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From the Publisher M

ay is the month that we celebrate our moms, remember the men and women who lost their lives in service to our great nation and get ready for summer! We are all ready to get out and thankfully we live in a heavenly place. God has certainly given us a beautiful place to call home. There are so many hiking trails, creeks to fish, lakes to cruise, rivers to tube or raft and picnics to have. Outdoors is our second home. Personally my porch swing or a chair under the maple tree are great places to spend time just talking to family and watching the birds.

Those Old Kentucky Roads – Robert Stephens

May 2021 • Volume Eighteen • Issue Five Georgia Mountain Laurel Mailing: PO Box 2218, Clayton, Georgia 30525 Office: 2511 Highway 441, Mountain City, Georgia 30562 706-782-1600 • Publisher/Editor - Marketing - Tracy McCoy Art Director - Dianne VanderHorst Graphics - Lucas McCoy Marketing & Office Manager - Cindi Freeman Assistant Office Manager - D’Anna Coleman Writer - John Shivers Photographer/Writer - Peter McIntosh Contributing Writers: John Shivers, Emory Jones, Jan Timms, Lorie Thompson, Richard Cinquina, Tori Carver, Mandy Kuntz, Jaime Smoot Speed, Deena C. Bouknight, Anna DeStefano, Tucker Ficklin

Whatever you have planned this month be mindful of your own health and safety and that of those around you. Enjoy the beauty around us and get outside. The Farmer’s Markets are opening up with plants and crafts, flowers and local art. Saturday mornings outside the Food Bank and behind the Rabun County Civic Center at the pavilions are two great places to start. Our surrounding counties also have markets that are well worth the drive. In this issue you will find the return of our calendar. We feel pretty sure about the events we’ve shared but do encourage you to call ahead to make sure events are still happening. You will also find an old look at gardening with mules (Foxfire) and a new one (These Brothers Gee-Haw). There are some recipes for Cinco de Mayo and Lorie does it again with some mouthwatering recipes for beef. On our cover an image from a beautiful photography book by photographer Robert Stephens titled Seasons. The book is available locally or through his website and you will love it. We are thankful for our advertisers and for you, our readers. We love to hear from you and you can e-mail me directly at To all of you moms – Happy Mother’s Day! Tracy

Copyright 2021 by Rabun’s Laurel Inc. All rights reserved. The Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine is published twelve times per year. Reproduction without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. The publishers and editors are not responsible for unsolicited material and it will be treated as unconditionally assigned for publication subject to GML magazine’s right to edit. Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, photographs and drawings. Every effort has been made to assure that all information presented in this issue is accurate, and neither Laurel magazine or any of its staff is responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. The Georgia Mountain Laurel maintains a Christian focus throughout their magazine. Rabun’s Laurel, Inc. reserves the right to refuse content or advertising for any reason without explanation.


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In This Issue Outdoors 12 18 22 24

Cover Artist - Robert Stephens Adventure Out Why - Firmly Rooted Flower Farm WHO will help?

Arts & Entertainment 28

Bon Appetit The Family Table

Faith in Christ 42 44

Being a Christian is a Relationsbip... River Garden

Health & Wellness 48 49 52 54


Around Town 58 60 62

Service With a Smile Aery Chiropractic – Clayton has a new Doctor in Town Mental Health – The Illness of Addiction Pet Health – Tis the Season for Allergies

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Madison’s on Main Reeves Hardware Renovation Mountain Happenings

Mountain Living 66 70 74

The Art of Charlie Dingler

A Taste 32 36

Sunset From On High (Dillard, GA), Robert Stephens

This Home’s Image Reflects Unforgettable Lifestyle Sanctuary, Livability at the End of the Road Transformation Realized

Life & Leisure 78 90

By the Way – A Pottery Jar for FDR? PS

Yesterdays 80

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Rabun County Historical Society Working on the Tallulah Falls Railroad Foxfire A Salute to the Vanishing Mule These Brothers Gee-Haw

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“Solitary Traveler” Captures, Delivers Outdoor Magic By John Shivers


here’s a wonderful little spot on the outskirts of Beckley, West Virginia called Babcock State Park,” writes North Carolina outdoor photographer Robert Stephens. And with those sixteen little words, this self-taught hunter of breathtaking natural images, hooks you. Perhaps it’s his phrase “wonderful little spot” that does the trick, but you absolutely must see what he’s seen that makes him so rhapsodic.

