Library of Congress - c1907 PENNSYLVANIA--CONNEAUT LAKE
Gov. Carringer describes event that happened in Graham County NC late 1800s - written and documented by Fred O. Scroggs - Brasstown 1925
"Two men, staunch members of a Baptist Church on Yellow Creek, made a trip to Maryville, Tenn. to market their produce butter, eggs, herbs, chestnuts, chinquapins, deer hams, etc.
On their return they were telling something of the sights of the city, one of which they claimed they saw them making ice in August. This was repeated a few times around the country store and elsewhere until the Deacons decided something had to be done about this matter. So, they brought charges in the church against these two worthy members, charging them with lying.
On being brought to trial in the church, they did not deny their story, but made the church a proposition, that if they would select two more of their most reliable members to go with them to Maryville; they themselves to pay all expenses, and on return if these two faithful brethren did not report true facts etc., then the church could "church them."
The four went to Maryville and later reported to the Deacons that they certainly were making ice in August. Whereupon a meeting of the members was called. The report was heard and by a unanimous vote all four were turned out of the church for lying."
I recently read a fascinating article about the history of ice harvesting in Grit Magazine. I had no idea the use of ice for preserving foods went back so far in time.
This story, recorded by Fred O. long ago here in Brasstown, makes me smile for many reasons.
While the church members seem downright silly today, if you'd never seen a piece of ice other than during the wintertime, it really would be hard to believe you could buy it over the mountain in TN during the month of August.
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing August 5, 2017 @ 8:00 p.m. Unicoi State Park in Helen GA.
Today's guest post was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.
I just now accessed Charles Fletcher's delightful "New Ground," and it brought back memories of my Daddy, Jewel Marion Dyer, of Choestoe, GA, Union County, clearing "new grounds" in our 200 acres of land when I was a child. I must have been about 6 (the same year I went with Daddy as he used the "Divining Stick" to find the place to dig for the spring when our well went dry.) Daddy wanted an acre or more patch to plant beans "for market." The bean patch was to be still another of the several "money crops" we raised on our Choestoe farm. The large fields along the Nottely River were mainly planted in our main crop, corn, and in "Blue-Ribbon Cane" for making sorghum syrup which my Daddy made at his syrup mill in the fall for all the farmers in a large radius from us who brought their cane for him to make into sorghum syrup "on the shares."
But back to the bean patch: Daddy and some neighbors (who always helped each other in such endeavors) cut trees off the measured-off acre of land. Some of the trees were big enough to snake to the sawmill and have sawed into timber. The tree-cutting and clearing of the land happened in the late fall/early winter after all the crops were safely in. It would take awhile to clear the land. First cutting the trees. Then, small as I was, I had the job of "piling the brush" on top of stumps. This would be set afire to get rid of the brush, but also to "burn down" the stumps of trees, and eventually get them removed--one of the hardest jobs of clearing the new ground. It seems like it took two or more years, ridding the trees, first; then the brush; then the stumps and roots.
Finally, finally, Daddy thought the acre was in good enough shape to "turn" (with the turning plow, both horses hooked up to it). He still discovered roots aplenty, and more digging and grubbing had to be done. But finally, he was "satisfied" (a good mountain word he used to approve of an operation like this big "land-clearing") and the ground was read to "lay off" in rows, scatter the fertilizer in rows and "stir it into the ground" and plant the bean seeds--seeds that would yield green beans to be picked, measured into bushel hampers, then put into feed sack bags and hauled to market, all the way to Gainesville "across Neal Gap" on the new highway that came in sight of our farm even before I was born (road finished in 1925).
I liked everything about our "new ground" except one thing. Well, you expected me to say "the hard work," didn't you? Not the hard work, because we were "brought up" to work; and if we needed a reminder, we were quoted scripture to the effect "Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Ecclestiastes 9:10). But some days, my mother would send me to the "bean patch" to pick a "mess" of beans so she could cook them for our family and whoever the work hands were my father had doing farm jobs. I took my pail and obediently walked through the woods to the wonderful, well-producing bean patch. But lo, I couldn't help but be scared the whole time I was there picking beans, and I hurried to fill the pail and get safely back home to my house.
