Summertime and Family Reunions

Last year I received a dvd made up of old 8 mm family movies from my Aunt Bev.  There was a clip of some of our family reunions on it, taken by my Uncle Billy Joe at my grandma’s house in Maryville.  

While I am working on my genealogy, I have noticed how  family reunions nowadays are being planned.  Games, themes, pricey door prizes, matching t shirts and the like.   It made me think of our reunions when I was growing up.  Ours were not like that.  They were generally in a field or someone’s backyard.  They consisted of the men BSing each other at the washer holes, good homemade food, old ladies gossiping in webbed lawn chairs and a lot of running and playing if you were one of us kids.   I usually went home and broke out in a miserable case of poison ivy a few days later from wallering in the woods.  Probably partly due to the fact I was wearing dresses.  

I am the little girl in a dress in the front of this picture. It was the mid 1960s and I remember that dress. It was blue, very pretty and barnyard appropriate 🙂   I believe David Joe is beside me.  Karla Sue is at the end of the table.  Billy Joe and Bev are getting their food.  This was a reunion in Kentucky.

Bev is talking to Ma Bolin.  Aunt Clara and Aunt Ruth are the others I think.  This is the same reunion in Kentucky.  We would take the ferry over from Cannelton to Hawesville.  That was something to look forward to for us kids.

Several of our reunions were in Hawesville, Kentucky.  Someone down there made the best cherry pie in the world.  I knew this and looked forward to that cherry pie each year.  I am sure they picked and pitted the cherries and made the crust homemade.   My mouth is watering writing about it.

One of the scariest funniest things that ever happened down there was when a  smart aleck boy ate mistletoe berries.  We were all out in the woods playing.  The boys were always having a “pissing contest” with each other.   They were usually in two factions.  The home boys and the visiting boys and they were all wilder than march hares.  I’m sure it was a dare.  But for whatever stupid reason he ate the berries off of some wild mistletoe growing up in a tree.  Then everyone got scared.  Someone said the words, “it’s poison, he’ll die” and we all took off running back to the Momma’s.   So all of the Momma’s gather round him and start talking about what they can whip up to make him puke.  I don’t know what they finally did, but I can still to this day see that dumb kid puking in the middle of the circle of the Momma’s.

If I remembered more he probably got his butt whipped too.  That’s usually what happened when you scared the Momma’s.

A get together of Bolin’s at my Grandma’s house in Maryville. Faye, Susie and Gene.   Early 1960s.

Grandpa Aaron Bolin and his sister, Jane Bolin Gipson “Aunt Katie” at Grandma’s house in Maryville.  Mid 1960s.

A Family Reunion at the State Forest shelterhouse.  My Grandma Evans is in the white dress and high heels next to the shelterhouse.  It must have been after church.

1970s.  My dad, Chuck, and Grandpa John having a BS session while Ev doesn’t believe a word of it I would imagine.

I sure miss those reunions and those folks.


Mac’s Cafe on Main Street in Winslow

My grandma, Barbara Bolin Evans,  had fond memories of working at Mac’s Café.  She used to walk from Muren to Winslow into work. My Grandpa Evans always told the story about how when he first met her she was walking to work in the winter without a coat.  He said the first thing he did when they started dating was buy her a winter coat.

She was close to the Dedman and McCord families back then, who ran the cafe.  She remembered John David and Mary Jane Dedman Smith as children growing up there.  I asked John David to share a little history of the store with me.  John David Dedman runs the Winslow Eskimo website at  He worked for years as a postal clerk in Winslow and has some good stories to share.

Mac's Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956

Mac’s Cafe, Main Street Winslow, about 1956.  Where the bank parking lot is now.

“At one time back in the 50’s, there was a Marathon gas station on the corner just south of the restaurant and there was a big sign out front that said “Mac’s Café”.  Actually it was a tavern but they did have a fairly good food business, especially sandwiches.

The tavern burned in either 57 or 58 and was a total loss.   The building was owned by Harcourt Scales and was not re-built after the fire.   Someone had broken in to the tavern to steal things and torched it to cover up the break in.

