The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 3, 2013

Build the new on firm foundation of the old

Home to the Hills

By Ricky Pack

— New: (of a cycle) beginning or occurring (ring out the old bring in the new). Recently made or brought in. Fresh!

So that is where we are at, a New Year. Now you may be expecting a heck of a preaching on how we should do right; or maybe how bad the last year was and the “promise” of a better year or maybe about all of the drunk driving and how the accident rates and arrests are always at the year’s high. I am sure you have read it before …somewhere.

No, I am in a unity frame of mind this evening. I had one of the best Christmases at my Dad’s house with him and Martha. Prime rib, real mashed potatoes covered in homemade gravy, Caesar salad, homemade yeast rolls and then — a drum roll — a mincemeat pie with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. Somebody stop me!

It seems that every time we get together we discuss yesteryear. His wife has a memory unrivaled by the modern computer. She never takes sides and supports, or discounts how Dad and I thought things were.

Here is one we agreed on. When you are little, adults look monstrous, but Pop was a mountain of a man. He had mules, horses, large and small, and knew them, understood them, but most important, respected them. To Pop those huge draft plow horses were like his family. They didn’t want to listen, knew what they were supposed to do, but didn’t. Talking to them didn’t work many times and a switch would be too small. When the horse wouldn’t do what he was supposed to do, Pop gave him that love tap on his nose, attitude adjusted, just like switching a child. Pop had the touch and the horses never were hurt. They acted like puppies around Pop.

Pop had a way with animals. God put man on earth and gave him “dominion” over them. That wasn’t to hurt, mistreat, or kill them unnecessarily. We are to take care of His animals. He allows us to hunt for food. Pop was raised on the Bible; being a God-fearing man, he respected that.

Everyone on the creek knew Pop could shoe a horse. Mr. Franklin would call on Pop to help him shoe his horses, so did Mr. Cogar and a number of others. Old man Cogar had two mules so Pop had twice the fun. Dad went on to tell me that there would be a mean old horse here and there that would give Pop a hard time, kicking and a snorting. Pop pulled his leg out to get to his hoof and the horse would act up. Pop would take the side of his hammer, smack the horse on his side, and the horse became a lamb.

I bet some of you are think that Pop was mistreating the horses, far from it. Horses back then weren’t trained for fun, they were for hard work. Just like man, there are times when they didn’t want to be messed with, or they didn’t want to finish their chores. These horses weighed 1200 pounds plus, and stood a couple of heads taller than most men. Do you want to deal with 1200 pounds worth of anger?  Pop never asked nor wanted a red cent for his work.

No one charged money for anything a neighbor had done for them. They always helped each other. Pulling trees for firewood or lumber with their mules or horses, clearing land, sharing a prosperous harvest, taking care of each other when someone was sick or dying, sharing food when others had none, working livestock, chopping wood, or letting two boys pick up apples for Grandma’s apple pies.

The name of the Packs of Turkey Creek still is honored back here in these mountains. Until I moved back I didn’t really know how huge that was. That was because back then family was family and neighbors were part of that. To survive they had to depend on each other. Those that had, no matter how little, shared with those who didn’t.

So if you can say the same thing; then your past year was probably good, and you have a jump on this year.

God said, “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself.” He was serious!

Not rocket science, people, but acts possible from God-given hearts.

“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it” (Winston Churchill).

(Pack may be contacted at Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to