Was I afraid of wild animals that might spring forth from the woods surrounding the bean patch? No! Daddy had thoughtfully put a good fence around the acre patch to try to keep wild animals out (although I think some could scale the fence with relative ease).
The fear came to the young child (I was maybe 7 or 8 years old by this time) because, just northeast of the bean patch, lay a tract of land that somehow I had a deep-seated fear about. You see, Old Choestoe Cemetery where many of my ancestors were buried (early settlers to Choestoe even before the Cherokees were removed on the "Trial of Tears") had their resting places in that cemetery. Looking through the trees and up to Old Choestoe Cemetery, I could see my Grandmother Georgianne Hunter Collins's white tombstone. I could also see several others' stones, whose names I will not mention here. My Grandmother had died before I was born, and my mother gave me the name Georgianne Ethelene after my Grandmother, and her sister, Ethel. Somehow, in my child's over-active imagination, I thought Grandmother might want to come forth from the grave and get acquainted with me, who worked so hard within sight of her burying place, to pick a mess of beans for "dinner" (what we called our noon meal on the farm in Choestoe).
Well, I really did want to meet my Grandmother Georgianne, for I had been told beautiful tales about what a sweet, hard-working woman she was, stately and a good wife, mother and neighbor to all. But somehow, I didn't think I wanted to meet her in that beanpatch, with me the only one to see. And after all, she had already been dead since October 3, 1924, and I was picking beans in the summer of 1938. Fourteen years had been a long-time gone for a dear grandmother.
Such is the imagination of an 8-year old child. I did remain to fill my bucket, left the bean patch, remembering to latch the gate behind me, and hurried through the woods trail to my house where I helped my mother string the beans and get them ready to cook for our family's noon meal.
The New Ground was a place that yielded well through many years, as long as my father was able to cultivate the "cleared acre." He was still growing beans on that acre and taking them to market the year before his stroke that debilitated him. My mother, Azie Collins Dyer, died February 14, 1945 at age 49. My father died September 4, 1974 at age 84. I grew up happy on our farm in Choestoe, and am grateful for my Appalachian heritage.
Ethelene Dyer Jones - March 2017
I hope you enjoyed Ethelene's memories of clearing new ground as much as I did!
Today's guest post was written by Charles Fletcher.
While hunting in the mountains of North Carolina, I saw ramps very often but never gave any thought as what they were used for. I had heard some of the men folks talk about eating them when they were in the mountains for several days. They jokingly said that they smelled so bad that no wild animal would dare get close to you.
The popularity of the Ramp began to get attention and there were Ramp Clubs being formed in different towns and villages. The clubs began gathering together every spring and having what they called a Ramp Tramp. They elected committees for this annual Get–to-Gather. One group would make a trip to the mountains to dig (harvest) enough to feed the big crowds that attended on the big day of the tramp.
Another committee would contact Bluegrass bands and country singers to entertain the crowd. The next assignment was the main and most important one-the cooks. This was a very demanding job. Every cook had to know how much meat to cook with the ramps, and how long to cook before cooking the scrambled eggs. All the other fixings were prepared at home and brought to the celebration. There would be plenty of cornbread, fresh buttermilk and you could bet your last dollar that some Good Old Boy would secretly bring a jug of liquid corn. Of course this wasn’t for everyone. Just his close buddies and maybe a little for the music makers.
The celebration started early with the music and singing. While this was going on the cooks were busy getting ready to feed everyone.
After a good meal of ramps, ham, scrambled eggs, corn bread and a big glass of buttermilk to wash all of this down there would be more music and then the dancing began. For those that didn’t dance they would gather in small groups and catch up on the news from their last meeting. Everyone enjoyed these Ramp Tramps.
