WELCOME TO MY NEIGHBORHOOD

Digital Readers

Thirteen Short Stories with Southern Character

 

 

NEW RELEASE available at Amazon

 

https://www.amazon.com/author/georgiaruthwilson

   https://www.books2read.com/u/bQBNre           

 

An appropriate article by A.R. Williams appeared in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic regarding the colonization of the South Pacific. “Going farther, to remote Oceania, required a very different voyaging strategy from what was used before,” says University of Oregon archaeologist Scott M. Fitzpatrick,” (who contributed to a recent seafaring study). “No islands were visible, so sailors had to use a celestial compass.” http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/explore-adventure-colonizing-south-pacific/

Lost Legend of Vahilele
A clash of cultures in the Fijian Islands
Now available on Amazon

This article was appropriate to me because of the recent release of my first novel, Lost Legend of Vahilele, now available on Amazon. Click on the Lost Legend tab at the top of this page for details of the tale and personal revelation.

 

 

 

 

 

February 4, 2018 Article on My Characters:

https://historythrutheages.wordpress.com/2018/02/04/the-characters-among-us-georgia-ruth-wilson/   (Story referenced here that was out of my comfort zone is now published 9 April 2018 “Walk the Walk”) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CBJD5XD

 

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BMC#3 Worker Bees Are Necessary; We Can’t All be Queens (Or Kings)

Suggested by several interviews on this blog over the years, our elder locals were perhaps more cosmopolitan than their children. (I didn’t say wiser.) As a fitting detour from my casual McDowell County history, in my last two posts I dipped into the story of the former nearby Black Mountain College, an unconventional institution of higher learning that closed in 1957.

Jonathan Williams (1929-2008) was one of the few NC natives to attend Black Mountain College. Williams graduated St. Albans, a college prep school in Washington DC. Then on to Princeton (FYI the fourth oldest institution of higher learning in the US) before dropping out to attend Chicago Interior of Design and Black Mountain College where he studied painting and graphic arts with Stanley William Hayter, an English painter and printmaker influenced by surrealism and abstract experiment. Not a lightweight, Hayter was celebrated with many international awards.  http.//en.wikipedia.org/Williams

In 1951, Williams joined David Ruff to found the Jargon Society with the goal of publishing obscure writers. This press had a long association with Black Mountain poets who were inspired by long silences enjoyed when walking Appalachian trails, listening to country noises and to mountain people. Williams “only had to organize a bit, crystallize it,” and call it “found material.” The Jargon Society published American and British “avant garde” writers who, according to Wiki Free Encyclopedia, “push the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm, primarily in the cultural realm.” Actually, the term “avant garde” is a French term for radical and unorthodox (which scares me) but I admire the embrace of creative freedom from afar.

I love that Williams called himself a cultural anthropologist as he exaulted the process. This niche might now be led by one of my favorite NC writers, Ron Rash. Not only is he able to draw distinct word pictures, he can construct a plot with the best mysterians. He has been a long time professor at Western NC University in Cullowhee, and a 2017 recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, along with others, receiving $50,000 to support his work.

Regarding the fertile environment of Black Mountain College, it would be unfair if I did not mention Helen Auerbach Morley (born in 1916 to Russian parents living in New York). Helen was quite precocious, beginning her career early by penning verse in her childhood. Her doctor-father was descended from Hasidic rabbis, and her mother was a Labor Zionist who made certain Helen studied at the University of London. Back in New York in 1945, Helen married abstract expressionist Eugene Morley for a short time. In 1952 she married German composer Stefan Wolpe, and both taught at Black Mountain College.   en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Morley ) Stefan Wolpe was diagnosed with Parkinsons and Morley was “greatly affected by her need to care for him until his death” in 1972.

Morley lived in New York for four decades, but her limited career really began in 1976 when she published her first collection, A Blessing Outside Us, to accolades that compare her work to the poetic greatness of Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot. In contemporary commentary, at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/hilda-morley  a critic said it was a “shameful comment on our present-day literary situation that Hilda Morley’s work has been largely neglected.” (I am guilty but I had never heard of her.) Morley wrote, “the poem of organic form molds its phrasing and spacing to conform to the pressure of the poetic content.” (Besides, I don’t know what that means.)

In an earlier post about Black Mountain College, I tagged Charles Olson who also offered a helping hand to struggling writers. Soon after assuming his leadership position in 1953, Olson founded the Black Mountain Review magazine. It may have been a groundbreaking arts magazine since it helped establish beat generation writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, (reported by Tom Patterson on page 28 of “The Success of its own Accident,” an article in the North Carolina Literary Review, Vol II, #2 but were they significant?). Evidently Helen Worley’s work was influenced more by Wong May, a Chinese poet she met in a residency in New Hampshire in 1969, than it was by Charles Olson at BMC.

As an attraction to get new students, the Black Mountain Review magazine was a failure, not to denigrate Olson’s altruistic efforts, just the futility of the educational experiment. “By 1954, the student population had shrunk to an all-time low of nine. Meanwhile, faculty attrition in the wake of (rector) Josef Albers’ departure had left only six teachers at the school, which by this point was in debt by almost $90,000.” The dining hall and dormitories on the south end of the campus were rented out for use as a boys’ camp, and land along the edges of the college property was sold off, as were the school’s pianos and a small herd of cattle that were once part of a once-thriving farm.”

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S_Burroughs, another Ivy League grad was attracted to the literary reputation of BMC. William Burroughs, (his middle name was Seward), was born into a wealthy family in St. Louis, Mo. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard, and studied English and anthropology as a postgraduate. A serious student and most probably very intelligent, Burroughs attended med school in Vienna. Along with many affected by WWII, his life changed in 1942. He was turned down by the Navy after which he “picked up drug addiction that would plague him the rest of his life.” That Wiki line sounds as though Burroughs picked up a cold, poor baby. Somewhere he had a choice. Refer back to Buckminster Fuller’s life in the last post. Bucky was also very intelligent, and had significant difficulties, but he focused on solving them.

William Burroughs was prolific; he managed to produce 18 novels and novellas, 6 collections of short stories and 4 collections of essays. He also created and exhibited thousands of paintings and other visual artworks. But much of Burroughs’ work was drawn primarily from his experience as a heroin addict. In 1943 he met Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouak in NY; this friendship presumably was the foundation of the Beat Generation–a defining influence on the 1960s counterculture. Interesting but not inspirational.

Burroughs was on a downhill spiral no matter how intelligent he started out. In 1951, he killed his 2nd wife in Mexico City. The evolving story claimed he dropped a gun that went off and killed her…ignoring his first story of “drunkenly attempting a William Tell stunt.” He was convicted of manslaughter in absentia and received a two year suspended sentence in the US. When he returned to the States, his friends seemed to wash over his character problems and applaud his creativity for going rogue. His friend Jack Kerouac called Burroughs “the greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift.” Norm Mailler declared him “the only American writer conceivably possessed by genius.” In 1953, Ginsberg helped Burroughs with his first novel Junkie, a confessional. Burroughs best known novel was Naked Lunch, which was challenged in court under sodomy laws. More reading about him at  https://www.who2hs/.com/bio/william_s_burroughs

Allen Ginsberg was a Columbia student in NY in the 1950s before he traveled to San Francisco where a 1955 public reading of his ground breaking poem “Howl” became a counterculture hit, helped along by publicity over an obscenity charge against him as a homosexual. https://www.who2.com/bio/allen-ginsberg/  He was selected by poet Robert Greeley of Black Mountain College to be the west coast editor of the Review just in time for its last issue, according to Patterson.

Opening Lines from “Howl”: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical, naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix…”

At this point, I was very disappointed in the literary figures applauded by Olson. I expected better. I was taught in writing classes that you have to know rules before you can break them. I believe Monet and Matisse started with traditional landscapes, and evolved into their own impressionist genres. American realist painter Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) succeeded with the rules, but writer Elmore Leonard became a category of one with his inimitable dialogue. And progressive Buckminster Fuller did not try to reinvent the wheel, well, yes, he did, but actually he succeeded. Like I said earlier, if you know the rules…

Ginsberg became one of the more prominent figures in the American anti-war movement, as he also joined love-ins, and took LSD. In 1974, he won the National Book Award for The Fall of America: Poems of These States 1965-1971. Some say he was successful, and I would say that depends upon your perspective.

In a 1994 Asheville radio interview with David Horand, WCQS, Ginsberg pointed out that many of the BMC students and faculty moved to the west coast and became active in what is generally known as the San Francisco poetry renaissance, “which inaugurated that whole program of spoken poetry that…runs through Bob Dylan up through rap.” (Patterson, pg 38) “Ginsberg also notes that his poem ‘Howl,’ coincidentally published at about the same time that BMC was closing, “represented a voice of the counterculture, which Black Mountain also represented, a counterculture which had old roots in Europe, in the refugees from Hitler who knew what central authoritarianism was and were trying to preserve the old American spirit and the international spirit in the form of a libertarian bohemian world.”

“The extraordinary characteristic that set Black Mountain apart from other schools of its era was, quite simply, the open-ended, flexible, process-oriented approach to education and the arts that it consistently embodied,” Patterson wrote on page 30. “The progressive model it offered for living and learning no longer appears to have much currency in the diploma-factory realm of American higher education.”

Patterson’s summation ignores the lack of accountability to the input of thousands of teachers who established a foundation that conceivably was built on the work of many, each one making a different but valuable contribution to the individual. In my opinion, genius needs a bed to lie on. This open border process produced more societal failures than successes. Recognizing that some of us have elevated ideas that benefit mankind, most of us learn the basics from each other.

