Saturday Shopping Days

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A Time Before Shopping Centers and Malls when it was Saturday Shopping Days

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What Saturday Shopping Days looked like

Main Street Middlesboro 1930/40,  Courtesy Library of Congress

Saturday Shopping Days

When were young and growing up the term “shopping center” was never heard of. It was all about Saturday Shopping Days. In fact I am not sure if they were around in the 60’s, if they were the number of them must have been small, as in maybe located in some very large city somewhere. What I do remember are the Saturday Shopping Days. I would like to present just a short clip from my memories so I can put you back to those days in your memories and maybe it may remind you of those days for you as well.

“Beep, Beep, and an occasional ah-ooh-ga” breaks the busy day traffic as the thumps and bumps of cars pass by within three feet of us. The occasional sound of the squealing of brakes and tires skidding to a stop, trying to beat the light,  can be heard as we approach the crosswalk ahead. As I glance up and see an opening between the crowd and can now get a good look, I can see the shoppers are all walking along the sidewalks in single file much like the traffic in the streets who are also a part of all the hustle and bustle. I wonder if someone told them that they must always stay to the right as they pass shoppers going in the other direction. The sidewalk traffic is shoulder to shoulder with the kids kind of hidden down below in the midst. I see a lady at the corner waiting to cross on the light change and see her hat above the crowd. The pretty red and pink flowers stand out among the pretty ribbon that hangs from brim. As I look at other passersby it appears to me that about everyone is dressed as though they are going to a wedding. The older men are all wearing hats and shoes that are two colors, black and white.

All along the sidewalk are doorways that go to different stores. Daniels is just ahead with the green storefront banner towering above the street. Western Auto is across the street and I remember my first bicycle came from there.  Montgomery Wards and Sears stand across the street from each other. I remember looking through the catalogs they mailed out to us. Larger than four of our phone books stacked atop each other. (Telephone party lines are a story for another day)  I accessorized my bike from the Sears catalog right down to the light that worked off the wheel spinning do hitchy thing you put on the back wheel. The faster you peddled the brighter the light became.

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What Saturday Shopping Days looked like

Middlesboro, Bell County, 193/40 Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Growing up in the county of Knox we always went to Corbin, the adventure was called “Going to Town”. Only an eight mile trek but it involved a week long planning session for our family to get prepared for. Who was driving where, where we to meet up at and if you go to this store will you get this. It was a great thing for a kid riding in the backseat and peering out the windows at all the sights and people. Every town had a landmark, Corbin had the underpass. The underpass was very short but was lit up at night and made you think you were in New York to all of us kids. Dad would blow the horn as he went through to hear the echoes. We would roll down the windows and shout to hear it bounce back.

These were days when we first heard of Streakers. It was everyday when you would see it in the news. It was also happening in our communities. It was during this time the song The Streak came out. These were days of muscle cars and no one worried about how much “Gas” the car took to drive around.  Heck it was twenty three cents a gallon when I was a kid.

As I look around the area now I regretfully have to admit that most all of it is gone. Those were the days when everyone that went to the bank got candy handed to them for the kids. You could go to the country store and buy “penny candy”. It came with the little bitty brown paper bag handed back to you. The days when “pop” came in glass bottles and you got three cents back when you turned the empty bottle back in. It was called “getting your deposit back”.

Saturday Shopping Days

Thank you for listening,   Marty Wyatt

Pap’s Milk Cow

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An Article About Growing Up In Knox County Ky

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A story passed down to me from my Mother’s side of the family.

Pap’s Milk Cow

My grandparents were much like early families. They worked hard and scraped by but were always happy, smiling and had some type of inspirational advice or a quick happy event to recall for anyone who may become discouraged along the way. It was a very loving family and we were taught to be helpful, understanding as well as compassionate to others. It was from these strong family bonds that we were taught to be prepared for the real world. I remember when we were nervous and uncertain about a dealing with someone who had some authority in some job that one of us were applying for and whether we were qualified in applying and being were afraid of being rejected. Papa would always say “They put their pants on the same way you do, one leg at a time” ” All they can do is say no they can’t eat you”. Such strong encouraging words of advice for a young person that really put the un-nerving situation into perspective. I could write about all these memories but it would be a very long article so I will share a couple memories that stick out to me the most.