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A Strangers Kindness Stephens doesn’t disappoint, because his skills with the camera are as sharp and precise as his ability to weave words so intricately, you begin to see the picture before you really see his picture. In this case, it’s the historic grist mill that has helped to make this state park, one of many across the country, so famous. But there’s just something extra-special about the way he seems to reach through the lens to grab the dimension and depth of the mill and cascading waters. “Southern by birth, utterly confusing accent by the grace (and good humor) of God,” this artisan with a camera says of his roots and nurturing. While his birth certificate hails from Georgia, his parents were from mid-America and New England. Now he calls North Carolina home. When he’s home, that is, because he’s been on the prowl for something to photograph since he got his driver’s license. This was the beginning of his journeys as the “Solitary Traveler,” as he styles himself. May 2021 - GML 13

He recalls that maiden voyage into outdoor photography in 1992, and again, you can literally picture the twelve year-old Pontiac LeMans that he affectionately christened “The Pontiac Lemons,” because of the car’s various mechanical ailments. “I carried a spare quart of transmission fluid,” he says, as he describes the car’s tendency to guzzle the elixir that kept the gears shifting at least somewhat smoothly, which meant he could get on down the road. Stephens recalls those early days with fondness. ”I was young and broke and couldn’t go too far.” But he was able to go far enough to whet his appetite for stalking, capturing and preserving images of the great outdoors. “Now I’m old and broke,” he says and laughs. “Still can’t go too far.” But he’s gone far enough that thanks to better equipment, enhanced skills, and social media, he’s able to better share what he finds. And those who view his work are the winners. One look at the ordinary images he captures with such extraordinary panache gives you the idea that the same God responsible for Stephens’ unique accent is also responsible for the light and shadows that draw the eye of the beholder to his images. The career this self-described southern looking guy, this solitary traveler, has built for himself has been responsible for transporting many an armchair traveler to places they would never physically have been able to go themselves. “By nature,” he says, “I have always been a solitary figure, enjoying my own company yet still making time for friends.” But in the way of building connections, Stephens has put many miles under him in the name of pointing his camera and capturing the image of the moment. The result of almost thirty years of work is Seasons / A Collections of Photographs and Stories. Measuring twelve inches square with page after page of photos and accompanying details about the photos, this may be classified as a coffee table book. However, once you pick it up and begin to lose yourself in the sheer majesty of Stephens’ work, this book isn’t going to spend a lot of time on the table. And unlike a novel, or even a book of non-fiction, you get to decide the route you take and how long the journey lasts. There’s no strict beginning, no definite ending. But in between, a lot of enjoyment awaits. For all the slickness and pizazz of the finished book, the journey for Stephens as he labored to deliver a publication that would be both acceptable to him from a professional perspective, and of intrinsic value to its readers, was anything but a slam

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dunk. There were several hurdles. The determination to put together such a book as Seasons began in 2012. But those pesky hurdles got in the way. For starters, he might have been a pro at photography, but he was a greenhorn novice at book publication. What ensued was a combination of broken publishing arrangements, broken bones, dissatisfaction, disappointment, disillusionment and finally euphoria. Stephens will tell you quickly that the book you see today is a far cry from what it might have been. Yet, at the end of the day, Seasons is exactly how he envisioned it almost ten years ago. Just like he says in the narrative about Babcock State Park. On previous visits, he arrived at the wrong time of day, and his pictures lacked that extra element that sets them apart. But when he shot his pictures at the right time, magic was the result. And so it was with the publication of this wonderful book of memorable photos. The timing was right. Seasons is for sale through Stephens’ web site www., and for somewhere around the price of one tank of gas or so at today’s prices, you can travel thousands of miles in Robert Stephens’ footsteps. He’s gone places many people would never be able to visit, and in some of the most breathtaking photography you’ll ever view, he’s brought the outdoors to your very doorstep.

