Wednesday, 26 October 2011 12:32
By: Rodney Miller
Finally we were headed back north to the Miller reunion in Ohio. Now the clock was ticking at right just before 12 and that’s when the eating was supposed to start. The traffic got heavier around Cincinnati and that slowed us down even more.
I looked at my watch crossing the Ohio River and now it was a little before 1 pm. We were going to be much later than any of us hoped. After all, we left home just after 8 am.
We took the Milford exit onto a small, two-lane curvy road through lots of small townships on up to Newtonsville.
Even though I had been to my cousin Bruce’s home before, I turned Ronnie onto the wrong road at first. After about a mile or two I told him something wasn’t right, we must be on the wrong road. So we made a U-turn back to Newtonsville.
The town is really a very small town with only a couple of small stores but I had managed to get us on the only wrong road we could have taken. Then I remembered, we should have taken the second road to the right, which was only about a 100 feet from the first road we took.
Now things began to look familiar. But somehow we managed to pass up the driveway, which lead to another U-turn. But finally, we reach our destination around 1:30 pm.
The kinfolk were glad we made it and some had been worried because we hadn’t shown up on time. It wasn’t like a Miller to be late, everyone joked.
Most of the elders already had their food but plenty were still in line for some of the best cooking a person could ever hope for.
Margy and I loaded our plate and found a seat at an empty table near the center of Bruce and Terri’s garage. The weather outside felt more like late November than early October. A small heater in the garage made the meal much more enjoyable.
Most of my Dad’s brothers and sisters sat around a long table together. One thing I noticed right off was the fact that every year or two the table had one less seat around it. What once was a family of 13 was now down to 6.
There at the table sit my Aunts, Mary Lou Jones, Ollie Abner, Dorothy Brown, and my Uncle Tommy Miller. My Uncle Gilbert Ray just didn’t make it (again) and Uncle James had been down with a cold or flu. But James’s wife Roble was there with her kids Keeta and Travis and their kids.
My Mam Maw and Pap Paw Miller, Dad, Mildred Gray, William (Bill) Miller, Edna Ruth (Booty) Griffin and, now this year Rosa Belle Jones, had all gone on to meet with their maker. I turned to Margy and told her I was glad we had made the trip because each year that passes lately it seems like we loose someone we love from our family. Margy agreed. She too was glad we came.
After eating enough for two people we mingled with relatives catching up on the latest happenings in their life. I took photos of everyone there that I could get to stand still. The younger kids were hard to slow down long enough for a snapshot because of all the energy a kid has.
I remember not so long ago I did the same. But now things had changed. With every year that passes I get a few more aches and pains, a little slower, and loose some of the bounce in my step that I use to have. It really sucks getting old.
After a brief time out in the cold, we returned to the warm confines of the garage again. Margy and I found empty seats at the big table beside my Aunts and joined in with family conversation.
Uncle Tommy wasn’t feeling well and had to excuse himself by leaving early. Aunt Dorothy was in full form keeping everyone laughing with her witty jokes and comments. I hadn’t seen her that happy in a long time. Aunt Ollie and Aunt Mary Lou shared many interesting stories about the family I had never heard.
As I sit there listening to the their memories pouring out like water from a pail I thought how much I missed the other members of the family who were no longer with us. I also wondered will this be the last time I sit at the table with one or more of these four?
After another couple hours of interesting conversation the day was nearing an end and we still had the 3-hour trip home. We said our goodbyes with many hugs and pointed the Chevy south once again.
This time the road home was much less uneventful (thank goodness!) than the morning one. Everyone was quite tired but happy we had made the trip. After all, it’s only once a year we all get together and that is much too long. But all in all, the trip truly was a trip to remember.
I would like to end my story with a little secret. Next year, I hear Uncle Gilbert Ray and Aunt Bessie may once again attend the reunion with the family. I sure hope so. I really miss their company.