My grandparents had a very large family, everyone did in those days. My grandparents had to plan for things and figure a way to pay for them ahead of time. I remember many times being told by one of the family about a cow papa had for many years. He milked the cow and she provided for the family this basic commodity. I remember the milk was stored in several glass, gallon sized Fischer pickled bologna jars and the cream always floated to the top. I would ask if one of my aunts remembered the cow and was always told the same story. Yes we remember her, every time she would have a calf we knew it wasn’t long afterwards that we would have a new brother or sister. Papa would always plan ahead and the calf would be just the right age to sell when mama would give birth. You see the calf was what payed for the doctor when the new baby came along.

Papa was always the one that had to do the discipline, if you want to call it that. We would be caught doing something we weren’t supposed to be doing and mama would send us to papa for the trial and verdict. Papa would smile at everything and had patience beyond belief. He would line us up in the living room and his “discipline” would involve this hour long planning of how we were going to spanked and how hard and how we need to brace yourself so we didn’t fall when we were spanked. He would be giggling under his breath and we were scared we were not going to come out of it alive the entire time. After all this hour long teasing and giggling he would tap you and say “Don’t do that again”. He would then explain why and what impact it would have on someone or ourselves.m That lasted another half hour. When it was over we knew what we had done and why it should not be done.

To this day I do not ever remember getting a spanking from him but I feel he taught me more than any other family member. Papa exerted this same pattern with dealings with others who “did wrong”. He could do it in such a nice way that when it was over you would just have to thank him for explaining it to you.

Pap’s Milk Cow

Staying at Grandmas

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Staying at Grandmas House

I remember when I was growing I would get to to stay all night at Granny and Papa’s house. I always looked forward to the visit. Granny always had things cooked and left on the stove because she was afraid someone would go hungry by chance. Granny and papa had both lived through the depression and had known what hunger was. Papa had his own version of how things should work (most of them leaving me scratching my head now however).  I remember there weren’t any street lights or utility lights anywhere but Papa had sufficed and put a big green porcelain light globe nailed up in a tree beside the road and the house and in the globe was a huge clear glass light bulb. It didn’t put out much more light than our led flashlights do today. I believe he had it just for the bugs to fly around! After dark you could walk about five feet away from the light and you were in total darkness. He always made sure it was on before dark though.

Now when we would get to grandma’s,  it would be during the day and we would play in the “Branch”, (that was what the creek was called behind the house),  all day if it wasn’t too cold. On the weekends the cars would be pulling up and the back doors would be opening up before the car even got stopped as my cousins would bail out of the back seats. All of us were heading to the branch first thing.  we would play in the water all day catching minnows and crawdads and building mud dams. At suppertime, Granny would call out for you to come in. She had a huge closet she called a chifferobe where she kept clothes and canned stuff in. It seemed to me to be as big as a bedroom inside of it. It had a faint light in the middle of the room with a string you pulled down to turn the light on. Most times it had a cord plugged into the socket going to her sewing machine.

Inside the chifferobe were blankets, all kinds of canned items from the garden that year, any size, shape or color of clothes, shoes, socks, coats and sweaters all stacked on shelves or hanging from racks. The first thing we had to do was change clothes and get washed up. Now getting washed up involved taking a dish pan of water that had been heated on a coal stove and mixing cold water that had been drawn from the spring that was on the bank across the one lane dirt road in front of the house. It had a wooden lid built around the spring and you lifted a door and got the water out. That was Papa’s two main chores would be to get water in and bring in coal and kenneling for the fire. I liked to help him but most of the time I just gathered eggs from the nests scattered all around the place. Papa always thought they laid better if they ran loose.

Staying at Grandmas House

When the water was just right to wash in, we would gather close to the stove and hide behind a sheet hung up and we washed off. Granny had to wash your back, neck and the backside your knees. Then you got dressed in a clean set of clothes she had gathered for you, most of the time different shoes too. We would find out later they had originally belonged to all of our cousins, but not on purpose. Grandma would wash our clothes that we came in with and they went to the chifferobe. So you walked around with all your cousins clothes on after you changed to eat supper. Of course your cousins ended up with your clothes too. I remember being at school and a cousin would call out “Hey, you got my shirt on. Where did you get that?”. Of course it came from grandmas.

