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I was born in a house east of Blue Mound just east at the Roy Jones’ corner on October 25, 1927. My parents were Earl B. McCracken and Beulah A. (Cooper) McCracken. I was an only child. In my early years, we lived right across the road from Rolla Perry on Johnny Hoyt's place. I remember many of the other families around there at that time. We lived in and around Blue Mound until I was 15 years old; then we moved to Chillicothe.
One of my early memories is of my Grandfather, C.C. (Charley) McCracken. He married Mary Frances Burton and they had eight children; Clinton, Harry, Ora, Earl, Harley, Myrtle, Velma and Effie. Charley and Mary, who most people called Molly, lived north of Blue Mound at the sharp corner as you go east toward the top of Baxter Hill.
Charley owned 10 or so acres at the corner on both sides of the road. He had a blacksmith shop in a building just west of their house. They also had a big orchard, truck patch, and garden just east of their home. He also made molasses in the fall each year and had horses that helped grind the sugar cane. I always wanted to help, so he would let me hold his hand as he drove the horses around and around grinding the cane to extract the juices which would later be boiled down to produce the molasses. He did this so I wouldn't get near the kettle that was boiling the juices down and get burned. I was about 5 or 6 years old at that time.
People came from all around to get fruits, grapes and vegetables which Granny sold. After I was 6 or 7, my Granny asked me to wash her jars to get ready for canning. I used to have my Granddad's bank book and his work account book from his black smith shop with all the names of customers in it, but I have been unable to locate it lately.
My Father Earl, his Brother Harley and one of their sisters lived near Blue Mound until the early 40's. Later Uncle Harley and four of their kids and their families moved back close by and some still live their now.
When I was growing up, we had no car. My Granddad was the only one that had a car and my Dad drove for him after he got older. When we went to town, we went in Granddads' car; otherwise we stayed home or walked to where we wanted to go.
My Dad worked for John Hoyt when I was a baby. We lived back in a holler in a two room house. And Dad rode Mr. Hoyt's pony back and forth to work about a mile. One day Mrs. Hoyt asked me and Mom to come over and spend the day with her while Dad was helping Johnny fix fence or something. Dad got the horse ready and he helped Mom get on it and then Dad put me in front of him and went galloping off down through the timber and up the road. At the driveway by the barn, Mr. Hoyt saw us and said, "Earl, get that women and that baby off that horse, you will get them killed. That horse had never been rode until you started riding it!" I was about 2 or 3 years old at that time. Soon after this Dad rented his house that was across the road close to Rolla Perry’s home.
I went to Blue Mound School for my first two years. I had a little round dinner bucket and carried my lunch to school each day. My teacher, Mrs. Alva Sullivan, was a wonderful person. She was my teacher for the first and second grades. That was 1932-1935. (I went to Baxter School from the third through the eighth grade.) Mrs. Sullivan gave me my first Bible as a Christmas gift when I was in the first grade. I still have it and all of my report cards. She was a Sister to my Uncle Harry’s Wife. She lived with Arthur Winfrey there at the grocery store just across the road north of the school. Maudie and Washie O'Roark had the second grocery store and a filling station just south of the school house. I was in that store many times.
I got the measles from Maudie when I was 5 years old. She was an adult and she almost died. Many of us went to the dance; probably at Uncle Harley"s place at the top of the hill. He was always having dances there. They had a place fixed a bedroom in the back of the house for us little kids to go when we got tired and wanted to go to sleep. Raymond McCracken was sick that night and Maudie sick, so the whole bunch of us got the measles. The whole community was as sick as a dog with those old red measles. Uncle Harley’s oldest Son, Ercil, took them and got pneumonia and passed away that spring.
I was a quick learner in grade school and made good grades. So, I would finish my lessons and then set there and go to sleep and the teacher let me. My parents would walk me to school every day and then come back after me after school. It was a mile and a half. One day they were late getting there, so I just went over to Arthur Winfrey=s store and stayed there until they came. We then moved to a place just down from the school on the Davis’ property so I would't have to walk so far, but we didn't live there very long; just long enough to fill out the school year
After that we moved to a small house of my Granddads. That’s why I was able to spend so much time with them. It was only about two blocks down the road to their house and shop.
