Jo Hatton, Janclay Peavley, and Lynn Shearon

Recorded June 22, 2011 Archived June 22, 2011 40:56 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX008230


Sisters Lynn Shearon (66), Jo Hatton (64) and Janclay Peavley (57) talk about their parents and grandparents.

Subject Log / Time Code

They remember their parent’s funeral home, which they ran not as though it was a business but “as a mission.”
JP remembers riding her horse Hickory and her father refusing an offer to sell the horse without her permission.
They remember finding out the many ways their parents had helped community after their death. Father would buy a new suit for minister every Christmas.
They treated everyone the same regardless of economic status. They remember a woman who paid for her brother’s funeral by delivering a free newspaper every day for years.
LS remembers her mother staying up late to make her a crepe paper dress.
JP tells a story about her parent’s courtship, “they were such good friends.”
They remember their 50th wedding anniversary, which they celebrated at a rest stop on I-75 as a joke to the two determined travelers.


  • Jo Hatton
  • Janclay Peavley
  • Lynn Shearon

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:03 I'm Lynn shearon and I'll in Britain Sheeran and I'm 66 years old. Today is June 22nd, 2011, and we're in the storycorps booth in Lexington, Kentucky, and I'm here with my sisters.

00:22 Amdro, Britain Hatton. I'm 64 and its June 22nd 2011. Where in downtown Lexington Kentucky and I'm here with my sister's one sister is absent. She's Kathy Britton cross and will include her in some of our stories.

00:45 I'm Jae and Britain Paisley. I'm younger than the two of them. It's June 22nd, 2011. We're doing storycorps downtown Lexington and I'm the third of the Four Sisters you dirty rotten ratchet until you're right. Well, we talked a lot about this when we were trying to think what to say and we one of the theme seemed to be that we were proud We were always proud of our family and proud of our grandparents and proud of her parents, and I thought maybe we could just go around and give some little some little incident of what made us proud of our family and the family that we were part off and Grandma Britain told me one time that that I came from good stock.

01:45 So I just always believe that but I had other reasons to believe it is well because of the things people would tell me about my family and how they felt about them and thought of them in and it's so beginning with the grandparents. Grandpa Britain was he was well-known all over the county. He was which was Clay County in Eastern Kentucky. He was a state representative for I can't add two terms. I could never remember it's two or three terms, but I I wasn't aware of that. We didn't talk about politics ever at home. I was aware that everybody knew Uncle Tom if they called him and that he had been a country school teacher and that he and influence many many lives and Grandma force was just a rather colorful person who not not in any

02:45 She would not have ever been body and she called it but she was a lady but she was still quite colorful in her language at and not bad word. She made up words to suit her purposes if she needed to work. She was strong-willed and she was a strong personality in a redhead on the other side of my other side. None of us. Remember Grandpa comes very much because actually he died probably before Dan Cathy were born but we I have one memory of him as I remember him standing around talking with the uncles around the the tailgate of his truck and and he would maybe give us a coin or something. That's what I remember of him. But anyway, I am Grandma Combs was of course quiet gentle person who never had much to say and do

03:45 Fear that it was magical Maggie comes right. So anyway, we we had those those things those things in our background. So now let's not talk anymore and let you all have a little say about why you were so conscious of being proud of your family in our home and in our grandparents home was always courteous and kind we didn't use ill tones of voice. We didn't speak disrespectfully. I think everybody just treated each other with love and I hope to see that in an America's families. One of the things that was quite remarkable. Our grandmother Britain's her maiden name was hignite and our great-grandfather hignite had given some land to build a hospital.

04:43 They build the hospital and it was maternity. It was an attorney overbilling and I was born by Young whoever was running it to the state state Reddit, they withdrew their support and grandmother and Grandma written in her middle years re inherited hospital. So they went said about to find someone to come and operate the hospital. This was in an old lady and I do need and there were no doctors in Clay County and it was called the Manchester. I mean the mountain Memorial Mountain maternity hospital with Grandpa Britain, we have lots of letters and he solicited lots of people organizations the Baptist in a quite a few other groups to come and run the hospital and the only

05:43 Interested party. He got was the Seventh Day Adventist and now he's so listed them to come which they did and they began to operate the hospital and the later it grew and expanded in is now the Manchester Memorial Hospital, but it was those kinds of things being interested in the Health and Welfare of their neighbors that really made us be able to be proud of our family and also because I don't quite know what similarity was but when I went around with Daddy who was in the funeral business every time we get in any size group of people somebody would point at me and say will you can tell who that one is that's Uncle Tom's granddaughter, but by the time I knew my grandfather, he was bald headed and then on top of that one lady told me I had Cal ass so it's just one insult after another.

