Ragtime Annie

The Pressley Girls Music

Ragtime Annie is a fairly common fiddle tune-its catchy beat makes it easy to see why the tune has stood the test of time. Not to mention the fact that it's rhythm is perfect for the feet on the dance floor. 

The Fiddler's Companion website has some interesting information about the song's history:

  • The earliest appearance of “Ragtime Annie” that can be documented, in print or otherwise, is the recording by Texas fiddler Eck Robertson (along with Henry C. Gilliland) in 1923, and a few years later by the Texas duo Solomon and Hughes. Robertson’s release was backed with “Turkey in the Straw.” “Ragtime Annie” was later recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's.
  • “Ragtime Annie” was the first tune learned by itinerant West Virginia fiddler John Johnson (1916-1996), originally from Clay County, from fiddler Dorvel Hill who lived in a coal-mining town called Pigtown, not far from Clay, W.Va. Left handed fiddler Walter Melton played all three parts at square dances around Dunbar, W.Va., in the 1930s.
    "I was bashful back then and wouldn’t go in anybody’s house hardly. I’d sit on the railroad and listen to Dorvel play the fiddle at night. And I learned most all of Dorvel’s tunes. I just set down there and listened to all his tunes and then go home and play them." (Michael Kline, Mountains of Music, John Lilly ed. 1999).

The Fiddler's Companion website also discusses all the various ways and parts to play the song-and let me tell you they are varied! Take a listen to our version.


We recently added Ragtime Annie to our line-up for performances. We've been playing the song for several years, but it was one that Chitter sometimes wanted to play and sometimes claimed she wasn't a good enough fiddler to figure it out. We'd always tell her that was hogwash, but she had to gain her own confidence on playing the song. 

I actually wrote about her frustration over the song a few years back. I'll always remember the way Pap encouraged her on the day we filmed that version. If I had to make a wager, I'd say she hears his encouraging words in her head on a regular basis. I know I do.


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How Does My Garden Grow?

How does my garden grow June 2017
Our garden is lush and beautiful. Everything is thriving and things are beginning to produce. Fresh veggies = the best eating of the year if you ask me.

Yonce beans

Our Yonce Beans have been picked once and are almost ready for another go around.

Sow true Seed Garden
Cucumbers and squash are beginning to come in and tomatoes are green and growing. My candyroaster in the backyard may reach you folks in TN before the summer is over-its monstrous! Pumpkins and zucchini are coming along too. 

Grapes and apples in appalachia
Looks like our grape harvest will be our best ever. Apples are looking good too, although both trees have many brown leaves from the last hard freeze of spring. Hopefully we can do some pruning before next year's fruit sets.

Hope you'll tell me how your garden is fairing so far this summer. 


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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.


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.


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.




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.




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. 



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.


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?


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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."


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


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


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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. 


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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.


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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."


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


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. 


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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