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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

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Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Saturday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

First Drumbeat

First Drumbeat(Part of Living Poem) The time has come.Call it a drum,Or a crumb,What’s left of life. I used to tell a jokeWhen my life was wide,And I was a stud,And not a dud—I knowI’m not a dud.  I’m a dude,A dad.  But everyone mustRebut the dud chargeAt summing up time. Oh yeah, the joke,A trademark one for meIn that it’s not funny. I used to say I’ll never retireFrom writingBecause if I’m ever…See More
Saturday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks for the prompt, Joan!  I have attached the whole work in progress as a doc at the bottom of the table of contents page: http://thereadonwnc.ning.com/special/living-poem"
Saturday
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Is there a way from this website to print everything or might you send me such a document to bayjh@icloud.com?"
Saturday
Julia Nunnally Duncan posted an event
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Julia Nunnally Duncan at Marion Branch McDowell County Public Library

October 24, 2018 from 4pm to 5pm
Julia Nunnally Duncan will be launching her new poetry collection A Neighborhood Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2018) at a book presentation and signing to be held at the McDowell County Public Library in Marion on October 24.See More
Friday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"This could be interesting--thanks!  I'm at 828-505-1973 (my home business office).  And RNeufeld@charter.net."
Thursday
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"I'll ask the kids, Barb and Ethan, if they have any contacts who might have an interest in this as a unique topic for any performers they know. It might also be something that my friend Ruby Lerner could brainstorm about to her theatre…"
Wednesday
Rob Neufeld replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Thanks much, Joan!  I'm trying to get some attention for these poems.  Triple Whammy is def in rap style.  And the beat goes on.  Hugs from me and Bev."
Wednesday
Joan Henehan posted a discussion

on Reading Living Poem

You might be the first ALS-subject-matter rapper. Add some beats and spread it. the time is now...See More
Sep 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

More from the World of ALS

More from the World of ALS (Part of Living Poem)    Negotiating steps is like someone who seeksTo emulate a goat on mountain peaks. Crossing a threshold, limping inIs like the valley-walking of an Olympian. A cane and its grip make a fellow stopTo consider the physics of leans and drops. To know how a forefinger grabs and digsImagine your digits are chestnut twigs When a new drug trial notably…See More
Sep 6
Nancy Werking Poling posted a discussion

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE

RANDALL KENAN SELECTS NANCY WERKING POLING WINNER OF THE 2018 ALEX ALBRIGHT CREATIVE NONFICTION PRIZE(31 August 2018)Nancy Werking Poling of Black Mountain is the winner of the 2018 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition for "Leander’s Lies." Poling will receive $1000 from the North Carolina Literary Review, thanks to a generous NCLR reader’s donation that allowed this year’s honorarium to increase (from the previous award of $250). Her winning essay will be published in the North…See More
Sep 4
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Sep 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Upcoming Rides

Upcoming Rides(Part of Living Poem) I must take a break from writing aboutThe third Lord Granville’s loss of landIn colonial North Carolina to noteI’m losing functionality in my hands. I’m confining my writing to a four-line,Alternate rhyme form, like a horse-fenceFraming a pantomimeOf equine force.  Hence, It’s time to imagine the power of mind,For instance, when a nod or thoughtInstructs a machine to…See More
Aug 26
Ann Miller Woodford updated their profile
Aug 17
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Cherokee and the Colonists

The Epic of the Cherokee and the Colonists            Hernando De Soto stopped in Asheville in 1541            When the Spanish conquistador came through here on his way from the Gulf Coast to Lake Michigan, he encountered big towns, well-used roads, and abandoned homes.   A smallpox epidemic—one of a series of plagues…See More
Aug 17
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Aug 3

Interviews with former slaves in Asheville strike the heart

by Rob Neufeld

 

            Every day we see and feel the beauty of the world and of humanity.  But history sometimes shows us how wrong things can go, and we wonder why we are vulnerable to such aberrations.

            One of the most powerfully distressing examples of human cruelty and suffering comes from the testimony of M.L. Bost, an African American former slave who moved to Asheville from Newton, and spoke with Marjorie Jones of the Federal Writers’ Project in 1937, when he was 87.

 

Cry

 

            M.L.’s last name derives from his “Massa,” Jonah Bost, who owned two plantations and a hotel in Newton, NC. 

            The Bost “Missus” was “a good woman,” W.L. said.  “There was never an overseer” on the plantations; the “oldest colored man” looked after the other slaves.  And “she never allowed the Massa to buy or sell any slaves.”

            Bost’s slaves had come down through at least two generations.

            On occasion, speculators—slave merchants—would come through town and stay at Bost’s place.  M.L. witnessed what ensued when he was a boy.

            “They always come ‘long on the last of December,” he recalled, “so that the n—s would be ready for sale on the first day of January.  Many the time I see four or five of them chained together.