We would gather around a dinner table that looked about twenty feet long when I was little and ate all kinds of homemade and homegrown food. Granny always made biscuits in one huge pan and called it biscuit bread. (My Aunt was the one who made the regular biscuits and Papa called her “Dough Roller”). We would eat till we were full and couldn’t move and then everyone went to the living-room to watch TV while papa got the stoves ready for the night. Papa would sit with us for a bit if he was caught up. It was during one of those times that all of us finally got a solution to the Bonanza Genealogy Puzzle.

You see, for a long time Granny had thought if something was on TV then it was true and most definitely real. Papa, being a self-proclaimed Cartwright expert, knew better. Well Granny always thought that Hoss, Little Joe and Adam were the real sons of the Old Man Cartwright. Papa had tried for the longest time to convince her different but she just knew he was wrong. I mean it is on TV and it has to be real, or so she thought. She also thought that he was trying to convince her Cartwright was trying to deny his legitimate sons. She thought that was the most terrible thing that Cartwright had boys and papa was trying to claim that they belonged to someone else. This conversation had gone on a long time and always ended up in the past as a stalemate. On the fatal night in question we were watching Ponderosa and Granny looks over at Papa during a tender time in the show, and said defiantly “See there John, Old Man Cartwright can’t deny them boys, they look just like him”.  Papa looked at her and gave in saying “Yup your right Sib!” He winked at me after he said it. So that settled that huge question then and there. After Ponderosa and Gunsmoke and maybe a western or two, it was time for bed.

Staying at Grandmas House

Papa had bedded the stoves down with slack coal and he had gotten the stoves hot before he banked them. Banking the fire involved putting very fine coal on top of the fire in the stove so it would have coals to start up again in the morning. You would be sweating when bedtime came around.  Granny would put you in a huge bed, most of the time with your brother or a cousin or two, and pull the blankets up on. You had to kick the covers down to your feet as soon as she left because it was so hot. Granny’s beds had goose feather mattresses and pillows. When you got into bed the mattress and pillow would wrap around you as you sunk in. The pillows were so soft, it is just hard to describe. The quilts and blankets were all hand-made by Granny and were made from any piece of scrap she could round up. Seems like she would pile six quilts on top of you at bedtime. You would be sweating when you went to bed and the house would cool off during the night. You would reach down and pull a blanket on you. As the night progressed you would keep dragging another quilt till all of them were piled on top of you and you couldn’t roll over for the weight of them. Then you would put another pillow over your head toward morning and it would eventually be to where only your mouth was showing.

Early in the morning you would wake up by the rooster crowing (somewhere between 5 or 6, because he was on fast time) and you would wake up to the smell of breakfast cooking and papa’s poking at the stove. Papa always got up about four am to chunk up the stoves before leaving to check on the neighbors. We would lay there for a while and you could feel the house warming up. When you felt the heat starting to hit your face it was about time to get up.

Now getting out of bed involved a mad rush to the stove. You see the house would be warm but the floor wasn’t. When the covers came off you would be sweating. Jumping onto a freezing floor with wet feet didn’t mix well either, thus the dash to the stove. Hitting the floor with sweaty feet would freeze your feet to the floor if you stood still. So I would jump out of bed and go straight toward the stove and a warm stove. You could see the red tint to the pipe when you got there. I would stand there almost against it and move farther out as it warmed up. Then it was off to the kitchen to start the day!

Author, Marty Wyatt

Staying at Grandmas House


{Did you know?} Kentucky has had an active feud in every county of Kentucky and some counties with multiple feuds. The Hatfield/McCoy was made famous because it involved two states and ended up in Federal Court. It was by no means a comparison for some of the other feuds which were more costly, lasted longer and involved more bitterness, with one becoming an assassination in Frankfort of a governor.

Staying at Grandmas House

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Name Calling

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An Article About Nicknames or Name Calling

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All of my uncles had nicknames and were name calling everyone.

