The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

John Hayes Hollow - Mrs. Molly Estep

By Hazel P. Hedrick © 1984

Issue: November, 1984

When I was a little girl, our nearest neighbor up in the John Hayes Hollow [Brushy Mountains] was Mrs. Estep or Miss Molly, as we called her. She was a tall thin lady with white hair. She always wore high top boots or shoes and a long black skirt that touched the ground. Her blouse was also black with long sleeves. Over this she had a dirty apron with two big pockets in it tied around her waist. I can still see her clearly in my mind, standing at her house. She was so nice to my brothers, sisters and me. I don't believe we ever went there or passed by that she didn't give us something to eat. She would have shared her last bite of food with us. We loved her as if she had been our real grandma.

Mrs. Estep was also our doctor. When some illness, ache or pain came along that our mom could not cure with home remedies, she sent for Mrs. Estep. That lady never failed. She knew all the diseases and the remedies. I wish I had written down her remedies and her stories.

Next to our mom and grandma, she was the best at growing a vegetable garden. On a trip back to our old homeplace, we passed the heap of rotting logs that once was her home and I could almost see her old black bonnet darting around amid the honeysuckle vines and briars. I could almost hear her saying, "Here, eat this baked sweet potato as you walk down the mountain."

As my brothers, sisters and I were walking out of the Hollow where we spent our childhood, we came to an old house I remembered being built when I was a child. Someone was still living there, so my brother went up and knocked on the door.

To my surprise, out stepped a little old lady who, if she had had on a black bonnet and long black skirt, I would have thought Mrs. Estep had come back from the grave! It was Mrs. Estep's daughter, Rispy Moare, 90 years old and still making beautiful quilts without the aid of glasses. She brought out quilt after quilt to show us, each so beautiful.

We sat on her porch and rested for a few minutes, spending the time explaining to her who we were and what we were doing. She remembered all of us. When we were little, she used to pass by our house going to the store and sometimes went to the same church.

It isn't often you get to visit the past and the present all in the same day.