I have known excessively-intelligent people who failed to function in society without help from parents/spouses. But some of us are almost supernatural and called to excel; we mere mortals can appreciate but never emulate them. For example, I cannot imagine making Edgar Cayce’s  life a pattern for success. Nor using the genius of Vincent Van Gogh as a progressive model for living. In my humble opinion, the supporters of Black Mountain College did not recognize that a successful society needs structure enforceable by laws for sustained growth.

Could be my opinion, but even the bees know the laws of nature.

 

Copyright @2019 Georgia Wilson

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BMC #2: Who Needs A Supine Dome?

Nobody really, but its NC history is interesting.

The term caught my attention when a writer friend loaned me an “opinionated” bound article about the history of Black Mountain College where the practice of arts, as in painting, music, theater, literature, and dance, was the central focus of the curriculum. We were both attracted to the legacy of Charles Olson who became rector in 1953; he described the school as a “creative accident.” Olson’s “most important contribution to Black Mountain College was to establish its reputation as a vital center for contemporary writing,” claims Tom Patterson in the North Carolina Literary Review, Vol II, #2, “The Success of its own Accident.” Tom was personally connected to this history because in the early 1960’s, he attended two summer sessions at Camp Rockmont for Boys, on Lake Eden. The site was formerly occupied by Black Mountain College.

In the last post, I promised highlights on well-known persons involved with this progressive school. I can’t describe any as graduates, because each student determined his/her own graduation date, and there were no graduation ceremonies. Or grades. No hurt feelings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Mountain_College

One guest teacher who brought more radical thinking to the campus was inventor Richard Buckminster Fuller who inspired the students with an “improvisational lecture” on synergy (described by Webster as combined or cooperative force). From a wealthy and well-educated family, Fuller’s progressive mindset was possibly nourished by an aunt associated with the American transcendentalism movement, the study of thoughts to discover realism. Suffice it to say that Buckminster (his preferred moniker was Bucky) thought outside the box. Today he might be called gifted.

Bucky was born in Milton, Massachusetts in 1895 and by the age of 12, he had invented a “push-pull” system for propelling a rowboat by use of an inverted umbrella. Perhaps this effort encouraged an interest in design and underlined the importance of becoming knowledgeable about materials used in the sheet metal trade, as he earned a machinist’s certificate. (Ref: Martin Pawley (1991) Buckminster Fuller, NY, Taplinger.)

Conventional education did not hold a sustained interest from this innovator. Wikipedia reports Bucky was expelled from Harvard twice. The first time for getting involved with a vaudeville troupe, and the second time for showing irresponsibility and lack of interest in his studies, although the two charges sound repetitive to me. In between his years of study at college, he worked in Canada in a textile mill and in a meat-packing plant. He later served with the Navy as a shipboard radio operator in WW1. It was at this time that he lost partial hearing. His first handicap was extreme hyperopia requiring thick glasses. He also struggled with a shorter leg requiring a shoe insert, but Uncle Sam took him anyway. In spite of physical shortcomings, he was described by one writer in a Wikipedia article as having a “golden smile and an angelic temperament.” And he must have been high energy to accomplish as much as he did. From scratch. Did he walk to the beat of a different drummer? Genius does. What was his inspiration?

To his credit, Bucky married Anne Hewlett for life. Sadly they lost their oldest daughter to complications from polio and meningitis. He became depressed since he suspected her death related to their damp and drafty environment. As the case with many creative thinkers, he felt pressed to find a solution for others. With his father-in-law, Fuller founded Stockade Building System, lightweight, weatherproof housing, but the company failed in 1927. No longer part of an upper class that was shaken apart by the stockmarket crash, Bucky’s family lived in serious debt. Suicide seemed a good option to his way of thinking.

Bucky later described a walk around Chicago that changed his life. Feeling suspended above ground in a shaft of light, he heard a Voice that told him, “You do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. Your significance will remain forever, obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your role if you apply yourself to converting your experience to the highest advantage of others.” (Ref: Lloyd Steven Sieden (1989) Buckminster Fuller’s Universe: His Life and Work. Basic Books.)

Fuller evidently took this message to heart. He first determined to make himself an example of the transformation of a human living through the gay 90s into the turn of the century and beyond. He saved almost everything he wrote between 1915 to 1983, a paper document pile stacked about 270′ high, including copies of all incoming and outgoing correspondence, now housed at Stanford University.

In the summer of 1948, Buckminster Fuller came to Black Mountain College, a last minute replacement of a Chicago architect. He arrived two weeks into the session but his genius was instantly recognized in his first three-hour lecture. His manner of communicating was unique to him, using unusual compound words like “intransformative,” as well as terms he himself invented, like “ephemeralization” and “tensegrity.” According to Fuller, the words “down” and “up” were a concept of planar direction and should be replaced with “in” and “out” in respect to the center of the earth, which he called “Spaceship Earth.” (Reference: Wikipedia.org) This term is currently used to describe a challenge to scientists today to consider the regeneration of earth’s ecosystems at the Buckminster Fuller Institute. https://www.bfi.org/challenge/spaceship-earth-challenge

At the time of his visit to Black Mountain College, Fuller had reached a turning point in his “Dymaxion” inventions intended to help postwar problems with low cost solutions. His study involved “geometry of geodesics, a term that described an arc of inter-crossing great circles on a spherical form. His first application of this geometry, the Dymaxion World Map, received a patent in 1946.”

See http://www.blackmountaincollegeproject.org/Biographies/FULLER

His most famous invention, the geodesic dome, was a latticework structure used in military radar systems, environmental protest camps, exhibitions, etc. (Including a “Fuller Dome” intended to cover the entire island of Manhattan, but that didn’t happen.) However, on the way to his success, Buckminster Fuller brought his Supine Dome prototype to Black Mountain College in 1948, where the students tried to make his theory a reality. Enthusiastically, “the students measured long strips of [plastic] blinds and computed the tensile strength of each unit. Each strip was coded and the points marked where they would mesh together.” They attempted to erect a dome 48′ in diameter, 23′ high with an area of 1500 sq ft. As predicted by Fuller, the dome collapsed during the project because the materials “weren’t right.” The next summer they used aluminum aircraft tubing and erected the dome. The lesson for the college students was memorable: You succeed when you stop failing. (Ref: http://www.Appalachian History, “The Supine Dome Flops in a NC Field” posted by Dave Tabler, June 6, 2017)

Many successes belonged to Buckminster Fuller, even the patent on a hanging storage shelf unit. Less familiar may have been the model for an offshore floating city which resides in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. And one of his Dymaxion houses–described as radically strong with light tensegrity (Fuller’s word)–is permanently displayed at the Henry Ford Museum. He was also recognized as the second World President of Mensa (a group with ridiculously high IQs) from 1974 to 1983.

And that was the year of his death, which was also creative. Bucky sat at the deathbed of his wife of 66 years. Anne was comatose, dying of cancer. On July 1, he said, “She’s squeezing my hand!” He stood up, suffered a heart attack and died an hour later. His wife followed him the next day.

Rest in Peace. May we be blessed with more genius and fewer pompous celebrities.

 

Copyright February 2019 Georgia Wilson

 

 

 

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Black Mountain College, Don’t you Know?

No, I did not know there was or had been a Black Mountain College until Marion friend, Nancy Hunter, gave me a bound article titled: The Success of it’s Own Accident, An Opinionated Encapsulated History of Black Mountain College. Written by Tom Patterson for the North Carolina Literary Review in 1995. (An intriguing read for an opinionated writer like myself who has endeavored to encapsulate the encapsulation)

I discovered that Patterson’s interest in unique stylistic art, as in folk art, started with an experience at the Black Mountain College Festival that took place in 1974 at St. Andrews College in Laurinberg, NC, where Patterson attended. When he followed through to write the essay I comment on today, he referenced “two extensive published histories of Black Mountain College–Martin Duberman’s Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community (1972) and Mary Emma Harris’s The Arts at Black Mountain (1987).” Also referenced is “Fielding Dawson’s exuberant memoir of his own life as a student there in the late 40s and early 50s.”

I share this information at this particular juncture in my Dysartsville blog because I have recently posted three memorials which vaguely tie in to this story: as in the local Boy Scout Camp, Foxfire Project, and Berea College.

Patterson reports that Black Mountain College was the brainchild of classics professor John Andrew Rice, whose “strong personality and freethinking ways got him fired” from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. It was the depths of US depression, and he needed a job somewhere. Fortunately for him, several other professors and loyal students offered to support his idea of a more democratic institution of learning and an unconventional student body. They left Rollins as a mobile learning cell in search of a host.

From their website, I learned that Rollins College was the first college in Florida. It was founded in 1885 through sponsorship by a church, which was the norm back then. But from wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregational_church I was surprised to learn this body of believers was of New England Congregationalist inspiration, embracing autonomy and the belief that “every seeking child of God is given directly wisdom, guidance, and power.” This sounded kind of radical to me, especially since King Henry VIII once declared himself Supreme Head of that Church, and he had radical ideas about marriage. However, many of our nation’s oldest educational institutions, like Harvard and Yale, were founded to train Congregationalist clergy.  So although the Church progressed to become involved in many social movements, Rice wanted more intellectual freedom for teaching. He was invited to leave.