Attached is a picture I had of the inside of the restaurant and I think it is dated 1952.   The lady to the far left is Sarah McCord, my grandmother and I am sure the waitress is Barbara, your grandmother.   I think the man drinking the beer could have been Pap Dorsey and the man sitting behind him reminds me of John Hunley.   I cannot think of the names of the lady and man sitting at the bar but they were frequent guests in there.

I have this picture up on my web site at   The juke box is one of those old rare Seeberg record players, and then they had a bumper pool table.  Later they put in a shuffle board and a TV.   The kitchen was on the back left side and the door on the right was to men’s restroom, the ladies room was closer to the kitchen.   One time in the mid 40’s they had slot machines that sat around the restroom door and along the wall.   I remember on VE-D in 1945 after the end of the Japan war, I hit the jackpot on the 10 cent slot machine.  It was not long after that the slots were taken out, and buried as it was becoming illegal to have them.”

Mac's Cafe, 1952.

Mac’s Cafe, 1952.

I had shared this picture with my grandma and she agreed she was the waitress.  She remembered that old plaid dress.

“ After the tavern burnt, the John Russ Insurance Agency re-built it and had their insurance office there for several years.   John Russ, Herbert Russ and Basil Thompson worked there.   At one time, John let us use the back part of his office for amateur radio meetings which we held every month on a Monday night for a long time.   I was a licensed ham, as well as Basil, and Herb wanted to get a license but never did.   Ernie Hume and his wife and son did get a ham license. “

My grandma told me that she had a picture of Pearl and the store somewhere too.  We found it one day in a box in the old cupboard in her bedroom.  I shared it with John who told me about the picture.

The McCord at Mac's Cafe.

The McCord’s at Mac’s Cafe.

“The photo you sent me was of Pearl B. McCord and his wife, Sarah E. McCord.  They were the owners of Mac’s Café which was located at the location where the Citizens State Bank (German American) now sits.   Pearl was my mother’s father and at one time in the early 30’s was Postmaster at Winslow Post Office.   My actual grandmother – Audie, died when my mother was only 12 years old and Pearl married Sarah a few years later and they lived in the house down from you on Center Street where Jerry and Mary Jane lived for years..

I had lived in the same house from about 1958 until 1963 when I moved to Evansville, then Mary & Jerry moved in there.

My grandfather had a large roll top desk sitting where you see them in the picture and he did his book work there and it was where he could see the bar and kitchen.  After the fire, the only thing that was saved was the desk and I ended up with it myself.  I had to take off the roll-top as it was damaged too much, but the rest was okay and I used it for years while I was living in Winslow. “

My Grandparents Schooling

My grandparents were schooled along side all of the other coal miners children in two of the early schools that are no longer standing.

My grandma went to a few different schools.  She always said she went to the one that was north of Winslow back behind Sunset Cemetery before the coal mines took all  of that land and it’s communities.  She went to the Birch school for awhile.  But mostly she went to Muren School.

The old Muren School building.

The old Muren School building.

The old Muren school sat on the corner of the Ayrshire Road and the Line Road.  For years the old water pump was still standing in the field but it is now gone.  My dad and Gene McCandless helped tear the school down.  Gene’s dad, Kenny McCandless was using the lumber for something or other.  Dad drove a huge splinter of wood through his shoe into his foot longways.  Gene took him to Grandpa Bolin because they were the doctoring kind and could fix what ailed you.  Grandpa took dads foot, cut the length of the splinter open and pulled it out.  Dad said he put coal tar on it, bandaged it up, put the boot back on and sent him back to work.  Dad said it never did get infected and healed up just fine.  Hurt like heck though.

Grandma, Evelyn and Denver at Muren School.

Grandma, Evelyn and Denver at Muren School.

My cousin Missy had this old class photo of Muren School.  My grandma, Barbara Bolin Evans is the first little girl on the first row.  Her sister, Evelyn Bolin Vogel (Missy’s mom) is the last girl on the last row.  Their brother, Denver Bolin is the tall boy on the back row.  This was taken sometime in the late 1920s,  early 1930s.

