This collection began with the Kentucky Oral History Commission’s effort to establish oral history programs in each of the state’s 120 counties. County libraries worked with local volunteers to collect interviews. Since 1987, county oral histories have been generated primarily by recipients of technical assistance grants from the commission that provide training and equipment to volunteer interviewers. Interviews donated by independent researchers are also included. Original collection held at Kentucky Oral History Commission/Kentucky Historical Society Access copies available at Lincoln County Public Library. Authorization must by granted by KHS to use or publish by any means the archival material to which the Society holds copyright.
LINCOLN COUNTY ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
(MRS. CLAYTON) JEAN PAXTON MORROW
RECORDED AT BPW CHRISTMAS PROGRAM
December 19, 1976
Ms. Matheny: This is a recording of Mrs. Jean Morrow on December the 19th at the Business and Professional Womens’ Club for the Christmas program.
Mrs. Morrow: …You said they weren’t long, and one would be a regular Christmas and one would be funny. ‘Once upon a time, God…”The Little Star”. Once upon a time, God created the heaven and the earth. And, on the first day, He said, let there be light, and He placed all the stars in the sky, all except one. And, this little star was hurt and it began to cry, because it hadn’t been able to shine with the rest of the stars. But, when it went to God and wondered why, God said, “I’m not ready for you yet, little star, you must grow some more before I can use you”. Many years went by, then one day down on earth, God’s chosen people, the Hebrews, escaped from their bondage in Egypt. Their leader was a man named Moses, and he led them through the banks of the river, toward the land of Canaan. This made God very happy. He said, “I’ll need six million stars to volunteer to build a pillar of fire to lead my children to the promised land; who will volunteer?” Now is my chance, thought the little star, I will volunteer. But, when it went to God, God said, “No, I am not ready for you yet, little star, you must grow brighter before I can use you.” Many years passed, and all that time, the little star was growing larger and brighter. When will my time come, it wondered. And, on the dark nights when the clouds hid the other stars from earth, the little star tried to steal beneath the clouds and light the path for the travelers who were lost and couldn’t find their way home. But, God would call it and say, “Not yet, little star; be patient. Your time will come.” How much I am missing, the little star thought, as it watched the larger stars keeping vigil over David as he slept in the field at night. I would love to inspire the poets as the other stars do, to write about me. The little star sighed, as century after century passed, and it was still not allowed to shine. But, all that time, it was growing larger, and brighter. Finally one day God called to it…”Little star, I’m ready to use you. The time has come.” The little star twinkled with anticipation. What did God have in store for it, and while it sat there in radiance, God picked it up and placed it in the sky, and said, “Now shine, little star.” And, shine it did. As it was shining, it noticed three wise men who were looking at it with exceeding joy, as if it held an answer to some question in their mind. And, strange to say, the little star decided it was supposed to lead them somewhere. So it started moving, slowly, across the sky. And, where it went, the wise men followed. And, then, all at once, it realized it was heading for a village in the distance. The closer it got to the town, the brighter the little star beamed. And, when it got to the edge of the town, it burst forth in a radiance more beautiful than any other star had ever possessed. And, then it stopped right in front of a stable. And, as it did, the wise men got down from their camels and went in the stable. What are they looking for, thought the little star. Then it heard God’s voice in heaven; “This is my beloved son, in whom I’m well pleased.” A wonderful peace settled on the little star. It knew that God would soon call it out of the sky, when its purpose was done, but it was happy. It was ready to give way to a light that was better; the light of man.’
Then I’ll say ‘Mirandy (sic) on Christmas’. Well, Sis Mirandy, said Sis Arameni (sic), to me the other day, the Merry Christmastide is upon us again. That’s so, I responds. Whenever you sees a woman with a wild look in her eye, a running up and down the aisles of the apartment (sic) stores, like a chicken with its head cut off, and whenever you notices that most of your lady-friends are dead-tired and nervous, that they jumps when you speak at them, and has the appearance of just having a long spell of sickness, you don’t need nobody to tell you, dat Christmas is here. And, I bet if we could take a peep in the bug (sic) house right now and see what they’s doing, they’d be beating their heads up against the padded walls saying, what will I get this Christmas for Uncle Simon, cousin Sue and little Willie, when they ain’t gonna like what I gets them no matter what it is. And, I finds myself going around in a regular circle, trying to decide what would be better to present my Aunt Matildy, whose been bedridden for the past ten years with a bad misery in her back…with a safety razor or an umbrella….
