Archive for September, 2011

Some things about the golf tournament have already been written including its record-breaking success.  Thanks again to all who worked on it and spent the hours necessary to break the record.  The subject  of the quilt that was raffled has also been discussed and the success it achieved.  How about some other classes coming forward next year and sponsoring a golf hole?  Maybe do a yard sale, bake sale, or some other project and donate the proceeds.

After giving some thought to the total weekend, I would like to offer some thoughts and thanks to those who made it possible.

Heritage Day, Saturday, September 3, 2011:  Thanks and congratulations goes to Missy Meredith for again chairing the event.  Saturday on the lawn was great (REALLY HOTTT) and thank you Joe for bringing the fan.  I think there definitely is an increase in the quality and participation of the vendors.  There was the usual great food and it is always good to see local people participating and marketing their individual talents. 

An interesting side to the above happened on Saturday morning early.  I arrived about 7:45 to help Joe Damron set up our tables in our tent.  Being hungry (nothing new to that) I walked around looking for a food vendor.  I found a group of three cheerful and lovely ladies selling apple biscuits, sausage biscuits, and some other food.  I inquired what church or group they were representing and they  answered they were representing themselves.  A little taken aback I asked if they were supporting some cause with the money they earned.  They answered no, that they were trying to get to Alaska.  The story gets just a little stranger than that.  I asked where they were from and they told me that one was from Prichard, one from Huntington, and the others home escapes me at the moment.  I indicated to the lady from Prichard that I once lived near Prichard on a farm located on Queens Creek.  She told me that her father had grown up on Queens Creek and as it turned out on the farm next to ours.  His name was Cloise Hatten whom I had known as a child.  We had a great conversation discussing people and events that we both knew about.  If anybody will ever get to Alaska those ladies will.  What a great and enthusiastic group of siblings.

Set up at our tent were the Jude sisters, Bessie, Alice Faye, and Rebecca selling muffins and other baked goodies.  They do these at their own expense each year and donate the proceeds to the scholarship fund.  Again Ladies, thank you so much for your dedication and donations.

Another lady, also set up at our tent, was Sue Harbaugh selling her fine crochet and hand knitted products.  Sue doesn’t put a price on her work and just asks that you pay her what you think it is worth.  She does this each year and also donates the proceeds to the scholarship fund.  Her sales this year were healthy. I purchased a gift from her for my soon to arrive great-grandson.   It is beautifully done and at $50.00 I think I got a real bargain.  She does something that really touches you.  For each piece of work that she makes and sends to you she prays over it and for the one about to receive the gift.  What a HEART!  Again, Sue, from all  of us, THANKS!!!!

Nancy and Charley Workman always donates home canned food for us to sell at the tent each year.  The money is then placed in the scholarship fund.  This year we had several quarts of half runner beans, greasy beans, and Jim Lakin beans.  Let me tell you, open a quart of those for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and see how many complements you get.  They rarely make it out into the public.  Pretty generally those working at the tent snap them right up.  Charley says that it is how he cultivates them that makes them so good.  Guess what, Nancy disagrees.

Of course, as mentioned in an earlier post, the scholarship will benefit each year by a golf hole being sponsored by the Class of 1959 from monies generated from their quilt sale.

We appreciate so much every thing that alumni and others do for the scholarship but it is really meaningful when they give of themselves as the above do.

We usually have water, soft drinks, etc left over from the golf tournament.  Whatever is left we sell it for a fair price at the tent.  This year that generated in some revenue to add to the scholarship.  On a hot day, as Saturday was, bottled water sells real well.  It is interesting to note that some would pass up our free “Bromley Ridge” water and opt to pay for bottled water.  Go figure.

There was, again on the lawn, a large tent set up as a venue for the several musical groups that performed.  There was musical styles to suit all tastes plus a periodic drawing for a door prize offered by the Heritage Day Committee.  Again,  great job Missy.

