The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - November, 1991

Issue: November, 1991

Dear Ms. Thigpen,
Re your "Snuffy Smith" piece on mountain stereotypes: We, too, are wryly amused at public servants who on one hand ringingly invoke the sweet, spare lives of our colonial frontiersmen, praising their independence and values as the essence of America, and on the other, often with barely a pause for breath, denounce their descendants, still living by those values, as hillbillies.

But there's more to it than that. "I admit my speech, and that of my mountain neighbors, is marked with an accent..." 'Bout that accent: Few people listening to Shakespeare's words today are aware that he wrote them to be spoken in the accents of the mountains. His speech, like that of Queen Elizabeth I, who first envisioned communities of independent, resourceful Englishmen in green Virginia, shared the accents, patterns and vocabulary of your mountain neighbors. The very English which quickened Shakespeare remains arresting, clear, direct and alive with vivid description, full of muscle and punch and color, while the rest of us make do with such thin, drab, colorless vanilla that one sometimes wonders why we bother to speak at all. The vowel shifts and gradual predominance of London English and its variants have substituted a flattened technobabble for salt and spice as they threaten to denature our lively tongue, tingling neither pen nor ear.

Your neighbors are the last exponents, the sole guardians of a bright treasure of merriment, of raw honesty, of a harmony rustling like green leaves, and you enrich us all.


B. Rowell & C. Mitchell
Louisville, Kentucky

Dear Susan,
My husband and I have enjoyed so many BACKROADS Tours, and appreciate your explicit directions. One we liked so well, we've retraced three times (so far)! It was Little Reed Creek.

The Mountain Laurel is one of our favorite publications and we applaud your good efforts in preserving this folk lore. We North Carolina natives are quite enamored of Southwest Virginia.

E. May
Greensboro, North Carolina

Dear Mountain Laurel,
Our neighbors brought us a copy of The Mountain Laurel over recently. I can't remember the exact issue, but on the cover was the Lucas Mansion at Hiddenite, NC and information on the Emerald Hollow Mine and the Hidden Crystal Inn. We were getting ready to take our second trip there and took the publication along with us. Mrs. Sharp, the owner of the inn, was there so I gave the issue to her.

I would very much like to start a subscription and I would like to start with that issue.

Thank you,

J & J Carter
Martinsville, Virginia

Dear Susan,
I am sending check for my subscription for The Mountain Laurel. It is my spring of life, love of home, friends of the past, breezes blowing through the honeysuckle vines in full bloom, the bubbling brook, the brightest star at midnight, the coo of a dove, the crowing of the rooster at day break, the lowing of the cow at milking time, the squeal of the little pigs at feeding time, the cluck of the hen for her chicks, the quack of the duck taking the little ones to the creek for a swim, the croak of the bull frog in the spring, the bark of a dog when he comes out to meet you wagging his tail in friendliness, the mew of a kitten, the mew of the cat bird, the sound of the mocking bird and the whippoorwill.

I feel you are my true friend for I've known you through The Mountain Laurel since the first copy I bought in the mountains in the early 1980's. I enjoy your BACKROADS. I was born and raised in Washington County. Abingdon, Virginia is my home town. I hope you can go to White's Mill in Lowland some time. I try to go there every time I go back home. I enjoy everything about your Mountain Laurel, so keep on keeping on until Jesus comes.

E. L. Goodson
Providence, North Carolina

Dear Mt. Laurel,
I always enjoy reading The Mountain Laurel. The last issue was especially interesting since it was a visit home.

Please send a complimentary copy of the last issue to Mrs. L. Merrihue, Emory, Virginia.

Thank you,

Mrs. F.A. Jessup
Westfield, North Carolina