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1978-08-10 Interview with Mary and Clyde Brewer, August 10, 1978 FNS001:1978OH150 FNS 10 48:44 Frontier Nursing Service Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Frontier Nursing Service, Inc. Rural health services Mary Brewer Clyde Brewer; interviewee Dale Deaton; interviewer 1978OH150_FNS010_Brewer_and_Clyde 1:|26(6)|41(3)|62(12)|78(6)|96(12)|120(1)|136(15)|151(13)|176(2)|204(12)|223(5)|237(8)|260(1)|287(12)|306(8)|321(13)|348(12)|366(11)|384(11)|401(5)|420(6)|452(9)|474(4)|516(4)|544(10)|577(11)|606(1)|636(2)|671(3)|690(1)|710(6)|731(8)|763(2)|801(12)|823(7)|853(6)|889(11)|916(3)|938(3)|970(9)|983(2)|1002(5)|1062(5)|1109(4) audiotrans FNSColl interview DEATON: This is an interview with Mrs. Mary Brewer for the Oral History Project, Frontier Nursing Service, by Dale Deaton at approximately 2:30 p.m. on August 10th, 1978 at Wooten, Kentucky. [Interruption in taping] DEATON: To begin with, could you tell me first how you became interested--excuse me--in--in writing the book, and it was first published under the [title] Bold what, Of Bold Men? M. BREWER: Of Bolder Men. DEATON:--Bolder Men. M. BREWER: Of Bolder Men. DEATON: And then the second publication was Rugged Trails of Appalachia? M. BREWER: Rugged Trails of Appalachia, um-hm. DEATON: Could you tell me how you got involved with the research for the book, and the eventual publication of the book? M. BREWER: Well, in 1958, the--Berea College had asked me to do some research for the Ford Foundation. And I started out in the field, traveling with Rufus Fugate and Ruth Baker, who was a home agent at that time, and I began to find all these old people that had these interesting stories to tell me and I began writing them down. And it just grew and grew from that until I got a good collection and I thought well, it ought to be shared with others and I decided then to have it published. And Vernon Baker came to see me then. He knew that I had this material and said he was interested in publishing it. And he published it under the title Of Bolder Men, but it fell apart. It was just a disaster. (laughs) So I quit selling the book because it did fall apart. It wouldn't stay together. And then I decided there were so many requests for it that I would write it over again. And they decided to use it as a part of the centennial celebrations for Leslie County then. So I did it over for that purpose mostly, that it might be used for that. DEATON: A large part of it is sort of a genealogy-- M. BREWER: Yes. Um-hm. DEATON:--of people who live in Leslie County. M. BREWER: Yeah. DEATON: Did you do the--the genealogical research for the book? M. BREWER: Did it all, uh-huh. I did it. I got the history from Leslie County by going to the courthouse and talking to old people who were here, you know, and knew the history of it. The first part of it is involved with the history and development of Leslie County itself, and- -and the second part of it contains the genealogical history of about forty families. And I did research on those mostly by mail. There was a Barbara Baker Hendrikson connected with the Utah Mormon Salt Lake City Library, and she did a lot of copy work for me on families from that. And then there was Homer Ledford. He had a lot of information on Lewises and Morgans and other families, and from Mary Biggerstaff in Berea. She had a lot on the Lewises and Morgans. Got a lot from them. And then I started corresponding with Malcolm Huff in California, and he put me in touch with his brother, Nelson, who lived in Indiana, or maybe it was Ohio. I've forgotten just where he lives. But he had written a little pamphlet giving the genealogy mostly of the Huffs, so I got quite a bit from him about the Huffs. And then I had been corresponding with the--Emory Hamilton in the Wise County Historical Library in Virginia. And he sent me a lot of information on the Huffs and Wells and--and Josephs and other families, and just gradually got it through like that, by contacting various families. DEATON: Well, did you have any particular goal in mind when you wrote the book? Did you approach it in any particular way about your portrayal of Leslie County? M. BREWER: Well, so many outside writers had come in and--and given such a terrible account of the people. They had put 'em down a lot in their articles that I didn't think this was true, because the people that I met were very intelligent and they were very civilized. They were not like they were pictured in these articles at all. And I thought that somebody ought to come through here and give the true picture of them. And, you know, the Mary Breckinridge--the hospital. Mary Breckinridge, of course, was the first one, I guess, that put the people in this area on the map by going out and soliciting aid, and naturally most of their material was slanted toward the poorer class of people. They didn't tell anything about the fine homes that were here. It was always the little shacks on the hillsides and people going without clothing and half-starved and barefoot. So that most people in--outside of Kentucky, they got the wrong idea, and I--I thought that ought to be corrected. DEATON: Um-hm. M. BREWER: So I wanted to make a better approach to it and show that the people are intelligent, that they are capable of doing great things, too, and I just wanted to make a better image of the people. DEATON: Um-hm. I've had several people comment, too, and that they feel as though the Frontier Nursing Service has portrayed the people-- M. BREWER: Um-hm. DEATON:--to others in a manner that--that will continue donations to the FNS. M. BREWER: That's right. That's