Thursday, June 12, 2003

Early Morning in Beloved


Cousins,
It is not quite 5:00 a.m. here in my hometown of Beloved, Kentucky. Unlike many cities up north, there is much activity going on already. As I look out over the town that is just a short distance from my front drive, I see the lights of several businesses on and commerce already underway.

It is not the commerce of a city or even a big town. We don't have no all night drug stores - only the Goins Rexall downtown. They still have a soda fountain, believe it or not and their blue plate special is the same as it always has been - BLT with chips and a pickle. You can also get a tuna melt or a tuna salad plate. I get a cravin' flung on me ever' now and agin for Sadie Goins' tuna fish. She adds things that make it more than a can of fish, I'll tell ya that much.

No sir, our commerce is related to the farmin' and coal minin' that keeps little ol' mountain towns alive. The Atta Boy gas station is already open. Coal truckers are there fillin' tanks with diesel for their constant runs up and down the hollers to the few mines left in Clay County. Farmers stop for a fill up and a few fellers who don't take time for a full breakfast will swaller down a ham and biscuit with a cup of coffee inside as they pay for their gas.

The Farm & Hardware is open and already busy. Farmers stop early for feed, fertilizer and supplies. They still have charges done by hand on paper receipts. The receipts are all entered into a computer, but the folks that run the place prefer to work on paper still.

You want to see a wonderful sight, come when chicks is bein' picked up. Boxes and boxes of chicks, all hollerin' for mama at the same time. Farmers and 4Hers pullin' up , one after another pickin' up their load of pullets. It is plumb crazy them days. They keep a couple big ol' water troughs in the back - sawdust in the bottom and full of chicks for the small farmer what needs just a couple dozen to raise. Chicks are separated into fryer chicks and layers. 'Course, unsexed mixed costs way less than sexed chicks. They are all separated too.

Over yonder at the Henny Penny there is a full house. Breakfast there is a busy time for the farmers all meet to talk about their tobaccer crop, how it has been so wet that they still have 27 rows to get out. Fred Collins said he wasn't able to get his corn out with all the rain so he had to go to soybeans. Several fellers are sayin' the same type of thing about not gettin' the corn crop out and switchin' to soybeans. Folks are hopin' the bottom don't drop out of soy.

Bessie Bowling is busy as anythin', waitin' on all the tables. She is workin' alone this mornin' cause it is the last day up at the high school and all the girls what usually serve wanted to be at school early to get their yearbooks signed and to take pictures an' all.

Bessie is like one of them whirlwinds this mornin', droppin' a basket of big ol' cat head biscuits at one table, fillin' coffee cups at another and callin' orders over the counter like a general commandin' the troops.

The special is the Beloved Breakfast. It is 2 eggs, any style, choice of sausage or bacon, fried potatoes, grits if ya want 'em, a cup of sausage gravy and 2 of the big ol' biscuits that make Henny Penny famous in them parts. Coffee is still a quarter at the Henny Penny and your ol' cup is always bottomless. The Beloved Breakfast is $4.50 and is more than most folks can eat. For a dollar more y'all can substitute a slice of Precious Meats fried Country Ham. I'd recommend the fried Country Ham. Sophie Precious has a way with smokin' meats.

Some of the fellers kinda complained when the Henny Penny went "no smokin'". Too many of the old fellers are home and unable to do nothin' these days 'cause of the emphysema. Bessie went to the owners and carried on till they did it for the good health of ever' one concerned. Tobaccer is the blessin' and the curse of hill folks. They work it all their lives and smoke from the time they are young, only to find their very breath stolen by their very livlihood.

Now they is a smokin' circle out by the big ol' ash bucket. Fellers get up every now and again to go out for a smoke. It ain't so bad most of 'em say...and the food does taste better these days without the smoke in the Henny Penny.

Come daylight, the dozens of trucks in the parkin' lot will start up like it was a race or somethin'. Headlamps will come on and they will be a mad dash outta town to the fields and farms all over and around Beloved.

Men with farmer tans, workboots and well worn workshirts will step into barns to work, will mount tractors and move into fertile fields. The morning stillness will be broken with the sound of bush hogs, mowers, plows and planters as the men of Beloved do what they love.

This is the lifeblood of Beloved. It is the muscle and sinew and the good earth is the bone on which it builds. These are the children of our forefathers, honest, good and simple.
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