Publication Year: 2014
"This first work of fiction by Verna Mae Slone, firmly grounded in her own background, is set in the 1920s and 1930s in a closeknit community in eastern Kentucky, where family roots run deep. At its center stands as strong and resilient a heroine as any in American literature. Verna Mae Slone, a native of Knott County, Kentucky, is the author of several books, including the bestselling memoir, What My Heart Wants to Tell.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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For two hundred years and more, Eastern Kentuckians and Southern Mountaineers have been recorded and distorted by writers from the outside who have visited for a few days or weeks, observed the "picturesque" mountain people and their "quaint" culture, and hurried back to their desks in...
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I have written this book in the simple language of mountain people, telling it the way I would have talked to my neighbors. In a sense it is not fiction. Mrs. Lloyd, Caney Creek, and the Community Center are real. Lonesome Holler could be any one of the small streams that make up Caney...
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Rennie sat before the dying fire, elbows on her knees, chin cupped in her hands, hunched over like an old crippled woman. Only her face showed that she was a child of twelve. She was so tired, bone-tired, completely exhausted. Not the kind of tiredness that would go away after a few hours' rest,...
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When John Slone and Mary Gent got married, he brought his wife home to live with his parents. That was mountain custom. The youngest boy always kept his old folks as long as they lived, and in return they would give him the...
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The first winter after the old folks died, Mary was too busy to get lonesome. All the neighbors up and down Lonesome Holler had chipped in and helped out. One man dug and hauled coal for her. He also cut and dragged in enough wood to do her for the winter, and in payment he...
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In the yard of the old log house there stood five old apple trees, aged and gnarled yet still fruitful, with their apples and leaves giving shade and comfort as well as rusty beauty. Under one, Rennie had built a playhouse furnished with flat rocks covered with sheets of green moss. The table...
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The summer before Sarah Ellen was born, Mary wasn't able to do all the work. Rennie stayed home from school to help her. "I wish ye didn't have to miss so much school," her mother said. "I don't give that no never mind," Rennie assured her. By early September Mary's feet were swollen so badly she...
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Everything had gone wrong that morning. Rennie had planned on doing the family wash, and now it was raining. She lay there in bed listening to the musical splattering of the softly falling rain, glad she had remembered to bring in the stove wood that Pa had chopped. She was also glad...
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So far Pa had never discussed making a garden. He had spent several days plowing the corn field until it was almost dark, coming in so tired that he went to bed without even reading his beloved Bible. Rennie always rechecked to see whether he had fastened the barnyard gate. Sometimes...
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For a few days after the garden was planted Rennie didn't have much work to do. Pa was still breaking ground for corn. Miss Rose had left the books she had promised. Rennie hurried through her morning chores, then made a pallet for Sarah Ellen by placing a folded quilt on one end of...
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Pa was getting along so slowly with his plowing that Rennie was afraid he wouldn't get the corn planted in time. Again and again he would be asked to come to someone's home to faith doctor the sick or hold prayer. He never worked on Saturday but went instead to church with Big Jed and Uncle...
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It was one of those beautiful mornings—the sky so blue, just a few puffs of clouds—as the sun came slowly over the edge of the hills, drying dew from the ground, inching its way across Lonesome Holler. The day before, Johnnie had told Rennie that the huckleberries...
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John had sold the sheep, saying there was no need to keep them, as Rennie had never learned to spin. The money he received for them paid the year's taxes. He gave Rennie two dollars and told her to buy shoes for herself and Sarah Ellen. Rennie had taken two of her mother's dresses to Aunt Nance; the older woman had promised to make a dress for Rennie...
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By the middle of June, Rennie's garden began to come in. There had been green onions, lettuce, mustard, and radishes before then. She had gathered them when they were very small and had washed, drained, cut, and mixed them together in a large bowl. Just before they were to be...
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By her first birthday Sarah Ellen could almost walk by herself. She pulled herself up and began walking around chairs and things. Rennie was afraid that she would fall and get hurt. Johnnie said, "Let her alone. A few bumps won't hurt her. Ye can't protect her all her life. Ye're worse than an old hen...
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The long winter days found Johnnie more restless than ever. Now that it was too cold to stay in the barn he couldn't play his fiddle. One day he came home from Long Bill's store with a large paper box. He cut a big square from one side and drew a fox-and-goose game chart. With two red...
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For the next two weeks Hank refused to go home. Each day Joan or Jane would come for him, but he would put up such a squall that they'd just go back home without him. "Don't ye want to see yer new sister?" they'd ask. Hank would stomp his foot and yell, "No, I don't see no...