            “They never had enough clothes on to keep a cat warm.  The women never wore anything but a thin dress and a petticoat and one underwear.  I’ve seen the ice balls hangin’ on to the bottom of their dresses as they ran along, jes like sheep in a pasture ‘fore they are sheared.  They never wore any shoes.”

            To keep warm, the slaves were made to run around by mounted overseers.   “Lord miss, them slaves look jes like droves of turkeys runnin’ along in front of them horses,” W.L. said.

            When the speculators stayed in the hotel, the slaves slated for sale stayed outside in a pen, like hogs.  “All through the night I could hear them mournin’ and prayin’,” W.L. recollected.  “I didn’t know the Lord would let people live who were so cruel.”

 

Paddyrollers

 

            There was no escaping slavery.  Paddyrollers—patrollers searching for fugitive slaves—would capture any person of color out and about without a pass from his or her master.  They then would strip that person and lash him or her with a bull whip.

            M.L. talked about seeing one young man slashed with a whip, salted, and then whipped again, until he died.

            M.L.’s mother, though grateful not to be separated from spouse and children, as was the case with the slaves on the market, prayed and sang for freedom. 

            The Bost slaves would sneak off to have church services in the woods back of the barn.  They sang: “As I went down in the valley to pray/ Studyin’ about that good ole way/ Who shall wear that starry crown/ Good Lord show me the way.”

            Two years before the end of the war, another Newton plantation owner, “ole man Hall,” freed his slaves and gave them money to buy their own land. 

            When the war ended, the Bost family went to work for Hall’s nephew, Solomon Hall.  A few years later, M.L. found his way with his wife to Asheville, and eventually built a house on Curve St. (off present-day Martin Luther King Jr. Drive).

            The post-war years had been as frightening to African Americans in the plantation South as the slave years had been, according to W.L. and other former slaves interviewed by Marjorie Jones.

 

Fear, the sequel

 

            When Union soldiers came into Selma, Ala., Lizzie Williams, a petted slave to the wife of “Marse Jim Moore,” recalled, they looted and set fire to buildings.  She knew of one man, “Marse Hyde,” who burned up inside his home when the soldiers torched it.

            After the surrender, Williams said, “all the n—s (were) just lost.  Nowhere to go, nothin’ to do, unless they stay with the massa.  Nobody had anything but ‘federate money, and it no good.”

            White men, dispossessed and angry, went around tormenting and killing black men, Williams recounted.  They went to kill her father, but he managed to persuade one of the vigilantes that he planned on staying on his massa’s plantation and helping him.

            Lizzie’s pappy had had such confrontations before emancipation.  Once, he evaded paddyrollers when he didn’t have a pass on him by jumping into a ditch and making grunting sounds like a hog.

            In the post-war climate, the Ku Klux Klan struck fear into black people.  Unlike paddyrollers, they moved around late at night, abducting victims.

            They were known for their white hoods and robes; and, on occasion, horns they put over the caps of their hoods. 

            “They had another thing they called the ‘Donkey Devil,’” M.L. Bost related.  “They take the skin of a donkey and get inside of it and run after the poor Negroes...After the war was over, we were afraid to move.”

 

Work legacy

 

            Sarah Gudger, a former slave of Joe Gudger in Oteen, and then of the Hemphills near Old Fort, told Marjorie Jones about the time that a new slave woman joined the Hemphill household just before the end of the war.

            “Some of these days yo’all gwine be free,” the woman said, jes’ like the white folks.”  Sarah and the others laughed.  “No, we jes’ slaves,” Sarah responded.  “We allus have to work and never be free.”

            Gudger recalled working from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. in all weather for the Hemphills.  “I never knowed what it was to rest,” Gudger said.  “Lawdy, honey, I’s took a thousand lashin’s in my day.” 

            Gudger’s worst moment was when she was not allowed to come in from the field after her mother had died and before she was put in the ground.

Saved a life

            Fannie Moore, interviewed by Jones at her home at 151 Valley St. in 1937, recalled how hard her mother had worked.

            “My mammy, she worked in the field all day, and pieced and quilted all night.  Why, sometimes I never got to bed.  Had to hold the light for her to see by.”

            Fannie’s father was a blacksmith, but when the war came, he was escort and cook for the master’s sons, Andrew and Tom Moore of Moore, SC.

            Andrew was killed, shot while raising the Confederate flag for his regiment.  Fannie’s father took him home, and then went back to stay with Marse Tom.

            Tom was shot, too, but was protected from a fatal injury by a Bible in his breast pocket.  “Pappy, he bring Marse Tom home,” Fannie related, “and take care of him till he well.  Marse Tom gave pappy a horse and wagon cause he said he save his life.”

 

PHOTO CAPTIONS

 

All photos and slave narratives from Library of Congress Manuscript Division (visit memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml).  The transcribed narrative of M.L. Bost enters his name as W.L. Bost, but I have discovered through local research that he was Martin Luther Bost.  A hand-written "M" must have been misread as a "W."

 

M.L. Bost

 

Sarah Gudger, age 121, at Dalton St. home, Asheville

 

Fannie Moore

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