STAPLETON REPORT – September 1931 “Everybody is stringing beans until I almost think I should be also at it …”

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Dr. Ida Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton
Line Fork 1927 – 1947
STAPLETON REPORT – September 1931
“Everybody is stringing beans until I almost think I should be also at it …”



(Leaves from September) Gilley P O Kentucky, 1931

Dear Friends:
Everybody is stringing beans until I almost think I should be also at it but we are not as dependent on beans as most households. If there isn’t a “kittle of beans” and a corn pone baking or left over, there is nothing to eat. Isabel begs for a large needle and some string too. “She’s saved her needle. Rosabelle just broke her needle. Hit clean rusted in two”. Could I loan her one as there are two bushels of beans to be taken care of some how. Alta doesn’t dry any as she cans hers. They like ‘em that a-ways. Others pickle them as you would cucumbers. Roasting ears are treated this way also. Arch brought an old barrel up on the sled for Neely to fill with roasting ears then they bought a dozen eggs to get some money to buy salt for them.

Grant, Finley’s boy is in prison for sundry misdemeanors and Dellie his wife came up to Finley’s packing a poke of apples and peaches to send him in response to his request. Finley is trying but in vain to interest his brother Jas to loan him thirty dollars to get Grant free. If he only could see that the boys need the discipline. “He is no help to Dellie nohow” when he is here. His neighbor and cousin shot one of his dogs as it snooped around his place and to get even, Grant divulged the place of his still to officers who caught Ben his son and two nephews at the still so they are in Jackson now attending court. The boys are released and given a year under parole. Ben gets three years in the pen. Grant went to Harlan, stayed a night at the hotel then left without paying the bill. He was brought before the judge who gave him thirty days and he was put to work in a road-gang. From here he took French leave and was again apprehended and the time was increased. Finley told Mr S he could get him released for five dollars but Mr S said “Let the law take its course.” Neely came up with “roastin’ years” and could I let her have some sody to use with the sour milk. The baby is growing fine and has already gained two pounds.

The doctor’s fame has gone as far as Cornettsville and three women from there came to see if she could do something for their ailments. They all had chronic illnesses that related to over-work and mal-nutrition so I had a chance to talk seriously about how the food they have should be cooked and eaten. They looked rather bewildered when I had done and said they must be going back. They had thought to bring a lunch so would stop somewhere in the forest and eat it.

Tildy brought her least one from Clover Fork this time with little sister-in-law Nora who had never been to see the doctor before. They were not so much dirty as grimy. The soap had finished days ago. I made Tildy sit down and give the baby Hubert an all over wash in the bathroom. Then there was a clean “hippin” for the baby that had been “a throwing up since Tuesday”, and this was Saturday. He was restless and whining so I had them sit out in the yard while I prepared the medicine and some more soap. As Finley had brought us a watermelon we shared it with Tildy and Nora. They left nothing of their portion but the green rind. It didn’t seem a very appetizing melon to us – white seeded and irregularly ripened but was as good as they ever had. Now would Tildy try to remember what the doctor said and would she promise to nurse the baby only three times a day (he’s going on two years but as they have no cow I do not urge weaning it just at present) and not at night at all etc.

Judy and Sally her niece walked from Beech Fork. Judy’s teeth were giving her so much trouble. “That bottle of stuff you left for me that time and I went off and left hit. Cindy took hit and somehow hit cured up her gums”. A tooth brush, some listerine, more soap and a couple of sandwiches with tomatoes started them on their return journey. Three other women from Beech Fork arrived. Lucy with sister Polly and Zula a neighbor. Polly had tb in her family with symptoms of it herself. She has been to many doctors without results and not much could I do for them.

I showed them over the house, played some hymn tunes on the organ and even dared to sing some of the old familiar ones. Polly confessed herself a holiness person “not them holy rollers” but she thought names did not really make any difference. I agreed with her remarking that only goodness counted with God. They had heard that I was giving clothes to people and they were awfully hard up. They were out of luck this time as my shelves were quite bare. I promised to remember them and make them a visit some time. It has been so hot I’ve not been over there this summer.

One day little Mary Griffis came and on her pieded pony. She had persuaded Goldy and Chloe Smith to come with her as neither had they been to the Cabin. They wanted to ask about going to Pine Mountain School. Mary had a heavy poke of apples and a few eggs from her Maw. Wouldn’t I come and get a lot. I had a few things for Maw and blind Norman that went back in the apple-poke.

