June in Pigeon Roost

June in Pigeon Roost 2

The 1974 Winter Edition of the Foxfire Magazine contains a compilation of newspaper articles written by Harvey Miller. At the time of the magazine's publication Miller's weekly column had been around for sixty years and was till being published in the Tri-County News located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

1954

A white bird, observed a few weeks ago about one mile up Byrd Creek on Pigeon Roost, was identified as a robin. The bird, a female, is white except its breast, which is the color of all common robins. It associates with the robin family. Its song and hop are similar to the common robin. Harvey James Miller said he had learned there was a tendency among bird families to change color just as plants, insects and other living things do. Occasionally an albino bird can be found. Some birds, he said, have a tendency to be black, some melon color, and some red. He said there are also a few white quail, a few red and a few that are very dark in color. He said the changing of color also applies to other birds. The nest of the white robin has been found. It contained four eggs.

6/10/54

The Rev. J.H. Arrowood of Pigeon Roost area, recalls seeing and hearing a crowing red bird in the Pigeon Roost area about 60 years ago, but does not recall ever seeing a white robin, recently discovered inhabiting the area. Arrowood said the red bird would alight on a hill near his home and crow like a bantam rooster. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Bennett who lived only a few hours after bein born, was buried Thursday in the cemetery at Grove Byrd's farm.

6/17/54

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1961

Some old timers said there is the heaviest poplar bloom that they had seen in several years and it is an old timey sign that when there is a big poplar bloom, there will be plenty of rain while the bloom stays on the trees. It did get real dry and no rain for several days until the poplars did begin to bloom. We had a heavy rain here last Friday and some tobacco patches were damaged by silt and washings. Mrs. Seth Hughes of Byrd Creek section at Pigeon Roost had the misfortune to have ten chickens killed in her chicken house Friday night by black rats. The chickens weighed about a pound apiece.

6/22/61

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1962

Lester Johnson, who lives on Pate Creek at Pigeon Roost, reported to the writer that he gave a white and blue colored pigeon that he owned to Loretta Johnson, a daughter of his brother Lennie Johnson, who lives in Erwin, Tenn. and it was took down there on May 15th. But to his great surprise the pigeon returned back home within about one week's time. The exact direction the way the pigeon traveled back home from Erwin no one knows, but it's about thirty miles anyway you can go as the saying goes, "as the crow flies." After the pigeon came back home, it became a bigger pet than it ever was. It now follows Johnson to the mail box which is about a half mile. It flies along the country road and lights on the fence here and there and waits for him. 

6/28/62

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Always interesting to pay a visit to Pigeon Roost. Makes me wish I had a pigeon to follow me around everywhere I go and sure makes me glad I've never seen any black rats in the chicken coop-YIKES!

Jump over to the Foxfire website and visit. If you haven't been there in a while, they have a brand new site that is great fun to poke around and they are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too.

Tipper

p.s. I said I wished I had a pigeon to follow me around what I would really want is a crow. It's been a long time since I had The Week of the Crow here on the Blind Pig maybe I need to bring it back from the archives. 

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The Rosebud Orchid in my Backyard - WOW!

Rosebud Orchid in Brasstown NC

This year I have made a conscious effort to try and be in the woods more. I wish that meant I had been on long hikes to the top of the mountain and beyond, but mostly what I've managed to do is take one of the trails that lead off behind the chicken coop and go a few hundred yards into the woods or up towards the ridge. 

On one of my short trips I noticed a strange looking plant that I had never seen before. It was thin and tapered. I could tell it's length was about to burst open with leaves and hopefully a bloom. 

A few weeks later I suddenly remembered the plant and ran out to see if it had indeed opened up into a flower-it had!

The bloom was so pretty and I didn't think I had ever seen one like it. I racked my brain thinking maybe it was something I had once planted in the yard that had somehow migrated to the woods, but decided I would certainly have remembered having a flower that pretty in my collection.

Rosebud Orchid in Western NC Cherokee County

I got Chatter to post a picture to a plant group that she's a member of and someone quickly identified the plant as a Rosebud Orchid.