There were several venues for food purchases, including several area churches.  It is really hard to get past Fort Gay Baptist Church and their great soup beans, cornbread, slaw, kraut and polish sausage, and a great assortment of desserts.  You need to get there early or expect to stand in line for a few minutes.  Whoever is in charge of that (of course we know God is the big boss) great job.

The Friday night FGHS Alumni Association banquet was again a success with attendance up about 20% over 2010.  We would like to see it increase even more.  If you are an alumnus and have never attended, mark it down now for Labor Day weekend 2012.  We were honored to have two of our scholarship recipients in attendance, April Robertson and  Devon Albrecht, along with their invited guest.  Devon gave a short talk regarding what the assistance of the scholarship had meant to him and how that applied to others.  Devon is graduating in May and we wish him all of the good things that he has earned and deserves.  The success that all of the students that FGHS Memorial Scholarship has supported at Marshall has been outstanding.  Their success rate runs nearly 100%.  There is $12,000.00 available this school year for support of the Fort Gay Scholars.  The food, catered by Rebel Barn Catering, was of its usual high quality with ample amounts for seconds.  Thanks Lee Anne for another great job.

On Saturday night, September 4, the Fort Gay Womens Club again held their reception and buffet for Fort Gay High School alumni.  It was well attended and there was much fellowshipping.  The choices of food were great and was well attended.

In that this closes out another year of fund-raising activity for the FGHS Memorial Scholarship, we the board members realize that there are a lot of people and businesses that we owe so much.  To attempt to name them all without forgetting someone would be impossible.  We do know that you know who you are and what you did, and for your kind and generous efforts, we simply say, THANK YOU, NOT JUST FROM US BUT ALSO FROM THOSE STUDENTS THAT YOU ARE ASSISTING IN THEIR EFFORTS TO OBTAIN A HIGHER EDUCATION!!!!  Start planning today by putting Labor Day weekend on next years calendar.


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Having just finished a successful FGHS Alumni Association reunion, I have taken a few days just to rest and reflect, not just on the accomplishments but also upon the blessings received.  I am blessed in that I get to spend three or four days in an area that has many memories and ties to my early years.  On Sunday following Saturdays festivities, I usually take the day to attend a local church located at the Forks of Big Hurricane, once a thriving community consisting of a grocery store, two churches, a grist mill where farmers could bring grain to have it ground into meal or flour, and a two room school.  All that is now left are two churches.  Gone is Bob Buskirks’s grocery store, the log building remains and so does his house, the school, and the gristmill are no longer there.  I am sure that the local population of the area has also declined as well.

The pleasure I take is not only in attending Big Hurricane Baptist Church, which I attended as a child and was founded by a group of men including my Great Grandfather, Richard Allen Billups, in the 1800’s. He was a well-known area Baptist Minister who was a figure in spreading the Word throughout the area.  I spend Saturday nights in Huntington and on Sunday take a memory trip along the Big Sandy River road, now known as U.S. Route 52.  I always leave Huntington early in the morning and travel along this highway, arriving at the church in time for their 11 am. service.  I follow the highway, slowly, every mile holding some pleasant memory of the past.  The road  has changed, but the memories remain.

Leaving Kenova via U.S. 52 takes one along a changed section of the highway, joining the general location of the old Big Sandy road at an intersection where there was located when I was a child, some sort of pumping station that I believe was associated with the natural gas industry.  I can remember delighting in watching the little puffs of smoke coming for several small exhaust stacks.  I  believe those were the exhausts from the pumps that were moving whatever material was moving through there.  This was also where the gravel road began.  From there on South, it was gravel road to near Fort Gay.  This road not only developed a washboard surface in the summer but could become rutted and difficult to navigate in the mud during the winter season. 

Riding in an A Model Ford, a Whippet, or some other automobile with the old leaf spring suspension, could be a unpleasent experience if one let it.  In the summer if you kept the windows up it could be very hot and if you let them down for fresh air, it could be equally dusty and dirty.  To a child this is not a problem because you would be watching the passing of an N & W train or some farm activity that might be going on in a roadside field.  It was always fun to try to get a friendly wave from the engineer or the conductor on the train who would be sitting high up in the caboose.  It  was with envy that you might look at these gentleman who were doing something that nearly every young person aspired to do. 

