Looking Back: Welcome to Denny's Den of Memories

May 24, 2004|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

Denny's Den of Memories actually is a room full of history.

Ernest Denny has been compiling his memoirs for several years and has notebooks, souvenirs and history publications neatly organized in a room at his Pleasant Hill Drive residence.

Prior to retiring, Denny had a "Little House of Memories" where he kept a few things in his workshop. After moving back to Burgin in 1977, he began adding to his collection.

It's a little overwhelming to walk into the Den of Memories and see more than 30 photo albums filled with photographs, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia of his life and his hometown of Burgin.


When asked about a particular place or person, Denny knows where it is in his neatly organized bookshelves. He has everything labeled and in order where he can quickly locate it.

"My hobby is memories," said the 90-year-old Denny, who has been collecting memorabilia most of his life.

He has one notebook with clips of businesses in Burgin. At one time, the town had two hotels, a drug store and five medical doctors. It also had a boat manufacturing company. Clippings also show that a Racket Store was in a building (five and dime) where the post office and telephone exchange also were located.

Before Denny graduated from high school, he worked for the Perkins family who sold Hudson and Essex automobiles. His grandmother, Ann Denny, had a boarding house where the current fire department headquarters is located.

He saw Dix Dam being built

He can remember when Dix Dam was built. "I went down with the surveyors before they started building the dam," he said. "I saw the dam being built from the beginning."

He also has photographs of the dam construction.

He has a list of all the people who attended Burgin High School while he was there. He began school at nearby Mount Moriah, and came to Burgin in 1910. "I'm the only one still living out of the 15 in the class of 1931," he said.

Denny also has tracked his ancestors back five generations. The Denny family originated in England and spread in several directions after landing in America.

Although Denny has lived most of his life away from his home county, he continued to keep up with the history.

He left Burgin after he graduated in 1931 to work in the coal fields in Blue Diamond, near Hazard. He got the word about the job from an uncle who traveled for Coleman flour mill. He also served with the 81st and 82nd Airborne unit.

He worked 25 years as a secretary with Blue Diamond, then spent another 25 years with Oakwood Markets Inc. and Affiliated Co. in Kingsport, Tenn. He began in the vegetable department and ended up as secretary-treasurer of the 11 stores. When he retired, the company gave him a trip to Hawaii.

There is an album on the Hawaii trip and also ones with photographs and clippings about the two places he worked.

There is one photo he has not found

But there is one photo that he still has not found. "My dad had a store on Main Street and J.P. Frank of Danville delivered groceries here with a pony and wagon," he said. "I'd like to have a photo of the horse and wagon and the salesman, Tot Frank."

If anyone has a photo they would share with Denny, contact him at (859) 748-8796.

One of the more interesting albums contains black and white photos Denny made from negatives of film shot in 1916. One of his cousins had kept the negatives and the photos turned out to be Denny's relatives. He's identified most of the pictures.

Denny has lots of time on his hands these days. His daughter, Linda Dehart of Aberdeen, Md., and a stepdaughter, Peggy Jo Hoover of Indiana, live too far away to visit, and he's quit gardening. Now he spends a lot of time with his collection and enjoys talking about it. "I've got albums of my entire life," he said. "I enjoy talking to people and letting them know what I have collected. I have gotten started and can't quit. You can see I've got gobs, gobs and gobs of information," Denny said.

The albums represent good memories for which Denny is grateful.

"I've got pictures to back up anything I tell you. I've had a full, good life. The Lord sure blessed me."

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