In the Conference Center at the Blue Ridge Assembly, where the Baptist Church used the facility only in the summer months, the first faculty of eleven opened Black Mountain College for fewer than two dozen students in the fall of 1933. Wikipedia reports Black Mountain College “was ideologically organized around John Dewey’s principles of education while emphasizing holistic learning and the study of art as central to a liberal arts education.” Dewey visited the campus twice during the 1934-1935 school year and his name was on the advisory board, later joined with the names of Albert Einstein and Carl Jung, an impressive endorsement for the infant hope of excellence.

At the same time, across the Atlantic in a turbulent Germany, the Nazis shut down the Bauhaus art and design school where Josef Albers and his wife Anni taught. They immigrated to the States and with connections through similar educational refugees found positions in Black Mountain College and stayed for sixteen years. Josef “developed a strong following among both students and faculty, and he ultimately proved to be the single most important influence on the school’s evolution as an arts center. In 1987 Mary Emma Harris wrote in The Arts at Black Mountain College that Josef in 1928 was the head of the furniture workshop at Bauhaus, and he “distinguished himself as a glass painter and as a designer of furniture and lettering.” (Patterson pg 23) Anni taught weaving and textile design. Language was a big problem for awhile, not to mention the political issue like an elephant hiding in the mountain forest.

In a free society, rules are unnecessary, right? So there were no written guidelines to the students at first. They were expected to show up for class, dress nicely for Saturday dinner, and each was allowed to decide their own graduation date. Later on there was a growing list of suggestions regarding barefeet and/or sex in public, throwing lit cigarettes out windows, borrowing books without asking, etc. With their past experiences, Albers and Ted Dreier, a physics and math instructor, and Rector Robert Wunsch were not as progressive as perhaps the rest of the faculty, and they remained ever vigilant for plots by political subversives attempting to destroy BMC. They did have a “rule” that said “No firearms” but like I said earlier, rules were rarely enforced, just argued. Even the one suggesting: Be Intelligent.

John Rice left six years after the college opened. In 1941, the college made a short move across the valley to a larger campus of 600 acres with craftsman style bungalows around Lake Eden. Students were required to participate in farm work, construction projects and kitchen duty, similar to commune living. After all, there were no course requirements, grades or degrees offered. “Work crews were headed by German refugee Richard Goethe, who had a PhD in economics but was also a master mechanic and toolmaker,” wrote Patterson. A materials course taught by Albers and a course on Plato were the only non-negotiables. The largest benefactors were members of the Forbes family. Even Eleanor Roosevelt visited once. Much of the teaching was by guest lecturers.

In 1944 an incident occurred that alarmed the faculty because the publicity drew much negative attention to the school. Two female students were arrested for hitchhiking and charged with loitering which then had a close connection to prostitution. The girls were forced to leave the school along with their female advisor who sanctioned their trip to visit a former teacher at Fisk University in Nashville, TN. In protest, all the student officers and twenty of their fellows, mostly liberal arts majors, resigned from the college. Two of these professors had been hired the year before, and Josef Albers was “convinced they were communists looking to take over the college.” (Patterson ppg 20-21) Hitchhiking was banned, for females. And the list of behavior suggestions got longer and stronger: don’t be noisy after 10:30pm and do not vacation with members of the opposite sex.

Patterson wrote in his article that “from the outset two key aspects of its administration and educational emphasis set it apart from other schools in this country. First, the faculty were the sole owners and administrators of BMC, which had no outside board of trustees or directors that could exert political pressure on the school. Second, the arts occupied the center of the curriculum; not the liberal arts or the study of art history, but rather music, dance, theatre, visual art, and literature as active practices. Courses in the sciences and humanities were offered, at least until the last year or two. In the reversal of the usual order of academic priorities, those disciplines held a more peripheral position at BMC.” (Patterson pg 21)

Patterson wrote, “Despite the Southern heritage of its founder, BMC was always culturally and socio-politically out of step with the surrounding region.” After a speech in Charlotte about the college and his ideas on education, a front-page article in the Charlotte News described him as “decidedly radical and communistic.” (pg 24 of his bound article). On page 25, he quoted Duberman’s page 68 of Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community (1972), writing that predictably “blacks were allowed in the kitchen at BMC long before they were allowed in the classroom. The first African Americans at the college were cook Jack Lipsey and his wife Rubye” who stayed for several years. “The question of whether a visiting black student could stay on campus or not was one of the first divisive issues to confront the college in its founding year. In the end, fear ruled, and the student was housed in ‘suitable quarters in town’.”

Duberman also wrote “the arrival of Carol Brice and Roland Hayes as guest faculty for the summer music institute of 1945 marked another important turn for the college. Brice brought her mother and baby and stayed for four weeks; Hayes and his family stayed two weeks. Both had dramatic impacts on the college and the town. Hayes’ public concert brought an integrated audience of over 300 to the campus without incident.” “Percy H. Baker, a professor at Virginia State College, was hired to teach biology. Baker later said BMC was ‘one of only two places I have been in my life when I was unconscious of race.’ (Quoted in Duberman page 217) “By 1947, five black students were enrolled.” But few applied after that.

Patterson wrote, “the full-time faculty worked in exchange for a share in the school’s ownership and were paid based on its income, which was usually lean and sometimes nonexistent. Long-term teachers went for months, even years, without receiving a paycheck, in essence working for room and board and an ever-increasing IOU from the college.” (pg 22)

The most divisive issue that perhaps unfortunately destroyed the school was not in the student population but in the faculty, the adult leadership. From Duberman pp 230-22 and Harris, 105, Patterson wrote that Rector “Robert Wunsch, a founding member of the faculty, was arrested in 1945 on a ‘crimes against nature’ charge and forced to resign his post.” (pg 25) Wunsch had taught at Rollins with Rice, and had come to BMC to teach drama. It seemed a natural fit for him since he was a native of this area. When Ted Dreier heard the news, he “returned immediately from a sabbatical and had the charge reduced to aggravated trespass in exchange for Wunsch’s promise to leave the area (forever). Dreier later told Duberman that he suspected Wunsch had been set up because of his liberal reputation.” Wunsch “moved to Los Angeles, where he changed his name and began working for the post office.”

For the next couple years, strife within the leadership regarding BMC’s future direction weakened it’s utopian hope. Albers left in 1949 because of the power struggle, and the school never recovered. Patterson writes, “But from an artistic standpoint, it was a time of remarkable energy and unprecedented innovation at the school.” “The lively spirit of avant-garde renaissance that infected Black Mountain during the early 1950s was epitomized by the most famous event ever to take place there–the now legendary ‘happening’ that composer John Cage organized one evening in the summer of 1952.”

In the next post, I will be highlighting individuals who added to the excellence that Rice hoped to encourage with his education experiment. There are several who deserve spotlights and admiration.

But to end this general description of Black Mountain College, it must be noted that Charles Olson tried his best to breathe spirit into an unconventional institution. “Olson taught briefly at Harvard, worked in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration and published two books when he was first invited to teach writing at Black Mountain in the fall of 1948.” Over the next five years, he was in and out between Black Mountain and his home in DC, or studying Mayan glyphs in Yucatan, a most extraordinary individual.

On page 27, Patterson describes Olson as “a formidable personality which was magnified by his towering 6’8″ frame.” The college was without a rector until the fall of 1953, when Olson agreed to take the reins. His recognized contribution to BMC was his influence on contemporary writing. “He brought fellow-poets Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan to join him, and soon afterwards, founded the Black Mountain Review, an arts magazine “whose seven issues helped establish the Black Mountain writers and beat generation writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs as important forces in American literature.” (Patterson pg 28)

“Describing the ambiance at Black Mountain in the early 50s, Olson wrote that it was ‘more no-college now, and fast becoming a Chinese monastery or  hill-fort’.” “These last Black Mountain holdouts were an outlaw commune on the cultural fringe, a band of intellectual outsiders and visionaries taking refuge from a bland, conformist society.” Olson wrote a series of farewell lectures called The Special View of History that “speak to a basic issue that was always at the heart of Black Mountain’s educational philosophy: the relationship of the individual, and particularly the individual artist to his or her time.” The lectures were posthumously published fourteen years later. (pg 28)

Black Mountain College took its last gasp in 1957. Wikipedia reports, “Ironically, the property was purchased and converted to an ecumenical Christian boys residential summer camp Rockmont.”

As a local native, young Tom Patterson attended this camp for two summer sessions in the 1960s, returning, enlightened, to write a fitting memorial for the college once birthed there.

Surely I have left out many consequential names, but readers can go to the current website blackmountaincollege.org and learn more details of this historic chapter in our beloved mountain neighborhood. Although the college is gone, it is remembered in the BMC Museum and Arts Center at 120 College Street, in Asheville NC.

Advertized now is an Upcoming Exhibition: February 1, 2019 to March 18, 2019.

 

Copyright @2019 Georgia Wilson

 

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Story Brake #2: Another Funeral for McDowell Native

Last week two contributors to a biography I wrote on William Brown (Pete) Gibbs, Jr., The Bear Hunter’s Son, “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.” (This poetic description may/may not have connections with my eighty-year-old friends who died in 2019, but I’ve always loved this image. Poem “High Flight” was written by John Gillespie Magee, 19 yr-old aviator who died shortly afterwards in a 1941 midair collision.)

I wrote first about Max Woody, who passed on Tuesday, January 2. (Read my comments in last week’s post, January 5) I had not seen the notice about Henry Seawell Brown, PhD, who died December 30 at age 88. His funeral service was at the Concord United Methodist Church, followed by private interment at the Brown Family Cemetery.