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Adventure Out Big Rock Overlook on the Bartram Trail By Peter McIntosh


n this adventure we’re hiking the Bartram Trail from Warwoman Dell to an often overlooked overlook. It’s a rocky outcropping known as Big Rock. The view from Big Rock is nice. There’s the Rainy Mountain Scout Camp just below you and layers of mountains off to the southwest. (Look for the lake way down below, that’s at the

scout camp.) The total distance, there and back is right at 4.6 miles, and I would rate the trail between moderate to strenuous. And since the trailhead is Warwoman Dell, there are some other cool things to see and do as well. There are lots of picnic areas set alongside the babbling Warwoman Creek, a big pavilion and also a privy. This little cove also features a short inter-

Peter McIntosh is an accomplished professional photographer. His photography is displayed in collections across the country. His passion for nature and the outdoors is what fuels his column. His work is available as fine art prints. Peter offers one on one and small group instruction on camera operation and photography. To see more of Peter’s photos, or if you have a question or comment, visit Peter’s website:

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pretive trail leading to a small waterfall. There are markers along the way detailing some of the flora and fauna of the area. The waterfall isn’t natural. It was created when rock was quarried from that spot to be used in the construction of the Blue Ridge Railroad. Warwoman Dell is one of many spots where evidence of the failed railroad project remains. And there’s a marker there detailing the railroads history. To get to Big Rock, we hike southward on the Bartram Trail, toward Warwoman Ford. The footpath ascends for about half a mile before cresting the ridge. You’ll cross three foot bridges on your way up; one has a railing, the other two do not. From this point the trail is level for a bit and then climbs once more, a bit steeply at times, before descending. This is a really pretty section of forest with nice rhododendron and laurel tunnels. Soon you’ll come to an intersection with a wide horse trail and a path coming up from the scout camp called the Goat Trail. Note the metal Goat blazes marking this path. The trail now ascends steeply up steps and switchbacks, but not for too long, and then heads downward. After descending a bit, keep an eye out

for a trail on the right, marked with paint, ascending to the southwest. There’s a wooden sign there that reads “.2 mile,” indicating the distance to Big Rock. Keep a sharp eye out for this sign as it’s easy to miss. At Big Rock there’s a nice strong rope strung along the trees because of the steep angle. Be careful please. There are anchor bolts in the rock for those of you wanting to practice your bouldering skills. Be sure to stay on the yellow blazed Bartram Trail returning to Warwoman Dell. My recommendation for this trip is to do the hike, enjoy the view and then return to the dell for a celebratory picnic. Happy Hiking! And what do you say to a poem for May? We’re heading to a spot with a view that’s swell, On the Bartram Trail out of Warwoman Dell. Hiking up to a ridgeline and o’r a few hills, The Big Rock outcropping will give you a thrill. Getting there: Warwoman Dell is located 3 miles west of Clayton on Warwoman Road. Look for a sign on the right and it’s a sharp cutback right turn into Warwoman Dell. May 2021 - GML 19

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by Tori Carver – Firmly Rooted Flower Farm


often get asked why I started growing flowers. I usually say I just stumbled into it, and there is truth in that, but honestly, I was searching for something.

For me, the first seed of an idea was born out of grief and a life long desire to own my own business. My mother, with whom I was very close, died the summer of 2019 and a few months later, I turned 50. When you lose a loved one and turn 50 within a short span of time, you seriously begin to question your life’s purpose. I knew I needed to find something to occupy my heart, my brain, and my body. I have always found comfort in gardening, cooking, arts & crafts, and sewing. (I was the nerdy, fair-skinned, freckled face girl who took sewing classes instead of playing sports). In my quest, I stumbled upon “cut flowers” and the idea of flower farming. I became obsessed. Truly obsessed. Obsessed with starting seeds, obsessed with nurturing each little seedling, and don’t even get me started on Dahlias. I had no idea Dahlias were so colorful and diverse. This year I plan on growing around 100 different varieties and am focusing on increasing my stock as a whole to over 300. I also saw flower farming as an opportunity to bring joy to others. Flowers are such an integral part of who we are as humans. Flowers are with us when we celebrate and they are with us when we mourn. Life can be difficult and even lonely at times and it amazes me how the simple gift of a bouquet of flowers can bring such joy and happiness to a person when words sometimes fall short. I would be lying if I didn’t say flower farming was hard. I have had moments of complete and utter exhaustion and told myself it was the stupidest idea I’ve ever had and swore I’d never plant another seed as long as I live. But then, after a few good nights of sleep, I’m back at it. I still work my day job as a paralegal and I am trying to raise active teenagers and keep a household running, but let me tell you.... when I walk out in the garden with a bucket of water and flower snips after a long and stressful day at work, it is the most calming and peaceful part of the day. I’m always sad when the darkness overtakes me and I have to go inside. I think flowers are truly a gift from God. Do you know what is funny about this flower farming journey? It has been with me the entire time and I never saw it before now. Twenty years ago, I used to cross-stitch and my all-time favorite projects are two little houses with beautiful flower gardens because I always dreamt of a yard full of flowers. And, my absolute favorite painting is a painting my mother bought me many, many years ago of a woman tending the most glorious flower garden. I always wanted to be the lady in the painting. Now, because I finally listened to what the Lord has been trying to tell me for years, I am and I couldn’t be more thankful. I hope to be at the Community Market this summer and will be offering subscription bouquets as well. As always, you can find updates and information about my flower availability on Instagram at @firmlyrootedflowerfarm and Facebook. I sincerely appreciate everyone’s support and encouragement as I figure out this new venture and how to best serve this wonderful community.

