My Old Kentucky Home

 

By Stephen Foster

 

The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
'Tis summer, our family is gay;
The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
While the birds make music all the day.

The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
All merry, all happy and bright;
By 'n' by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

 

Chorus


Weep no more my lady
Oh! weep no more today!
We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

 

They hunt no more for the possum and the coon,
On meadow, the hill and the shore,
They sing no more by the glimmer of the moon,
On the bench by the old cabin door.

The day goes by like a shadow o'er the heart,
With sorrow, where all was delight,
The time has come when the darkies have to part,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

 

Chorus

 

The head must bow and the back will have to bend,
Wherever the darky may go;
A few more days, and the trouble all will end,
In the field where the sugar-canes grow;

A few more days for to tote the weary load,
No matter, 'twill never be light;
A few more days till we totter on the road,
Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

 

Chorus

 

     Mary Ethel Stewart was born on March 11, l91l. She married Louie Guster Crager.* on June 8, 1929. Louie Crager was born on July 18, 1908 and died on March 6, 1984. Louie was a truck driver for the Lee Clay Pipe Company in Clearfield. Ethel managed two full service gas stations in Morehead during the 1950's and 1960's - the Shell Station and then the Texaco Station, which were both on West Main Street. Louie was the son of William (1874-1924)* and Delilah Swim Crager (1875-1961).

Ethel Stewart, Age 16

 

Ethel and Louie had five children. They are:

 

                               Ralph David Crager* (March 23, 1930 to December 31, 1930).

 

                               Georgia Fern Crager was born on November 25, 1931 and died on January 16, 2006. She graduated from Breckinridge School, attended Morehead State, and received her Nursing degree from the St. Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky.

 

                                   Norma Jane Crager was born on February 19, 1934. Norma graduated from Breckinridge School and Morehead State. After high school she joined the U.S. Air Force where she met and married Tinsley Morton Cloyd of Burksville, Kentucky. Jane worked for many years as a social worker for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. They had three children. They are.

 

                                              Tinsley Morton Cloyd II was born on June 28, 1954 in Burksville, Kentucky. He married Debbie Ann Lowery on April 17, 1974.

 

                                              Catherine Delilah Cloyd was born on December 6, 1960 in Burksville, Kentucky.

 

                                              Mellisa Fern Cloyd was born on December 17, 1965. She married Richard Carter on March 11, 1985. They have four children. They are:

 

∙Dewayne Carter was born on March 10, 1986.

 

∙David Carter was born on January 3, 1995.

 

∙Mary Catherine Carter was born on June 2, 1997.

 

                                               Misty Carter was born on June 2, 1997.

 

Norma Jane Crager

 

Tinsley Cloyd, Sr. with wife, Jane Crager


                                                    

                               Louie Isadore (Sonny) Crager was born on March 13, 1936 and died on October 30, 1998. After graduating from the Breckinridge School, he joined the U.S. Air Force and met and married

Ethel Stewart and Louie Crager
Wilma Faye Smith in Yuma, Arizona. Like his father, Sonny, became a truck driver. He also worked as a mechanic and was a skilled carpenter. They had three children. They are:

 

∙Tammy Lynn Crager was born on [Month, Day], 1961.

 

∙Louie Isadore Crager, Jr. was born on December 12, 1961. He married Kathy Hamm. They have three children. They are:

 

∙Tiffany Crager was born on September 25, 1984.

 

∙Beau Elliot Crager was born on September 21, 1988.

 

∙Dakota Crager was born on September 11, 1996.

 

                                              Cindy Jane Crager was born on May 2, 1964. She married Bill Copely on August 28, 1988. They have three children. They are:

 

Samantha Lynn Copely was born on June 3, 1989.

 

∙J.D. Copely was born on March 15, 1991.

 

∙Sabrina Copely was born on March 18, 1997.

 

                               Fred Thomas Crager was born on December 5, 1939. After high school, he joined the U.S.

Fred and Louie Crager
Navy. Fred has spent most of life working as a skilled pipe fitter in various locations throughout the United States. He married Loula Bell Ramey. They had four children. They are:

 

                                              Thomas Crager was born on July 24, 1961. He married Sherry Cornett. They had one child. She is:

 

∙Tara Crager was born on May 27, 1984.

 

                                              Mark Steven Crager was born on September 26, 1963.