Two years ago, on December 28, I visited Henry at his lovely historic home in the North Cove community, and he told me stories of his family who had lived there for generations. (North of Marion) A few years before, they had celebrated the 200th anniversary of this Brown family farm. He showed me a copy of the original deed, signed and witnessed, “written with a turkey feather and painful to read.” He pointed to the name Romulus Walter Brown. He was the “ancestor to all of us, including the Gibbs, because one of his children, a sister to my Granddad, married Harrison Gibbs.”

“Romulus Walter was in the Civil War as a cavalry man. His father John Seawell worked a lot, kind of got out of farming.” Henry showed me a bill of sale for a sleigh that John S. Brown had bought from his father Samuel for $4,000 in 1855. Also he bought “a fine riding horse for his son because Romulus was going to be inducted into the Confederate Army. The horse was shipped up from Texas and called Star of the West.” Romulus was therefore able “to join up as a cavalry man because he had a horse, and he didn’t enter as a private; he entered as a corporal and stayed in until the war was over, 1865 I guess.”

Historic Carson House
FB Photo 12-3-2014

This NC State Senator John Seawell Brown cobbled together several tracts of land that included  property along Buck Creek and the historic Carson house, the first seat of government in the area, called Pleasant Gardens. John moved into the Carson House around 1880 and lived in it until he died in 1893. “At intervals they have a reenactment over at the Carson House,” where Henry later served on the Board of Directors. “We kept it in the Brown family until 1910, and then it was bought by a Morris family” of Marion.

All together, Samuel and John S. and Romulus acquired lots of land. The Browns owned the whole valley, 2660 acres, both sides of the road because 221 wasn’t there until the 1920s. “The road was over there next to Linville Mountain.” (The old folks did not want to take up good farmland with a road. ‘No, put it over by the hill where it’s rocky. We want to grow corn on this.’) The Brown farm started about three miles past the Baxter plant location today, all the way up the foothills to beyond the current golf course.

Henry said, “My Granddad inherited the original 300 acres that their ancestors bought from a Joseph Wilson. The Wilsons entered and claimed this land back in 1700 something. This was the son of the original man who claimed it, and he then sold it to Daniel Brown, 300 acres for $920. That was a lot of money in those days. The house that Samuel built in the 1800s was destroyed in the 1916 flood. “Every generation of Browns has a bunch of Sams. There’s a Big Sam, a Little Sam, a crippled Sammy, also ole froze face Sam.”

Postcard to Mrs. Henry Seawall Brown Garden City NC from North Cove (Ashford) December 1897

“When my grandfather, Henry Seawell, got married, he went over to Buck Creek to farm on John S. land. Romulus stayed and worked this land in North Cove. Granddad’s wife was only eighteen, and when their first child died the first year, she was devastated. Romulus came to his son, called Seawell, and said, “I’m going to close down the distillery; it might have been a sin. It could have been a punishment to cause your child to die, a punishment for having it, so I’m going to close it down. So he took down his still long before the turn of the century.” He also took down the store that was with it where he sold whiskey. Seawell and his wife, Mary Jane, moved back to the North Cove land, back near her people, the English family farther up the mountain. And Romulus went to the Pleasant Gardens property where he lived out his life and is buried with his father John S. at the Brown Cemetery at the top of the wooded hill on Hiway 80. (near Pete’s old house) Romulus died in 1905, but his wife Delia Bobbitt Brown lived on to manage his estate.

Granddad did not tear down the mill. “Sometime before 1900 the mill burned. The guy was convicted; he was mostly blind, a McCall, and one snowy night he got out and burned Grandfather Brown’s mill. And then went back home. And they traced his tracks going and coming. He finally admitted, “Yeah, I did it.” He had been in competition with (the Browns) for the grain to grind for people. We “didn’t press charges. I think Romulus said, ‘Well, he’s a neighbor. We’ve gotta live with him. I just want everyone to know who burned their mill. That’s all I want.’ But it was rebuilt by my grandfather.”

Around 1905, the Clinchfield railroad came through the North Cove property and “offered a nice price to buy the right of way for about a mile.” The Browns were able to capitalize by selling “timber as well as foodstuffs to the construction outfit.” Henry showed me photos of the camp, with its mule barns, commissary, clinic, bunkhouses, and engineer’s office. There were about 400 people living there between 1905-1908. “They had a bakery, a steam plant, a water pump to make steam so they could drill through the rocks and all.” (I wonder if any of this had influence on Henry’s vocation. He got his Master of Science in Geology in 1954 and Doctor of Philosophy in geology and geochemistry in 1968. His obituary at Westmoreland gives his long list of credentials.)

“When the railroad crew moved out, Granddad decided to replace the old house since he had the money. Well, he got the new one almost up with rafters and siding and everything, without roof, and the flood of 1916 came and got into the old house and the new one. So he pulled it back down and moved the home location up the hill.” Where it is today.

Henry Seawall Brown Homestead in 1903 with extended family gathered around including the English neighbors

“My dad said he was about ten or twelve when the flood came in July, 1916. The railroad had rechanneled the creek away from a sharp bend so they wouldn’t have to build two bridges.” The garden had a picket fence around it, and when they heard the fence fall, they knew the creek had over run its banks and was coming to get them. “Granddad said, “Let’s get out.” And they went up to a corn crib that was a little bit farther away from the creek, and on higher ground, and spent the rest of the night there. “My grandmother was gross with her last child; he was born in 1916.” ( I am operating with Henry’s recorded interview, and my academic friend said “gross” which means “evident” or “obvious” in archaic language, according to Webster. I’m sure she was beautiful.) The mill had been rebuilt by that time, and the flood did get into it but did not destroy it.

“The flood took a lot of topsoil off the mountains…my Dad said before the flood the upland where the house was placed and back toward Honeycutt Mtn was what they farmed. Now the upland is not as rich like down in here by the Catawba River.” “They said that after the 1916 flood you could go along what we call Morgan bottoms going out toward Old Fort the flat along the river and a lot of topsoil had been washed away, and you could find arrowheads, and there were just gangs of them. The 1940 flood came, and you couldn’t find any; they had been covered back up.”

I told Henry I had seen the effects of the 1940 flood in a photo of the temporary lake between the Carson House down to the Hilton pottery shed. Of course, he knew the story. “Apparently the Buck Creek got up against the Carson House but people stayed to keep loose timber from backing up against the house and washing it away. The family had been sent across Buck Creek over on the other side, and they were told by those who stayed, ‘you’ll know we are still safe over here because we are going to put a light in the window.’ Well, in the middle of the night the kerosene ran out, and the folks who were keeping a vigil thought the house was gone. But it wasn’t.”

(In 1916)”The old road was still over there (by the mountain); it went all the way from Marion, as you come out of Marion take a sharp left and go out toward Pleasant Gardens on 70. Hiway 221 used to be down the river just a little piece over an iron bridge that you had to go down a little hill to get to it. You went down to Marion across the little branch on the left side next to the mountain. But it was actually abandoned after about a mile up the road. That’s where the First Methodist Church was but they decided okay we’ve got another road coming through so we’ll stop the road here. And if you go up the road, you’ll turn into now 221. I remember when 221 was gravel, a lot of mud and ruts. It went through the middle of everybody’s farm.”

Henry showed me a picture of his mother who was a Daniels, raised up on Jonas Ridge. “Dad first saw her when her father was a construction man who built railroads in the Great Smokies when they were first logging them out. Around WWI, (local workers) were coming back home and it was winter, and the Daniels had to get out here and walk up the mountain to Jonas Ridge. By the time they got to our place, the rest of their family had come down and built a big fire so they all got warm and walked up the mountain” together.

Henry and his wife Wilda bought the family homestead along with some around it from his Aunt Bea in 1965. There was no heat or running water, and the elderly lady was staying with her brothers and sisters during the night, returning home during the day.

Henry lived a totally different lifestyle from most farmer’s children today. They were isolated in North Cove, protected by a close community, most of them relatives. But also isolated from worldly temptations and other lifestyles. “I don’t think I was in Marion more than six times before I got grown. I had all kinds of family around me and a church up the road. When my dad was growing up, he and Uncle Dewey and maybe my Granddad, hitched a team to a wagon and they’d go to town. They’d leave early in the morning, go down the old Linville Highway, get into Marion, park behind the courthouse, do their shopping or trading. They would come back. By the time they got half way, it was night so they camped out and come on home the next day. So going to town was a two-day trip.”

Henry showed me a photo: “This car was driven by one of Granddad’s grandsons out to the state of Washington. My Uncle Hud married a girl from Nebo, a Parks, who had family out there that was going to give them a farm (in Washington). But they got homesick and came on back.”

I wanted to share some of Henry’s memories. They seem to represent his life more than statistics and a list of achievements of which he had many. Henry Seawell Brown valued his family, and he will be missed by them and an entire community.

The current Brown cemetery is located on Brown property in North Cove, close to the fire station.

 

Copyright @ 2019 Georgia Wilson

 

 

 

 

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Story Brake for Another Local Funeral: Sixth Generation Chairmaker

Last week, at the age of 89, local legend Max Woody passed on.

I met Max when I was writing  The Bear Hunter’s Son about his former schoolmate and neighbor Pete Gibbs. They both lived and worked in the Pleasant Gardens community all their lives in Marion, NC. Pete’s family owned the Lake Tahoma Steakhouse in the North part of the county where he had lived until he passed in 2017 shortly after his biography came out. This restaurant became another culinary landmark as Little Sienna Restaurant at the corner of US 70 and NC 80 running up the mountain. The sturdy renovated building recently acquired new owners for a coffee shop downstairs and a place for parties in the large room upstairs that used to handle local bear suppers.

