I arrived in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, before nightfall, the main streets crowded with locals celebrating the annual Jenny Wiley Festival. In the 1950s, Floyd County, Kentucky, developed Jenny Wiley Park in honor of the legendary pioneer taken captive by Native Americans in 1789. While pregnant, Jenny Wiley witnessed the slaughter of her brother and two babies to later escape and find her way home safely to her husband.

Throughout the years while visiting my sister Patty in Prestonsburg, I became familiar with Jenny Wiley’s story through reenactments in the park’s amphitheater.

My younger sister and I also spent hours in the park with her boys and grandchildren. This visit would be different. Her grandbabies have outgrown supervised play with “Nan.” And her great-granddaughter is yet too young to walk mountain trails.

Therefore, I anticipated the celebration of her second granddaughter’s Sweet Sixteen birthday on Sunday. And the cooking to feed a houseful of her hungry family.
At last, I turned onto Patty and Mike’s winding road, and stepped into the scent of Appalachia.

Their front door flew open.

“Welcome!” Patty hollered.

“We’ve got dinner ready,” Mike shouted.

So the reunion began.

Sunday morning, Patty drove us to their church in Garrett, Kentucky, one of several communities recovering from the aftermath of the July 28 flood. From the moment I heard of the disaster, I wanted to help those who needed a hand.

A woman requested prayer for wisdom for herself and husband to know what to do with their damaged homeplace. “Should we invest in our home, or do we move somewhere else?”

At last, I had faces to pray for in the host of flood victims.

Patty stopped by Food City (marvelous store) to complete her shopping for the birthday feast. “Iris, will you find the S’mores fixings?”

That meant a fire, which I enjoy more than the S’more.

After we cleared dinner and birthday cake plates, fourteen family members gathered around Mike’s perfect fire to roast marshmallows. To my surprise, the younger generation turned the conversation to the delusions of our youth.

“Girls are wearing tails and identifying as cats,” my oldest grand-niece said. “They have litter boxes in school.”

Later, as we refrigerated leftovers, Patty repeated what the birthday girl had said. “Nan, they hissed at me two years ago in school.”

When I returned home, I found my copy of the Tri-City Times and Bernie Hillman’s “Letter to the Editor.” Bernie fact-checked the truth of litter boxes placed in Imlay City High School. I was relieved to read the rumor is false.

Furthermore, my sister informed me that Prestonsburg schools have refused to supply litter boxes for students wearing tails.

Whether litter boxes in public schools is true or an urban legend disregards the reality of a steadfast principle. With the exception of leader dogs for the blind or “show and tell,” animals are not allowed in our public or private schools.

Dear Reader, we the people, made in the image of God, agree to pay taxes and tuition to educate our offspring, also made in the image of God.

Why would we support a school with policies that permit hissing and harassment of our children?

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail.com.