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Saturday 26 November 2005

Today on the surface a quieter day, but in fact it was pretty much as interesting, sort of, in a bizarre sort of way.

Woke up well after 7, with yet another vivid dream — it's been nothing but waking up late here and vivid dreams — in which I was being carried on the shoulders of a bunch of Army cadets, somewhat like the Celts and the later Roman emperors were elevated on the shields of their men (although in the dream I was worrying that I might be too heavy!): cadets in dress greys, me in what I realized only on waking was Navy dress whites, but in the dream was not Navy — thank goodness, I guess —​a

Anyway, milling, e‑mail, working on "The History of Jenkins, Kentucky", walking Luna, and a hearty breakfast of steak and the left-over green tomato things I'd secreted in my camera bag yesterday (portions large) — then at 11 or so realized, after calling Susan in Arizona, that if I didn't get out and walk I'd be frittering away a day of perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky and maybe even 60F; and after a bit of waffling over the possibilities, decided in favor of Dunham rather than the Pine Trail back up at Pound Gap, and off I went. It's not very far, I probably walked no more than 7 miles total, and Dunham is not much: even more diffuse than Burdine, to the point that I was never at any given moment completely sure I'd actually been to Dunham, but I collared what natives were imprudent enough to be out minding their business as I walked by, and in fact do know where I've been, and it included Dunham.

[image ALT: A small two‑story rectangular wooden building by the side of a road, in some disrepair, flying two Confederate flags. It is a house in Smoky Row, an area of Jenkins, Kentucky.]
On the way to Dunham, not far out of Jenkins: a house in Smoky Row.

You exit Jenkins by the road that doesn't go to Burdine (i.e., N rather than E) passing in front of Ernestine's Tan-o‑rama across the street from Polly & Craft's Funeral Home (where Geraldine says there's a good display of old photos of Jenkins: the photos only on loan to the funeral home, they actually belong to a woman known as Granny); then not more than a mile maybe a mile and a half — passing in front of the New Freedom Worship Center I forgot to mention in yesterday's account, itself across the road from #6 Hollow which Geraldine says used to be the black neighborhood (now very few black people in town) — which looks exactly like most of the other hollows, bottoms, rows, and hills I've seen, neither richer nor poorer — then under the highway from Whitesburg to Pikesville where the hills have been cut to reveal all kinds of strata, including coal; then a bit more and a little pocket of houses on a hill, with a concrete-pouring plant on the flat on the road, and a Freewill Baptist Church (Freewill Baptists are an important denomination in this area), all of which had me fooled that maybe this was Dunham, but since after the church and the concrete plant it was back to empty road I started climbing the hill (Store Hill) dubiously, but a passing mail carrier set me right: Dunham was "a big place" further on down the road. And in fact maybe another half-mile, and a larger town, with the promise of two churches, that I eventually did see, and an area right around there and after it where the dogs were all friendly, especially a big black fella

[image ALT: A largish dog, a Labrador or Labrador-mix with a stick in his mouth, enticing the photographer.]

that left his garden and followed me the last third of a mile or so into Cottage Row and Straight Row; this latter I was somewhat curious about from "The History of Jenkins, Kentucky" — but it was of no particular interest, other than being quite straight, in fact, and with more friendly pooches coming out for me to play with them (everywhere else around here dogs just bark at you) — at least until I noticed the name on the mailbox of one house, Gary Jessey: now Geraldine had told me there was a guy by that name who works at the hospital who's written a book on the caves of Letcher County and that she thought I should meet; how many of them could there be, I went in and around back, two more friendly dogs, mom and pup, Jack Russells; young man on roof of garage doing things with a staple gun, no that's my father, I'm Jonathan Jessey, and we settled in for a fifteen-minute chat (and pet and photograph dogs),​b including about my wanderings in Italy, and that there was a Jessey at one of the battles of Pound Gap, fought for the Union and went back north afterwards, a Peter Jessey who by something of a coincidence turned out to be an ancestor of his. Anyway, let the guy get back to work Bill, I told him I'd be bearding his Dad in his den at the hospital probably on Monday; and left, retracing my steps back exactly all the way to Goodwater, with pit stop at grocery store. About 500 meters before the bend where you first see Jenkins again, chewing on a gum drop, I felt a crunch — my crown had worked its way loose. Thank goodness it doesn't hurt; I put it in a pocket of my camera bag.