06:43 Being known as Uncle Tom's granddaughter was as a point of Pride for us our rum our grandparents and on down to where parents had a great sense of love for their fellow man. And I think that forms the basis of a lot of the reason we can have pride in our family when I was when we moved to Florida and and that I had to put something under my name in the high school annual a quotation of some sort. And so I wrote a letter to Grandpa Britain and ask him to send me a good rotation because he was always full of those and he knew lots of poetry by heart and all that and he he sent me much as expected to those of much is as much as expected of those to whom much has been given which is a paraphrase from the Bible, but that was the way we were taught you know that because

07:43 Was we were blessed in many ways that we should give back to the community. Do you think we should take Mother and Daddy had a funeral home?

08:00 Manchester

08:03 And

08:04 They approached the funeral business not like it was a business but like it was their mission to help people in pain being sane and all that. Well, I don't miss it that bad. It's been a long time ago. Anyway, I don't want to stay a part of them.

08:28 When I went talk about with Mom and Daddy, they're their sense of love and what they expected of us and what they gave us as far as our values mama and daddy loved each other. They liked each other right to and we liked each other and it meant for a pretty good growing up. I think we're you hear we should say who they were Calvin and Maxine Combs Britain where our parents. Yes, we should have said that sooner. They had the funeral home and

09:07 Then I want it until a couple things about her that Daddy always had a real sense of fun. Mama was the foundation. She was the rock but it is that we always when we start telling stories they are always stories about daddy because he was the witty one and hadn't had the sense of fun. We were Daddy and I were going to Tampa driving into town one day and daddy said stop back up and we stopped to back up and he said look over liquor in that field and there was two other men gathered round. I did grab you and Daddy said now see when you go through life, they'll be very few people. You'll run into whoever saying the dead graymills. He just picked little things like that and that story on the tails on the heels of the deeps if y'all told us, well, that's y'all ready for this.

10:07 He has a General roadside, but I don't want to say I also want to say the feeling that how important that he made us all feel. We left horses and we showed did trail rides in me and Liam.

10:24 Show horses I had this beautiful Buckskin named Hickory. We showed him one time and he won a lot. This man came after the after the horse show and he said tell Daddy. He said I'll give you $1,500 for that Buckskin and this was in the 60s because I'm not that much younger than lean and Joe and I was 13 and daddy hundred dollars was a lot of money, right and the man said I'll give you $1,500 for that horse. And daddy said it's her fault her horse and he looked at me and I said, oh he's time for sale.

10:59 And the man said about but I know I want the horse and I'll give you $1,500. He insisted daddy said he's her horse if he says if she says he's not for cycle. He's not for sale and you know anybody could use $1,500 but he up. I felt so important Ashley as far as her expectations are we do have a younger sister who's not here and she had a little little streak of wow for a while. She and Mama had a disagreement and mama told her she couldn't go somewhere and then Mama went in the chapel. We lived in the funeral home in the chapel didn't close till 11, but our sister decided that she would just go anyway.

11:58 I think it's the way I remember it. Anyway in the chapel closed at 11. Kathy wasn't home and I was wondering username and daddy said mama said come on Calvin. Let's go look for so they got in the truck and then went to look for Kathy. Will they were going up the road? They looked over the police had this car pulled over the doors open and the dome light was on and Mama cell Kathy in the middle of the back seat of his car and then he said she said there she is full of her daddy pulled over Mama went over. She reached across the frame is a two-door car. She reach across the back of that car seat and grab Kathy by her shirt collar and yanked her out of that car and out of that door and threw her in the truck said let's go.

