The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

Visit us on FaceBookGenerations of Memories
from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Mountain Memories of Gladesboro, Virginia

By Opal Leftwich and, her sister, Elsie Samuel © 1985

Issue: April, 1985

The Mountain Laurel brings back so many memories, that we would like to share a few. Until I was about 14 years of age, I was one of the mountain clan near Gladesboro, Virginia. We often attended church at Snake Creek and also a church called "At the Bridge" or Reed Island. My father's sister and family lived near there (Reed Island). They were the Bob Worrell family. Mrs. Worrell was father's sister, Aunt Lestie we called her. Father was Charlie Goad. Mother was Nora Cruise Goad.

My brothers, sisters, our playmates and I enjoyed rambling in a large forest near by. Such splendor and beauty - the mountain laurels so large and in full bloom - The Ivy in blossom, like tiny tea cups - Many strange and beautiful flowers like Lady Slippers, Indian Pipes, Johnny Jump Ups, Jack In The Pulpit, Spicewood bushes (from its branches we gathered and made Spicewood tea).

We saw every description of birds - Some on nests (they were suspicious) watched us with their shiny beady eyes.

We also scratched in the leaves and found the Chestnut sprouts with the sprouted and burst Chestnuts hanging at the roots. We never realized we would see the plight of the "blight" that struck every Chestnut tree alive and killed the majestic trees. This blight took away wealth from the farmers and the pleasures from the children.

I have crossed over many Chestnut rail fences that bridged the branches. The top rail being worn slick by the climbing and by the many people trodding the paths through fields fenced in by the rails. They were made by men splitting the Chestnut. There were no wire fences.

Near our home was a large field which had been a Chestnut orchard. It lay filled with white dead, majestic Chestnut trees sprawled about like the bones of the mighty dinosaurs.

As children, we made the most of simple things. Thus, we made believe those tree forms were our church with limbs as pews and a tree stump would be our pulpit. Here would stand the "preacher." We girls would bring along our dolls and smaller children of the families in order to increase the attendance of our "church." We would sing, preach and pray. This was also the burial grounds for our pets.

Miss Nettie Martin (whose story was written by Ninevah Willis and printed in the November, 1984 issue of The Mountain Laurel) was my school teacher! She was a kindly, well dressed, dainty, beautiful lady who could see all over the school at the time! Miss Nettie's life is still a lesson to me - "Hold on to faith" - how she never gave up - nothing could shake her faith. She was a grand lady. Thank you, Mrs. Willis for that story. It really was uplifting and inspiring. Indeed a lady of wisdom and beauty was Mrs. Nettie Martin.