Our families' yearly get-togethers were very loud happenings. The Jones side was usually a few decibels louder than the Ewen side, but on occasion the Ewen side could "keep up with the Joneses!" The most amazing difference to observe was that the Jones side spoke with their hands. Pointing, gesturing, flying like a bird, chopping wood, you name it, it could be done by hand. I often wondered if this was because all the Jones children were red-headed. Childhood was hard enough, let alone facing "carrot-top" jokes most of the time. The Ewen side was much less dramatic, all being dark skinned, blown eyed, and black headed. Laughing, catching up on life events, and talking were part of both family adventures.
Junior and J.C. , the two oldest Ewen boys, would generally lead the discussions on the Ewen side. At some point, it would get around to talking about their childhood during the depression. Growing up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky would certainly provide a location stocked with Daniel Boone type experiences. My favorite was snake stories! Junior and J.C. like to kill snakes. They would use my grand dad Ewen's single shot, shot-gun and blast away. They would tell of the day that they shot between 20 and 25 snakes from a tree. Of course I knew that snakes did not have arms and legs, and certainly could not climb trees. Snakes moved along the ground and could not move along tree branches. Now at some point my mother, being the middle child of 9 surviving children, would volunteer her Blue Racer Story.
It begins near the garden where a barefoot, skinny, jet-black haired, pretty little girl, with hazel-green eyes, played. [ I always took it that mother was probably less than 9 years of age.] The garden was some 10 to 15 yards from the house, and contained the usual corn, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes. She suddenly came face to face with a large, dark blue colored snake, called a Blue Racer! The snake was reared-up, twisting and writhing, forming what must have been a most terrifying Daniel Boone type experience. In a split second, my mom had turned and high tailed to the house, setting a new Slade record for the 100 yard dash. She bounded the porch skipping the three stairs, opened the screen door, just making the safety of the house. Pulling shut the screen door behind her, she turned and saw the Blue Racer slam into the screen door. Boy-o-boy, that snake chased me all the way from the garden.
Now of course, just as I didn't believe that snakes could climb trees, I did not believe that snakes would case people. I thought that mother's childhood imagination could certainly match my own. This story became know as the Blue Racer story. My bother (18 months older) and I would see that frequently this story would come up during our own family get together so we could make comments like : "did you get that snake's licence plate number?", "did the snake blow its horn?", "if a motor cycle cop was watching he would have given you both speeding tickets!" We would generate a number of good family laughs , but mother would not back down from her story.
It was one family get together, after computers and the Internet were up and running, that my brother decided to google Blue Racers. To my surprise, the printout stated that Blue Racers were a unique snake, very aggressive, often rising up and chasing its victim! Thus the name Blue Racer! Man - o - man! All this time my mother's story was true. The article was read before everyone, and it was mom who got to laugh while she watched me eat crow. I thought it was never to late to learn something new, and that a childhood memory of a bare foot little girl growing up in eastern Kentucky should not be questioned. Especially if it had to do with snakes.