The book Native Orchids of the Southern Appalachian Mountains has this to say about the flower:

"The smaller rosebud orchid blooms in early June in the southern part of the mountains but can be fresh in northern West Virginia as late as the first part of July. Restricted to the southeastern United States, smaller rosebud orchid is very sparse throughout the southern Appalachians. It occurs at a few sites in eastern Kentucky as well as some scattered locations on the Cumberland Plateau and in the eastern mountains of Tennessee. It is infrequent in the North Carolina and Virginia mountains. And there are only two recorded sites for smaller rosebud orchid in the area of West Virginia covered by this book, one in Barbour County and one dating from 1968 in McDowell County."

After reading that I knew I had never seen the flower before. Have you?

Tipper

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A Body

Its got to where a bodys got to lock the door

"It's got to where a body can't even leave the house without locking the door behind him."

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body noun Someone, a person (often with reference to oneself), a term in common use among older speakers observed by Joseph Hall in the 1930s. (Note: the combining form -body is more prevalent than -one to form indefinite pronouns, thus anybody, everybody, somebody).

1895 Edson and Fairchild Tenn Mts 370 A body can't git along here. 1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 2 To know when soap is finished you cool it 'till a body can keep a finger in it. 1937 Hall Coll. Upper Cosby Creek TN Fever weed breaks the fever on a body. (Veenie Ramsey) 1939 Hall Coll. One-armed Jim is right feeble. I reckon a body'll find him dead somewheres. 1940 Haun Hawk's Done 48 There wasn't anything a body could say to Barshia that would do him any good 1962 Dykeman Tall Woman 93 When I brush his hair just right, a body would hardly notice. 1969 GSMNP-25:1:30 A body thought about it back then. 1989 Smith Flyin' Bullets 40 "A body never knowed when they just might come in the middle of the night," Delia said, "and drag ye out of bed, and take ye out to kill ye, fer no reason a'tall." 1997 Montgomery Coll. Could a body buy that there dog? How can a body live on such piddlin's? (Brown)
[cf Scottish usage: "If a body meet a body coming through the Rye"; DARE esp Midland]

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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The usage of the word body described in the dictionary entry is still alive and well in my part of Appalachia. 

Tipper

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Aunt Faye's Pound Cake

Old Fashioned Pound Cake easy recipe

We've add two more laying hens to our small flock of backyard chickens and the extra eggs have me trying to come up with recipes to use them in. I got to thinking a pound cake would be good and immediately thought of Aunt Faye's Pound Cake. I've told you about Aunt Faye before-she was Granny's oldest sister. 

I thought I had her pound cake recipe, but couldn't find it so I asked Granny to borrow hers. You'd have thought I ask her for a million dollars. She said "Can you take a picture of it with your phone so you don't have to take it with you?" I said "No not to where I could see it good. Can't I take it? Or would you rather me sit down and copy it off?" Granny said "Well I'm pretty sure you've got my original recipe that she gave me." I admitted that I thought I did too but couldn't find it. 

I think the fact that I had just took her to get groceries, carried them all in the house, and helped her put them up made her give in and say that I could take the recipe with me, but I better bring it back...like tomorrow. 

Aunt Fayes Pound Cake
Granny said Aunt Faye was such a good cook that she was always tinkering with recipes trying to make them better. According to Granny Aunt Faye came up with the idea of mixing plain flour and self-rising flour to make the cake easier to whip up as well as have a better density. 

Aunt Faye's Pound Cake

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ½ cup plain flour (all-purpose)
  • ½ cup self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar together until thoroughly mixed. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each.

Combine flours.

Alternately add flour and milk mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

Pour batter into a well-greased Bundt pan.

Bake in a 325˚ oven for 1 hour or until done.

Print Aunt Faye's Pound Cake (right click on the link to print the recipe)

In case you're wondering, I delivered Granny's recipe right back to her the next day...and she was right I later found her original recipe for Aunt Faye's Pound Cake. 

