Tag Archives: kentucky

How I Lost My Virtual Virginity Selling Bibles in the South

You remember the end of sophomore year in college? You didn’t want to go home for the summer again, live under your dad’s roof and work for your mom. It was 1975, and you needed your freedom. You hungered for a chance to be your own person; to do adventurous, dangerous, reckless, shit and have more crazy sex than a good Baptist girl should even think about. Right?

Me too!  So I jumped at the dubious opportunity to spend the summer hitchhiking around the south selling bibles for the Thomas Nelson Company.bible

All I had to do was knock on every single door, in small town neighborhoods, and convince the “woman of the house” to buy a bible. It was a matter of odds. If I worked hard and followed the script, my product would sell itself. I had family bibles, children’s bibles, large print bibles and medical dictionaries.

A group of my friends were going, my boyfriend was going, so I was going too. My parents didn’t have the energy to stop me, and frankly, my dad was a “you made your bed now lie in it” kind of a guy, and I think he hoped I would learn a valuable lesson from my life on the road.

Let me give you a visual: I was a gullible, 108 lb, 5’7″ tall, mini-skirted, blonde chick, who wanted to see the good in everybody. I’d never known real hardship, hunger or sadness. I’d never been physically, sexually or emotionally hurt in anyway, and the possibility of such, never crossed my mind. I thought I was untouchable; a cute, middle class, peace and love, wandering waif, without a clue in this world.

Lessons learned indeed.

(To be continued)

 

Visit my website at JoettaCurrie.com

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HELP! MURDER! POLICE…

Help! Murder! Police!  My wife fell in the grease.  I laughed so hard, I fell in the lard.  Help! Murder! Police!

I kid you not.

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This is what we chanted in 2nd grade, on the playground at Woodleigh Elementary in my small Kentucky town.  I guess every generation has their share of quirks or sayings they used for social interaction and parental confusion. Looking back, some of ours bordered on cruel and unusual. For example:

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We used to touch something or someone we thought gross or stinky or inferior in some way, then touch someone else, cross our fingers and yell,” POSTED”.  That child then, had to find another person with uncrossed fingers and pass the stinky germs on to them. I spent a big part of my young academic life with a watchful eye and crossed fingers. I’m sure those so called “inferior” people felt the brunt of it and I feel ashamed.  But, I was a dumb kid.  What did I know?  It seemed to be accepted by teachers and parents.  I don’t ever remember a teacher taking a proactive step to stop us and I do remember Mrs. Collins having her fingers crossed behind her back on the playground one time.  But, that was probably for something else.

Then there were Slam Books.

A Slam Book was a spiral bound note book, usually decorated by the owner (girls of course, boys didn’t own them, but did sign them) The first page was a numbered column in which kids put their name, to get assigned a number. Consecutive pages had a random persons name at the top and everyone who signed in on the first page, could write a comment on each person’s using their assigned number as their signature.

Oh the nasty things people would say with 2 minutes of anonymity. Things like:

Cute, but fat  #12

or

I’m never speaking to her again. #3

and

She should put on nicer underwear if she’s going to climb up the slide.  # 11

Yes, really.

My page got mostly favorable comments, but there were a few:

Nice but weird  #9

or

Skinny Minnie # 6

and

Jesus doesn’t love you anymore #22

That last one worried me for a while because the blasphemous kid signed in as God on #22.

Fortunately, it wasn’t all mean spirited.  Who can forget that flavorful tune?

“Great, green gobs of greasy grimy gopher guts, marinated monkey meat, little dirty birdie feet.   All this good food I would like to eat, but I forgot my spoon.” 

Pure poetry.

I Learned to Dance in the Outhouse

The outhouse was situated between the henhouse and the coal pile on my grandparents farm in Kentucky.   It was where I learned to dance, had my first art exhibit, won small victories and shared intimate secrets with my potty companions.  It was a multipurpose facility.

For those who don't know...