the main purpose of their presentation, you know, is to secure money for the operation of their projects that they have and their--their hospital, so-- DEATON: Well, obviously when that--when Mary Breckinridge and the FNS were first becoming involved in Leslie and--and Clay and Perry counties, they provided a great service, and the people obviously appreciated it a great deal. M. BREWER: Oh, yes. Yes, it was one of the greatest things that's ever happened to Leslie County. And, of course, when she did come in there, the conditions were not too far from the way she presented 'em because I know when the first nurse came in here, she found there was a terrible trachoma epidemic and there were no--there were no--no toilets in---inside or very few outside. No screens on the doors. And she found terrible health conditions, and the nearest hospital at that time was Jackson. And so it--it was a great need to--when the hospital came, when the Frontier Nursing came. It was one of the greatest needs that we had in this area. DEATON: Well, there's presently among many people around the county sort of the feeling that the FNS is getting away from the way it used to be, and that--and that it--it doesn't work with the people as it used to be. How do you feel about that? M. BREWER: Well, I think that's true. They're getting more commercialized like other hospitals, you know, and their fees are getting to be enormous and (laughs) it--it's--it's just--'course they have to do that, I guess, to keep up with the trend or the--the other hospitals that are doing this. But it seems to me that it takes a person with a really good income or else they're on welfare, one, to afford any of the hospital services, even the Frontier Nursing Service. For instance, I went over there with a--with an infection on my legs on the inside where it was itching, and I--I made four trips over there and they didn't help me in the least and it cost me a hundred and sixteen dollars, and I thought that was just outrageous so I decided I wouldn't go back again. But I did after I got these shingles, and I went over to see a doctor about that and he gave me a wet soak which was certainly the wrong thing to do because it caused all the tops of my blisters just to fall out--off and I was a solid sore. I'm just now getting--the scabs are just beginning to fall off a little bit. But a wet soak certainly wasn't the thing to do, but I just think they didn't know how to treat shingles was the problem. 'Cause they see such--it's such a rare thing evidently, there's not very many cases of it, and he was a young doctor, too, so I doubt that he's had very much experience with it. DEATON: Well, did--did the people at FNS finally take care of the shingles, or did you go to the public-- M. BREWER: No, I called the county health nurse, Miss [Esther] Carberry. She's been coming over and--and treating me ever since that, when the tops came off the blisters. And she started putting Vitamin E oil on 'em which is very healing. And I've continued to use that, keeping the scabs soft so that most the time when I rub that on they'll just slip them off if they're ready to come off. So they're healing up quite well now, but I still have an awful lot of pain. But they don't know how to treat it evidently. They--they just say it's a virus, that same thing that causes chicken pox, and they don't know what to do for it except just let it run it's course. DEATON: Are you acquainted with other people who have had similar experiences with the-- M. BREWER: Oh, the old people did. I should have told you--I guess I told you about what they recommended that I use for treatment of shingles. DEATON: Um-hm! M. BREWER: You take a black chicken. It has to be completely black, not even a white feather or colored feather on it. And you wring its head and pull the--get the blood out of it and put the warm blood on, and they say that cures it in two or three (laughing) days. DEATON: In two or three days? M. BREWER: Yeah. I even had two people offer to send me a chicken, but I--I refused, of course. I wasn't interested. (laughter) PITTS: You never can tell ----------(??). DEATON: Normally, how long would it take to cure the shingles? M. BREWER: Well, now, this doctor in Harlan, when I first went to him, he said he'd--said that I would have pain for six months. But most of the people who have had an experience with it, they say about three months. That the pain gradually diminishes after that. But it's pretty bad though for about three months. DEATON: Are there other ailments that people around here have prescribed remedies for that you're familiar with? M. BREWER: Well, yeah, I guess they have remedies for all of 'em--for most of their diseases. DEATON: Hmm. Well, to go back for--to your book for a minute, with the genealogies on some of the families in--in Leslie County, is there any particular way that you wanted those genealogies portrayed in the book? M. BREWER: Well, I tried not to use anything that was detrimental to the family, that could be--hurt the family in any way. I know I did run across some things like illegitimacy and things of that type, and I didn't feel necessary to--it was necessary to include that so I--I just, more or less, skipped over that because there were better things to show than that. So I just left those out. And some families actually had so much illegitimacy in their families that they wouldn't give me their history. I found two families like that. And they were reluctant to talk about it and they just wouldn't--wouldn't give me any information, so I just forgot that line of information and didn't pursue it any further. DEATON: And how do you feel