On my last Appalachian Vocabulary Test Blind Pig Reader Ron Stephens asked if I might share the various sources I use as reference material for my writings.
The reference book I use most often for vocabulary tests and other dialect posts is the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. Michael Montgomery is the author of the dictionary. You can jump over to the book's website and read Montgomery's bonafides here. He's a pretty impressive man when it comes to language and dialect.
The dictionary website also has transcripts, articles, words, and a complete bibliography of the sources used for compiling the reference book. The website is really a fascinating place to poke around. The actually dictionary is magical! Well at least it is to me.
Miss Cindy gifted me with the book back when I first started the Blind Pig and The Acorn and the book has become a vital part of the blog. Unfortunately the dictionary is expensive.
If the University of Tennessee Press ever offers another printing of the book, I'm sure the price will come down. A few years ago I heard rumors of the dictionary being re-printed but nothing ever came of those rumors. Several months ago I heard the rumors again, but I still haven't heard any firm plans or dates for the re-print of the dictionary.
I'm also very fond of the Foxfire Books and magazine. Both are affordable, and the great folks at Foxfire are still publishing magazines and books.
A few other sources that I use for reference are:
- Appalachian Values by Loyal Jones
- John Parris - Roaming the Mountains, Mountain Bred, These Storied Mountains, My Mountain - My People, and Mountain Cooking
- Smoky Mountain Voices a Lexicon of Southern Appalachian Speech by Harold F. Farwell, Jr. and J. Karl Nicholas
- Folk Medicine in Southern Appalachia by Anthony Cavender
- Mountain Born by Jean Boone Benfield
- More than Moonshine Appalachian Recipes and Recollections by Sidney Saylor Farr
- It's Not My Mountain Anymore by Barbara Taylor Woodall
- Southern Mountain Speech by Cratis D. Williams
- Frank C. Brown's Collections of North Carolina Folklore
- Cherokee County Historical Society Books
- Dorie Woman of the Mountains written by Florence Cope Bush
- Pap, Granny, and a few other folks
- Comments from Blind Pig Readers (The comments you leave on this blog are not only pleasing and entertaining, they are full of wisdom and knowledge about Appalachia.)
Mother Creator written by Nancy Dillingham
who made me
in warm womb
I thank you
who through you
who made me
who took me
who shook me
from the tree
you shaped me
in any place
in any space
I scan the horizon
looking for your face
The poem above is from the anthology It's All Relative Tales from the Tree From 50 WNC Women Writers edited by Celia H. Miles and Nancy Dillingham. Celia sent me the book several months ago. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it.
Some of the pieces in the book are meaningful in the way the one above is, some of the pieces will make you laugh while others will make you cry. Then there are those that are just hard to read-you know tough tough situations. But that's how families are-good, bad, mixed up, funny, and in some cases maddening.
Mother Creator is the very first piece in the book, once I read the poem it stayed with me. We all carry pieces of the woman who mothered us around in our heads and hearts and whether we realize it or not we often look for her as we go about our way.
If you'd like to find out more about the book or/and purchase it, jump over to Celia's website.
I've known who Wally Avett was as long as I can remember. I road the bus with 2 of his children all through high school. I knew Wally was a musician and I knew he used to work at the local paper, the Cherokee Scout. However, I did not know that Wally was writing and publishing fiction books until I ran into him a few years ago. Recently Wally brought me one of his latest books Coosa Flyer.
The book is based on the true historical story of Micajah Clark Dyer's invention of a flying contraption. Dyer filed a patent for his invention in 1874, a long time before the Wright Brothers took their first flight on the coast of NC.
I believe Wally was surprised that I already knew the story of Micajah Clark Dyer and his flying contraption. Blind Pig readers Ethelene Dyer Jones and son Keith Jones are direct descendants of Micajah Clark Dyer. Ethelene shared the fascinating story of her forefather's flight with me a few years ago.
Coosa Flyer, has a factual newspaper column written by Wally himself at the beginning of the book. The article gives insight into Micajah Clark Dyer and his love of flight.
The fictional portion of the book quickly pulls you into the story of Jeremiah Hogan, better known as the Professor, and his desire to fly through the sky like a bird.
