The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mail Box - Online 2014

Online: 2014

Dear Bob,

This is a real blast from the past for both of us!

I had "back home" music, flatfooting, and old time memories on my heart today, as I tried to focus on work. This past weekend I was able to return home for a coupe of days, as we celebrated my Dad's 77th birthday. The trip back to Floyd County was much to short, but the time, much too precious to forget.

Let me re-introduce myself. Many years ago, at the age of 19, I worked for Joyce and Don Baker, as they opened up the Mountain House for the first time. I carried you, Charlotte, and Susan, many-a refill! I especially remember you to be a very heavy coffee drinker. HAHA! You kept me in shape, that's for certain.

You knew me as simply "Ruth." Skinny blond girl. You also have me a red "cocker spaniel" mix puppy once, for my 4 year old daughter. She was thrilled to get that for her birthday! What you didn't know, was that without that puppy, she may have not had a gift. Times were very hard back then. She named that little dog, and "Sneaker" lived to be about 11 years old. Sneaker had a very loving and good life.

I went on to marry a local boy and lived in Meadows of Dan for near 15 years, before he traded me in for a newer model; sad, but true.

Several years past, and I did remarry. We are working on our 13th year now.

I recall the many hours you all spent in the Mountain House planning and working to create The Mountain Laurel. Well, YOU DID IT! Here you are, many years later, and here I am reading about you online. Times have certainly changed, and time has changed us all. That 19 year old waitress is now 51 years old. Soon to be 52, but I will deny it if I'm ever asked!

Many things have happened in those 32 years here, and from what I read, in your lives as well. Life can be pretty unpredictable and that's why I had to send you a note. The older I get, the more I appreciate those who pressed on to make something of themselves and those who cared enough about their passion to share it with others. You guys are some of those people! I remember when you and Susan shared your ideas about this paper with me. You lit up as you spoke of your plans. I'm so glad our paths crossed, and when I show the articles to my children and grandchildren, I can say, "Oh I used to carry them coffee! He even gave Terri a dog one time!"

Hats off to you, Bob! Please continue to share memories and times of days gone by, with those of us who are so very homesick, yet miles away from the simpler times in our own lives.


Bob Heafner:

Hi Ruth,

Your note of kindness has brought back many memories and I can tell you that the passion for preserving mountain memories is as alive in us today as it was thirty years ago. It has been a long time coming but, with the help of the Library of Virginia, we have finally been able to get The Mountain Laurel archive online. Hopefully, this will enable the stories of the mountains to always be available for future generations.

Words simply cannot express the happiness your note brought to each of us.

I have looked for you on Facebook but haven’t been able to find you there. If you are on fb please friend me at Bob Heafner. We would love to see you again.

Best wishes always,

Charlotte, Bob and Susan

Hello Susan,

I came across the Mountain Laurel page as I was searching online for a chow chow recipe, the kind my family has always made. There are many online but the one that I felt came the closest to what I grew up with was the one on your page. I see that this page goes back a few years and I read of the infirmities of some of the managers of it. I am so happy that you are able to keep this page up and I hope, as time goes by, that someone will be able to continue the tradition. Looking through the website there are so many valuable resources and stories of growing up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I look forward to exploring it further.

I live in South Carolina now but I was born in Bluefield, WVA (because that was the nearest hospital) but lived in Bluefield, Virginia, Tazewell County. My dad was a coal miner for the Pocahontas Fuel Oil Company prior to WWII and I was born in 1947. My mom died of breast cancer in 1948 and so I have no real memory of her. I do have an old cardboard apple packing box full of letters that she and Dad and others wrote during their courtship and all through the war. Someone was thoughtful enough to save this for me and pass it along to me when I was older. That box has been a treasure trove of information about life in the mountains during those days and the lives of my Mom and Dad and other family members. It contains ration cards, railroad passes, old photos, memorabilia from overseas, old Christmas cards and Valentine's Day cards and lots of other wonderful stuff.

I am doing my best to preserve the memories stored in that box for my children and now my grandchildren. I am thankful that they take an interest in family history from time to time. I have retired now and am enjoying canning and preserving again. I live in a small town and have wonderful neighbors who share their gardens with me. All that to say, thank you for The Mountain Laurel website and I sincerely hope you will keep it going.

Patricia Mathena Oglesby
Van Wyck, South Carolina

Editor: Thank you very much for your kind comments. We are making arrangements for The Mountain Laurel to be around long after we are gone.

Dear Editor,

Good afternoon. I wanted to see if it is possible to subscribe to this publication. My father, Grant Midkiff, grew up in Floyd and Hillsville and I have much roots in those mountains. I would love for my father to be able to get this paper and be able to relive some of his best memories.

Thank you
Gloria Midkiff Rayburn

Editor: The print version of The Mountain Laurel was published from March 1983 through the Winter 1995 issue.  It has been published online since June 21, 1996. The entire archive of The Mountain Laurel is available online.