The Manchester Enterprise: A Boy's Memories Bits of Clay

Laughter, is the best medicine (Part 2) 4-28-11

Laughter, is the best medicine (Part 2)…a boy’s memories

By: Rodney Miller

On every hunting trip with my buddies we had our serious times while hunting, but also our fun times when not hunting. So begins my next prank on another deer hunting trip to Fort Knox.

Getting drawn to hunt at the Army base with a gun was a lot harder than to get drawn for a bow hunt. But hunting with a gun is much easier than taking one with a bow. I can’t remember the exact year of the hunt but it was somewhere in the early 80’s, I think.

Those of our hunting group who didn’t have to work or who could take off, always left early Friday morning for the two-day weekend gun hunt. The plan was that if our hunting area was open for scouting on Friday we could locate a good place to setup for the early Saturday and Sunday morning hunt. If our hunting area wasn’t open it was a lucky guess of where to hunt.

Everyone in our hunting group was able to get off on Friday except for Jerome. He had to work Friday. Jerome told us he would be down later Friday night. We would call Jerome when we got our room numbers at the motel in Radcliff, just off the military base.

We loaded our trucks early Friday with our hunting gear and our caravan headed north towards Fort Knox. We arrived some time around noon and checked in at our motel. We needed two rooms for the eight of us so the motel clerk recommended adjoining rooms with a walk through door connecting them.

We all agreed that sounded like a great idea. It would be easier for us to make our hunting, scouting, and where to eat plans. After getting our room key we unloaded the gear from our trucks and headed towards our rooms. The two rooms were bigger than most I had stayed in before having two large king size beds, a table with chairs, and a big sofa in each room. Just like home, I thought.

After settling in at the motel, we decided to head to the base to see if our area was open for scouting. But before we left I called and told Jerome we were in room 221 and 222. He said he would see us at about 8 or 9 PM.

At the base we found out that no scouting was allowed in our area so it was back to the motel room for a game of cards. Each year we passed time at the motel playing poker. It was a hunting tradition. The games were always friendly and full of joking and laughing     Sure enough, along about 8 Jerome comes rolling in at the motel climbs the stairs and walks down to room 221. He pushes open the half-closed door and says, “What are you girls doing?”

“ Having a friendly game of poker,” I answered. “Get your gun and your gear from the truck and join us. We want your money.”

“I’ll be right back. I need some of your money.” Jerome chuckled.

As soon as he left the room I thought of a good joke to play on Jerome. I told everyone to clean out the room and take everything to the other motel room through the adjoining door. Everyone worked as fast as they could with the room evacuation. In no time we had all the guns, boots, hunting clothes and suitcases into the other room. Room 221 was suddenly empty.

“Be real quiet,” I whispered. “I’m going to mess with Jerome’s head.”

I shut the front door to the room but didn’t lock it. Turned off the lights in the room and then I climbed in one of the beds and covered up all the way up to my head waiting for Jerome’s return from the truck. It didn’t take long.

Jerome comes back with his gun and gear in hand kicks open the front door to the dark room and struts inside. Quickly, I cover up my head and scream like a women. Jerome just about passed out.

“Oh, I’m sorry ma’am!” Jerome apologized backing out the door. “Excuse me, I thought I was in room 221.”

I screamed loudly again (in my best woman’s voice) and said, “Get out! Get Out!”

Jerome is now standing outside the door looking puzzled as he sees the number 221 on the front door. He scratches his head and looks up and down the corridor and shakes his head like something must be wrong.

By then I couldn’t hold it in any more and neither could the guys in the other room. All of us busted out laughing hysterically. Jerome had been punk’d.  It was one of those priceless times I will never forget, just me and my buddies hanging out and all having fun.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 April 2011 13:20


Laughter, is the best medicine …

When I was a young boy we received the Reader’s Digest every month. Inside the monthly magazine there was a section I always went to first. It was titled “Laughter, The Best Medicine”.

The section contained short, funny clean jokes.

I believe that saying is true. Laughter is the best medicine. So this week I would like to share with you one of those funny moments in my life.

Before there was a huntable deer population here in Clay County, my hunting friends and me always took an annual hunting trip to Fort Knox to hunt deer. It was one of the best places in the state to score on a big whitetail.

In early summer we sent in applications to get drawn to hunt deer in the fall. We applied for bow hunting and most years we were drawn. Then we would plan our vacations for a week together hunting with a bow. This story is about one of those hunts.

One year, on a fall bow hunt to Fort Knox, my buddies and me had hunted hard for days trying to bag the elusive whitetail buck without any luck. We had seen quite a lot of does and a few bucks from a distance but nothing within shooting range.

After another long uneventful morning afield, we loaded our trucks to take a much needed dinner break in town at the local McDonalds. On the way out we saw 8 or 10 deer grazing beside an old black barn and asked each other, where are these deer when we’re in the woods hunting?

At the restaurant we ordered our food and assembled at a table to eat. After eating, as so often happens, Jerome decided he needed to go to the bathroom for a much-needed visit. I knew he would be in there probably for a while so after he entered the bathroom and locked the stall door behind him, I followed him and went into the adjoining stall and then, I began to talk to him in one of my famous “other voices”.

I started out with asking across the metal divider, “What are you hunting, buddy?”

Jerome told me he was hunting deer up on Fort Knox reservation.

I then began to spin my big story. “I just came down Highway 44 and saw two of the biggest bucks I had ever seen in my life fighting not far from the road.”

Now I had gotten Jerome’s interest. “Where at on Highway 44?” he asked from the other stall.