Name Calling

My various uncles and family from my father’s side of the family have left me with many memories of antics, habits, sayings and just chance moments that leave me to chuckle as much now as they did when they occurred over the previous decades. Each one warrant a separate article to include their deeds and antics and the article would would be filled with hilarious recounts of their lives. It seemed to be a time of a more relaxed period and people always seemed to have more time to sit back and crack a joke in an attempt to see who could cause the most laughs.

As I grew up there were a ton of these chance encounters that still bring a smile to my face and a chuckle to my belly. Although many of my uncles and father are now gone on, I can still recall many of these laugh sessions from all of my uncles who became gleefully known as, Uncle Fuzzy, Mutt and Jeff, Soda Box, DuWat and a variety of others. I could not tell you what occurred to cause all of these nicknames but you can be assured that they can be contributed to some life event that was so funny to my Papa John that it deemed a nickname to be pinned.

My Grandmother, Sylvia, was affectionately known as “Sib”. Granny’s sister, Aunt Jennie, had passed away when her children were still small. “Aunt Jen’s” husband had also passed on about four years earlier so their kids were without their parents and ended up going to separate family members to live. My grandmother took in Harold, who we always knew as “Fuzzy” (actually a cousin but always felt like an uncle). This ritual grew to include all the grand-kids who had nicknames like, Chigger, Mink-eye, Coonie, Dough-roller along with a humorous collection of others that were steeped in some hilarious act that had been done at some point.

One of the most memorable of these names was “Wool”, a nickname my grandfather pinned on my cousin. The nickname came from an attempt to keep him out of a room that contained all of Granny’s glass what nots. Granny had moved them to a bedroom to keep him from breaking them. Wool always thought they were toys and was constantly in search of them. They tried keeping the light off in the bedroom so he wouldn’t go in there but that didn’t work. They had tried everything to keep him out of the what-nots and nothing seemed to work. Papa decided one day to hide behind the door and say WOOL in a low scary voice just enough so my cousin would stay out of the room. That worked and he never entered the room again. From that day forward he became known as “wool”.

Uncle Fuzzy was a couple of years older than my dad so he grew up more as a brother to my aunt’s and uncles than a cousin. Well Fuzzy had a whole new concept in how life was to be lived and boy was he a character! Granny and grandpa always grew a huge garden to feed all thirteen kids. The responsibility of working the garden fell upon the entire household. Fuzzy didn’t think it should work that way. He also knew how to convince my father (dad’s nickname was Sam, don’t know how they got that from Sandlin). Fuzzy would talk dad into sneaking out of the garden and coming back to the house for an old-fashioned pillow fight. They got in trouble quite a few times for that after busting pillows and tearing up the room. I was told by an uncle that his nickname came from one of these pillow fights and him being covered in goose feathers from the stuffed pillows of the time. Papa said he was Fuzzy and from that day forward he carried that nickname.

The best one I heard on Fuzzy was when he was older and he drove a school bus. While waiting on the kids to load on the bus one day, Fuzzy picked up a can of black spray paint and began spray painting his shoes, or as he called it, polishing them. One of the younger schoolkids came up and asked him what he was doing. Fuzzy answered by saying “Why I am polishing my shoes”. The little boy was intrigued with the new process and asked to have his shoes polished with the paint. Fuzzy proceeds in polishing the kids shoes with the black spray paint and the little boy was on his way. The next day when the kid came to the bus he had a sour look on his face. Fuzzy asked the little boy what was up with the sour face and the boy said bluntly “You got me in big trouble”. He went on to relate “them was my brand new shoes you spray painted and mom is highly upset with me and you both.” Fuzzy looked confused as to why there was an issue with the polish job and the ill feelings and answered back “Why that is how we always polish our shoes, I leave a can of paint lying around just to touch them up with”.