Tipper

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Father's Day - Take Two

Matt and the girls
The Deer Hunter, Chatter, and Chitter

Last Sunday I jumped the gun and published my Father's Day post, not realizing it wasn't Father's Day till after the post was live. My sentiments are still the same-you can go here to read the post if you missed it: Father's Day in Appalachia.

And you can follow the links below for more Father's Day goodness from the archives of the Blind Pig and The Acorn.

Tipper

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First Mowing Machine in Graham County NC

First hay cutting machine in Graham County NC - story by Fred O. Scroggs of Brasstown NC

Gov. Carringer written and documented by Fred O. Scroggs 1925

Uncle "Gov" (J.B. Carringer) one of our oldest residents. Born in the '60s, lived some time on Yellow Creek in Graham, Co., N.C. (yaller creek).

Uncle Gov and his brother-in-law, Vance Shope, brought the first mowing machine ever to come to Graham Co. Sometime in the 90's. Prior to this they had mowed their meadows with grass blades. Folks over the country heard they were getting a machine that would cut their hay and drawn by horses. On the day they set the machine up, folks came from far and wide to see it operate.

"It looked like an All Day Singing or Decoration Day. A hundred or more came from the coves and hollows from all over the country." 

"You see we had bought the machine from Pitt Walker the dealer in Robbinsville for $45.oo, and the news spread, telling it court week just when we would begin. So, people came from everywhere."

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Makes me wish I could have been there to see the fancy new fangled machine do the work of men and hand held blades. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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Help a Blind Pig Reader Solve a Mystery

Bean flowers brighten the dark

A few days ago I received the following email from Blind Pig and The Acorn reader Sue Simmons:

Tipper maybe you can solve this mystery for me we had  beautiful green beans in bloom, staked, and they were six feet tall. We went out to look at the garden and all the leaves were off, looked like they had been cut off very clean. The blooms were still there pretty as could be no leaves. A week or so later beans were beautiful with lots of green leaves, next day all leaves perfectly clipped off. We have two green beans, one for my husband and one for me. We looked for deer tracks but didn't see any and no bugs of any kind. What has happened here?? Maybe you or your readers can solve this mystery. Your comments will be appreciated.

My first thought was that rabbits ate Sue's bean leaves, but then I realized she said they were six feet tall so I hope there's no rabbit that tall walking around! Could it be a bird of some sort? 

If you have any guesses at what could be eating Sue's bean leaves please leave a comment and tell us about it. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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June = The Month for Weddings

  Wedding customs from appalachia
June is one of the most popular months for weddings. Appalachia has many interesting customs and sayings surrounding matrimony one of which is a shivaree.

A shivaree is a loud greeting given to newlyweds on their wedding night and includes banging, hollering, and serenading. Putting the couple in a wheel barrel and pushing them around is sometimes part of the fun as well. Over the years many of the traditions have fallen by the way and I don't know anyone personally who still observes the custom.

Pap and Granny dated a short three months before they ran off and got married. Granny tells that she was all for getting married, but after it was over she was deathly afraid to go home and face her mother.

When they told her mother, Gazzie, she warned Pap to be good to her daughter or else! He followed through on his promise to treat her right all the years they were married.

The Deer Hunter and I dated for four years before we took the plunge. We tease about how if feels like we've been married 40 years. It's actually been closer to 25. Our wedding was small and inexpensive. All these years later my favorite part of the wedding was using his grandparents rings as our wedding bands. 

A few other Appalachian customs or sayings concerning weddings:

  • If someone sweeps under your feet you'll never marry-I heard this one my whole life.
  • The couple jumps the broom after the service to signify crossing over from single life to married life.
  • The word courtin was used to describe a couple who were serious in their relationship and most likely headed for matrimony. When I was a teenager someone was always asking me if I was courtin yet.
  • This last one is for all you quilters. When young ladies gathered to put the finishing touches on a new quilt they each held a piece of the quilt and someone threw a cat onto the quilt. Whoever the cat jumped off closest to was the next girl to be married. 

