The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Allie Mae Reed © 1988

From: Growing Up On Coon Fork

Issue: January–February, 1988

When my nieces and nephews would walk across the mountain to play at our house, upon reaching the top of the mountain, they would yell very loud and we would go to meet them. Right away we would start making our plans about the games we were going to play for the day.

We played horse shoes, although the pairs didn't match, but we always knew which pair was ours.

We played "Anthony Over."

We would push a barrel up a hill, which was a chore. One would hold it while the others would crawl into it. Then turn it lose and down the hill it would go; for some reason, I never could never stay in it. By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, I would be half in and half out. It would jolt the daylights out of me.

Then we would take turns on a scooter. That's the most useless toy ever invented. You would work your left leg to death to just ride your right leg around.

In the winter time we would use the old coal shovel as a sled. We would take turns on that. Seems I used the sentence, "It's my turn," so many times growing up.

We would take a barrel and try to walk on it while it was rolling. I would always fall across it with a thump.

Oh! Goodness, how many times I have stumped my toe. Seems like I would stump the same toe twice before it would start getting well. I would even try walking on my heel.

We would catch a June bug; loop a string around its leg to let it fly around. But it worried me. I wondered if a June bug would live after losing a leg.

I would love to sit in a daisy field, pick the petals off and say, "He loves me, he don't. He will marry me, he won't".

We would play leap frog across the yard.

We would lie on our backs and make angels in the snow.

We would try to catch our shadows.

I used to lie on my back and watch clouds go by. I would imagine they were everything.

We would look for the man in the moon.

In the spring we would gather frog eggs in a jar and watch for them to turn into tadpoles.

In the spring we would watch for the first bumble bee. We knew then that Mom would let us go barefooted.

We would take a jar with a lid on it at night and run around catching lightening bugs. Oh My! sitting on the front porch watching lightening bugs fly around and the frogs croaking in the swamps.

We played ring around the roses, pocket full of posies; Skip, skip to my Lou.

We had a rope swing made with a very large rope. I don't know where we got the rope. It was so large it would take several of us to keep tying it to make the knot large enough to straddle for a seat. We would grab the rope, back up the hill, straddle the knot and away we would go.

We would take the old rope swing, one would get on it, the other would twist and twist around, then all at once let go. Oh! Goodness, my head would feel so big when the rope would stop and I would get off of it. I couldn't walk straight.

I use to run down the hill and go faster and faster. It seemed like I couldn't stop. When I did, I would scoot on my behind, jump up real quick and say, "Gosh, that smarts."

Always after a big game of "Big Toe is going to eat you up" someone would grab me, I used to get so scared it seemed like my hair would stand up.

If I was lucky and had a pair of shoes for the summer, I would take two store bought cans, put them under my feet and stomp down on them and go walking down the road, clippety–clop; most of the time I would have a time trying to get the can off my shoe.

On a rainy day we would look at our "Old Booger Man book." The old devil had a pitch fork and a pointed tail. They would say, "You better be good or the 'old booger man' will get you."

I was afraid a ghost would get me. Seems like when we would get in the bed, someone would say, "Old Rawbones" is going to get you. Up went the covers over my head. Now, on a hot summer night that was rough.

The highlight of my summer was going swimming around Bud Vanhoy's creek. It had a large rock. We would sit on it and let our feet dangle over it into the water. I learned to swim there.

I would find a granddaddy long legs and ask him to point where the cows were for me.

When I could find me a doodle bug, I would get down on my knees over the tiny hole in the ground, blow lightly, and say, "Doodle bug, doodle bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children will burn." I never could get a doodle bug to come out of the ground for me.

There was this bird that would come out at night during the spring and summer. This bird had a beautiful call. We always called him the "Whip–poor–will" because of the sound he made. If I was away from home and heard his call, I would get very homesick for Mom and the rest of the family.