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Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Suitcase Charlie: A Recommended Crime Thriller

     John Guzlowski is a writer and poet whose parents were forced laborers in Poland during WW II. He was born in a refugee camp before he came with his family to live in the Polish neighborhoods of Chicago. Already a highly regarded poet, he turned his childhood memories (including some gruesome child murders) into a novel titled SUITCASE CHARLIE.    Two war-weary Chicago detectives investigate a series of horrifying child murders. Before the crimes are solved, the reader follows the…See More
8 hours ago
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion

Mammy, A Term of Endearment

I read Rob Neufield's article Visit OUR PAST in today's Asheville Citizen-Times.It was a super article, but caused me to want to share my novel:  Mammy: A Term of Endearment.Mammy: A Term of Endearment. is now available as an ebook on Kindle, but the publisher, Ecanus Publishing, Great Britain tells me the paperback edition will be out soon (2 to 3 weeks).The novel is fiction but came from my father who was born in 1895. Due to his mother's sickness Grandpa hired her to be a Mammy to my father,…See More
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City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jun 24
City Lights Bookstore posted events
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Shannon Quinn-Tucker posted an event
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Writers on the Rock at Chimney Rock, NC

June 28, 2015 from 1pm to 4pm
The culture and heritage of Appalachia is an experience like no other, and it serves as the perfect backdrop for a variety of storytelling. View the soaring cliffs and stunning valleys of Chimney Rock and the Hickory Nut Gorge as you get to know your favorite author and meet new ones. Join Ann B. Ross, Tommy Hays, Sheri Castle, Evan Williams and more as they share their experiences and autograph copies of their books. A selection of titles by each author will be available for sale. See…See More
Jun 8
Lockie Hunter updated an event
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West End Prose and Poetry reading series: June at West End Bakery

June 13, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm
The West End Bakery & Café will host the final event for the 2015 Spring Poetry and Prose Reading Series on Saturday, June 13th at 7:00 pm. The June event will feature an excellent cast of local writers including David Novak, Katherine (Bonnie) Soniat, Luke Hankins and our very own hostess and curator Lockie Hunter.Past readings included a special holiday performance by Allan Wolf as well as local writers such as Susan Reinhardt, Tommy Hays, Tom Chalmers, Matthew Olzmann, Alli Marshall,…See More
Jun 8
Lockie Hunter posted an event
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West End Prose and Poetry reading series: June at West End Bakery

June 13, 2015 from 7pm to 9pm
The West End Bakery & Café will host the final event for the 2015 Spring Poetry and Prose Reading Series on Saturday, June 13th at 7:00 pm. The June event will feature an excellent cast of local writers including David Novak, Katherine (Bonnie) Soniat, Luke Hankins and our very own hostess and curator Lockie Hunter.Past readings included a special holiday performance by Allan Wolf as well as local writers such as Susan Reinhardt, Tommy Hays, Tom Chalmers, Matthew Olzmann, Alli Marshall,…See More
Jun 4
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri--and book discussions

How Lahiri’s “The Lowland” excites discussionby Rob Neufeld             When an American woman in Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel, “The Lowland,” realizes how she has, in her mind, objectified a certain childhood horror, she flashes to her Calcutta grandma, who “used to spend her days overlooking a lowland, a pair of…See More
Jun 2
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Jun 2
Tina Barr posted a blog post

Sharing Information

Iris Press just released a new book of my poems, Kaleidoscope!  These are poems written over the last 10 years, set in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina---!See More
Jun 2
Christine Lajewski posted a blog post

Hiking the Landscape of JHATOR

I just posted a new blog entry describing the real places frequented by my characters--human and animal--in my novel. Most of the action in JHATOR takes place in these beautiful natural spaces that are protected throughout southeastern Massachusetts. Whether you have read my book or not, I hope you will visit them if you are traveling through the area.You can read "Hiking the Landscape of JHATOR" as well as excerpts from my novel, at Christine-lajewski.squarespace.comSee More
Jun 1
City Lights Bookstore posted an event
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Kathryn Byer & Richard Krawiec Joint Poetry Reading at City Lights Bookstore

June 14, 2015 from 1pm to 2:30pm
Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Kathryn Byer and Richard Krawiec will be reading from their new collections of poetry on Sunday, June 14th at 1 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore. Kathryn’s new chapbook from Jacar Press, The Vishnu Bird, is both a memorial and memoir in lyric poetry. This clean-spoken, deeply-felt chapbook remembers the poet’s dear friend by tracing his vocation of anthropology, and honoring his spiritual depth through vignettes from the speaker’s own past. Richard Krawiec will…See More
May 30
Glenda Council Beall posted an event
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Steven Harvey at Writers Circle at Writers Circlle around the Table

June 27, 2015 from 10am to 1pm
Writing workshop with Steve Harvey, retired professor at YHC and on faculty for Ashland University MFA.See More
May 30
Ron Cooper replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash
"Terrific review and interview, Rob. Glad to see that Ron had full control over this collection. All of his work deserves to be read and re-read."
May 28
Kathryn Stripling Byer updated their profile
May 28

Memories of old Biltmore Village

Part 1 of 3

by Rob Neufeld

See Part 2, about boys in 1940s

 

            “I’ve generally spent most of my life between the railroad tracks in Biltmore and the Royal Steakhouse in Fletcher,” real estate developer and former Tri-Co Service Station owner Winston Pulliam remarked to Mike Blanton on Blanton’s radio show (“Financially Speaking”).  “And I want to emphasize how blessed I have been.”