Wednesday, 19 October 2011 12:26
I just got back from Ohio where we attended the Miller Family Reunion. Margy and I rode up to Newtonsville with my brother Ronnie, his wife Gail, and my brother Anthony. A usual 3-hour trip turned into a 4 and ½ hour trip, and it wasn’t because of traffic. Let me tell you about our little trip.
Margy and I met the others in London just before 9 am. We were in Ronnie’s new Chevy Traverse because it had three-row seating and we didn’t see a need to drive two vehicles with gas still hovering around $3.50 a gallon. All of us were a little hungry but McDonalds was backed up 20 cars deep so we decided to wait until Berea to get something to eat. That was a bad decision.
We were headed north on I-75 and everyone was enjoying the company when I felt and heard a sound like a gravel flying out of the tread of a tire rap the bottom of the floorboard. I didn’t think too much about it at first until Ronnie then noticed a warning light on his dash informing him we were loosing air pressure in the front right tire.
I told him of the noise I heard just moments before and I warned him to slow down and get off the right shoulder of the road. But before he could bring the speed down from 70 mph to stop the tire was completely flat.
He said he had roadside service and could call them but we knew that our reunion dinner started at 12 and it probably would take too long for them to get there, so we decided to change the flat ourselves.
It was really cold that Saturday morning on October 1st. The temperature outside was hovering around 32˚ and the wind blowing made it feel even colder. Ronnie opened up the hatch and we proceeded to take out the screw jack to raise the Chevy. I loosened the lug nuts and raised the vehicle slowly with the small jack. Ronnie, in the meantime, was getting the tiny “donut” spare out from under the rear.
After about 10 minutes I finally got the jack high enough to remove the flat tire and saw that we must have hit a fairly large screw or piece of steel by the size of the puncture in the tire. Ronnie got the spare out from under the vehicle and rolled it to me to place on the now empty hub.
About then, a large tractor-trailer went by too close and yep, you guessed it, the wind shook the Chevy and the Traverse rolled forward and off the jack. Ronnie had forgotten to put the emergency brake on. I was lucky I didn’t loose a finger or two. Ronnie then went and set the park brake.
The jack was now sideways under the weight of the vehicle and the rotor was solid against the pavement. Both of us lifted and tugged until we finally freed the jack. I then lifted the body of the Chevy while Ronnie placed the jack underneath it, far towards the rear wheel. I didn’t know if the jack would raise the body enough from where it now sit but it was worth a try.
Ronnie raised the jack as I stood at the front wheel with the spare ready to go on the lugs as soon as it was high enough. Finally, the tire went on. I snugged up the lug nuts on the wheel as fast as I could with my nearly numb fingers. Ronnie then lowered the jack and proceeded to put everything back in the vehicle.
All loaded up we headed north again on Interstate 75.
“What’s that noise?” Gail asked Ronnie.
“Sounds like something is dragging,” Anthony answered.
“Oh No! I forgot to crank up the spare tire holder!” Ronnie quickly figured out.
Back over to the side of the road we go again to screw up the spare holder then, it’s back on 75 again with dirty hands and hungrier than ever.
We finally made it to the Berea exit, went into Walmart and bought a plug kit for the punctured tire. We plugged the tire in the parking lot while Margy bought her a new pair of shoes. She had started out earlier with flip-flops.
Then it was to a Shell station for air. The sign on the machine said, “Air 75¢”. I thought back to a time when if someone had asked me .75¢ for air I would have laughed at them. But that was before people started selling water for a higher price than pop or beer. But anyway, I filled the tire with air while Ronnie went inside to wash his hands and buy a tire guage.
Ronnie comes out and tells me that you don’t have to pay for the air after I had deposited my .75¢. “Just push the red button on the side!” Ronnie said too late. I put in 36 pounds of air pressure and spit on the plug to check for a leak. After a close inspection, the plug had done its job. No leaks! So I tightened up the wheel and tire we had repaired, let the jack down, and loaded the Chevy once again.
I went in the Shell, washed my hands the best I could, and finally got something to eat. It was one of the best sausage, egg, and chess croissant I had every eaten. It was then 11:30 am as I rushed back out to the car eating like a starved pup.