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"Johnnie," Rennie said one morning as he was getting up from the breakfast table, "Aunt Nance said fer me to tell ye she wanted to see ye about something when ye had any spare time to come up there fer a while." "Well, I didn't have anythin' in mind fer today, so I'll go...
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Every two or three weeks Miss Rose would stop by to see how her namesake was doing. She would always bring her something—a sweater, a pair of soft shoes, or a little toy of some kind. She also brought clothes for the older...
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It was true that the brush piles in Susan's field didn't get dry enough to burn before it was time to plant her corn. She knew that when the oak leaves got to be the size of a squirrel's ear, it was time to plant her corn. It was about the...
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Now that warm weather had set in, Johnnie was sleeping in the barn loft. It really wasn't so bad up there—an old quilt thrown over a large pile of shucks. An old mother cat and her family of five had their home in the opposite...
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Rennie came out on the porch and looked up and down Lonesome Holler. What a warm day to be the first of November. A smoky haze hid the usually bright blue sky. A soft warm breeze was bringing down the last of the leaves...
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Back then little boy children didn't begin to wear pants until they were three or four years old. Till that age they wore dresses just like the ones worn by little girls of the same age. The only difference was that boys' dresses had a row of buttons all up and down the back, while the girls'...
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Rennie didn't get to line the walls of her kitchen with the pages from the magazines as she had planned. For the next two weeks she was busy helping her father get the last of the apples, cushaws, pumpkins, and sweet and Irish...
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Everywhere up and down Lonesome Holler, Joan and Jane were known as "The Girls" or "Susan's Girls." There never were two sisters as different in personality or looks. Joan was short and heavy set, with black hair and brown eyes. She never ran out of something to talk about....
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Rennie grew up in a place and at a time when how a person looked didn't matter all that much. Girls weren't encouraged to try to make themselves appealing to the opposite sex. "Pretty is as pretty does" was not just said, it was...
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The long months that Rennie had spent caring for her father had taken a lot from her both physically and emotionally. It had kept her housebound. She had been thankful for the large supply of books that Mr. Spradlow had left in the tall bookshelves in Johnnie's house. She had sat by her...
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It wasn't long before Mr. Tate got his chance to meet Rennie. It had begun raining just a little after school began one day—not a heavy rain, just a steady fall that kept up all day. He didn't let the children out for recess, only the brave...
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The next three years were long years for Rennie. It was hard to adjust to being alone. Her father and Sarah Ellen had taken up so much of her time, there had never been enough hours in the day to get all done that needed to be. Now she found herself hunting up jobs to do just to pass the...
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The years slipped away one at a time, winter following summer. Johnnie was still working at the sawmill. Sarah Ellen was now in the eighth grade. One evening when Johnnie was having supper with them he said, just as casually as if he were telling her about buying a mule, "I'm gettin' married this next weekend/7 Rennie was too stunned to...
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Rennie never knew for sure what happened between Sarah Ellen and Hank that broke up their friendship. It must have been something very upsetting to both, for they didn't try to make it up. Hank quit coming home on the weekends, and when he did he never stopped at Rennie's house, and if...
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Rennie decided that it would be best for them to go to the school and see if Sarah Ellen would be accepted before they bought her clothes. There were always more wanting to go than the school had room for. Sarah Ellen had been helping Rennie with the garden...
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When Johnnie drove up to the school, sure enough, Ruth was at the big gate in front of the post office. The gate was the only break in the rock wall that enclosed the school. "Well, I see ye really mean business," was her greeting to Sarah Ellen. Johnnie began unloading the truck and placing the boxes on top of the rock wall. "Where does this stuff go?" he asked...
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Sarah Ellen loved school, but there were a few things she didn't like. For one thing, the beds were so hard—no springs, just a thin flat pad on the hard rough boards. She often thought of the big goose feather bed that she had...
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Hank went to the school drunk more than once and caused a lot of trouble. One time he got himself arrested and put in jail. Johnnie went and paid his fine, bailed him out, and gave him a good tongue lashing. Rennie was afraid he...
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It would be four more years before the sisters saw each other again. Sarah Ellen had promised Rennie she'd write every week. She kept her promise. What Johnnie had said to her had sunk in. She told Rennie all about her classes, the folks she lived with, her friends. "Wish you could see...
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Rennie had awakened that morning at the first rooster crow, but she had lain in bed until she heard the birds twittering in the apple tree outside her window. "No use wasting lamp oil by gettin' up before it's daylight," she told herself. Yet out of force of habit she hurried through breakfast. She didn't...
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Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2014