Name Calling

My family seemed to always look for the best in people. They always seem to find humor in what everyone did and made life enjoyable. It always made you wonder what would happen next. They also accepted people for who they were and how they behaved , acted or reacted to life. Often times life with them was more like one of those television shows from long ago. (The television shows is another group of stories in itself.) Two of these characters led to a nickname that was pinned on another of my uncles and another cousin, Mutt and Jeff. All of my uncles were extremely tall with very long arms and legs. My youngest uncle was probably one of the tallest. His constant companion was the exact opposite and was rather on the shorter side. They were inseparable when young and papa nicknamed them Mutt (the shorter cousin) and Jeff (the taller of the two) after the comic strip that featured Mutt and Jeff. Mutt is known by his nickname till today (even though the nicknames got reversed)and no one even knew who you were talking about when Mutt was called by his real given name.

My youngest brother was called DuWat when he became older. He had worked around heavy equipment and didn’t hear well at all. I was talking one day in front of papa and some other family and mentioned something that my brother had said. Papa asked me who had said whatever it was we were talking about and I responded with my brother’s name. Papa said ” Oh you mean old DuWat”. I asked him why he called him that and he said for me to ask my brother what time it was. I did and my brother looks back with a puzzled look, not hearing what I had asked him and answered “Do What?” I cracked up and Papa had a big smile on his face then. Another great name from Papa.

Name Calling

Dough-roller was my aunt and the name had come from her days growing up in my grandparent’s large family of thirteen kids. She was the biscuit maker for the family. Papa would always ask where the Dough-roller was. Another uncle was from Texas and he was Cotton-Picker. He always talked about things and everything was that cotton-picking this or that.

There were many nicknames for my family and many require a large explanation as to why they came about. My papa pinned names to everyone but it was all in fun to make each day happy and something to look back on. I hear the nicknames mentioned today and have to smile because in a certain way my papa left a legacy to remember him by. These traits were passed down to uncles and aunts because it was always a joy to be with them. Everyday was funny and you were assured a belly roll from some funny phrase from one of them. Simpler days were these and oftentimes I look back with a bit of sadness on the way they were then and what each day brings now. I think we all need to stop and pause for a moment and bring a smile to someone’s face. It is well worth the small amount of time dedicated to that. Who knows, we may be remembered by these deeds when we are left only as a memory to everyone.

Author; Marty Wyatt

Name Calling

Papas Coal Fired Pig

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An Article About Childhood Memories of Knox County Kentucky

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Papas Coal Fired Pig

When we were growing up, me, my uncle and my younger brother had an age gap of about three years apart between the youngest to the oldest. My uncle was the oldest and my brother was the youngest. Papa called us the three outlaws, I am sure we earned it if you knew about some of the things we got into at his house. He would shake his head at some of the antics we schemed up. As I think back, I realize that we did get into a lot but if you looked around at the times (and what the grown ups in the neighborhood were doing)  it really wasn’t that bad compared to everything else. Not only that, everyone said we were just so cute. During those growing up years, the grownups were doing things like gambling, drinking and racing cars.

It was by a stroke of luck that papa’s house sat right at the end of the of what was called the “Straight” , or if speaking of the area in its proper name,  “Rossland Straight”. Rossland was the community we lived in. Named for the owner of a long forgotten mine and landowner called Mr Ross. The area, during the mining days, was referred to as “Ross’s Land”.  When we grew up, Rossland was the self-proclaimed weekend neighborhood drag race track. And all of this was free. (It was actually the main road but everyone knew to watch for races coming at them on the weekend). At the beginning of the straight was an area of flat bottom land with trees covering it and that was called “Poker Valley”.

Now “Poker Valley” created a ton of races. Poker Valley was a wooded six acre section of bottom land that the grown men of the area stayed at to play poker all weekend. It was covered with brush and the police couldn’t see anyone. If they did there were so many ways out of there it was impossible to catch anyone. All of this is gone now (Forest Products now sits on what was Poker Valley) but certainly not the memories of the days and the excitement. We would always end up at papa’s on the weekends for the free races and weekend events. We would set in papa’s front yard and watch one race after another all day beginning on Friday night and ending sometime on Sunday, according to how many contestants entered the races.

What would start the races was the card games. You see the gamblers would get to drinking and playing cards and brag about how fast their cars would run and then it would be on. Of course the spirits they consumed would make them believe they were larger than life and made for an even better race. So according to how many players were at the games would determine how long the race would last because everyone had to race every car there.