The Sunday school class that my brother, TJ, and I belonged to at Oak Grove Church located in the community of Thickety decided to have a ramp tramp of our own. This was after we returned from WWII in the late 1940s. The women of the class were to do the cooking and the men were to go to the mountains and dig the ramps.
As soon as the Sunday services were over several of us loaded up in a couple of cars and headed for the mountains above Crusoe located at the foot of Cold Mountain. This was where we were going to dig the ramps for our Ramp Tramp.
We took a couple of big burlap sacks to put the ramps in. The place that we found the ramp patch was a good one. It didn’t take us long to fill the sacks and head back down the mountain, load up, and head back to Thickety. We were about half way back when it started raining. "We’ll have to cook under the Thickety Community Shed about a mile from the Church" TJ said “A little rain is not stopping us from having our Ramp Dinner”.
When we arrived at the community shed the women were already cooking the meat to get the grease for the ramps.
Some of us were cleaning the ramps and others cutting them into small pieces for cooking. The women soon had everything cooked and on the tables along with the cornbread and buttermilk which they had prepared the day before. After the blessing by one of the men we were ready for our Ramp Meal and none too soon. We all were hungry as a wolf.
By the time we finished eating and cleaning everything it was time for the evening church service. We washed up a little, combed our hair, loaded up in our cars and headed for church.
We all went to our regular seats where we were in a habit of setting. Heads began to turn. People began taking their handkerchiefs out and wipe their eyes and nose. Some even coughed.
The preacher took his place up front and began clearing his throat. "It seems that someone has been to the ramp patch, smells like onions in here. I believe it is worse than onions, more like garlic."
The preacher was looking directly at Howard, TJ’s brother in law. "It ain't me preacher", Howard said. "I only eat one helping but TJ and some of the others eat two or three helpings. It’s them preacher, not me", Howard said.
"Now wait just a minute Mr. Dotson. You eat as much as I did and you know it."
The preacher cleared his throat and said "Lets all stand and sing the first and third verse of page 224 in the hymnal on the bench where you are sitting." The piano player started the music, the song leader stood and we all began to sing The Lily of the Valley.
There was no more talk of how we smelled. It has been many years ago that I went to the Ramp Tramp. It was my first and also the last one for me.
I hope you enjoyed Charles Fletcher's story about the Ramp Tramp that nearly cleared a church service as much as I did. Leave him a comment and I'll make sure he reads it.
Be sure to drop back by next Monday for another guest post about ramps.
Jerry and Pap - Life long friends
"We mountain people are the product of our history and the beliefs and outlook of our foreparents. We are a traditional people, and in our rural setting we valued the things of the past. More than most people, we avoided mainstream life and thus became self-reliant. We sought freedom from entanglements and cherished solitude. All of this was both our strength and our undoing."
~Appalachian Values -Loyal Jones
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday March 25 at 6:00 p.m. at the Martins Creek Community Center.
Today's guest post was written by Charles Fletcher.
Henson Cove area of Haywood County NC - March 1993 Blizzard
THE LATE SPRING SNOW OF MARCH 17,1936 written by Charles Fletcher
March 17, 1936 -- One of the worst snowstorms of the century swept across Asheville and Western North Carolina. Snowdrifts up to 8 feet high buried parked cars in the city and caused hazardous driving through the area.
I was thirteen years old, and my younger brother, T.J., was eleven at the time of the late spring snow of March 17th, 1936. We went to the new school called Beaverdam Elementary School which was about one-half mile away from where we lived. Our house was located on a hill above a graveyard, and as might be expected, it was referred to as “Graveyard Hill”.
On March 15th at noon the snow was coming down very hard, so the school closed at noon and sent everyone home. The snow continued very hard from Friday until Sunday night.
My dad was working in the paper mill at Canton, and the mill’s supervisors asked all the employees who were working to stay and not go home. They wanted to be sure that they would have someone to keep the mill running and not have to shut it down.