For those who don’t know…

The weathered, wooden building was a four by six foot, two seater with a tin roof and a door that squeaked out a song when it opened and closed.  It had little or no foundation and rocked back and forth in the wind.  My dad put handles on the inside walls so you could hold it steady if the there came a sudden gust.  The floor boards were loose and if you stepped on one, then the other, they gave way enough to get a good rhythm going.

I needed that in the fall of 1968 when I attended my first semi formal dance.  The Eighth Grade Band Dance was a Fee School spotlight event.  Anxiously anticipated for months, talked about afterwards for weeks, it was a make or break situation for eighth graders.  I had two problems: I wasn’t sure who my date was and I didn’t know how to dance.

I had a whirlwind romantic life at the time.  I had gotten Bobby C’s I.D. bracelet on Monday.  Broke up, gave it back on Tuesday.  Got Robbie B’s on Wednesday. Broke up, gave it back on Friday before class, and got both of them back by the end of the day.  The dance was Saturday night and I was going steady with two boys.  I was switching I.D. bracelets so often, my arm didn’t have time to turn green.  That was problem number one.

Problem number two was my lack of proficiency on the dance floor.  I could move around, but I looked silly doing it.  I was all feet, skinny, flat chested and awkward.  if you looked at me, you would wonder how I ended up with two boyfriends in the first place.  I needed to learn to dance, and fast.  This is where the outhouse came in handy.

We went to my grandparents farm almost every weekend.  It was just up the road in Bracken County.  They didn’t have indoor plumbing and the outhouse was an excellent place for quiet contemplation (I had to decide on a boyfriend) and to my relief, a good place to learn to dance.  I had stepped on those loose boards a hundred times, but it never occurred to me that they would provide a solution to my problem.  As they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

I had just been given a transistor radio, for my birthday and was listening to “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” by The Ohio Express (a one hit wonder) I headed to the outhouse for the usual reason, but when I stepped inside with the need to pee and bubble gum in my ear, magic happened.  I started bobbing up and down and moving back and forth, the boards giving way just enough to get my groove on.  It felt good.  I could hear the chickens clucking next door so I started flapping my arms and even threw in a few cock a doodle do’s.  I stayed there all afternoon working on moves.  I was ready for my debut.

I wasn’t allowed to date, so my dad drove me to the dance.  We pulled up to the gym laboriously decorated with tissue paper stuffed chicken wire and silver streamers. It was gorgeous!  With a blue moire dress, lace tights, a padded bra and a bracelet on each arm, I was gorgeous too!  Dad got out, came around and opened the door for me.  Extending his hand, he said, “You look very pretty tonight Jo.  Every boy there is going to want to dance with you.  Have fun and keep your chin up and your nose clean.”

He said that last bit about my chin and my nose every time I went anywhere.  It meant “be good.” What stuck with me was the part about every boy wanting to dance with me.  I believed it.  I started thinking that maybe I didn’t need a boyfriend at all.  I could play the field, dance each dance with a different guy.  I would be so in demand they would be standing in line, waiting in enviable awe till it was their turn.  I was so confident that I glided across the gym floor and told Bobby C, “Sorry, but we’re over for good.  I need my freedom.” I handed him his I.D. bracelet and walked away.  Don’t cry for Bobby C, he gave it to my best friend before the night was over.  As I left my jilted young love, I saw Robby B standing at the punch bowl and gave him the same treatment.  He cried and told me to keep the bracelet in case I change my mind.

“How embarrassing for us both.” I said to my soon to be former best friend and I asked her to return it for me when he gets a grip.

I was free!  I waited for the moment to sink in and the lines to form.  I spun around, pushing out my padded chest and faking a lady like laugh.   I did that for 45 minutes.

I was wrong about the line of suitors. No one lined up.  No one even asked me to dance.  In fact, no boy asked any girl to dance.  They all stood around looking at their feet and drinking non spiked punch.  The girls got tired of waiting and started dancing with each other.    It became competitive as each girl tried to best the other with their moves.  There were  thirty girls, first timers in heels and panty hose, in a circle, lighting up the joint.  We were on fire!

