Appalachia Music

She Lived with her Mother


Kids you remember
Are there kids from your childhood that you can’t forget? I’m not talking about the kids you were best friends with or even friendly with. I’m talking about the kids who seemed to be on the periphery of the playground. Maybe they were odd, poor, had annoying or strange habits, or maybe they were only at your school for a short time before they were gone leaving you wondering what happened to them.

I remember kids that fit into those molds and every once in a while they pop into my mind. How could knowing them for a short period of time, and not very well at that, make them unforgettable?

Could it be my brain likes to remind me I could have reached out to them or maybe the kids were such enigmas that all these years later my brain is still trying to figure out who they really were.

Hamilton Skeleton-was that really even his name? What happened to him, his cookie making Mother, and all the kids their family seemed to have?

Karem and her brother and sister who were from Venezuela. Why did they come to Brasstown and why didn’t they stay longer?

The Castleberry brothers, where did they go? They road my bus for years it seemed and then they were just gone.

Bobby who lived down the road and once told me I was a witch. Was she really murdered or is she still alive somewhere on this Earth?

Paul sings a song written by Ron Sexsmith, Strawberry Blond, it fits my thoughts perfectly. Give it a listen and hear about the girl he couldn’t forget.

Hope you liked the song! Are there any kids you can’t forget?


This post was first published here on the Blind Pig in April of 2011.


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  • Reply
    Garry Ballard
    September 28, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    This blog brings back one of my saddest memories. Alan was a poor boy who lived with his grandmother and younger brother and sister in an old chicken house with a dirt floor Andy hessian walls where the wire used to be. He was the same age as me, 9 years old, when he came to our school. He lived about 2 miles further away from school than me but I’d always meet him at the corner and walk the rest of the way to school with him. He only had one pair of pants, an old grey serge pair that were at least two sizes too big for him. He wore them summer and winter with an flannel shirt in winter to an old cotton one in summer. I was about the only one who ever talked to him, I wish now I’d talked more to him though. The second winter I was away on a school camp that of course he couldn’t afford to go to; it was raining heavily at home one night when he had to go to the town chemist to get some medicine for his little sister who was sick. He’d found an old bike and fixed it up and was riding in the dark when a hit run driver hit him right at the corner where we always met. He was killed instantly. I remember we had a memorial service for him at school and the thing I really hated were the crocodile tears shed and eulogies spoken by kids that never once spoke to him or even acknowledged him!

  • Reply
    September 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    In fifth grade my best friend was a girl named Sheila, same as mine, but spelled differently. Her Daddy was a preacher at a small Baptist church. I loved her company so much! We didn’t go to that church regularly, but for some reason I was there on the Sunday morning when the church decided to vote on her Daddy staying…or leaving. The vote came back and he was to leave the church. I looked over at my friend and saw tears running down her cheek. She was much like me, not popular, didn’t wear the popular early 1970s fashion, but she was sweet and kind. They left the community and I never saw her again.

  • Reply
    Roy Pipes
    September 21, 2015 at 6:12 am

    I remember a friend, Henry Padgett. Henry’s father was bad to drink. Real bad. But Henry was a great guy and a good friend. We moved away, but I often thought about him. After perhaps 65 years I was back in that town. I looked Henry up in the telephone directory – Found a Henry Padgett, and called, but Henry’s wife said, “He died several years ago. We talked. It was good talking and me telling her Henry was a friend from long ago. I waited too long.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 21, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I have an older brother named Harold too. But he wasn’t like the Harold I wrote about earlier. My brother Harold was on the other high school bus that day. If he had been there, I’m sure things would have been different. My brother Harold was quiet too but he wouldn’t take no crap from nobody. One of the McCall boys messed with him on the bus one day and the bus driver had to stop the bus in the middle of the road. Harold had whichever McCall it was stuffed almost out the window. Harold had to go to Mr. Wikle’s office and take a couple of licks from his paddle but after that he didn’t have to take no crap from any of the McCall boys or anybody else.
    My brother Harold is a genius. I will have much more to say about him if you want to hear about it. Thanks again for being a sounding board for all my Appalachian memories! Odd as it may sound, you too are a hero of mine. What you do is what I would like to have done had I had the capacity and the capability. Thank you!
    Lest I forget to mention him, there was a kid in school, Tommy Mashburn, who is forever burned into my memory. Tommy was different. Tommy was in Special Ed. Tommy could never run and play like the other children but he tried. I couldn’t keep up either, not because I wasn’t able but because I was watching Tommy and praying he wouldn’t get hurt. Then one year, about my fourth or fifth grade, Tommy didn’t come to school any more.
    I don’t know what happened to Tommy and probably never will but I think about him often. Tommy was special. Not because they put him in Special Ed but because he did what God put him here to do and he did it to the best of his ability.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    September 20, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Every now and again, I remember this new girl that started in my school when I was in about tenth grade. She was very pretty, always wore the very best clothes, had the prettiest jewelry and accessories. The more well-to-do of the school siddled right up to her welcoming her with open arms, while the rest of us stood on the sidelines in envy.
    She attended our school only for a couple of weeks before her and her mother’s names appeared in the headlines, for shoplifting. Their pictures were in the paper, hers with mascara running down her face from her crying. I felt sorry for her because she’d been charged with a crime she helped commit, sure – but you know it was her mother that taught her how to do it.
    We never saw her at our school again. I wondered whatever became of her. I wonder where her father was. I wonder what her name was – Paula something. I hope she went straight and had a better life than the one down the path her mother was leading her to take.
    If anything funny came out of the whole thing at all, it was the embarrassment the upper crust kids felt when they realized they’d been duped by nothing more than a deceitful idol with fancy clothes, something we often see still going on nowadays.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    And I thought I was the only one who ever had those thoughts….. I grew up in the delta farming country of Arkansas and in the fall there were families from the Ozark hills that came for the cotton picking harvest. In those days cotton was picked by hand and it took a lot of “hands” to pick it every year. There were several families that came every year and some would only come one time never to be seen or heard from again. Occasionally one of the classmates will come to my thoughts and, like you, I wonder whatever became of them when they went home. There pictures were in some of the school yearbooks which always brings back memories. If you have read the book, The Painted House, by John Grisham, that was what it was like back then. I grew up not very far from the town in the book and also in the same time frame. I just never thought about other folks had those experiences of kids being in your class at school and then they were just gone!

