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APRIL 25, 2018

POSSUM BIT...WON'T LET GO!

JOHN HENSLEY JOHN HENSLEY

By John Hensley


For the first 13 years of my life I lived on Big Creek in Pike County Ky. Dad owned three quarters of the hollow that we lived on. Our house was all the way back and up on a hill.

In those days most homes didn't have running water or electricity. We were lucky that we did have electric. We did not have running water. Mom would have my brothers to bring in water every night. They would put the water in a large round bathtub. She would heat the water on the pot belly stove. We kept a good supply of coal and wood to burn. Not only did she cook on it, but it was the only source of heat.

I can still remember the smell of the coffee and the sound it made while it was being made in the perculator.

We had a seam of coal on the property, Dad and my brothers would go mine the coal. I got to go sometimes, but was usually more in the way than a help.

We stayed in the hills and gardens for entertainment. My brothers hunted or fished all the time. My brother Dave, would trap animals in the winter for their fur. He would send the hides off and get his money back in the mail. He would use this for school clothes or whatever else was needed.

He also had traps that he could catch live animals in and release them unharmed. He was always catching baby animals and bringing them to me for pets. I would never know what he was bringing home next. I had pet squirrels and rabbits.

One day he brought home a baby possum. It was not the prettiest pet that I had seen but it was something.

Our house had a porch that was open underneath and the dogs usually slept there.

Mom had a set of barber clippers and would cut the neighbors hair if they wanted her to, Mr, Muncy came to get his hair cut. I was standing on this porch barefooted and shirtless holding the little possum against me on this day.

Possums do two things to protect themselves they will act dead, hence this is where the term 'play possum' comes from, or they will defend themselves.

The dogs, we had a pack of them, came out from under the porch barking intensely. The little possum that I was holding turned and bit me on the chest. You would have to picture this in your mind, a little barefoot shirtless boy running screaming through the house with the possum hanging on with just its teeth bouncing off my chest as I ran. I was no longer holding it.

Mom tried several things to get it to turn loose but to no avail. Finally she found a sewing needle and stuck it with that. The possum opened its mouth and fell off never to be seen again. I have a scar on my chest to this day...

 

MAW AND PAW HENSLEYMAW AND PAW HENSLEY

Hensley now lives across the line in Martin County.

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April 8 at 11:40pm

Never go home again?

(BONUS STORY)

It is said that you can never go home again, well today I went back home. My mother and father were God fearing and loving people, so I was in church regularly growing up on Big Creek, in Pike Co. Ky. and there was three churches that I attended.

The '77 flood and the new road on 119 took out two of them.

The only one left is the Nolan Freewill Baptist. This church was established in the 1800's and has been rebuilt several times. The church has had the same pastor for around 60 years, Brother Ray Taylor. He has been a true family friend for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories, when I was around three, was of him coming to the house, sitting on the porch and visiting with the family.

He has a very distinctive voice and laugh. Brother Ray is one of the people that I have known that is always a pleasure to see. His message is about loving one another. He was having a community meeting today and wanted everyone to come. He sent word to me through two or three people about how much he would like to see me and my family. So I got up early and went to church.

One of my cousins, Lou Hensley sang a few songs. The church had almost 200 people in it with more coming later in the day. I saw cousins I hadn't seen in a few years and friends from days long ago. It was an uplifting and rewarding day for me. I got to hug Brother Ray, tell him that I loved him and how much he meant to my family and myself. I would have to say that a day like today was priceless...

 

Comments  

0 #2 Bernard Nelson 2018-05-03 12:36
Great Story of growing up in Eastern KY. when folks really had it rough. No TV, Phones, Running water, inside bathrooms, and folks made it O.K. A great lesson for the younger folks to read & appreciate their folks.
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0 #1 Ruth Ellen 2018-05-02 00:56
Thank you, John. A good story, good memories. Please keep recording them for your family.
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