Travelling along the road, you would  begin to encounter narrow covered bridges, railroad overpasses that only one car at a time could go through.  It seemed to be that you always sounded the horn at these places to let other traffic that you were coming through.  I suppose the first one to sound his horn had the right of way.  There were numerous railroad crossings where the road would dart across and continue for a distance before darting back across.  These crossings always had a sign saying “look out for the locomotive” but no bell or flashing light, therefore it was prudent to always  stop and look both ways before proceeding unless you wanted to become the “cow” on the cow catcher on the front of a great big steam engine.

The first challenge for an automobile of that time would have occurred just before arriving at Prichard.  That would have been a hill that was known as “lock hill”.  The  hill was steep, the road rough, therefore it was difficult to get a good run at the hill.  I can remember people saying that the mark of a good car in those days was that if it could get up lock hill in high or third gear.  We never seemed to make it in the old Model A or the Whippet.  You would be in second or first many times by the time you achieved the summit.  The reason for the name lock hill was that there was a lock and dam located on the Big Sandy at the foot of the hill.  I recall in the 1930s that it was an operating lock.  I have memories of going up the hill and looking over at the river with the sun sparkling off of the surface as if it were silver.  I am sure that the river was much cleaner at that time than it is today.  Today, one cannot see the river from the slight grade that is now lock hill, it having been graded down and straightened from what it was back then.  It is to bad that the Big Sandy is no longer navigable.  It would have been of great value to the area in providing water recreation activities.  Can you imagine taking a houseboat trip from Kenova to Pikeville, KY.  Many fishermen would set trot lines back then and catch many fish that were edible, today, I doubt that the river is fished at all.

Continuing on upriver, one came to the village of Prichard.  Prichard was a thriving little community, boasting a post office, railway depot, grocery store, a school, and several churches.  It also boasted a large coaling and water station for the many trains that traveled up and down the N& W railway.  It was very large and a stop for most of the trains traveling through.  The coaling station still exists although the trains no longer use the coal and water it provided.  It is probably one hundred years old and was, I am sure, a construction achievement of its time.  Hopefully, someday, an effort will be made to preserve it as a symbol of what railroads were like in that time.  Big Sandy road used to go directly through “down town” Prichard.  Today the village is passed on one side by the road running along the railroad and by the Prichard by-pass on the other side.  During my youth, Prichard was where you went to pick up anything shipped to you by Railway Express, whether it was baby chickens or farm machinery.  Ben Cooksey’s store was a landmark in the village for many years.  As I recall it carried not only groceries but hardware items that local farmers would have a need for. Prichard does now have some industry in the area.  It is place along the highway and railroad and does seem to me that it would offer a lot of desirable qualities to any industry wishing to locate there.  My sister taught school there in the late 1940’s, riding the train from Kenova in the mornings and returning in the evenings.  She has spoken of boarding  a train back to Kenova while it was stopped for coal and water at the coaling station.  One interesting thing about the school kids that lived in Prichard was that they had the choice of going either to Buffalo or to FGHS.  Maybe that is a question I can ask someone someday.

After leaving Prichard, you would shortly come to a railroad crossing and drive for a short distance before recrossing the railroad.  To us kids, it was fun to be caught by a train at the crossing.  We were able to see rail cars and things they were hauling from places we could only dream about.  During WW2 one would see many troop trains carrying troops to ports of embarkation for further shipment overseas.  Many times a train might be carrying various weapons of war, such as tanks, large cannons, and other weapons of destruction.  It was always a thrill to see this and brought about wishes in our minds to hope someday to fight for our country.  Little did we give much thought that being killed was also part of that equation.

