The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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

A 24 Carat Original - Coy Lee Yeatts

By John Hassell Yeatts © 1987

Issue: October, 1987

Coy Lee Yeatts and his Aunt Addie Wood together are 150 years old. And they believe that their combined wisdom is sufficient to recognize the real Mayberry. So it "sorta" gets their dander up when they read or hear about people who claim that the original Mayberry is in North Carolina. Now! That's not to say that they don't respect and revere North Carolina folks. They welcome them every day at the Mayberry Trading Post which is only 19 miles, as the squirrel runs, from Mt. Airy.

When Coy Lee's father, Coy O. Yeatts – now deceased – revived the defunct Mayberry Store in 1934, eleven year old Coy Lee began helping his dad "all he could" before and after school hours. Coy Lee admits to having given the candy counter a little extra attention but says he also handled plenty of 200 lb. bags of fertilizer as well. In early life he was counted among the hardest working boys in the whole Mayberry community. He broke young steer calves to wear a yoke and pull a plow and wagon. He plowed. He planted and he harvested. As the oldest of 4 boys he was expected to show the way, and he did. His 6 sisters also helped on the big farm, but he remembers that there was always plenty of work for all.

When his father retired from the store in 1965, his Aunt, by marriage, Miss Addie Wood, rented the store and soon made it into a major tourist attraction along the Blue Ridge Parkway. She made jams and jellies, and with her nieces, Peggy Stanley and Dale Yeatts, Coy Lee's better–half, boiled apple butter, molasses, and worked their magic in the preparation of condiments which were usually in demand. Coy Lee grew most of the raw products. It was all a splendid example of family team work.

By the age of 10, Coy Lee had become an avid reader. Then he became interested in history; especially history of Colonial America and the American Revolution. He's right hard to stump on those subjects. In later life he started looking more closely at the rocks that once bruised his bare feet. In those he often saw "bits of beauty" and he became a self–taught, self–styled mineralogist. Always a bit of a philosopher, he followed the old adage, "when life hands you a lemon, make a glass of lemonade."

And he began turning some of those stones into jewelry. One of his latest dreams was realized a few months ago when he opened a mineral and jewelry shop adjacent to the Trading Post.

But good luck and success have not always been associates with Coy Lee. He's had more than his share of set–backs and accidents – some quite serious. He's done his time in area hospitals. Perhaps his worst "luck" though was when he pulled his brand new grain combine machinery into a large wheat field and a freak fire from the tractor ignited the ripe wheat which destroyed the crop including his machinery. Coy Lee didn't even whimper. He began immediate proceedings to make certain the farmer was reimbursed for his crop.

He looks like a tough guy and he doesn't really know his own strength. But you know what, I've known him since he was 4 hours old and he's really just a big lovable teddy bear....