the--the county citizens have accepted the book? M. BREWER: Oh, I think it's fine. It's selling real well. Nancy's Nook at Hyden is selling it and she's just sold an awful lot, and she says she thinks it will continue to sell for at least another year real well. I was thinking about reducing the price, but she said, "No, don't do that, because it's selling too well and there's a great demand for it yet." And I was just going through, making a list of some of the orders that I've gotten. I've gotten orders from California and Washington, D.C.. I don't have all of 'em copied down yet, but almost every state in the Union, I'm still getting orders from them. I had an advertisement put in the Jackson County Rural Kentuckian, which goes evidently to every state in the Union because from that I've been getting a lot of orders from that. And then the Knox County Genealogical Society carried a good advertisement in their book, but there's only a hundred and sixty-eight families that receive that so it didn't get a very wide distribution there. But it's still selling well. The people in Leslie County are buying it as they can afford it, when the can come in and get it. DEATON: Well, from my understanding, your book is the only one that deals directly with Leslie County? M. BREWER: Yes. Now, there is another one that is out. Sadie Wells, I guess you've heard of this one that just recently came out, and it's called Trail to Cutshin. I haven't read it, but I think it contains about the same information as--as mine does, only maybe hers has a few different families in it that mine doesn't have. For instance, hers will probably have the Stidhams because I didn't have them because-- actually I left them out because I knew she was working on that and was going to include the Stidhams in her history, and I didn't want to-- PITTS: Overlap? M. BREWER:--overlap her information, and I thought maybe that it might hurt her book, too, and I didn't want to do that because I want to help people rather than hurt people. (laughs) DEATON: Is--is Sadie Stidham her married name, or is Sadie Stidham her mar---her maiden name? M. BREWER: I think it's her married name. She was a Wells. I'm--I'm not sure whether she was a Wells or not. Clyde? C. BREWER: Yeah! M. BREWER: Come here a minute. You-- [Interruption in taping] M. BREWER: --Sadie is a Stidham, then. I guess she's never been married as far as I know. If she has, I just don't know it. But she's always been Sadie Stidham as far as I know. And I'm interested in reading her book. I never have read her manusprit---manuscript, but it must be quite interesting. She's a schoolteacher and must be quite capable of writing, too. She's a-- DEATON: Oh, you're not originally from--from Leslie County? M. BREWER: No, I came to Leslie County with the W.P.A. [Workd Progress Administration] program as a social worker around 1939. I had taught school one year in Paintsville, in the high school there at--just a few miles out of--of Paintsville at Meade Memorial High School. And then I'd worked before that for a little bit with the government, and they asked me to come back, so I left the school after that one year in 1938, and came back to the project--W.P.A. project in 1939, and they sent me to this area as a social worker. And I started from Richmond, Kentucky and was transferred to Owsley County. From Owsley County I went to Rowan County, and from Rowan to Perry, and from Perry to Leslie, and this is where I ended up. (laughs) DEATON: Well, what type of duties or responsibilities did you have as a social worker? M. BREWER: I had to certify people for the work program. Visit the homes and see if they were needy and get a good family case history, and certify them for the work projects that they had. DEATON: Um-hm. Well, by 1939, the time that you were in here, the Depression was over to some extent. M. BREWER: Yeah, it was--yeah, it was some o---getting over. When I first came in here I drove a Model T Ford. And I parked it right in front of the courthouse in Hyden and there was no streets there. It was--it was just dirt there and the hogs were rooting around in front, and I had to scare the hogs away to get a place to park. (laughs) And then shortly after that I went back to Beattyville and I traded the car in for a new Ford Coupe, and then I came back to Leslie County and right after that, then, I met Clyde. (laughs) DEATON: Well, in your opinion, did the people, in 1939, did they actually have less than they did, say, in 1930 or was it--was it to the point that they had more? Did--do you think the people here suffered a great deal because of the--of the Depression? M. BREWER: I believe they must have because there were people that--that actually didn't have enough food to eat. And the--the--they just seemed to be right on the point of starvation and--and we visited a lot of those families there that were able to do better after they became members of the work crews or were certified for W.P.A. But they wanted to penalize them for buying a radio or a car or something like that, and I sort of wanted to let 'em have that because I figure they need something other than just food. And finally we did manage to certify 'em in spite of the fact that they may have had a car to get to work in or a radio at that time. DEATON: Um-hm. Um-hm. How much did a--did a person make working for W.P.A.? M. BREWER: Now, I've forgotten. DEATON: What--what would the county workers-- M. BREWER: Clyde worked on the C.C.C. [Civilian Conservation Corps] program. How much did you make a day, Clyde? C. BREWER: Oh, I worked--I was a--I was a-- M. BREWER: As a-- C. BREWER:--section foreman, I guess they