Down the street, Max had opened in 1962 a store for his fast-becoming world famous handcrafted rocking chairs and stools, but his original location remained open on US 221 North until fairly recently. He left a note on the door advising friends/customers where he could be found.

Max was also a native son of McDowell County. He told me, “We were very poor. My dad got crippled in a railroad accident, and just before I was born, they lost their home and car and everything they owned. My dad was in a brace and walking on crutches; we got away from there with just a mule and a wagon. They did. I got born a short time after that and the Depression hit. So we grew up tough. We had a garden and grew everything we ate. Have you every ate a fried squash bloom? They are delicious. We used to eat them when I was a little boy. The male bloom does not produce a squash; it grows on a long stem and has a long pretty bloom about so big (2″), and you can pull those blooms and dip them in cream or butter or whatever and meal and fry them. And they are delicious.”

He told me of his friendship with Irina Wall who launched an Italian menu at Lake Tahoma Steakhouse when Pete’s father died. The Little Sienna big city fare was also popular, but Max had a special palette based on his childhood. Yes, he had enjoyed the country buffet at the Steakhouse, and Pete’s ranch dressing on the salad bar, but he bragged about the squash blooms that Irina dipped in batter and deep fried, just as she did slices of bell pepper. And also dandelions. Max told her that was the food he ate when he was a child, when things were Depression tough. He ate pumpkin blooms, too, and day lilly blooms. (We didn’t have that in Minnesota. But we did have Lefse and Lutefisk, the odor of which might offend those other than Norwegians)

According to Mike Conley’s article about him in the McDowell News, “A Craftsman Now Rests: Master Chairmaker Max Woody dies at 89,” Max’s great-grandfather Arthur was featured in the classic book about mountain culture “Cabin in the Laurel.”

This legacy seemed to be important to him as Max told me about mountain history that started in Rabun Gap, Georgia when a schoolteacher “tried to cram grammar down the mountain kids.” Since that didn’t work, “they started studying the culture of the mountain people, doing little stories on them. Well, they incorporated some of these stories in a magazine, and they called it Foxfire, and it was about the old ways of doin’ things, about dressin’ hogs and planting by the signs. You know old mountain people have always got to plant something on Good Friday! Mountain moonshining, hog killing, all kinds of mysteries, home remedies,” and “they bought land there in Mountain City, and they started puttin’ up ol’ log cabins on it where old dilapidated houses had been, and made a village. That book they named Foxfire, not knowing there would be another; now there’s thirteen of them. The (first) book sold I forgot how many hundreds of copies.” Max said he also sold Foxfire books at his store, but “you can buy on Amazon or used for less” than he sells them.

After this little commercial, Max continued his Foxfire story. “They put up the cabins where we can stay the weekend, and they bring people from all over the world and they learn by doing. It got to be a very, very wealthy program, and at the height of its popularity, the newspaper came out one morning that the founder (Eliot Wigginton) was guilty of molesting some of his students. And it took a tailspin.” Max said because of “several good mountain people” that “worked 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, it is still a fine program. It’s how to do things.” (Under Wigginton’s name, Wikipedia substantiates this report and mentions there are also special collections of stories published such as: The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cooking and A Foxfire Christmas. In addition, several collections of mountain music were released.)

Max was an avid musician. Reported by Conley’s article in the local newspaper, “Old Fort Mountain Music got its start when friends and fellow musicians would gather in his shop on US 70 West” (where he played fiddle.) “And he started another Friday night music program which was located in the building across the road from his chair shop.”

Max said his “mother’s people were from Haywood County; they were woodworkers and farmers and lived like the Woodys did. They were Arringtons. I got a dose of it from both sides. I made my mother’s casket, and I made one for a friend of mine, made out of oak and put together with locust pegs. And he was a doctor of philosophy, and he was so highly intellectual that he was an atheist. He said if anything cannot be scientifically proven, if there’s no DNA there, …then it’s not necessarily true. I made his casket, and I had a hard time making it, cause the New Testament tells that…” (Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.)

“I made anther one for a friend of mine who had a sawmill, and he sawed his own lumber. He was separated from his wife, and he brought the lumber to me, and I made the casket. When he died, his widow didn’t feel like she ought to pay for his casket, and I couldn’t repossess it, so we (just) buried him.”

As I was leaving his store on Hiway 70, Max said, “If you come back next week, I’ll have you a book to read about me. The lady that did the book was a poet and a writer, and I met her at a gathering at Turtle Island, a big old compound over near Boone. It’s called ‘Legacy in Wood.’ As a result of that, I have won the North Carolina Heritage Award, I guess it is, this year. It’s called the Hudson Brown Award. Have you ever heard of it? I haven’t either, but they’re coming to McDowell next month. It’s a well-written story.”

Of course I went back and bought his book. And later stopped by again to give him the book I wrote about Pete Gibbs so they would have more tales to swap. They were only a couple miles from each other and Max visited his old friend occasionally, since Pete was homebound.

On the back cover of The Bear Hunter’s Son, I quoted Max from his book: “You just never know when you are going to touch someone’s life for the good. If you can change one person’s life, the effort is worthwhile.”

A good man surely gone to his reward.

Copyright @2019 Georgia Wilson

 

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Episode 22: The Purposeful Life of Mary Sue Hogan Dillard

Thanks to my Dysartsville friend Mary Sue, I am back to writing again. I love to put words together and have had a passion to investigate my neighbors history in this community where I have lived only ten years. I am still a newcomer to some whose families settled here in the Revolutionary War. Mary Sue was a newcomer also, she moved here with her family in the 1930’s during the Depression. (See Episode #4: Learning Dysartsville). I had several opportunities to talk with her about the neighborhood, and she loved to share her stories. My friend went to her reward for a life well lived for 88 years. Her standing-room only farewell at the Beam Funeral Home in Marion was held on December 15, 2018. But she left thousands of memories that will be remembered for ages. Composing my notes of our conversations together has broken my lethargic slump, and I am back at the computer telling tales.

Mary Sue retired as a CNA for J. Iverson Riddle in Morganton and was a founding member of Dysartsville Volunteer Fire Department where she served for over twenty years. The Fire Department covered her casket with their flag and escorted her to a final resting place with honorary pallbearers. Along with other activities, she had been actively involved with the youth in the community, four years as a 4H leader and two years as a Boy Scout leader.

Which brings me to our conversation in July of 2016 at her daughter Amelia’s home. I asked her what she knew about the Mecklenberg County Boy Scout property at the corner of Vein Mountain Rd and US Hiway 226. Every summer it opens for hundreds of campers from the Charlotte area.

Mary Sue did not disappoint. “It used to be the old J.D. Blanton farm.”

I had written several times on this blog about Mr. Blanton, but just to make sure, I asked, “Is that the Blanton that had the grocery store in Marion, and the department store?” His family lived in the gorgeous white antebellum home that is now a commercial business next to the post office on Main Street.

“He had everything. He used to own Marion.” Mary Sue went on to tell me her relationship with the Albert family who purchased the farm. The Alberts were from Ohio, on their way to Florida. They had to stay all night in Marion and talked to a realtor who took them down here to Dysartsville to “show you this before you go on,” said Mary Sue. “Mr. Albert wanted cattle. Well, he got the cattle and put ’em in there, and he went back to Ohio to live, and left her (his wife) here with the cattle.” Mary Sue pointed out that in that day, phone service had not come to Dysartsville, so Mrs. Albert had to drive to Marion or Rutherfordton to order her feed. Dorothea Albert was really alone in an old house in a foreign country, so to speak. (An earlier post describes her, as told by her neighbor across the street, Mike Allison.)

Evidently, Dorothea eventually got some help because the next part of Mary Sue’s story was about her driving down from Ohio with her youngest child with special needs, who would play with Amelia. They both enjoyed dancing. Dorothea would have two more children, a son who practiced medicine in Virginia, and another daughter who became a nurse.

After Rudolph Albert died, his wife stayed on at the farm.When Amelia grew up, she and Mary Sue would drive Mrs. Albert to Ohio to visit her siblings. Her brother Carl had a big farm, and they would stay there. After the Albert farm was sold, Dorothea lived in some apartment in Marion, but her daughter had a disease “that in the winter you could see your bones, so she had to go to a warm place.” So Dorothea soon moved to Florida with her daughter. Mary Sue kept up correspondence with her, sharing the happenings of the Dysartsville community.

In 2007, Dorothea passed away at age 100. Her older daughter Barbara had already passed at age 60. Her younger daughter Ursula, called Sue, sent Mary Sue an announcement and a note that she would cover airfare if Amelia couldn’t drive her up for the funeral. It was typical of Mary Sue to tell Amelia she was going to the funeral, even though Amelia’s son was getting married and she had more than enough to do. But Amelia is her mama’s daughter. When she saw Mary Sue had rented a van to drive to Ohio, she said, “You’re not going to go to the wedding?” Mary Sue said, “No, I’ll see them from now on. I’m going to Ohio. Will you go with me or not?” She told me, “I was to foller the directions that they said and then go to the motel where they was all staying at.”