I enjoyed the book! I found it especially interesting to read about this area. Even though the book is fiction I still felt as though I had a glimpse into the past history of the area. I believe folks who have never even visited the area would also enjoy the book.
Want a chance to win a copy of Coosa Flyer? Leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Saturday March 26.
If you'd like to pick up your own copy of the book check out Wally's Amazon page here. Or if you are a local drop by the Cherokee Scout, the Highlander Art Gallery in downtown Murphy, the John C. Campbell Folk School Gift Shop, or the Cherokee County Historical Museum to pick up a copy.
To find out more about Wally and the other books he has published, visit his website. If you have access to the Cherokee Scout check out Wally's Hillbilly Ranger column-it's always a good read.
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be performing this Saturday March twenty-six at 6:00 p.m. at the Martins Creek Community Center.
At the young age of 93 Charles Fletcher has published another book. A Story and a Smile is a compilation of some of Charles's past writings along with a few new stories, all of which are told to bring a smile to the reader's face.
A Story and a Smile is part fiction and part history. Charles has told me he's a storyteller not a writer. He's also often shared the purpose behind all the books he's written:
Charles wants the younger generations to know and understand what it was like to live in the mountains of Western North Carolina when he was a boy.
I'm glad Charles has undertaken the task of preserving his own snapshot of history for if he hadn't, the stories would have been lost forever.
Enjoy this sneak peak from the book:
Saturday Night Bath written by Charles Fletcher
When I was growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina, there was one event that came every week. This was fifty-two times a year and always on a Saturday. And usually the time would be just before we were going to bed for the night. What we did was take our “Saturday night bath.”
Although we'd bathe every day with what we called “wash down as far as possible and up as far as possible,” but the whole bath was every Saturday night. This was not as simple as you may think.
There was quite bit of planning and lots of work in this weekly ritual, and it involved the whole family, that is except for Dad. He usually did his bathing at the paper mill where he worked. There were modern bathrooms at the mill complete with a shower room. He took his own soap and towel.
First a large galvanized washtub was brought into the kitchen. The next thing needed was the water. Here again it took some manual labor to fill the tub with water for the bath.This usually was the job for TJ, my younger brother, and me.
Some places that we lived at had a spring. This meant that there were many trips from the house to the spring with our ten quart water buckets. In our younger days this was quite a task because we were not strong enough to carry a full bucket of water and had to make a lot of trips to the spring. At other places we lived we usually had a hand dug well with a well box and a windlass with a rope and a water bucket. The bucket was tied to one end of a rope which was wound around the wooden windlass. We would unwind the rope until the water bucket was sunk below the top of the water in the well. Next we would crank the windlass until the bucket with the water was near the top where we could grab-hold and empty it into the tub.
We would only fill the tub about half way full. We would fill several large cooking pots and set them on our old wood burning stove. When this water began to boil we poured it in the tub of cold water until it was warm enough to bathe in.
The order of bathing was that the oldest person was always first. The bathing then continued down the line according to age until the youngest was given a bath. Sometimes the water was a bit dirty for the last bather. It depended on how many children there were in the family.
We always used soap for bathing, but sometimes we didn’t have “store bought” soap. We then had to use the soap that Mom had made from the excess fat from the hogs that were slaughtered at hog killing. This was a very strong soap that was made from the grease of the fat with lye added. Sometimes the lye had to be made from burning wood and collecting the lye from the ashes. If you were not very careful the soap would make blisters on the skin.
My brother and I sometimes did our bathing in the creek in the warm summer months this was fine. Not only did we stay clean, but there were some places where the water was deep enough for us to swim. In the cold months of winter we would sometime be brave enough to get in the creek.
A sad note about the creek that we bathed in many years ago: It is now only a trickle of water running down through the fields. I was visiting the community where we lived in the 1930s
and saw the sad condition of our favorite bathing place. Only enough water is flowing to call it a branch instead of a creek. This was in 2007.
