News: From the Desk of
J. Michael Cross
Last weekend, several of our family and friends were exchanging favorite stories and antidotes’ from our childhood memories and experiences. One of mine revolved around my dad, his love of food, and his love of just driving around and enjoying the scenery. In my early childhood, our family lived on the Rock Quarry Road in Clarkrange. My father worked at the Rock Quarry, where he walked to work each day carrying his black lunch box with his thermos full of strong black coffee. Lunch varied from a bologna sandwich to a cold egg in a cold biscuit. My dad earned a hefty fifty cents an hour ($20.00 a week to raise a family of six).
Speaking of the Rock Quarry Road, I honestly feel that some of the poorest families in the county lived there. Drawing water from the well, outhouse across the road with the Sears & Roebuck handily near, bathing in a washtub in the middle of the kitchen floor every Saturday night, NO insulation…just rough lumber with tar paper covering, old smoky fireplace (where ALL the heat went out the chimney) and a wood cooking stove in the kitchen. All our neighbors (most of them kin folk) lived the same. Very simple garden fare, but never hungry. Yes, those were the days.
In spite of our family’s meager income, my dad tried to take us all out for a treat about every two weeks or so. When money was really tight, my dad would take us to Alvin Ashburn’s gas station in Clarkrange. There he would purchase a six pack of Pepsi Cola’s for a hefty 60 cents, and six packs of peanuts for another 30 cents. Ninety cents (NO Taxes) treated the entire family. When things were a little better, he would take us to the Dairy Queen in Jamestown or Monterey. Hamburgers were 20 cents, hotdogs 15 cents and a small Coca Cola was 5 cents. Five hamburgers, one hotdog (momma’s favorite) and six small cokes later ($1.45 for a family of six) and the entire family was happy.
Another great memory involved my dad’s love of fishing. When they got rained out at the rock quarry, my dad would rush home and say “Son, dig some worms, we’re going fishing”. Dutifully, I would dig enough red worms to fill 2 Prince Albert Tobacco cans, which my dad placed in his shirt pocket. We then walked in the rain about a mile and a half to the “Blue Hole” on Clear Creek. Sitting under the bluff, we fished for sun perch, catfish and the occasional bass. Kept them all (My dad loved fish). Our fishing poles had been cut from saplings and equipped with a braided fishing line purchased from Creason’s Grocery. Each line came with a hook, sinker and bobber. We always left our poles under the bluff to be used on our next adventure.
My dad dropped out of school the first day of his sophomore year. My mom quit school after graduating eighth grade to work on the farm (her dad was a share cropper). They did however value education for their children. Of the four kids, three finished college, two of us with advanced degrees. The other became a successful nurse. Two teachers, a CEO of a major Electric Cooperative, and a nurse. Not bad from such modest means. By the way, my mom and dad finished their GED’s at age 47. We kids were very proud of their determination and the accomplishment.
As we exchanged stories, we realized that the greatest gifts from our childhoods were the special memories. Sharing those memories let each of us relive and share the experiences. Thanks, mom and dad.
Hopefully, during the next four years, I can occasionally write more personal columns with more stories from home and growing up in rural Fentress County. While serving as County Executive, I still remember my humble upbringing, and the simple things in life that were so good. I lean on those experiences while making the small everyday decisions and especially when tackled with the tough ones. Common sense and compassion go a long way. I humbly ask for your vote so that I may continue to serve as your County Executive.
We can be reached at 879-7713. Executive Assistant Amanda Hicks can also be reached at vog.n1534673647Tytnu1534673647oCsse1534673647rtneF1534673647@skci1534673647H.adn1534673647amA1534673647. The County Commission Meeting will be July 23rd, 2018 with a work session beginning at 5:00 p.m. and County Commission beginning at 6:00 p.m. All meetings are open to the public.