 

                                              Melanie Ann Crager was born on January 12, 1969. She married Charlie O’Neal. They have one child. She is:

 

                                                          Kaitlyn Marie O’Neal was born on August 16, 1994.

 

∙Amanda Lou Crager was born on September 27, 1979.

 

Fred divorced Loula Belle Ramey and married Lucinda Thomas.


         

   My Aunt Ethel is the last of her generation who remained in Kentucky. She is a great story teller and at eighty-eight, she is the matriarch of the extended Stewart family. Bob Sloan, a great writer and grandson of Ethel’s sister, Stella, wrote the following short story about Aunt Ethel. It captures the awe in which the family holds her:

 

Her call was couched in typical Aunt Ethel English: "Bobby Lee, I want you to come down here, " she announced.  "And see what you can do about this water leak."  The voice was authoritative, contained no hint of supplication or entreaty, not even one "please," just expectation I'd load up some tools and go to her little house in Clearfield.

 

Louie "Sonny" and Georgia Fern Crager

Which I did, of course, though I'd rather do most anything than mess with plumbing.  For one thing I don't know much about it.  For another repairing leaky pipes calls for a body the size of a monkey's, and three hands.  There are ways around the three hands business, but I've never figured out what to do about the fact my shoulders are too wide for the crawlspaces under most houses, my hands are over-sized for matching tools to touchy hardware, and my belly too often gets  in the way.

 

Aunt Ethel's "tool kit" consists of four screwdrivers and an under-sized hammer, for driving an endless series of nails in the wall to support photos of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She has all the gizmos and gadgets that mark a serious gardener, but not much of her kit is applicable to leaking pipes.  I collected about fifty pounds of stuff from my garage, tossed it in the truck and headed out. 

 

I left my socket wrenches.  I'd never been on a plumbing job where I needed socket wrenches.  And of course, I needed them ten minutes after I saw the leak. 

 

This isn't about plumbing tools though.  It's about how Ethel reacts  when I come in her house: "Well there's my boy!" she says, grinning as I lean over for a hug.  Ethel's not much more than four feet tall; sitting or standing it's a serious lean over.  I'm one of those fortunates raised and "claimed" by several Appalachian women, who pampered and petted, fed and flattered me so long as they lived.  Once there were half a dozen homes in which I heard "There's my boy," or words to that effect.  Ethel's little house is the last of them.

 

When someone calls me  "Bobby Lee" it's an indication they've known me since before I could tie my own shoes. 

 

It's foolish for a man over fifty to find comfort in being called "a boy," but I do. 

 

Aunt Ethel’s known me since before I wore shoes.

 

Ethel and my mother were close, as far back as I can remember.  When Mom died in April of '98, Ethel told of being present at her birth in 1926, a wide-eyed fifteen year old shocked by an older sister's torment, helping as best she could.  "I put the first diaper on your mama that she ever wore," Ethel said, her eyes glistening with immense sadness. 

Jane and Georgia Crager during the Rowan County 100th Anniversary in 1956.

She's the last survivor of a big Appalachian family;  her siblings, and the friends of her youth and married life are gone.  Aunt Ethel's a widow of fifteen year's standing, and you know without asking she misses Uncle Louie at every moment, with every breath.  She's buried two of her children (most recently the son who would have taken care of that plumbing problem) and I don't know how many nieces and nephews, all of whom she rocked to sleep as infants.

 

Yet her home is a place of laughter, a warm, fun and funny  place to spend a few hours.

 

Ethel closely follows the lives of grandchildren and great grandchildren, and takes great delight in their steady and constant treks to her house to "look in on Granny."  Sometimes they find the old woman in "her" chair, but this time of year Ethel's more likely to be busy in her kitchen.  Come spring she'll take a hoe worn nearly in half by decades of hard use and turn an immense yard into an Edenic splendor of flowers and shrubs.

 

Took the better part of three days to get that leak fixed.  I'm no plumber, but Ethel knew that when she called. 

 

My wages for time spent were two cakes, two pies still warm from the oven and half a dozen stories, including one about a pint of moonshine Uncle Louie took away from a man at my great grandma's funeral, the year I was born.  Aunt Ethel kept that jar of whiskey, says there's still plenty of liquid in it, but I know better than to ask about looking to see how age effects the taste of corn liquor.  You don't swear and you don't drink in that little frame house in Clearfield. 

 

I'm not writer enough to make up a character like Aunt Ethel. 

 

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