My oldest son, Gary, asked me how an adult could bathe in such a small place as the wash tub. I explained that first you would sit in the tub with your legs hanging on the outside. You washed the part of your body that was in the tub then stood up in the tub and finished washing your legs and feet. This was no problem for us children. We could sit in the tub with our feet inside.
We were mountain people and were taught by our elders the way to survive and do the many things that had to be done without any outside help. After all, we didn’t have the many things that we have today to make life a lot easier with our daily tasks. We did survive, we kept our body clean, and we had our “Saturday night bath” in the 1930s.
All the books written by Charles Fletcher are available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. The books can also be purchased directly from Charles himself. You can contact him directly at email@example.com
Charles generously donated a copy of the book, A Story and a Smile, for me to giveaway here on the Blind Pig. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Friday February 19.
In late spring the folks at Chicago Review Press sent me a copy of the book Eating Appalachia written by Darrin Nordahl. As many of you will remember, I had a bumpy start to my summer when Pap decided to fall, break his hip in 2 places, and have a heart attack all on the same day! Needless to say, I didn't get to read the book as quickly as I would have liked with all that going on, but I'm here to tell you the book was worth the wait.
Nordahl begins the book with a premise that has never occurred to me: most of the food we consider American Cuisine isn't native to America. For example, he points out most people realize bananas aren't native to the USA but wonders if most people know bananas are hands down the most popular fruit consumed in America. Nordahl goes on with a list of fruits and vegetables that have been staples in my diet since I was a child. None are native to the USA.
The following chapters of the book are dedicated to highlighting foods that are native to the Appalachian Region of the USA. Think ramps, papaws, black walnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, sumac, persimmons, wild greens, and more! Each chapter has recipes to go along with the food item being discussed.
Along with all that tasty goodness, Nordahl discusses what role eating indigenous (native) foods could play in the scheme of our country wide food system. He also high lights folks who are dedicated to making sure these native foods stay around and the various festivals they've created to aide in that process. Most of the native foods he discusses aren't sold in chain supermarkets and with no one to remind folks about them they'll be gone from our diets and our history before you know it.
Nordahl's epilogue contains a very sobering quote:
"Around the world, people have witnessed the flavors of their childhood vanish. Three-quarters of the world's food plants have disappeared, according to data from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization. In the United States, the statistic is more alarming. Over 90 percent of our crop varieties have been erased from farmers' fields...Today, 60 percent of the world's food is based on just three species: wheat, rice, and corn."
That gives you something to think about uh?
The book ends on a hopeful note. Nordahl describes Slow Food Ark of Taste, which is dedicated to remembering those fading food items and reminds the reader-if you want to support native foods EAT THEM!
Making native food items that grow right outside our doors part of our regular diet is the best way to hold onto them and to encourage others to use them as well.
Chicago Review Press has graciously offered to give a copy of Eating Appalachia to a Blind Pig Reader. To be entered in the giveaway all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Saturday August 29.
If you're interested you can visit Nordahl's Amazon page here to purchase the book for your collection-I'm telling you it's a keeper for fans of Appalachia.
p.s. The winner of the Tomato Knife is...number 35 Julia Hall who said:
"I would love a tomato knife!! But, first I need to learn how to peel. Everytime I peel or cut something (okra, squash, cucumbers, etc) my mom always says I am doing it wrong. Watching her speed with cutting always amazes me. I have to use a cutting board. :( Maybe in 30 more years I will be as skilled as her!"
Here's the details about Roy's new books in his words:
Mammy: A Term of Endearment
I have a new novel I titled, Mammy: A Term of Endearment. Mammy is a fictional story of the slavery of a black woman who after being freed became my father’s mammy. Some feel the word Mammy is a racial term, but my father considered it a term of endearment.
It’s a story of the discrimination many blacks and poor whites still face today, not only in the south but also in the north. It is a story of love, hate, romance, and humor.
Included in the novel are stories of slaves and freed slaves, the stories are principally about Mammy’s family but include the lives and experiences of both slaves and freed slaves.
The novel starts off telling how on a visit with my father to a murder trial in Wilkes County, NC, at age eight, I met Mammy who was them 98 years of age, and decided to learn more about slavery and later decided to write this novel.
