The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Yesterday's Mountain Woman: A Legend in Her Own Time

By Wayne Easter © 2015

Online: March, 2015

Wayne EasterWayne Easter, mountain writer(Editor's Note: Wayne Easter lives in Mt Airy, North Carolina with his wife of 57 years, Helen. He has written three books about his early years growing up, "way out in the weeds at the foot of the Blue Ridge." His talent for taking one along on memory trips to his early days on Stewart Creek's, makes reading his stories a genuine pleasure. He has written three books, "Stewart's Creek: (The End of an Era) ," "In the Foothills of Home: Memories of growing up in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains," and, "Roads Once Traveled: In the Foothills of the Blue Ridge." All are available on

If you traveled the back roads of the Blue Ridge in the early years, you may have met a lady, whom for want of a better name, we'll call Rhudella Singletree. She was a hard-working soul who lived in a log cabin, and cooked meals on a wood stove, three times a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year.

She pulled her side of the plow, swung a mean crosscut saw, could fell a tree with a double-bladed axe, draw a bead on a 'possum in a pine tree with a .12 gauge, parboil it in a pot, and have it on the table in nothing flat. Her household was her kingdom, and with nothing more than a certain look, she kept her children on the straight and narrow: a look that could set a broom straw field on fire and burn a hole in a 2x4 at three hundred feet. When she went on the warpath, that same look put the fear of God into her husband Zeke, his knees turned to jelly, and he called on his maker every time, "Oh Lord, what did I do this time?"

I grew up figuring most women, (including my mom) as they grew older, would become little old grandmotherly types who sat on the front porch in their favorite chair: dipping Square brand snuff, shelling garden peas and rocking up a storm. Well, in case you haven't heard, let me be the first to tell you, "It don't work that way, not at all." As the years passed, I knew less and less about more and more, but still learned a few facts about women, especially my mom.

First of all, her name was NOT Rhudella, but she fought the battles just the same. She began married life in a one-room log cabin, raised five boys and a husband, and like every other housewife I knew back on the creek, she lived a very hard life. She worked in the fields alongside my dad, sawed the wood, and shot the shotgun, (sometimes at my dad) settled family disputes, and never, ever let her family miss a meal. What did she do when she got older? Well, let's see. She still fought the battles, day in and day out, cussed the "Givermint", ran the roads, fished the creeks, cooked the big meals for Sunday company every Sunday, and nobody dared to leave her house hungry. She said to me more than once, "You may be a grown man, but you're still my youngun', and I can still warm your hide with a hickory switch. (In case you are wondering how I responded, I said, "Yes Mam.")

After watching today's passing parade and remembering Mama, I don't think they grow women like that anymore, but then again, I wouldn't bet on it, not by any means.