            During the Great Depression, when he was a boy, Pulliam lived on his grandparents’ 20-acre farm on Fairview Road, working the land.

            “I peeled many a peach and pitted many cherries” he told me in a recent interview.

            “We had caves on the back of our property,” he recalled. “and hoboes would stay in those caves, coming off the railroad.  They had lard buckets to make coffee in, and I’d take them food over there when I was eight or nine years old.
            His father advised him to take “a bag of something” to neighbors and say, “The lady next door just gave me this (for the hoboes).  What can you give me?”

            After Saturday chores, Pulliam, nicknamed “Pullie,” often went to hang out with his friends—Charles Thomas “Tommy” Koontz, Tommy Arakas, and others in the village, even though Oakley boys were discouraged from crossing into that territory.

            But boys’ friendships, during the Depression and World War II, crossed boundaries.  Tommy’s family was “as poor as Job’s church mouse,” Tommy said in the recollection session with Pulliam. 

            His father, Ralph Koontz, “was a sick man when he was young, He had TB and spent time at the sanitarium in Swannanoa.” He did various jobs. 

            “According to my mother,” Tommy said, “we moved every time the rent came due.”

            Koontz’s first memory of Biltmore Village was when “Mama” Gray, the landlord of the 7 All Souls Crescent upstairs apartment in which the Koontzes resided, came around yelling out, “Yoo-hoo, do you have anything for me today?”

            Another early memory was of the goat man coming into the village with his goat and wagon for family photo ops.  Tommy’s mother, Elizabeth Vance Koontz, found the money for one such occasion in 1938.

            The boys were friends with Harold and Ruel Austin, sons of Biltmore Estate’s chief ranger; and had free access to the estate.  “I slept probably 50 times in the Biltmore House,” Pulliam recalled.

            Harold and Ruel “had a pet deer they got as a baby, and bottle fed him,” Pulliam recalled.  “His name was Jim…I’m the only person that tried to ride Jim (unsuccessfully).

            “Two weeks ago, I called Ruel and asked him, ‘How did Jim die?”  He said, ‘They gave him to Laurence Brown, the sheriff, to put up on his farm.  And Jim wandered into some fellow’s back yard, and this man thought he was a wild deer, and shot him.”

            “It was the worst of times and the best of times,” Koontz recited, reflecting on the era that featured poverty and community, an empty belly and a fire in the belly, lightness of heart and darkness of circumstance.

            “We had God in our lives,” Pulliam said.

            Darkness was what Tommy had experienced off and on for a year when he was six, staying in his bedroom with the windows curtained.

            “I failed my first year of school at the Newton Academy up on Biltmore Ave.,” he said, “because I was absent about every other week because  I had every other childhood disease that came along—measles, the mumps, chicken pox, everything but scarlet fever.  I remember that public nurse coming and tacking that yellow sign up on the door: Quarantine.  People couldn’t come to see you.  You couldn’t go out.  You were isolated.”

            This was especially hard in a neighborhood in which there was so much social activity—people out on porches, children crossing yards under the care of dozens of surrogate parents, people doing business.

            “I knew the names of everybody who lived from West Chapel Road to Biltmore,” Koontz said.

            Missing school was tough, too.  It was not only an extension of the social scene, it was a field of dreams.  Koontz would later serve in his life as the long-time principal of T.C. Roberson High School.  This past January, the new Intermediate School on Overlook Rd. was named after him.

            “I was in the sixth grade with Dewey Callaway,” Pulliam related, “and the teacher asked us, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up.  Dewey put down, ‘I want to own the Biltmore Shoe Shop’ (owned by L.A. Spake, who’d employ Dewey).  He stayed 28 years in the Army, came back home, and bought that shoe shop.”

            Many kids went to work at an early age, often in jobs that served the community.

            “I was hopping curb at the Hot Shot (Café) when I was 12,” Pulliam recalled.  “They had the hot dogs, hamburgers, roast beef, roast pork, cheeseburgers, barbecue, combination, ham, spam, ram, lamb, bull, beef, and bear,” he chanted.

            Pullie’s dream as a kid was to own a service station; and he accomplished that, first an Esso on Coxe Ave., then the Tri-Co on Brook St. in Biltmore Village.

            Tri-Co became the gathering place in the post-World War II years, as Pulliam worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and entertained as well as served customers.  “We had printed on our charge tickets,” he told Blanton, “We fix everything but broken hearts, and we work on them.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

Richard Koontz, age 4, and Tommy Koontz, age 6, pose in the goat man’s wagon in Biltmore Village, 1938.  Photo courtesy Tommy Koontz.

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