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Interview with Gail Godwin about Grief Cottage

Started by Rob Neufeld in AC-T Book Reviews Aug 3, 2017.

Ellington in Asheville--a survey

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Oct 6, 2017.

Dave Minneman, heroic portrait

Started by Rob Neufeld in Local History Aug 25, 2017.



Latest Activity

Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 21, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 7:30 pm, join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her "Taking the Stage" workshop participants, for an enchanting evening of storytelling in picturesque Black Mountain, NC. You'll enjoy a variety of stories and storytelling styles featuring tellers Jane O Cunningham from Rome, GA; Gabriele Marewski from Black Mountain, NC; Christine Phillips Westfeldt - Fairview,…See More
Glenda Council Beall posted a blog post

Writers Circle around the Table

We are located in Hayesville, NC. In April we begin our new season with outstanding Poet Mike James. Mike will read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA on Friday evening April 13. On Saturday, April 14, he will teach a class at my studio.Formally SpeakingThis class will focus on different types of traditional poetic forms such as the sonnet, the villanelle, and the sestina, and will also include other verse forms such as erasures, found poems, prose poems, and last poems.Contact Glenda…See More
Mar 12
Caroline McIntyre posted an event

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring Chautauqua History Alive at UNC Asheville, OLLI Reuters Center, Manheimer Room

April 15, 2018 from 3pm to 4:30pm
Step inside the revolutionary book, Silent Spring as its author Rachel Carson reveals the reckless destruction of our living world. Written more than 55 years ago Silent Spring inspired the Environmental Movement and has never been out of print. And now you have a chance to ask the author, Rachel Carson, how this came to be. But these aren’t just performances. They’re a chance to step into Living History – to ask questions and go one on one with a women whose books shaped our country and our…See More
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted blog posts
Mar 7
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford commented on Glenda Council Beall's photo

lexie on deck_edited-1

"She looks like I look in my imagination right before I've had my coffee ... relaxed, bothered (by something, anything) and fully aware that I'm almost, but not quite, the center of the universe ... a feeling that quickly fades after that…"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford replied to Kathryn Stripling Byer's discussion Mary Adams's new chapbook COMMANDMENT
"This is so perfect ... the thought of every woman, who KNOWS what the men are thinking!  But now at least we have an idea! This makes me happy in a sad, lovely sort of way!"
Mar 4
Lynn Hamilton-Rutherford posted a photo

Mom in Her Writing Nook ...

She was working on the "About the Authors" section of "Echoes Across the Blue Ridge" when I captured this one morning. Though you can't see it, her coffee cup was within gentle reach that morning. Roxie is at her feet.
Mar 4
Carolyn Bennett Fraiser updated their profile photo
Feb 15
Harold N. Stern updated their profile
Feb 6
Glenda Council Beall posted a photo

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Lexie likes to sleep in the sunshine even on cold days.
Feb 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a photo

Latest non-fiction book

In 1945 Indiana prohibited marriage between a white person and anyone with more than one-eighth "Negro blood." Yet Daniel (black) and Anna (white) gave up family, friends, and eventually even country to create a life together. Their 42-year marriage…
Feb 5
Nancy Werking Poling replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Bent Creek, the 4-part story
"Rob, Thanks for putting this into one document. I've been following the narrative in the Citizen-Times. I find it an added resource for my next writing project. In 1910 my husband's grandfather (1866-1947) showed up in Missouri and said…"
Feb 5
Rebecca L Caldwell updated their profile
Feb 5
Lee Ann Brown replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Writer Olive Dargan rises from obscurity
"Great Article!  Heart wrenching about her destroyed manuscripts and letters and notes but I will look for more of Olive Dargan!     Lee Ann Brown"
Feb 5
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 4
Rap Monster posted a blog post


Focusing on the aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis, The Bang Bang Brokers tells the story of a hedge fund manager (based on a composite of real life traders) who got rich off of predicting the subprime fallout. His guilt and suicidal impulses lead him to a chance meeting with a Latino Gang, headed by small time weed dealer Ramon (Erik Michael Estrada). In hopes that Ramon will kill him in exchange for the favor, Rolley (played by Donihue) robs a rival Black Gang, earning the pair a ton of…See More
Feb 4

Memories of The Green Fly, a tanners’ cafe

by Rob Neufeld 


PHOTO CAPTION: Workers at the Rosman Tannery hold some of their tools, including an applicator.  Can you help identify the tools and their uses?  Photo courtesy of the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library.

            My recent story about the Rosman Tannin Extract Company elicited a reply from my friend, the great storyteller, Gary Carden who once worked in the Transylvania Tanning Company plant in Brevard.

            I can’t improve upon his delicious and at times pointed narrative style, so, with his permission, I print his story about the Green Fly Café.

            Carden’s blog, “Holler Notes” ( contains his latest thoughts; and his Facebook page provides a contact.  His books and recordings are available at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva (828-586-9499).  Carden performs “Traditional Stories of the Mountains / Cowee Tunnel Disaster” at WCU at Biltmore Park, Nov. 11 (828-654-6498).