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WHO will help? A story of human kindness


by Tracy McCoy

t’s not every day that you get the chance to save an animal’s life. Especially an owl. It was evening when Jordan Adams left her job at Tia Dana on Highway 64 in Highlands. Mulling over the day and her plans for the evening, Jordan was just a mile or so out of town when she spotted a peculiar form just a foot or two from the side of the road. As she slowed and passed by, she recognized it as an owl. She quickly found a place to turn around and pulled over, getting out of her car. Within a couple minutes, two other cars had also stopped, and Jordan was standing with a couple from Atlanta and a local gentleman. Together, they tried to figure out what to do. The owl didn’t move but it was apparent that the animal was alive and injured. Police were contacted to try to get an idea what to do with the owl and Jordan was given the number of a wildlife rescue. Jordan called Wild for Life in Asheville, North Carolina but, it being a weekend, no one answered so she left a message. The owl did not respond at all when it was picked up. Jordan had a box in her car that was a perfect fit for it. The injured animal, wrapped in a towel from the Atlanta couple’s car, was put in the box by the local gentleman before he went on his way. The Atlanta couple stayed with Jordan to be sure she was safe driving 106 to Clayton. Jordan called her mother Kim, who is engaged to Dr. John Woodward, a local veterinarian. She explained that she found an owl and that it was hurt badly and asked if she brought it home, could John take a look at it. John agreed to take a look. When Jordan picked up the box, she was struck by the owl’s lightness - all feathers and very soft and fluffy. Dr. Woodward looked the animal over and they decided a wildlife rehabilitation would be the best bet. Unsure if the animal would make it through the night, it was made as comfortable as possible in its box and Kim checked on it the next morning. The animal was still in rough shape when Wild for Life returned their call the next day. A volunteer offered to

meet in Waynesville to pick up the owl. Jordan remembers improving. In early March the call came that the animal was thinking that she would never see the animal again. Kim drove ready to be released back into the wild and Wild for Life asked if Jordan and her mom would like to be the ones who released to Waynesville and met the Wild for Life volunteer. it. Of course, having that opportunity was exciting for them and In the days and weeks to come, Kim communicated with Wild they agreed to do it. Stonewall Creek Vineyards seemed like a for Life to check on the owl’s progress. Wild for Life gave her beautiful setting for the release, so the afternoon was planned. updates saying the owl appeared to be recovering and getting The owl was picked up from Wild for Life in Asheville and brought stronger. Jordan was pleased to know that the owl was back to Georgia. Jordan carefully carried the box out into a field

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Note: There’s a black box in the upper left-hand corner of this photo. That’s a barred owl box that the Stonewall Creek folks had built last year, in hopes that an owl would take to it. We’re not sure if this guy has or will, but it’s cool that it’s there nonetheless. and gently sat the box down and opened it on its side. The owl didn’t leave the confines of the box until Jordan tipped it slightly, and that’s when the owl suddenly shot out of the box, wings spread, and flew across the vineyard before landing on the roof of a far-off house. The moment was incredible and a celebration of creation and human kindness. The owl who couldn’t fly just months prior was now able to soar.

