When I was little I was fond of saying that I was “born on Crooked Creek,” much to my mother’s chagrin. She told me that it didn’t sound right, so I reconstructed the sentence and started saying I was “born down on Crooked Creek.” but I didn’t notice Mom’s expression improving.
When I was in second grade, we moved to town, the metropolis of Taylorsville, KY, population something like 650, and that’s when I thought I had figured out the problem. There I learned that most of my new friends had been born in a hospital, not at home, as I had. For some reason I was sure that my Mom was embarrassed about not giving birth to my older brother and me in a proper environment. I didn’t know why she was so worried about that when there were other, more important, differences to be concerned about. I decided to keep very quiet about our not having a bathroom or running water back there in Anderson County.
One day, not long after moving, someone from the First Baptist Church visited to invite us to worship services. I knew a lot about church, having already been baptized and all, and I knew this visitor was very important to my Mom, so I was on my best behavior. I was pretty nervous, wanting to impress this man wearing a suit and neck-tie on a weekday, so that my Mom would be proud. Finally he turned his attention to me and asked that perfunctory question people ask of children, how old was I? For some reason, instead of answering with one simple word, I felt the need to blurt out, accurately I might add, that I was born eight years ago down “on Crooked Creek Road.”
Mom always worried about what people would think, but it was a long time before I learned that her embarrassment had nothing to do with giving birth at home, but rather in a creek or on the road.