One of my memories of walking home from school was meeting Johnny and Ray Hoyt driving about 300 sheep up the hill. Of course, I was scared to death. Johnny said, "Come on, come on; they won't hurt you". I got clear off the road and climbed up on the bank as high as I could go being earthly afraid of all those animals.
We had outdoor toilets at school. There was one for the girls closest to the school another one farther away for the boys. And almost every Halloween someone would turn them over. And one Halloween they even put a buggy on top of one of them.
We didn't have electricity, so we had no refrigeration. My Mom would can the meat and make sausage and mincemeat. We always had some to eat. She would put the sausage in the oven and cook it down in used coffee cans and put the lid back on and put it in the cave. We always had pie, cake, cookies and good homemade, fresh-baked bread. My Mom baked a lot and canned every kind of vegetable. She and Daddy worked hard in their big garden for every kind of food to have the next winter.
I remember a story about Donald Barnes. I was in the third grade at Baxter School. It was a very cold winter day and it came an awful snowstorm. It was snowing really hard and the wind was also blowing hard. The snow had piled up over the fence posts, and it wasn't time for school to be out. Donald had been some place (he was just a young man) and he stopped at the school house and told the teacher (can't remember who the teacher was that year) that he was headed for Blue Mound and offered to take any of us home that lived up on the Mounds. And, he took me home that day. We were living down at the Paris' place at that time, a quarter mile from Baxter School and Donald had to right past our place to get to his home on south
The Barnes' lived on the south side of the cemetery road and the Zulligs' lived on the north side. I remember that big sign that used to go over the road. I think it is stored somewhere at the back of the cemetery now. And then there is the Mead place. He carried the mail. He married Virginia Johnson of Dawn. She is still alive. The Church of Christ was not there when I was young, only the Christian Church.
I pointed out that I got the scar on my chin on Rattlesnake Hill and she said that she got her scar at Blue Mound, too. I was in second grade. We had moved up to the Davis' place to a house that was just a couple houses from where you lived. Dad had come home from work and was chopping wood. My job was to carry it in. And there I was carrying it in one stick at a time (I was only six years old). I got my feet tangled up (I was wearing my Mother’s overshoes), fell on a big old root, and cut a big gash under my chin. The blood was just a gushing. My Dad picked me up and carried me in the house. Of course Mom almost passed out, so Daddy dressed it and got the blood stopped.
The first rock quarry at Blue Mound started when I was about 7; now that is almost 77 years ago. It was a WPA government project. My dad drove a gravel truck and helped gravel many of the roads around there as well as many more for miles around. He and another man or two drove the trucks, dumped the gravel and then spread it out. He didn't get paid much. As I remember it wasn't more than $15 every two weeks. But one thing for sure it gave a lot of people employment when they needed it most.
Raymond McCracken, Uncle Harley's second Son, had a big farm south and west of Blue Mound on the road that went west at the Carroll County line a mile south of Blue Mound. (Niran also had a farm there, too.) He died in 1996. Raymond moved a building from somewhere that later became the Open Bible Church about a mile or more south and east of Blue Mound down in Carroll County. Family and friends still go to Sunday School and Church there.
Veda Hughes (Uncle Harley’s only Daughter) lives in the Mead house and has for years. Also, Ervin (Dub) McCracken and Dolly built a home for themselves in front of the Blue Mound Cemetery road several years ago. Willard McCracken and Nina live on the east at the top of Baxter Hill where Uncle Harley and family lived when we were all small and going to Baxter School. Several of Veda and Willard’s children and grandkids still live close by.
We moved to Chillicothe when I was 15, when my Father was employed in putting in new sewer lines for Chillicothe. Then he worked for 22 years for Orville Myers at the Gun Stock Factory making gun stocks for WWII. Later he worked as a laborer until he was 74. Dad passed away in 1974 and Mother in 1997. I am so thankful for parents who took good care of me, loved me more than life and for all of the memories I have of our families.
If you would like to submit your recollections, please contact Joe G. Dillard at: 3535 West Arbor Way, Columbia, MO 65203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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