The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - December, 1989

Issue: December, 1989

I was so glad to renew my subscription. This wonderful paper fills in so many lonesome hours [with] the happy memories of times gone by. Don't ever let me miss a printing.

Thank you so much,

M.A. McNeil
Shady Spring, West Virginia

Dear Folks at The Mountain Laurel,
We truly enjoy your magazine. When we receive it there's no putting it down until we read it from cover to cover. Then we let our friends have it to read.

Thank you again. Am sending my check for another year of good reading

Mrs. J. Staley
Sparta, North Carolina

To Mountain Laurel
Just love the paper and even though I'm so far away in Seattle, it still means a lot. My grandfather was Virginian and I learned all his down home ways!!

M.J. Anderson
Seattle, Washington

Dear Mountain Laurel:
I'm so glad to know that you are back in circulation. I've been a long time subscriber to The Mountain Laurel and your paper is a joy to read. I love the mountains and the good folks that live there.

One of our favorites is riding the BACKROADS. And we have taken two of the BACKROAD tours in The Mountain Laurel. The first one was from Blowing Rock thru Edgemont and met Mr. Archie Coffee at his store - enjoyed talking to him - thru beautiful countryside and back to Blowing Rock. We just finished the BACKROAD tour in the October 1989. It was great - perfect weather - on top of Big Walker Mountain. We could see for miles. Stopped along the way to enjoy the peace and quiet scenery. How you find these roads and places I do not know, but keep it up, cause we enjoyed them.

Enclosing my check for three years and for A Special Backroad Collection and the Special Memories.

Thank you again for those wonderful stories in The Mountain Laurel. We remain your readers.

W. Beck Jr.
Thomasville, North Carolina

Dear Susan,
Enclosed you will find check for renewal of my and a gift subscription.

I thoroughly enjoy The Mountain Laurel. So many of the stories are similar to the family folk and oral history stories that have come down in my family and perhaps most families. Prior to the days of radio and TV, those stories were told for entertainment and to preserve family heritage. My mother, Ruby Robertson Smith, was a wonderful storyteller and historian. The stories of area happenings, family and ghosts and haunted houses were supposed to be actual. I thought I would always remember them, but have forgotten so much. This is why it is so important for someone to record them.

My grandfather, Jack Smith, was a horse and mule trader. He would travel through the mountains buying them. My father, Joe F. Smith, would go with him to help and perhaps others also. They would bring them back in a drove, they called it. I think someone rode in front and some in the back (maybe several) to drive them. I have heard my father talk about the mountain families they stayed with along the way. It was the code of the hills that you showed hospitality to those who asked. This meant feed the stock as well as the people and give them a place for the night. I don't know whether pay was expected. Maybe this is why my father always asked anyone who was present at meal time to eat, even strangers.

A few days ago I visited a relative, Pearl Pratt in Henry County, Virginia. She lives between the North and South Mayo Rivers, near the confluence. She is widely known and held in high esteem by her friends and neighbors. She is the last of her family and lives at the old home place with her faithful dog, Kizzy. It is like going back in time to visit with her and talk about family and bygone days.

On my last visit she was telling me about a time when she was a small girl, one cold snowy day about dark, some men came with a drove of horses and asked to be accommodated for the night as well as feed and stabling for the horses. While her father was helping to feed and stable the horses, her mother and older sisters were fixing supper for the men. What did they fix? She remembered ham - that long time standby for company.

This brought back memories of the stock drives my father used to talk about. It also brought back memories of other drives I had heard about. People from the mountains came through the area driving cattle or hogs to the nearest market. This was before the railroads came through.

One of the most interesting drives I have heard about was flocks of turkeys. To prepare them for the journey, they would drive them through warm tar and then through sand to coat their feet. It was said all would go well with the drive until the turkeys decided they wanted to go up to roost. Then they would fly up into the trees where they would have to be left until morning.

In the fall of the year, the mountain people would come through with wagonloads of chestnuts and apples to sell. In recent times that I remember, they would peddle truck loads of apples and cabbage. In early spring, they would come with pigs to sell. We would buy our shoats to raise and kill in the fall.

Most of this will never be experienced by younger generations. Keep up the good work. Encourage people to record their memories.

Jamie C. Smith, President
Rockingham County Historical Society
Stoneville, North Carolina

Dear Mt. Laurel,
I truly enjoyed the issue on BACKROADS in Wytheville, Virginia, as I was born and raised there.

Thank you so much. You have a wonderful paper.

Mrs. V. Edwards
New Market, Virginia
P.S. Keep up the good work.

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.