Wild for Life is a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation for injured and orphaned wildlife with the mission to return them to their natural habitat. They operate by donations from their community and communities like ours. They receive no state or local funding. More information about their efforts can be found at A video of the owl release can be found on our website

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Finding Art

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

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The Art of Charlie Dingler


like Charlie Dingler. He and his art bring a smile to my face. He is a resident of Rabun County but he didn’t start out here. Charlie’s life began in Newnan, Georgia but he will tell you that he grew up around Cumming & Buford. Charlie was one of three sons. His interest in art began in high school. After graduation he worked construction but deep down he wanted to be an artist. Working with his hands was what made him happiest and at 18 years old (in 1974) he took some art to a local art show. “I was hit! I made a decision to pursue art,” Charlie said. He kept working summers and weekends to pay his way through at Truett McConnell College and then Brenau College where he studied Art Education. When the Old Tannery closed in Buford, Georgia the art community established an artist colony in a portion of the abandoned factory. Charlie was one of the original artists and he opened a gallery there. He learned blacksmithing and metalworking. He kept his gallery going and he did pretty well. In the 90s Charlie began to do small paintings, primitive folk art and they were well received. Every piece of his art tells a story or celebrates an aspect of life. He worked jobs as he had to and did shows every chance he could. The folk art community is a tightly woven group. The support each artist gives the other is key to their success. Charlie had a one man show in 1993, then he attended Folk Fest in Atlanta and Finster Fest at Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia.

Charlie is a father to two children, Cassie and Clayton, and he has a special someone he shares his life with. In 2016 he got a call from his brother about a new distillery opening in Dillard, Georgia. They needed some help converting the old cannery into R.M. Rose Distillery. He was glad for the work and to offer his help. Because of his metalworking experience he was just the guy they needed. Once the operation was up and running and he had gotten a taste of mountain life, he decided to stay. He has worked every aspect of the process at R.M. Rose. From the manufacture of the whiskeys and bourbons to bottling, packaging and shipping. When you reach for the door of the R.M. Rose gift shop you will encounter Charlie’s metalwork. He fashioned the door handles including their signature rose. Charlie’s newest creation is his Whirligigs. A name he gave them and one that is a perfect fit for his yard art. They are bright and colorful, fun and functional. They twirl and spin to folk art perfection! Where can you find Charlie and his art? At the Rabun County Community Market behind the Rabun County Civic Center on Saturday mornings from 9am – 2pm. His whirligigs have also found a home at Main Street Gallery in downtown Clayton. Whirligigs are just one aspect of Charlie’s art. He explores flea markets and junk stores, finding pieces that he can transform into art. Typically his work is mixed media and threedimensional. When I asked him what he paints he thoughtfully responded, “Well I paint everything from angels to spaceships.” With a lifetime of art experience, he was known for Bud the bull. Painting farm animals was a natural choice because a farm is where Charlie grew up. Bud the bull has been retired and replaced with birds, VW vans, chickens and horses. He finds a place in his art for poker chips, bottle caps and other unique finds. May 1st and 2nd will find Charlie at Art Fandango hosted by folk art artist Sam Granger. The event will begin at 10am and finish up at 5pm. The art show will feature art from five regional artists and take place at 1390 Tom Born Road in Clarkesville, Georgia. You can also see more of Charlie’s work on Instagram at #DinglerCharlie. I will own a whirligig I just have to choose which one.

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Bon Appétit – Celebrate! By Scarlett Cook


ho knew that we would be so excited to get the outdoors and to lighten up our meals. It is time to a shot (or two)! After months of hibernating celebrate! These recipes are ready to help you plan your and wearing sweat pants it is time to enjoy Cinco de Mayo party or just a family dinner. Fiesta Chicken 6 – 8 Servings

1 Cup Ritz cracker crumbs 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix 8 Skinless Boneless chicken breasts 4 Green onions, chopped 2 Tablespoons butter, melted 2 Cups whipping cream 1 Cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese 1 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese 1 Small can chopped green chilies, drained Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease 13” x 9” baking dish. Combine cracker crumbs and seasoning mix in a small bowl. Dip chicken in crumb mixture and place in pan.

Sauté green onions in butter in skillet until tender. Stir in whipping cream, cheeses and chilies; pour over chicken. Baked uncover 45 minutes.