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 20, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    So very fine of you, Tipper, to pose a question that spurs us blogateers (just a made-up word) to scroll back through the pages of memory to the times of our youth, both precious and poignant.
    As for my young days, it was curly blond locks Margaret Puckett who sat behind me in class. Her mere presence got my pubescent sap to running such that everything the teacher said sailed right over my head. But I was far too reserved, insecure and, well, too scared to ever take the risky step of expressing myself to her. The infatuation came to nothing.
    My relationship with bullies was a problem for them, not me. I was big for my age, and buff, so it fell to me to put a little dread into those bad boys who leaned on my smaller buds.
    In high school, despite academic achievement, it was I who was the oddball. Not weird, nor strange, nor dorky, nor geeky, I was neither nerd nor doofus, but rather a jock who took no interest in school sports. And I did not form the social bonds that make for lasting friendships and fond remembrances.
    I’ve read every word of the other comments, and I think they’re all terrific. Good job.
    I love the song. Paul is amazing. One of the giants in the bluegrass universe, Mac Wiseman, is often presented as “the voice with a heart.” Well, every time I hear Paul sing, I hear the voice with a heart.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    September 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    Very thought provoking post, Tipper and I like reading all the comments. I was a shy quiet child – probably very forgettable – and I always had such empathy for kids who were shunned. But I was often too timid to reach out to them. No one was ever mean to me except one of my friends who was bigger and liked to boss me around.

