The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Special Letter from Earl C. Fitzgerald

By Earl C. Fitzgerald

Issue: April, 1988

Dear Friends of The Mountain Laurel,

I am a regular reader of your fine, down home paper. It just can not be beat. I have never lived in the area of Carroll, Floyd, Franklin or Henry Counties [Virginia], but I have known a good many fine friends in the area. I have visited in family houses and hunted in that area many years ago. When I returned from over seas near the end of World War II, I was in the hospital at Camp Butner, North Carolina from April 12, 1945 to August 10, 1945. In traveling home, when possible, I would hitch hike on Highway 220, then Route 11, to near my home. I first met and at times rode up to Roanoke with Olie Agee. He was also in the hospital with me. Olie lived at Floyd, Virginia. I believe he passed on during the late seventies or early eighties. He was a good person and a faithful friend.

Next there was Page D. Young. Page is living near me and has been another dear friend since 1939. Page's father was Walter Thomas Young. I also had him for a friend until he passed on. Walter was a native of Carroll County, Virginia, but moved to West Virginia from there when still a young man. Page came to Augusta County from West Virginia in about 1933 and worked for Du Pont for nearly forty years. Page would have me go with him to Laurel Fork, Virginia to visit his cousin about once a year. We would also try to stay awhile and hunt in the area in the fall of the year. We would stay at either the home of "Red" Bowman or with Trever Marshall. No matter where we stayed we would always visit Keno Store. It was a small store and at the time as I remember a man by the name of Dalton was the owner. There were Dalton's of the same family that lived all over the area.

I well remember one day at noon when we were coming out of the wooded area to the car to get some lunch. We saw a small mule and a wagon coming down the road through the field to where we were parked. The gentleman driving the mule sat flat down in the small wagon bed to ride. When he came near us, Page stated that he was known in the area as Grandfather Dalton. Mr. Dalton was, as he told it, a person who all his life could not walk because his legs being crippled or to have never developed properly. Mr. Dalton said that he was ninety years of age at the time. He was a very interesting and fine man. We spent most of the remainder of the day just talking with him. We, in our visits, would go to Ground Hog Mountain to the old cemetery and out to Fancy Gap. These were some of the most interesting and enjoyable days anyone could have ever spent.

After the Second World War, I met a man who moved into Stuarts Draft while I was away. He came from Rocky Mount, Virginia. This was Raymond Arrington and his wife Gladys. Raymond's father was Tom Arrington, and he lived south on Highway 220 just out of Rocky Mount. I visited and hunted in that area a lot for four or five years. Gladys was a Holland and had many relatives living in that area. I believe Norris Holland, her brother, still lives in Martinsville, Virginia. Raymond and Gladys now live in Sarasota, Florida. We still keep in touch and visit when possible.

Many were the enjoyable hunts we had with people in the area. I have hunted the June English farms in that area, also the Sloan Estate and the Shootin' Creek country. Along the big river was real good hunting. Clyde Belcher and his wife Ethel were some friends I made in that area. Clyde and his son, Sterling, always had a good productive area picked to hunt when I visited. It was a real treat. Many of the friends in that area would come to Augusta County and hunt deer in the mountains, for several years in the late 1940's. We really had many grand hunts and many evenings playing Rook.

Yes, the area you write about in The Mountain Laurel is one fine place, and has some of the best people I have ever had the pleasure of making friends of. Keep the good news coming, and I hope to visit in your country if ever possible.

I remain always a friend,

Earl C. Fitzgerald
Stuarts Draft, Virginia