called 'em. M. BREWER: Yeah? C. BREWER: Would make about forty-five dollars a month. They paid you forty-five dollars a month and your board and your clothes and whatnot and so on. Thirty dollars--thirty dollars was what they--what they actually paid then on the 3-C's. Twenty-five of that went home and you kept five on payday. And then--then you'd ride home and get the twenty-five back. That's--that's ----------(??). (laughs) DEATON: Well,-- C. BREWER: I imagine, I don't know. But-- DEATON: Well, at--at about the time that you came here, what types of education was available? You think it--that adequate education was available to the people? M. BREWER: Well, now, they had--I've forgotten how many one- grade-- one--one-room schools in the county then. There were--they had only one high school and that was at the old building there in Hyden, and they had--most of the schools were one-room schools and far out into the county. They didn't have the buses for transportation at that time. And the education was hampered a great deal. I remember the first year I taught in the high school in Hyden, there was a girl entered school there who had never been to Hyden, and I thought that was an amazing thing that a girl could live far back in the county that far and get ready for high school and never be at Hyden. She'd never been. But there was lots of cases like that. The people just didn't travel very far. DEATON: Um-hm. Yeah. C. BREWER: And they didn't have nowhere else to go. M. BREWER: And they'd never been on a train. I imagine three- fourths of the people in Leslie County right now have never been on a train. So it's the travel. They were hampered a great deal by travel, and conveniences were not open to them as early as it was to other places. Electricity didn't come until nineteen and forty- eight to places like Wooten and out--out of Hyden. So we--when we first married, we lived in a little house on the other side of the creek over there, and we had coal oil lamps and--and kept our own cow. Clyde milked and had the horse and did his own plowing and (laughs) raised a garden. And we lived quite--but those were good days. They--they were--we didn't--we never thought about locking our doors at night because of crime or anything. There just wasn't anything like that known. Now, I wouldn't dare lay down and go to sleep without locking my door. (laughs) So it's--there's been a great deal of change in the lives of the people. DEATON: Without mentioning any student particularly, how do you--what do you feel about the capabilities of the students that you taught in Leslie County? M. BREWER: Some of them I found were rating right up in the genius range. Around nineteen and sixty-some, I guess we started giving the Intelligence Quotient Test, Binet-Simon Test, and we found there were a few that rated--their I.Q. was a hundred and forty-five, and that's very unusual that--it's very high. The standard--the norm I.Q., I think, is a hundred nationwide, and--but we found 'em way above a hundred lots of times. And there are--we have quite a few people in Leslie County who are very intelligent, and they're--the children are intelligent. We found that especially so. And one of the doctors that was working for Frontier Nursing Service, she made tests on some of the earlier children. She found their I.Q. quotients were very high. DEATON: I think that was Ella Woodyard-- M. BREWER: Yes. Uh-huh. DEATON:--from Columbia. M. BREWER: Yeah, that's right. But they--the people had been put down and I didn't like it because I planned to live here. This is--I consider this my home now and I love all the people and they're my people and I wanted to see 'em get a lucky break. (laughs) So I think my book's helping to do that. DEATON: Well, the students that scored higher on the I.Q. tests, or relatively high, were they from any identifiable economic group or social group within the county? M. BREWER: I think they were just normal like everybody else. They were neither rich nor poor. Maybe some of them poor, some medium. Just average families. DEATON: Um-hm. You said electricity came to Wooten about 1948. What did people do for--for social activities before electricity and radio and television? M. BREWER: Well, they had programs--church programs. They went to socials and they had parties and-- PITTS: Picnics. M. BREWER:--picnics and things like that. DEATON: Um-hm. Could you describe one of the parties for me? What usually took place at-- M. BREWER: And I'll tell you another thing that I enjoyed was we had molasses stir-offs. DEATON: Um-hm. M. BREWER: You know, they don't do that anymore. Clyde's father had a molasses--what do you call it, Clyde, a machine or something? C. BREWER: No, that's what--they call 'em a cane mill. M. BREWER: Cane mill, and he had a cane mill. It's out in Laurel County somewhere now. And we went to--I don't remember whether it's--I believe it was just before we married, we went to a stir-off--a molasses stir-off and we had a lot of fun. It was just unusual, you know, to have molasses stir-offs after that much 'cause people quit raising cane and the mills all went out of the county. But that was one thing they did to--molasses stir-off. Everybody had fun and-- C. BREWER: Off the record, they--they--they quit raising cane of that kind and started raising cane of another kind. (laughter) That's-- that's ----------(??). M. BREWER: Yeah. Yeah, that's right, too. DEATON: Well, could you describe one of the parties for me? What usually took place? M. BREWER: Now, I didn't--didn't really go to many of the parties here because I was in school most of the time, and most of the time after I came here I was working and I didn't have an opportunity to attend the parties. Clyde may--Clyde might be able to tell you what they did then. They had-- C. BREWER: We had old square dances around ----------(??)