The Briar Philosopher - Guest Column - Remembering

by By: Marisa Rader Cordray

Thinking of my father, Tolby Rader, today. He was born in 1927 in Jackson County Kentucky. Their cabin was nestled on the side of a deep holler. The little path remaining today is rocky and steep. They had a well, which remains there to this day, many cold buckets pulled from there I imagine. They had a chicken warming house and the stacked stones of the foundation are still visible. There were out buildings and a log barn. Oh, how I wish I could have seen it then! However, I do keep it in my minds eye and can visit my version of it when I'm feeling the pull.

My father was a talker, a story teller, a yarn spinner. I loved listening to him relay his stories. Sometimes he'd gather with my uncles when we'd visit them and they would kinda kneel down on one leg in a circle or sit on the ground and whittle while telling tales. I'd linger near by and listen to every word... I was transported back in time along with them. His eyes would light up as he told of hunting with his father and sitting down to rest on a rock...his dad would say "I'd give anything for a sweet tater right about now" Dad would grin and tell about pulling the baked sweet potatoes out of his coat pocket and seeing the smile on his dad's face! He told me many times how he and a few of his brothers could kill small game with rocks. He said my Uncle Granville got into trouble one time when he knocked their cow out with one! As a child, that story tickled me to death, we had a good laugh over it every time he'd tell it (I actually believe it to this very day).

He described the cane fields and corn fields that they tended to around the side of the holler, large gardens, as there were many mouths to feed. They canned every sort of thing, even squirrels and rabbits. They'd hook up the old mule to the mill and grind cane and boil molasses. Those fields are long gone and huge timber thrive there now.

Being raised up as he was to work hard and live off the land was, I'm sure, a struggle, but what a blessing to be so prepared for life.

As a girl, I was lucky to have a father like him, he taught me many things. He had me digging ditches, helping tear down a chimney, helping to roof the house (and of course saving every old roofing nail I could find to store in a coffee can in his shed), hanging dry wall, handing him tools as he fixed his car, baiting my own hook, shooting guns at the creek....I could go on. I so appreciate my father's kindness, patience and love and his ability to share the ways of my ancestors...I miss him, his voice and his stories.