Amelia was right there, and always has been. Mary Sue said that year the Albert family “couldn’t do enough for us.” But when they went into the motel, “there was a big crowd standin’ there, and we stood over to the back like, and I said, “There’s Rudolph.” (The son.) “And he turned around and saw me, and he grabbed us by the arms and went down the hallway with us and took us to the room right beside of theirs. And I told Amelia she better go up there with the tag number so they wouldn’t tow that car off.” And the lady at the check in counter said, “you’re the two that they grabbed and run down the hallway with? I knew they had a room for somebody but I didn’t know who.” These dignitaries from Dysartsville impressed the locals in Akron. Dorothea’s family also took them out for dinner at a restaurant where they rented the upstairs. And of course provided their breakfast before the Dillards started home. Treated them like family.

Although Mary Sue was impressed with the cemetery, describing the “tomb rock” in the center of four plots for the remains of eight people, all cremated, she didn’t remember anything else about visiting Ohio.

Since then, Ursula has also died. She had not told Mary Sue how sick she was, but Mary Sue corresponded with Ursula’s daughter in Ohio, who had gone down to Florida to bring her mother back home. Another good daughter like Amelia, she also packed up her daddy’s things and moved him to Ohio to live with her. Since this Albert daughter is still working, she had to put him in a home when he became too ill to stay alone.

Back to the Scout property. I thought the Alberts sold it to the Boy Scouts but Mary Sue was sure there was another owner between them. (Since then I have been told that Jack Morris owned it) Mary Sue could remember the big dances they held out there, and the watershed built on the property. “They damned up the road to make the watershed so it would have enough water during the droughts.”

Mary Sue described a long road that goes far into the property and said it’s interesting to go over there and see the things they’ve built, ‘to slide down on and everything.” One day she stopped at the Baptist Church because there was a car “settin’ there, and I thought mayabe he needed help, so I pulled in and asked him if he was all right.” He said he was just waiting to go over to the Boy Scout place where they were going to have a big cookout. “And so we talked awhile, and he says ‘Come on over and visit. That’s a nice guy over there. He’ll show you around’.” So she went and was impressed. Especially since one day at the Fire Department, someone said there were 500 kids over there, and they couldn’t be heard. Mary Sue said, “The first scoutmaster, he come to the community club, he come to the Fire Dept, he went to the church, and he said that was their rules or something, you had to belong to everything in the community. But these others don’t. Now the second one who was there, he belonged to the Fire Department. He done that electrician work, down where that car garage is, that used to be the Fire Department. (226 Tire) But he was…he liked boys instead of a woman. He didn’t have no wife and all. They should have thought of something but they didn’t, and he killed two boys because they had told about him. And they was lookin’ everywhere for ’em, and they found them out behind a building, buried.”

“They were probably teenagers, but they was liking the money he give them. But he found out, and he had told them he what he would do if they told it on him.” “Then they had court and you know who he blamed it on? His mother. She was an alcoholic and didn’t raise him. But he was in for life.”

I was not totally shocked by this story because I had heard it a couple times already. Still a sad, gruesome tale, no matter the setting. These are just some of our conversations; she loved to visit with everyone. The last time I went to her house, I took my dog’s bed and her food because Zion was no longer in need of anything I could give her. Mary Sue had adopted a stray dog. She was always looking to help others, even though she was wobbly on her feet. She continually put her cane/walker to the side so she could use both hands to give to others, like the kids she handed out sweets to. Pastor Don Morrison called her “the sweet lady,” who enjoyed life and enjoyed seeing all the folks at the Dysartsville Food Pantry where she had volunteered for the last eight years. Always with a big smile and a friendly word for everyone.

At the recent neighborhood celebration of her life, Mary Sue’s nephew played his guitar and dedicated an 1880’s song to her, “I’m Just a Poor Wayfarin’ Stranger.’ After he introduced himself, he adjusted his guitar, saying he could hear her telling him to do it right or sit down. Pastor Stephen Painter said she was faithful and honest. “She’d tell you what she was thinking.” And sometimes it was painful. But most importantly, he said, “And she knew when she closed her eyes that last time, she would see Jesus when she opened them again.”

In my opinion, Mary Sue did not have an envious or self-serving heart that elevated herself above others. She may have acted quietly, some might say meekly, but she knew she was a child of the King, and did not suffer foes weakly. Mary Sue made excellent use of her time here in Dysartsville, and I will miss her.

 

Copyright @2018 Georgia Wilson

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Episode 21: Community Pride

After the world wars, Americans all over the country settled down to the business of living again without fear. Then we lost another 55,000 Americans in Korea, according to https://www.britannica.com/event/Korean-War, and perhaps we were just plain tired of minding other people’s business. (Unfortunately we are back to that scene with the same bad actors. Maybe nothing has really changed. But there comes a time when you yearn for the peace to concentrate on your own house and backyard.)

In a 1955 scrapbook Linda Yutzy unearthed from the Dysartsville community club, there is a newspaper article, with no date or byline. “Dysartsville is one of the communities that has lain dormant a great many years. Only in the past few years has it begun to wake up, look about, and see what can be done. Now residents of that community are working hard to improve themselves, their homes, churches, roads, and school.”

Here are a few examples of projects cited: “Mr. and Mrs. T.J. Shepard have built a new house, which Shepard wired for electricity. Their old house was about 100 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Jolley Duncan have remodeled their house, and underpinned it. Claude Allison has built a pump house, which will also house Mrs. Allison’s laundry. Mrs. John Huskins has filled her freezer full of foods. The Clay McIntoshes have added a gas stove and water heater. Mrs. McIntosh canned food by a Home Demonstration food budget.” Local news worthy of sharing. Early Facebook posting.

“Many improvements have been made in the school. The grade A lunchroom has new tables and chairs. Mrs. J.E. Conner prepares and serves the food to approximately 100 children, out of 120 enrolled. She not only prepares and serves the food, but she is also the dishwasher, and “clean-up lady.” “The kitchen and lunchroom are both in one room. One plan for the school is to build a separate kitchen for the lunchroom. The whole school is being repainted, and new windows put in. The library which was once in a dark, dungeon-like room is now in a large room with new chairs, tables, and bookcases. They also have new books.”

Dysartsville School 1955

“The school has new water fountains, and new swings for the playground.” “Plans are being made to plant shrubbery on the playground and around the school to enhance its looks. Principal G.L. Byrd is working to change the course of the driveway so it will not cross the playground.” Excellent idea! Of course most kids walked to school. Most families had only one car.

“Dysartsville Community is entering the Rural Community Development Program contest of Western North Carolina. The aim of the whole program is to make the communities better places to live. Projects range from beautification through recreation, rehabilitation of public buildings, and church improvement programs.

Jolley Duncan at home in 1955

 

There was also a sample notice from the US Post Office to Rural Route No. 1 residents to conform to the regulations of a mailbox so the carrier “does not have to dismount from his conveyance.” It had to be firmly planted, level, and waterproof at a certain height and distance from the road on the right-hand side of the road and facing the road with the correct house number. And it had to be white with “neat black letter about 1 inch in height.”

And then came the paragraph I had to reread and again wrap my head around the technological progress we take for granted. “Residents of Dysartsville are working hard to get the telephones in the community. They are hoping to get them soon.” How can our kids possibly relate to the past if they don’t read real history. We are the sum of our experiences. And having a telephone in 1955 was a foreign experience for kids.No phones? How did people communicate?

I found out talking to Pat Allison Arrowood. In 1959, she was the last bride to be married in the old Dysartsville Baptist Church. She married her Glenwood high school sweetheart Ray Dean Arrowood who lived on family property on Brackett Town Road. Pat’s grandfather, Benjamin Taylor Daves, was the postman for the Vein Mountain post office (Deming post office when it was a town. Pat and Ray live directly across the street from Nora Worthen, sister to Brice Sprouse whose story I told in the Brackett Town Saga Part 17 Brother Larry’s Turn to Tell Tales). The school teacher for Vein Mountain lived in Dysartsville, and was Pat’s cousin, Inez Daves. “When grandfather came to bring the mail, he would bring her to work every morning, leave her at the schoolhouse, and then when he come back to deliver the mail in the afternoon, he’d pick her up and take her back home. But it was funny, you got the mail the same day. “Everybody mailed everybody, and all they did was put their name on the outside. I collect postcards, and I love the way they addressed the card like Aunt So-and-So. And they spelled the town Dysortsville,” as they pronounced it.

 

Copyright @2018 Georgia Wilson

 

 

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Episode 20: 40th Daves Reunion

This is what I learned at the Daves reunion at Denton Chapel last May: The Daves extended family is extremely hospitable, and welcomed me and a couple other strays to their dinner table.

And they are very proud of their heritage. I met the oldest Daves descendent in attendance, Evelyn Daves Robinson, 91, whose father was Herbert Columbus Daves, married 2x???, a brother to Columbus Mills Daves, both descended from Dr. Gilbert ??. Original generation was Lorenzo Dow Daves from Mountain Home, NC, Sunshine.

Evelyn’s half sister Ruby Clodfelter held the matriarch family title for several years until she died last summer at age 111 at Grace Ridge in Morganton. Ruby had a different mother.

James Johnston was the father of Lorenzo Dow Daves whose unmarried mother Elizabeth “Betsy” Daves was the sister of Samuel Daves who raised Lorenzo. Johnston was the born in 1790, son of a Revolutionary War soldier Frederick Johnston and wife Eda. This was recent news because Lorenzo believed Samuel and his wife were his parents. Elizabeth’s and Samuel’s father was Goodman Daves.

