Turning the Pages: The Paths of Our Childhood

By Paige Cline

In the days when we were too young to even think about driving, and when there were few cars, people, especially kids, did a lot of walking.

Since walking was our chief mode of transportation, necessity and experience taught us where all the paths were. All the shortcuts became part of our daily life.

There were always footpaths along the railroad tracks. They were maintained by the railway company so it would be relatively safe for their brakemen (groundpounders) when they had to leave the train to do their work.

From our home on the Kentucky Side it was natural to follow the railroad until we came to the path that led over the hill to the Sawmill Hole. We dragged many a fish out of that pond which was the home of countless catfish, redhorse, bass and an occasional waterdog. The latter was an ugly critter that ate our bait, our hooks and our fish. If we happened to drag in a waterdog, as valued as fishing gear was to us, we sacrificed gladly and cut hook, line, sinker and waterdog. We were just glad to be shed of the ugly devils.

Before the road was built around the Palisades and before there were houses on that part of the hill, we used to take the old road along the top of the cliff to the log cabin which stood where the Presbyterian Church is now located. Before the two bridges were built to span the river, that wagon road was the way you went if you were going to Mullens or maybe Welch. The bridges allowed the roadway to be relocated.

Besides being a favorite playing area for kids, it was a place where folks without cars, TV’s, computers or other things could go for a leisurely stroll on a Sunday afternoon. 
There was another path behind where the Board of Education is now located It led down to the sandy portion of the bank that was sheltered by the overhanging cliff. It was a favorite camping and fishing spot, but just a few feet downstream near the bridge was a different type of fishing spot.

Those were the days before the present sewer system was installed, so there was a three-foot pipe that discharged much of the town’s sewage into the river. Needless to say, there were many suckers and other bottom-feeding fish that stayed near there. We caught some fish there but eating them was out of the question. There were, however, a few folks in town who were tickled to death to get them. 

There were many paths that were important to our growing-up years. The paths that led over the hill to the fishing and swimming holes from the Pinnacle Creek road, the walkways on both sides of the creek from town to the old wooden grade school, along the dirt road up Bearhole to the swimming hole, and others. 

But the most memorable paths were the ones that led from the highway, up the bank to the railroad, and home. And Mom’s cooking. Warm, wonderful, loving home.
I be you had a path that led back to your home too. Back when you were…. growin’ up.