The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - Spring, 1996

Issue: Spring, 1996

Dear Ms. Thigpen:
I'm so glad you're back in business! My husband, Leon, and I always look forward to reading The Mountain Laurel.

The Backroads feature in this issue was of special interest to us. Family members of my sister's husband were among those forced to move when Bluestone Dam was constructed.

We are looking forward to future issues.

Best Wishes,

M.A. Summerline
Hope Mills, North Carolina

Dear Mountain Laurel Folks,
I read the beautiful Mountain Laurel paper today. Remember me? I used to live in my little cottage there on Banks Mill Rd, Fancy Gap, VA. And each Sunday afternoon was there in Mabry Mill (gifts I made to sell there and my (deceased) husband handcrafted dulcimers for a hobby here in Punta Gorda, Fla).

I was born in Charleston, W. Va. And my daughter was born in Hinton, W. Va. This is why the Winter issue is so very interesting to both of us, as we have traveled I-77 and know the areas - remembering the mountains and winding roads, the tunnels that used to be - how beautiful it was. I'm sure my daughter and her husband will be up there to see some of the beauty, come spring, as she will retire this month and they want to travel. Her grandfather, J.S. Huffman was a conductor on the C and O Railroad for 36 years and lived in Hinton. I remember where the New River and the Greenbriar River come together and I also remember when the Bluestone Dam was built.

Good luck in 1996 and you've made me, for one person, happy in hearing from you. I'm enjoying The Mountain Laurel so much and will from now on. Thanks dear ones. As Always

L. Eagleton
Punta Gorda, Florida

Dear Susan,
What a surprise and pleasure to receive The Mountain Laurel again.

But my main reason in writing is to commend you for fulfilling my subscription. Sadly to say there are very few honest people left and you can be proud that you are one of them!


R.F. Morris
Columbus, Wisconsin

Dear Folks,
I really had a nice surprise when I went to the mail box a few days ago. There was my beloved Mountain Laurel. I am so glad it is back in publication.

Mrs. W. Bird
Asheboro, NC.

Dear Readers,
Mrs. Bird sent us her home remedy for arthritis and promises to send a story also. Look for her home remedy in an upcoming issue in our new column, "Herbs and Home Remedies." We welcome you to send us your favorite home remedies and old time cures.

Susan Thigpen, Editor

Dear Ms. Thigpen:
I was pleased and surprised Friday when I received the Winter 1995 edition of The Mountain Laurel!!! I surely enjoyed reading it. Do you have a publication schedule? Will it be on a regular schedule?

Two years ago we spent a week at Pipestem State Park [Winter, 1995 Backroad Tour]. We enjoyed the incline ride down to the Bluestone River. One day we drove to the Bluestone State Park. It appears to be an ideal spot for a quiet time in the mountains. We made a short side trip which would have added some fine scenery to the Backroad Tour. Below the Bluestone Dam, before crossing the river as directed by your Tour, there is a paved road that follows the river. At that time it did not have a highway number. It is very close to the river for about 10 miles. It ends at the Sandstone Falls. The State has built an elevated boardwalk out to the falls. It is well worth the extra 10 miles.

W.B. Wright
Charlotte, North Carolina

Dear Readers,
With The Mountain Laurel being printed quarterly we will be printed in March, June, September and December. Times will vary slightly, but we will try for the first week in the month. The papers will be mailed the week following printing. We appreciated Mr. Wright adding the comment about the way to follow Bluestone River and see Sandstone Falls. Perhaps you would like to incorporate it into the tour when you take it.

Susan Thigpen, Editor

Dear Susan Thigpen,
I just received the Winter issue of The Mountain Laurel and have read it, every word. I enjoyed it so much. We have just had a big snow and ice storm that leaves me cut off from the world except by phone, TV and some days mail in the box by the side of the road, which is a half mile walk. I am 66 years of age and live alone. So receiving The Mountain Laurel was a wonderful surprise. Thanks.

What I am writing about is an article on pages 18-19 [Childhood Christmas Memories]
By J. Carlton Smith © 1995. I thought it was a well written article, but ... He starts out by putting down the Christmas shopping being done today and how worn out and jaded the shoppers are when they get home. Most of the time the shoppers are women and they love to shop!

Now I lived back in some of those times he refers to and I agree there has never been any like them since, but please read between the lines of his story and you can feel how much time, hard work and how tired his mother must have been at the end of the cold days of Christmas.

Thanks, A Faithful Reader,

F.B. Sawyer
Rougemont, North Carolina

P.S. - My Aunt Nancy Collins writes stories for The Mountain Laurel sometimes. I am not sure if she still does because she is 93 years old now and lives at a rest or retirement home in Roanoke.

Dear Mountain Laurel
January 17, 1996 was an ordinary day here in Florida. I got up at 7:00, showered, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and rummaged through the closet to find something "different" to wear (I must go shopping soon).

At 7:55 I was pulling out of the driveway and rolled down my window to smell the warm, damp air. It was nice outside again after several weeks of unseasonably cold weather. Of course just thinking of the snow in Southwest Virginia made me shiver. I spent many years living on a farm in Rural Retreat and I know those deep, deep snows and sub-zero weather affects everyone.

The day was much like every other day of the week - working at the computer, filing, phone call after phone call, drinking coffee, smiling and being nice to everyone. Before I knew it, 5 o'clock rolled around, and I was homeward bound. After 20 minutes of driving, I was pulling back into the driveway I had left a little over eight hours ago (I must start working in the yard again - so many weeds - too little flowers).

I opened the door and "Alas!" There sat an old friend on my hall table. I had not seen her in over a year, and I had missed her terribly. I had written her a letter to ask why I did not hear from her anymore, but she never answered. I just assumed she was no longer writing and I gradually accepted the fact that she must surely be gone forever. But no - there she was - looking just like she always did.

I sat down in my big overstuffed chair and turned on the lamp and began to get aquatinted with her again. What stories she had to tell! I was simply enthralled. My husband came home about 6:30 and was indeed surprised that no dinner was being prepared. When he saw my old friend, he understood, and we ordered out from the corner deli.

She told me stories about The Absolutely, Positively, Worst Christmas Tree and The Man Who Actually Met Santa Claus. And, her story about Gran's Christmas Gift to Her Family was so wonderful. Oh, those Childhood Christmas Memories! Her recipe for Fresh Coconut Cake Country Style made my mouth water. I'll be baking that cake for friends coming to see us the first week in February.

We visited until she ran out of things to tell me, but she promised she'd visit every Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Enclosed is my check to help my friend, The Mountain Laurel, make her trips to Florida.

Nancy Grubb
Largo, Florida