I may have told the story before about the pair of socks but I will tell it again because that is what storytellers do.  Grandma and Ev had only one pair of socks they shared.  The school was going on a field trip to the Evansville Zoo.  Grandma wanted to wear the socks to the zoo.  She was so mad because Ev had worn them, washed them, put them too close to the fire and they burned up.

Maybe some of you know the other students in the picture?

My Pappaw John Evans, who is really my stepgrandpa but never would have had it any other way than he was my grandpa, went to Arthur School when he was a little boy.  He had these two photos in his old pictures.  The old Arthur school has finally fallen in.  You can still see where it’s fallen and the chimney stands.  Look straight ahead at the old 64 shortcut road.

pappa4 (3)

Old Arthur School in the late teens, early 1920s.

Pappaw John is on the back row about the 3rd boy in.  He has shorter hair.  The boy on the front row in the dark pants and dark jacket might possibly be his brother, Bertis just by the family resemblance.  He kind of looks like my uncle Buck.  I like how the boys had to take off their hats for the picture and they are all up in the window sills of the school behind them.

1925 Arthur School

1925 Arthur School

This one is a little easier to date because the boy is holding the basketball with the date 1925 on it.  Pappaw John is standing to the right of the boy holding the ball.  The windows have been broken and one is patched with a Beech Nut advertisement.

Maybe someone can identify some of the other kids in these too?

Ice in My Lemonade

It’s the end of June, sweltering hot and everything is parched from the drought we are suffering.   It is 108 degrees today, beating the record high of 102 in 1936.  It feels like 118 degrees.

We are working on beating the record of 1936 for the drought also.  So far our 2012 rainfall is 11.53 inches.  In 1936 it was 27.94 for the year.

I think back to 1936.  Some folks around hereabouts didn’t even have electricity yet.  I imagine the swimming holes were crowded with skinny dippers.  I imagine they were more than grateful for shade trees.  I imagine a sleeping porch would have been divine.  I imagine a drink of cold water from the spring or the well would have tasted heavenly.

I am sitting here in the cool house with the luxury of central air conditioning, reading the gripes about the heat on Facebook.  I just poured a glass of fresh squeezed lemonade over a glass of ice.  Ice that I filled my glass with by sticking it up to the refrigerator door.

What about the ice?  Something I take for granted was once hard to come by.

My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin in Muren.

My great grandparents wanted the ice man to leave them a 75 cent block of ice this day.

Kitty Keeton who grew up in the Muren area in the early 1900s, wrote about ice in his memoirs.

Another thing that Grandfather done was to have rough lumber from the trees sawed for general purposes — and one to build an ice house about a foot between the outside and inside filled with saw dust. The only cost of the saw dust was going to the mills with side board wagons to get free for the asking. When it was winter, the pond ice was sawed and hauled and stored inside this building—about 1 foot, and then saw dust was put on top of that. Then another layer and then the same until it reached the top. Same way of getting to top layer and going down. And through the summer when they wanted ice cream, they always had milk. Just get the ice from the ice house and freeze the ice cream. The ice wasn’t used for cooling water as it was usually from the ponds. Some people even went to the rivers or perhaps to the back water ice that the water usually left.

Kind of makes me appreciate the sound of ice tinkling into my glass of lemonade today while I lounge in my air conditioned home blogging.

Muren Church of God

    The Muren Church of God has always been a part of my childhood.  They celebrated their one hundred year anniversary in 2010. 

Plaque on the new bell tower built in honor of 100 years

    Patoka Grove United Methodist was our church, but most of my family and friends attended Muren Church of God.  My great grandparents, Aaron and Maggie Dixon Bolin were part of the original congregation.  My parents were married there in 1960 and most likely my grandparents were married there.  I did spend many Rally Days there by my cousin’s invitations, along with some random Sundays and holidays.  I attended long enough at one time when we lived in Muren to be a part of the youth group.  I remember those Halloween parties with the cold spaghetti used as brains and the frozen grapes for eyeballs.  Then I had to walk home down Muren Hill in the dark.  It was probably more like run home with every imaginable monster chasing me!  I sent my children to Bible School there and still have a sixteen year old Bible School project magnet on my fridge as a keepsake.    

