The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Babies, Snow Storms and Memories - Telephone Reader Interviews

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1984-2012

Issue: March, 1984

Each month we call people who send us their phone number and write this column from those “chats”. This way we get to meet more people and share their wonderful stories with our readers.

Mrs. Nanny Hall Smith

Nanny Hall Smith lives at Pipers Gap, North Carolina. She is 75 years old and originally came from Patrick County in the Kibler Valley section, of Virginia. About her favorite hobby is cooking. She will tell you, “I’d rather cook than eat.” She told me about the largest it ever snowed in this area, a story told to her by her mother-in-law many years ago. Her husband’s parents were also from Kibler Valley, Virginia. Her parents were Jim Hall and Elizabeth Bowman Hall. Her husband, the late Joe Smith’s parents were General Sheridan Smith and Carolina Bell Booker Smith.

The day Joe Smith was born, there was a terrible blizzard. His father went for a midwife and by the time they made it back to the cabin, Joe was already born. That day was May 12, 1896.

Mrs. A.B. Garrett, Jr.

Mrs. A.B. Garrett, Jr. now lives in Rocky Mount but she grew up in Endicott. She walked three miles to school at St. John’s in the Mountains from grades one to seven. Two of her teachers were Mrs. Sally Lumsten and Elva Cannady.

The deepest snow she could remember was in 1960. She was working at Philpott Dam then and said that there was so much snow that slid off the dam into the left corner near the electric tower that it all didn’t melt until the last of June or the first of July.

Babies and snow seem to go together. She remembered hearing of a baby being born during that snow. The mother couldn’t get out to the hospital and the doctor couldn’t get in to her. The phone lines were still up though, and the doctor stayed on the phone and “talked” the new father through the delivery.

Mrs. Unice Hylton

Babies seemed to be the theme this month as I called another reader. Mrs. Unice Hylton and her husband grew up “on the Buffalo” in Floyd County, on the Willis side. Her parents were Saul and Dora Vaughn. They lived near Sherman and Velma Sutphin featured in our February issue when she was a child.

It seems Mrs. Dora Vaughn started something. She had a set of twins, Paulene and Irene, in 1919. Mrs. Hylton was the oldest child and eight years old when the twins were born. She said twins were so rare around here in those days that folks came from miles around to see those babies.

As the oldest child, Mrs. Hylton did a lot of watching after her twin sisters. She said she always wanted them to have everything exactly equal and alike. Once when the twins got new shoes, one pair was plain black and laced up. The other pair was black and white patent leather with buttons. Mrs. Hylton figured out what to do. She put one of each on the twins so she could dress them just alike.

After her set of twin sisters, her aunt had twins also, Lorene and Corene Harris. Her first cousin, a Harmon also had twins. Mrs. Hylton said in all, there were probably a dozen set of twins in their family since her sisters in 1919. In case you’re wondering, no, Mrs. Hylton didn’t have twins and none of her children have twins either.

Mrs. Dolly Rogers

This interview wasn’t about babies at all but a lot of good time memories about growing up in the mountains. Mrs. Dolly Rogers of Patrick Springs, Virginia was born in June of 1901. She remembers fondly what times were like.

On Sunday, they hitched a horse to a wagon and drove to church. The driver would have a seat on the wagon but they put hay in the back and everyone else sat on it. Along the way they might stop by and pick up neighbors. Mrs. Rogers rode horses in the days when women rode side saddle. She said there was only one stirrup on those saddles.

Mrs. Rogers went to a one room school that has been long gone. It was called the “Gun Swamp School” and was in the Mountain View section of Meadows of Dan. She also attended school at Floyd County at the Nowlin and Slate Mountain Schools. Her favorite thing about school was spelling bees. Once she “turned whole row of ‘em down” by spelling the word “hogshead” when no one else could.

She said the church they attended was the Mountain View Methodist. Once they held a box supper to raise money to buy Sunday School books. The girls brought a supper for two in a box and the boys bid for the box and the chance to eat it with the girl who brought it. Mrs. Rogers, who was the daughter of Tass and Rosie Wood, said her supper box had chicken and bread and she didn’t know what else in it and still remembers that Tom Craig was the boy that bought it and shared her time that night.

Mrs. Hylton said, we had a lot of good times. She ended our telephone conversation with “Fly over and drop by to see me sometime.” I hope I get a chance to do just that one of these days. This month, as every month, it was a pleasure to talk with these people and we appreciate them sharing their memories with us all.