Drop back by in a few days and I'll share what the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has to say about shivarees and if you'll hop over and visit Beth at Tennessee Mountain Stories you can read a great post about weddings in Appalachia. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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Yellow Flowers and Yellow Throats

Jerry Pap Wilson

Do you dream at night? I've met folks who say they rarely dream and folks who say they never dream. I'm a dreamer born from a family of dreamers.

Pap and Granny both had and have vivid dreams. The sort of dreams you share with one another because you just can't get them out of your mind. The girls are continuing our tradition of dreams. There's hardly a morning that I don't hear them discussing their head movies. Granny would be upset if she knew they were telling them before breakfast-something she never does for fear they'll come true. When she used to caution me about telling dreams before breakfast I'd say "But what if I want them to come true?" She never answered my question.

One night last week I dreamed I was on a farm for a special day of eating and visiting. Actually it was Blind Pig reader Sam Ensley's farm, yet in the way of dreams the man looked nothing like Sam and truthfully I don't even know if Sam has a farm.

There were children about everywhere and many of them had been taking turns riding Sam's horses. As we gathered to eat, the children, especially one little girl, showed me the flowers they had picked from the yard. Many were weeds and I was amazed as the children told me the uses of each bloom how one might help when you had a cold and another when you had a bad case of poison oak. 

Sam and the other men unsaddled the horses to put them back in the pasture. As I stood on the porch with the children I was alarmed when Sam sent the horses running down the little two lane highway. I need not have worried because Sam's horses were special-quick as a wink they jumped the fence and put themselves back in the pasture. 

Relived the horses were fine I turned my attention back to the children's table where I was going to sit and eat my dinner with them. It was then that I noticed Sam and all the children had yellow throats. Not yellow like jaundice, but yellow like the brightest spring daffodils or the cheeriest dandelion you ever saw. The last part of the dream I recall is thinking to myself "No wonder the children know so much about blooms, they must be part flowers themselves."

I was off work the day following my colorful dream of flowers, children, running horses, and yellow throats. I had promised to spend the day helping Granny do whatever she wanted me to do around the house. First on her list was to visit Pap's grave.

Every year just before Memorial Day the cemetery is cleaned up in preparation for a new season of decoration days and homecomings. My brother Steve removed all the flowers on Pap's grave to prevent them from being thrown away and then he took some of them back once the graveyard had been cleaned. Granny had re-done the arrangement that fits over the headstone and was anxious to get it back on the grave.

We had just turned onto the road that leads to the cemetery when Granny said "You know Charlotte's little granddaughter? She told Paul that she put some yellow flowers on your Daddy's grave because there wasn't none on it. Paul told her thank you and that we had just moved the flowers while they cleaned up the cemetery." 

I've only seen Charlotte's granddaughter one time that I know of and probably couldn't pick her out from a group of girls if I tried, but somehow she and her yellow flowers ended up in my dream even before I knew of her kind deed. Maybe Pap was trying to tell me there's lots of goodness left in this ole world even though he's gone from it and I miss him so that sometimes I think I can't bear it or maybe I was reminding my ownself of the goodness of folks like Sam Ensley and a little girl I don't even know who lives down the road. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at Unicoi State Park this Saturday June 17 at 8:00 p.m. 

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Listen to my Whippoorwill

Dog barks at whippoorwill

We've had a whippoorwill hanging around our house since about mid May. It sends out its call just after dusky dark each night and just before dawn every morning like clockwork. The bird seems to start on one side of the house and then make its way to the other side usually ending somewhere very near the front porch.

Ruby Sue does not like the Whippoorwill. As soon as you hear the bird's call you know what's coming next: a fit of barking from a barky little dog. 

I recorded the whippoorwill in the video below in 2012. I wonder if the one hanging around now is a descendant of the first bird. 

Because of various songs and pieces of written word we often associate whippoorwills with being lonesome and sad. I've never found their whistling call lonesome. To me whippoorwills sound like they are calling out with an inquisitive hope that someone will answer them. 

Tipper

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