Building of the church: My great grandparents Maggie Dixon Bolin on far left, Aaron Bolin on right in black hat.

    I am now fifty years old and Jocko McCandless was the minister of Muren Church of God most of those years.  He just passed away this month to join in heaven his wife, Maxine Bolin McCandless who passed in December of 2010.  They were among the nicest people on God’s green earth and will be missed by many.  Jocko was the minister at the church from 1958 to 1991.  Jocko was my Aunt’s (on my Momma’s side) Brother in law and Maxine was my Dad’s Cousin.   Most of us from the Muren area are either blood cousins or married in cousins to each other some where down the line. If your family is from the area you know this and if not you will never figure it out.   

Jocko and Maxine at the Muren Reunion (thanks for photo Judy McCandless Loveless)

    Kitty Keeton (1897- 1982 ) grew up in the Muren, Turkey Hill, Aberdeen and Massey areas..  Again that whole married in thing, my first husband was one of his great nephews, making him my children’s great great uncle.  He made mention of Muren Church of God in his memoirs:

    “Arlo Hurt was another and like brothers we would fight one and another.  If anybody would bother the other, they had both of us to whip.  He really was a trusted buddy.  He married a Russ girl of Muren – Rev. Russ’s daughter.  He was the original Church of God pastor of Muren.  Muren, Winslow, Oakland City still have some of his following as of now.  McCandless, the great grandson is the pastor at Muren.  Jodie Davis, another neighbor daughter, Mrs. Claussen, is now the pastor at Winslow and Jewell Morton and I think some more Mortons are still here attending Oakland City Church of God.  Jodie Davis, his son in law Rev. Claussen, and Mrs. Claussen, Joda’s daughter, also are pastors of Oakland City Church.  All originated by the Russ Family.  Another younger daughter of Joda’s married a young man that is a Church of God minister now.  Charlie Hume’s, the Muren storekeeper, son Richard was a pastor and miner until he died at maybe in his early 40s.  He married a girl named May Whitman.  I worked later with Hume at the Muren Mine.  Also his father in law Whitman.  Then later in the late 1900s, Whitman and I was room buddys at Ingle #7 mine.  The McCandless, Davis, Hume, Whitmans, Thurmans, Bolins, Mortons are intermarried so when talking to anyone from Pike Co.—all pretty nice people in all branches of the family.” 

Original church bell


Sledding with Wesley's kids & grandkids


I asked Bill Berlin, what he might remember about the old days of Muren Church of God from his grandparents.  Bill is in his 80s and probably more computer savvy than I am. His family was also a part of the area.  This is part of a story he emailed me:

   “My maternal grandfather, Oliver P.M. Agee, (1861-1947) was a farmer and a preacher.  I don’t know exactly when he began to preach, but it was before 1900.  He and Grandmother Lou Ella (Pancake) Agee became engaged with the Church of God “movement” early in its appearance in southern Indiana and Pike/Gibson/Daviess/Knox counties, in particular.  It was called a “movement” because its grassroots-type of approach to church organization, participation and growth, rather than the more centralized, clergy-dominated, bureaucratic forms of other groups, such as the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.   Their major doctrinal difference that set them apart, however, is their belief in a second work of grace for those who became Christian, the sanctification of true believers.

    At some time in the 1880’s, people of the community (including many relatives and their families), built a church house on grandfather’s farm just south of their garden plot.  This location is no more than ¼ mile south on State Road 64 where the Scottsburg road crosses it east of Arthur.  Because of their belief, just cited, it became known as Saint’s Church.  The held outdoor camp meetings in the summer and people came from as far away as Monroe City, Burr Oak, Princeton and Boonville.

