Hazard Kentucky and Perry County: A Photo History
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Love Letters to Hazard/Perry County

Two letters posted to the guest book that are "keepers"
I was born in 1952 to Arthur and Millie Cornett in the great little town of Fourseam. I was the youngest of a brood that consisted of six brothers and two sisters (Paul, Taylor, Leon, John, William, Grant, Shirley, Joan, and me "Arthur Junior".

From the date of my birth to 1972, Hazard was my home. I remember attending the proud little schools of that era, Fourseam, Cornett Hill Elementary and Dilce Combs High school.

Like everything else in life, there were good times and bad times. At the time though I only recognized the bad.
There were no McDonalds, no skating rinks, no bowling. Hell, there was nothing for us kids to do. We were trapped in a time with no cable or video games to give our life meaning.

We were poor and hopeless. Just killing time, until we could all grow up and escape from our mountain prison.
I'm now 47 years old and living the good life. I have satellite TV, VCR's,

DVDs, games, computers, etc. I'm employed by the postal service and make more in a year than my dad did in twenty years of back breaking work in the coal mines. A job that repaid him with an early Black lung grave.
All this reminds me of an old saying that comes to me more and more often as I grow old. "you don't know what you've got until it's gone". All the times of my youth that I considered so horrible, now seem anything but.

I remember the happy times. Times of simple games and simple choices. Times spent on concrete basketball courts in pick up games that lasted until we couldn't see the backboards.

Times of walking the dingy little halls of DCMHS on my way to English or science class and wondering how I was going to explain away my lack of homework. Times of walking the tracks from Glomawr to the family theater to see the latest 10 cent movie. Times when my nephews (John and Michael) and I would explore the hills above our house. we would take homemade candy for our lunch and drink water from creeks and puddles and it would taste like heaven. There are so many other things that I remember with such love, things that at the time were totally forgettable. "Big Mom" cooking on her coal stove or filling up the kerosene lamp because she neither had or wanted electricity. Listening to the reds or Cawood Ledford's call of the wildcats on a little transistor radio until the batteries went dead. Going downtown and having burger's and fries (on the rare times we could afford them), sneaking into the drive in.

Most of the "hazard" of my youth is gone now. Fourseam and Glomawr no longer exists. all the schools I attended are history, and the restaurants, drive ins, basketball courts are now shopping centers and parking lots.

Three of my brothers live in Cleveland, Ohio now. We're not as close as we used to be (city living does that to you), but on those rare times we get together we invariably start talking about "home". Hazard will always be that to us, no matter how old we are or how many miles we've traveled. When we talk about these times and members of the younger set hear, they almost always express their sympathy for our deprived childhood and compliment us on how far we've come.

It's not us that I feel sorry for them though. They're the ones that are to be pitied. With all their material things and the blessings of modern technology, they will never know the beauty of growing up in city that now seems like heaven.

Hazard, I will always remember and long for you.

Arthur J. Cornett

 


 

I was born at home down behind the old Pine Lodge. I was raised on Lotts Creek, mostly up in the head of Big Stankin Holler.

I went the first six years of school at Grigsby grade school. Are there any Grigsby Grade school alumni out there? We had three rooms, the little room, the middle room, and the big room. What a great little school that was. We had no library, but we had a library truck that came around once a week to let us check out books to read. The lady that drove the truck was Mrs. Marvel or Mrs. Marble. One of the other.

We had Halloween parties, Christmas plays and various other activities to keep us busy. Every morning when the cowbell rang we lined up outside the doors and said the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterwards we had a singing period when everyone would sing several songs.

At lunchtime we could go down to Marcum's store and get our lunch. Marcum's was a little general store that was a short distance down the road. He would make you a bologna sandwich, with a thick slice of bologna a slice of cheese and a dollop of mayo. a bag of potato chips and a coke all for a quarter. This is where we learned to put out peanuts in our pop. They closed Grigsby and bussed all the students off the creek to the bigger schools. I wonder if that was for the best. That's progress I guess.

I went to Combs grade school for the seventh and eighth grade and then on to M.C. Napier for high school. I graduated in 1969. Its been 30 years since I got out of school. Looking back from far away I wouldn't trade Kentucky and the people for any other way of life.

Gene Combs