A Haven for Willa Mae
A Haven for Willa Mae is the first of a two series novels. It is a novel containing danger, suspense, romance and treachery along with abuse, deceit, murder, kidnapping, and insanity. It is a gripping action packed romance/mystery novel where William, an emergency room doctor on his first hospital assignment, falls in love with Willa Mae, a physically abused married patient. Willa Mae’s husband, Howard, is the spoiled son of a wealthy and influential family who will go to any length, even murder, to exact revenge.
At first, Willa Mae refused to press charges against her abusive husband, but William felt if the abuse continued, Howard would eventually murder her. At the risk of his own life and losing his medical license, William refused to let the matter drop as he considered it a matter of life or death.
Willa Mae married Howard during a time of weakness after her mother was killed in a car accident that the sheriff suspected was foul play, but had no suspicion that Howard was involved.
The novel takes the reader through years of tumultuous times during which Willa Mae grew to love William, the love of this couple grew ever stronger to the point where nothing could come between them.
Roy also wrote a sequel to the book I first interviewed him about-Darby the title of the sequel is Hanging Dog and here's a bit about it from Roy:
Hanging Dog, An Appalachian Community is a sequel to my Appalachian novel, Darby. Hanging Dog is a story of the love and struggles of a young couple and their two small children. Isaac Caldwell, who after surviving World War II, purchased a small farm in the Appalachian Community of Hanging Dog in Western North Carolina.
Isaac and his wife Shirley, were looking forward to their new life, and welcoming the struggles of making their small farm a success.
Instead, they became involved with three bullies who had murdered the previous owners, raped his wife, and killed a neighbor who had alerted Isaac and Shirley regarding the tormentors.
During these times, their love for one another grew stronger, love letters were written by both Shirley and Isaac. Other family members’ lives and stories are brought into the novel as Hanging Dog, the sequel, became connected with Darby.
Hanging Dog is a love story, a family saga, and a mystery that will be hard to put down, and will bring tears to your eyes.
All of Roy's books can be ordered from Amazon.com, or locally at the Curiosity Bookstore, Murphy; Hill Gallery in Brasstown; Bible, Books, and Blessings out on US 64 West; Hanging Dog General Store in the Hanging Dog Community, and wherever good books are sold.
AND if you leave a comment on this post you'll be entered in a giveaway to win a copy of Hanging Dog, An Appalachian Community. Giveaway ends Sunday July 26.
p.s. Shared from WKRK: Mike Westendorf from Milwaukee will be performing in the Share The Hope concert at Murphy First Baptist Church at 6:30 pm this Friday [tonight July 24] along with The Pressley Girls, a very talented duo from Brasstown. The event is co-sponsored by your local radio stations to help raise awareness and funds for Christian Love Ministries, an addiction treatment facility. Join us on Friday for the concert.
Celia Miles is a native of Appalachia, born in Western North Carolina, and, except for brief stints in Massachusetts and Virginia, plus college in Kentucky and Pennsylvania, has lived here all her life. A long-time English instructor at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, she is retired and living in Asheville. She calls herself “a teacher by trade, a traveler by design, a photographer for fun, and a writer by avocation.”
-Quoted from celiamiles.com
I met Celia through the Blind Pig & the Acorn. If you're a longtime reader you may remember her guest post a few years back And the Animals Knelt. It's a must read Christmas story.
Celia's writing background includes lots of different genres-everything from textbooks to Appalachian fiction. I bet you can guess which one I like the best.
I've read most of Celia's fiction books and I've enjoyed them all:
- Thyme for Love
- Thyme Table Mill
- Mattie’s Girl: An Appalachian Childhood
- Journey to Stenness
- On a Slant: A Collection of Stories and Islands
- One and All: Stories and Otherwise
Celia sent me her latest book back before Christmas. I added it to my pile of reading material, but if I had known how good the book was I would have read it immediately.
The Body at Wrapp's Mill A Grist Mill Mystery with Marcy Dehanne is a fantastic book. As soon as you began reading you're pulled into the mind and heart of Marcy Dehanne. And once the mystery begins to unfold you're hooked until the last page-at least I was.