Dr. W.W. Gilbert served in the Civil War. When he mustered out, he returned to doctor wounded soldiers until the war was over. Evelyn quoted her mother as saying, “His feet were frostbitten from delivering babies in and near Dysartsville. In 1878, an ad in The Blue Ridge Blade of Morganton, NC, advises readers to contact Dr. W.W. Gilbert of Brindletown, in Burke County, and for one dollar they will receive a Diptheria cure he discovered. A “certain, safe and never failing remedy, it is mild and pleasant to the taste. Simple and mild as cold water.” “If sent by mail, ten cents extra must be sent with the order to prepay postage. Each package is accompanied with full and plain directions and instructions for managing the patient. Try it. It will prove a bless to your children. It is no humbug.”

Dr. Columbus Mills, was a leader involved in the structuring of Polk County, and for whom the county seat was named. He was Surgeon with the 16th Regiment and enlisted May 20, 1861. The name of the town was changed on Feb 6, 1891, to Tryon, according to Sketches of Polk Co. History, 1959, by Sadie Patton. Columbus M. Mills was appointed postmaster in 1893.

Herbert Columbus Daves married Winnie Ethel Rudisill while he worked away from home at a state hospital. He sent a dollar home with his letter that said, “I can’t do much work when an all day like this comes (raining). We will wax the floor in the dance hall and clean up the bean room. This is about all only to sit in the dry and wait for the time to pass. I enjoyed my visit home and the good things you had to eat. I may try it again sometime soon but I believe I told you I would not be back again Sunday. It is my day to work. I hope to see you the night before Xmas. You see if you can make arrangements for someone to go for a doctor.” Evelyn shared this letter between her parents. I’m not sure if this was the time when her mother Winnie was gored by a bull, and Grandmother Rudisill came from Lincoln County to take care of her. In the 1930 Census, Winnie Evelyn was three years old, and her sister Gladys Ethel was six. There was also a baby under the age of one, besides four other children. It would have been a good time for grandma to show up.

Evelyn’s nephew in Texas was not at the reunion, but Herbert Evan Daves celebrated his 80th birthday last year and sent his regards.

Another younger part of the clan made news in Virginia, according to the local News Herald. Retired teacher-coach Wilton Daves was a talented baseball pitcher at Gardner-Webb Junior College and Lenoir-Rhyne in the late 1950s. His grandson, Will, is now making his mark as a pitcher on a state championship high school team in Virginia. Will’s daddy, Chris Daves, went to high school in McDowell county and became a FBI agent. Chris was on the second floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower on September 11, 2001 when the first plane hit. The family was located close to Quantico, FBI headquarters, but recently moved to the Richmond area to be close to a baseball training area for their two sons.

There was mention of Elbert Poe Denten at the reunion and the gentleman next to me did not recognize the name. Probably because Elbert, called “Poe” by his friends, and his wife Carrah Maude Daves did not have children to carry on the name. I had already made a note about him because my friend Pat Allison had mentioned “Uncle Poe” but did not remember how he was related. I found a reference to him in Marion-McDowell Sesquicentennial, pg. 170. Elbert Poe was born in 1872, the son of the Rev. John Robert (JR) Denton and Susan Cowan. The Rev Denton was a Baptist minister and also pulled people’s teeth. He gave up farming early and also his job at his brother’s furniture store in Charlotte and married Carrrah Maude Daves in 1911. They were both born in Dysartsville. Carrah was the daughter of Columbus Mills Daves and Cynthia Lauranah Devinny. Her paternal grandparents were Lorenzo Dow Daves and Emilie Taylor, which made her the sister…attended the impressive Round Hill Academy

There are Daves all over the place, not just in Dysartsville.

 

Copyright @2018 Georgia Wilson

 

 

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Episode 19: More Storytellers

Last summer, I talked with Pat Allison Arrowood whose Daves family homeplace was behind the old Dysartsville Baptist Church. “My Mom would go out to the ‘farm’ to visit.”Pat was born in Marion, but lived in Morganton for a few years. “My Dad’s folks were from Old Fort, Marion and Morganton. Daddy worked for Great Lakes Carbon Company (in Morganton), and in 1944, we moved to Winston Salem because they were working on the carbon tips of the bombs, and so he had to go…Claude Benjamin Allison was in management so he had to be relocated to Winston-Salem. When we moved back to Morganton, we had telephones, electricity, appliances, electric washing machines; we lived down Hiway 70 right by the Great Lakes plant. There was a railroad between our house and the highway, so we had to come off the highway, and cross the railroad tracks to get to our house. We could hear the trains when they stopped for water at Glen Alpine up the mountain. You could hear them, but you couldn’t see them until they got to the straight. Well, my sister was about two or three, and one day Mama missed Judy, and told me, “Go check the railroad track.” I went flying to the tracks, and I saw her settin’ down, playing in the gravel right in the middle of the tracks.” Then Pat heard the train. “I was lookin’ like 1000 yards, so far away from her, no way in the world I could get there fast enough to get her before the train went by. I just stopped. I just stood there and Mama caught up to me. When Mama stopped, she didn’t see her and the train rolled past.  “Judy was on the railroad track, Mama.” After the train went by, there was a man standing with Judy in his arms. He had been driving down the highway, had seen the train comin’, had seen her on the tracks and stopped to grab her. Mama was pregnant with my brother Steve, and she said, ‘I can’t take it, I can’t raise a family in this town. I’ve got to get out of here.’

“We were already working on the house in Dysartsville. It was all torn up, but Mama said, ‘I’m moving, we’re getting out of here.’ There was no power whatsoever out there, no water source except a spring and a branch, but we moved out of our house that had telephones and electricity. I was the oldest of six children, but at the time there was only three of us. Me, Mike and Judy.

I was in the fourth grade, going into fifth, and I had scarlet fever which turned into rheumatic fever and St. Vivessses Dance. It’s called Chorea, a mixture. The rheumatic fever works on the heart, and the St. Vivesses Dance works on the nerves. We were right in the Korean War, and the doctor would say, ‘You’ve won the battle. You beat Chorea.’ I couldn’t do anything for about a month and a half. I was just layin’ there. I missed three months of school, but my teacher told my mama and daddy, ‘If you would let her live with me, I will keep her and tutor her in the evening.’ She was single. So she did that for three months. I didn’t move to Dysartsville until summer (1950) when school was out. After that, me and my brother went to the Dysartsville school.”

Pat’s brother Mike Allison told me about their father working second shift at the National Carbon defense plant “where graphite was made secretly for the centrifugal reactor used to enrich uranium at the facility in Oak Ridge. There were a dozen women lined up on stools in front of meters, and all they did for their part was to stare at these gauges.”

(Asheville writer Denise Kierman wrote an excellent book about this: The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WWII).

I will digress again because this thread reminds me of a story told by a feisty 97-year old, Ruth Brown of the Gilkey community. She was very proud of being one of those girls at Oak Ridge. Although she had no idea what the plant did or why the secrecy, she knew it was part of the war effort, and she knew how to follow orders. Her job was to keep any man from sneaking into the women’s dormitory at night. Once, and only once, her mettle was tested. She saw somebody in the morning shadows, and confronted him. His answers did not satisfy her, and she said “I’m gonna call security.” She ran back to her desk, the fellow in hot pursuit. When she picked up the receiver (some of you might have to look up a photo of a telephone), and turned to face him, this stranger pulled a gun on her. “I’m gonna shoot you if you don’t hang up.” The intimidation made Ruth really angry. Of all the nerve! She said, “Fire away. I’m callin’ the cops.” The man fled the building. After the war, Ruth taught school for 46 years in Rutherford County. Before her 99th birthday, she told me that the longer she lived, the more she realized that the most important thing was the people she knew. She said, “The other things made no difference. They don’t have meaning.” When I attended her funeral, I heard many stories from devoted students who came from all over to pay their respects to the tough lady who challenged them to do their best.

Now, returning to Mike Allison’s story in medias res: when his father wore a badge with his photo at the Carbon defense plant. Claude Allison said that no knives or even nail clippers were allowed at work. One night, security called him over and pretended a casual conversation. Embedded in the friendly chatter was a trick question. One of the guards asked to borrow his nail clippers. He didn’t have one. Later on, the other guard asked if he had a knife. Dad said no, he followed the rules. He found out later that somebody else did not; a gauge had been tampered with. There were reasons for strict security.

The Allisons moved into the Daves homeplace which had been built by Forest Brackett around 1890. (See Brackett Town Saga) Brackett sold the house and surrounding acreage to Mike’s grandfather Benjamin Taylor Daves. When Mike was a youngster, the house was owned by a cousin. There were many Daves aunts and uncles because Grandfather married three times. The last time was when he was very old. He married a young woman, Cordia Diademma (Demer) Suttles, born about 1895, one of nine kids, who left him with their baby Zonia Virginia Daves when she went to town and never returned. Little is known or told about her, unless I learn something this weekend at the Daves reunion. (According to ancestry.com, Zonia  was born a hundred years ago on May 14, 1918, died March 23, 1995, and was buried in the Dysartsville Baptist Church cemetery.) Mike’s grandfather took care of Zonia and willed the homeplace to her. Zonia worked at the Marion hosiery mill and took care of her father until he died. She raised six children there after she married Claude Benjamin Allison of Old Fort.

Today, Mike and Brenda Allison are happily retired in the old homeplace that he has remodeled. Their living room has the original stone fireplace on one wall.

