The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

I Ain’t One to Do Much Talking

By Audrey Lawrence © 1984

Issue: February, 1984

Stanley Lawrence owned and operated a country store for nearly 30 years in the rural community of Floyd County known as Terry’s Fork, Virginia. Back in the 1930’s there was no electricity, dirt roads were prevalent throughout for miles and miles and homes were built with bare necessities. When the 40’s came electricity and television soon followed.

The following story gives a pretty good picture of how times were in those days. Stanley Lawrence’s wife, Audrey remembers and wrote this article about… “I Ain’t One to Do Much Talking”

“Well, I be carn sarn it, if there ain’t the old man hisself. Well Bill, carn sarn it, it’s good to see you. Well Bill, so it is old Bill.

Well, well, well, I jest blowed in from Kansas myself. I was jest a standing here looking ‘round at all the old familiar sights, but you know the place has changed somehow. I ain’t been gone so long, but things have changed. Lot’sa changes.

The old dirt road is gone. Reckon that’s one of the biggest changes. Better automobiles are parked around here too. I reckon when you leave a place, you expect it to stay jest as you leave it; but we can’t stop progress. No siree. Progress moves on - that it does.

I jest got homesick for these parts again, and I decided to return for a review of yesteryear, but it ain’t the same. Nope, not the same.

Is old man Doso still ‘round? Well, I jest knowed they’d bury him out in the graveyard. I jest struck me I ort’ta visit the old graveyard to read the names on the new stones of most of my buddies. Yep, in the graveyard. Out in Kansas they call a graveyard a cemetery, but it’s a graveyard to me.

Yep, better cars parked ‘round here. Real, real fancy automobiles they are. Not much like I parked here when I left. Ha, ha.

Progress. Well, it’s alright, but you would think that folks didn’t ever ‘spect to lay theirselfs down in a graveyard, the way they have all these new inventions. I declare they spend every dern cent they get for automobiles. We used to think ‘bout savin’ for a rainy day, but it takes more money for a shower now days then it did for a wet spell when I was a boy. Ha, ha.

Nope, they don’t think about laying in the graveyard. They jest don’t, but lots of ‘em do lay there. They go there faster than they used to go too.

These flashy colored automobiles these days jest blind folks right and left. Scarcely nobody can put his feet on the ground so to speak, and if he does, he’s skeered plum to death some crazy automobile driver will knock him down. Ha, ha, ha. Skeered to walk - that be it. We are skeered to walk and its murder to ride.

Well, I reckon progress is all right, but I long for the better days of the past when folks could set beside the road and chew tobacco and whittle on a stick and hear what his own self was saying. You can’t do that now days. If you’re out in the open, the noise from fast moving traffic nearly runs you crazy and in every building you go, them blazing television sets really does it. Can’t get a word in edge ways.

Now I aint one to do much talking, but I do like to be heard occasionally. Jest once in a while I like to be heard.

People sets in front of them television sets and stares at it ‘til they go stone blind. Jest starin’. You can’t poke ‘em with a red hot poker and git one of ‘em to move. Set there jest a starin’ ‘til midnight hours, loosing all that good sleep that rests a human body. Then they rush off to bed so dern skeered and tense over that murder story they stared at that they can’t sleep. If he does doze off, he had a tremendous nightmare and wakes up yelling murder, jest to find it’s the ‘larm clock.

Out he jumps, gulps down a cup o’ coffee, and yells, “late again”. He jumps in that blood red colored automobile, speed it up to ninety miles a hour and drives like a streak o’ lightin’ to make it to work on time.

Now that’s what I say is a quick way to the graveyard without your breakfast. Now with no sleep, and no breakfast, and no time to thank God you’re alive, I reckon he sees you jest don’t ‘preciate it and you don’t live long like that neither.

Well, good roads help some I reckon. Nice to see this hard top through here, even if it has disfigured the place for me. I know you folks get tired of breathin’ road dirt. I et my share of it when I was here, but darn if I don’t think a body can live longer on road dust than they can in them automobiles on these slick finished roads.

Now take these new style homes that ‘ave sprung up ‘round here. With all that fuss ‘bout what color paint and that slick look they got to have. Why, my old house stood here all them years and no paint to hold it up.

We had fun in our old house. We could eat peanuts, throw the hulls in the floor and really enjoy it, while Ma and the girls sung and played the old organ. They was so congenial ‘bout everything. They’d jest laugh and grab a old broom and sweep up the hulls, and throw ‘em in the old stove and yell for us all to warm our toes while the hulls made a quick blaze, so as to have warm feet to go to bed with.

Now the houses are so slick nobody is ‘llowed to drop a tooth pick on the floor, and it’s real dangerous to walk on these modern floors. We always had a few rough places to catch us when we slipped in our house, A high board here and there. Now the floors are so slick, if you fall, you are apt to slide for half hour after you hit.

Yep, times have shore changed. Even right here in this little old place times have changed and it’s real sad. I always spit tobacco juice in that old stove, in the store ‘cross the road and I can’t git over it yet how that dear old soul, the owner of that place, has done away with that old stove for the modern way of heatin’ a place. I jest can’t get over how much I enjoyed chewin’ and spitin’ in that stove. Ha, ha. I do remember it well. There never was much fire in it, so to have the stove to spit in was about all the pleasure a body could git out of it.

Sometimes the old man would leave his gal to tend the place. She never did work hard ‘nough to get up ‘nough steam to keep warm. She would keep as close to the stove as she could git to feel a little heat she thought was there and us men folks would be so interested in our yarns that we loved to tell, and a chewin’ and a spitin’ we would forgit the gal a standin’ there and sometimes out of the corner o’ my eye, I’d see her turn her nose up in plum disgust. That was when we’d let a little tobacco juice hit her foot through mistake. Ha, ha.

Them was the good old days I tell you. No television sets to drown you out when you spoke. Course as I say, I’m not one to do much talking, but I like to be heard occasionally. Jest once in a while.

Yep, that old store was a real inspiration. I always liked it best when its owner was there. We could enter into all our experiences better then. Ha, ha. He was ‘bout the best speaker we had. Always had the biggest and most exciting experiences of all. He never had a sad moment. Always chewin’ his cigar and takin’ his time all up talkin’. Course that didn’t bother me none if he talked instead of making sales, but I was always afraid we wouldn’t have time for the other fellows to talk. Some o’ them told of the popularity of the covered wagons and how brave they was on a lonely mountain road at night as they camped out with their team and wagon. Personally, I doubted they even slept one wink.

One o’ them told a big snake tale. That was ‘bout the skeerest tale of all - that snake tale. Then course the fishin’ trips was whoppers. The whoppers they did catch them days.

One or two had bear hunted in his time. That was real fascinatin’ too. Some few told of his love affairs, but there was jest few of that kind o’ stuff. One fellow liked to boast that he had made more money than the most of us, interestin’ experiences. Each one kept you spell bound from the beginin’ to the end and ever time they was told, they got more startling. I bet ever one had been told at least 50 times ‘round. Ha, ha.

I stand here a thinkin’ that gone are the old nail kegs we used to set on with real enjoyment, while we related our experiences and long since the old stove has put in for junk. Most of the things that went for real pleasure has been replaced for them modern conveniences you hear so much ‘bout. Jest a few fellers like me can remember how good life was here in them days.

Reckon I’ll soon rest in the graveyard with the rest of my buddies, but til I do, I can’t never forgit when life was good and you could think your own thoughts. Yep, jest to think your own thoughts. As I said, I ain’t one to do much talking, but I like to be heard occasionally. Jest once in a while I like to be heard. Don’t you Bill?”