Like most of the people who lived in the mountains of Western North Carolina, my family were always prepared for the unexpected problems that come up every now and then. They always had plenty of food that they preserved in the summer and plenty of firewood on hand to keep the house warm and the cook-stove hot so they could cook three meals every day.
Although we didn’t have the things that children and adults have nowadays to keep themselves entertained, we managed very well with the things we had. We read, told stories, and played games, and Mom would read us Bible stories.
On Monday morning we asked Mom if we could go back to school. We would have to walk the half-mile to school because we lived less than the two-mile distance from the school which would qualify us to ride the school bus. After Mom made sure we had enough clothes on so we wouldn’t freeze, she let us leave for school if we promised that if the snow was too deep we would come back home.
The snow was up higher than our heads on the route we normally took to school, so we walked the ridges where the wind had blown off the snow. When we came down off the ridges, we walked on the sides of the road where the snow had been blown back to the high side of the road.
Burt Robinson’s house was the closest house to the school, and he was the janitor and caretaker for the school. When we got near the school, we could see black smoke coming from the coal-fired furnace that heated the water that circulated through pipes to heat the school rooms. We knew that Burt was at the school.
When we reached the school, we headed straight to the boiler-room where Bert spent most of his time during the school day. He had his candy store in the boiler-room. Students could come in and buy an all-day sugar daddy for a penny.
When we entered the boiler-room, Burt asked what we were doing at school. He told us that there wouldn’t be any classes for the better part of a week and that we should go on back home before it started snowing again.
When we got back to our house, Dad was home. He had walked the ridges where the snow had blown off just like my younger brother and I had done.
This spring snow set back farming for the year and did lots of damage to trees. There was also at least one death that was known about when a man who was our neighbor (name withheld) lost his life from what was called “cold sleepiness”. In cold sleepiness the body temperature gets low, and the mind tells a person to go to sleep. Once asleep, the person freezes to death.
I am now 95 years old, and I have seen many big snow storms, but I will never forget the spring snow of March 17, 1936.
Now that was a big snow! I hope you enjoyed Charles's snowy memories as much as I did.
"March is a pair of bluebirds checking out the nesting site they used last year and the year before - the same one which was used by parents and grandparents before them.
It's red and salmon blooms on flowering quince at an old home place.
It's the growl of a roto-tiller, the smell of freshly-turned soil, and thoughts of creamed corn with thick slices of tomatoes.
March is a walk up Bradley Fork with sunshine on your back and wind blown snowflakes peppering your face."
~Don Casada 2016
p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing Friday March 10 at 5:30 p.m. at Ranger's Elementary's Gospel Bluegrass & Barbecue. Tickets are on sale now $7.00 prepaid at the door they will be $10.00. Starts at 5:00 p.m.
The Gunter Cabin - Fontana Village NC
Welch Cove Pioneers:
The Gunter Family
Jessie Gunter was born in the Stecoah Valley to Hiram and Bettie Gunter. He and seven siblings grew up helping work their small farm. When Nancy Catherine Richardson arrived from South Carolina to teach at the Stecoah School, she and Jessie became smitten and decided to marry.
In 1875, Jessie and Catherine traveled with their four children to Welch Cove where Jessie's brother Cyrene lived. The brothers constructed a cabin for Jessie's growing family that has since been hailed as some of the finest carpentry in all the Smokies. The walls were made from large tulip poplar trunks, split and joined with half dovetail notches. Cherry and poplar puncheons, slabs of wood flattened on one side, comprised flooring across squared joists. A staircase was built to reach the upper floor and white oak shingles were hewn for roofing. The fact that the cabin has survived so long stands as a testament to the quality of the brothers' work.
Sadly, the family only enjoyed the cabin for a short time. A great blizzard assailed the area in the winter of 1884. Two of the Gunter children, 10 year old Bettie and 14 year old Hiram, fell gravely ill. In the absence of a doctor, both children succumbed to their illness and passed away as the blizzard raged outside.