   Grandfather traveled to these other communities to preach and to hold “revivals,” as they came to be called later.  I’m sure he preached at Muren several times during his active years.  Even in my time, I remember they were good friends with the Hume family in that community.  And I remember when I was a good sized boy, seeing Dickie Hume and wife at their home.  Of course, Dickie was much younger than Grandpa- more at my mother’s age-so I know that the folks were close to the folks of the Muren congregation.  Incidentally, Dickie went on to become an outstanding minister in the continuing growth of the Church of God.”

Old church in background (thanks for photo Bill Berlin)

  They have a beautiful new church on the highway where Kirby’s Drive Inn used to be.  There is still a feeling of sadness when you drive through Muren and the Church of God is no longer at the top of the hill.

My Grandma and the Early Years at Muren and Turkey Hill

My grandma passed away last July.  She was very special to us.   I have wanted to post some photos and stories of her early years growing up in Muren and Turkey Hill.   Her grandfather, father and brothers were coal miners.   My Grandma was Barbara Katherine Bolin, the youngest child of Aaron and Margaret Sophire Dixon Bolin.  She was born May 20, 1922.  She had two brothers and three sisters.  This is the only photo I have seen of all six of them together.  This was taken in the 70s at Grandma’s house in Muren.  

Aline, Evelyn, Barbara, Lorene, Denver and Wesley Bolin

Aline, Evelyn, Barbara, Lorene, Denver and Wesley Bolin

The following photos were taken in Muren and Turkey Hill.  Grandma lived both places growing up.  She used to tell us a story of a large black panther that would wander the fence rows in the evening looking for scraps to eat when she lived on Turkey Hill.

Opal Simmons (?), Evelyn Bolin, Denver Bolin, unknown baby and Grandma

Grandma, Lorene Bolin, Evelyn Bolin, Denver Bolin and Virgil (Tyring?)

Evelyn Bolin, Grandma holding the doll, Denver Bolin

Maggie Dixon Bolin, Grandma, Barbara Dixon Frasier holding Cintithy Frasier, Evelyn Bolin

I think this photo is so sweet, especially the dirty bare feet.    Times were hard during the depression in the coal mining communities.  Grandma said relatives would drop in unexpected and Ma would just add more water to the soup.  

Grandma as a young girl

Grandma attended several area schools, but mostly Muren School.   Another story she told was she and her sister Evelyn had one pair of socks between them that they took turns wearing.  The school was taking the children to the zoo at Evansville and they both wanted to wear the socks.  Somehow Evelyn won.  She washed the socks and laid them out by the stove to dry.  She had them too close and the socks burnt up. 

Grandma Wedding Day

Grandma, my Grandpa Bill Lynn and their baby Billy Joe Lynn

Grandma in her new coat

When my dad was a little boy, they lived on the road off of Kitchen Corners that does not exist anymore.  It ran to Number Seven Road before the coal mines took it.  The houses there were built on stilts because they were in the old barrens.

Muren 2010 and 1965

       In September 2010, I once again attended the Muren Reunion.  I so enjoy that bunch of people.  I feel at home with them all.  They make me feel like a little girl again.  


Muren Gals 2010

Muren Gals 2010


Muren Guys 2010

Muren Guys 2010


    It was 1965.  We were country people.   We lived at Muren in one of the old coal company Portland cement houses.  The bread truck delivered the bread.  The milk truck delivered the milk.  We didn’t have running water.  We had an outhouse and a well.  Daddy worked second shift at Whirlpool and Momma stayed home with us.    I would have been about five years old and my little brothers around 3 and 1. 


1965 My Family

1965 My Family


    The bread truck and the milk man coming were exciting to watch for and probably how I learned my days of the week.  But nothing compared to the anticipation of the mailman coming.  My Momma was one who would save Kool-Aid packets, ordering Kool-Aid mugs and other random premium things like that.   I would get mail order clothes from Sears.   We never knew what would come in the mail, so it was a treat to go to the mailbox.   My grandparents on Momma’s side lived in South Carolina so at Christmas a big happy box of wrapped presents would come in the mail, along with a tin of fruitcake that wasn’t so thrilling to me.   Momma had a big rose of Sharon bush on the road bank.   Daddy dug into the bank and made steps out of blocks with a steel pipe handrail.   It seemed so steep and far down to the mailbox.   I walked so carefully.  When I see it I wonder at that five year old fear. 


