Continuing with the story of growing up in Wolf Creek, as told by my cousin Belva Allen and with some recollections of my own, in 1932 it was required that everyone be vaccinated for smallpox. There had been an epidemic of smallpox and several children lost their lives. Parents didn’t like the idea of vaccination and tales were told of infections and how painful it would be. Someone started the rumor that if you chewed a wad of tobacco until it was damp and placed it on the vaccination spot, it would not get sore. Belva did exactly that the day she got the smallpox. She said the tobacco almost made her throw up but she managed to chew it and stick it on her arm. She never told anyone she did it, but she said her arm did not get sore!
In January of 1937, the famous Flood of 1937 occurred. Belva’s family and other families in two-story homes moved everything to the top floor and they had to use a boat to get around. Riding in the boat was scary because it was hard to tell where the Ohio River began and if they got too close to the river’s edge, they could be swept away. They all had to stay with different relatives who did not live near the river. I was told my great-great-grandmother, Celestia Chism Kendall Goldsmith, owned a house right in Wolf Creek by the river and they had to tie her house to two trees to keep it from being drawn into the river. The clean-up after the flood took a long time.
The showboat, which came once a year, was a big attraction in Wolf Creek. There would be all kinds of live entertainment to include dancers, singers, and magicians and they could buy popcorn and other food on the boat. My grandmother, Hazel Allen Singleton, said as a child it was something they looked forward to all year. One year they were getting ready to go to the showboat and someone they knew came to their house looking to eat supper. In those days, people did not turn away anyone who needed food, so her mother had to cook supper and they had to stay home. My grandmother was so mad and disappointed. She said she could not understand why they couldn’t just tell him they were on their way to the showboat and to go somewhere else to eat. She never forgave him for it!
Belva was close in age to my great-uncle Roscoe Allen, the son of her uncle, Charles Stanford “Tamo” Allen, and they were always good friends. They hung around a lot together, rode horses and fished.
Roscoe and Belva both graduated high school in three years because the teacher gave them the option to do extra lessons in order to graduate early. Belva was supposed to be valedictorian but she was disqualified because she didn’t go the whole four years, something which she thought was very unfair and was very upset about at the time. She received many letters from colleges but her parents would not let her go. They saw no need for a girl to go to college. She always regretted not being able to go. In school, my Great-Uncle Roscoe sat behind Belva and she always let him copy the answers off her paper on all their tests. She said this was ironic because he was the one that went on to become a millionaire! The Allen families were Catholics. During those days, Catholics went to church in the town of Payneville. In Wolf Creek, most families were Protestants and Belva said there was a big distinction between the Protestants and the Catholics. In her experience, she was snubbed by Protestant kids several times. Belva and Roscoe went to Belva’s grandmother’s house every day for two weeks so they could attend catechism classes in Payneville, and then they made their first communion together. The next year,