12:46 And they went home she was so angry. She didn't even think about that. She was interfering with the law. One of the teenagers still in the car towed us later that the policeman then turned around and said to the force being. Okay. Do you all want to go to jail or homie Maxine and they all took Jay later mother did apologize to the policeman for interfering and and if you're reminded me earlier the policeman said no that was okay cuz she could do things to Kathy that the law couldn't do but they had such high expectations for us and they always even when we were little Mother and Daddy always treated us with respect. They treated us like our opinions were important.

13:30 And I would make time for us and I remember one time they they did in a funeral home.

13:37 They were going to a funeral that was going to be unusual and daddy thought that we should experience that and he took Kathy and me out of school one afternoon to go with him. They were doing a funeral where they were doing foot-washing and daddy thought that might be something we'd never see him. So he took us with him when we sat in the back of the church and and we're not part of that but we got to see that and and he they always try to expose has two things. I have a couple of memories along those lines to that we lived in town and and you could live in town on even an Eastern Kentucky and have a fairly ordinary middle-class life, but Daddy and mother wanted us to know that they were people who didn't have it as well as we did in and that wanted us to to appreciate that and so they they made efforts to do that and I do remember Daddy

14:37 Requesting one time that we gather up some of our toys that we weren't playing with any longer or whatever and and he had been carrying taking this man who have been hurt in the mines in a slight fall and had been taking him for years back and forth to the hospital in Lexington. And so he knew the family and the the woman of the house would come every month and pay something like $5 on the bill and that was fine as they were so impressed that she would do that. You know that she would try to pay and they never pressed her for more money or anything like that. But he in that household there were a couple of little grandchildren who were being raised by this grandmother without the mother and and so we took the toys and I never will forget watching that little boy I walk by

15:37 I'm daddy and trying to imitate his walk. It made me so aware of the of you know, what a what an impact he had on somebody who wasn't particularly important. I mean, you know it but it didn't matter all all we grew up all our years hearing about the people that he knew and grew up with and oneta and I remember sometime driving a little skin Creek and stopping to talk to this one or that one and realizing that they were very humble people lived in small houses. But in all the stories daddy told us they were important they were funny they were witty and nothing was ever said about the fact that they were economic said that the economic status of them. I just remember that time when we took the toys, I remember that Mama baked stuff. That was the funeral home.

16:37 Everybody the same. I think I remember all that. It may have not have been the trip when we took the toys but at some point I remember going with Daddy sometime and being aware that the house we went to had dirt floors. I don't think I went in but I remember seeing in my mind. I can see through the door that they had dirt floors and it was just, you know part of part of that era and all but it was still a surprising thing even to me in that era one of the things I think of so need about our mama. She was not necessary to the person that Daddy's family had chosen for him. They had dumb there was another girl he had dated that they thought would be the person he should marry but he was so crazy about our mama and

17:37 Before the end of her life will I weigh before the end of her life her grandmother mother's mother-in-law said about our mama if I had an elephant tusk and I just hand Maxine the knife cuz you could really get it done. Mama was I like Jen said Mama was the center bolt. Daddy was very witty and funny, but I used to tell him that we all ended up in the pain if it hadn't been for Mama because as a disciplinarian, he was worthless. I mean, he just couldn't stand it. And that's why we would generally try to ask him first if we wanted to do something right because he would always say yes, but we did learn that that they would not contradict each other. So a piece to eat pea said, yes, even if Mother hadn't want to do it she would not question it, but he finally did start saying you better ask your mother.

18:37 What was bad about Tom from the great school? It was up on a hill and I could see our house. And when I started in the first grade, I didn't prefer to be there. I rather be at home. So at recess time, I would sneak off and go back home. Well a neighbor down the street had a tree that fell over in her yard in the storm and mother took me out in our driveway and she said Joe you see Maddie Baker's mulberry tree down there. I will wear every limb off of that tree out on the back of your legs you are going to go to school and you're going to stay there and that's why I know we couldn't have made it without Mama because she was she was the center bolt call Daddy on the other hand. I wrecked my mother's car. She hadn't had it but a couple of weeks and we were chasing my sister after her wedding. It was the

