The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

  • Memories of a vanishing era

    Left to right: Coy Oliver Yeatts, mountain philosopher and nature lover; Ella Hughes Boyd, midwife and grit best describe this wonderful lady; Adam Clement, beekeeper extraordinaire. They are just a few among hundreds who have shared their stories and memories in The Mountain Laurel. Their stories are a national treasure.

  • Picturesque Blue Ridge Backroads

    Discover the Real Blue Ridge

    Scenes like this are just around the next bend or over the next hill along the hundreds of miles of backroads you'll discover with our easy to follow self-guided Backroad Tours.

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  • The Stoneman Family

    A Heritage of Mountain Music

    It was more than a concert, it was a rare privilege to be attending the Stoneman Family Festival at Willis, Virginia in August. The reason it was more than a concert was that family members from Maryland and Tennessee traveled here for a reunion.

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  • Making Old Fashion Mountain Molasses

    B. L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram

    B.L. (Bunny) and Tella Mae Cockram are each 73 years old. They’ve been married for 50 years and since 1935, home for them has been their 60 acre farm in the Mountain View section of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Tella Mae has a hundred laying hens and she sells eggs to a lot of the folks here-'bouts. In addition to the 100 laying hens, she and Bunny have 50 head of cattle and 25 head of sheep.

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  • Woodrow (Woody) Dalton on the old Appalachian Trail

    Arrowhead Marker built by John Barnard

    The original route of the Appalachian Trail crossed the Pinnacles of Dan, traversed the Dan River Gorge and climbed Indian Ladder to the plateau known locally as the Rich Bent. This path carried hikers through some of the most breathtakingly beautiful terrain the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer. Earl Shaffer on his historic first ever through hike of the entire Appalachian Trail in one season, passed through this area and described it ...

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Matt Burnett's Mountain Memories

By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012

Issue: March, 1983

(Update 2015: Thanks to WFMY-TV of Greensboro, North Carolina for allowing us to publish this wonderful video.)

He stood in Parkway Exxon, looking across Highway 58 and told what Meadows of Dan looked like sixty years ago. For over seventy years he has lived in this community. Listening to him talk is like traveling in a time machine backward to a simpler era. An era when “chestnut orchards” instead of restaurants and service stations covered the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan.

As he described Meadows of Dan circa 1920, you almost could see how this area looked then. Highway 58 was not here then, neither was the Blue Ridge Parkway. “The road” was the old “Danville and Wytheville Turnpike” and it’s still here, much like it’s always been, a simple, little, winding mountain road. (See our BACKROADS column on page 12.)

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This Cake is Musty

By Kenneth A. Tabler © 2015

Online: May, 2015

We could always count on Mrs. Hattie Rakestraw's colorful character. Five of my boyhood years were filled with trips down the hill, sometimes just to borrow a cooking ingredient or deliver a message. Miss Hattie was widely known and sought after for her kitchen table wisdom. This older, plain-spoken lady was Mama's trusted friend and they worked together shoulder to shoulder during such busy times as butchering and threshing.

Miss Hattie's early life was filled with several tragic events. Somewhere along the way she'd married and moved to Philadelphia. While the family lived there her daughter was killed in an automobile accident. At some point, Miss Hattie returned to Martinsburg a widow.

By the time I met her she lived as a companion and helper to Charles Locke, nicknamed "Booze." I never knew him to be an immoderate drinker, though he was temperamental with animals. Physically, he was a barrel shaped man, with the waistline of a food lover.

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The Sisters

By Patti Perry-Armes © 2015

Online: May, 2015

(Editor's Note: Patti Perry-Armes lives in the country, just outside Knoxville, Tennessee. She enjoys writing short stories, particularly about rural life and living in the Appalachian region. A number of her stories have been published in anthologies, and both print and internet magazines.)

Protruding branches grabbed like outstretched arms, as I made my way down the well-worn wooded path. It seemed they did, at least to a little girl of six. Sometimes I ran from their grasp, but more often, I pretended to be Little Red Riding Hood, on her way to grandmother's house. Because I was usually carrying a basket of fresh baked goodies, the role seemed to fit. Mama often sent me to visit the sisters and take them goodies. They lived just a short distance through the woods, but it seemed such a long way. I was an only child without any neighborhood children to fill my days, so a visit was always a treat. And they always made me feel so grown-up.

The sisters lived alone and neither had married. They had taken care of their mother for most of their lives, until her death. There just hadn't been time for suitors. They seemed so old to me with snow white hair and thin wrinkly skin, browned while working in the garden. In reality, they were probably only in their early sixties.

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Latest Additions

Latest Additions to The Mountain Laurel Archive:

The stories in The Mountain Laurel Archive are sorted from the earliest edition (1983) to the latest (2015). This is done so that articles continued from one month to the next will appear in order as they were originally printed. Unfortunately, this causes the newest articles to appear at the very end of the stories listed in each category. In order to highlight the latest stories added we have created this page.

This Cake is Musty

The Sisters

Matt Burnett's Mountain Memories (Update)

Yes, You Can Go Home Again!

Mountain Mama

A Tribute to My Mother - Lavada Mae Creed Golding

Springtime In The Mountains

Front Porch Memories

Yesterday's Mountain Woman: A Legend in Her Own Time

Lo How a Rose

Puddles and Pain

I Had a Dream Last Night

Orchards and The Hollow – Backroads Tour

Pet Heaven

Coal Mine Orphans

Tribute to a Mountain Church

The Storied Queen Anne of Sidna and Bette Allen

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