was dead and someone carried it away for me. Hubert told me he saw her sitting on a rock in the middle of the creek waiting to catch a fish in the water. He said he had never seen a cat go into water like that to fish.
She would not come into the house or the store. There used to be a skunk that would come off the hill across the road every day and drink from the creek behind the store. We would see this skunk and the loafers said it was courting Miss Kitty.
She seemed to like all my customers and they knew who she was.
Maurice Ray, a neighbor, stopped after work one day and left the back window of his truck open. He had a box of chicken livers in the front seat he had bought on his way home for his dinner. He was talking with someone in the store and I heard him say, “What does that cat have in its mouth?” She had gone into the truck and got her a chicken liver out of the box on his front seat. Everyone thought it was hilarious but Maurice Ray!
I was there for seven and a half years and Miss Kitty was a part of the store. She remained when I left. It seemed a shame to take her from her favorite hunting grounds to a totally new place. The new owners loved her and agreed to take good care of her but we will always remember our six toed lady that resided on the porch!
(To be continued)