19:37 1960's version late 60s version of the chivery when they used to take people and throw them in the river or whatever but we were chasing the bride and groom and I wrapped the trunk of Mother's car around telephone pole and I went home and Mama and Daddy were in their bedroom cuz they've been to the wedding of course and they were changing clothes and I remember so clearly saying Daddy and his voice came to the door and he said was it metal honey, or was it flesh and blood and I said you was metal daddy and he said well if it's metal, it can be fixed or it can be replaced or it can be done without but sometimes if it's flesh and blood, but it can't

20:27 That's the kind of disciplinary and he was I felt like an absolute dog. I felt that I disappointed him and all that but he that was just his way. He he didn't wear out people's tree limbs on you but he got to discipline all the same on both both of our parents. It was more a matter of we didn't want to disappoint them. That was the thing that kept a stray because in spite of the fact that we do remember mother may be using a switch on us now and then it will that wasn't a big deal with him. And it was it was the only we knew that she would do it if we deserved it and we never felt that we got us not a one of us that why I never ever about reminding that we deserve more deserve quite well, but but we knew that that she would be disappointed in us. That was that was the man. That was really

21:26 I think come one thing where you Daddy would like. Jan said was so witty. I had a horse. That was very thoughtful. He was a tall horse. He was 17 hand was name is Big Mama and Daddy would say Joe don't fall off that hard. If you do you'll starve before you hit the ground on my horse. And he was said he would say that show him who's boss. Daddy used to tell that when you did file off big man that time before you hit the ground you were saying don't tell Mama because mama was afraid you would get hurt when they got the big horse. It hurt. She didn't

22:17 Well I did and I think the part of their character to that was really Illustrated to us when both of them passed away that people would tell things that they had done for them and they're just very touching things that we never knew about and that was you know, another another one of those little threads of having pride in your family and I I think it's so important for people to expect the best of their children so that you will have that dread of disappointing them. That's the best. That's the best discipline tool areas. I think one of the reasons we did you need have just sat and combining that with being treated with respect and and and daddy always

23:07 Approached everything like we were going to do the right thing. They assumed we knew we were going to die dead expect it lately, but I did the best I did remember that had to do with the hearing things set out in the community was when I went on my eighth-grade trip, we went to to Frankfurt and we were on a local bus line. And so the driver of the bus was local and at some point he and I had a conversation and I don't remember who how this started or how he knew who I was but he said,

23:46 He thought so highly of daddy because when his mother died the creek was up and they could not drive the hearse through the creek to get to the Little Mountain cemetery. And so Daddy asked if there was any white body that had a mule and a sled and they got that and took that he took the casket up and they went across with the mule in this land and had the burial in the cemetery and he he appreciated that so much that Daddy didn't just say well we can't get across and won't you know what that Daddy kind of with the the Second Mile and was and was creative and he didn't just stop here that he cared hear that they go ahead and have this they pretty much did that they back when we were in in high school and all back when they were in the funeral business all the time.

24:46 Both Chapel was open all day long until 11 at night and people still took bodies home to and Mother and Daddy always the chapel. They closed the chapel at 11. And then if they had somebody else another body at that had been taken home after 11 because people set up with bodies all night after 11, they closed the chapel and then they went to wherever the house whilst if we ever the other body was and ate those people when they took bodies home. They always got a 24 cup coffee pot and pound of coffee and my job at that time was to bake a cake. Mama always took a cake and the coffee and daddy took the coffee pot and they went, you know after they closed the chapel. I still went so that those people got the same treatment that the people who were staying right there in the chapel got it right there been such a long history of that people taking people home.

25:46 When setting up with well, that's how I just remember the store from Grandma Combs and there weren't many of those as y'all know, but I remember that she told about and this would have been on the grandma. We haven't told their names that Grandma comes was Maggie Dickinson Margaret Dickinson Combs and Grandpa was James Monroe Combs and mother and grandma told me once about one of our ancestors and I guess this is we kind of felt like we came from from Hardy stock on both sides for Pioneer kind of women who were strong and and not a not a bell among us, but grandma said that it was

26:46 Her grandmother who who would have been a Pioneer Woman was at home and and all the men were off hunting or something and she was home alone with children and the the cabin didn't even have glass windows. I think maybe it had some kind of paper over the windows oil paper or something and the all night long a panther which they call a painter. I walked around the fence and it cried like it sounded like a woman crying and it was just this horrendous experience at this woman experience all night with that Panther walking around the top of the fence around that cabin. So we knew we knew that we came from sturdy people. Was that the same one that carried the Cherry china cabinet on her back. No, that was a nut that was later. I think