[image ALT: A small wooden house in a densely wooded patch of hill near Jenkins, Kentucky.]
About a mile to go before getting back to Jenkins.

Arriving home, I thought I was done for the day; but I didn't quite quite make it home: 50 feet before, I was hailed by an old man in his front yard — 93 years old, he said — a second old man, maybe 68 or so,​1 raking leaves and looked like he was having a hard time of it, sweating; would I help? Yes of course, be glad to, lemme go drop my groceries off, I'll be right back — and the next nearly two hours I helped the younger man rake Bert Fields' large front yard, first raking up into large piles, then raking the piles onto a tarp and we pulled that tarp about 80 yards across a field to a sort of private dump behind the Lady Cavs' softball field, six or seven times until it got too dark to see. For this I was given a baseball cap — Luna got a shorter walk than she should have, but she seemed satisfied; it was nearly seven, called James to see how his poisoning enterprise was going: alas, Brian is getting better, no further need to restrain Pliny from eagerly lapping up bilious vomit on the bathroom floor. . . . I love dogs, but sometimes they're just dogs. . . .

Now back to the parts I missed yesterday: the mine at Seco, and the church across from #6 Hollow.

At Seco, in addition to the winery and the little town and its churches and tiny post office, Mr. Looney cued us on to the mine a quarter mile away from the winery, up a bit of a hill. A small clearing, and two small mine portals: one in use to park a tractor, but the other — Danger, Do Not Enter, and I didn't — pretty much as it was when it was a working mine: rail track up to the mouth of it, and coal seams right from the beginning. A very small mine (although who knows how far that tunnel leads into the mountain), but I'd never seen one, and now I have.

[image ALT: A clearing in some woods, about 60 meters across and 40 meters deep, at the back of which can be seen two low, dark, arched openings into the rising land. It is a view of the old coal mine at Seco, Kentucky.]

The mine at Seco; for some close‑ups, see its own page.

The church: maybe 400 m before getting back into Jenkins, yet another of the numberless little churches; Geraldine, by then she'd spent a few hours with me, pulls up the car, Bill goes and explores: lo! door not locked, so of course I walk in; immediately, a second door with a little window in it, and the figure of a carved angel or rather a biblical prophet, remarkably lifelike: then it blinked — one of the parishioners on a ladder on the other side of that door, painting the wall above it. . . . A crew of five sprucing up the place, a bit of a chat, and I left. Of some interest, actually, because the plaque (or rather maybe better, cornerstone) on the outside identified the church as being another denomination, not what it is now, the New Freedom Worship Center; when I mentioned that, then later mentioned what must have been a beauti­ful church, the one in ruins I saw the other day on #4 Hill, I was told that that church too had belonged to the same denomination.

I'm not likely to go to church there, but I'm glad they invited me to; if I do go to church tomorrow, it'll probably be to the 600‑pound gorilla in town, Emmanuel Baptist: other than the New Freedom church, I haven't seen the inside of a single church in Letcher County.

[image ALT: A small wooden shed at the end of someone's yard in Store Hill, a section of Dunham, Kentucky.]
A shed at Store Hill.

Note in the Diary:

1 at 59, heº turned out to be only 3 years older than me, but has had a much rougher life, including a quintuple bypass and a liver transplant!

Later Notes:

a For those who study dreams, of mild interest; analysis by the subject upon waking is wrong, and the dream is right. In my dream I remembered what otherwise I'd inexplicably forgotten: Army dress whites and the white mess uniform were both very much in use (Army Regulation 670‑1, Chapter 18), and are doubtless what I was wearing.

b I was shocked, disturbed, and terribly saddened to learn not many months later that someone had poisoned these sweet Dogs.

[image ALT: A small dog on a patch of grass; she looks up inquisitively at the camera above her.]
Gary Jessey's Parson Russell puppy.

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Page updated: 23 Feb 22