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Tipper posted a blog post

When You Get in the Habit of Saying the Same Thing

Have you ever been around someone who used the same word or words in every sentence? Years ago, I was introduced to a man who at the end of every sentence said and what not. I remember being obsessed with listening to him. I wanted to see if just once he wouldn't say and what not. It never happened. He said the phrase at the end of every sentence just like clock work.A few other habitual sayings I've…See More
Thursday
Bil Stahl updated their profile
Feb 17
Ann Miller Woodford posted an event
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Ann Miller Woodford at Gospel Singing program: Liberty Baptist Church, Sylva, NC & Exhibit; WCU Mountain Heritage Center

February 19, 2017 from 3pm to 5pm
WCU's Mountain Heritage Center and curator, Ann Miller Woodford, will present an exhibit on African-American far western NC community, music, and history, based on Ann’s book, When All God's Children Get Together: A Celebration of the Lives and Music of African American People in Far Western North Carolina.The exhibit is based upon Woodford’s book of the same name, which examines musical traditions of the African-Americans as practiced at home, work, churches and schools.The exhibit examines…See More
Feb 16
Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 15
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy Rytson

Tyson’s Emmett Till book probes darknessby Rob NeufeldEVENT: Timothy Tyson discusses his book, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, 55 Haywood St., Asheville, 6 p.m., Wed., Feb. 15.  828-254-6734.             The headline about the publication of Timothy Tyson’s new book, “The Blood of Emmett…See More
Feb 13
Tipper posted a video

Kudzu Kickers - Waltz Clog

In case you didn't know-we dance too! Our clogging team is called the Kudzu Kickers. In this video we were practicing for an upcoming festival. The Pressley ...
Feb 11
Tipper posted a blog post

Memories and Food

Each of us have memories that are connected to food. Typically those remembrances are directly related to our childhood, you know the things we ate around the family table like the chocolate gravy I told you about earlier this week.A few years ago I…See More
Feb 11
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Feb 8
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Jewish Studies special events March 23-26

Center for Jewish Studies 35th Anniversary Events from press releaseUNC Asheville’s Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a series of special events on and off campus March 23-26. Rick Chess talk and readingUNC Asheville Professor of English Richard Chess has been director of the CJS for the past 25 years and will deliver the 2017 Phyllis Freed Sollod Memorial Lecture on the celebration’s opening night. A poet and essayist, Chess will offer a vision of Jewish…See More
Feb 7
Julia Nunnally Duncan updated their profile
Feb 7
David E. Whisnant updated their profile
Feb 6
Rob Neufeld posted blog posts
Feb 4
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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David Joy Presents His Second Novel at Jackson County Public Library

March 3, 2017 from 6:30pm to 8pm
The Jackson County Public Library and City Lights Bookstore are co-hosting an event with David Joy on Friday, March 3rd at 6:30 p.m. He will present his second novel, The Weight of This World, in the Community Room of the Jackson County Public Library. Set in the Little Canada community of Jackson County, The Weight of This World is a story of three people haunted by their past. A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he…See More
Feb 4
Tipper posted a blog post

Hiccup Cures

Do you ever get the hiccups? Every once in a while I do. If I have them once during a day-I always have them again before the day is over. My record is 5 different times in one day.We've all heard drinking water or holding your breath is the remedy to stop hiccups. According to John Parris saying this tongue twister will cure them:Hickup, snicup, rise up, right up! Three drops in the cup are good for…See More
Feb 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The German experience settling WNC

The German migration to Western North Carolinaby Rob Neufeld PICTURE CAPTION: An immigrant family comes down the Philadelphia Wagon Road in the mid-18th century, as had the George Schuck family done, and as this Scots-Irish family is doing in an 1872 “Harper’s Weekly” illustration, titled, “The…See More
Feb 3

South of Sylva, back of yesterday: John Parris' inspiration

 

            “For the life of me, I just can’t understand why folks stopped usin’ cradles,” John Parris’ 97-year-old maternal grandfather had told him 60 years ago.

            The oil lamp, the buggy, and the spinning wheel—they all were replaced by things that did their jobs better and easier, but “nobody came up with anything to replace the cradle.” 

            Parris, the late, great columnist for the Citizen-Times, had roamed the mountains from Brasstown to Blowing Rock for 42 years, beginning in 1955, often gravitating to Sylva, his hometown, and to Burningtown, 20 miles southwest, in Macon County.

            Burningtown was where his maternal grandma and grandpa lived.  This grandpa, whom Parris sometimes called the “Old Man of the Mountains,” was a go-to source for reliable lore.

 

Rock-a-bye

 

            “My Uncle Eli was the masterest cradle-maker in these parts,” the Old Man avowed.