Carden on The Green Fly


            During my first year at Western Carolina Teachers College (now Western Carolina University) in 1953, I managed to offend my grandfather so severely, he banished me.  

            “Out of my sight!” he said, and sent me off to Brevard to spend the summer with Uncle Albert.  At the time Albert was the bookkeeper for the Silversteen tannery and got me a job there.  “Good,” said my grandfather. “Maybe he will develop a sense of what it means to earn a livelihood.”

            I worked in the “buffing room” which was next to the “green hide room,” a place where decaying (green) flesh was stripped from hides; the hides were then hung up to “season.”

            The resulting stink hung like an evil fog over the whole place, including the Green Fly Cafe (also owned by the Silversteen Tannery), where we all ate each day.  Every worker had a tab which was deducted from his pay check at the end of the week.

            Eventually, I became inured to the smell that permeated everything in or near the tannery; I even reached the point where I could eat the Green Fly’s daily diet of collard greens, pintos and cornbread with a reasonable amount of gusto.




            The buffing room was in the loft of a large, barn-like structure and its purpose was to convert inferior hides into acceptable shoe leather. This was done by placing hides (which were spotted with holes and possessed areas that were so thin they were semi-transparent) on a great table and coating them with a nauseous, yellow gunk.

            Four workers stood at each table with huge brushes strapped to their forearms and alternately dipped the brushes in the yellow gunk and then spread it, like lemon cake icing over the hide.  This process was repeated several times so that the gunk built up a thick layer.  

            After the hides had dried out, they were placed on the “buffing machine” where huge metal rollers beat the gunk into the hide until it was absorbed.  This was repeated several times until the hides acquired an acceptable thickness.

            A bucket of water set by each table, and when the brushes became clogged, we would clean them in the bucket.  The water level in the bucket was always a little over half-full because the buffing machines caused the floor to shift beneath our feet, like the deck of a ship.  The water sloshed back and forth in the bucket in rhythm with the buffing machines.

            The deafening noise created by the buffers rendered all conversation impossible, and we all learned to communicate with a kind of “buffing room mime.” Basically, it was mind-numbing work and we quickly fell into a repetitive routine that lasted for two hours.

            We received a 15-minute break—one in the morning and one in the afternoon—between each shift (which was deducted from our pay). During the break, the workers would go to the toilet, go out on the loading dock to smoke, or sit on the floor next to their work station.   

            I remember one colorful fellow who climbed on the idle buffing machine and preached to his fellow workers during the break, exhorting them to “find Jesus.”

            In addition to me, my work station included Lil, a gigantic blond woman who resembled Boris Karloff; a small man named Westley who hummed country-and-western songs; and a fellow named Manard who talked constantly about hunting, fights and epic drunks.

            During the breaks, Lil lay on the floor and slept while Westley, Manard and I fled to the loading dock. While Westley yodeled and did a passing imitation of Eddie Arnold’s standards (“Cattle Call,” and “A Big Bouquet of Roses”), Manard talked about his Saturday nights, which he spent driving around Brevard with a bottle of John Paul Jones whiskey and a paper sack full of cherry bombs.

            His greatest joy in life consisted of lighting cherry bombs and pitching them out the window when he passed a crowd in front of a church or theater. He especially liked to frighten the residents of Carver Street, which ran through a black community.

            Sometimes when the buffing room was going full blast, the owner paid us a visit. He wore riding pants, carried one of those little jockey whips and was usually accompanied by two white poodles. Sometimes, he would stop and watch us spread gunk. He would say something like “Faster, faster,” and the dogs would bark at us.  Then he would pop his whip against his pants’ leg and walk away.

            I lasted two months at the Silversteen Tannery. When I received word that my grandfather would let me return home (with conditions), I collected my last check ($12.00) and boarded a Trailways bus to Sylva.  

            During my last week, Manard broke the buffing room monotony by taking two days of “sick leave” and then showing up with the lower part of his face encased in adhesive tape. He had a little slit cut over his mouth so he could insert a Lucky Strike.

            For the first time, I was curious about Manard. When we got our break, I followed him to the loading dock and watched while he carefully poked a cigarette in the slit and lit up.

            “So what happened to you?” I said.  It was a little hard to understand Manard because he had lost most of his teeth, but this is the gist of what he said:

            “Well, last Saturday after drawin’ my pay, I drove down to the South Caroliny line whar I bought a fifth of JPJ and a sack of cherry bums.  I come on back to Brevard, cause I knowed that there was a big church revival down on Carver Street.

            “I set outside that church til almost midnight, sipping JPJ and listenin’ to WNOX in Knoxville. Drunk that whole fifth and it was close to midnight afore them folks come pouring out of that church. Then, I rolled a winder down, and using my cigarette, I lit one of them cherry bums, and I throwed my cigarette out the winder and put that cherry bum in my mouth.”


Rob Neufeld writes the weekly “Visiting Our Past” column for the Citizen-Times.  He is the author of books on history and literature, and manages the WNC book and heritage website, “The Read on WNC.”  Follow him on Twitter @WNC_chronicler

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