Ronnie put the vehicle in reverse and was just about to back out when another customer pulled in beside us and motioned for me to roll down the window. “Your spare is on the ground!” he said as he pointed to the back of our vehicle.
Again we had forgotten to raise the spare back under the vehicle. Back out to the rear unload the stuff again, take the jack handle out, and crank up the spare. Oh, and back to the Shell to wash my hands again.
Finally we are back on the road headed to the reunion in Ohio knowing we were going to be late for dinner.
(Continued next week!)
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 12:28
Teachings of my parentsMy parents, like most of yours, had a bunch of old sayings and most of them have been passed down from generation to generation here in the mountains. This is an alphabet of my favorites that my Momma and Daddy said so many times.
A- A penny saved is a penny earned. A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. A man's got to do what a man's got to do. A man who desires revenge should dig two graves.
B- Beauty is only skin deep. Beggars can’t be choosers. Be careful what you ask for; you just may get it. Brains are better than brawn. Better to be safe than sorry.
C- Cold hands, warm heart. Count your blessings. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Common sense is a genius dressed in its working clothes.
D- Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you. Don’t be too quick to judge. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.
E- Experience is the best teacher. Every dog has his day. Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.
F- Feed a cold and starve a fever. Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. Focus on what's right in the world instead of what's wrong.
G- Give credit where credit is due. Good to forgive, better to forget. God helps those who help themselves. Give him an inch and he will take a mile.
H- Honesty is the best policy. However long the night, the dawn will break. He who flees at the right time will live to fight again.
I- If you sleep with dogs, you’ll catch fleas. If you want something, you’ve got to work for it. If you can’t stand the heat, get away from the fire. In a pinch, improvise.
J- Judge not, lest ye be judged. Jealousy is a disease for the weak. Jealousy makes enemies.
K- Keep your nose to the grindstone. Keep your friends close, your enemies even closer. Know which side your bread is buttered on.
L- Laughter is the best medicine. Look before you leap. Life is what you make it. Live your own life, for you will die your own death.
M- Make do with what you have. Money buys everything but good sense. Money is the root of all evil. Monkey see, monkey do. Man cannot live by bread alone.
N- No pain, no gain. Nothing is certain but death and taxes. Neither a borrower nor a lender be. No rest for the weary. Nobody's perfect. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
O- Out of sight, out of mind. One today is worth two tomorrows. One man's junk is another man's treasure. Only a fool tests the water with both feet.
P- Patience is a virtue. Play your hand with what you're dealt. Practice what you preach.
Q- Quit while you’re ahead. Quality, not quantity. Quitters never win.
R- Rome wasn't built in a day. Roll with the punches. Red sky at night, sailors delight. Right is right and wrong is wrong.
S- Save for a rainy day. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me. Six feet of earth makes us all equal. Smiles open many doors.
T- Take the bull by the horns. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The best things in life are free.
U- United we stand; divided we fall. Until you walk in a man’s shoes, don’t judge him.
V- Violence breeds violence. Variety is the spice of life. Vanity blossoms but bares no fruit.
W- Waste not, want not. What goes around, comes around. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. When one door shuts, another one opens. While the cat's away, the mice will play.
X- X-cuse me, but I couldn’t remember nothing to go here.
Y- You only live once. You can’t take it with you. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. You can't beat a dead horse. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
I’ve heard everyone of these (and many more) at one time or another during my lifetime growing in my families home. I now appreciate all of the good morals my parents taught me as they molded me into the person I am today. Because of them, I am thankful for my raising.
I’ve picked out my favorite old saying for my last one and I dedicate it to the memory of my parents. You don't know what you've got until it's gone.
Z - Zee you later, alligator (I had to make this one up! I didn’t know a proverb or an old
saying that began with the letter Z.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 12:30
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 12:38
It was a fight that should have been fought in Madison Square Garden. “Introducing in the White corner, standing 5 foot 9, weighing in at 120 lbs., from Paw Paw, Kentucky, wearing the red dress, Juanita Miller. And in the Black corner, her opponent, standing 16 inches, weighing in at 6 and ½ pounds, the terror of the barn yard, wearing grey feathers, the Old Grey Rooster!” the ring announcer would say.
