The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Our Goodest' Years!

By Wayne Easter © 2014

Online: November, 2014

our goodest yearsMy drawing of how our house may have looked when first built. Wayne Easter © 2014(Editor’s Note: Wayne Easter lives in Mt Airy, North Carolina with his wife of 57 years, Helen. He has written three books about his early years growing up, “way out in the weeds at the foot of the Blue Ridge.” His talent for taking one along on memory trips to his early days on Stewart's Creek, makes reading his stories a genuine pleasure. He has written three books, “Stewart's Creek: (The End of an Era) ,” “In the Foothills of Home: Memories of growing up in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” and, “Roads Once Traveled: In the Foothills of the Blue Ridge.” All are available on

Around 1936, my parents built a one-room log cabin just off Pine Ridge Road near the North Carolina/Virginia state line: three miles from Lambsburg, Virginia. It was a little off the beaten track, as my mom said it, "On a God-forsaken ridge way out in the middle of nowhere." We had no money, "not much of nothing" and carried water from a spring, "way down yonder in the holler" at the bottom of a steep hill. In the year of our Lord, 1940, Bud Crotts, from Lambsburg, hand-dug our new well just outside the kitchen door, and we thought we had moved to town. When we bought a neighbor's farm at auction in 1945, our sharecropping days ended forever more.

One of our goodest' years, (in late 1948) REA pulled power lines across the hills, and our kerosene lamp and battery powered radio days came to an end. Along about the same time, my dad bought our first automobile, (a well-used A-Model) and we were thrown headfirst, kicking and screaming, into a Twentieth Century already half gone. We never looked back. It was unbelievable that two wires tied to a power pole standing in the pasture could bring so many changes in how we lived. The single light bulb hanging on a cord from the ceiling was even brighter than Walter Marshall's carbide lights and we had no smelly carbide storage tank in the back yard. (Fact of the matter, we had very little of anything in the back yard.) The light bulb didn't smoke, smell, didn't need cleaning, didn't burn any kerosene oil and best of all, it burned no wood. Instead of only one best place to read, (beside the kerosene lamp) I could then read anywhere in the house at any time, even at midnight.

The coming of electricity also brought a power bill of $1.50 each month, which was our first monthly bill and was sometimes hard to pay. We then bought an electric stove that brought an end to cutting stove wood and a new refrigerator brought an end to keeping milk and other foods cooling in the spring box; "way down yonder at the spring." Our new electric radio had no batteries to run down, which increased our listening hours dramatically. We hurried to get the chores done and get back to our favorite programs. Sadly, there was never enough time to listen to everything we wanted to hear. A new radio station (WPAQ Mount Airy) came on the air about that time, (on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1948) and we had news and weather reports about our part of the country. We'd come a long way since the late 1930s, when we and most of our neighbors gathered at Jim Smith's house on Saturday nights, to listen to the Grand Old Opry on the first battery powered radio I'd ever seen.

We continued winding water from the well until the spring of 1955, when a new well pump and running water put us into high cotton. All told, the coming of electricity and an automobile may not have been the best things that happened on our hill, but they came close. Looking back today, those were the good years, the best of years: years that will not come again in our lifetimes.