We lived in third house down

We lived in third house down


    Momma was a lot of fun.  She would get the most out of Quaker oats.  We ate the oats, she got the dishes, and then she would make us toys out of the empty box.  A few cuts and there was a doll cradle for me.  Somehow she made a covered wagon for the boys.  She would make us hats out of the envelopes from the mail.  She even knew how to make hats out of newspaper.  She cut out Betsy McCall paper dolls for me.     She let me lick the stamps to put in the stamp books from the grocery store where you could earn prizes.   Daddy knew how to have fun too.  He was used to making something out of nothing.  He made us a merry go round.  My seat was an old tricycle and baby Jimmy’s seat was an old wooden seat from a high chair or other baby contraption.  Daddy would push us round and round until we would holler for him to stop because we were dizzy. 


S1965 cared of Santa? Tired of Santa Claus Land? Been bad and worried?

1965 Scared of Santa? Tired of Santa Claus Land? Been bad and worried?


   We had an outhouse.  Daddy had made a little seat in it for us kids.  We would go down the dirt path with Momma to the outhouse.   She would grab for the door and there would be a snake hanging there.   Sometimes I never saw it, but I ran back up the path with her screaming right beside her.    Daddy was a trader and seemed to always have a sword around.  I remember him grabbing the sword and chopping up the toilet snake. 

   The well was another story.  My Momma’s great grandfather, some great uncles and some cousins in South Carolina were well diggers.   Several of them had been buried or drowned in the wells they were digging.  If not every time, at least every other time we went outside to play, she always said “stay away from the well.”  Our well dried up and Daddy went in to clean it before the water truck came.  I remember him going down the old wooden rung ladder and asking if I wanted to come down.  It was cool down there.  Was he crazy?  I wasn’t getting in the well.  I knew it scared Momma and something terrible could happen. 

     My daddy was a true shade tree mechanic.  Motors literally hung from the branches of the old tree by the driveway.   There was always an old car he and his brother Billy Joe were fixing up, usually a small convertible of some kind.    His place to go for parts was Quick Brothers, between Ayrshire and Winslow. 

    Daddy would ask me to go along with him. Now that was special.   I was so small and the cars were so big, I would stand up in the passenger seat with my window rolled down so I could see everything. There weren’t any car seats and seat belts.   I hoped everyone would be outside so they could see me in the car.  Ma Bolin always seemed to be outside and would wave.  Daddy would sing to Johnny Cash songs on the radio.  Driving through the barrens was shady and Daddy would jerk you around at Kitchen Corners and you had to hold on.   We would laugh.  Then we would go by the big old Ingle Barn.  Then into Ayrshire where I hoped some more people were out in their yards that I could wave to.    Then we would get to Doyal Shoultz’s mom and dad’s house.   They put out a big garden by the road and always had a scarecrow.  I was scared of scarecrows and would jump down into the floorboard and hide there till we started down the hill to Quick’s Garage. 

    I will never forget the smell at Quick’s of old car parts, oil, tires and burnt coffee.  All the old men hung out there, sitting in chairs in the cluttered front.  Fat Conley always teased me.   Jackie or Johnny or Gettis would take me to the back where there was a big old glass candy jar full of suckers.  I could pick out what I wanted, usually grape.   Sometimes Gettis or Johnny would get me a cold grape or orange pop out of the bottle machine if they weren’t busy.  I would sit on a high stool at the back counter while Daddy dug around for his parts.  Daddy always got for himself a red and white pack of Pall Mall cigarettes from the old cigarette machine.  He would roll them up in the sleeve of his t shirt and we would head back home to Muren.



Momma, me and Denny Muren Reunionn 2010

Momma, me and Denny Muren Reunion 2010