The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Growing Up On Tuggles Creek - Sugar Bill

By YKW © 1985

Issue: December, 1985

(Editor's Note: Tuggles Creek is located in the Heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near the tiny mountain community of Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Meadows of Dan is a crossroads community where US Highway 58 Business and the Blue Ridge Parkway cross. Mabry Mill is north about 1.6 miles and Mayberry Trading Post is about 2.8 miles south on the Blue Ridge Parkway.)

The perennial bachelor of our neighborhood was called "Little Will" (to distinguish him from "Big Will" of the same last name). He was more familiarly known as "Sugar Bill." Although he must have been close to 40 years old when I knew him, he preferred the company of the younger set and almost any gathering would find Sugar Bill in its midst.

The girls liked to tease each other about him. A girl might be heard to say, in answer to the question, "Did you catch a feller today?" "No, I didn't catch no feller, but I did get a great big grin from Sugar Bill!"

One night I was sitting in the Baptist Church when Loy Harris came to the door and motioned me to come out. I slipped out quietly and Loy said, "If you want to hear some real preaching, come with me." We crossed the road to the old school house and went inside.

There lying flat on his back and waving his arms wildly lay Sugar Bill, preaching in the customary sing-song manner and wildly exhorting sinners to repent. He was dead drunk, but he was also deadly in earnest about his mission.

I remember reflecting how much better the world would be if everybody who got drunk would turn to preaching instead of fighting, as many of them did.