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Appalachian Culture Through Song and Memoir at City Lights Bookstore

August 8, 2014 from 6:30pm to 8pm
Join us at City Lights Bookstore on Friday, August 8th at 6:30 p.m. as Jeremy Jones explores the culture and history of the Blue Ridge Mountains through song and reading. Performing old-time banjo tunes and reading excerpts from his book Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland, he presents the sounds and stories of his native Appalachian mountains in a blending of personal narrative and folklore. In Bearwallow, his first book, Jones turns his attention to the complex and rich…See More
Saturday
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

A Shelter of Others by Charles Dodd White

Mountain writer expresses a cry for countryby Rob Neufeld             There’s a scene in Charles Dodd White’s new novel, “A Shelter of Others,” in which a character topples twenty feet off a ledge in a national forest and is saved by some kind of “solid bulk” that interrupts his fall.            He has landed on a…See More
Thursday
Michael Davenport replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Q&A about Asheville water system and the current state initiative
"Nicely done, and informative. I look forward to part 2."
Jul 18
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jul 17
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jul 12
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Life among the poorest is eye-openerby Rob Neufeld             Enlightened and sobered by Katherine Boo’s account of political amorality and human behavior in “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity,” I was also amazed by her narrative achievement.            The book is…See More
Jul 7
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jul 5
Dave Turner posted a blog post

Does anyone need a good proofreader?

My company, Dave Turner Creative, has just Dave Turner Creative has formed a new partnership with expert proofreader Rebecca Lang. Here are her credentials, experience and specialties:http://daveturnercreative.com/proofreadingAll the best,Dave Turner, author of Billy Ray's…See More
Jul 2
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Book discussions in WNC, July 2014

WNC BOOK DISCUSSION CALENDAR, JULY 2014Tuesday, July 1WILD BOOK CLUB: The WILD Book Club discusses “The Interestings” by Meg Wolitzer at the Battery Park Book Exchange, 1 Page Ave., Asheville, 7 p.m. Call 254-6734.BOOK DISCUSSION: “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki is the subject of a book discussion at the Weaverville…See More
Jun 28
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jun 28
City Lights Bookstore posted events
Jun 21
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

Summer issue of GreenPrints is out!

The summer issue of GreenPrints is out! You probably know it's published right there in Fairview by Pat Stone, former longtime gardening editor of Mother Earth News! He's graciously included an excerpt of one of my favorite stories from my book Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden, which I do hope you will enjoy! He's also going to be making the book available on his site, soon! Thank you, Pat Stone! …See More
Jun 20
Sharon Gruber posted an event

Screening of "Stark Love" filmed in NC in 1929 at A-B Tech Ferguson Auditorium

June 21, 2014 from 2pm to 4pm
The movie, filmed in 1929 in Graham County NC, accompanies the Asheville History Center's "Hillbilly Land" exhibition.See More
Jun 19
Jerald Pope left a comment for Rob Neufeld
"Hey Rob, Can you make it to the reading tonight? If not, where can I send you a copy of the book? Best to email me at <jerry@harebrandideas.com>"
Jun 19
Jerald Pope posted an event

Jerry Pope reads New novel at Monte Visa Hotel

June 19, 2014 from 6pm to 7pm
Local artist and Swannanoa Valley historian Jerald Pope is releasing his first novel, “The Elvis Tooth.” Pope describes the book as “a comic, historical, action-packed beach book, about Black Mountain that combines real history and stories with a time travel flair,” The titular tooth, the key McGuffin in the story, was an actual tooth pulled from Elvis Presley’s mouth in Black Mountain by Dr. Love in 1975. Pope is best known locally for the “Way Back When” series of plays that ran at the Black…See More
Jun 19
Caralyn Davis posted a blog post

My Short Story "Belong" Published at Word Riot

May entertain, but it is a little edgy, NSFW (not safe for work) as the kids say, so consider yourself warned: http://www.wordriot.org/archives/7026See More
Jun 18

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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