It was a fight that had been coming for a long time. A mean, cocky grey rooster, someone said he had even spent time in the “pen”, and a woman who wouldn’t back down from anyone or anything. They were on a collision course both not knowing what the future might hold but something had to be done.
The grudge match was long in the making. Several times before, the rooster had attacked innocent children without warning. His long spurs were the talk of chicken pen. You could hear the hens squawking as he strutted by with his tail feathers all erect. Yes, this was one bad chicken.
Mom was no pushover either. She had been brought up on Horse Creek, the bad part of Clay County. She had her share of fights and always came out on top.
Both knew each other well. Mom came from a big family of two boys and five girls. She had also raised seven kids of her own, five boys and two girls. She grew up hard and she had to grow up fast.
The rooster came from a big family too, twelve chicks in his brood. Walking just after he was out of the shell, he also grew up fast. But, he began to run with the wrong flock and he was soon in trouble. He had killed his first chicken when he was only two years old. It was over a hen lady friend. They say, once you get the bloodstain on your feathers it’s hard to get rid of it.
Most times when he caught young children in his barnyard, they were attacked viciously. His long spurs leaving cuts, scratches, and even bruises on the victims.
Mom would chase him around and around the chicken pen. Old Grey, stopping long enough to throw a few spurs her way, and Old Grey, always met by a clinched fist or two being thrown his way. Every time he would make his getaway and live to see another day.
Mom swore if he didn’t clean up his act that he would be Sunday’s dinner. The rooster just crowed as if he was laughing at her, not taking the threat seriously. What he didn’t know was that his days were numbered.
On the morning of the final bout, Mom had taken enough. The rooster wouldn’t live to crow to the rising sun again.
It all began with one of Dad’s nieces, taking a short cut through the field back to her home. About halfway, the villain started his attack. With head outstretched, wings hanging low, and tail feathers in a full fan, the chase was on.
“Dink”, my cousin, was out ahead and was scooting under the barbed wire fence only a few yards from her home when he caught up with her. He hit her from behind and she jumped in pain and got her shirt hung in the fence. Ole’ Grey, had her just where he wanted.
Screams of pain caught Mom’s attention as she took out in a run towards the assault. The rooster had “Dink” down and was tearing her up with his long, sharp spurs and didn’t notice Mom as she arrived to surprise him with a haymaker.
Feathers flew and bones crunched as the rooster tumbled over on the ground. Next, Mom came with a football kick to the dazed chicken that would have made Rich Brooks proud, about a 10 yarder. She took out after him again and before he could get to his feet, she grabbed him by the neck and pulled the old “helicopter” on him. After about three trips around the world and it was all over.
Mom threw him down, flopping like a fish out of water. He wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Ole’ Grey was now in chicken heaven.
She then went over to unhook “Dink” from the fence and see if she was ok. She was cut and scratched pretty bad, but it could have been worse if Mom hadn’t gotten to her as quickly as she did.
The next day was Sunday and Mom lived up to her promise. He was a tough old bird but we were just glad to get rid of him, even if it meant having him for dinner. He shouldn’t have ever messed with my Mom.
The scorecard read: Mom---1, The Old Grey Rooster---DOA (Dead On Arrival.) Carrying the dead rooster home Mom yelled “For the Winner and still Champion, Juanita Miller!”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 12:40
Wednesday, 28 September 2011 12:46
Gone too soon...a boy's memories
By: Rodney Miller
This was a tough, almost sleepless, weekend. One of those times when your phone rings and a shaky voice on the other line breaks the silence with news that doesn't seem real. One of those times when you have to have to ask the caller, "Are you sure?"
It was my brother Anthony on the other line and he, like me, was in suddenly in a state of shock. He told me the sad news that we had lost one of my cousins, who also happened to be one of my very best friends, to a sudden heart attack. His name was Kelvin Jackson.
