Harlan and Anna Hubbard on their shantyboat
from Harlan Hubbard's JOURNALS 1929-1944
edited by Vincent Kohler and David F. Ward
University Press of Kentucky, 1987
June 29 (1932) WED. I copy this from notes at the time. Tuesday, June 21 left 8 A.M., Fort Thomas car. Walked from end of line beyond Owl Creek almost up hill. Rode to Lennoxburg with Newport man hunting turtles. He picked me up twice afterwards, taking me almost to Brooksville, 12:30. Walked through Germantown within 7 miles of Maysville. Picked up by truck, arriving at 4:30. Wharf, swim, supper. Hot and partly cloudy. Walked about 22 miles. About 7 o'clock took eastbound freight to Russell and another up Big Sandy to Elkhorn City, 128 miles from mouth, 218 from Maysville. Arrived at daybreak Wednesday, June 22. Breakfast in lunchroom in Elkhorn City. Praise, Ky., post office across river. Walked down narrow river valley over sandy road 14 miles. Rode a truck through Pikeville to Prestonburg, 40 miles. Arrived middle of afternoon and had lunch. Walked on in hot sun. Walked in Big Sandy under bridge. Over ridge and picked up by man in a car, 5 miles out of Paintsville. Arrived 6:00. Walked 21 miles. Thursday, June 23. Left Paintsville at daybreak in fog. Had slept in sand pile at new post office building. State Road 40 about five miles N.W. and then north up Paint Creek, which I followed all day. Rode on mule with boy. Ophir P.O. about noon. Wheelerstown over ridge at evening. Supper with store keeper, Fanning, and on about 2 miles, sleeping on hilltop. Walked 25 miles. June 24, Friday. Came down hill early into fog. To Sandy Hook, Elliot Co. 6 or 7 miles. Breakfast. New graded road about 4 miles north along creek. Country road east, then north to Olive Hill, mostly poor desolate land, arrived 6:15. Supper on north hillside. Walked 6+21 miles. Clear but not very hot. Had lunch at Ibex P.O. Saturday, June 25. I left Olive Hill the night before and went up country road north through Trough Camp at top of hill. Slept awhile in schoolhouse door and under a tree but it was cool. Over ridge in moonlight, half moon, to Armstrong P.O. Slept in hay barn until sunrise. Turned left here and over another ridge and down Grassy Creek. A wooded country where they were making oak hoops for tobacco hogsheads, running sawmills and grinding corn. Smoky Valley schoolhouse. Over hill to Kinneconnick P.O. (Conoconique), which I missed and over long grade and dusty road to Vanceburg. Arrive 5 o'clock. 35 miles from Olive Hills. 31 today. Shave, meal, telephone call. Slept in bandstand. Sunday, June 26 left Vanceburg early down track. W.L. Berry, up, stopped across river. Swam above island, Brush Creek Island. Concord, 11A.M. Shower, dinner and left after 1 P.M. Rode to Irwin over old railroad roadbed. Hard showers below, and no shelter. Down to Springdale, R.R. milepost 596. Vanceburg, 572. Slept on station platform. Car put on siding with drawbar pulled out. It was from (the) freight I went up on Tuesday. Sam P. Suit and 8 loaded barges passed me at Manchester Island. Monday, June 27. It was raining and cloudy in morning. Walked down to Lock 33, two miles, Sam P. Suit was tied up above dam. It had a single crew, and did not run at night. I got on as it went through Lock 33 and rode to Lock 36. Capt. Phillip Heller, mate Henry Miller. Passed small towboat coming up, the Robert H. Noble, of Paducah. The Chris Greene rounded the bend above. At Maysville, a yawl with three men rowing went ashore for orders and telegram. Went ashore below for member of crew, without boat slowing up. Chris Greene passed below Maysville. The dredge Maj. Mallery and Cayuga at Charleston Bar. Cayuga passed us on way to Ripley. Juanita up above Ripley. Tied up for bad-looking storm below Augusta. Tied up for night above Dam 35. Telephoned from lock. C.W. Talbot, up. Tuesday, June 28. Left 6 A.M. Diesel towboat up. Dan E. Sullivan. They were throwing Dam 36, but locked through. Left boat here after riding 54 miles. Total distance traveled, 526 miles. Walked 156 miles.
I went away to break the routine of this life, to get new experiences and see new country and if possible, by a different viewpoint, to find new opportunities and inspiration in these circumstances to which I seem bound. I have accomplished the first two, but seem not to be able to do anything with the latter. Many artists would give a great deal for my opportunities — a place to work and live and so many things that neither they nor I could buy. Yet there is much that I lack that they have, as a chance to let life take its natural channel.
No forced work is ever good, only that done in love and inspiration. My inspiration went farther and farther away, until now I really do not know where it is. I am tied to this present life and my friends, yet find no inspiration to paint in them.
I criticized (D.H.) Lawrence, because his life was too synthetic, that is, he reasoned that he should have certain emotions and experiences, and forced himself into them. I sometimes think this applies to me. These writings do not show myself truly, as they were written in times of depression. For elation and ecstasy I have no words.