Sunday was a rainy day but five children came. We molded nuts from plasticene then talked about Baby Moses and the goodness of God. In trying to make the children talk about their pets (they don’t name their pets generally) but Mandy came out frankly with “Old she-cat and yaller”. Standing round the organ they sang “Praise Him, Praise him all ye little children” and several other little songs about Jesus. Then as a finish we played bouncing balls in the bed room. Mandy was always ready to chase one out from under the bed. Usually we have twenty minutes of such play in the yard. The children taking turns at the swing.

There were new callers in the afternoon. Viola Mayhew with Carrie Morgan accompanying young Bettie Bailey and her two young ‘uns. She is such a splendid figure, brown eyes and an abundance of chestnut brown hair. Married at thirteen to a one-armed man of forty-five who never could do anything but “sang” and job around a bit here and there. She never had been sent to school at all but had always had to work so hard she never remembered any of her children’s bithdays but the four year old one whom she had carried to see the doctor, Eserelda by name, was born in cold weather, she knew that. She was a pretty and well-developed child. One could see that even though she was covered with a disagreeable skin disease. I entertained them a bit with chat and music then got salve and soap to be used with soft rags also given along with explanation about the treatment. They then started back on the long walk over the mountains. One day this week I’ll make the sick one a call in the crude little cabin on Green Briar off from Stony Fork.

The Pine Mt fair was lucky as to weather. A big storm in the night and early morning made everyone uncertain, so we started late but arrived in time to enter some exhibits. This year I succeeded in getting Rosa Belle and Bert to do a piece of sewing. Nancy Jane sent her quilt and as I wanted to get the women interested in sending some baking, I made light bread and had Rosa Belle make some, also corn meal muffins and cookies. She even got first prize on her cookies and Bert got a second on her dress. There were some entries of vegetables – canned and fresh – with quite a display of flowers. It means a lot for people to carry exhibits, but I try to make them see how they could make the Fair both interesting and profitable. For the most part the young people come to see their friends, watch the basketball game, swimming and folk dances. There was an outdoor play this year that attracted the children as well as the usual domestic animal calling contest. A lunch was sold as well as ice cream cones. It is about the only chance the countryside has to taste that delicacy during the year except on July Fourth and this year there was no program on the day. A day down Line Fork and up Valley Branch brings a call on a long time sufferer who has at last decided to accept the help that St Joseph’s Infirmary in Louisville so generously gives to our suffering neighbors. Her twin sons Otis and Odus are such friendly little eight year olds. They could not read at all when I saw them before but are now in the second reader. They had been kept out several weeks to wait on their mother. Otis had written a letter to the teacher explaining their absence. They cut stalks of corn for Swallow, brought water and wood for their mother who though so tortured with pain prepared some dinner. She had taken care of vegetables and fruit so she reckoned this was a fine time to go to the hospital. Willie her husband was digging coal for the school to earn the small amount he must have for the trip to Louisville aside from the trip pass that the L&N RR gives to indigent persons. The boys will stay with their grandparents a short distance down the road. I called there for a friendly visit with Mrs Bradley. We bought Swallow from them five years ago. There is an epileptic son there who has been a trial for ten years.

Still further down the road is Aunt Suzanne. Such a dear little grandmother mending one old dress with another that is hardly good enough for patches. But it will do for another year of blackberrying. I jollied her a little about her skilful patching. She said “If you should send me a dress I could keep this for blackberry picking”. What color would she like? Red? No. She never had worn anything red. Black or brown would do. Her daughter Marybelle was stirring apple jelly on the stove and suggested I might send her one of mine. She laughed and said she would make two dresses then. I had said I didn’t know if I would ever get one small enough for such a tiny person as she was. But there is a nice warm brown one that will keep Aunt Suzanne warm all winter.

One other call was particularly interesting. Old Uncle Will and his wife Cindy “settin’ on the porch in the sun” dreaming of their early days and hard times when she went “sanging” all by herself and had killed many a rattler. She never let but one get away from her of the many that had hissed at her. Will also had his snake stories. He had killed two copper-heads from underneath the bee-gum in the yard.

Aunt Cindy expressed the wish that “my old man” would stop in and see them. She likes old people. She is near to ninety and Mr S barely sixty-five. She has had several dying spells and lives to tell the tale tho she is so blind she can’t have any blooms in her yard. A pretty ice vine covers part of the porch where the wash basin is. Three more calls made a full day and I came home a dusky dark with roasting years and Stark’s delicious apples in my saddle bags.

Sincerely ,
The Stapletons

**Transcription by Gretchen Rasch.