Waldorf salad 4 Servings 1/2 (8 ounce) Package cream cheese, softened 1/4 Cup milk 1 Teaspoon lemon juice 3 Medium apples, cut into pieces 2 Teaspoons lemon juice 1 Cup seedless green grapes 1/2 Cup raisins Combine cream cheese, milk and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons lemon juice over apples. Combine apples, grapes and raisins. Stir in cream cheese mixture.

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Lemon Potato Wedges 6 Servings

1 Tablespoon butter, melted 3/4 Teaspoon grated lemon rind 1 Tablespoon lemon juice 3/4 Teaspoon dried dill 3 Medium baking potatoes unpeeled 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese Preheat oven to 425˚ Spray a foil line baking sheet. Combine butter, rind, juice and dill in a small bowl. Cut each potato into four wedges. Brush edges of potatoes with butter mixture and dredge in Parmesan. Place wedges cup side up on pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Mexican Custard 6 Servings 2 Eggs 1/8 Teaspoon salt 1 Tablespoon plain flour 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract 1 Teaspoon almond extract 2 Cups milk Ground cinnamon Preheat oven to 325˚. Combine all ingredients except cinnamon in a blender. Blend at high speed 5 minutes. Pour into six 6-ounce custard cups; sprinkle with cinnamon. Place cups into a 13” x 9” baking dish.

Pour hot water to a depth of one inch. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 1 hour. Custards are done when a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold.

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Taste of the Mountains

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The Family Table By Lorie Thompson


ood is powerful. As well as sustaining our bodies, it can bring pleasure or evoke memories from the past. For me, cooking for people is an expression of love toward them. It is the way I was raised. If you love people, you cook for them. My Grandmother was the first person to arrive with a big box of her home fried chicken, potato salad, and a pound cake when someone in the community passed away. My mother always had a house full of guests every weekend to eat with our family. When our family traveled, a highlight of the trip was to try new foods. We always returned home with fresh ideas of items to add to our menu. The food we enjoyed was an essential part of the pleasure of the trip. I would like to share two old family favorites with you. The first is my Mama’s stew beef. It was a regular weeknight meal. I remember walking into her kitchen and hearing that jiggle-jiggle of the pressure cooker. The other recipe is for Cowboy Steaks. My family discovered these while on vacation in the early 1990s. Ingles recently had whole sirloin tips on sale. I paid a little over $30 for a 10-pound sirloin tip. In contemplating what to make with my bargain, the cowboy steaks and the stew beef were top of my list.

Lorie Thompson is a REALTOR at Poss Realty in Clayton, Georgia. Her expertise in her industry is second only to her culinary talents. Lorie is a dynamo in the kitchen. Honestly if she prepares it, it will likely be the best you’ve ever had! Lorie and her husband, Anthony (Peanut), make their home in the Persimmon Community. She is the proud mother of Joe Thompson and Kendall Thompson.

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Our first meal was the stew beef with garlic, onions, carrots, and potatoes, cooked in the pressure cooker. I used trimmed meat cut in 2-inch cubes. If you cut your own, leave a little fat on the meat. If it is too lean, it will get dry. Add 2-3 medium-sized potatoes cut into half or thirds, and two onions cut into quarters, 2-3 carrots, cut into chunks. Season all the ingredients with garlic salt and the pepper of your choice. Don’t be shy with the seasoning. Add 1 C of water. Close the pressure cooker and cook over medium-high heat until steam begins to evacuate in a steady stream from the vent. Let it steam for 2-3 minutes. Place the pressure gauge on the vent and reduce heat to medium. Cook it for 25 - 30 minutes on a slow jiggle. Remove from heat and allow the pressure to reduce before removing the pressure gauge. You may thicken the broth with browned flour and butter if you choose.

