My wife Lois grew up in Wolfe County Kentucky in the little village of Campton where she was born. Campton likes to call itself, “The Friendliest Little Town in the Mountains.” It’s more than a slogan. People really are friendly down there. It is situated in a beautiful part of the Bluegrass State. It’s nicely out-of-the-way. You have to mean to go there.
She lived the first nine years of her life in a white two-bedroom house. It had a tin roof that rang in the rain and a porch, like any self-respecting Kentucky home. The house sat in the shadow of a mountain across the creek from the Campton Baptist Church. Last time I visited it was still there. I think Lois still owns a twelfth of it.
Lois has fond memories of Sundays in Campton growing up. They attended the Baptist Church. After church they would always walk to their Mamaw Banks for chicken dinner and then down to the bus station for ice cream. Mamaw Hatton would get some change from her little black change purse and fund the treat. Lois loved to crawl up on the stool at the soda fountain.
The rest of the afternoon and evening they would spend on their Mamaw Hatton’s porch visiting with the neighbors and watching the traffic until evening came. The kids would get restless and play rowdy games in the yard and Mamaw Hatton would try valiantly to protect her beautiful petunias and impatiens from harm. (In that part of the country the soft drink of choice is a sweet ginger ale they call “Ale-8-One”. The way Kentucky people say it, it sounds like “Al-Eight.” I doubt if they ever whiled away an the evening on the porch without Ale-Eight on hand. My children always beg for it as soon as we get within sight of the mountains).
Lois’ mother is the kind who would not think of taking her children out in public without having them perfectly groomed. You can see this in all the pictures taken when Lois was a girl. Her dresses were spotless above her dimpled knees. Her hair was perfectly clean and cut with strait bangs above her dark eyes.
The little house in which they lived did not have hot running water so to get four little children ready for church took some effort. Lois’ mother bathed each of the children in turn in a wash tub on the kitchen floor. She had to heat the bathwater on the stove. After their baths they would brush their teeth and rinse their mouths with Listerine and spit in the tub. By the time they were all done the water was, well lets just say “used.”
One Sunday morning she had the children all ready for church, bathed and dressed in their crisp Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes. That was back in the day when little girls wore white gloves and hats to church. They were just about to step out the door to church, Bibles in hand when disaster struck. Lois and her older brother Alvin begin to jostle one another. Little Lois lost her balance and tumbled into the washtub. Beyond her baptism that morning there would be no more religious observances that day.
Lois’ mother lives in northern Indiana now. Her grandmothers have passed on. The porches are empty now. Lois has her own way of getting everybody up and ready and making the Lord’s Day special. Hats off to moms around the world today for all they do to point little eyes to God.
Riverfront Character Inn
May 9, 2005