These races were awesome! They were the muscle cars of the late sixties and early seventies and they were for sure all muscle. Sitting in my papa’s front lawn with all the aunts, uncles, cousins and even some stragglers, all of us kids would pick our favorite racer and root them on, hoping to be the winner. At the end of the weekend, when everything was over with, we were all excited and we had all week to talk about the race and what happened and who was the fastest and who had the best car. Now while the grownups were having their fun with all the excitement, we would also get into things in between the breaks in the races.

One event that sticks hard in my mind happened at the hog lot. You see, it was the fall of the year and papa had been getting his coal pile built up for the winter. It was cool at night and papa probably had about a half ton stocked up. He had some block coal in the mix but it was mainly slack coal for the most part. The slack coal was used to bank the fires at night.

Papa had been busy that day and in between races we went to the hog lot to mess with the hog. My baby brother threw a block of coal into the hog lot trying to torment the hog and everyone were surprised when the hog began to eat the block of coal. “Wow! This is amazing” is all any of us could say. “My turn, My Turn” we all called out. So we began to take turns,  each one throwing a block of coal into the hog lot and listened to the crunching sounds as the hog consumed the coal blocks  as if it were pieces of peppermint candy or some other rare treat. We would run down and catch another race and then back again when they were open to feed the hog. Back again for another race. This went on for about two and a half days of feeding the hog and watching races. Finally on Sunday it was time to go home.

Mama and Papa were out in the yard and they were seeing us off when Papa said all of a sudden “That’s why your mama was washing your hands all weekend” “Where did my coal pile go to”. We all began to explain how the hog was starving and how we found something he liked to eat and how we all helped him out and so on and so on.  Papa just stopped us in our conversation and just walked away, shaking his head explaining to us how we had fed the hog half of his coal pile over the weekend.  The last thing I remember he said was, “If you tried to cook sausage from that hog, it would turn out as charcoal” as he walked off laughing.

Author; Marty Wyatt

Papas Coal Fired Pig


{Did You Know? Kentucky ceased to exist as a name or state after the three original counties were formed.} Lincoln, Jefferson and Fayette counties replaced the county of Kentucky after Virginia divided the territory into these counties. When Kentucky became a state it was once again called Kentucky.


Papas Coal Fired Pig

Date With an Angel

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Date with an Angel

Date With an Angel

My teenage years were spent working at a grocery store when I first started my young career. I worked hard and I was quick to learn. I had people skills, passed down from teachings from my family, and it wasn’t long before I became an assistant manager working the night shift.

Twice a week I would work early so the other managers could get their days off. The customers remembered my schedule and some would come in just to talk, pick up a loaf of bread, pop or milk and get caught up on the neighborhood news. It was a routine with many and I enjoyed many conversations with them in between getting my responsibilities done. One thing I was very big on was greeting the customers so they would feel welcome and would always asked if they needed help with anything. I would give the customers nickname, a habit I had learned from my grandfather, and I began to notice that on my shift I had my own clientele arranged specifically around my shifts.

A Steady Customer

One customer that really stuck out to me was a very young lady in her mid twenties. She was married with two children and spoke often of her kids and/or her husband. She would come in and I made a point to greet her because she would many times ask for suggestions of what to cook for her family that evening. I began a habit of keeping recipes and would copy them for people who were interested. She became a regular on the recipes and she always stopped me to see any new recipes I may have thought to bring in new for that day.

One particular day she came in and I was really busy that day. I think I was getting ready for a big sale the next day or something. She came in this day and glanced at the recipes and then scurried along her way as if she was in some big hurry. I spoke to her and she spoke back and checked out. I felt the strangest feeling when she walked away. It was a very deep lonely feeling as if she may be moving away or something.

The Last Day

She left the store that day and pulled up to the main road a short distance away. For some reason she pulled out in front of a big truck. She was killed instantly. When everyone found out about this I had the feeling that I knew this would happen that day. It was the strangest feeling I ever had.

I struggled for several months after that with her death. I often wondered if I had taken the time to talk to her that day, like it always had been, if things would have been different. If “only for a minute” I had taken that time to talk to her about the dinner she was going to prepare would it have made a difference. The young lady left a husband and two young children.

Author; Marty Wyatt

Date With an Angel