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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.

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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Tale of Ononis

The Tale of Ononis by Rob Neufeld Part 1: The Making of a Celebrity ❧  Hare Begins His Tale  Ononis was my region’s name.People now call it Never-the-same.I’ll start with the day a delivery came. The package I got was a devil’s dare,Swaddled and knotted in Swamp Bloat hairAnd bearing, in red, one word: “Beware!” Bloats are creatures from the Land of Mud Pies,Wallowing in waste with tightly closed eyesUntil fears bring tears and the bleary bloats rise.   ❧  Hare’s Colleagues  I asked my boss,…See More
Friday
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event

Drop Your Troubles: A Solo Storytelling Performance with Connie Regan-Blake at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

December 1, 2018 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join this internationally renowned storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she transforms a packed theater into an intimate circle of friends with old-timey charm, wisdom, and humor. We’ll also welcome the Singer of  Stories, Donna Marie Todd, who will perform her original story, “The Amazing Zicafoose Sisters.” Connie’s last two shows at BMCA have sold…See More
Nov 6
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story and Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Nov 6
Connie Regan-Blake posted an event
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Explore the Landscapes of Story & Telling at Lenoir-Rhyne Center for Graduate Studies

January 23, 2019 at 10am to February 27, 2019 at 12pm
A Storytelling Offering in Asheville, NCWednesday Mornings 10am-12pmJanuary 23 – February 27, 2019 This winter Connie is excited to offer a learning opportunity to warm-up your storytelling voice and creativity!  Join her in Asheville, NC at Lenoir-Rhyne University for six story-work sessions with a weekly format that allows for skills to grow over time while encouraging a consistency in discovering, revisiting and refining your stories. During these weekly sessions participants are invited…See More
Oct 28
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake presents A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories at Black Mountain Center for the Arts

April 6, 2019 from 7:30pm to 9pm
Join nationally celebrated storyteller, Connie Regan-Blake, as she hosts her workshop participants in an enchanting evening of storytelling in “A Slice of Life: An Evening of Stories.” The event will be hosted by the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, just a short drive from Asheville nestled in the picturesque mountains surrounding the area. Call the Center for advance tickets (828) 669-0930 or order…See More
Oct 28
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event
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Connie Regan-Blake's Taking Your Story to the Stage Workshop at StoryWindow Productions

April 5, 2019 to April 7, 2019
The focus of this “Taking Your Story to the Stage” 3-day workshop is on storytelling performance. Each participant is asked to come with a story that is almost “stage-ready.” Set in Connie’s home tucked in the beautiful mountains surrounding Asheville, NC, this workshop provides a supportive, affirming…See More
Oct 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Let’s say every word is precious

Let’s say every word is precious (Part of Living Poem) Let’s say every word is precious.Say every word is precious.Every word is precious.Every word precious.Every word.Word.--Rob Neufeld, Oct. 16, 2018See More
Oct 17
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Oct 12
Nancy Sutton replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Metamorphoses
"Poignant in so many ways!   "
Oct 3
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Metamorphoses

Metamorphoses (Part of Living Poem)Hear audio: Metamorphoses%20181004_0192.MP3 So Apollo committed the first rape.He’d come back from exterminating Python,The Bane of Humanity, now his arrow-victim,And stopped to mock…See More
Oct 2
Joan Henehan replied to Joan Henehan's discussion on Reading Living Poem
"Fantastic, that will be very helpful."
Sep 22
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
Sep 22
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"
Sep 22
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?"
Sep 22
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
Sep 21
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."
Sep 20

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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