Memories from Betty June Taylor, Tom Taylor, and Nona Carter
by Barb Childers
Watch this space as we share thoughtful, funny, sad, surprising “rememories” collected from My Appalachian Memory: A Word Quilt Created by Cincinnati’s Urban Appalachians. Community memory-keepers of all ages keep the flame of Appalachia alive in the words they write. We hope you find this an enticing sampling of the memories, anecdotes, recipes, sayings, and stories collected every January since 2004 from folks attending the annual UACC Ringin’ in an Appalachian New Year.
In January 2007, Betty June Taylor wrote out her delicious springtime memory which seems especially fitting to share after this year’s wet April. “My memory’s from Barbourville, Kentucky. When it would rain, we would get pots or pans or buckets and go up on the mountain and pick what we called dry land fish mushrooms. They could only be found just after a rain. They were shaped like a Christmas tree, about 2 to 3 inches high. We would see which one of us could find the most. Then go home and fry them and have a feast. Those times are great to remember.”
Two years earlier, Betty’s then 81-year-old husband Tom Taylor of the Rabbit Hash String Band dictated a memory to his wife who wrote it out on a half-sheet of paper to drop in the Word Quilt gathering box. Wait for it; you just know one of his signature puns is going to erupt in the midst of this true story. “When I was a boy, I can remember when my dad & I walked five miles to buy my first fiddle for $2.50. I remember my mother picked geese feathers and bought my older brother his first fiddle. It took a lot of feathers to make $10.00. At that time “down” was up. People used feathers for pillows & mattresses. Money wasn’t as easy to come by then. Times were very hard.”
Most recently, at the 2015 Ringin’ In, Rabbit Hash String Band (without Rabbit Hash resident and band founder 90-year old Tom Taylor) played again for a square dance, and Nona Carter wrote on her half-sheet: “This was my first time doing a square dance and it was fun. My grandma used to pick the guitar and square dance.” Maybe writing out her story is lucky, or maybe trying something new was lucky — because later that afternoon Nona’s name was pulled for Split the Pot!
I’ll be back with more of your stories in future blogs. Meanwhile, I hope you’ll think about what it means to be an urban Appalachian far from the family home? Share a memory with us that reflects how you preserve your Appalachian values. Writing it down is a sure way to preserve it for future generations! Contact Jonathan Bradford at UACC to submit to the UACC blog, or See me at the next Ringin’ In! I’ll be the one walking around with those familiar half-sheets, urging you to add your story to the “Word Quilt” of Appalachian memories.