Appalachia Holidays in Appalachia

New Year’s Memories

Today’s guest post was written by David Templeton.


I got married a second time and it was on a New Years eve, more that thirty-one years back. The anniversary is easy to remember but I am always drawn to some other memories full of their own poignancy.

Two memories anyway. They happened on the same day. 1953. New Years Eve. Hank Williams died. Like when I heard of John Kennedy’s death, I remember just what I was doing and where I was standing when I heard the news about Hank Williams.

Dad blew up his well that night, too. We had to carry water in lard buckets every day from Old Man Rogers’ well down over the bank. We had no running water, used an outhouse, carried all our water up the hill, even on wash day.

Dad’s pride had been hurt many times that year, but Mr. Rogers’ overbearing, solicitous attitude was hard on Dad. He cut a forked branch out of the apple tree out back, just a kind of a small, forked twig that would bend easy when it passed over water. He held that divining branch in the curled way he’d been shown and walked all over our hillside of a front yard until that branch struck straight down and there he dug a well.

He dug and dug all through the Fall of ’53 … he had two jobs of work and could only dig on the well a while each evening. In December he was tired. He got down about six or seven feet deep and hit the bedrocks and stoney outcroppings of the hillside. There was enough water to keep filling up his hole, and he’d have to bale it out, but it was just the groundwater running down the hill in the bedrock. It wasn’t good water.

He hand-chiseled a hole about an inch or two wide trying to get through the rock but the rock was solid to China. He was wore out. He got some dynamite and was going to set it off in that drilled hole but as Winter poured on its cold, Dad finally gave up any hope of reaching good water.

New Year’s Eve, he rigged the dynamite into the drilled hole, wired a blasting fuse to it, connected all that to an electric cord and ran it back the thirty some yards to a plug-in on our front porch. He had lost a lot that year, in pride, in heartaches … in backaches. But he was about to be in control and make a statement about it all, with one thrust of that extension cord plug into the socket.

At midnight, he plugged in the cord and an explosion like an A-Bomb test roared its percussion up and down the valley and off the hillsides and lights went on all up and down the road and people stuck their heads out the door. Dad grinned and went to bed. Next day, neighborhood kids asked me if I heard the commotion last night. All I knew was, Hank Williams died last night.


I hope you enjoyed David’s post as much as I did. I can just see the grin on his daddy’s face. I don’t have many memories of New Year’s Eve because I’m usually asleep by the time the change of the year rolls around, but Granny has a New Year’s Eve memory that I’ve heard a blue million times.

Paul was born on New Year’s Day. Granny said “I just knew I’d have the first baby of the new year and get our picture put in the paper.”

Things didn’t turn out exactly as Granny had them planned.

Just after the new year dawned Granny was still in labor but getting closer to giving birth by the minute. Suddenly another woman was rushed into the delivery room. Granny said before she could snap her fingers the other woman pushed out the first baby of the new year leaving Paul to be the second baby born in the new year of 1974 in Cherokee County NC. Granny still mourns not getting her and Paul’s picture in the paper 🙂


*Ruling day 10: Low 40 High 49 Cloudy, Rainy

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  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Can’t wait till next wk for the outcome. I sure hope all that hard work paid off. Love your post Tipper. God Bless!

  • Reply
    Frances Jane Phillips Page
    January 3, 2019 at 10:25 am

    Can’t wait for outcome of the Blast! My dad’s people lived in Town of Andrews, NC and had town water and sewage. I was a child of the 1930s and lived in the town but loved going to my grandmother Siler’s farm where we had to bring pails of water up a steep hill from the Spring. I had NO concept of the drudgery involved in cooking and cleaning. I was still very young when Her house burned down and they moved to Franklin. …no more carrying water …but she died soon after moving. I am left with happy memories of their farm and that sweet cold Spring Water.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 3, 2019 at 9:11 am

    “a job of work”, a phrase rarely heard if ever these days. I used to slip it in to a conversation once in a while and smile when people thought I was illiterate. Mr. Templeton’s Dad had “two jobs of work”, more the better.
    David Templeton has a rare gift with words. They flow as tho a gurgling stream, music to my ears.

    Who was that Cherokee County first baby of the year 1974? Sure it got its name in the paper that year but how many mentions will it get this year? And Paul, how many times will his name be seen, read or heard this year?

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 8:33 am

    David’s dad did exactly what I would have done. Getting even does put a grin on your face sometimes. Thanks for reminding me Mom was not the only person in the world to say blue million. I think the newspaper should still do a story about Granny and Paul being cheated out of the spotlight. A story like that would be much more newsworthy than some of the garbage they print.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 3, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Happy birthday to Paul! We did the opposite with our daughter. We bumped a woman from our Lamase class who was set up for a C-section.

    I’d like to know what happened with that well. Did they ever get good water? I never dug my own well but I have lived without even well water at the house and without even a spring. I have appreciated good water much more ever since.

    David’s Dad must have been a hardy soul, two jobs and hand digging a well. My hat is off for that kind of grit.

    • Reply
      January 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Ron-I’ll share the rest of the story next week 🙂

  • Reply
    Harry Adams
    January 3, 2019 at 7:55 am

    But did he get water? Did the hole fill in? What was the outcome of all that work?

    • Reply
      January 3, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Harry-I’ll tell you next week-so be on the look out for the post telling if David’s daddy found water 🙂

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 3, 2019 at 7:43 am

    I hope after all of that he did get water.

  • Reply
    Frank Vincent
    January 3, 2019 at 7:32 am

    Sorta reminds me of my “Y2K prank” 1999 New Year’s Eve party was being hosted by my sister-in-law and ‘bout an hour or so before Midnight I asked my daughter to meet me in the garage when she saw me head that way… Everyone was having a grand time and as throughout the previous year of 1999 was much chatter about what would happen if the computer networks around the world did not have their “Y2K patch”. Well, I could not have had a better setup nor was there a more opportune time to pull the prank of the century than this night. As it got closer to Midnight, I snuck out to the garage where my daughter met me and told her of the “Grand-prank” about to be way-laid on the unsuspecting Y2K revelers inside. We could hear all the party-goers getting ready for the New Years countdown accompanied with Dick Clarks Rock’n New Year’s Eve from Times Square in New York City on the TV…and as they started their countdown at ten….then nine… I opened the circuit breaker panels cover and smiled at my daughter and when they reached two then one…yep…you guessed it…I turned the power off and you could hear them all scream and yell….”Oh no Y2K”… My daughter and I were laughing so hard!!! After a few seconds…I turned the power back on…then you could hear all their sighs of relief…than the a few seconds later…yep… “the power went out again” followed by more screams… Ahhhh hhahaha… We had a good ole time that night…! Happy New Year everyone!!! May our gracious Lord’s Blessing be on each and everyone of you!!!

  • Reply
    January 3, 2019 at 5:28 am

    Bet those folks thought the British were coming without Paul Revere warning them.

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