Dark shadows are creeping across the meadow and fog rolls in from the creek as nightfall once again enters the hills. It is cool enough for a warm blaze in the fire ring, as sparks shoot upward and mingle with the few lightning bugs that shine their lanterns around. Although the days are hot and gardens are full, summer is winding down.

Katydids have been sounding their mournful cry for several nights now, a sure sign that autumn is approaching. Summer has seemed so short, but the purple ironweed is in bloom, as well as goldenrod springing up along the interstate. Joe-Pye weed hangs their shaggy, pink heads above the road banks as if hastening autumn along. Folklore says that an Indian, Joe Pye, used this plant to cure fevers, and the early American colonists used it to treat an outbreak of typhus.

Corn tassels are ripe in the garden; their sweet smell is the aroma of full summertime. Our garden has done extremely well this year, in spite of the tomato blight that several farmers experienced. My brother Larry had many of his tomato plants to die overnight, except the plants that he bought that were marked “blight free.” Patty and Criss have had to do most of the canning this summer, but I am gradually getting better. Thank you again for all the beautiful cards and letters I have received. The Lord truly has taken care of me, and I deeply appreciate the prayers that have been offered.

We are trying to catch up on requests and correspondence that came in while I was under the weather (and what does that phrase mean anyway?) John Kelly, Sr. of Looneyville asked for the words to “Daddy’s Hands,” for a 98-year old man who reads my column each issue. This song holds a special meaning for us. Our youngest daughter, Crystal, recorded this song and sent it to Criss on a cassette. It is very true to life.



Written by Holly Dunn


I remember Daddy’s hands

Folded silently in prayer

And reaching out to hold me

When I had a nightmare

You could read quite a story

In the calluses and lines

Years of work and worry

Had left their mark behind.



Daddy’s hands

Were soft and kind when I was cryin’

Daddy’s hands

Were hard as steel when I’d done wrong

Daddy’s hands

Weren’t always gentle but I’d come to understand

There was always love in Daddy’s hands.


I remember Daddy’s hands

How they held my Mama tight

And patted my back

For something done right

There are things I’ve forgotten

That I loved about that man

But I’ll always remember

The love in Daddy’s hands.


I remember Daddy’s hands

Working ‘til they bled

Sacrificed unselfishly

Just to keep us all fed

If I could do things over

I’d live my life over

And never take for granted

The love in Daddy’s hands.


It is hard to realize that our baby turned 40 years old this month. I was 34 when we got her, and we bumped heads frequently when she was a teenager. Unfortunately, she hit adolescence about the time I entered menopause, and that was a bad combination. She was fond of telling me that I was too old to have a teenage daughter. We weathered that period, and now that her oldest daughter is a teenager, I think she will understand. Mom liked to say that “your chickens will come home to roost.”

We’ve heard it said that “age is just a number,” and I will confess that another birthday doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it did when I turned 70. That was a traumatic number! All at once it hit me that I’ve lived my “three score and ten” and now I’m living on borrowed time. Maybe it would be better if we didn’t keep count. Criss’ mother and father didn’t know when their birthdays were, so they picked January 18 as a convenient day.

We got a note from Don Norman which said, “My grandfather told of a family that moved into his neighborhood when he was a first grader. The truant officer or “director of attendance” visited this family and told them their children would have to attend school. The children had never gone to school. And none of them had any idea of how old they were.

“One of the kids asked his father when he was born, and the father replied, ‘In berry pickin’ time of the year your grandpap died.’ The kids then compared their size to a schoolmate, asked how old the schoolmate was, and adopted this as his or her age.”

So—what difference does age make?

It is the peak of canning season, and we received a couple of recipes from Janet Ewing of Hartford. This is something I’ve never made, but it sounds good. She says it is delicious with hot bread and butter on a cold winter day. After all, tomato is a fruit. This is her mother’s recipe. She adds that her mother used only red tomatoes for this.



2 pounds ripe tomatoes

(peeled with stem ends and cores removed)

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

¼ cup lemon juice

6 ½ cups sugar

1 (6 oz.) bottle liquid fruit pectin

Cut or crush tomatoes and place in 8 to 10 quart Dutch oven

Measure three cups tomatoes, simmer ten minutes. Add lemon juice and lemon peel, then

Stir in sugar.  Bring to a full, rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for one minute uncovered.

Remove from heat. Stir in pectin. Skim off foam with metal spoon. Pour at once into hot jars

And seal. Makes 7 ½ pints.


Karen Barker of Ravenswood adds another word for leftovers—she says they use the word “refrigerator stew.”  She adds that the children always knew the fridge had been cleaned!  We also have a request from Lola Given from Frametown.  She is looking for the words to a WWII song that alluded to the scarcity of eligible men due to the war.  She remembers these lines,

They were either too young or too old, too gray or too gangly green . . .”  I don’t remember that one, but I do remember,

“Goodbye, my love it’s time to go.  I heard the silver trumpet blow.”  I thought that song was so sad.

(My new book, “Laughter from the Hills,” will be available late August.  To receive an autographed copy, order by September 15 through the West Virginia Book Company, phone # 888-982-7472.  Price, including tax and mailing costs will be $18.23 per copy.)

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