As I neared the end of the book, I began wishing the story wasn't going to end. I kept thinking I'd like to know what happen to Marcy after the mystery is solved.
The book did end-but the portion of the title A Grist Mill Mystery with Marcy Dehanne gave me hope it might continue in another mystery book.
I'm a sucker for mystery series like Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series and and Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. But I believe anyone-mystery fan or not-will enjoy The Body at Wrapp's Mill A Grist Mill Mystery with Marcy Dehanne.
Can't wait to read the book? Then check out Celia's website to purchase your own copy. And while you're there poke around a little bit. Celia's website has a wealth of interesting information.
Back in July Susan Griner emailed me in regards to linking to the Blind Pig & the Acorn blog. She also mentioned a book she had written about a boy in Tennessee. Susan's email led me down one of those internet mazes-you know when you click here and then click there and then find something really wonderful?
What I found was a piece Susan wrote, Smile Talk. The story centers around a misunderstanding of an old saying that I've heard all my life: "I've got a crow to pick with you." The story made me smile for sure!
I enjoyed the short story and some of her other writings so much that I couldn't wait to read her new book-The Cemetery Sleeper. Susan graciously sent me the book to read and to use as a giveaway here on the Blind Pig. Check out the interview I did with Susan to learn more about her.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Kingston, a small town in eastern Tennessee. It's the setting for my book though I'm sure it has changed quite a bit since my childhood. As an adult I lived in Cookeville and Knoxville and taught for awhile in Rockwood which is near my hometown. What was great about growing up in a small town was the freedom to roam the woods and to come home only when I was hungry.
Where did the story of the cemetery sleeper come from?
The idea for The Cemetery Sleeper came to me when I was working in a community college in Rockwood. I met a student who told me that her dad had grown up without a proper name so he took one from a tombstone. I'm a "what if" kind of person so I asked myself, "what if the spirit buried under the tombstone wanted his name back?"
Did you want to write as a child? When did you start writing?
I have always enjoyed writing and kept a diary for years but tore the pages out of it. I wish I'd kept it so I'd know what I thought was so important then. I have a journal mostly, but my ideas mostly come when I'm in the car or out walking and have no paper handy. I studied English in college and have always wanted to be a writer.
Who's writing influenced you?
I love to read memoirs especially of southern writers like Rick Bragg and Barbara Robinette Moss. You and I have also shared a love for the book titled, Dorie, Woman of the Mountains. Her book provided the details about the logging camps that once dotted the Smoky mountain region. I'm also drawn to fiction for middle grade readers which is the audience I most often write for. Ruth White sets her stories in the south and she's the author of Belle Prater's Boy and others.
What was the first piece you ever had published?
My first published story was featured in Cricket magazine. it's a short story set in Tennessee and it's about my mom who was Japanese and her struggles with the English language which I come to appreciate after my misguided attempts to learn southern sayings.
Do you have more books in the works?
The story I am currently working on is a big departure from the stories I usually set in places I'm familiar with. It's set in ancient China and follows the journey of a boy and his horse as they travel along the Silk Road.
Where can people find your book(s)?
Is there anything else you'd want Blind Pig readers to know about you?
I enjoy Tipper's blog because it's familiar to me and yet I always learn something new about Appalachia. I live in the Pacific northwest now and I miss the quiet places to hike, the fireflies, and a good tomato.
So what did I think of The Cemetery Sleeper? I LOVED it! I could not put it down-the story and the characters kept my interest from beginning to end. And oh what an ending! I won't spoil it for any of you who might decide to read the book-but lets just say the ending has a few twists and turns and really made me feel strong emotion-from anger to happiness.
The book is written for the target audience of middle graders-but I think any adult who appreciates a good story would enjoy it as much as I did. Would you like to win a free copy of The Cemetery Sleeper? To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on this post. Giveaway ends Tuesday November 4.
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing at the Mountain Folk Center in Murphy NC this Saturday-November 1. They start the show off @ 12:00. Go here for more details: http://cherokee.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/09/mountain-folk-center-day-celebrating-100-years-of-extension/
I heard the name Roy Pipes often as I was growing up. When I was a kid Roy was the Superintendent of Cherokee County Schools. Roy was also a teacher in Cherokee County for many years as well as a Principal. A few months ago, I stumbled across information about Roy's new book, Darby.
