The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

My Floyd County Roots - Gail Sutphin

Pauline Bolt, Ledford Bolt and Gail Bolt Sutphin as a child.Pauline Bolt, Ledford Bolt and Gail Bolt Sutphin as a child.By Gail Sutphin © 1988

Issue: May, 1988

Although the years spent in the mountains were very precarious and uncomplicated to me, looking back, I wonder just what those years must have been like for my parents, Tom and Pauline Bolt.

My father had lost his mother a few years before I was born. Also, both my parents had brothers in the war, pretty close to the front lines of battle. My mother's brother, Daniel Belcher, and my father's brother, Lancie (Dick) Bolt, made it back home, but my father's youngest brother, Earnest Bolt, did not. The last word the family received about him said that he was captured and had pneumonia at the time.

I guess there are many differences in a child's memory of events and an adult's, because I can only seem to remember the good all of us going out in the evening to get the cows. While we might have to hunt for them it didn't take long because they had a cowbell around their necks and I can almost hear the sound they would make as we drove the cows down to be milked.

After the milking was finished and the milk was strained through a clean cloth and put in the spring box to cool, my brother Ledford and I would take an old dishpan Mama had given us out to the dirt bank near our house and slide down on it until it was almost dark. The pan worked almost as well as a "store bought" sled on snow, especially if you never had a "store bought" sled.

When it was getting dark our parents would call us in. They would light up the kerosene lamp and sometimes, if we were lucky, Daddy would get out his guitar, tune on it for a while and play for us.

My brother tried to teach me some of the important things I suppose he thought every mountain girl should know. One such lesson was to teach me to use a slingshot. It was made of a forked stick and a piece of old inner tube. I was not very old at the time and while I thought I was doing quite well, I had one slight problem. I could only pull the rubber backwards. This didn't matter though, because I did miss Ledford's ear and I did miss the window pane...however, I will admit the rock did hit square between the two window panes. Ledford must have thought I learned my lesson well, because I do not recall ever getting another lesson on the sport of slingshots.

All in all, I'm sure those times were not perfect by any means, but I do wish some of the young people I work with today could have at least six years of their life in which to enjoy family and God's creation the way we did then. It gave me a strong background that has helped me withstand the difficult times of life.