Gertrude Tedder has spent her entire life in the Knifley area, and her 95 years encompass a lifetime of memories in a tightknit community among family and friends.
Gertrude Knifley was born on May 3, 1927 and married Walter Tedder when she was 20 years old. On Tuesday, Gertrude will celebrate her 95th birthday.
“I have lived in Adair County all my life, in the Knifley community all my life. I’ve never been out of Kentucky,” Tedder said last week.
Tedder’s memories are sharp as she reminisces about her younger days, recalling dates as she and her siblings grew up on a farm.
She grew up in Mt. Tussell, four miles from Knifley, which was an active area of commerce at the time. She went to school at Mt. Tussell for eight years, where she walked the half-mile stretch when school was open from the first Monday in July until the third week in January.
“You had to buy your own books,” she recalls. “The county did not furnish books. There were no buses in the community. Everyone in the community had to walk to school. For me it was half a mile. For some kids it was two miles.”
When she was old enough to attend high school, that meant traveling to Knifley. A man with a pickup truck would pick up the students and take them to the high school.
“We were given 10 cents a day for the ride for him to pick us up and bring us back ,” she said. “Halfway through the school he decided he would quit. He quit and every one of us had to stop school. Nobody had cars and trucks in the whole community.”
Tedder remembers a “man on a black horse” who delivered the mail.
“Around the same time there was a covered wagon pulled by two horses coming from a Knifley store that delivered groceries to each house as it went down the road,” she recalls.
Later, a truck started coming from Clementsville and it would deliver groceries and pick up eggs. “Everybody sold eggs and bought their groceries at that time in the summer time.”
In the fall, Tedder said she sold walnuts for 50 cents a pound.
Tedder says Knifley was “a booming place” and she remembers Saturday trips to town where they would be treated with 10 peppermint sticks of candy for a nickel.
“There were six stores…There was a big pool room and on top of the pool room, there was two rooms. There was a doctor that came from Campbellsville and he would come once a week . He brought his medicine in a suitcase and would climb the stairs and carried his medicine upstairs and doctor people.”
The spark of romance for her came when she was 12 years old. She was at a friend’s house playing when she caught the eye of her friend’s older brother.
“The roses were blooming up in their yard, and he came up there where me and Catherine was at, and he picked a rose, and he put it in my hair,” she said. “That was where it started. And that rose just kept on blooming.”
Walter went into the Army.
“I never did forget him, and he didn’t forget me,” she said. “One day in the mail come a Val- entine card. He was in the Army at the time. It said, ‘Thinking so much of you, I wanted to send you a line. The nicest way I could think of, was sending you this Valentine.’”
He came home on furlough and they started dating. She was 16 at the time. He returned home after four years in the Army.
“We started dating heavy then,” Tedder said. “But Mama – there wasn’t cars to amount to anything – He walked mostly and came down to my house. It was a mile and a half or something like that. He would come down to my house and we had a room they called a parlor. We went into the parlor room. And Mama would holler bedtime at 8 o’clock and he would have to leave at 8 o’clock.”
She was 20 and he was 27 when they married on Oct. 25, 1947. Their wedding was the first to be held at the Roley Christian Church.
The couple bought a farm on Crooked Creek and bought the family farm after Gertrude’s father died. At one point they owned 300 acres of land. The homeplace was taken when the dam was built, but they continued to farm in the area their entire lives.
The Tedders didn’t have children, but they raised a nephew and Gertrude says she still checks on him every day. Her husband died in June 1996.
She taught Sunday school for 40 years to children up to 6 years old. She was also known for providing local children with a popcorn ball every Halloween.
“On Halloween night, people done meanness, but everybody was so good to me,” she said. “I made popcorn balls for all the children in my neighborhood. I made 60 for 25 years. People who got married and had kids who came and got a popcorn ball, they came back with their kids and got another popcorn ball. It was a big night. My living room, it was a sight.”
Tedder lived alone until she was 91, still growing a garden and mowing her yard. She fell and injured her arm and shoulder four years ago and now resides in the Grandview Nursing and Rehabilitation facility in Campbellsville.
Her friends and family will celebrate her 95th birthday with her on Tuesday. Visits will be made throughout the day to give her time to rest in between. Anyone who wants to wish her a happy birthday may drop a card off at the facility or mail it to her at 640 Watertower Bypass, Campbellsville, Ky. 42718.
By Sharon Burton