Touched by Something
I was about 10 years old when they finally ran an electric line up the mountain to where we lived. I was so excited when Daddy hooked us up!
But the greatest day of all was the day that Daddy got us a TV! I remember that little black-and-white screen would often be so fuzzy that we could barely make out the faces, but it mattered not at all to us.
Our house was in a little holler beneath the top of the hill, which is why the reception for the television was so poor.
It wasn’t too awfully long until we stretched a cord from our house to the top of the hill, and rigged up an antenna in the loft of an abandoned shack. Mommy always told us the house was haunted by an old woman who fell off the porch, broke her hip, and died right there. But I figured that was her way of telling us kids to stay away from there. It was a creepy little place. The door was off its hinges, the windows were broken out, and the side was grown up with raspberries.
One evening when we were all laughing away at something on the television, the screen started roaring and the picture left completely. Daddy said the wind had knocked the antenna off, and he offered to pay one of us 10 whole cents to go turn it back around.
That 10 cents meant as much to me back then as a million dollars would today. I could just taste that smooth chocolate bar in my mouth and the ice-cold RC Cola.
“I’ll do it, Daddy!” I shouted as he reached into his pocket and pulled out that small shiny coin. He put the dime in my hand and told me that they would yell really loud when the picture was right.
I remember thinking on the way up the hill about the dime in my hand. I didn’t have a pocket on my dress to put it in, and I was so afraid that I’d drop it in that creepy old shack when I tried to turn the antenna. So I decided that when I started to climb the ladder I’d put the dime in my mouth.
Mommy always told me that money didn’t belong in my mouth—after all, it was the dirtiest thing that ever was. So, I stopped for a second to clean it with the hem of my dress. The little coin shined in the moonlight and glistened like the frost on the ground.
It wasn’t until I got close to the shack that the pit of my stomach balled up.
The clear moonlit night accentuated the emptiness in that little hull of a home. The wind blew through it, almost whispering my name.
As I stepped on the porch, I slipped my dime into my mouth with my shaky, sweaty palms.
Once inside, everything seemed to stop. The wind stopped, the sound stopped, everything around me stood still. My heart beat so fast, and a lump had formed in my throat so large and hard that I could not swallow.
I took one step farther.
The floor squeaked beneath my feet with a sound that broke the silence so abruptly I nearly lost control of my own functions.
Looking straight ahead at my next step, I took another deep breath and moved forward.
This time, the floor didn’t squeak under my foot.
And then I heard it.
The board behind me squeaked.
I took another step. And I heard a step behind me—heavy steps, now matching each and every step that I was taking! There were no words, there were no other noises, there was nothing but the beating of my heart, and those steps behind me!
I jumped for the ladder, trembling and clenching it as if it were my only lifeline. I began to climb up it as fast as I could. I no longer heard the heavy footsteps behind me, but each step on that ladder, as I drew nearer the ledge of the loft, became harder and harder to make, as my knees were so weak and shaky.
I paused for a moment before pulling myself into the loft, and then…it touched me.
I felt it, cold and sharp, through my hair and on my neck. It touched me…like an open hand with cold bony fingers. Then the weight of my waist-length hair was lifted completely off my back, taken high above my head, and then dropped.
My heart stopped. I thought I had died.
I jumped from that ladder, and although it took every bit of strength that I could find to get my legs to work, I ran as hard and fast as I could.
I walked back up to the shack the following day, when the sun was high in the sky, and I faced my fear by going inside, climbing the ladder, entering the loft, and turning that antenna—with Daddy standing there waiting for me outside.
I saw nothing, nor did I feel anything that time—and was relieved to find the place not as scary as it had seemed the night before.
Daddy never asked us to go back up there anymore. From that point on, if the antenna blew around at night, Daddy would tell us that it was God’s way of telling us it was time for bed—and I had no problems with that at all!
The ATVs are coming
Check out new and cool all-terrain vehicle stuff at the ATV Expo & World’s Fair on October 16-17 at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville. There will be demos on a dirt track, and hundreds of exhibitors will feature parts, accessories, apparel, and probably anything ATV you can think of. Two-day tickets are $10, free for children 12 and under. A separate Saturday night banquet will honor the wacky outdoorsman and former rock star Ted Nugent. Tickets for the banquet are $45. Tickets and more information are available online at www.atv-industry.com/atvexpo. Tickets can also be purchased at the Convention Center box office during the Expo.
Toyota Motor Manufacturing is sponsoring a forum for the women of Kentucky at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg on October 18 at 6 p.m. Award-winning actress Melissa Gilbert, best known for her role as Laura on television’s Little House on the Prairie, will speak about her life in the entertainment industry. Former Governor Martha Layne Collins will emcee the event, and former first lady Judi Patton will be on hand for a special presentation.
Cost to attend the event will be $15. Tickets can be purchased at the Mountain Arts Center and advance purchase is recommended. The toll-free phone number for the Mountain Arts Center box office is (888) 622-2787. More information is available online at www.macarts.com. All proceeds from the event will be donated to charitable organizations in eastern Kentucky.
Buster visits Kentucky
Two episodes of a new public TV children’s show will feature some Kentucky Appalachian culture. Postcards from Buster, a spinoff of the popular Arthur books and cartoon series, premiers this month. The half-hour show blends animation and real people to explore cultural diversity for 4-8-year-olds. It will be broadcast by KET at 3:30 Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, beginning October 11. The show planned for October 27 includes segments filmed in Winchester, featuring clogging instructors Kelly Goodpaster and Regina Culton. An episode premiering November 3 includes fiddle player Rossi of Pikeville and a square dance at Cowan Community Center in Whitesburg, with the help of Appalshop.
Nominate a book
Nominations are now being accepted for the Southern Kentucky Book Fest’s Kentucky Literary Awards. Books eligible for the Kentucky Literary Awards must have been written by a Kentucky author or have a Kentucky related theme. Any individual, organization, or company may nominate books.
The awards recognize excellence in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry publications. The book must have been published and distributed between January 1 and December 31, 2004. Entries must be postmarked on or before January 15. The winners in each category will be announced on Friday, April 15, during the Southern Kentucky Book Fest in Bowling Green, and will be given a commemorative certificate and a cash prize of $1,000. No entry fee required.
Specific guidelines and nomination forms are available upon request or can be filed online through the Book Fest Web site: www.sokybookfest.org. For more information about the Kentucky Literary Awards, contact Jonathan Jeffrey at (270) 745-5083 or e-mail Jonathan.Jeffrey@wku.edu.
Three books for your Halloween reading list:
Spooky South—Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore, 2004, retold by S.E. Schlosser, The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut, www.GlobePequot.com;
Scary Stories of Mammoth Cave, 2002, Colleen O’Connor Olson & Charles Hanion, Cave Books, St. Louis, Missouri, www.cavebooks.com;
Don’t Call Them Ghosts—The Spirit Children of Fontaine Manse, A True Story, 2004, by Kathleen McConnell, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.llewellyn.com.
Mark Taylor of Taylorsville wrote in to clarify the reference in August’s cover story calling John Hunt Morgan a Lexington native. Morgan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, and moved to Lexington when he was 5.