 

Copyright@2018 Georgia Wilson

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Episode 18: One Oldtimer’s Story

In the last Dysartsville episode, I introduced you to Romulus Jolley Duncan, age 96, who moved from Spruce Pine to Dysartsville to Mocksville, NC, and back to Dysartsville. Not a lot of travel for someone who had served in WWII. In 2017, I visited Jolley at his room in a NC nursing home and asked when he bought the property that made him a Dysartsville neighbor. “That’s been too long ago; my poor old brain.”

(Since couldn’t remember, I looked it up later.)

Romulus Jolley Duncan

He did remember serving in Europe. “I went to England, and from there on to the Continent. I wasn’t in on the invasion, and we sweated out going into Japan. Thank goodness they ended over there before I got out. I was head of field artillery. They had to have a little room to maneuver it around. We had 240 ml Howitzers; the barrel is about so big (12″). It was on a palletzer. Yeah, goodness, I’ve had quite a life, I’m tellin’ you.” (FYI: Wikipedia.org described this weapon as the most powerful weapon deployed by US field artillery in WWII. Nicknamed the “Black Dragon,” it was able to fire a 360# high explosive projectile 25,225 yards for destructive effectiveness against bridges, German tanks, and heavy concrete fortifications. They remained in US service until ammo stocks were depleted in the 1950s. Still used by Taiwan’s army.)

Jolley’s son, Ronnie, said, “We were both lucky. He got in about the time the war was ending, and I got in after high school, right as Vietnam ended a year or two later. I was in six years, but Dad was only in a couple. He got out in, what, (Dad) ’46?”

“About,” Jolley said. “Well I went to see my sister Margaret when I got out. She was graduating from Berea College (in Kentucky). First thing I knew I was enrolled. There was no good way to get to Berea. If you took the train, you’d get into Berea at 3 o’clock in the morning. I’d go into the men’s dormitory, the sittin’ room, and stretch out on the couch there until breakfast time. When things opened up, you’d do your business then.” Jolley studied Agriculture, Dairy Science. “I’d have loved to have a Grade A Dairy, but that takes money, and that was the one thing I didn’t have.”

“We had a class of veterans up there to come down. We saw those bottoms there (in the southeast corner of McDowell Co.) That’s more flat land than in all of Mitchell County. When I got out (of Berea) I worked for the dairy in Morganton, near the Deaf School.” Jolley remembers “the dairy on the top of the hill, where Western Piedmont is now.”

His son Ronnie said, “You can still see the big barn. Dysartsville used to have four or five dairies. Now they got one.” (Harold McKinney on 221 has the only dairy today, started in 1966.) “That and apple trees used to be around Dysartsville.” (E.L. Christy planted an apple orchard in 1965.)

Genevieve Tate Duncan
Died 12-8-93

Jolley’s future wife Genevieve went to college at Western NC, and so did Jolley until “they took all us boys into service.” She was from Grover, NC, south of Shelby, right on the state line in Cleveland County. “My sister Margaret taught piano at Belmont College, and Gen taught down there in the school, too.”

“I had a car after I finished Berea and had a job so I could pay for it. I bought me a brand new Plymouth Club Coupe. That’s what I had in my courting days. That was long distance courting. I was in Russell Springs, KY, and Gen was in Belmont, NC.” And they soon located to Dysartsville and became involved with the community.

Genevieve wrote articles for the local newspaper in 1955 reporting the goings on in the community: “Scout Troop Formed: A group of interested people met at the Dysartsville School Monday night to organize a Boy Scout Troop. Several men from other troops from the county met with the group and a number of scouts met with them. Claude Allison was elected scoutmaster; Jolley Duncan, assistant; and Clay McIntosh, committee chairman. Twenty-two boys from Dysartsville were present. Refreshments were served.”

Other notices recorded visits from relatives: “Mr. and Mrs. Jolley Duncan spent Sunday with Mr. and Mrs. Rom Duncan of Spruce Pine.”

“Dysartsville PTA held its final meeting Thursday night in the school auditorium. There was a record attendance at the meeting. The first grade gave a play, “The Couple in the Shoe,” under the direction of Mrs. Jolley Duncan. After the play, the group elected officers for the coming year. They are: President, Mrs. Cecil Hicks; Vice President, Mrs. Glenn Shepherd; Secretary, Mrs. John Huskins; Treasurer, Mrs. Claude Allison.”

In a later clipping: “Mrs. Lona Laughridge, Miss Maude Cowan, and Mrs. R.J. Duncan attended the annual Western North Carolina Conference of the WSCS at Lake Junaluska last Thursday. The WSCS of the Trinity Methodist Church held its June meeting last Monday night at the home of Mrs. Glenn Shepherd with nine members present. Mrs. R.J. Duncan, president, presided over the business section. The program, “Lasting Peace and Security for All” was presented by Mrs. Lona Laughridge. Refreshments were served.”

Later on that year: “The members of the Trinity Methodist Church voted Sunday to build a new church. Serving on the building committee are Mrs. Lona Laughridge, Ernest Christy, R.J. Duncan, Fred Guffey, Cecil Hicks, and W.S. Greene.”

And there were numerous tidbits like: “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Laughridge of Old Fort and daughter Louise of Long Island, N.Y., visited last week with Mr. and Mrs. W.N. Laughridge.” “Pvt. Paul Toney of Camp Brook, AL, and Walter Toney of Baltimore, spent the weekend with Mr. and Mrs. Garney Toney.” “Mr. and Mrs. C.B. Allison and family visited Mr. and Mrs. Rilie Allison of Old Fort on Sunday.”

I told Jolley that one of the neighbors I had interviewed last summer remembered his wife as “a most wonderful person.” Pat Allison Arrowood walked from home to the Duncan house (about 2 miles) to take piano lessons. Pat also mentioned that Genevieve Duncan was a Betty Crocker Cake Mix tester.

Ronnie said, “She taught lessons to me, and I wisht I had kept it up, but back then when you’re this tall, you say ‘that’s sissy stuff’.”

Jolly said, “Yeah, law, she taught piano lessons and made a good pound cake.”

His son enthusiastically added to that accolade. “And German chocolate, Good Lord! She was an excellent cook.”

Jolley remembered it differently. “She became a good cook. She couldn’t boil water when we got married. Her mother would rather she practiced her piano than help in the kitchen so she joined a club that talked about cookin’.”

When they first got married, Jolley and Genevieve lived in Russell Springs, KY, where he worked in a Veterans program of farm training. They spent “Saturday afternoons watching those big old ukes moving dirt,” north of Wolf Creek dam, near Jamestown. (Ukes were like big dump trucks.)

When Jolley and Genevieve moved to Mocksville in the early 60s, they adopted three children. Ronnie, adopted at age eight, was in the first grade when his dad shot his mom. His sister was four.  Another daughter, Carol, was adopted as a baby. They stayed in Mocksville until after the kids graduated high school.

Jolley’s dad moved to Dysartsville when he retired from the Post Office in Spruce Pine in the early 60s. Neighbor Mike Allison remembers Rom purchased a shell back behind the church cemetery. “The wood frame was set on blocks with sturdy corner posts and walls, and a roof, but no wiring or plumbing. Rom had to finish it out, like the Jim Walters homes.” Mike helped him build a septic tank. That’s what they were doing November 22, 1963, when President Kennedy was shot. “His hobby was showing beagles for which he had several trophies. He also had a silver coin collection from the 40s-50s back when coins had more precious metal (silver), like the Liberty half dollars.” After Rom died, the church bought the property for expansion and tore down the house.

Jolley Duncan at home in Dysartsville

Behind Rom, parallel to 221 and on the Dysartsville road, which may have been called Bridgewater at one time, the Duncans had 250 acres. Jolley said, “But now there’s about 180.” Rom ran about eighty head of cattle on it. Mike Allison remembers that Jolley pasteurized his own milk and would sell one to two cans a week. Jolley’s specialty was sweet potatoes, grown in his field across the road from his house. “I grew a crop and took ’em up to the cafeteria in the school at Spruce Pine and sold them.”

Hopper’s Creek 1960
Unknown photographer

When I looked up records at the Register of Deeds office, I noticed the decidedly ambivalent property description on a transfer of property in 1983 from Rom to Jolley. “Beginning on three pines and runs North 33 poles to a black gum; then North 88 1/2 West 51 poles to a post oak, thence North 9 1/4 East 12 poles to a buckeye; then North 25 East, etc …and I have no idea what a horn beam is…then North 79 East 216 poles to a pine (now down) then South 14 poles to a bunch of oaks (now down) then South 76 West 134 poles to a rock, formerly a post oak, then west crossing Hoppers Creek 180 poles to the beginning.” “Except about ten acres sold by W.L. Owens and wife to Ben Epley.” There were deeds for three more tracts, one of which had the exception “one acre sold to Hubert Barrier,” who built a house next door to the old farmhouse.

Aerial of 2000 farmhouse on Dysartsville Rd before restoration (Drive on right to Barriers’ house)

I was not surprised to see a document made in 2006 clarifying the boundary between the Duncans and one of their neighbors.

Jolley was happy to have visitors, but a good visitor knows when to leave. And it was lunch time in the home dining room. Before we said goodbye, I asked about a photo of Babe Ruth on the wall. Jolley said, “I became interested in ballgames his last few years. I just barely remember him. He was Mr. Baseball, and not another one like him.” His son describes Jolley as a baseball fan, and now he cheers for the Washington Nationals. “He doesn’t miss a game.”

And he reads a lot of books.

 

Copyright @ 2018 Georgia Wilson

 

 

 

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