Archive for August, 2010

\There is still room for more at the Friday evening banquet.  If you wish to attend, please call Paul Salmons 606 652 4048

Joe Damron is looking for a couple more teams for Fridays golf tournament.  If you would like to play call Joe at 304 648 7265


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Anyone out there have a NASA connection?  Maybe we could get a big old obsolete Atlas rocket to fly around the golf course on Friday, September 3 during the FGHS Memorial Scholarship tournament.  

Maybe get it to do a fly by at the Marshall U-OSU game on September 2  trailing a big banner that say’s something like “Go Herd” or “We Are Marshall”, maybe even paint the thing Marshall green or Viking orange and black. That ought to get some attention and perhaps be worth a couple of Marshall touchdowns while the OSU Buckeye defense is standing in awe.

We could park it near the Route 37-Route 52 intersection on Friday night and put it in the big parade that begins about 11 am on Saturday, August 4.  Trailering that thing through town in the BIG parade would certainly get the local police attention.  Particularly if someone lit the thing off.  Shades of Okie Ratliff and his 37 Ford. 

After the parade, fuel it up at the Pennzoil station and light it off and fly it at about 100 feet altitude right down Lock Avenue in Louisa.  Now that would definitely get some attention and create a world of envy; the ONEupsmanship of the century. 

Seriously, all of the above sounds like great fun and we know it won’t happen, but it’s not impossible to do great things if one just puts ones mind to it.  Best example of that is the scholarship. Second best example is that everyone gets together each year for the golf tournament, the banquet, and the fellowship on the lawn on Saturday. There are some crazy things that can be done and maybe this just might be the year, and if not this year, surely next year.  But, remember, if you are not present you will not see it happen.

Speaking of the scholarship, I don’t think most of us give much thought as to when Tolsia High School opened.  It all started in 1987, some 23 years ago.  That means there are a lot of Tolsia HS alumni out there, perhaps as many 2500 or more.  What we would like to see is for this group of Tolsia alumni  come forward and help us, the alumni of FGHS, in our efforts to support the graduating students or to establish an effort of their own.  There are four students from Tolsia each year receiving financial aid from FGHS Alumni in support of their efforts to gain a college degree.  What can you do as a Tolsia alumni?  Why not join us in our annual golf tournament, attend our banquet, (you would be most welcome) or join us in the planning and carrying out of other fund-raising programs.  It matters not that you didn’t graduate from FGHS, we didn’t graduate from Tolsia either, but we fully support the students from your school and your school only.

I spoke a little earlier about Okie Ratliff and I am sure he would have given chase to the big rocket had it been going down the road back then and probably would have caught it to.  In mentioning his name in the paragraph above I did not know how to spell it, so I did what anyone else would do when looking for information, went to the internet, never dreaming that it would appear there.  Lo and behold when I typed in his name it came up on one of those people search web sites.  No address was given other than Fort Gay, WV and in some of the sites it will list the individuals age.  Sure enough it listed his age as 100.  That has to be the Okie Ratliff we all remember.  It is really weird that they would, even though deceased, carry ones name, age, and offer all sorts of other information for a price.  I am sure that he would be smiling if he knew there was someone out there looking for him on the internet. 

I am sure there a lot of Okie Ratliff stories out there that would be of great interest and entertainment to all of us.  A couple of them have been briefly mentioned in earlier responses.  Perhaps sometime we can offer a writing about him and some of his exploits in Fort Gay and the surrounding area.  Having not lived in Fort Gay proper I would not be the one to do this.  Anyone care to give it a try, just let me know?

There are  probably a lot of individuals that lived in the area that would provide good material for story writing.  Perhaps we could have a whole series of those stories.  What do you think?  Good idea or not?  The big problem we face is that it is sort of like the Army, nobody wants to volunteer.  So, how about some brave folks stepping up and doing it?  Are you game?