27:42 That was the story. It was not Terry was wallet and and Shirley Faye still has that that China cabinet, but it was solid Walnut china cabinet, not fancy, but very heavy and and very sturdy beautiful wood as I remember but the house caught fire and this tiny little woman who was probably our great grandmother carried this china cabinet out of the house on her back and it was just a nobody could see where the strength came from to do that but we still do the china cabinet still exist in the family.

28:21 Because of that you're talkin about how they really approach the funeral business like a mission or a Ministry in it was of course a business that fed their family, but we have Lynn was talking about somebody who paid $5 a month on their bill and we also had a woman who paid for a relative's funeral by delivering us the Louisville Courier-Journal free everyday for years. And I said, how long did she do that and Lynn said nobody knows cuz nobody was keeping track of it. But I guess the daily paper was a nickel probably I have no idea but it was a relative of hers that didn't have any money and that stuff. That's the way she paid whatever she could for his funeral Bill and a lot of people didn't know all these things like when daddy passed away one of the ministers in the

29:21 County said that every Christmas daddy told him to go to the men's store in town and get a new suit and charge it to him and he said that way every year. I had one new suit to wear to church in to preach in and so forth. But another one of those stories like that Daddy took command two years ago when we talked about the funeral business included Ambulance Service before different government entities, took it over the funeral home was always the of the ambulance service to and daddy took a fella to Danville to the state mental hospital and he's the man stayed there several months and when he came back home, he came by the funeral home and he said Calvin when I was down there at Danville. He said they asked me if I had any dependents and he said I told him you

30:19 He said cuz you're the only man I know I can really depend the state records. He's traveling from Florida to Kentucky and the there was road construction. And so she was afraid her car would overheat because they were stopped dead in the road. So she turn the air conditioner off and roll the windows down. And so she started talkin to this crew of men who was working on the side of the road and they said where you going and she said Kentucky and one of those fellows several. I'm from Kentucky. Some of us are from Kentucky and she said what part of Kentucky and they said Clay County is she said, well, that's where I'm going to visit my grandparents and one of the fellows said well who is your grandaddy? And she said Calvin Britton?

31:19 And this fellow who was working by the side of the road took a shovel and stuck it in the ground and put his foot up on it. And he looked at her and he said Calvin Britton, that's about the best man the good Lord ever made. Well, Jam was talking about things that Daddy did to make her feel special and and one of the things that he did we were always conscious that Daddy in particular was always sleep deprived because they they just worked day and night and so sometimes after I got had a driver's license just barely and wouldn't know at this point. It didn't hit sometimes daddy would mother would send us with Daddy on tonight call where he had to go someplace like the piano by remember we're going with him wants to Indianapolis and and this particular time. I think it was maybe up to Northern, Kentucky. But anyway in the night as we were coming home.

32:19 We were assigned to go with him to keep him and keep him awake and that was hard because we had to make him answer us to make sure he was like, but anyway, it was hard but when we came by Frankfurt, he he went off the main road and and went downtown and went across the singing Bridge just because I never heard that and and that the bridge there that makes the I sound as you is some metal mesh like thing makes a sound at end that has meant a lot to me and my life that he was so sleep-deprived so tired, but he would take that little time to give me a special experience. He was always trying to give a special experiences.

33:02 I want to make my kite by paper 200. Yes. I need to tell that Mama making the crepe paper dress. As I said Mama and Daddy were both pretty sleep deprived, but I have the thing that mother did that made me feel so special and what they're two things I have but this one one night at we were having some kind of a little play at school and we were to be Sugar Plum Fairies or something and the mothers were to make us dresses out of crepe paper. And so it was nearly bedtime and my dress was it made and I was feeling very nervous about having the dress, but mother assured me that I would have addressed and so the next morning I had the prettiest crepe paper dress that when the whole play is she too had gathered the the white crepe paper and made it sort of like a peasant dress and then had made red

34:02 Paper roses to put on it. And so I am about that always made me feel because I knew what it took for her to do that. I knew how sleepy she was and how she given you know, he sold into the night to make that for me and the other thing was when I was in first grade in the key before we moved Manchester and we had a little school carnival thing and the teacher said come and asked if I could be the the the little Queen for the first grade and so mother and daddy said yes or mother said yes and what I didn't realize that they they were just living on nothing during that time that we were in the key and and she made me a rose-colored taffeta dress and they bought me a little locket and I had real flowers from the flower shop not one stick from somebody's yard, like some of the other kids had so that made me feel really really special.

