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Rob Richardson

I am eagerly awaiting your book's release. My maternal grandparents, and generations before them, lived in Pikeville in Pike County, which is adjacent to Floyd County, where Martin is located and whence your mother departed.

My grandparents' house was situated on four acres of flat land, just a stone's throw from the Big Sandy River. My grandfather had a feed and farm supply store in front of the house, on the South Mayo Trail, and he also had the one of the largest chicken hatcheries in Kentucky. At one time, he had 5,000 white leghorn chickens and a thriving egg business. I visited my grandparents after one of the Big Sandy's frequent floods, and this one had made it to the chicken houses. I still remember the sight of thousands of dead chickens, but even more than the sight, I remember the smell, a mixture of wet feathers and putrefaction.

The serpentine Big Sandy went right through the center of town. The river was eventually diverted through a man-made canyon that required cutting through a mountain and removing almost as much earth as the building of the Panama Canal.

Like Martin, Pikeville was a once a picturesque little village, with two movie theaters, a baseball diamond, and even a commercial bakery. One of my fondest memories is sitting at the counter of the local drug store and sipping on an honest-to-God cherry Coke, made from scratch.

I keep looking for that Pikeville whenever I go back, but I am afraid now it exists in memory only. I reckon Thomas Wolfe was right.


Rob: I have a wonderful old photo of the Big Sandy above Prestonsburg, which I will email you today.

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