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    September 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Lovely post and song! I actually found my best friend from High School about a year and a half ago. We were so nervous when we got on the phone to each other. We laughed and cried and talked for over four hours. What memories.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    September 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    I remember some people from my past too. They were usually the kids who were loners or different than the rest like the boy whose name was Toy. He had an odd look and was very simple. He never really talked to anyone and didn’t really do anything in class but sit there looking out the window. As soon as he was old enough he dropped out and I never really saw him again. Then there was the bully named Roger who was a head taller than most of us and his two front teeth were missing. He decided to pick on me one day and he had me up against the brick wall on the playground and had his hands around my throat saying he was going beat me to a pulp. His mistake was standing with his legs apart and I gave him a strong knee where it hurts! He never bothered me again and I never really cared what happened to him. I have never been able to stand anyone being picked on and the few fights I were in was for taking up for someone else. Then there was a friend named Timmy who was accidentally shot and killed by his brother in a hunting accident. That was hard to understand because he was there one day and never returned. His brother just a year younger was never the same. It’s strange how the memory of some people are etched in our minds.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    I loved that song and anything else Paul sings. I guess he’s the best guitar picker I ever heard.
    Today’s post gave me a lot of relief, cause I thought I was the
    only one who had memories like that.
    Betty Jo Woody, a beautiful blond
    headed little girl once lived up
    on the hill across from our driveway. Her dad was a boss and
    worked at Magnavox in Andrews.
    Almost every evening after school
    she’d come over and we’d ride
    down trees and climb in the laurels behind our house. I think
    she was a grade ahead of me, but
    she was nice to me and my brother. I remember one time she
    invited us to her Birthday Party.
    We were’t able to give the more
    expensive gifts but she was just
    as thrilled. Her mama carried
    herself nice too. I don’t know
    what happened to that family…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 20, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    I was in school with a guy named Harold. He was born 30 Dec 1948. His mother died 4 days later. Harold was what you might call a pushover. He was almost two years older than me, a grade ahead and a lot bigger. I was a big kid but he made me look like a runt. I didn’t know him until I started high school.
    Nobody on the bus would to give me a seat on the first day. Kind of like hazing. I was timid in those days and always tried to keep the peace but the bus driver was telling me to sit down and nobody would let me. Finally Harold got up and let me sit next to the window.
    Harold was about as tough as a marshmallow. Kids half his size would push him around. He wouldn’t ever fight back. But, he stood up for me that day and for the rest of the school year. I always had a seat on the bus. I just had to spot Harold and he was a head taller than anyone else. Maybe nobody else wanted to sit with Harold, I don’t know, but he was kind and considerate to me and I appreciated what he did. Harold wasn’t much of a talker and neither was I, so I didn’t learn any of his history until I happened upon his obituary. Harold died in 2000 in Rutherford County at 52 years of age. He was married and had, I think, two kids.
    Maybe they have internet in heaven and Harold is subscribed to and can read this. Harold, I appreciate you man. You are a hero of mine. When I get up there, I’ll hunt you up. You won’t be hard to find. You stand head and shoulders above the crowd! Save me a seat.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 20, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Tipper, I was that little girl. We lived in several different towns during my early school years. I was the quiet one, I didn’t adjust very well to all the moving.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Yes, there were kids in my young days that just seemed to be there. For all I know, I may have been one of them. I know that I wasn’t in the ‘in-group’, but that’s just the way it was back then. Your post is a thought provoking one.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    September 20, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I was probably one of those kids. I went to five different schools between first and eighth grade.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    September 20, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Yes, there are children I went to school with, that I wonder where they are today. Most of them were kind and good hearted.
    One boy that was so intelligent for his age. He up and left our high school and no one knew or could ever find out where he or his family moved. Everyone thought it very eerie and spooky!
    There was the “newcomer” with the strange accent, from the Bronx New York, that thought we didn’t know anything about anything! By the end of the semester he was “buddying up” and asking us questions. Especially, after some of the older boys took him on a “Snipe hunt”…
    There was a big “bully” in 5th grade. A huge red-headed, freckled-face boy, that used his stature to intimidate a few of the boys. You know the kind of boys, the “aggravators” and “teasers” to other boys and girls. The big red-head Franklin boy always put them in their place! When he charged them with words and closed fist they left us alone thereafter! When in conversation with him, he seemed to be really nice but shy too! Once a teacher told us she thought that he protected himself that way because he was so big for his age. He wasn’t fat, just a athletic, husky, tall boy. Today the coaches would be clamoring to get him to play football early, so they could sign him up, when he got in high school. ha
    Remember the beautiful girl that didn’t seem all that pretty in her later years.
    Then there was the child whose family was poor. The rumor had it, but she was always neat and clean, with perfect braided hair. She always wore washed and ironed clothes and clean shoes everyday, even though they were very used hand-me-downs.
    Those were the days, wish I could see some of them and talk with them…
    Great thought filled post, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 20, 2015 at 8:45 am

    There was T. Harrell abd D. Jones, classmates of mine, but very reserved and self-contained. I wish I had known them better. They intrigue me still, after all these years. I think that maybe we were a lot alike and could have been good friends. The not knowing troubles me in some vague way that I can’t identify.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    September 20, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Wow your post set me to thinking about all those kids from my childhood, the little girl who was in school for two weeks from the circus that was in town, how out of place she must have felt, how awful it must have been for her as we all got the ‘talk’ about how some of those traveling people were thiefs and that we should keep our valuables close. I think I was in the 5th grade then. So of course having been warned by our teacher we had nothing to do with her. How sad for her, how sorry I am I didn’t know any better.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 20, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I can’t remember children that came for only a little while to our country school at Choestoe, but when I went to high school at Blairsville, “catching the bus” at Morris Ford stop on US Highway 129 and riding the 8 miles north to Union County High School, I begin to remember some who left my class along the way. The saddest was Georgia who got killed in an automobile accident. Her vacant chair was moved by the teacher to make her passing a little less traumatic for us, her classmates. But on occasion I still remember that deep-seated sorrow I experienced that Georgia with her smiling face and pleasant manner was no longer with us. I learned then that death comes at times unexpectedly, even to the young.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 7:46 am

    This kinda haunts me also, especially those kids who got picked on all the time, for the life of me I don’t know why.. I was not one of those kinda kids who picked on others, or made fun of how they looked or talked. I also find myself wondering..

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