-- M. BREWER: Square dances mostly, I think, and-- M. BREWER:------------(??) country. You see 'em have 'em on television now, little skits of square dancing, you know. But that's--that's when they'd get out and go to a private home somewhere to have their--maybe just dance all night if they wanted to, or dance till they all got tired and quit. M. BREWER: And we had the old-time fiddling, you know, music-- PITTS: Did you have lots of people fiddling to those dances? C. BREWER: Yeah. Yeah, there's-- M. BREWER: Clyde used to-- C. BREWER:--they'd come from miles away-- M. BREWER:--used to play till he got-- C. BREWER:--to come to that. M. BREWER:--his finger cut off. He's got one of his nosing fingers cut off. He used to play. PITTS: I think it's a shame not many people are good at fiddling. anymore, but-- M. BREWER: Yes. PITTS:--used to there were ----------(??). M. BREWER: That's right. C. BREWER: That was--that was quite a get-together, you know. They just--they don't--they wouldn't get together like they do now. They didn't fight when you'd get together back then. They just all had a good time. So it's changed quite a bit now and over the--over the years. ----------(??) that's the community center here, when that old lady first set up there, why, they'd have parties there for the young people, you know. They'd go in, just play little simple games, whatever anybody wanted to play. And-- M. BREWER: That's Miss McCord when she came in here. C. BREWER:--and you'd have--have about-- DEATON: Um-hm. And when was that? When did they build a community center over here? M. BREWER: The church was built in 1938. C. BREWER: Oh, that's back to the early--early--I guess--I guess she come in here about the early '20s, or maybe earlier than that, didn't she, Miss McCord? M. BREWER: Yeah, I guess she did. I've got a-- C. BREWER: And I don't remember now ----------(??). M. BREWER:--history on her. C. BREWER: I guess ----------(??) I'm getting old if I can't remember back that far. I better not. DEATON: When--with books and so forth, when was the first store that you remember that began to carry books in Leslie County, that the people could buy books or magazines, newspapers? M. BREWER: Well, Mr. Deaton, I guess, is the--who was the first pastor of the church--wasn't he the first pastor--real ol---full-time pastor? C. BREWER: I don't know. M. BREWER: I thought he was. Well, anyway, he was the pastor here and he had the first bookmobile-- DEATON: Is this the-- M. BREWER:--at this--in the state, I think. DEATON:--Reverend Denton Deaton? M. BREWER: Yes. Um-hm. And he--they had--Maggie Thomas, I guess, was the rider who went out on horseback and carried books into the families for the families to read. So I guess that was the first books that were distributed and then didn't they have a high school here, Clyde, once-- C. BREWER: Oh, they had-- M. BREWER:--first? C. BREWER:--they tried to have a little, but then they'd just have, you know, maybe seven or eight kids, something like that. M. BREWER: Taught high school subjects for awhile before they had one in Hyden. C. BREWER: That--they had--they had a pretty good--they had a pretty good library up there at one time in the early days there at the Center, you know. You could go and get you--like you could in Hyden at the library, you could go check out a book, take--take it back. It was just like you do at Hyden at the--'course I don't--I don't know whatever happened with all the books and the stuff just--over the years. They've just been carried out and wasted, you know. M. BREWER: We had a weaving center there, too, so the women had a weaving project. They went in to weave--learn to weave. DEATON: Um-hm. Well, is Nancy's Nook the first bookstore that you know of? M. BREWER: Yes. Yes, it's the first bookstore that's ever been in Hyden that I know of. DEATON: So other--other than maybe a few magazines or a couple of newspapers, that's the first bookstore that's operated? M. BREWER: As far as I know. There may have been others, but I don't know of it if there were. DEATON: And she's been there, what, about four years now? M. BREWER: I think so. Um-hm. Something like that. DEATON: Well, how do you feel about the religious convictions of the people? Do you think most of them are religious or do they attend churches or what? M. BREWER: I think so, yes. Um-hm. We don't always approve of their religion, but (laughing) they did go. Most of 'em I think 'cause--I would say the majority of the people that live outside of Hyden and Wooten are either Church of Christ or Church of God members. But you--you get out here in--in Wooten, you find a lot of Presbyterians and Baptists. And in Hyden, of course, that's true, too, Presbyterians and Baptists. DEATON: We'll talk about the Frontier Nursing Service for a few minutes. Did you meet and know Mary Breckinridge? M. BREWER: Oh, yes. Uh-huh. I had tea with her and we talked French very comfortably together-- [End Tape #1, Side #1] [Begin Tape #1, Side #2] M. BREWER:--and enjoyed ourselves very much. DEATON: Um-hm. What did you usually talk about, do you remember? M. BREWER: Oh, just ordinary things like anybody else. We'd--everyday things. And she--she called all the people in and said, "Listen, Mrs. Brewer speaks French beautifully!" (laughs) And I was invited to stay for tea, and then I went up with Dr. and Mrs. Beasley. They--they would take me along when they would go up for tea or something. They became good friends early. Mr. and--Dr. and Mrs. Beasley did. DEATON: Um-hm. How did she impress you? I mean is there any-- M. BREWER: You mean Mrs. Breckinridge? DEATON: Um-hm. M. BREWER: A very beautiful person. She was a very intelligent and--and very capable person. DEATON: Um-hm. Did you rec---did you at any time that you talked with her, discuss religion? M. BREWER: No. Uh-uh. Never did. DEATON: Did she-- M. BREWER: I don't even know what she was, do you? DEATON: Well,-- M. BREWER: What was her faith? DEATON:--Episcopalian. M. BREWER: Old Eng---Old English, I guess. Episcopalian, that's what most of them were, uh-huh. DEATON: Did she mention her children at any time that you talked? M. BREWER: No. No, we never did talk about personal things like that, just, you know, about our lives today or something. It wasn't anything like that. 