Don’t forget, JOE DAMRON for golf:  phone 304 648 7265

PAUL SALMONS  for the banquet:  phone 606 652 4048   

Remember this sign off;   “Good night Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are?”  I am betting that you do.

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For Banquet reservations:  Paul Salmons @606 652 4048

For Golf reservations and information:  Joe Damron @304 648 7265

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During a conversation with Fred Reid a few days ago, somehow chestnut trees and chestnuts came up.  Fred mentioned that as a child in the 30’s in the Williamson, WV area he could remember the mountain sides being starkly white with standing groves of dead chestnut trees.  I too can recall on our farm that there were many, many dead chestnut trees.  It was a sad commentary on the death and destruction of something that provided shelter, sustenance, shade, and beauty for millions upon millions of people since this earth was created. 

The American chestnut tree grew to a height of 100 feet and 10 feet in diameter.  Many lived for a long as 600 years.  The death of the giants began shortly after 1900, caused by a fungus imported to this country on trees from Asia.  The fungus would enter the tree through a small wound and within two years the tree would be dead.  By the mid 1920’s they were gone.  There are few of us alive today that can remember ever seeing a live American chestnut tree.  We have all heard our parents speak of roasting chestnuts an shipments of ton upon ton of the nuts were shipped to large cities to be sold on the streets as hot roasted chestnuts.

We can all remember boards, split rail fences, fence posts, and other items on the farms, all made from the mighty chestnut.  The wood was strong, light, easy to work with, and very weather resistant.  I recall roofs on a barn and a corn crib that were made from wood shingles that had been riven from chestnut wood.  These roofs were in excess of 50 years of age and still keeping the buildings contents protected from the weather.

If there are those that travel in the Great Smoky Mountains, you will see many large chestnut trees lying in the forest that have finally succumbed to the many years of the changing seasons.  While now only long piles of decayed wood, one can still see their size and imagine their stately stance while living.  It is easy by looking at them to close your eyes and wish for that time again when they dominated the forest.

I would guess that those that read this and are of age to remember the dead trees will also remember what great fire wood they made.  The kindling from a chestnut  was very easy to split and with a pocket knife a small amount of shavings could have a fire going in record time.  I remember hearing the many woodpeckers working the trees on a hot summer day.  It was a wonderful sound to hear, almost haunting if you were 6 or 8 years old and in the woods by yourself.

I have a chestnut tree in my  back yard.  It is not an American chestnut of course but of some Asia or European variety.  My Dad gave me two seedlings perhaps 35 or 40 years ago and after a few years they both appeared to die.  I cut both down and the next year one produced several sprouts out of the stump.  It now consists of 5 trunks growing in a clump and provides considerable shade.  It produces a large crop of chestnuts each year and the Squirrels seems to love them.  We have never attempted to harvest and eat them ourselves.

I believe that in about 1980 efforts were begun to attempt to backcross a blight resistant Chinese tree with an American tree.  Through some complicated procedures that I don’t understand, they then backcross that tree and are left with an American chestnut tree but with the blight resistance of a Chinese chestnut tree.  They have great hopes for this program and I believe that I read somewhere a couple of years ago that the project is working. 

Our generation will never see the fruits of this program but perhaps our grandchildren will at some future time see that which we were never able to see alive, giant chestnut trees again covering our mountainsides.  There is a lesson to be learned from the tradgedy of this and that is the fragility in the balance of the gifts provided by God and that if we are not good stewards of those gifts, they may be taken away.

I am sure that many of you have memories of the great trees and I would hope that some would share those memories.

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SIX MORE DAYS UNTILL GOLF TOURNAMENT AND BANQUET!!!!  DON’T MISS ALL OF THE FUN, SIGN UP NOW.   We are continuing to look for Golfers, and especially Golf Hole Sponsors.  If you WOULD SPONSOR A GOLF HOLE, please call  Joe Damron at 304 648 7265.