So now I'm up at 5 am on this Monday morning, here at work, trying to write a short story about what I know about my friend. One thing I've found out about life if it can turn on a dime.
Kelvin and I grew up together on Paw Paw only about a mile apart. I was only a few months older than Kelvin and in our early years and through high school we were as close as brothers. The two of us, along with his uncle and also my cousin, Terry Sibert were like the Three Musketeers doing all the fun things young boys do along their way to manhood.
Terry, who was a year younger than Kelvin, lost his dad when he was a just a young boy. Terry's older brothers and sisters had all moved north to Ohio to work in the automobile factories like so many of the kids here in the mountains.
Aunt Florence, Terry's mom, didn't drive so just about from the time Terry could see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals, he was driving to Sibert for the little things the family needed. Kelvin and I weren't as lucky to have a car at such a young age but because we were older sometimes became the designated drivers.
I remember many times the three of us in Terry's '63 Dodge Polaris burning up the roads as we took turns at the wheel. The old Dodge had a 318 cubic inch V-8 engine with a push button automatic transmission. It was black and super fast. After we wore out the Dodge Terry got a new 1967 Chevrolet pickup truck with a 3-speed six cylinder and he still wasn't old to drive legally. But that didn't stop us. Terry and Kelvin drove the dirt roads and I got to drive the blacktop. We drove the wheels off that truck burning rubber every time we took off.
Kelvin, not long after that, started getting to drive his families '64 Oldsmobile that had a super fast 394 V-8, four barrel Sky Rocket engine. It was, like the engine said a rocket. I remember one day in particular when Kelvin let me under the wheel and we were barreling down Ephram Creek at about 70 mph (on a dirt road!) when up ahead a large poplar tree, blown down down by a storm, lay across the entire road. I locked up the brakes as fast as I could but still couldn't stop in time to avoid the tree.
We crashed and Kelvin was worried to death about the car and how he was going to explain what happened to his parents. But to our good fortune, the damage was minor and I don't think they ever found out.
On another one of our back-road trips Kelvin, Terry, Anthony, Jessie Lewis and I were all in my '55 Chevrolet driving through Crawfish and across Curry Branch. All during our trip up the road they were bragging on me telling me about what a good driver I was. The more the bragged about my great driving, the faster I was taking the curves on the gravel road. Then all of a sudden we went airborne and I lost control and ran over a hill. No one was hurt luckily, but my Chevy had a front end damage. It was a long walk home. Not long after that I sold it for $300.
Not long after graduation Kelvin moved to Sandusky to live where most of his kinfolk worked. He and Terry both got a job working for the railroad. It was only once or twice a year I got to see them and when I did it was for a short time. After all we were now adults raising families of our own.
Kelvin moved to Pennsylvania for a while and then transferred with his job to Tennessee. Kelvin retired about 10 years ago and then split his time between there and here back at home for a while before finally moving back to Clay County for good. Kelvin loved the outdoors. He loved to hunt, fish, four wheeling or just sitting with his buddies singing and playing guitars. In other words, Kelvin loved life and lived it to it's fullest.
Even though he didn't brag about it much, Kelvin once held the Kentucky State Record for a bull elk he killed. When he brought the antlers to Momma's house to show everyone they almost filled the entire truck bed. I couldn't believe the size of them.
He and I talked for years of taking a trip to Colorado or even Idaho but I could never get the time off it required to do it the way he wanted to. Kelvin wanted to rough it in tents high in the Rocky Mountains far away from phones, electricity and civilization. That was the way he was. If he did anything he did it whole hearted.
My brother Gary and Kelvin rode their four-wheelers the Sunday before Kelvin suddenly died. Gary said he had never seen Kelvin happier. He was riding his four-wheeler in the mountains laughing, joking and splashing mud like he had never done before. Gary said it was the best time they had ever had together. I wish I could have been with them.
I'm sure going to miss my friend and now I wish I would have taken the time to go west with him. I'll bet it would have been a blast.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2011 12:47
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