The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - November, 1989

Issue: November, 1989

Dear Readers,
This month's letters column will be a little different. We usually print letters from readers, but this month, I am printing letters I have received from writers and contributors to The Mountain Laurel. We thought you might be interested in the process from which the stories and articles are chosen to appear in each month's issues.

A lot of people ask me where all the stories come from. As you can see from the addresses beneath the names of the letters, they come from everywhere.

We do the research and write some of the stories. Many of the stories come from people who grew up in the Blue Ridge, still live here or have moved away. Some stories are written by people who may never have even gotten a chance to experience this beautiful area of the United States, but their family came from here and they grew up nourished on old time family stories about what it was like. As the famous soap opera actress Mary Stuart (Jo of Search For Tomorrow) said in her book, "Both Of Me," her father was from Virginia and "felt sorry for anybody who wasn't." Her relatives were kin to the James Steptoe Langhorne family who were very prominent citizens of Meadows of Dan in its early days.

Many people who write stories in The Mountain Laurel have never written anything professionally before, they just have good stories to tell. Sometimes their stories are the most interesting ones we receive.

When someone sends in a story, I read it. Then, if it is a story that fits The Mountain Laurel, I send a letter to the person who wrote it along with two copies of an authorization to print form. One copy is on parchment paper and the writer keeps it. The other copy is on white paper and it is to be returned to The Mountain Laurel. When each story is printed, we put a copyright symbol on it to show that the writer is the owner of the story. The authorization form only specifies that The Mountain Laurel has the one-time right to print it [and the right to include it in future collections].

I encourage everyone who has old family stories to write them down and send them to The Mountain Laurel. This is a good way to assure they will live on for future generations to know what "the old days" were really like. Stories do not have to be typed. I'm pretty good at "deciphering" handwriting. Don't worry about spelling either, as long as I can read it. The only thing that counts is the story itself. Many times there are incredible stories of courage and determination and struggles for shear survival. Other times stories are so humorous that fiction couldn't beat them for wit.

We hope you enjoy our slight change in this month's letters column. I feel as though I have made many good friends with people who write and which I have only communicated with in letters through the past several years. The Mountain Laurel says a special thank you to all the writers and contributors for sharing their stories and talents with all our readers.

With love and appreciation,
Susan Thigpen, Editor

Dear Ms. Thigpen,
Thank you for accepting "Life Is The Pits". I am enclosing the form you wanted signed. I think the parchment copy is just the greatest.

Thank you again,
J.V. Burchill
Talking Rock, Georgia

Dear Ms. Thigpen,
I thank you for your kind words. It is more than gratifying to read such a letter - it let me begin to feel as though I truly were a poet, whatever that may be. Beyond the wonderful letter, it makes me very happy just to have been able to contribute to a publication with the reputation of The Mountain Laurel.

The parchment copy of the authorization form will be a wonderful reminder - again, thank you for everything.

G. Stewart
Los Angeles, California

Dear Ms. Thigpen,
I realize you can not give out addresses so I'm enclosing a note to Margaret E. Baca with the hope you will send it on to her. She's the author of a poem that appeared in The Mountain Laurel, September 1989.

You've published two poems of mine in the past and again I thank you.

I returned to North Carolina in June for my thirty year high school class reunion and, as a surprise to me, my husband went out of the way on our return trip to take me to Mabry Mill and the surrounding area. What a treat! Thanks for your help.

G. Lin
Winston, Missouri

Susan Thigpen, Editor
It was great hearing from you. The September 1989 Mountain Laurel is just beautiful. I laughed and cried when I went to the mailbox and saw it and read that you, Charlotte, Robert and the new kid, Larry have a much finer home for you and The Mountain Laurel.

Here is more of my story about my family and childhood. And I have more. If you want me to send it, just whistle Dixie, ok?

There are so many things I'd like to do but I don't know just what or how to help The Mountain Laurel and you kids. Love and oceans of good wishes for all of you.

L. Emery
Troy, Missouri

Dear Folks,
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for the warm reception I have had from advertisers and readers of the "Mountain Laurel family." I am in charge of advertising and subscription sales programs. The response to The Mountain Laurel is always positive and it is gratifying to work in such an atmosphere.

My own heritage and roots run deep in Bland County, Virginia. I once left the Blue Ridge for life in the "big city," only to discover the mountains were where I really belonged. Since my return, I have lived in Wythe County and dreamed of sharing my love and appreciation of BACKROADS, canoe trips down mountain streams, skiing and other Blue Ridge pleasures and treasures with others. This longing came true when I started work with The Mountain Laurel.

If any of you know of someone who would like to advertise in The Mountain Laurel and help support the preservation of Blue Ridge heritage and culture, just have them get in touch with me.

Thank you,
Larry Newberry

Dear Readers:
The printing and distribution of this publication is subsidized by the purchasers of advertising space as displayed herein. Without their support this publication could not exist and we wish to express our appreciation of their loyal participation.

We hope those who enjoy and participate in this worthwhile endeavor to preserve mountain memories will express their appreciation by supporting these businesses with their patronage wherever possible, and please let them know you saw their ad in The Mountain Laurel.

The role this publication plays fills a void for those of us who wish for, or remember, a simpler time. By sharing the heritage and cultural characteristics of our region with a nationwide audience each month, we hope to revive the memories of day to day history and provide an insight into the character of the people that were born of this region.

These people, whether they chose to stay in the Blue Ridge or move to parts unknown, have the imprint of the character and integrity of those "mountain born and bred".

The Blue Ridge was the first frontier of America and these people and their descendants were among the first pioneers and all that came after them were influenced, to some extent, by their triumphs and sacrifices.

The heroes of yesteryear and two hundred yesteryears ago may be remembered a little bit longer due to the combined efforts of the subscribers, advertisers and staff who are related only by our love for this area and it's heritage.

Thank you for making this effort possible.