'Course I read her book. I enjoyed her book very much. DEATON: Do you think that the book was a fairly accurate portrayal of-- of the FNS? M. BREWER: I believe it was at the time, um-hm. DEATON: Well, the impression that's given in the book and in the quarterly bulletin is that the people, more or less, flocked to the Frontier Nursing Service to come and establish clinics. Do you remember if it was that way or not, or did Mary Breckinridge, more or less, establish the clinic without really consulting the people? M. BREWER: Oh, I believe she must have reached out and established the clinics by realizing the need because she did a lot of visiting, you know, in the areas and she was quite aware of the needs in the different areas. And at first they were clinics that are not operating now, I understand. They had clinics that were quite successful then and it was a good service to the people who couldn't get in to have it otherwise--to have the services. DEATON: Well, is there anything that I haven't asked you about particularly that you'd like to talk about? A specific event or anything? M. BREWER: Well, I can't think of any right off. DEATON: How do you view the future of--of the Frontier Nursing Service in Leslie County? M. BREWER: Well, I guess they're the only ones that's gonna be here. They'll have to serve the people or they'll lose out because people are going to go other places if they don't give 'em the service that they need. You know, we--we mostly go to Harlan because Clyde has the U.M.W. [United Mine Workers] miners' insurance and they wasn't honoring that here in Hyden for awhile. I think they do now, but we started going over there because of that. And we just got started having our physical check-ups there. And a lot of people from Leslie County go there to Harlan for their check-ups. And a lot go to Hazard, too, to the clinic over there. So people do--since they can drive now, they have good roads and transportation, they have their own cars. They--they have a tendency to reach out and go--they're--they have a better choice of what they want. [Interruption in taping] DEATON: They, to a large extent, produced their own food and everything else that they needed during their lives. Did you ever make any homemade soap? M. BREWER: Yes. DEATON: How do you make it? M. BREWER: Well, you put your lye in the water in a pot. It has to be enamel or iron. And then you add fat meat to that until it stops eating that up and becomes right thick-like--jelly-like. And I guess you keep boiling that. My sister-in-law makes it all the time out here. She hasn't made any lately, but she's--it's been a year, I guess, or more since she made any. But it comes out, then you cut it into bars and it's--makes good soap to wash clothes with, and some people like it for their hair and bathing, too. (laughs) DEATON: Hmm. How much lye do you put in? M. BREWER: It's--I think it has the directions on the--on the box of lye that you get. It has the directions to follow on that. But, now, we--back in olden times, they tell me that when the lye first became available it was in balls. You remember that, Clyde? C. BREWER: About the size of a baseball. M. BREWER: About the size of a baseball. And-- C. BREWER: Lye balls. M. BREWER:--yeah, they called it lye balls. C. BREWER: ----------(??) what they called it, lye balls. M. BREWER: And the first wi---soap they made was--it wouldn't get thick- -hard. It was a-- C. BREWER: Well, this-- M. BREWER:--soft, jelly-like. C. BREWER:--is the reason that, if you don't have the right ingr---I mean your--if you got too much grease for your lye, why it won't make soap. If you've not got enough lye, why, you know, it's vice versa. You may have to boil it a second time. The old soap-makers, why, they knew just what of each one to add--to put into it and they come out with perfect soap every time. PITTS: ----------(??) people that are-- C. BREWER: Yeah. Uh-huh, of course. DEATON: Well, were--were the women usually the ones--was the woman usually the one to make the soap? C. BREWER: Yeah, they made--they made the soap, they'd have to make it on a certain moon, now. That was the big moon. M. BREWER: Oh, yeah, had to be of the moon. C. BREWER: Yeah. That's right. DEATON: Well, there's sort of a tradition or belief that you plant by the moon and you kill hogs by the moon and everything else. Are you familiar with those? M. BREWER: We certainly are. (laughter) DEATON: Run through those for me. M. BREWER: That-- DEATON: On--on planting the-- M. BREWER:--the last time we killed--oh, it was a huge, big old thing. I've got pictures somewhere that they--Clyde would hang it up and then cut the entrails out, you know. PITTS: A hog. M. BREWER: So we decided we'd--he decided--well, we all decided, I guess, together that we wouldn't pay any attention to that moon legend, we'd just go on and kill