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Lifetime Of Work And Success Shared By Kinnairds

This article first appeared in issue 25, and was written by Geniece Leftwich Marcum.

R.T. Kinnaird met his future wife, Lovie Clark, in 1945 when she went to Edmonton as teacher of Beech Grove Elementary School. A courtship developed between the two and on June 25, 1949 they were married.

First job at age 12

R.T. and Lovie knew what it was like to work for their living. He grew up on the outskirts of Edmonton, and began his first job at age 12, buying chickens and eggs and handling heavy sacks of feed for Cecil Moss at his feed store on Main Street.

"R.T. was always a smart boy," says his wife. And being a school teacher, Lovie would know.

He worked as a faithful employee at a hardware store for 23 years, until injuries sustained in a serious automobile accident left him unable to carry on his usual duties there.

It was then in 1972 that R.T. decided to open a small hardware business in the basement of his home which continues to thrive today.

Lovie recalls good neighbors at time of fire

Lovie was one of five children born to Emmitt and Velma Clark, of the Node Community of Metcalfe County.

Theirs was the only black family living in that community, Lovie says. "But we had some of the best neighbors and friends living around us. You just never forget people like that." She continued, "They would come by our house bringing vegetables from their gardens or in hog killing season they always brought our parents portions of fresh meat, sausage and tenderloin." It was a time when people shared such as they had with their neighbors.

When Lovie was four years old the Clark's home and belongings were completely destroyed by fire. Lovie's hands still bear the scars from burns she received in that frightening ordeal. The entire neighborhood quickly rallied to their support she says, turning up at the burned-out home site with everything needful to help the family start over.

Even though she was only four at the time Lovie says she has never forgotten the sight of their Froggett neighbors, Dick and Luther arriving in a wagon piled full of supplies for the Clarks. Of all the things on that wagon which she remembers the clearest, was an oblong bowl with handles. For some reason this bowl seemed such a grand thing to her Lovie says, and made such an impression on her child mind, that she has even dreamed of it as an adult. In this dream she dropped the bowl and broke it! "I don't have any idea why I would dream such a thing." Lovie laughs.

Emmitt Clark had always been a particular man, Lovie says of her father. He didn't like his tools to lay on the ground so he had installed flooring in the section of their barn where he kept them all stored. Thanks to this notion of his, when their home burned they were not left without a roof over their heads. Emmitt just moved the tools out and his family in until they could rebuild. And it wasn't long before he began this task. Using logs cut from his own land and the help of neighborhood menfolks, the Clark family soon had a brand new house ready to move into.

7-mile daily walk

The nearest school for blacks then, was called Cedar Top, a one room structure, located near Sulphur Well, three and a half miles from the Clark home. This meant that Lovie and her brothers and sisters had to walk seven miles a day for their early education.

But this was considered a time of socializing by these youngsters, for their path crossed that of several white children who were on the way to their own school. "We would see Edwin (Buster) Williams every morning and we'd talk to him," Lovie says, " He'd be on his way to Sulphur Well Grade School.

Then a little farther along we'd meet Wister Wallace and his sister, Marjorie who were walking to Sulphur Well School, too." The Wallaces lived down the road behind Cedar Top at that time, so they would be going in opposite directions to the Clark children, Lovie says, "But we'd all stop in the road to talk and play a little while before hurrying on our way again. I'll never forget them."

"Anytime it rained hard enough to make the creek rise while we were at school," Lovie recalled, "We'd spend the night with the Les Smith children because we couldn't get home."

There were six of the Smith youngsters she said plus five of the Clark's. This made a lively houseful indeed when they all got together. Their momma never seemed to mind though, according to Lovie.

When nighttime came she'd bed them down here and there all over the house. Come morning she would open two cans of salmon and scramble up a big skillet of eggs for their breakfast. "That woman could get more salmon patties out of a can of salmon than anybody I've ever known!" Lovie chuckled at the memory.

Ordinarily the children didn't mind the long walk to school, they had become accustomed to this. But there were times when the weather was bad their walk would be very unpleasant, especially when it was cold.

The school bus for white students also traveled along the same route the Clarks took each day, but at that time blacks were not allowed to ride, so the driver never stopped for them regardless of the weather.

"There is no way to keep that from hurting." Lovie commented, "But I never look back. There is no use - that's just the way times were then." She spoke without resentment, simply stating things as they were in her youth. It was different for her daughters and granddaughters, things had changed by the time they came along. Lovie is happy for that.

But even as she rejoiced for them, it was hard to put those changes into effect in her own life, for old customs die hard. One incident which stands out in her memory was during the time when she used to baby-sit for Tom and Julia Emberton's daughter.

On this particular day Lovie was to prepare lunch for the Embertons. When the meal was ready she called them to the table then stepped back. Her own place to eat was in the kitchen. But Tom wouldn't tolerate that. She was told to get her plate. "If you are good enough to keep our children Lovie, you're good enough to eat at our table," he had said. (Tom is Appellate Judge of Kentucky's Third District).

Through all of her conversations it's clear that Lovie has always felt strong ties of genuine friendship for the people in predominately white communities where she has spent her life.

Attended Jackman

High School, Columbia

Her education didn't stop with those long-ago days at Cedar Top. Lovie went on to graduate from Jackman High School in Columbia, Kentucky and finally to Frankfort where she attended Kentucky State College. She returned to Metcalfe County to become a teacher in local black schools for the next five years.

Lovie taught her last school in the fall after she and R.T. were married.

After the Kinnaird girls, Judy and Linda came along R.T. told his wife about how, his mother, Beulah Kinnaird, always had to work away from their home while he was growing up. He hadn't forgotten how hard this was for him as a boy, even though he realized her earnings were necessary for them to get by. In their case he would make the living for their family himself, R.T. said, and he wanted her to stay at home with their children until they were out of school. This she did, Lovie says. "I was always there for them, like my mother was there for us."

from the basement of their home.

A devout couple in their Christian faith, he and Lovie are caretakers of Beech Grove Baptist Church and of the cemetery there also.

Lovie is the Sunday School Secretary and Treasurer at Beech Grove Church and is secretary of Little Barren Baptist Church, of which she is a member.

" We stay busy," Lovie says. " We try to visit the sick and do what we can. God has blessed us through the years. We are comforted by the message in the song, "It was Grace that brought us safe this far, and Grace will lead us home."

This story was posted on 1999-04-15 12:01:01
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