Every reader of The Kentucky Explorer, no doubt, has a special memory. Why not write it down and share it here in this column? Help preserve the story of our vanishing past for today and tomorrow. We need memories and photographs from every part of Kentucky and beyond.
When submitting your "I Remember" stories, please include any photographs or illustrations, if you have them. Though not a requirement, photos do add a lot of appeal to your story.
Parents Know Best
In 1945, when I was about eight years old and living in Middlesboro, Bell County, Kentucky, my mother and daddy went to Louisville for a visit with Dad's family. They left me in the care of my best friend's (Raymond "Sonny" White) family.
On Sunday morning we always attended the First Christian Church, and as was common practice, we attended youth service on Sunday evening.
I remember my parents telling me in no uncertain terms to never, ever walk across the old canal bridge that ran across the main street of town. A new bridge had been erected, but the old one had not been torn down yet. It had iron rails on the sides and a rotted-out wood floor. It was full of holes and was a danger, for sure.
Sonny and I got on our "Sunday best" to wear to youth service that evening. We both had on a suit of clothes, complete with neckties, as was the custom back then when people were better dressed and better mannered.
It was in the summertime, and we were walking to the church, which was about a mile or so away. As we approached the bridge, the temptation was just too much to bear, and we started making our way across the old, rotted-out bridge. Needless to say I fell through and into the foot-deep mud below. It was only about a ten-foot fall, and the mud cushioned the landing, but I came out of there looking like a black minstrel show kid. We hightailed it to Sonny's house, and he was falling down laughing all the way.
When we got to his house, his grandmother, Mrs. Oaks, and his mother took one look at me, and they started laughing, too. I wish I could have seen myself, for I would probably have laughed, too, but I was embarrassed and scared for what would happen when my folks found out. My only suit of clothes was ruined, because I had disobeyed a strict order.
When my parents returned home later that week, and they got me home, I got a lickin' with a switch. That was a lickin' to remember.
My friend, Sonny, and I met in Cincinnati a few years ago. Sonny lived in Falls Church, Virginia, and was in the city overnight. I drove from my home, about 35 miles from Cincinnati. We had not seen each other in some 40 years. One of the first things we talked about, and had a good laugh over, was the incident at the canal.
This is just another memory of me growing up in the mountains of Bell County.
Robert "Bobby" Curtis
2804 Grand Avenue
Middletown, OH 45044
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