the hog. Well, I declare, we--we were sorry for that because that meat just puffed up. You couldn't fry it. That bacon wasn't fit to eat. And it just puffed up when you put it in the skillet. Just puffed up like that. And we didn't believe it. But that made a believer out of us, though. (laughs) DEATON: What's--what's the tradition on the right time to kill a hog? M. BREWER: When is it, Clyde? When you kill a hog-- C. BREWER: I don't know now. It's been too long. DEATON: Is it on the full of a moon or-- C. BREWER: Well, there's--I--I just don't remember now. Your planting and things like that, planting your potatoes. Say, take potatoes. You can plant them on what's called a "new moon", first--about the first--up to the first quarter, and they'll grow very close to the top, and some of 'em will be on--sunburned. They're all sticking out of the ground. And you plant them on the dark nights, and they'll apt to be so deep you can't dig 'em out. Right on down in the ground. DEATON: Now when are the dark nights of the moon? What--or what are the dark nights? C. BREWER: Well, that's--that's--there's a little place in there from the time it's full--I mean, up just before it news, you know, before the new moon, is what they called the "dark nights". PITTS: When there's no moon? C. BREWER: I've got a--I've got a calendar here some company puts out that's got all this-- M. BREWER: And he goes by that, too,-- C. BREWER:--time element. M. BREWER:--when he plants. That's why he has such a good garden. I think. DEATON: Well, that's with potatoes. What--what about, say, beans? Is there a good time to plant beans? C. BREWER: Well, your beans--there's times. I don't know just--I don't have--know the sign right out. But there's a time that if you plant 'em and the vines will go everywhere, and on another moon, why, they won't--people that actually follow it, you know, right now, they--they just--they swear by it and plant by it and harvest by it. PITTS: Sounds like they have a good reason to, too. C. BREWER: On the--the--say, the apples there now. You pick them--you go out there and pick 'em. You pick 'em on a--on a new moon and in handling you bruise 'em. Well, that bruised place will rot maybe the whole apple. Pick it on the old of the moon, that bruised place will dry up, just that bit. Just--it won't rot. So there's--there's (laughs) something ----------(??) that helps keep-- PITTS: There's something to it. DEATON: Well, you were talking about frying the bacon in the hog that you killed at the wrong time. What does it do? If you kill it at the right time, does the bacon lay frat--- M. BREWER: Yes. DEATON:--lay flat-- M. BREWER: Yes. DEATON:--in the skillet? M. BREWER: Uh-huh. DEATON: Is that--and it doesn't wrinkle, is-- M. BREWER: Uh-uh. DEATON:--that what you're talking about? M. BREWER: No, it'll just fry like ordinary bacon you buy at the store. But that one sure didn't. It just puffed. Didn't matter how thin you cut it, it would puff up. C. BREWER: The old--the old--the old--the old people now, they wouldn't have killed it. They just had to be certain, you know. They'd say, "Well, if you kill it on this moon, you can put it in the skillet and it would turn up on both ends. It'd roll up." I don't know which is which. I don't remember the moons. But they--they were very particular about their--their meat and their--of course the planting of the their corn. There were certain days they wouldn't plant corn because they'd say it wouldn't have an ear on it. M. BREWER: They call 'em "baring days", which was bearing, of course. But they-- C. BREWER: ----------(??). M. BREWER:--called it "baring days". PITTS: Yeah. That was when you shouldn't plant? C. BREWER: And I've--I've seen it where there's--they wouldn't be just a shoot run right up beside the stalk and no ear at all. And lots of 'em. I mean they're just all through the field. So there must be something to it. There must be something there you can plot it out good. DEATON: Do you have any idea where those beliefs--how those beliefs originated from? C. BREWER: I--well, I just--I guess more or less-- M. BREWER: Experience, would you say? C. BREWER: Experi---the people would experiment with it. They just-- M. BREWER: Experiment. C. BREWER:--found out that--on this calendar here it says if you don't- -if you don't have any faith in that, take your same batch of seeds here and plant some of it on one moon and plant the rest of it on a different moon, and then look at your harvest to-- DEATON: Um-hm. C. BREWER:--just--just go and do it yourself instead of taking their word for it, by trying. I haven't done it but I think there's a whole lot there. M. BREWER: Well, you know the Bible says that the moon and the stars and--well, the moon and sun were put in the sky for signs and for seasons. So if God put 'em for that, I guess they work. PITTS: For even making soap, then. M. BREWER: Um-hm. Making soap, yeah. Make--it has to be made in the right moon, too, you know, when the--I--I guess the pull of the moon that makes the tides has something to do with it. I don't know. PITTS: Seems like it ----------(??). M. BREWER: Must be. Uh-huh. DEATON: Well, make the soap, killing animals, and raising the garden, what other things do you do by the sign of the moon? C. BREWER: Well, old people, they just done it all. They'd set a hen on a certain--if they was gonna set a hen to raise eggs, you know, they'd set 'em on a certain moon. At certain time, the eggs--they'd say the eggs hatch better. But all such things I have--I never did. M. BREWER: Well, there's a certain time when you can kill trees. Now what's that called, Clyde? C. BREWER: Kill what? M. BREWER: Trees. If