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Caralyn Davis posted an event

Prose to Picture: A Film Adaptation Workshop for Writers at Sandburg Hall, Unitarian Universalist Church

September 26, 2015 from 10am to 3pm
On Saturday Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Asheville's own Flatiron Writers will host "Prose to Picture," a four-hour workshop led by screenwriter Maryedith Burrell that will lay the foundation for turning prose--from novels to short stories to comics--into a working script.Maryedith has just finished a SOLD-OUT run of her one-woman show, #OUCH!, in The 2015 New York Fringe Festival, and she has written for every major studio in the United States and England. Don't miss out on this…See More
Wednesday
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

New excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in WNC Woman!

The September issue of Western North Carolina Woman is out, and they have kindly included a chapter from Plant Whatever Brings  You Joy! This is the story of my introduction to chipmunks the two years I lived in Asheville--and what they taught me! If you like this what you read, you might consider dropping by Malaprop's and get your copy of my book, and read all 52 stories! Thank you! Kathryn…See More
Tuesday
Kathryn Hall updated their profile
Tuesday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Carolina Mtns Lit Fest & Ann Patchett interview

Patchett, Kingsolver, and a thrill of writers buzz Burnsvilleby Rob Neufeld             If you take any pleasure or have any interest in literature, you’ll want to be in Burnsville this Friday and Saturday for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival.            The variety of programs—talks, readings, workshops, performances—are great, as is the variety of subjects; and the 34 presenters are well-chosen.            The Saturday night program, with novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Ann Patchett,…See More
Monday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash, and talk with author

Rash’s suspense novel gives time to poetryby Rob Neufeld             Ron Rash’s new novel, “Above the Waterfall,” weds a contemporary thriller with a portrayal of people tapping an ancient way of being.             A fish kill precipitates the story involving fishing rights, a crystal meth epidemic, and two reeling…See More
Sunday
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Aug 29
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson reveals how surreal emotions areby Rob Neufeld             Adam Johnson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” comes to Malaprop’s Bookstore in Asheville, 7 p.m., Fri., Sept. 4 to present his new book of short stories, “Fortune Smiles.”            The stories are remarkable…See More
Aug 23
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Leanne Brown will Present Her Cookbook at City Lights Bookstore

September 4, 2015 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Leanne Brown will visit City Lights Bookstore to present her cookbook on Friday, September 4th at 6:30 p.m. Her book, Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day is designed for those on the strictest of budgets, particularly those on the U.S. food stamp budget. This book is great, though, for anyone wanting to eat really well cheaply. Good and Cheap features tips on shopping and kitchen equipment, and more than a hundred easy, flexible recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. To reserve a copy,…See More
Aug 22
Spellbound updated an event
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September Teen Book Club at Spellbound Children's Bookshop

September 18, 2015 from 6pm to 7pm
Our new monthly book club for teens meets the third Friday of each month, 6:00-7:00PM. A different book will be discussed at each meeting, and will cover a variety of genres. No purchase is required to attend, but if you do plan to buy the book, we’d appreciate your support of Spellbound as the hosting store! All book club selections are 20% off until the day of the meeting.September's title: SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE by Marcus Sedgwick.See More
Aug 22
Spellbound posted events
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Betty Smith at Hendersonville culture event September 17

Center Kicks Off New Series With A BangNew “Keeping the Fires Burning Series” Launches With Betty Smith and Songcatcher (from press release) (HENDERSONVILLE, NC, August 18, 2015) – The Center for Cultural Preservation, is pleased to announce the launch of its second season of its popular public program series KEEPING THE FIRES BURNING- Heroes of Mountain Culture.  The series features musicians, authors and heritage preservation leaders who are working to keep mountain culture alive.  The…See More
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Pam Durban, author of Soon, gripping, psychological, Southern stories

Pam Durban: Facing reality with a wide-open eyeby Rob Neufeld             John Updike honored Pam Durban’s story, “Soon,” by selecting it for his anthology, “The Best American Short Stories of the Century.”  Now, it’s one of 11 included in Durban’s new volume, also titled “Soon.”            “Soon,” the short story, is a marvel…See More
Aug 21
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Aug 19
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Mary Joyce Returns with a New Book at City Lights Bookstore

September 12, 2015 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Sylva author, Mary Joyce will return to City Lights Bookstore on Saturday, September 12th at 3 p.m. to present her latest book.Underground Military Bases Hidden in North Carolina Mountains compiles information gathered by Joyce over several years about secret military facilities in North Carolina. The information about the secret bases is mostly from those with military, law enforcement and high-security backgrounds plus citizens who have stumbled upon evidence. Joyce is also the author…See More
Aug 18
Bill Ramsey posted an event

North Carolina Writer's Network Fall Conference at Asheville Doubletree Hilton

August 20, 2015 to August 22, 2015
When did you last attended a top quality and affordable writer's conference? The North Carolina Writer's Network is returning to western North Carolina. Membership in the Network is encouraged but not required to attend this event. For more info:http://www.ncwriters.org/2014-01-07-18-05-50/conferencesSee More
Aug 15
katherine soniat posted photos
Aug 12

Work hard, play hard, was the way of Biltmore boys

by Rob Neufeld

Read Part 1, about Biltmore boys in 1930s

Read Part 3.