He’d take a short length of buckeye log and work on it like he was makin’ somethin’ that was gonna hold a king.  He pegged it with oak pins to two hickory rockers,” because “rockers out of hickory won’t creep.”

Caretakers would rock the cradle with a foot while sewing, knitting, or churning; or, when moving about the house, they’d set the cradle rocking as they passed by.

The comforts of home reached a peak at Christmastime, and merited Parris’ prose poetry.

 

Homemade poetry

 

            “In the Carolina Highlands, December is an old man with memories and a young man with dreams.” Parris wrote.  It’s a time “when the stars come close and night winds are winds of song.”

            “It’s when,” he adds, “a house, be it cabin or mansion, reveals its true character and abody gets to know the meaning of a home.”

            The nostalgia attached to an old-time mountain home is not all in vain. The recollections cause us to reconsider progress and value such blessings as a world full of evocative smells.

            “A man can no longer drink into his lungs a thousand proud, potent, and mysterious odors,” Parris wrote from Little Savannah, his paternal grandparents’ place west over the mountain from Cullowhee.  “Gone are the smells that whip the senses and plough a furrow on the memory.”

            The smell of warm foaming milk; the manure-hay-leather-oats smell of a barn; the blue smell of hickory smoke; the bread-molasses-kerosene-coffee-vanilla smell of grandma’s kitchen; the starch-cabbage-wax-tobacco-mint-paint-cat smell of the country store; the smells of rain-wet plums, corn pollen, and burning leaves; and the “exciting smell of the hills blooming in the dusk”—these and other odors “have been tamped down, obliterated, or extinguished.”

 

Going home again

 

            “The road back to childhood is a road to shattered illusions,” Parris related after visiting the place where his father had grown up and his grandfather is buried.

            “The springhouse, shaded by a gnarled old oak, is gone...The peach trees have withered and died and the apple trees have been cut down...There’s only a slight depression in the earth where the barn stood, and I remembered the last time I had stood there.  Neighbors with saw and hammer had been there then, making a coffin of pine for my grandfather.  And I remember how they talked in hushed tones, their hammers ringing in the September afternoon.”

            The old house still stood, sagging, its oak shingles replaced by a metal roof.  Inside, Parris saw “the big bed on which his grandfather died...in the front room, fast by the fireplace.  And over it is spread one of my grandmother’s coverlets.”

 

Cornshuck rain hat

 

            Cash-scarce times were heart-filled times on the farms. 

            The Old Man remembered that during the Civil War and Reconstruction, ladies made “the prettiest bonnets you ever saw” out of corn shucks; and “the menfolks got to wearin’ hats out of the same stuff.”  

            Corn was a way of life.  “It was corn-shuckin’s and hoe downs, fiddle-music and banjo pickin’” Corn was “pudding and soup, hominy and mush...It was dolls and whistles.”  It was feed for the cows.  “Many a family slept on cornshuck mattresses.  They burned corn cobs for fuel.”

            “There was no finer pipe than one made out of corn cobs....(and) I remember once,” the Old Man recalled, Uncle Eli “made me a cornstalk fiddle and bow.”

 

Mountain cooking

 

            Grandma was “mighty peart with a skillet,” Parris observed.  “In the early summer when the corn first ripened, we’d start havin’ gritted bread.  Now that’s somethin’ to make your mouth water.”

            There’s a recipe you can look at in Parris’ 1978 book, “Mountain  Cooking,” but Grandpa gives a pretty good description in “My Mountains, My People,” Parris’ second of five books of collected columns.

            “You take fresh corn and rub it over a piece of tin that’s been holed with a nail, rubbin’ the ear of corn on the rough side, and make a meal that’s milky-like.  Sweetest, tastiest thing you ever tasted.”

            Every resource got used in every way—peach trees, for example.  They used to be more greatly favored than apple trees, the Old Man stated.  “What we didn’t dry or make into peach butter or pickle we sold over at the stillhouse where they run ‘em through a mill and made brandy.”

            Folks also made peach leather, pressing the peaches through a coarse sieve, adding brown sugar and cooking them, and spreading the sauce on plates to put out in the sun until it dried and could be rolled up.

            “No one was ever known to go hungry at Grandma’s,” Parris proclaimed about his father’s mom; and it also applied to his maternal grandmother.  “Nor was it necessary to make a flying trip to the store.”

            At times, after the meal was distributed, Grandpa, holding his plate said he reckoned “the chickens didn’t have livers and gizzards anymore, teasing Grandma and knowing all the while she had held them back for the children.”

            Grandma was happiest, Parris attested, “when the house was bulging at the seams with company.  And it was the same with most of her contemporaries here in the mountains.”

Originally published, with a few changes, in the Asheville Citizen-Times.   Follow Rob Neufeld on Twitter @WNC_chronicler.

 

ART

Cover of “Mountain Cooking”

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