The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Tribute To Mountain Mothers

By Ann H. Winebarger © 1985

Issue: May, 1985

My Mother's paternal grandparents are the only great-grandparents that I remember. The others either died before I was born, or when I was very young. Especially I remember my great-grandmother Woodie. Her name was Zora Powell Woodie and the little mountain home of her and my great-grandfather, Mae was situated close by the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Watauga and Ashe County line in North Carolina. And located very close to the beautiful Cascade's Waterfall, which is visited by hundreds every year.

During the 1950's, on a pretty Sunday in mid-summer, our family would load up and drive to Great-Grandma's. Sometimes we took Mother's parents, my grandma and grandpa Woodie along, because they had no car or other way of going very often.

After we left the Parkway, we'd stop our vehicle and walk the rest of the way. There was a fairly good dirt road to travel but too many gates to open and re-close to bother with driving in. It must have been about a mile. We walked slowly, up a steep bank after crossing the brook. Then through a partly wooded, partly open cow pasture and across a smaller brook. There we left the road to follow a path through the open meadow grass, right up to the house.

We would always arrive at Great-Grandma's in the early afternoon. She and Great-Grandpa would be sitting on their front porch in their straight back chairs. He wore dark trousers, a light colored, long sleeved shirt and suspenders. And a narrow brimmed hat. Great Grandma wore a freshly starched white apron over her dark and rather long dress. She also wore dark cotton stockings. She wore a head coverlet too, some sort of bandana like material, folded in a triangle and tied at the nape of the neck.

Their log house was plain, with its newspaper lined walls. But So Neat! And VERY clean. From the oil cloth covered table, she served us gingerbread and fresh cold milk. Then afterwards, we would walk with her out to the springhouse, only a few steps from the door, and over a cobblestone walkway. So many crocks and pitchers all filled with milk, buttermilk - and beautiful pounds of homemade butter. (I have rarely seen or tasted the true creamy so-lightly-yellow-tinted butter like my Great-Grandma Zora's.)

Great-Grandpa had stands of honeybees too, I remember, but one did not venture near them. We did sometimes bring honey along home with us to enjoy.

During my childhood, my mother often reminded us of the way her Grandmother Woodie did things. Of how much she enjoyed visiting and helping and learning from her when she herself was a girl. I know how white those spreads and coverlets were at my Great-Grandmother's. And no one ever hung a whiter wash to dry - unless it WAS my mother! Just like her grandmother, Mama insisted on use of lye soap, boiling the clothes in the big black washpot, and plenty of scrubbing on the washboard.

So many lovely things I will always remember about my Great-Grandmother, but most of all is a saying which my Mother learned from her, and must have quoted to me a thousand times. "If you can't say something good, (about somebody) don't say anything at all!" And THAT is something worth remembering!