After another couple of miles you would come to Hubbardstown.  A little village than no longer exists with the exception of a church.  At that time it was a center of activity around the depot because all of the local trains stopped there.  The depot consisted of only a shed to provide protection from the weather while waiting for the train.  Tickets would be bought from the conductor when you boarded the train.  Ed Bellomy operated a general store there for many years.  The N & W Railway owned a couple of houses there that would be occupied by railroad supervisory personnel.  There was a school and several homes in the area.  This is where the farmers would bring their can full of cream for shipment to Fort Gay by the morning local train to be picked up there by a creamery that was located in Louisa, KY.  The train would take them there in the morning and they would be returned on the evening train.  In a few days a small check would arrive in the mail to be spent on things that were needed at the farm. 

At this point if one were going to Queens Creek or the Forks of Hurricane you would turn left and follow Big Hurricane road a mile or so until you reached Queens Creek road and turn left to go another mile or so to our farm.  On a day such as today, I no longer turn left but proceed on up U.S. 52 to where it intersects with State Route 37.  I am in no hurry so why not take the long way so that the memories last a little longer.  Turning left onto State Route 37 which we as kids called “the hard road”, this because it was the nearest paved surface. To the right would have been George and Corliss Roberts grocery store.  They were the parents of Audra, Valeria, Bob, and Ronnie, all students at FGHS.  I take the road past the site of Roy Wellman’s store, also now long gone.  This is a point where the bus would pick up several children heading to Fort Gay for school.  There would be the Winchell family, represented by Vernon, who was a grad of FGHS in 1947.  Vernon is the brother of “Pooch” Winchell who gave his life in the Vietnam War.  A bridge crossing Mill Creek near the entrance to Cedar Heights was recently dedicated in his honor and memory.

About on half mile on down route 37 you would come to Beemer (not sure if this the right spelling) Wellman hill.  I assume there was someone bearing that name that lived along this stretch of road sometime earlier in history.  At the bottom of the hill one would turn left, returning to Big Hurricane Creek road on it way back to Hubbardstown.  Along this road, on its way to Fort Gay High School, the school bus would pick up many students.  There would be Michaels, Lakins, Hoosiers, Tuckers, Masseys, Bellomys, Hattens, Plymales, Roberts, Boys, Heaberlins, Davis, Billups, Chadwicks, and many others that escape my memory now.  Most of the houses along this road have been replaced with newer buildings within the last fifty years or so.  Are those names mentioned above still living there.  I doubt that many are.  They have, as I did, moved to other states or areas following careers of their choice.

As I come to Big Hurricane Baptist Church, it is 10:45 am, time for Sunday worship.  There have been changes to the old church since I attended there as a child.  It has moved back from the highway to a brick building with a large parking lot and a covered baptistery.  When I grew up, baptisms were held at a large waterhole just a short distance from the church.  I am sure that there might have been times back then when the water for baptizing was near freezing following a late fall revival.  What an event those revivals were.  A minister would be invited from out-of-town to come and deliver the sermons.  Usually lasting for several days.  He would, perhaps, stay with church members while conducting revival services each night.  At the end of the revival, he would be given a “pounding” which consisted of church members giving him money, food items that were raised on the farms, such as hams, vegetables, and canned foods.  Following this, a date would be set and a baptizing would be held at a waterhole in Big Hurricane Creek for those who had given their sould to Christ during the revival.

As you enter the church,  you are greeted by many of the members.  It is truly a friendly church.  BHBC is a church that continues to amaze me.  It is far out in the country but God is truly smiling on it.  Their attendance continues to grow, and according to Deacon Charlie Workman, their attendance many times exceeds one hundred.  They are preparing to break ground for a much-needed addition which will allow Pastor Tony Perry to deliver his sermons to an even larger group.  It is interesting to note that while many smaller churches throughout the country close their doors each year, BHBC opens their doors even wider to those that wish to come to worship God.  I am sure that with the leadership the church has and the mission that God has laid out for them the church will continue to serve as it has for the last one hundred and forty years or so.