35:03 In and they did that sort of thing with us. I think that let us know that that we were really special to them and we grew up in a really strong Christian home, and I'm so thankful for that. We're such a blessing to us and I just would like to say that I hope for everybody who hears this or reads the stories. I hope if you have an elephant to help if you have an elephant get to Skid you have a mama Maxine in your life to have a nice to that's that's true. That's that's good. We we there was the one thing that I about Mother and Daddy that I have said many times two people their face did inform their lives. They were they were trying to be good people specifically because that's what their face told them. They should be and I think they really got the message of the the Christian faith with

36:02 You supposed to be loved and not a lot of the things that people try to use it for these days when they try to make up a club or something out of it, but it's not that at all. It's love they were just just solid inside good people we could go places with Mother and Daddy and in reference children would literally children Loved Mama. I've seen more than what some Child come out of a booth or a chair and come across some, and Mom is left it. Sometimes she didn't know it all just because she's look at them and smile and they just knew OS last did she have a beautiful life? She did have been just rolled up from the soles of her feet. It was just she and daddy we're good buddies and they they did everything together and then their later years. We called him a two-headed monster because they they were just always together because they were

37:02 They were the best of buddies and how many pounds of fish do you suppose? She fried those retirement years when they when they were should they used to tell about when they were dating and another had some sort of disagreement. We don't really know what did Mother left him and went up to with a Michigan some play some place and went and moved in with her cousin and got a job and when they realized what he had lost he went after and he he went there and she was working. I don't know what she was doing what she was wearing an apron and he walked in and she said what are you doing here? And he said I've come after you and she untied her apron and handed it to the manager and said he's come after me and they went off.

37:53 Always I always wondered if that was the way he proposed to her. Was that the what about the 50th anniversary party. Do you need to tell that they have daddy bring up that once they retired they stayed on the roads all the time. They would just jump in the car and go anywhere it I mean they were just adventurers and we used to say that when we had when they did their anniversary. We're going to have to do it on I-75 you stuck having to Maxine to my 75 or we did that at the rest area between Richmond and Berea. We had balloons and we had lemonade and mint chocolate chip cookies and we had shirt t-shirts that said the Calvin and Maxine anniversary tour with a map on the back and we just went around to the rest area and matted people to come Daddy's cousin came and said you want to go somewhere and mother day just as they did sure. They just got in the car and left and

38:53 And Ralph told him into the rest area. Daddy said there's Carlock Jose. And then he said there is Joe and so all these strangers are not have celebrated their 50th anniversary with him where we told him. We said to him all those years cuz they had a place in Florida and they had a place in Kentucky and they go back and forth hauling horses and then just back and forth back and forth hauling horses and mamas cast iron skillet, and and we would say to him you're spending your retirement years with people on I-75. So that's why we thought it would be funny if we had celebrated their anniversary and we just go up to these people and say would you like some cookies and lemonade and they didn't know they were part of a joke, but the real joke turned out to be on us. We had them a formal reception the next afternoon, I think but this was a joke scene, but a friend of Jen's who was a reporter wrote it.

39:53 Up and put it in the Lexington Facebook. I better put up a picture of how the road on 75 anniversary celebration to rest area on I-75 matter fact, that's the South Richmond exit now they turned it is not a rest area anymore. So they didn't realize it was a National Monument.

40:19 I want to say

40:23 Thank you all for coming and doing this day. And by the way, thank you for several years ago for going with me to celebrate my anniversary didn't Seabiscuit sisters. You put out the column are there. Thank you and having this. Have fun talk to arrange this for making this appointment for thank you. We are lucky. We're so blessed blessed.