Jessie, refusing to bury his boy and girl in a "green wood coffin," used the only dry lumber available: his puncheon floors. In a coffin wide enough for both children, they were laid to rest in what would become the Welch Cove Cemetery. Catherine battled depression for four years after this horrific loss until she, too, passed away in her sleep in 1888. Jessie fashioned her coffin in the same way as the first before leaving the cabin floorless and returning to Stecoah Valley.
~Excerpt from Fontana Village Plaque that hangs in the restored Gunter Cabin.
Last week some folks at work had to go to Fontana Village for a few classes and that got me to thinking about the Gunter Cabin and the sad sad story of Jesse and Catherine. I wonder if the people who moved in after Jesse left replaced the floor...and if they knew why it was missing.
I went to elementary school with a girl who's last name was Gunter I wish I could go back in time and tell her to ask her grandmother or grandfather if they knew of Jesse Gunter.
If you've never been to the Stecoah and Fontana Village area of Graham County NC you need to go-a beautiful place indeed.
Since I first started writing here on the Blind Pig one truth has proved itself over and over: you never know where questions will take you.
As will often happen, I already had the thought of wood meandering around my brain when GW Newton sent me the story about his Mother and lightered wood. Falling in love with his mother's fierce independent determination led me down a whole different road.
Somewhere along the dirt path that went from dead chestnut trees to rich pine I took a u-turn and went back along the way looking for rolling stores. Wouldn't you know, when I hitched a ride on the store truck I found a story or two by way of Pap. Seems he's always got a story for me no matter the subject.
Pap's family: Marie holding Henry, Wade, Carrie, Ray, and Pap in his overalls
Since most of the places Pap's family lived when he was a boy are within driving distance (if not walking) he's taken me to more than a few of them over the years. You may remember the place he lived on Cook Road-the place where he was scared in the moonlight.
The house had 3 rooms with a fireplace for heat and a wood cook stove. WWII had been over for a few years and things seemed to be picking up even here in Brasstown. Pap's father, Wade, was offered a job share cropping the old Brown place over on Pine Log.
In early summer they moved from Cook Road to an old house in Calley Cove that had 3 rooms too, but the rooms were larger. Even better the old cabin had a covered porch along the length of it. The house sat under a white oak as big as a wagon wheel. There was even a can house and a big barn. But the best part about the new place was that it was on the sunny side of the mountain, not in a dreary damp place like the house they'd just left.
The Brown place was less than a mile away, so Wade didn't have too far to travel back and forth. Things were going good for Pap's family. His father also did some farming for Pap's aunt and uncle, Ina and Bill Penland. Pap didn't say it, but I'm thinking his mother Marie liked being only a mile away from her sister Ina. And I know from the stories I've heard that a true bond of friendship was made during that time between the two sister's children.
The house in Calley Cove didn't have a fireplace nor a cookstove. The cookstove wasn't an issue since they were able to bring the one from Cook road with them. But as summer turned into fall the lack of a fireplace for extra heat became a problem. You'd think a cook stove would be enough to heat a little 3 room cabin, but I'm sure most of the heat went straight out the un-insulated walls.
Wade came up with the money to buy a woodstove-Pap thinks it was 26 dollars. He put in an order for Bennetts Rolling Store to bring him one as soon as they could. Finally the day arrived. Pap said it was an exciting time for them all.
Now this is the part of the story that tugs at my heart.
When Wade went to meet the store truck he didn't have anything to haul the stove home on.
All these years later, who can say why. Maybe he didn't have an animal to pull a sled-maybe he didn't have a sled-maybe he didn't want to put someone else out by asking to borrow theirs.
Pap doesn't remember the why, but he remembers the how.
Wade directed the store man to help him put the stove on his back. The man didn't want to comply with the request, the driver warned Wade he'd hurt himself, warned him there was no way he could make it home. Now my Papaw Wade wasn't a large man, he wasn't much taller than me (I'm 5'5) and he couldn't have weighed much more than me either.