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Today is August 27, 2010, just one more week untill the beginning of Alumni Reunion weekend in conjunction with Fort Gay Heritage Days.  Looking at the long-range weather forecasts, the weather looks “picture perfect”.  Friday, September 3rd is forecast for highs near 80 and lows near 60.  What more could one ask for a perfect day to play golf.  There are still openings for individuals or teams to sign up to play.  For information, call Joe Damron at 304-648-7265.  If you don’t have a team, Joe can place you on one.  The fun and fellowship starts at 8:30 AM at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, Louisa, KY.  There will be a continental breakfast and lunch will be served on the golf course.  Marshall University is sending a team and bringing one of their ladies golf team members as a team member.  We do thank Marshall for their continued support of this worthy cause.  They have had a team each year since the inception of the FGHS Memorial Scholarship golf tournament.  I believe that is 10 years in succession.  Come joins us and support the FGHS Memorial Scholarship. 

Friday evening at 5 PM the annual reunion banquet begins with a reception at Fort Gay Middle School.  There is still time to call treasurer Paul Salmons at 606-652-4048 for reservations.  If you are from the class of 1960 please note this in making your reservation so that you might be seated as a group. 

For all of those that still feel young, there will be a street dance on Friday night located on the street beside the fire station.  The weather will be perfect and you might be surprised at the dancing abilities that you have left.

On Saturday, September 4th there will be many activities on the Middle School lawn and in the immediate area.  The weather forecast is again for sunny conditions with highs near 80 and lows near 60, a perfect time to come out and meet and greet old friends.  The Alumni tent will be set up and stocked with “Bromley Ridge” water and conversation. 

If you haven’t planned your weekend, please come join us for a seasonal “last hurrah”.

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 The following message by Fred Reid is pretty self-explanatory.  He sent it to the comment section titled “Old Barns, What? Again”.  Many time the comments don’t get read so I have relegated it to a new post.  Nice message and it is great to see long forgotten memories aroused by a simple message about barns.  The following is Fred’s message.

Richard, I told you that I had decided on the barn that I would call my own and tell others about.  I had never really thought of anything special about barns untill you brought the subject up and were able to gather so many real stories that were touching.  Well, here is mine.

I went to Falcon, KY in the summer of 1938 to live with my Grandmother Reid;  my Grandfather Reid had passed away earlier and she had moved to a small farm they owned.  I had lived in Williamson, WV and this trip to a farm was a new venture indeed.  All things were new there but I was among relatives and the land where my Father had grown up.  I was able to attend the small one room school that he had attended.  Sure enough there on one of the desks were his initials carved into the wood, they would have been put there around 1915.

But the best of interesting items I found was the “little wooden barn” located across the creek that divided the farm.  It was of lumber construction and tiny in all aspects.  The feed room, corn stock room, and tack room were just that, small.  And down at the end of the stable was a pen to keep an animal up in.  In this case it was a small horse and I was told that it was a sorrel and belonged to our cousin, Doctor Connley.  I could only go to the stall when the man who took care of the horse would come and feed, etc.  I the got to take the horse to the creek for water and this was my proud thing for the day, plus I could talk and learn farm language from this man.  He was a Connley and also a cousin.

The purpose of the horse was to provide transportation for Doctor Connley when he had to go back into the mountains and treat people who were ill.  By far the major part of his calls were for childbirth and there is no way of knowing just how many children he delivered; then there were the cancer and tuberculous cases.  Doctor Connley would saddle up and hit the old mountain road and ride to the patients home, then maybe sleep a little and then begin his trip to the next patient or else back to the little barn.

The horse knew the way and Doctor Connley would set in the saddle and sleep all the way to the barn and then he would put the horse away.   Then he would mount up in his black A Model Ford coupe and drive home to Salyersville.

I have never thought much of that little horse or the barn untill some of the stories about barns have been published.  And now, today, I am so glad that I was able to work in that barn, caring for the barn, and feed and watering the horse.  I now realize how important that horse was to the patients and to Doctor Connley, as he was carried across the many miles of snow and rain.  Looking back, I wouldn’t change a day of it.

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