you want to kill trees. C. BREWER: That's what they call-- M. BREWER: Ember. C. BREWER:--"ember days". M. BREWER: "Ember days". C. BREWER: They come about--they come about three or four times a year, be marked on the calendar, saying--say it'd be a--let's use this for a day now. Say it'd be the tenth, twelfth and thirteenth. It'd skip a day in there on how they would come. There won't be three days--there'd be three days of it, but there'll be one day, then you'd skip one, then it'd be the next two. You can find 'em in the almanac and usually the calendars that's marked, it's got 'em marked on that. They--they claim now that you can just go out there and take an axe to a tree on that day and it'll die. I don't know, I never did try. I know I don't believe it's that--and the other feller said if they have ground where they want to clean it up, got bushes and things on it, just go and hack 'em off about this high, you know. Just hack 'em off and go back the next--by next year, why, they're all just rotted off the ground, the stumps are. I never tried it. I've--I've--I've planned to, but I always let 'em get by before I check and see what (laughing) day it is. Then it's too late. But-- DEATON: Well, during your work, have you run across any traditions or anything that are evident in certain parts of Europe or maybe England or Scotland that are also evident here? M. BREWER: Well, they--they brought the--for instance, the vinegar making. They brought that mother vinegar with 'em when they came here. They didn't find it here. It was something that--that grew like a plant, and they evidently brought that right along from their foreign countries with 'em. And they had--I don't know how they found that beer corn, do you, Clyde? C. BREWER: I never did know where they ever found it and when they lost it. M. BREWER: But they--they found that sometime. It's--they go around where they ginning corn or--I mean ginning molasses cane for molasses. And these little kernels or something would be found in the juice pans before they cooked the molasses and they called that "beer corn". They would take it and put it in a--they'd just use plain water, do they, Clyde, or did they use the juice? C. BREWER: I think it's just water and it'll grow. Just keeping it-- looked like-- M. BREWER: Just like the mother vinegar, it's grows. C. BREWER:--it looked more like grain, is the best I remember 'em. And it looked about sort of like hominy, you know, or hash--been cooked corn. And it just keeps growing and your jar gets full after awhile, you got to take it out. M. BREWER: And they would share that with families, you know, when they'd-- C. BREWER: But I don't know-- DEATON: And what did they use that for? C. BREWER: It was just-- M. BREWER: Drink. It made a drink. C. BREWER:--they'd drink it. M. BREWER: Like instead of drinking pop and Coke and stuff that you have now-- C. BREWER: Pop and Coca-Cola,-- M. BREWER:--they used it as a drink. C. BREWER:--stuff like that. M. BREWER: It really wasn't beer, they said. C. BREWER: Everybody-- M. BREWER: It tasted-- C. BREWER:--I guess when I was a kid, I rem---remember it now, it had-- M. BREWER: See, it wasn't a beer at all. C. BREWER: Called it "beer corn". M. BREWER: But they called it "beer corn". DEATON: Hmm. And the kernel came out of-- C. BREWER: It just--I don't know how it formed. They'd just keep--you'd just put a little handful in a jar, and the first thing you know your jar would get full. It gets-- PITTS: It would swell up with the moisture. C. BREWER:--it'd just grow out of gas, it would. M. BREWER: Grow other kernels, I guess, on it sort of. DEATON: And--and-- M. BREWER: Multiply. DEATON:--that--that would form with the sugar cane in the sugar? C. BREWER: I don't know how they got it to start or whatever happened. M. BREWER: Well, that's where they said they got it. That's where they told me they got out-- C. BREWER: ----------(??) haven't seen any-- M. BREWER:--where they were ginning. C. BREWER:--of it since I was a kid. M. BREWER: Cane. PITTS: And how did it taste? C. BREWER: I--well, I--I can't tell you 'cause it's been so long. M. BREWER: I tried to find some. They told me a woman in Hyden had some, but I called her and she didn't have any, and I couldn't find any. DEATON: But as far as you know,-- C. BREWER: I'll be glad to make-- DEATON:--where do you think most of the people-- C. BREWER:------------(??)-- DEATON:--in this area, where are their origins, their countries of origin? C. BREWER:------------(??) something like that I'd keep 'em here. M. BREWER: Most of 'em came from England. Some came from Ireland. A few came from Germany, not too many. PITTS: Any from Scotland? M. BREWER: Yes, Scotland. The Mackintoshes came from Scotland. And the Napiers, especially, were Scotch. PITTS: Folks around here call a paper bag a "poke"? M. BREWER: Poke, yeah. A poke, yeah. PITTS: You ever heard the word haycock for a haystack? [End of Interview] Mary Brewer came to Leslie County as a social worker with the WPA program in l939. She published a collection of Leslie County stories entitled Of Bolder Men, later republished as Rugged Trails to Appalachia. Brewer indicates her concern over the image of local people conveyed by the media prior to her publication and specifies the image deliberately fostered by the FNS in fund-raising. She knew Mary Breckinridge and would have tea with her while conversing in French. Brewer also taught high school in Hyden. She comments upon local traditions as well as changes in the county over the years. Clyde Brewer remarks upon his work for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program in Leslie County in the 1930s.