 

            Motorists on the Biltmore Estate approach road in the early 1940s “would stop in amazement,” when the Austin boys took their dogs to the swamp to chase rabbits, Mark-Ellis Bennett wrote in the “Biltmore Beacon.”

            Harold and Ruel, sons of the estate’s Chief Ranger, Claude C. Austin, had a menagerie in tow, Ruel recalled in an interview with Bennett.  Their pets included “a fox, an opossum, a tomcat, a pair of shoats, and raccoons,” and their favorite companion, Jim the deer, whom they’d bottle-fed from fawnhood.

            “At home,” at the “kennel site” (named for the lodgings in which Edith Vanderbilt kept her purebred Saluki dogs), Ruel noticed how, on his porch, when it started to rain, Jim would chase his Great Dane away “to keep himself dry by the front door.”

            At age 13, after Ruel’s family had moved into the Biltmore House, Ruel went to work.  First, he did farm chores for $1.25 a day.  Then, he mowed lawns as a member of the “Grasshopper Gang”; and when a flu epidemic sapped the estate staff, he stood in for them, punching a time clock hourly as a night watchman.

            In Biltmore, during the lean years before the post-war boom, kids lived the country life, though also preoccupied, at an early age, by adventures in town and the lure of job opportunities.

            One adventure involved Tommy Koontz, a village resident, at Reed and Abee concrete plant on Warren Ave. (the company was acquired in 1958 by Asheville Concrete Materials; and in 1983, renamed Southern Concrete Materials).

            “They would dump their sand and rock into chutes, and the chutes went down into big hoppers that mixed concrete,” Koontz told me in a recent interview with him and his childhood friend, Winston Pulliam.  “The concrete trucks would back in under those things, and they’d open the holes in the mixers, and the rock and sand would go down in there. 

“One day, my brother and I and Billy McCoy (later killed in World War II) were playing on that chute, and they opened that lever down there, and that stuff started going down through there, and we started going with it.  There was a trough, and the only thing that saved us was a bar that went across that thing to level the sand and rock out.  We caught that bar, or we’d have gone down into that mixer.”           

Though not working on a farm, like Ruel, Tommy kept farmer’s hours.

            “When we ate dinner,” he recalled about his family, “within about an hour, we went to bed.  There were no cokes, no ice cream, no chocolate cake; you didn’t sit down around the TV.  When we finished eating and got cleaned up, and brought the wood and kindling in for the stove the next morning, we went to bed”—around 8 o’clock.  “Everybody was in the same situation.”

            “There was one thing we knew as kids,” Koontz continued, reflecting on hard times and built-in aspiration, “when you went south on Hendersonville Road, people on the right side (in Biltmore Forest) were different.  You knew that those people over there had things you didn’t have.  Because when I worked on the laundry truck, when I would take laundry to the door or pick up laundry, I never saw the owner of the house.  It was a maid.”

            “And if the maid wasn’t there,” added Pulliam, who lived in Oakley and played and worked in Biltmore, “you’d go in the house, and leave the laundry or milk.”  Delivering milk for Biltmore Dairy was another job boys had.

            “We had a funny saying,” Koontz recounted.  “They’d say, ‘Son, where do you live?’ and we’d say, ‘East Biltmore Forest.’”

            At age 11, Tommy went to work for Arthur Scott, a delivery man for Asheville Cleaners and Dyers.  Pulliam did likewise, making 25 cents a day.  At the interview, the two made a discovery about a fate they had shared.

            “I fell out of his laundry truck one day,” Pulliam said.

            “So did I!” Koontz exclaimed.

            “I fell out in Kenilworth.”

            “That’s where I fell out,” Koontz said.  “We were coming off of Tunnel Road, coming in through Kenilworth on the steep curve.  I was cold, and they had a heater under the dashboard, and I was sitting there leaned up against the door.  We went around that corner, the door went open, and I went!”

            Pulliam remarked on how much Scott, a relief man, who took jobs when regular drivers were off, had watched his pennies.

            “The first day I helped him,” Pulliam related, “we went to West Asheville.  There used to be a Saucy Sandwich Shop.  He ordered beef stew, I ordered beef stew.  I ordered everything he ordered (and Scott paid).  The next day, he made himself a cheese sandwich.”

            “I can’t believe you fell out of that truck,” Pulliam repeated.  “I did, too.  I wound up in a ditch.”

            Tommy had had his hand in his pockets because of the cold when he’d been thrown.  “I got one hand out,” he said, “and this scar that’s on my hand right here, that’s where I hit.  I was out there in the ditch, scared him to death.”

            “He left the laundry one time and went to work for Biltmore Dairy Farm,” Pulliam noted.  “I helped him on the milk truck, too.  I could drink all the lacto buttermilk I wanted.”

            Stories of the struggles and pleasures of hard times and community in Biltmore Village go to illustrate the ethics and energy with which its graduates sallied forth into the age of opportunity.  “There was something in people then,” Pulliam remarked.

            Next week, this column chronicles that rise to success.

 

PHOTO CAPTION

Claude C. Austin, Biltmore Estate chief ranger in the 1930s and 40s, plays with Jim the deer.  Photo courtesy Mark-Ellis Bennett and Ruel Austin.

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