I contacted Roy and after a few email exchanges Roy sent me his book. After reading the description of the book I couldn't wait to read it-I mean who doesn't love danger, suspense, romance and intrigue?
Darby is a great read. It is full of suspense and romance. The suspense part made me so mad I wanted to put myself in the book and take care of business! And the romance part-is true romance-the kind that lasts forever-through the good times and the not so good times.
After reading the book I knew I wanted Roy to be part of my Appalachian Writers series. (you can read the interview I conducted with Roy below)
Did you grow up in Appalachia? If so what part?
I was born in the Peachtree Community of Cherokee County. The house where I was born is still standing. My father was a school teacher so we moved some, but most of my life was in Peachtree. I now live on land that was once my grandfather’s farm.
Did you want to write as a child?
No, I’m sure I wrote in grade school, high school, and college. I sent a short article, Contrast: Empty or Filled that I wrote in college to the Biblical Recorder. They published it June, 1976. After college I wrote several educational pieces. I still have some, but most are long gone. I wrote my first funny article, Mitzi, but I don’t remember when. People can read several contest pieces that won 1st through 3rd place in contest. One poem, Wordsmith or Poet won third place. These and many others articles can be read on my blog: roypipes.
What were your writing influences?
First, I would have to credit my father, R.C. Pipes, as we (didn’t have television) and he read to us – so much that I memorized some of the poems he read. Poems such as: The Spider and the Fly, The House by the Side of the Road, The Raven, The Old Dutch Clock and the Chinese Plate, to name a few. My mother sang to us, and we were taken to church regularly. My wife Betty influenced me by her encouragement and her editing. Teachers were a big influence. I can’t name them all but I remember Miss Travis, Mrs. Coons, Mrs. Miller, and my first grade teacher, Miss Gladys. I could name many, many more. I never had a poor teacher.
What was the first piece you ever had published?
Contrast: Empty or Filled published by the Biblical Recorder in 1976. My first novel was Darby.
Darby is set in Appalachia-do you feel it’s important to write about your own heritage?
Yes, I think it makes your novel seem more realistic, it’s easier to write, and you know the dialect. Darby, while fiction, is a real Appalachian community located in Wilkes County, NC. My father was born there. He told me a true story that took place in Darby when he was about ten. His story is the foundation for my novel. We used to hold Pipes’ family reunions there, and my wife and I while writing my novel visited Darby.
Do you have other published books/writings?
I mention several above. Darby is the only novel, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is a novelette published in February, 2012 (available on Amazon). Other writings not mentioned above: Aunty Ant, The Farm, Hoppy, Vacation, Identical Twins, Washington Heights, The Administrator’s Role in Teaching Thinking and Reasoning Skills (Dissertation), and a pamphlet: Teaching Thinking and Reasoning Skills Using the Three R’s, and several other educational articles. I have the sequel to Darby titled, Hanging Dog, An Appalachian Community written, but not yet published.
Are you involved or connected with other writers-like a writer’s group or Forum?
Yes – I am involved in several: Pinterest, LinkedIn, Christian Writers, Goodreads, Aspiring Writers, Atlanta Writer’s Café, Fiction Writers Guild, Facebook, Wordserve Water Coolers, Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium, & Writer’s Bureau.
Where can folks buy your book and find out more about you?
My book can be purchased locally at the Curiosity Book Store in Murphy, and Hill Gallery in Brasstown. On line (internet) the book can be purchased as either kindle or paperback on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. People can read more about me by going on Amazon.com, and click on my name (William Roy Pipes) my name will be in blue and read my Author’s Page. My website has some information about me.
Can you sum up what Appalachia means to you?
Appalachia is my way of life. Someone asked my wife how I knew the Appalachian dialect I used in my novel Darby. She answered, “That’s the way he talks.”
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Roy-and I hope you'll give his book a read. Below is Roy's contact information if you'd like to contact him directly.
