Back Home Up


When I was in the first or second grade, I went to be baby sat by my aunt Neva Quillin, my father's only sibling. Now they lived on Carter Hill in the Town of Matoaka, West Virginia, which was a very steep hill. I remember once my uncle, O'Ferral taking my father, Roy L. Cook and I for a ride in this Austin automobile. He, my father and I got in the automobile with him and we rode around for a while. Then we started back to his home on Carter Hill and the car didn't have the power to go up the hill. My father and I had to get out until he could drive the car to a flatter place in the road before we got back in. That's the last I ever saw of that car.

Well, I digress. I always liked to visit with the Quillins. Uncle O'Ferral was a very interesting person, always inventing something, like a fishing reel and a bridge table for contract bridge. My father helped him design and build a prototype table and it was patented but they were never able to get someone to manufacture and sell it.

Now Aunt Neva was a very good cook and I always looked forward to her meals. I was also fascinated by the spinning wheel that was highly varnished and beautiful. Don't know whether it was a heirloom or not. When I got to their house, I immediately went exploring Carter Hill. At the end closest to Route 10, I found a hickory tree and filled my pockets with hickory nuts. I took them back and showed them to Aunt Neva who informed me she was going to make some homemade ice cream and the nuts would be good in it if I would shell them.

She got me a hammer and I sat on the steps cracking the hickory nuts with the hammer. She gave me a container to put the nut meats in but I had a dickens of a time getting enough nut meats to even fill a tooth. After doing this for a couple of hours, I took her what I had, very little, and she put them in the ice cream.. I now know the reason Hickory Nut Ice Cream will never be a big seller and a popular brand. Too much work for too little yield. If you think black walnuts are hard to crack, try hickory nuts.

When we lived in Maryland, the Quillins came to visit and we went to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which had the big flood years ago and to Altoona where they had this track where one street car would come down the mountain, while another was pulled up. We had had a lot of watermelon and with that many kids, stops were quite frequent.

Musings of Henry T. Cook, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.)