Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Beloved, Kentucky

Imagine a little mountain community nestled between the ancient hills of Appalachia. It is a community that was settled around a good year round spring and one of the largest salt licks in eastern Kentucky. Folks reckon that's why folks came to the valley and settled the little town called Beloved.

It ain't much, as towns go. There are only eight or ten streets in the whole town. Main Street never got busy enough to have a stop light. Folks don't hardly need the stop signs on some of the side streets.

Downtown consists of about twelve buildings. The biggest building is the grocery store. Down the street is Founder's Square. That is where the springs are. They still flow year round. There is a dug well close to the springs. That well is full of the sweetest water a feller will find anywhere. In the Square is a white enclosed gazebo sort of building that contains the body of Sleepy Jean Sizemore. Some folks say she is in there sleepin' since 1911. Most say she fell into a coma and died and her body is just preserved some way. If you get to know the family, they might take you in and let you get a glimpse of her body an' y'all can judge for yourself.

There is a Carnegie Library in town right down past the Phineas Nutt Masonic Lodge. The lodge is made from beautiful Tennessee sandstone brought from the Cumberland Plateau and worked by hand by some of the Masonic brothers back in the late 1800s. Men sit on benches outside of the Carnegie Library daily and whittle. They talk softly to themselves and tell tales and lie to each other only to swear each story is the "gospel truth". When school is out a group of youngin's gather often to hear the stories and watch as the old men carefully whittle.

Annie Pankey has a small shop not much further down the street. She calls it "Pankey's Hankies" and sells antiques, quilts and old lace good.

Outside the town are a few small homes, well kept and regularly painted. In that neck of the woods 'bout everything gets painted on a regular basis if it ain't movin' or breathin'. In the heat of the day folks can be seen gatherin' on the front porches or under shade trees to cool off.

Follow the main road out of town and you'll end right back up on Route 66. The main road is merely a loop off and back onto the big road. Keep on going up along the Red Bird River and you'll come to Beverly and the Red Bird Mission Hospital.

Go off some of the side roads and you'll find yourself windin' your way up Booger Holler Road or maybe Arnett's Fork, Old Punky Creek or Gilbert's Branch. Up on Booger Holler is Booger Holler Holiness Church where Brother Woodrow Budder is preacher. Folks around them parts say that Booger is a Cherokee word for a Medicine Man and Booger Holler is where a Cherokee Medicine Man lived. Other folks say it is called Booger Holler because Big Jim Arnett and Dick Gray had a spook callin' contest up near there.

The hills are full and a thousand shades of green during the summer. Springtime is the sweetest to the eye. The hills are full of dogwood, redbud, sourwood trees filled with blooms and a favorite stoppin' point for any honeybee anywhere near. The greens are tentative and slow to start. The flowering trees are not bashful and burst out in bloom like they was shoutin', "looky. looky, look at me."

Folks live at a slower pace in and around Beloved. Its sort of like they know that God took a slice of Eden and nestled it in them hills. They never forget to stop an' enjoy what they got.

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