The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - November, 1983

Issue: November, 1983

Dear Readers,

This month I joined the ranks of a most exclusive club - GRANDPARENTS! Everyone knows the qualifications and the privileges of belonging to this organization. (Not to mention the dues!) I must admit, the last month of "initiation" was nerve wracking. Please forgive my obvious pride and thanks for indulging me by reading this and letting me share this with you.  I just thought I ought to give fair warning in case I run into any of you. I promise only to drag out photographs if induced to do so or if anyone says "Hello" (whichever comes first). Sorry, I just can't help it . WELCOME TO THE WORLD, ERIC JAMES.

Susan Thigpen, 'Editor and Granny.

Dear Susan,

We have really enjoyed The Mountain Laurel. We were at Meadows of Dan, Va. about 18 years ago and spent the night at Noris and Mildred Shaver's cabin. They own a small farm near Flora DeHart's place. We didn't see a car and heard one plane go over while we were there. With all the quietness, I don't think we ever slept so well. We had heard about Miss DeHart and went to visit her. She wasn't there. Your Uncle Crosby said, "Here's a slick path. Let's follow it." Sure enough, she was at the spring, was enjoying the good cool mountain water, she was hot from chasing deer that were eating up her corn in the garden. She opened up a potato bin nearby to show us how well her potatoes keep. Someone had made an underground box. In it she had a layer of straw, then a layer of potatoes. She had several layers put up this way, deep enough under the ground that they wouldn't freeze. I told her they were so large and smooth that they looked like seed potatoes. She allowed she had planted her own that year.  She soon headed for the cabin. We had such a good visit. She was an extraordinary person. Another time, when we were there, Mr. Shaver's sheep had gotten out and she was in the process of getting them in the pasture and was appreciative for our help.  Flora's niece or nephew maybe both, had just had a phone put from her cabin to the neighborhood store. She had called the morning before to say if someone there was coming her way to send certain things, but each time she got a recording. She became so agitated and told them they had just better not record her or she'd have something done about that.

Thanks so much for the Journal.

Evelyn and Crosby Crews
Kernersville, N.C.

Dear Readers,

As you might, have guessed, this letter is from my Aunt Evelyn. Again, it's a small world that brings places and time together by memories. Uncle Crosby recently celebrated his 80th Birthday. Happy Birthday.

Susan Thigpen, Editor

Dear Mountain Laurel,

I'm a recent subscriber and I always look forward to each issue.  I now live in Puerto Rico but for 15 years lived in your area. I am learning more about our beloved mountains and its people than I ever knew. Also an issue is like a visit home and believe me, I get homesick.  We plan to retire in the Fancy Gap area and are looking to build a log cabin there. Help and information are welcome. All letters will be answered. Again, thanks for your paper I love it.


E.W. Wheeler
Guanica, Puerto Rico

Dear Mountain Laurel,

Enjoy reading your newspaper, that I am going to subscribe for one year. My home is 50 miles from Meadows of Dan, beside the Dan River of which I have lived most of my life.  Enjoyed reading about the mountain railroad since I'm a railroad buff, and rail fan. The Sept. issue of your paper about the railroad from Mount Airy, N.C. was very good. Since I'm a history buff also.  I remember back to my younger days, remember coming up to Meadows of Dan with Jim Ayers to sell cloth and other goods to the people around Meadows of Dan. Also some of the Allen family are buried in Stokes County, and I have a book, The Allen Family at the Courthouse in Hillsville, Va.  Looking forward to the first copy of The Mountain Laurel.

Thank you for your time,

Donald Gibson
Pine Hall, N.C.

Dear Mr. Gibson,

We were able to get a photograph of the train that ran up into Kibler Valley. This was the train mentioned in the article you referred to in our September issue. We're printing it in this issue because we thought you would like to see it.  Thank you for both your nice letter and your subscription. We hope you continue to enjoy upcoming issues just as much.


Susan Thigpen, Editor

Dear Friends,

Your little paper, so packed with information, has been very interesting and helpful to my husband and I. We live in Franklin, Va. near the coast and own a farm in the Check area of Floyd County. We bought the farm about 12 years ago and have been coming up frequently ever since. however we have learned more about Floyd and Carroll Counties in the last few months through The Mountain Laurel than we did in the previous years. We have always enjoyed riding through the Backroads and your tour guides has made it much more interesting (we have taken them all up to date). Also through your ads and special interest articles we have found good places to eat and become acquainted with more residents of the area. Just this past Sunday we stopped in The Country Whale at Meadows of Dan and bought some of their bakery goodies. They were delicious. Thanks for sharing with us and find check enclosed for two subscriptions for friends who would like to share your paper with. Thank you.


Mrs. L.R. Drake Jr.
Franklin, Va.

Dear Editor and Staff:

While home on vacation in July, I found a copy of your newspaper and enjoyed it very much. (Home is Waynesboro where my parents still live.) Thanks for capturing in print some of the wonderful “Virginia Magic” that so many of us grew up with!  I have been away from my home state for about 17 years now, and The Mountain Laurel has helped me realize, more than ever, how much I miss it. One of these days I'll be back, but until then, I will keep the memories fresh with a copy of The Mountain Laurel each month.. My check is enclosed. Best Wishes.. and keep up the good work!


T. Boudet
Leawood, Kansas

P.S. I'm not familiar with the mile post markings and the areas they are near. Maybe you could print a "legend" in each issue to help readers further identify the areas you are writing about.

Dear Readers,

This sounds like a good idea but due to space limitations, it would be hard to do. However, you can write to the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation, 1221 Fast Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 and they will send you free copies of the Floyd, Patrick and Carroll County road maps, upon request.

Dear Mountain Laurel,

I read in The Mountain Laurel paper of asking for uses of horse hair. In our section of the country, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, it was used in plaster for walls of the home. My husband is a restoration carpenter at the Old Ephrata Cloister buildings. They still restore those walls with plaster they make by digging up clay and use lime they have buried. Add rye straw and water, sprinkle in horse hair as thin as possible or I should say, as little at a time as possible.

Mrs. Florence Wanner
Ephrata, Pennsylvania