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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I Made Three Bean Salad for the First Time!

Three Bean Salad from Appalachia

When I go to a homecoming or dinner on the grounds I always keep an eye out for Three Bean Salad, but I've never made it myself until this past weekend. I was taking a look through one of my favorite Appalachian Cookbooks - Mountain Cooking by John Parris when I saw his recipe for Three Bean Salad and decided to make it with a few minor changes. 

Three Bean Salad - Adapted from Mountain Cooking by John Parris

  • 1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (Parris used greenbeans)
  • 1 can yellow wax beans
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 medium onion thinly diced (Parris sliced his onions)
  • 2 stalks of celery thinly sliced (Parris used 3 stalks)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (Parris used 2/3 cup)

Drain beans and rinse with cold water. Combine onion and celery; mix with beans.

Combine sugar, pepper, vinegar, salt, and oil; mix well. Pour sugar mixture over bean mixture and toss to combine. Place bean salad in refrigerator for several hours or overnight stirring or tossing several times to make sure all the beans marinate equally.

Drain before serving.

Print Three Bean Salad  (right click on link to print the recipe)

The amount of vinegar, oil, and sugar used can be easily changed depending on one’s taste. The original recipe called for diced pimentos. I left them out because I didn't have any on hand, but I'm sure they would be good in the salad too. 

The recipe I adapted from Mountain Cooking turned out very good. I'm betting more than a few of you have your own recipe for Three Bean Salad since it's such a common recipe. I'd love to hear about your recipe so please leave a comment and tell us about it.

Tipper

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Father's Day in Appalachia

Fathers Day in Appalachia
Steve and Pap - 1970

Father's Day in Appalachia is special dinners with Daddy's favorite cake or pie. It's fathers young, middle aged, and old feeling backward and uncomfortable from the extra attention. Father's Day in Appalachia is gifts of cards, tools, shirts, books, or something as simple as painted rocks from the creek. 

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers who read the Blind Pig and The Acorn. 

Tipper

*UPDATE: It's 7:00 a.m. on Sunday June 11 and I just discovered Father's Day is next Sunday! Oh well guess I'm a week early but at least I'm not a day late and a dollar short like usual. 

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Appalachian Sayings - Help My Time

Appalachian saying help my time

Chitter, Morgan, and Chatter - 4th Grade Martins Creek Elementary

help my time interjection A mild exclamation of surprise.
1924 Spring Lydia Whaley 2 Well help my time. 1993 Ison and Ison Whole Nuther Lg 29 = an expression used as a soft exclamation. 1996 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell).

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

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Last week one of the girls' elementary teachers was cleaning off her computer and found the photo above and sent it to me. When I saw it I said "Help my time wasn't that just yesterday? How did they grow up so dadjimmed fast!"

Help my time is a saying of exclamation that is still very common in my area of Appalachia. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

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Tipper's Fairy Tale - The Second Part

The emporer tree

I'm finally ready to share rest of my fairy tale with you. If you missed the first post about my own secret fairy tale-click here to read it first and then hit the back button to continue reading here.

The Princess Tree

My fairy tale has grown even larger since I first told you about it and now casts a large shadow over my kitchen window. Ten feet of growth in one summer is amazing and spooky all at the same time. Jack's beanstalk immediately comes to mind, but this fairy tale comes from a far and distant land: China.

Paulownia tomentosa is the scientific name of the species with the more common names being Princess Tree or Empress Tree. Even though the tree is not native to any portion of North America, it can be found from Canada to Florida and way out west in Washington and California too.

Once the tree matures it has purple drooping blooms which are then replaced by large seed capsules that are noticeable from a far distance.

Before the tree matures it has amazing green leaves that can grow to be as large as three feet wide. After maturity the leaves are smaller and more uniform in nature. The tree can reach heights of between 65 and 125 feet-hence the reason it can't stay hugged up to my kitchen window.

Unfortunately Paulownia tomentosa is invasive in some areas and interferes with the native vegetation. If you've ever ridden through the Nantahala Gorge you can see the trees seem to thrive a little to well in that environment.

Paulownia tomentosa the princess tree in appalachia

Just down the road from my house, where Pap lived when he was a boy, there is a lone Princess Tree standing tall in the pasture. There have been a few others here and there around our holler, but I'm not aware of any that have reached maturity.

There used to be one that grew to be about 20 feet tall near my uncle's house-right on the side of the road so you noticed it as you came or went. I paid special attention to the tree when cold weather arrived in the fall of the year. After the first heavy frost every leaf on the entire tree would fall off. The leaves would just be laying around the bottom of the trunk like giant curled pieces of paper.

Pap's Uncle Blaine brought the tree in the photo above out here with him back in the day.

Blaine Elmer Wilson 1911 1959

Blaine Wilson 1911-1959

What I mean when I say out here is that he brought it from the Asheville area to Brasstown. Our family has made their own sort of migration between Brasstown and the Asheville/Canton area over the years. One generation will decide to go back to one place or the other and another will decide to stay where they are at, but it's always seemed like Pap's family was connected to both areas. 

Blaine lived from 1911 till 1959 so I never knew him, but Pap had fond memories of Blaine. Pap said he loved to fish and hunt and was even President of a Wildlife Association at one time. Blaine found the fishing especially nice out this way.

Pap said Blaine brought what he thought were Catawba trees to plant around the old home place. Catawba trees are well liked by fishermen because they attract what is commonly known as a catawba worms. Actually they're caterpillars, but either way fish seem to like them.

Blaine thought if the trees grew he'd have instant fish bait when he came out to visit and fish. He unknowingly had Princesses Trees and the only one that survived to maturity is the one in the pasture.

Empress Tree

After my fairy tale started growing under my kitchen window I started asking questions about the tree and Pap told me the story of Blaine and his hopes of ready fish bait. I never thought of asking around to see if any of my family had a photo of Blaine until Pap told me the story. Sure enough someone had a picture and they were kind enough to send it to me. I couldn't wait to see Blaine's face-you know to see if he looked like any of us.

In a very serendipitous manner I was sent the picture of Blaine holding the fish, even though the person who sent it had no clue why I wanted a photo of Blaine or anything about Pap's story of Blaine and the fish bait trees. 

So why do I think the Princess Tree growing under my kitchen window is a fairy tale? Because in the 17 years we've lived in this house not one Princess Tree has come to grow around our place. The tree is magical because it grew over 10 feet in one summer and has 3 foot wide leaves.

Mostly I think it's a fairy tale because my Great Uncle Blaine, a man I never knew, brought the parent of my Princess Tree to my mountain holler all those years ago. It's like Blaine settled down by the house to wait and then when I was ready he knocked on the kitchen window and told me to come find out who he was.

My fairy tale came full circle once I was sent the photo of Blaine holding a fish and now I'm sure Uncle Blaine won't mind a bit when I let The Deer Hunter cut the tree down. 

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It's been 5 years since I first shared my fairy tale with you and in that time not one Princess Tree has decided to take up residence around my house. 

Tipper

p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Saturday June 10, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. at Vogel State Park - Blairsville GA.

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