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Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Salman Rushdie come to Asheville with new novel

Atheist believes in genies, novel revealsby Rob Neufeld             Salman Rushdie’s latest novel—“Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights” (1,001 nights)—has permitted me to come up with a headline as wild as the one above because the book is so exuberantly and infectiously…See More
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Rob Neufeld posted discussions
Jan 31
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

73 classic works about Appalachia going online

Key Appalachian studies publications now going onlinefrom press release, Jan. 27. 2016 Appalachian studies scholars and those interested in regional history will have greater access to out-of-print works thanks to a two-year National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Open Book Program grant totaling $88,000 awarded to Belk Library and Information Commons at Appalachian State University.  Pamela Mitchem, the library’s coordinator of digital scholarship and…See More
Jan 30
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

John Parris' home-grown prose

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…See More
Jan 27
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

James Sturm expands scope of graphic novels

James Sturm blazes cartoon path to a new worldby Rob Neufeld             Why is it that when an author combines pictures with words, the medium is considered juvenile, like comics?  Words create literature; images, art.  Why, when you marry them, is it like pairing a milk cow with a mop?            Nothing against…See More
Jan 24
susannah eanes posted a blog post

The Writer as Pilgrim

Two articles leapt at my consciousness this week, both about writing. And suddenly, I know how to go forward from here. The first, The Price I Pay to Write, by Laura Bogart and published online in Dame Magazine, reflects on the difficulties of…See More
Jan 24
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Tired of thrillers with no soul?

Why read a 1940 man-on-the-run classicby Rob Neufeld             After reading a classic novel, you might think, “Oh, look at this superior ancestor of today’s fiction.”              For instance, “The Power and the Glory,” Graham Greene’s 1940 thriller about political oppression in Mexico, exemplifies the…See More
Jan 17
Susan True updated their profile
Jan 9
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

Art of Grace by Sarah Kaufman

Dance critic applies grace to every moveby Rob Neufeld             It’s nice to find just the right word for something, especially when it sums up a main idea in your way of thinking.            That was the case with Sarah Kaufman when she’d first felt moved, nine years ago, to write her new book, “The Art of Grace” (W.W.…See More
Jan 9
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Jan 9
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Jan 8
Kathryn Hall posted a blog post

Fire and Ice Roses interview with author/gardening blogger Kathryn Hall

Fire and Ice Roses has been interviewing gardening bloggers and gardening experts and were kind enough to include this short interview recently which was quite fun and very much appreciated! http://fireandiceroses.com/ask-an-expert-kathryn-hall/See More
Jan 5
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

History in the making, January 2, 2016

History in the making: items of note, January 2, 2016It was reported in today’s print edition of the Asheville Citizen-Times that a new state law went into effect, requiring people who’ve filed for unemployment benefits to make at least 5 job contacts a week.  It had been 2.  How will that work?  Are there that many jobs for which a person is qualified?  Can you apply to the same job twice if it continues to be listed? Paul Bonesteel, noted Asheville filmmaker, revealed on Facebook that a…See More
Jan 2
Rob Neufeld posted a blog post

Local event of the day, Jan 1 2016

Tarantino, eminent domain, and emancipation Tarantino comes to townQuentin Tarantino’s New Year’s gore and gabfest, The Hateful Eight, is gutted by New Yorker reviewer Anthony Lane, who says that Tarantino toys with rather than explores history, using it “for boyish fantasies of revenge, as if enormous crimes could be undone, after the event, by lone and wanton acts of humiliation.” …See More
Jan 1
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Railroad history in Western North Carolina: a close-up and bottom-line look

Railroads in WNC: the perils, the people, and the profitby Rob NeufeldWritten in conjunction with exhibit, "How The West Was Won," in Rural Heritage Museum, Mars Hill University PHOTO CAPTION: The entrance to the railroad show at the Rural Heritage Museum is commanded by a mock-up of Climax engine…See More
Dec 24, 2015

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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