The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Aunt Katherine

By Ivalien Hylton Belcher © 1989

Issue: September, 1989

Alvy and Aunt Katherine Boyd prepare to cook supper in an old timey black pot.Alvy and Aunt Katherine Boyd prepare to cook supper in an old timey black pot.All through my fifty-plus years there is a lovely lady in our Blue Ridge that has had a great influence in my life, Katherine Hall Boyd. She is my aunt and the older sister that I never had.

Aunt Katherine was born in "the Dark Hollow," located in the Mountain View Community down in the hollow from Conner's View Primitive Baptist Church [a section of Meadows of Dan, Patrick County, Virginia]. A portion of the old house is still there. Her parents were Nannie Wood Hall and Herman Clyde Hall.

Now as Aunt Katherine relates some of her childhood memories, you can see how she clings to some of the old timey customs and beliefs:

"As I think back to my childhood days, several things come to mind. One of the things I enjoyed as a child was building play houses with my cousin and playing in them for hours. I was an expert at making mud pies. Wonder why mud pies are more fun than real ones?"

"Times were hard back then and we didn't have the things that kids have these days, but we never had to go hungry. I remember the good milk and bread that Mama would have waiting for me when I got home from school."

"I never had too many pretty trinkets as a child. One time my aunt had been visiting us. As she was packing to leave, she gave me a pretty perfume bottle. I really thought I had something!"

"Now as I got a little older, I took care of you sometime, Ivalien. One time when you all were living in Woolwine, I went and stayed a few days. Your mom and dad were making a kettle of apple butter and killed a beef, so there was a lot of work to do. When I went back home, your dad walked up the mountain with me and carried us a big mess of beef. Can you imagine anyone walking up the mountain from Woolwine to Meadows of Dan these days carrying some beef?"

"Suddenly I was a teenager and realized that there were boys. It wasn't long until I found my one and only, Alvy Boyd. The first time we met was on a trip to Buffalo Mountain. A bunch of young people went on a lumber truck to the mountain. From then on it was just me and Alvy."

"When we got married, I was seventeen and Alvy was twenty. We were very much in love and I thought Alvy could do anything, even kill a rabbit with his slingshot. The year that we married, you could sell rabbits at the store. I went with Alvy hunting rabbits with the slingshot. Of course, I thought he would never hit one, but I was wrong. Never mind that the rabbit was not running, but setting cozily in a haystack. I still thought Alvy was something!"

"We have been blessed with three wonderful children; a son and two daughters. When the kids were small, I would take them out to the berry patch. One time when my son was little, I fixed him a bed on an old sled close by. He was moving around and rolled off on the ground. Grannie Boyd gave me a basket to put him in."

"Now I have a berry garden of raspberries - black, red and golden. The golden ones are so sweet. I still go to the field for blackberries and love to pick them."

"There are so many things that I love to do that I hardly know which job I love the best. I have always loved doing quilts. When I was a child, Daddy would buy tobacco in a little cloth bag. I would open them when empty, wash and iron them and sew them together. The bags were so small; I didn't get very far with them. Anyway, that was the start of my making quilts."

"Since retiring from factory work, I've had more time for my hobbies. I love doing crafts like the hoop frames, pot holders of every kind and stuffed chickens. Every where I go I'm always looking for craft supplies. Alvy and I both enjoy going to craft shows and taking my things. We love seeing and meeting the people there. Also I like to make homemade decorations for my Christmas tree and my friends' trees. Just about every ornament on my tree is homemade. Some have a special meaning or are in memory of a loved one."

"Like I said before, we have been blessed with three wonderful children and six grandchildren. It was heartbreaking to lose a grandson, but we have precious memories of him."

"We are blessed to live in a good neighborhood. Our area is very beautiful. One day Alvy was out in the yard and a car stopped. A gentleman got out in a hurry and ran down where Alvy was. He said, 'Do you thank the Lord for all this?' Alvy replied, 'Yep, Every day!'"

"For several years my daughter from Roanoke has taken me to Williamsburg. That gives me a chance to get things for my crafts, but most of all, we enjoy the time together."

"My other daughter lives in Florida. One Mother's Day weekend Joyce (my daughter from Roanoke) and I flew down to visit Alice in Florida. It was my first airplane ride. I liked it. Joyce really got a kick out of what I said when we took off the runway. Best I remember, I said, 'Whee, this is fun'. One day I hope to fly to Alabama and visit our son Glen."

"I'm afraid we don't appreciate things these days like we should, thinking back to the time we bought a one horse wagon. We really enjoyed putting the kids in that and taking a ride. Years later, when we got a new car, I'm not sure the joy was any greater."

"The church plays an important part in mine and Alvy's life. We attend Mountain View United Methodist Church. I'm so thankful for everything the Lord has given us. Yes, Alvy and I have been blessed."

Aunt Katherine has meant so much to me all my life. She was always good to me. I remember going with her and Uncle Alvy when they were dating. They would sit on a lumber pack and I would swing on a grapevine swing. It was fun going on dates with Aunt Katherine and Uncle Alvy.

A few years ago, we retraced some of the ways we went on those dates in the "Dark Hollow" The lumber was gone, but an old farm trailer of planks was near. I made Aunt Katherine and Uncle Alvy's picture sitting on that. The grapevines were so high in the trees I couldn't reach one to swing on. We had a lot of fun that day!

Aunt Katherine's crafts are so beautiful. She does them perfectly. Many homes in the community are graced by their beauty. Of course, I'm enjoying several things myself. Over the years Aunt Katherine has given me many things that I treasure.

Aunt Katherine has a deep faith in God and the life she lives shows that faith to others. I have gotten strength from her many times over the years. My Aunt Katherine is a great person. Many people in our Blue Ridge Mountains will second my opinion.

Editor's Note: Ivalien asked me to thank all of you who have sent cards and letters this winter. Your kindness has meant so much. The last time I heard, she had received over 340 of them.