January Baby

I have been told I need to keep a journal . I have decided that I will share with you some of the stories about my life, memoirs if you please. If you find these interesting, please visit again! 

There are winter babies and summer babies. I guess there are spring and fall babies too. I am a winter baby. I have always loved the snow. On a cold and snowy January morning in 1950 I was born in a little mountain hospital in Hyden, Ky. January 22nd was the date. I am the youngest of 10 children.

My mother was Rachel Johnson Bowling and my dad was Ottis A. Bowling.

Mommy said that she thought she was done having babies but I was a surprise, my sister next to me was 2 months shy of being 5 and mom was 45 when I came along. I am the only one of 10 kids who was born in a hospital. The rest were delivered at home by granny midwives or “Ole Doc Stoddard” as daddy used to say.

In 1925 Mary Breckenridge, a lady of wealth and privilege, decided to dedicate her life to the health of mothers and babies. She chose Leslie County for this great work because it was a very poor and inaccessible area with a high mother and infant mortality rate. As she traveled on horseback through these beautiful Kentucky mountain, she fell in love with a little mountain side overlooking a peaceful stretch of the Middle Fork river. She settled on this site to build her cabin home and begin her mission. As fortune would have it, this was only about 3 miles from the holler in which I was raised. With her wealth and connections to rich folks, especially in the New England states, she set up a foundation and began fund raising activities to support this important work. She brought British midwives over to start a mother and baby clinic and provide general health care. Eventually she built a tiny hospital in Hyden. This is where I was born.

When mom discovered she was pregnant again she went to these midwives for care. My mother was 45. She told me she thought she had went through the change and was done having babies. In those days the nurses came to our house on horseback for the check ups. There was no car road to our house and we either had to walk out of the holler or ride the mule to go out to town, church, or anywhere else. As mom got near to her delivery date, due to the bad weather, her age and multiple pregnancies, they decided she had to go into the hospital and stay until I was born. She stayed 3 whole weeks before I was delivered and a whole week after. The cost of the entire hospital stay was $50 dollars. They gave every mother a bundle when she went home. The bundle contained handmade baby blankets, gowns, booties, etc. All my 3 children were born in the same hospital but I will get to that later.

I guess my infancy was uneventful except for two things. Mom & my brother Marshall carried me for a mile upside down and I got thrown off the mule into a snow bank! No wonder I have issues!

Marshall was 15 when I was born. My oldest two siblings were Ted, who was 24, and Francis, who was 22. They were both married and gone from home having started families of their own. I have 3 nieces and 1 nephew older than me. Vance was 20, Roy was 18. They both worked in carpentry with dad and were gone most of the days. Marshall was to young to work with dad so he became mom's helper when she had to go out. Delphia was 13, Jewel was 11, Vernon was 8 and Shirley was 5.

Marshall and mom had wrapped me up in many blankets and began the long walk out of the hollar to go to town. There wasn't much going to town in our house but about once every couple of months mom would go to get her sewing supplies and other necessary items. As they climb the path up the hillside toward the gap of the mountain, I started squirming. Eventually the squirming became cries. They kept going because it was to cold to unwrap me there in the wind and snow. When they got over to Pearl Fields or Harrison Stidham's house I I forgot which one) they stopped and went in to tend to me. When they unwrapped me to see what was wrong they had been carrying me feet up the whole way! It is by the mercy of God I didn't slip right out the swaddling and crack my head.

Another time mom was riding Ole Bob, our mule, and carrying me all bundled up in her arms. There was about a foot of snow on the ground. Now, Old Bob was a very skittish mule and if he happened to see his shadow he would halt or buck or do something crazy. Anyway, he suddenly either stumbled or lurched or bucked and just about throwed mom off. She lost her grip on me and I went flying off into a big snow bank. Mom said it just about scared her to death but I was so wrapped up and when I hit the snow I hardly even cried. As I said, I am a winter baby and I still love the snow!

One other thing about my birth. It seems daddy was determined I was going to be a boy so my name was to be Beauford Clay Bowling. I am so glad I am a girl! Mom named me Glenna Lou. She had a friend named Becky Young who was crippled in her feet. Becky once had a little girl who died and her name was Glenna so mom named me Glenna for her friend Becky. When I was real little, maybe 3 or 4, we would go to town and mom would visit with Becky. She and her husband had a used clothing and junk store on the side street in Hyden across from the court house where you turn to go down the river. Her husband was also a cobbler and repaired shoes there. Her husband had a round scar on the side of his forehead and it was sunk in like he had been hit with a hammer. I never did ask what had happened to him but I always wondered. Becky always gave me something when we went. Once she gave me a doll and another time a felt bag with pretty felt flowers. I kept them for years but sadly, they have been lost over time.

I am so blessed to have had such a great beginning. I am proud to be mountain born and bred from a good Appalachian family. My family, their values and ethics, by the grace of God have made me what I am today!