That night I invented the Funky Chicken.  I never got credit for it and I’ve accepted my loss of fame.  But it was me, inspired by a humble outhouse nestled between the hen house and the coal pile on a small farm in Kentucky.

 Chicken Killer              

I killed my first living thing when I was 11 years old.  I picked it up, grabbed it’s neck and wrung it around and around until I heard a snap. Then I ripped it’s head off and flung the body on the ground.

“Good Lord!  It sounds awful when I read about it.”

I killed a chicken.  Only once. It never happened again.

Chicken Killer

I grew up in a small town in Kentucky just down the road from my grandparents farm.  My dad, a high school biology teacher, still helped Pappaw with most of the planting, tending and harvesting and in exchange we got chicken and beef and all the fruit and vegetables we wanted.

We had  “Chicken Killing Day” each year, but Mammaw was the one that usually did the deed.  I just stood and watched them flop around the yard. Then one day, I bragged to my sister that I could do it and asked my grandmother if I could try. I thought she’d say no. I would have looked like a chicken (excuse the pun, but that’s the word for it) to back out. So I did it. It wasn’t hard to do, a little scary at first because it clearly didn’t want to die, making a heck of a noisy flutter. I’d seen Mammaw do it so many times, it was over and done with before I knew it.  The unfortunate thing was being called a chicken killer for the next several weeks.  My grandmother probably killed over a thousand chickens, but I became “our little chicken killer.”  One lousy, dead chicken and I was labeled for life.  They got tired of it after a while, but my sister still brings it up from time to time.  I think she may be sorry she didn’t have the guts to do it.  She missed a life defining moment, of sorts.

Our “Chicken Killing Day” chore was to take the headless bodies and dip them in water, bubbling in a huge cast iron kettle, set over a fire behind the hollyhocks in the back of the yard.  We’d leave them in for a few seconds, just long enough to make it easier to pull their feathers out so we could take them in the house for my mom and Aunt Hazel to gut, cut up and pack in freezer bags.

That doesn’t sound so good either, but it’s what we did. It’s what happens when you have a working farm.

My Mammaw & Pappaw

My Mammaw & Pappaw

It was a small farm, raising mostly tobacco and corn.  There were five or six milk cows, fifteen to twenty chickens, two mules (for plowing where the tractor couldn’t go) a dog named Butchie and a big vegetable garden located out behind the stable.  I was there with my sisters almost every weekend, and daily during the summers from the time I was born until I was fourteen.

My dad would help Pappaw and Aunt Hazel work the tobacco fields while Mammaw, my two sisters and I would do chores around the house or play made up games in the yard.

I enjoyed most of the chores.  Feeding the chickens in the morning was fun although, sometimes frightening. They would peck at you and fly up trying to get the feed out of the pan.  Once I dropped some on the top of my foot and got a nasty peck that drew blood.  Mammaw washed it off with Lysol and water while she yelled at me for not wearing shoes, “If I told you once, I told you a thousand times, you can’t walk around chickens in those dang flip flops.”

The chickens had the run of the yard, so we were always on the lookout for chickenshit.  It was funny.  The word “shit” was a bad word.  We would have gotten a whipping if we said it, but chickenshit was different and was used on a regular basis by us all.

Aunt Hazel would say, “Make sure you check your feet for chickenshit before you come into this house.”

Lamenting the placement of poultry poo, Mammaw would exclaim, “Look at that chickenshit, right on my cement!”

I don’t think chickens have the brain capacity to be purposeful in such things, but she took it as a personal insult.  There was only a little cement around the cistern and she liked it to be clean.  She’d say, “Those girls are just being spiteful doing it there, when they got the whole dang yard to do it in.”

I guess she thought the rooster knew better. I miss chickens.  Now that raising them has become a popular urban hobby, I’m thinking I may take on a few.  I just hope they don’t recognize a chicken killer when they see one.