Thursday, November 19, 2015

Alben Barkley Remembers

Another excerpt from Barkley's 1954 autobiography:

Most of my early boyhood memories go back to Lowes, a crossroads community settled in 1837 by Levi Lowe and his wife, Mourning Ann Cook Lowe.  They were emigrating westward from Virginia, and on the way their second son was born.  They stopped at Lowes because they found a good spring there -- in all the 117 years of Lowes's history the spring has never been known to run dry -- and the town has been there ever since.

In its early days Lowes had a flavor all its own.  There was not much doing in the way of amusement, so the people used to have fairs on an old fairground located three miles northeast of town on what is now known as the Kansas neighborhood.  One of the primitive "amusements" of which I have heard -- this was long before my time -- was the custom known as "goose-pulling."  Two long poles were set into the ground, and a goose with a greased neck was strung between them.  The men of the community would mount their horses and ride at full speed toward the goose, attempting as they passed under it to pull off its head.  The goose, for as long as it survived, loudly and understandably made known its objections to the whole procedure.  A price was awarded to the man who finally pulled off the goose's head:  the goose, now long beyond caring, was usually the prize.  This rather barbarous custom, however, was entirely out of character in Lowes, which was a community of hard-working, churchgoing people, and it has long since been outlawed, along with the betting on horse races and other forms of wagering which used to take place at the old fairground.  The fairground has gone too.


  1. There's a pretty long piece on goose-pulling in one of the WPA guides, and it might well be in Kentucky's. And, if so, now I wonder if that writer's source for detail was Alben Barkley.

  2. I told Smart Girl about goose pulling last night. She was very interested to learn about this aspect of our shared past.