The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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


By Sue Collins © 1989

Issue: February, 1989

His original name was a common one in our section of the state, but a play on words had turned it into the name of a scavenger. His red hair was the true color and probably because it was a homemade haircut, it looked like a cock's comb. Legend said that his arm was cut off by a train but no one ever knew for sure because he seldom spoke of his personal life. In fact, his conversations were usually with himself as he went from one garbage can to another searching for the best "slop" for his hogs. The corn that he grew on land now occupied by a motel and its business offices was some of the sweetest in the world. And after the first frost, you could expect to see him, going from door to door and selling pork.

Because everyone was so absorbed in the changes in our lives that we did not notice that he wasn't making his rounds during the early 1940's but after the war he was back and we realized that he had been gone. Our next door neighbor was the one who learned that he had been working in a defense factory but he assured her that he would continue to sell produce – now that he had come home.

He was not a man given to reckless spending and everyone wondered but no one asked, why he continued to work. It was said that his fortune was made in the factory but no one questioned him, he would not have told them. Mrs. Pence told everyone that he was back in business. Since no one else knew, she decided that he meant for her to pass it along. A man, careful with his money and his words, does not "chew his cabbage twice."

In the end, the property that he had used to farm became a valuable part of the city and the highway had to have its share. He saw no reason to agree with people because they decided that something was right, so condemnation was used to gain his land and they came to remove him.

One of my last memories of Buzzard was the report that he placed himself at the line of his property. He dared the law officers to step across the line and backed up his words with a shotgun that was across his knees. He lost the battle of eminent domain (all of us do) but I envy the fact that he went down...FIGHTING.