The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000 Page: 3
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Autobiography of Charles V. Compton by Don Raney
on the other side to balance the load.
I recall with a thrill, my first visit to the blacksmith shop with my father, who was the proud owner of a fractious mule
that had an antipathy for blacksmiths. We rode him to Ewel Delks blacksmith shop. Ewel was a tall, powerful man who
boasted that he could put shoes on the worst of the "critters." His shop was at the brow of a cliff. When we alighted and
the blacksmith took over - then the fight started. Ewel said "Ras, he's like the boys over in Tick Ridge - he don't like
shoes. But I'll shoe him!" They tusseled until I thought they would both go over the cliff to the bottom of the deep
gorge, but finally the struggle ended and we went away riding a mule with four shiny iron shoes.
To be exact, our house was near Waterloo Post Office in Pulaski County, Kentucky. It was just across the Fall Branch
from Cain's Store. A few hundred yards down the road was the School House. Waterloo was just a typical Kentucky
community with no wealth and less poverty. Somerset, the nearest large town, is about 12 miles distant.
My parents had a protestant background - they were firm believers in the "old time religion" and the family alter. We
had a reverent blessing before every meal. We were taught to be cheerful and suppress anything unpleasant while
dining. I now realize that they felt that it was their sacred duty and obligation to teach us that there is an Infinite Power,
a Devine Spirit, from which source our blessings came and that we should never cease to worship God and be thankful.
Across the road from our house was our forest of lofty white oaks, buckeye, chestnuts, walnuts and hickory nut trees
and nearer the road and our home was a grove of maple trees that supplied us and the "passers by" with an abundance of
maple juice which, when boiled, would be changed to sugar syrup.
I remember the little school house where the children sat on high benches without backs and studied Webster's old blue
back speller, McGuffy's reader, Ray's arithmetic and a few possessed slates. The teacher, firm and dignified, sat in a
chair near a table, on which was laid a big switch and a dunce cap. His orders, "Thou shalt not talk, laugh, swing your
feet under the bench seat or cease studying," were ultimatums and woe be unto the student who dared to disobey his
First came the class of ABC's; then the long row of spellers, each one envying the one who was at the head of the class.
Then the lesson in reading and happy were we when recess was announced. But the great events were on Fridays, when
every school student was expected to make a speech or deliver an oration. The boys usually appeared with pant legs
rolled up to their knees, barefooted, wearing
a one button shirt and pants partly held up with one gallus attached to his pants with a nail. After two or three starts, he
would finally get into the speech.
A favorite speech was "The Burning Deck - The boy stood on the burning deck, when all but him had fled. The flames
that lit the battle wreck, showed round him o'er the dead." The further he went the louder and faster he spoke until we
could hear the roaring of the flames when they reached, enveloped and consumed the unfortunate boy who suffered
death rather than disobey his father, who had told him to keep standing until he returned.
Next came "Mamma's Pride" by Tommie, who half sang "My mother's old arm chair. I love it, yes, I love it and who
can dare to chide me for loving her old arm chair." Then little Mary would, after coaxing, electrify the vast audience
with "Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and can't tell where to find them." This would suggest to Ella, her speech "Mary
had a little lamb," and to Charley, "The Old Oaken Bucket" and on and on until near sundown.
It was beyond Tick Ridge, near Possum Hollow, at her old log schoolhouse, where applicants for teacher of that district
school were questioned by the trustees as to their educational qualifications for the position. They were usually asked if
they taught that the world was flat or round. Suspicious that the trustees were divided on that question, they invariably
answered, "I am capable of teaching either system."
There is just enough truth in some of the tall tales, about people raised in the back woods, to give credence to the many
lies told. One story told is that when the boys reached the age of fifteen, the neighbors got together and put pants on
them. The facts are, boys by the hundreds in several of the old states went around in their shirttails until they were about
eight, and they would often hide when company came in.
However, there is another side to this story. Countless numbers of these same boys developed high ideals and marked
ability. They were rugged, studious individuals that breathed honesty and integrity. They, in fact, were of the type of
Lincoln - born in log huts - tilled poor hilly land covered with stumps. Still, many achieved truer greatness than men
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Dallas Genealogical Society. The Dallas Journal, Volume 46, 2000, periodical, June 2000; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth186859/m1/9/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Genealogical Society.