The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Memories Of The Old Days

By Alice Vest Ayers © 1992

Issue: January, 1992

Back in 1933, my brother William bought a Model T Ford car. He was so proud of that car. He would pile as many of his friends as he could get in it and ride up and down the road. They had so much fun.

When my sister Joane came home from Washington, D.C. for a visit, she and our cousins, William and his girl friend, and some of their friends said they were going to a pumpkin patch one Saturday eve. They all piled in the car, some rode on the running board, and they all went to Buffalo to my uncle's house and had a party and stayed all night. We were up at my cousin's house and I rode down the road with them. I was hoping William would forget I was in the back seat so I could go with them, but when we got down to where we turned off to go to our house, he made me get out. He never let me go anywhere with them.

My Uncle Crowder lived up the road about a mile from us and one night in the winter he was having a dance. He came down to get mother to come to the dance. She told him she didn't have any boots. (We had to walk to his house in the snow.) So, he tied some burlap sacks on her feet. Mother put Floyd and me to bed and went. Uncle Crowder played the banjo and they danced all night.

There used to be an old black woman and her son that lived way back in the mountain at a place called The Harkins. One night Mother, Floyd and I and some neighbors walked to their house. It was about two miles or more up there. The old woman had a dance that night. They danced, cooked and ate food, and drank corn whiskey and danced til dawn.

When we lived in the Hazelette house, my aunt walked by there one night. She saw somebody putting the covers on my brothers. The next day she told Mother what she saw, thinking she had seen my mother. But Mother told my aunt it hadn't been her, that she didn't get up all night. Everyone thought it was a ghost. One morning we were getting ready to go to Buena Vista to spend the weekend with Aunt Lizzie Read and I saw something sitting on the edge of the bed. It looked just like a hog's head. I never did tell anyone what I saw. I was about five years old.

We moved away from Black's Creek after my father died, to a small place called Jack Town. We lived there about two years, then we moved to the Buffalo District. Floyd and I attended the Palmer School while living there. We had about two miles to walk through some fields to the bus stop. We had to get up before daylight in order to catch the bus at eight o'clock.

The house we lived in was way back in the mountain. When mother went to look at it, she didn't like it there because it was so isolated. There weren't any close neighbors. She had taken a chicken and a stool with her when she went to look at the house. She said, "I don't want to live here," so she left the chicken and the stool in the house and went back to my uncle's house. He told her it was a good place to live and he talked her into staying.

My brother got a job at a pipeline, so we lived there about two years, then moved back to Black's Creek. While we lived on Buffalo, we didn't have a clock, so every morning around four o'clock, a hoot owl would hoot and mother would know what time to get my brother up to go to work. My sister Joane left the Anderson home when she was about 15. She came home while we lived on Buffalo and went to Palmer and Effinger schools.

I used to help Mother churn milk - all that delicious golden butter coming to the top. Mother would dip it out and print it in a butter printer. That night we would have corn bread and buttermilk for supper, spreading some of that butter on the hot corn bread. There was nothing like it! Sometimes we would spread fresh apple butter on the corn bread.

I've helped to stir many a kettle of apple butter. Neighbors would come from miles around to help peel and cut apples for apple butter.

Mother had a white linen tablecloth. On holidays like Christmas and Easter she would put it on the table. She would always have so much good food to eat. She would make three or four different kinds of cakes and pies.

On Christmas Eve, she would tell Floyd and me to go to bed so Santa Claus could come. We would set out toboggans on the table and hang our stockings by the fireplace. On Christmas morning, our toboggans would be full of candy, oranges and nuts and maybe a toy or two.

Mother would decorate the windows and doors and put up red streamers across the ceiling. We would decorate the tree with, paper chains and sycamore balls and string some popcorn and put that on the tree. All the family would gather around the tree and open Christmas gifts, then we would all go into the dining room and eat our dinner.

I am now 70 years old and nearing the end of my life. Sometimes I will sit with my children and tell them about my childhood and the things my brother and I did as children and they laugh at the things I tell them and say. "Mom, how do you remember all those things?"