The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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Heart of the Blue Ridge

Growing Up On Tuggles Creek - Craftsmen

By YKW © 1984

Issue: April, 1984

tuggles creekUncle Flournoy Pendleton with the tools of his trade - carpenter and cabinetmaker.Considerable space has been devoted in previous issues of The Mountain Laurel to Jim Boyd, the skilled chair maker of our community. I’d like to add a few of my own observations.

To us, he was always known as “Slim Jim”. I believe there was a comic strip character by that name along about then, but this had nothing to do with our own Slim Jim.

I can just vaguely recall being in his shop one time when I was very small. As best I can recall, he operated a foot pedal powered lathe to turn out the posts of the chairs and a hand brace and bit to bore the holes the rounds went in. The backs were shaped with a draw-knife. The crosspieces were steamed and bent to just the right degree for comfort.

Slim Jim was a master cabinet maker and all his chairs looked exactly alike. The seats were woven of thin hickory splits. I can recall when he made us a half dozen and delivered them stacked one on top of the another and carried on his head in true oriental style. I am not sure how much we paid him, but I think it was $1.00 per chair or $6.00 for the set.

My Uncle Flournoy was a sort of combined carpenter and cabinet maker. Mostly he built houses or other buildings in the summer and worked in his shop in winter. He was also the designing architect of most of the houses he built. He lived “below the mountain” near Buffalo Ridge, but he would come any time we wanted him to build something for us.

To build a house, he had to square and saw the sills, sleepers, studs and rafters all by hand and then lift them into place, a far cry from the electric saws and prefabricated methods of today.

I don’t suppose even he knew how many houses he built in his lifetime, but it must have been close to a hundred. I once heard him brag that in the year he was 75, he earned $400.00 for building a house.

Uncle Flournoy stayed at our house quite a bit building barns or other out buildings adding on to our house. While he was working, he was usually singing a few of his favorite hymns, but he never bothered with the words. For instance, he would sing the lines, “Have pity Lord, Oh Lord, forgive” in his version it came out, “Bing, bing, bing, bing. Bing, bing, bing, bing.” I wish I had a nickel for every “Bing” I heard him sing!

My uncle was a good carpenter and when he had completed a job, he always said to the owner of the house or piece of furniture, “There you are, and I guarantee it will last you a lifetime - if you die when you ort to!”