Pap remembers how his Daddy started off for home with that stove on his back. He traveled a ways and then backed up to a bank so he could shift the load off. Pap remembers after his Daddy folded a coat and placed it on his shoulder he backed up to the bank and wrangled the stove to his back and started off again.
Pap remembers how after going a bit farther, his Daddy finally realized he'd bit off more than he could chew. After the stove was once again set on a bank, they went for a horse and sled that carried the load the rest of the way home.
I've pondered Papaw Wade trying to carry that stove a blue million times since Pap first told me the story. You'd think only a crazy person would try to carry a stove, but see I know Papaw Wade wasn't crazy, he was actually a very smart man. So why did he attempt such a herculean task?
Because his family needed a stove; because he had an independent spirit that made him want to take care of things on his own; because he didn't want to put someone else out by asking for their help; because he saw what needed to be done and went at it like fighting fire.
This story about Papaw Wade trying to carry a stove home to his family and GW Newton's story of his Mother figuring out how to get her own lightered wood splinters when she needed them inspire me. Both show the determination and goodness that can dwell within us humans.
In today's world there's no need for carrying stoves on your back nor crawling under the house for splinters, but there are still obstacles. There are still hard times in my Appalachia and there are still people rising above them for their families. And you know what? That's just as cool now as it was way back then.
p.s. This post was originally published right here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in 2012. I've had Papaw Wade and his wood cutting on my mind the last few days and thought I'd share the post with you again.
Today's guestpost was written by Keith Jones.
Shotgun Wedding written by Keith Jones
When my Dad Grover Jones was a boy, my granddaddy Jones and the family lived way out in the country. It was the middle of the depression, so they got by just about any way they could. They didn’t own their own farm, but were sharecroppers. Quite a few folks, black and white, lived in the general vicinity, but no one lived within sight of their house. The R.E.A. hadn’t yet strung electricity into their part of the country, so nights were lit by lanterns, flashlights, and firelight. Folks went to bed early.
One night the family was all in bed…Daddy and Momma Jones in the main bedroom, with their numerous daughters and preteen Grover, the only boy in the family, scattered around the rest of the house. Something woke Daddy Jones about 10 or 11 at night. He thought he heard several quiet voices out in the yard, but when he pulled back the edge of the roller shade to look out, he really couldn’t see anything. It sounded like several people in the yard, but he just couldn’t tell.
There was not a lot of crime in their part of the world, but certainly crime was rampant during the depression, so Daddy Jones was not going to take any chances that a gang of bad men was coming to rob their meager possessions. He slipped into the room where Grover slept and shook him awake.
“Here, son, you take this and stand behind that door over there while I see who it is coming up toward the porch.” He put the “Long Tom” 12-guage shotgun into Grover’s hands, then slipped across the front room toward the door. As he did so, they heard the front steps squeak, and a loud knock came on the door.
No answer, just a shuffling sound as several people moved back from the door.
Finally, Daddy Jones cracked the door open and peeked out. On the porch was a crowd of Black people. In those Jim Crow days, segregation was not as strict in the country as it was in some towns, but it was highly unusual for anyone to come to someone else’s home after dark, and doubly unusual for Blacks to approach a white family’s house at night.
With no flashlight and no lamp lit, it was hard to recognize anyone. Finally, Daddy Jones asked (rather more loudly than he normally would have,) “What do you folks want?”
An older gentleman took a half step toward the door.
“Is you the Mister Jones that’s the preacher?”
“Yes,” said Daddy Jones. “I’m a preacher, but mostly I farm and do a little blacksmithing and carpentering. That still doesn’t tell me what you want. Is somebody dead or something?”
From the back of the crowd, a lady said, “Hummph! If’n he don’ do right, somebody fixin’ to be!”
The man at the front of the crowd reached back and pulled a frightened young lady up onto the porch.