As I leave the church, following the service, I continue on down the road to Hubbardstown where I once again will join U.S. Route 52, turning and thereby completing my journey down “memory road”.  I am a bit saddened by it all but also elated that I can once again return to a place of friendly faces in and area that I still love.  I am also elated that God gives me the good health to make this trip and participate in and enjoy the blessings He provides by allowing me to serve Him.  Do you have your memory road?  If so, we would love to hear about it and the memories that it brings to you.  If not, then you may share in mine

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Each year the FGHS Alumni reunion is kicked off by a golf tournament.  All monies raised by the tournament goes to support the FGHS Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship that is endowed through Marshall University and providing support for Tolsia High School students.

This year, 2011, the alumni group held its eleventh tournament and  we are pleased to report that we had a record number of players.  On Friday, September 2, nineteen teams, a record number, teed it up at Eagle Ridge Golf Club to compete for cash prizes, door prizes, trophies, and participate in a raffle for valuable prizes following completion of the tournament.

The golf committee, chaired by golf chairman Joe Damron and consisting of members Paul Salmons, Gary Huff, and Paul Artrip outdid themselves in making the tournament a “whopping” success.  Many of our golfers have been playing in our tournament since its beginning and they came back this year and brought friends. 

Our golf hole sponsors came through again this year, both individual and corporate, and provided a record number of hole sponsorships.  Players are important and you can’t have a tournament without them, however, our hole sponsorships are the bread and butter of the tournament.

Gary Huff and Paul Salmons took it upon themselves to do some searching for items to raffle on a national basis.  They were successful as evidenced by the amount of raffle tickets sold.  Gary as promised that next year should be a real banner year in that they will be able to make their contacts later this year.  Gary only came on board in early spring and along with Paul gave it the extra shot and help that we have been needing.  I am sure Joe was happy with the help.

The following were winners in the tournament.

First place:  Team Walmart led by Bob Poole

Second place: Tea  Bill England led by Bill England.

Third place:  Team John Daugherty led by John.

Longest Drive:  Kurt Schuxler

Closest to the pin:  John Daugherty

Longest putt:  Dallas Borders

Most accurate drive:  Joe Damron

Each of the above winners received cash prizes.

We do wish to thank all of the golfers that participated in the tournament, especially those that came great distances to play.  Marshall University sent a team, as they have ever since the inaugural golf tournament.  A couple of families deserves recognition for providing a whole team.  Paul Salmons brought three sons for his team but more than that they came from Florida, North Carolina, California, and Webbville, KY.  Gary Huff brought family members as he does each year, and I might add they were resplendent in their Paddle Creek Country Club shirts.  Thanks Gary for your family’s participation each year.

Bob Poole from Walmart not only brought a golf team but also sponsored a golf hole and donated food for our pre-tournament breakfast.  Thanks Bob and Walmart certainly supports worthy community causes.

It is not to early for you to begin making plans for next years golf tournament.  It will be played on Friday, August 31, 2012.  Put it on your calender

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The picture on the left is of a quilt commissioned by David Rossman of the Class of 1959, Fort Gay High School.  It was designed by him and quilted by an Amish quilter in the state of Michigan.  As you can see, the quilt is done in orange and black, FGHS colors with a Viking theme.  The picture does not do justice to the quilt and it was  an item  that any alumni member would have been proud to own.

The purpose of having the quilt done was to provide a source of money for projects that the class might want to participate in, such as cards and flowers for ill or deceased class members, sponsorship of a golf hole at the annual FGHS Memorial  Scholarship golf tournament, and other causes they might choose to support.

The plan was to sell raffle tickets, which they did, and draw for the winning ticket and give the quilt away on Saturday night, September 3, at the annual reception held by the Fort Gay Women’s Club for Fort Gay High School alumni.  Ticket sales were robust and they ended up with a large jar that appeared to  be near full.

The drawing was held and (drum roll please) the winner was Linda (Crabtree) Kerns.  She is a graduate of FGHS and was Miss Viking, Class of 1956.  Our congratulations go out to Linda and thanks to the class of 1959 for their scholarship support.  The class of 1959 would like to thank all of those that purchased raffle tickets and better luck next time. 

The FGHS Alumni board would love to see other classes take the initiative and adopt projects that would provide additional revenue in support of the FGHS Memorial Scholarship.


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