CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{November 19, 2006}   Some Things I Remember

creek.jpegEven though I wasn’t raised in the heart of Appalachia, my father and his brothers were. They were originally from Hazard, Kentucky. Because of my father’s raising, my own childhood was replete with Appalachian ways.

I remember that for all family picnics, generally on Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, my mother and her sisters-in-law would prepare fried chicken, potato salad and other home made goodies. These women could cook!

The brothers would load up their cars with wives, children, food and coolers of beer and caravan to a place called The Rock Crusher. This was a very small quarry located on Big Indian Creek. It isn’t far north of the Ohio River near Pt. Pleasant.

The grown ups would spread the feast on a blanket on the ground while we children would explore and wade in the creek. I loved fossils; I still do in fact. My main job in walking the creek was to find fossils.

I strongly remember one of these excursions. I was wading barefoot in the shallow creek. The water was running strongly, crystal clear, and it was very cold – so this must have been Memorial Day.

I watched with some detachment as a leaf flowed from upstream down to land on my foot. I bent down to pick the leaf off and realized, to my horror, it was not a leaf, but a leech – and it was stuck, STUCK, to my toes!

My parents quickly became aware of my wailing and stomping (I was trying to dislodge the leech without touching it, you see).

Even though it was generally my mother’s job to tend to problematic children (more of that Appalachian conditioning and behavior), my anguish was so great and urgent that my father came running to the rescue.

He had some difficulty stopping my frantic dance as I was quite unwilling to stand still with this nasty, slimy bloodsucker attached to the top of my toes.

However, my father’s experience with leeches went back probably to 1943; this was nuttin’ but a thang.

He simply took the lit cigarette from his mouth and touched the hot cherry to the leech. The leech leggo, right now.

Instantaneous and overwhelming relief and gratitude ensued for me and likely for the leech as well.

After the picnic, we’d generally pack up and pay a visit to The Honey Man. This was a guy who lived in a rustic shack on a dirt road not far from The Rock Crusher. He sold honey with the comb, and it was packed in big mason jars.

Dad would always drive up and call out his open window, “You got some honey, Honey?”

We kids would roll around in the backseat, thinking it the funniest thing we’d ever heard. Our gruff, manly father calling The Honey Man, ‘honey’.

After a big day like this, we kids would be asleep in the back seat as our parents headed for home. I’m sure my parents were grateful for the quiet time.



Jim Stanton says:

A nice Sunday morning read and took me back to my country roots. Thanks for the post.

Karen @ the hood says:

I really liked the story but I got to admit I don’t know what a leech is. Maybe I don’t want to know!

Debbie says:

I liked this story except for the leech part. I think that would totally freak me out too and I’m thirty years old!

Shawn says:

I work for a leech 😦

Marilyn says:

Karen (@ the hood), too funny! I forget (all the time) that city folks don’t know some country stuff! Reminds me of an urban girlfriend I came to know & love that didn’t know what a tick was….

Let’s see if I can describe a leech. They are about 2 inches long and kinda fat. Kinda brown, grey mixture of color and they are squishy to the touch. (Imagine a snail without the shell, but a bit bigger.) They have some kinda mouth with tiny sharp teeth that latch onto any warm blooded being and suck blood. (ewww, graphic enough?) Sorry folks.

Matthew says:

I really enjoyed this story.

I grew up on a small farm not too far from here and I consider myself lucky to have done that. I guess I’m pretty much a city boy now but growing up in the country taught me a lot of respect for nature and the joys of the simple life. Maybe I shouldn’t use the word simple but different.

Marilyn says:

PS Larry, that graphic couldn’t be better or closer to the real place! At least as you are looking south from the quarry itself. Cool.

Perry says:

Stupid question: is a leech anything like a tobacco worm?

Karen says:

Getting honey wirh the comb. That takes me back 🙂

Karen @ the hood says:

Thanks Marilyn. I don’t know nothing about the country life at all. I grew up here in the city and have never left. This may sound stupid to some of you, but I have never seen a cow. I would really like to someday and maybe even milk it. I think if you would ask people where milk comes up from here, they would say the corner store – not from a cow.

Phil says:

Cows are pretty stupid, Karen. You’re not missing out on much.

Peter says:

Your post today brought back a lot of memories. My parents lived in the city but my grandparents were country people and every summer I would visit them for a week on the farm.

My grandfather had sheep, cows, horses, pigs, just about everything except chickens. I would go horseback riding, fishing and help out as best I could.

I think country people are special people. I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

jackula says:

nope. sorry. way too many bugs in the country.

