Affiliated Networks


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.



Latest Activity

Sue Diehl shared their event on Facebook
Feb 8
Sue Diehl posted an event

Montreat College Friends of the Library Celebrate National Library Week at Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College, Montreat, NC

April 9, 2019 from 3pm to 5pm
Patti Callahan, author of the recent novel Becoming Mrs. Lewis, and Don W. King author of Out of My Bone: the Letters of Joy Davidman, A Naked Tree: Love Sonnets to C. S. Lewis, and Yet One More Spring: a Critical Study of Joy Davidman, will co-present on their works about Joy and her husband C.S. Lewis.  The event is free and open to the public on April 9, 2019 in Graham Chapel, Gaither Hall, Montreat College.Reception and Book signing to followSee More
Feb 8
William Roy Pipes posted a discussion


I have, just released two Appalachian Novels.OUT OF THE SHADOWS, begins deep in the Appalachian Mountains of in WNC. It is partly a true story about a young man who ran away from home at the age of fifteen. He meets another runaway, and they fall in love.A journey where he faced adversaries, but also success as he walked, hitchhiked, and made his way across the country.GONE LIKE A CANDLE IN THE WIND, is a story of three young people growing up in a farming community in the Appalachian…See More
Jan 28
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Main Show

The Main Show: a story-poem stage presentation(part of  Living Poem)Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and in our minds, disabling…See More
Jan 26
Don Talley posted a discussion

Hollywood Pictures Inc in Fairview

In the 1920's it seemed the whole country was caught up in excitement about films and Hollywood.    Asheville and Western North Carolina were well aware of the hoopla of Hollywood.   In fact, Hollywood (or at least filmmaking) was already beginning to come to Western NC.I recently stumble across an article from the Jun 6 1926 issue of The Asheville Citizen Times which mentions that Hollywood Pictures Inc, was planning to film just south of Asheville, near Fairview.  But....was this really…See More
Jan 23
Connie Regan-Blake posted events
Jan 16
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


IntermissionHear audio by clicking mp3 attachment!(Part of poem, "Coalescence") I thought I might take a break at this point to look around,Now that I’m in the business of making things resound.It’s so nice to have the luxury of being carefree. If you stop and sit back and try to take in everything,It stuns you and you can’t focus on anythingUntil something crops up, and what…See More
Jan 16
Joan Henehan replied to Rob Neufeld's discussion Coalescence
"It's an odyssey..."
Jan 8
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion


The Main Show: A Story Poem Cycle(formerly, Coalescence) (part of  Living Poem)The Main Show  Program Notes (A program note reader comes out to read from the program notes.) Don’t listen, children, and do not hear.(A monster is coming and there’s no escapeWithin this story, and no good way to tell it, Except to gaze at the horror as at a flower,A disaster streaming off extremes it breedsEverywhere and…See More
Dec 11, 2018
Rob Neufeld posted a discussion

The Sultan's Dream

The Sultan’s Dream (Part of Living Poem) When it comes to walking, the jig’s up.No more fit lad sitting at the pub.No more flim-flam smiling with a limp. See how the legs totter and the torso leans.Do you know what a lame sultan dreams?Of reclining on a divan wearing pantaloons, Comparing his plight to a mountaineer’sNegotiating an icy bluff in a fierce wind,And then lounging in a tent to unwind. Which…See More
Nov 15, 2018
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
Nov 9, 2018
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, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

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, 2018
Connie Regan-Blake updated an event

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, 2018

Amnesiac in the mountains made big news

by Rob Neufeld


            Our public libraries now make available to us, online, the “New York Times,” 1851-2009. 

            Following New York eyes on the mountains, we unearth the mystery of 1932, which may still be familiar to some people in Swain County.

            The disappearance of Col. Raymond Robins—Prohibitionist, evangelical Christian, Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and social aid provider to the Soviet Union—stirred up two months of speculation in the national press, as well as a lot of talk among the 400 residents of Whittier, where Robins was finally found, apparently the victim of amnesia.

            Robins had been on his way from the City Club in Manhattan to a talk with President Herbert Hoover at the White House on Sept. 3, when he fell off the face of the earth.  Both liquor rings and Russian imperialists were suspected of kidnapping him.

            Finally, Carl Byrd Fisher, a Whittier lad, identified him from a photo in the national newspaper, “Grit.” 

That’s what certain Whittier residents argued, anyway.  Others insisted the town barber had first recognized him; and some official accounts credited two Federal agents.


Back of beyond


            Robins “had always disliked crowds and had always been fond of getting away by himself and enjoying the solitude to be found in communing with nature,” his nephew, John Dreier, told reporters after Robins had been transferred to Appalachian Hall, an asylum in Kenilworth. 

            The story reminds us of the great outdoorsman, writer, and National Park advocate, Horace Kephart, who’d left wife and kids to commune with nature in Swain County a generation earlier.

            When told by Dr. Mark Griffin at Appalachian Hall that his wife was coming to see him, Robins, according to the “New York Times,” “begged him not to let her do so; saying she was not his wife.”  He didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

            Who was he then?  He was Raymond Rogers, a mining engineer from Kentucky, he kept telling people, and he was looking for precious metals.  He’d ditched his New York suit, donned overalls and a khaki shirt, and grown a beard.

            It seemed like a regression to his life before marriage, for he’d spent his early childhood in Kentucky; started a phosphate mining company at age 17; and had undergone a conversion to Christianity in Alaska, where he’d been a prospector during the Klondike gold rush in 1897.


It’s me, Margaret


            When Mrs. Robins arrived, it took three visits and a hand-holding before her husband looked at her and called her by her first name, Margaret.

            There had been times in Chicago, the Robins family’s hometown, Mrs. Robins and Dreier admitted, when Robins had dressed in workers’ clothes and mingled with the laborers to know their thinking.  Once, gangsters, allegedly hired by political opponents, slugged him and left him for dead.

            But he had never before failed to tell his wife where he was going.

            Robins’ disappearance this time had preceded his wife’s birthday by two days, yet it seems that his marriage to her was only one part of his need to detach himself from his life.  Before coming to New York, he had been recuperating at his summer home near Bar Harbor, Maine, after spending the previous year touring 286 cities making speeches in favor of Prohibition.

            Once Robins recovered, hospital staff shaved his beard and gave him city clothes.  Tabloid photographers were disappointed, and offered big money for exclusive interviews and pre-shave photos of Robins.

            Glenn McHan, son of the owner of the boarding house at which Robins had stayed, wanted $500 for a bearded photo of Robins that he had, but it was rejected because the sun had put Robins’ face in the shade.

            Tabloid writers tried to draw a lurid connection between Robins and McHan’s 19-year-old sister, Wilma, who went on walks with Robins, but always with a group.

            Upon full recovery, Robins returned to his social work and speech-making activities; and urged F.D.R. to recognize the Soviet Union.  It was hard being effective; his amnesia incident would not be forgotten. 

Then, in 1935, Robins fell from a tree and was paralyzed below the waist.  He lived 19 more years, and died at age 81 of heart failure.


Raymond Robins, Bain News Service photo, c. 1915, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division        

Views: 488

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Fascinating history-I've never heard the story before!

Rob--Although I haven't checked, I suspect there would be considerable coverage of this saga in the local Swain County newspaper, The Smoky Mountain Times (or possibly it went by the title of Bryson City Times at that juncture), if you wanted to check. I knew of this story but have never checked into it in any detail.

Jim Casada


© 2019   Created by Rob Neufeld.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service