Not missing a beat, I told him of the place we had just come by on out trip to McDonald’s where we had seen several deer. “About two mile up 44 there’s an old black barn on the left side of the road. You can’t miss it.”

“I know where you’re talking about.” Jerome said. “We just came by it and noticed several deer standing in the field, but we never saw any bucks?”

“The bucks were on the other side of the road from the barn!” I quickly answered. “They looked like their antlers were locked together from the fight and looked really worn out. So tired, they could hardly move.”

“How far were they from the road?” Jerome asked.

“Maybe 20 or 25 yards. One was so weak it couldn’t even stand up,” I told him.

“I reckon I might go and see if they are still there, friend” Jerome said.

After that, I heard him hurrying to finish up his business and get out of the bathroom. I said “Good Luck!” and flushed the empty commode and got out of the bathroom as fast as I could. I ran back to our table and sat back down and told the others about my tall tale.

In a couple of minutes, out of the bathroom comes Jerome almost in a run. “Hurry up and finish boys. There’s two bucks up the road at that old black barn with the horns locked up from fighting. The guy in the bathroom said the bucks were the biggest he had ever see! One of ‘em is so weak he can’t even get up!”

“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” I said holding back my laughter.

“No. I’m serious. Hurry we may get there before someone else gets them or before they get loose from each other,” Jerome said as he made his way to the exit door.

Laughter from the table stopped him in his tracks. He then realized he had been had. Jerome took it like a sport and laughed with us saying, “I thought that guy’s story sounded a little too good to be true. But, I was going to check it out.” We all laughed uncontrollably.



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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 April 2011 13:53



     It was a quiet, hot July night in 1961. My family and I had just settled in after supper in the living room for an evening watching TV. Then, a thunderous noise shattered the silence and shook the house. All of us jumped up from the couch and ran to the front porch. What we saw was the scariest sight I had ever seen.

         Momma immediately started crying and screaming loudly, “It’s the end of the world.” Nighttime was suddenly turned into day. It looked like the whole sky was on fire.

My little brothers and sister started crying also as the reached for Momma and Daddy to take them into their arms. Momma gathered us all in close, fell down on her knees and started praying. A few minutes later, another loud boom shook the stillness sending everyone into more loud screams and crying. We hovered in a close circle on the porch as Momma continued praying out loud waiting for the skies to split open with the sound of Gabriel’s trumpet. Screams and crying could be heard from our neighbor’s house as well. Everyone thought it was the ‘End of Time’. 

     After what seemed like forever, Dad, trying to comfort us, said he didn’t think it was the end of the world. He thought Russia may have dropped an atomic bomb and that WWIII had started.

Dad was a veteran of WWII, had seen and heard many times shells and bombs exploding in Europe as he fought to win the war. He knew too well how the ground shook and trembled under the powerful explosions. Dad suggested that we go inside and watch TV to see if his fear was true and America was under attack.

Nothing was on TV about any fire or explosion. Dad then decided it must be that Manchester was burning down from some sort of an explosion. All of us loaded into the ’57 Chevy wagon and headed towards town. By now, all of our crying had stopped but we were worried about what we would see.

When we reached the junction of 421 and 11 the flames from the fire looked like the whole town was on fire and the closer we got, the bigger they got. We turned towards town and joined into a long line of cars and trucks doing the same thing. Everyone wanted to know what had happened.

We made it almost to Pennington Hill and there the traffic was stopped. The fires flames were now filling the whole sky. People were running away from town warning people to turn around that the Daniel Baker Oil Company’s huge tanks in East Manchester had exploded. They warned that two more tanks were sure to go next.

No one knows exactly what happened causing the explosion but here is what I read in the Enterprise that printed the story after the terrible fire. A tanker truck driver, James Lindsey, age 41, from Knoxville, Tennessee was filling one of the storage tanks with gas when a fire broke out. Lindsey received first and second degree burns but was removed before the initial explosion.

Then an explosion, so loud and powerful some said it sounded like an atomic bomb went off. spread fire to the Manchester Lumber Company and destroyed the nearby home of Squire Reed. Businesses on Bridge Street across the Goose Creek River even caught fire. But with the quick response of the Manchester Fire Department along with the help of fire units from London, Corbin and Barbourville the damage was kept to a minimal.

Firemen were able to save the main building to the lumber company, a nearby grocery store, a clothing store and several nearby homes. The fire burned late into the night before it was under control. Utilities and phone service was out for three days.

     The fire was so intense one man, J. W. Bowling, 23, even jumped off of the East Manchester Bridge to escape the scorching flames. The fall was over 50 feet to the water.

Manchester Fire Chief, Ernest Rice, was wearing nylon pants as he fought the first 12,000-gallon tank explosion.  When the second holding tank, also a 12,000-gallon exploded the heat was so severe it melted his pants into long strings of nylon on his lower body. He received second-degree burns. The tank landed 300 feet south of the gas company ripping down trees as it flew. Eleven firemen received burns fighting the fire.

Two other tanks also caught fire, one a 10,000-gallon tank filled with diesel fuel, and another 5,000-gallon tank burned furiously.

Flames from the inferno soared into the sky almost 2,000 feet. The fire in the sky was seen as far away as Mt. Vernon, 40 miles away, and it was easily visible in London, Corbin, McKee, and Barbourville.

The flames scorched trees over 500 yards away. Paint on many houses melted. Shingled roofs were ruined. Gardens and lawns were left dead and brown.

     It was so terrifying that I had dreams of how the flames above the mountains looked that night many times as a small child. It was truly a night I will never forget.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 14:30

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Page 23 of 25

e-Edition A-Section 10-16-14


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e-Edition B-Section 10-16-14


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