The View from Puncheon Creek: Younger Days

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The book of Joel records these words spoken by God; “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”

I always assumed God meant old men would dream of their past and young men would have visions of their future. Something Todd Preston told me has caused me to rethink my assumption on the meaning of this Scripture. I now think God was saying old men will dream of a better future and young men will see visions of the future based on old men’s dreams.  Remember Joel is a book of prophecy, a book telling what will be, not a record of things past.  

A short time before Todd took a turn for the worse he asked me to write a story from his youth. At the time, I thought he was “dreaming’’ of his younger days but just like the Scripture I see it different now. I understand now that what he was trying to get across with this tale from his younger days aside from his experience as a boy was a way, a dream dare I say, of promoting The Dawkins Line Rail Trail. Todd loved the Dawkins Trail and wanted nothing more than to see it succeed. 

Todd grew up on Burton’s Fork about two ridgelines over from the Dawkins tracks. Often, he heard the sound of the train’s lonesome whistle and longed to see this great beast belching smoke as it made its way toward Royalton. Somehow Todd’s older brother knowing how much Todd loved to hear the train’s whistle break loose, got a hold of a train steam whistle and connected it to a natural gas well’s blow pipe. From then on Todd would blow this whistle in answer to the real train’s whistle. I imagine the first time this happened it surely startled the train’s Engineer.

I know some of you are thinking, “how did Todd ever hope to use the train whistle story to promote tourism on the Dawkins Trail?” My answer to that is simply this, he just did don’t you think.

Todd and I shared a hope in the future of a Magoffin County whereby no child would be stigmatized by being born here. We shared a love for preservation but also finding ways to progress our home county. We had projects still in the works like marking the Shepherd Collins Cemetery that has not a single marker of any kind. I believe Todd’s elusive Aunt Fanny Chaney, an old time Black midwife, to be buried here. We tried to push the powers that be to get behind developing Magoffin County Tourism, to get behind the Dawkins Trail and the Puncheon Battlefield Community Park. But the memories of Todd I cherish most are the days I will call the “Randall and Todd days”, days where we just enjoyed the day talking or sightseeing. On one such day Todd said to me, “are you up to a little trip” knowing full well I would be. We climbed into his Rodeo and Todd headed down 460. Though I had no clue where we were going it didn’t matter to me. After some time, Todd said we are here. The sign said Broke Leg Falls, it was a pleasant day indeed.