Jackie says:

I think you’re my favorite writer on this web site. Enjoyed your story.

numb says:

larry was country when country wasn’t cool. still isn’t.

Ellen says:

Guess I’m a city girl all the way. I like the noise here where I live downtown. The country is just too quiet.

But we do have leechs here. Just go to any local bar. They’re all around

Larry Gross says:

I have a little country story to tell.

My grandparents lived on a very large farm – I think it was something like 400 acres – outside of Vevay, Indiana and me and my brothers would often stay with them some weeks during the summer.

Once my twin brother Jerry was hanging out feeding the chickens just outside of the chicken pen. We must have been three or four years old at the time. Somehow Jerry fell down inside the pen.

The chickens left my brother alone, but not the rooster guarding his flock of hens. He started pecking my brother on the head and wouldn’t let him up. I screamed in horror.

My grandfather ran over to the pen and got the rooster off Jerry’s head.

I guess he couldn’t forgive that rooster for trying to protect his hens. That evening, we had him for dinner.

Karen @ the hood says:


That’s funny!!

Jeff- or-ly says:

BENGALS WON!!!!!!!!!

Roger says:

I would love to see LOL girl down on the farm. She would probably last two hours.

ca macconnell says:

I used to get bloodsuckers on my stomach under my suit when we went to the lake when I was little. I thought they were cool. I always liked bugs and snakes, especially spiders. But sometimes, w/ a bloodsucker, you keep bleeding when you pull em off, and you have to go to the hospital. um, i’ve heard.

Buster says:

I used to get bloodsuckers on my stomach under my suit when we went to the lake when I was little. I thought they were cool.

You have got to be kidding me. That’s gross.

Marilyn says:

Larry, wow. I know from in-my-face experience that some roosters can be dangerously mean! My father killed a mean rooster once. I don’t remember if we ate him. And nope we never ate possum, but we did eat fried snapping turtle. Really, really good — at least the way my father made it.

ca, nope I didn’t/don’t like leeches and/or snakes. I have a near phobia of snakes. But I really like praying mantis’ and cool spiders. I had a yellow banana spider outside my window here this fall. He was really pretty.

Larry Gross says:

Yep. I don’t know if I could bring myself to eat it now, but fried snapping turtle in my young days was considered good eats!

If you want to feel the pride of being a hillbilly, read this book by the new Senator from Virginia:

Steve Barger says:

Marilyn: You are a gifted writer. Don’t Stop!!! Keep the words flowing
and know that you are a gift to your readers!!!

Marilyn says:

Larry, I’ll bet you could eat it now. Just have a beer or three while it’s being prepared.

Nope, I didn’t pay my bro, Steve, to write me kudos. He’s one of those kids rolling in the back seat of the car with me! We’ve had an awesome ride. Thanks, brother.

Marilyn says:

David, I’ll check your link…

Jamie says:

Country = bugs = wild animals = not cool for me.

Marilyn says:

David, I don’t think I want to read much more of Mr. Webb than the bit I saw on his site. I have nothing against the Scot-Irish and all that, but I don’t really like to support folks who think we MUST go to war.

It’s his right to feel this way; just as it’s my right to speak against war.

Marilyn says:

One thought: Not everything “hillbilly” is good. There is racism, unenlightened thinking, pentecostal beliefs, etc. These things I rail against. They are the result of ignorance in most cases… some people just don’t know better.

And, as a point of etiquette, the only folks allowed to use the word hillbilly are people of appalachian descent. Just a courtesy you know.

Heather says:

Nice story. Brings back some fond memories of my youthful barefoot creek expeditions in West By Gosh Virginia.

(And memories of my wonderful, but barely literate, racist, sexist, bible-thumping Appalacian relatives)


Marilyn says:

Well, Heather, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. West Virginia IS the heart of appalachia!

One older man that my mother dated for a VERY short time actually told mom that the KKK did some good. God. It’s very common to see confederate flags waving out here even in Brown county.

But I take the good and throw out the bad. I’m funny that way.

Sharon says:

One of our favorite things to say to this day is still “Ya Got Some Honey, Honey”…. from another one of the kids rolling in the back seat…..

Marilyn says:

Yep, the middle sister. I love you sis!

Glenda says:

Last but not least, I am the the last one that was in that back seat !( or as the youngest and most spoiled I could be found in the front seat between Mom and Dad ) I loved the memory flash back.I remember The Honey Man and how funny it was to have daddy call out to him, but the Rock Crusher , not so much. Keep the wonderful stories coming…

Praying mantis ??? Oh my, I have a story about a praying mantis and daddy, just think of Steve and Steve with the crawdad …You guys remember…It was not pretty. I am petrified of praying mantis…..

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