William Roy Pipes
917 Upper Peachtree Road
Murphy, NC 28906
In late November, Charles Fletcher published the third book of his Little Sam Mountain series. The book is titled Living Their Dream. At age 91, Charles is still going strong-his latest book makes the seventh book he has written about his memories of growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
Charles generously donated a copy of Little Sam Mountain-Living Their Dream for me to give away here on the Blind Pig. Before I get to the giveaway details, I'd like to share one of my favorite Charles Fletcher stories-The Medicine Show.
The Medicine Show by Charles Fletcher
A medicine show consisted of three people: a doc, a pretty young girl, and the very popular music man. The young girl was always dolled up with make-up and wearing a dress pulled up to her knees, with short sleeve bows, a low neck and no collar. Us boys got our ears pulled a lot and the men got a lot of elbows in the ribs from their wives for gawking and trying to get up close to her. The music man would play a guitar, harmonica, and drums all at the same time while singing. He would ask for requests but would just ignore them and sing what he wanted to. The main attraction of The Medicine Show was the Doc though. Doc was the fancy dressed man that owned the truck and the show. After the young girl and the music man warmed up the crowd, Doc would come out for the main act.
We didn't have any telephones back then but news of a show coming to town would spread from one person to another quickly until everyone in town would know.
On the night of the show, Mom cooked supper and we children got the milking, feeding of the animals, and wood chopping for the cook stove done in a hurry. We rushed to finish eating then started the three mile trip to town.
"I'll wash the dishes when we get back", Mom said. "Don't want to miss any of the show."
There was always a small platform on the back of the Doc's truck that acted like a stage where everything took place. Doc, as he was always called, strode out onto the stage.
"Gather up close neighbors and friends. I want to tell you about the Miracle Medicine I've brought you. If you have back problems, sore feet, head aches, lack of energy, sleeping issues, or any other problems, this medicine will have you up and going in less than half an hour. (you children move to the back). It's only fifty cents a bottle and, if it doesn't do what I say, I'll give you your money back. Now step up. Who will be first?"
My Mom took a dollar from her apron pocket and handed it to the Doctor.
"Lady, to let you know how much I appreciate your trust in my medicine I will let you have three bottles for a dollar."
"I'll take it", Mom said.
Then nearly everyone began to step up with their dollar to buy three bottles.
"Better head for home", Mom said. "Got to clean up the kitchen before going to bed. Won't be long until four o'clock in the morning and it's time to cook breakfast."
Back home, Mom went into the kitchen to clean up. Me, my brother, and our two sisters went in the parlor where Dad had two oil lamps burning for light. We were getting our school homework done when Mom began to sing at the top of her lungs.
This little light of mine
I'm going to let it shine
Mom was always humming and singing, but never this loud.
"Better go see why she is singing so loud", Dad said.
She started up again.
I've got a home in Bul-
"What's wrong, Mama?" Dad asked.
"Nothing. Just felt like singing."
Dad noticed that one of the bottles of medicine was sitting on the table, about a quarter empty.
"You been taking this medicine?" he asked.
"Just a few spoons full. Was sort of tired but I feel much better now."
Then she started singing again at the top of her lungs.
In the sweet by and by
In the sweet by and-
Dad picked up the bottle and read the front label.
Cure All Miracle Medicine
He then looked on the back of the bottle.
25% Spring Water
Oil of Peppermint added for color and flavoring
Dad went to the parlor, got his hat, and headed to the door.
"Where are you going?" Mom asked.
"Got to catch that Medicine Man before he leaves town. We need a few more bottles to get us through the winter."
Out the door he went. My Dad was known to like a little drink every now and then. In fact a big drink anytime.
I hope you enjoyed the story of the medicine man as much as I did-it makes me giggle every time I think of the part about Charles's mother singing. To be entered in the giveaway for his latest book-all you need to do is leave a comment on this post. (*Giveaway ends Wednesday January 8)
All of Charles Fletcher's books can be found at Ingram, Amazon.com, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, as well as directly from Charles himself at firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. It's not necessary to read all 3 books of the series in order-while the books do tell the ongoing story of the Dowdy family-each book can also stand alone as a seperate story.