This is how Mc Roberts appeared when first built.
family can be traced back to the original settlers of Kentucky.My dad's
family were "newcomers',arriving in 1917.
A Town called McRoberts,Kentucky
it is growing older that makes one appreciate their roots.I think we
have special memories that helped shape us as children as to what kind
of person we would become as adults.I know that so many of the values
hold dear came from our family and the dear people of McRoberts.It is
that we three girls are giving people.We take no credit in
was taught to us as children from our family and from seeing the
true spirit of giving from the people.
town in American has its own special traditions and this town is no
exception.Like all small communities where everyone knows everyone,the
gossip,the disagreements existed.But,the one unique thing that stands out in my mind is the willingness to put aside those differences when a family was in need.
the main coal mine in McRoberts,I learned as a child the sound of the
whistle meant there was a cave in or someone was really hurt.The women
would come out into the streets and with a feeling of dread ,
over to the mine with the question of whose husband it would be.A
hung heavy in the air as the name or names were given.I'm certain there
was a feeling of relief that is was someone else's husband mixed
with the sorrow that a husband and father had been lost.It surely
had to be a time of conflict to deal with those powerful
mixed with a feeling of guilt for being happy their husband was safe
another woman cried.The coal miner's family lived with the dread of
whistle each and every day.
those long days after someone's death,the women in town cooked
massive amounts of food to take to the victim's home.It was our custom to have the body lie in state at their home.While some would think this a morbid custom,that is the furthest thing from the truth.That person was "brought home" and a vigil was held until the funeral.The family who was trying to cope with their loss didn't have to feel alone.Any housekeeping,cooking or other needs were automatically done by the townspeople.Friends and neighbors of the family attended to the grave being dug,giving their gift of caring in this special way.Homes were opened to people who needed a place to stay if they were from out of town.
was a time when no one was ever made to feel like a stranger.Through
long night before the funeral,people came and went,speaking in hushed
out of respect and remembering the deceased one's life.When I read of
being a drunken party,it makes me wish that the reverence of these
in McRoberts could be seen.It is a time of respect,a time of
the life that once was.A person who viewed it as an excuse to party
have been scorned for their disrespect.
who couldn't afford individual flowers for the service,they knew the
they donated to a town flower arrangement was as appreciated as the
expensive floral arrangement.It wasn't a time of different colors or
gave willingly,knowing this act of love would be returned someday
when they lost a family member.At my own mother's funeral,my late
had never witnessed such caring.When the quartet sang,tears filled his
eyes at the sound of their lovely voices,and he saw the tribute that
being paid to my father and us girls.He saw the neighbors and my
sit with me all during that dark night before Mom was buried.It made a
lasting impression on him for the rest of his brief life.Bobby loved
and brought me home as often as possible.
were times when a family might be in a struggle to feed their family
of illness.A quiet ,discreet way of helping was utilized in McRoberts.A
cardboard box would be put in plain view in the local grocery store.No
public banner was necessary to shout "look what we're doing to
just bought an extra box or can of food and placed it in the box.When
was full,the person who needed it had food for their family but their
taught the poorest,shabbiest person on earth has the self value and
as those who have had the better things in life.This one valuable
has enabled me to have friends of every economic and ethnic
life would have been the poorer without this lesson being learned in
this very day,when I see someone being a snob,I can't help but wonder
impressed God is going to be.We’ re all His children.Daddy bought us
clothes, but I also had my share of feedsack dresses before the unions
made the mine owners start paying fair wages for the backbreaking
fact,until a few years ago,I still made everything I wore even though
expense of clothes then was no problem.Homemade to me was quality--not
some name brand that offered shoddy workmanship with a snob value
in my own home and being a decent person came from my parents and from
the examples of so many of the people I knew as a young girl.It took a
lot of hard work with the coal dust flying around,but the wash hung out
on the lines was white.Instead of making excuses,these women worked
and hard to make sure their husbands and children were dressed well and
kept clean.Mom constantly told us girls that being the poorest person
earth didn't justify dirt.Her belief was as long as there was soap and
water,you had no excuses.She truly believed it was a sin in it’s own
if a person didn’t keep a baby “smelling sweet”. We thank you,Mom.You
worked long,hard hours in the darkness of the mines .They weren't
of the backbreaking work that would destroy their lungs in later
provide for their families was their goal and they achieved that goal
times over.It was with a sense of worth they provided this country with
the much needed fuel to keep the economy alive .Loretta Lynn said
it all when she sang."I'm proud to be a coal miner's daughter".You
say it any better than that.
These are the mountain people I knew.The ones that exist in old movies came from the ignorance of directors and producers.Not one movie portraying these people ever would have been made had they taken the time to visit one town in Appalachia.I remember a photographer from either Look or Life magazine came to my hometown,went to a wrecking yard and the photographs were presented as being indicative of the entire town.That is the ignorance that has helped perpetuate the negative and false portrayal of Appalachia and “hillbillies”.That in itself is a derogatory term,but we all learned to laugh about it.We know who and what we are.The joke was always on the person who felt superior by using that term in “classifying” people.Am I a hillbilly?You bet I am.
I was the original "John Boy" ,dreaming of the day when I would write a book about the mountains that are so much a part of me.That dream never came true so this is my way of sharing that dream nevertheless.When I close my eyes,I can still remember that huge golden moon peeking over the mountaintop,with sihoulettes of trees gleaming.The moaning of the trees on a windy night,the white stillness of a snowfall and the echoes of a day long ago when Mom called from the backporch,"You girls come on home now--it's gittin' dark" will live for the remainder of our days.