Reminnisce With Me

One of the best things about running this Web site is that, through the internet and E-mail you get to meet new people and make many new friends. In my case I have also found some cousins, albeit distant ones, that I had never even heard of.  For instance, I found a first cousin once removed whose grandfather was for many years the "Family Historian" for both the Ison's and Creeches.  His name was Ira Paulus Ison and he was my "double first cousin" once removed.

That is his father and my grandfather were brothers (Ison), and they married sisters from the Creech family. I have been corresponding steadily by E-mail with Nancy White Davis, his grand daughter, since meeting her through this web site.

On one of my annual pilgrimages back to "GOD'S COUNTRY",I had the priviledge of meeting Nancy and her Mother Vesta (Ison) White, a daughter of Ira Paulus Ison. Nancy had arranged a mini-reunion for me and in addition to Vesta there were three of Vesta's sisters and a brother all there to greet me. What a day of visiting and sharing old pictures!

Through E-Mail I also met the wife of a very distant relative on the Creech side to whom I wrote the following letter. I made a comment quoting "The Duke of Paducah", and she asked me about it.  So read along and maybe it will bring back some memories.


The Duke Of Paducah

Dear Marsil,

You asked for it! Here it is.

Back in the thirties and forties ( I had a feeling you weren't that old ) there was a hillbilly comedian who called himself "The Duke of Paducah".  He was on a radio show which emanated from Renfro, Kentucky.  I think that's somewhere south of Berea or Lexington, one or the other.  The show was called "The Renfro Valley Barn Dance."  I don't know, but it may still be going on.  I found it one night by accident when I was tuning across the radio band a few years ago.

This was, as radio was in those days, a live broadcast with country music or "Hillbilly music" as we knew it.  It was a family type variety show similar to the "Grand Ol' Opry".

I remember that three high school friends and I, when we were about Juniors or Seniors, took a trip down to the Renfro Valley Barn dance in an old '33 Chevy Coupe ( kinda crowded ).  I wasn't that much of a fan of hillbilly music, but I went along for the trip.  We stayed in a motel which was nothing more than a bunch of bedrooms strung together and the side walls were covered with slabs with no insulation or even wall covering on the inside.  You could see the studs. And when I said bedrooms, that's all that it was, a small room with a couple of beds.

I regress:

Did I tell you that I was born and raised just outside of Portsmouth, Ohio?  We lived on a 20 acre farm and Dad worked in the steel mill.  I went to a little High school called Minford High.  We rode the school bus about 12 miles to school.  Portsmouth is located almost on the southern tip of Ohio, on the Ohio river at its junction with the Scioto river.  Greenup County was across the river and a short way up river from us.  About 40 miles up river the Big Sandy river entered the Ohio and the three states of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia came together.

About 60 miles south of this point on US route 23 is Paintsville, Kentucky, the county seat of Johnson County where a lot of our ancestors lived. Elliot County and some of the other ones you have read about in your research are close by.

Back to my story:

About midway through this show, the Duke of Paducah came on stage. He was dressed about as hillbilly as you could get, only in his Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes.  It was a black and white checkered suit, tie down halfway to his knees, pants about 6 or 8 inches too short, Brogan shoes, no socks and a Derby hat.  He did his comedy routine, sometimes a monologue but most times a dialogue where the MC would be his straight man.

I never thought of it till now but he was sort of a male "Minnie Pearle", always talking about his "kinfolks etc.  It just occurred to me also that he was a "pre-Jerry Clower" Jerry Clower.  To end this up, that's where the saying came from that I quoted the other night. He always ended his routine with this line.

"Folks I'm a goin' to thuh wagon, these Shooooze are a killin' me.

Come to think of it, mine are "a-pinchin' a little too".

Thanks for listening,

Harold

Vintage Duke of Paducah Poster

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