“Preacher, this here’s my oldest daughter. And that…” Someone shoved a young man from behind, causing him to stumble up the steps beside the young lady.
“That is the young scoundrel I caught in the hayloft with her tonight! We’s here for you to marry ‘em.”
About this time, Grover noticed that he was outgunned. A couple of men—one old and one young—were also carrying shotguns.
“Grover, light the lamp.” Daddy Jones went back to the bedroom, pulled his overalls on, and slipped into the coat of his Sunday suit. There in the front room, the young couple said their vows, with Grover and Momma Jones as witnesses, plus two or three of the crowd, who stepped in to see that the couple were “married proper.”
Satisfied, the bride’s grandpa and brother shouldered their shotguns. Her momma, crying by now with the emotion of the moment, leaned on the stern daddy who had led the procession. The bride held to the arm of the bewildered-looking groom as the whole group moved slowly across the clean-swept clay of Momma Jones’ front yard. Grover and his dad watched the family until they disappeared down the starlit dirt lane.
And that was the end of the story…except for how I heard it. Decades later, we happened to be in the city that had grown up from the small town that was nearest to the sharecrop farm where all this happened. Dad picked up a newspaper and glanced through it to see if there was any news of people he’d grown up with or known as a child. Of course, he checked the obituaries first “…to make sure I’m not dead!” as he always explained to me. And there it was, on the social events page that faced the obituaries across the fold of the newspaper…a 30th wedding anniversary announcement, with a picture of a handsome Black couple, listing their many children and grandchildren. “What do you know?!” said Dad. And that’s how I learned about the real shotgun wedding.
I hope you enjoyed Keith's guestpost as much as I did! It made me think of several things:
- How Granny and Pap celebrated their 50th Anniversary last April...even though they courted less than 3 months before marrying.
- How Granny and Pap ran off to just across the Georgia line and got married at a preacher's house without telling Granny Gazzie .
- How Granny Gazzie gave Pap a stern talking to about taking her daughter off and marrying her without her parents knowlege and about how he better honor those vows and her daughter or she'd be coming after him. I'm betting it only took Granny Gazzie a few months to figure out her daughter marrying Pap was the best thing that ever happened to her daughter.
The Champion Walnut-Cracker ~ Dutch Cove written by John Parris
The old man sat in a split-bottomed, straight-backed chair cracking out walnuts with a hammer on a locust stump in the front of his woodshed.
"The preacher down at Morning Star calls me the champion walnut-cracker of Haywood County," he said. "That's what he told me. And I don't guess anybody else does crack as many walnuts." George Smathers grinned and his eyes twinkled.
"There's one thing for a fact," he said. "You won't find a walnut-cracker as old as me. I'm just nine months away from being a hundred years old, the oldest man that ever lived in the Dutch Cove."
"Got in the walnut-crackin' business about seven or eight years ago so I'd have me a little extra spendin' money. The womenfolks around here and down at Canton take all I can crack out. they put 'em in their Christmas cakes. There's nothin' finer than a walnut cake."
"I generally sell about forty pounds of walnut meat a year. I cracked out fifty pounds last fall. I figure on knockin' out forty or fifty pounds this year. Got $3.75 cents a pound last year, but I'm goin' to get $4 this year or not sell'em at all, just throw 'em away.
"I don't figure that's too high, what with all the work that goes into it. You have to get out and go huntin' all over this country for walnuts. Then you've got to hull'em. Then you've got to dry'em. And then you've got to crack 'em. If it wasn't for havin' somethin' to pass off my time, I wouldn't bother with 'em."
(Excerpt from the book Mountain Cooking written by John Parris 1978)
The Deer Hunter grew up in the Dutch Cove where George Smathers lived. He doesn't remember The Champion Walnut-Cracker, but he did go to Morning Star Elementary School and he has great memories of roaming the fields in the cove with his dog and with his best friend Eric who lived just down the road a ways.