Our loving Father has looked down upon us and sends much needed rain to water our gardens and refresh our hills. The thirsty soil soaks in the life giving moisture, and garden crops flourish. The leaves on the trees are washed clean, and the air is refreshed.

Do you remember how we welcomed a rainy day in summer when we were kids? It was a respite from the unending garden work, and gave us an opportunity to curl up with a good book and escape from our everyday world. Or we would retire to the barn and make cozy nests in the new, sweet-smelling hay, while the rain beat a steady refrain on the tin roof.

There we held our secret club meetings, (consisting of members Larry, Mary Ellen, neighbors Cody and Alen Wayne. I usually got to be president. We collected our pennies in a pint jar (for what project, who knows?) I have wondered since what happened to our club dues. I faintly remember Larry and Cody climbing up on the Virginia office roof, sharing a jar of marshmallow cream. They laughed at us helpless, and furious, kids below. I really think they embezzled the funds.

A day such as this is made for reminiscing. Someone asked me recently if we had ever made ink from pokeberry berries. That was what we wrote the club notes with, and it made a lovely shade of lavender. Unfortunately, the words faded with time, which is probably just as well.

Our toys were mostly the things of nature. The lacy white clusters of the elderberry are turning to hard green berries. We ate the ripe elderberries, even though they were slightly bitter. We looked for the dewberries that grew on a creeping vine, and ripen before the blackberries do. Our mouths were always stained purple with berries.

I have a sprig of water honeysuckle in a vase on the kitchen table, and it is perfuming the whole house with its sweet fragrance. This flower grows at the water’s edge and blooms after the wild azalea is finished. There is nothing that will bring back childhood memories more than this summer flower.

It was always blooming along Big Laurel Creek when we sought out our favorite swimming hole. These were the days when the water was clean and pure, and pollution was not a problem. What can compare with a clear swimming hole when the days were hot and dusty, and so were we. That first breath-taking jump into the water was exhilarating. Some of the holes were deep enough to swim in, and other places were perfect for the little ones to play.

If there were ever a little spot of Eden, it was there. The rhododendron bushes, heavy with bloom this time of year, grew right up to the water’s edge, with just a strip of sand between them and the creek. Graceful hemlocks drooped their branches down to shade the area, and bright red cardinal flowers abounded. And the water honeysuckle . . . those really were the good old days.

After I read Jerry Abbott’s letter (from Fort Payne, Alabama) in the Reader’ Forum, it flung a cravin’ on me to dig out some more mountain dialect. I’ve had some response from readers sending expressions that we used and have sometimes forgotten.

David Luzader from Sutton sent in several, and he adds that anyone who doesn’t understand this language “don’t have much a’comin to them!” I just remembered what a neighbor lady said when Criss and I got married, “It looks like Alyce Faye drove her ducks to a poor market!” She ended up being one of Criss’ best friends.

“I come in a cat’s whisker of doin’ that!” is self-explanatory, and “You’re not worth a picayune.” That really is a word meaning “half pence.” Carol Kerns writes that they ate “rosenears” in the summer, and it was a long time before she realized it was “roasting ears” or corn on the cob. Mom recalls that her mother talked about her “Rosy Churn bush,”—it was her Rose of Sharon.

“I hope my die” was another one he sent, and of course it means, “I hope I might die” (if what I am telling you is not true.) We also said “I swan!” but that was because we weren’t allowed to say, “I swear!” We were not allowed to say God’s name either (it was too sacred) but we said “the Good Man.” The world has come a long way since then.

Faye Fleet of St. Albans remembers an incident when her sister came to the aid of an elderly lady who fell in the street. She helped her up, dusted her off, and asked in concern, “Are you all right?” The lady answered, “Well, yes, I think so—but my eye glasses are a little “whopper-jawed!” We still use that word.

Thanks to Pamela Adkins of Clarksburg, we have some information on “The Quiet Dell Murders.” This was a gruesome event to take place in a village known as Quiet Dell in Harrison County. It happened in 1931, when a man named Harry Powers (he had many other aliases) who had moved to West Virginia in 1926, placed ads in lonely hearts magazines saying he was a wealthy widower looking for the “right woman” with whom to share his life.

Two of the women who answered his ads made the trip to WV, and one brought three children with her. He went by the name of Cornelius O. Pierson, and lured Mrs. Asta Eicher and her children to his home. She was hanged from the rafters over a stairway to a garage which Powers had specially built. Her children looked on in horror.

He buried the four in a drainage ditch, and when authorities were summonsed to the scene, they uncovered the bodies, plus the body of Mrs. Dorothy Lemke. He was convicted and executed to hang on March 18, 1932. The story may not have ended there, as he insinuated that he had murdered as many as 50.

Alpha Young of Spring Hill is looking for the words to a song, “The Legend of the Robin Redbreast.” Does anyone know?

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Alyce Faye Bragg

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