Handwritten by Ethel Ruby (Chinn) Coffey (1914-2012)

for her son William D. Coffey around about, as recollected, the year 2006

(verbatim as written in longhand/cursive [excepting insertions])


Writing for Don

I grew up on a farm in Ohio and Daviess Counties [Kentucky]. A small portion of it was in Ohio County and the rest was in Daviess County. I went to a small school and graduated from the 8th grade. Then I went to Pleasant Ridge High School, where I completed the 12th grade.

We lived very primitive in those days. We lived in an old house where we got very cold. The main reason we did was because we tried to heat the house with grates. We heated with wood and coal, which put out fumes that were very “obnoxious.” We wore long johns, so that helped to keep us warm.

We went to a country church by the name of Green Briar, which was very dear to me, because most of my ancestors went there and were buried there. I think most of my mother’s family either were buried there, or at Buck Creek Cemetery in McLean Co. I also had a sister buried there named Ella V. who was less than two years old. So I was the youngest child in the family.

We never had much money. My dad was a farmer and those were depression times. The only money we had was from [growing] tobacco and the little we got for menial jobs. We grew a garden and had plenty to eat. We didn’t need much to wear, because we didn’t go many places and didn’t worry, because we looked as nice as everybody else. So we were happy.

We didn’t have much furniture. Most of it was from sales and anywhere we could find it. I know now that we had some good furniture and didn’t realize it. I got smarter as the years went by and wished we hadn’t sold it so cheap. We had an old pump organ which we later replaced with a piano and I played both of them. I got a lot of enjoyment from it. We had a radio and would laugh at “Amos & Andy” etc. So we did have fun.

We had a telephone that hung on the wall. When we cranked it, a neighbor’s voice would say “hello.” Sometimes we couldn’t get it to work, because they were talking so long. Of course when we were talking, we enjoyed it.

We didn’t have too much to play with when we were children. I didn’t much like to play with dolls, because I was a tomboy. I loved to climb trees, slide down the sand bank on our farm and jump ditches. But dolls bored me.

We had several animals on our farm. Mules, horses, hogs, cows, dogs & cats. They all had funny names, such as “Daisy” the cow, “Mae” the horse, and “Betsy” the pig. They were all pets and I loved every one of them.

We really didn’t travel much in those days. First, we didn’t have anywhere to go and we didn’t have anything to ride in that we were not ashamed of. Who wants to be seen riding in a buggy, a Model T or a wagon? I’d rather stay home.

I really didn’t realize when I grew up, because my family always were so good to me. I was fortunate because I got most of what I wanted. Not everything of course, because my parents couldn’t afford it. My brother [Clay] said he never was treated that well. Personally, I think he was “jealous” because he thought he was cheated.

I guess the bravest thing which happened in my family was when my mother tried to kill a snake which got in her kitchen. She hit at it with a broom, but missed it. I think she was awful brave though because she tried to kill it. I don’t really know how it got in her kitchen. Of course it wasn’t built very well. It had holes, cracks and openings that anything could have got through.

I never really had “bad” days. I thought they were all good. As long as I was full and happy, I loved every minute. But then sometimes I didn’t feel well and nobody is happy then. I really think I had more good than bad days. So all in all I did fine. At least I’m not going to complain now, because it wouldn’t do any good.

I loved my family very much. My father was hard working, never knew when to stop. When it was coming up a storm, he would scare us all to death because he wouldn’t quit and we all knew he would get “electricuted.”  My mother protected us all. I never knew she liked the breast of a chicken, when we were growing up. She always “pretended” she liked the wing. I thought Eula Mae, my gentle sister, was the sweetest in the world. She taught school and her pupils all loved her.

My brother Clay started teaching school and couldn’t make a living, so he sold cars and made good money. My brother Frank was kind, helpful and I loved him very much. So I guess I was fortunate to have a good family like that.

If I had my life to live over, I guess I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes you are better off than you think you are. So I will just “smile” in my memories. I might have done “worse.”

[signed] Ethel Ruby “Chinn” Coffey


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