Mrs. Morrow: As a slight token of my affection for her at this Christmastime. And, it ain’t no wonder, as Brother Jenkins says, that reason topples on its throne when we start out trying to spread $4.75 over the Christmas present for forty-leven people, and get something for each one of them that costs $47.50. And, it’s no wonder that reason that topples on its throne, when I sits down and looks at my Christmas presents, I’s filled with a deep dark suspicion, looks to me like Christmas is the time that all our enemies takes to get even with us….
Mrs. Morrow: And do the things that they wouldn’t dare do during the balance of the year. Why that uppity May Jane Jones presented me with a little belt that I couldn’t much more get around my waist….
Mrs. Morrow: My wrist, much less my waist; my figure being fashioned after a featherbed instead of a telephone pole. And, that Mary Gwendolyn, that’s always shining around my old man, Ike, presenting me with a pair of Old Lady’s Comforts, all the time she’s sashaying in high jaybird heals.
Mrs. Morrow: And, I wondered if Burt Jenkins was postulating any more than the comforts of the season when he presented me with these little books entitled “The Art of Silence; How to Rule by Gentleness”, knowing all the time that I was a woman that had the full use of my tongue and put my faith into flat irons and rolling pins. And, the funny thing is, during the balance of the year, I can’t…don’t have no trouble at all a recollecting the wants and lacks of my friends and family. But, when Christmas comes, I can’t think of a thing that they want. The worst part of it all, though, is the way your husband behaves at Christmas. Now, before you was married, all you had to do was expressify (sic) yourself that you was wanting something and he’d break his neck but what he’d get it for you. But, after you’s married, the only way you can do is to remind him every day for six months that you are going to celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December this year. Then, if you’ve got the strength, you can work him up to the point where he’ll come in about a week beforehand and fling a dollar in your lap and tell you to go out and buy yourself a Christmas present. He wouldn’t dare risk his neck in one of them apartment (sic) stores. Now, this year, I’ve been disclosing to Ike for the last six months, that I wanted one of them weeping willow feathers that I certainly does hone after. But, do you expect he’s going to surprise me on Christmas morning with that feather? Naw; it’s dollars to donuts, he’ll come in, fling a red flannel petticoat in my lap and be mad because I don’t fling fits of gratitude over it.
Mrs. Morrow: And, say how in the world was he to know that I wanted the feather. I often think, what a grand and glorious season Christmas would be if everybody took the money that they spent on other people and spent it on theirselves.
Mrs. Morrow: Then nobody would get the wrong thing; nobody would be disappointed. And, think of the saving of the leather of the shoes of the bill collector.
Mrs. Morrow: Yes, sir, every year, I swears off of giving and receiving presents, but that’s about a week beforehand, I crowds the bargain counter and hunts and hunts and hunts and fusses with the other women. But, there’s one thing to be thankful for; and that is that Christmas comes just once a year.
(LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)
(tape goes off, then back on)
Mrs. Morrow: (telling a joke)…the first one was a Jew. So, St. Peter asked him, how he had been treated down on earth and he said, perfectly terrible; his people had been crucified, persecuted and killed and one thing and another. And, he said, “Well you won’t have that to go through up here. If you can spell God, you can walk right in.” And, he did, and they were glad to have him. The next was a Pol. He went through the same thing about what a time they had. St. Peter said, “Well, you are welcome here if you can spell God.” So, he spelled it and went right on in. The next was a colored man. And, he said, oh, we have just been treated terrible. He said, we even had to sit on the…sit in the back of the bus and one thing and another. St. Peter said, well (laughing), if you can spell chrysanthemum, you can come right on in and there won’t be any [ ] discretion.
(tape goes off, then back on)
Unidentified Speaker: Someone wayward…how God gets many wayward people to come unto him. There was a shepherd who had a wayward sheep that led all the other sheep astray. And, the shepherd prayed to God and soon God revealed to him that he would have to get the sheep down on its knees, and it would have to look up into the shepherd’s face, which the shepherd was its master. So, he thought about it, how he could do that. So, it seemed that God revealed to him that he could break its leg and he could care for it more than all the other sheep, and make it a nice bed of straw and feed it as well as the others, but it would have to look up into his face. So, he broke the sheep’s leg, and for two weeks it took it to heal…but it looked up into his face and at the end of two week’s when its leg was healed, it never led anything else astray, because it had looked into the master’s face for two weeks.
END OF NARRATIVE