My second meal from the sirloin tip was Cowboy Steaks. Our Ramey clan (24 of us!) traveled to Taos, New Mexico for a family vacation. A highlight of that trip was a wagon ride culminating in a cowboy cookout. Chuckwagon cookouts are common in the West now, but 30 years ago, it was novel. We had such a good time! The steaks were marinated and cooked over hardwood charcoal and were terrific! We came home from vacation and went to work to recreate the marinade from those steaks. We still serve

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“Cowboy Steaks” on occasion. They always bring a smile and a to warm temperature. Layer warmed roast beef slices onto pleasant memory of that vacation to our family. Let me tell you garlic toast. Cover with swiss or provolone cheese. Cover with how to make them. sauteed onions. Add a dollop of the horseradish sauce. Cover with the second side of toast and cut in half for serving. You can use ribeye or strip steaks, but this is an excellent place to use a less expensive cut. I add a meat tenderizer to the marinade Talking with his mouth full, Mountain Man said he would tell for the Sirloins. Omit it if using ribeyes. his friends all he got for supper was sandwiches. He had no intention of telling them how wonderful those hot, ooey-gooey, In a plastic or glass container, add together 3 T brown sugar, 1 T onion, and beef sandwiches were! garlic powder, 1 T soy sauce, 1/2 C Worcestershire Sauce, pepper of your choice, 2 tsp meat tenderizer, 1/4 C vegetable oil. Stir The sirloin tip is easy to cut up. I learned how to do it by watching marinade together. Add steaks to the bowl, making sure to youtube videos. If you don’t want to cut it up yourself, ask your coat all of the meat in the marinade. Keep in the refrigerator butcher to do it for you. We ate a lot of delicious meals for our between 2-3 hours before cooking. $30! Grill steaks over hot coals to the desired doneness. Serve with a baked potato, grilled corn on the cob, and beans! Put on your cowboy boots and 10-gallon hat and tell tall tales around a campfire. Bring a little of the Old West magic home to your family. My third use for the sirloin was a Tri-tip roast that I dry roasted in the oven at 375 degrees. Rub it with vegetable oil, salt, garlic, red pepper, and rosemary. Roast to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Use a meat thermometer. Roasting time will vary with the size of your roast. My roast was small and cooked in about 35-40 minutes. Serve sliced thin with garlic mashed potatoes, and the pan drippings poured on top. The sirloin tip’s final meal appearance was my take on a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Using the leftover roast, serve with sauteed onions and melted cheese over toasted garlic bread with a creamy horseradish sauce. To make the sandwich: Sautee 1-2 sliced onions in 3-4 T of unsalted butter until they are translucent. Season with salt and continue to cook over low heat until they are soft. Melt 2 T of butter, adding 1/4 tsp each of granulated garlic and dried basil. Brush bread or buns and toast until golden. Prepare the horseradish mustard sauce. Add ¼ C sour cream, 2 T of mayo, 1 tsp of Dijon Mustard, and 2 tsp of prepared horseradish. Stir. Slice cold roast beef as thin as you can. Push the cooked onions onto one side of the sautee pan. Add the roast beef slices, and toss over low heat, just bringing

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The cowboy steaks travel great in a Ziploc bag. Go somewhere beautiful and have a cowboy steak cookout with your family. May God bless you with many beautiful memories with your own family.

Taste of the Mountains Eat, Drink, and Be Happy

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Clayton, Georgia Known for its mountain scenery, thriving downtown and arts community, Clayton is full of things to do, places to stay, great restaurants and events yearround. What are you waiting for? Plan your trip today.

Shop - Eat - Stay - Play Downtown Clayton, Georgia

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“Being a Christian is about a relationship, not religion!” By Tucker Ficklin – Clayton King Ministries


thoroughly enjoyed being a sassy, self-righteous seventh grader as I talked to my classmates about Jesus. I had been to a number of Christian youth conferences and had heard Steven Curtis Chapman perform live, so it was obviously my job as the new right-hand of God to inform everyone that it didn’t matter how many times you went to Sunday School last year. I pretty much told my friends that religion was a swear word. Not only could I have been a lot less obnoxious, I could have used a little more knowledge on the importance of obedience and submission to Christ. However, I have to give my obnoxious little seventh-grade self some credit – I was tuning into something that the Holy Spirit has been trying to tell me since I was born: I am all you’ve ever needed, and a relationship with you is exactly what I want. The blood of Jesus proves it. 

A Psalm that I have been meditating on lately is Psalm 51. In this piece, we find an imperfect, beat-up David who had just been confronted about his adultery with Bathsheba engaging God in the covenantal relationship that God has always desired with His children. David knows that he screwed up, big-time.  The Psalm starts out with David saying, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”

We see David doing a couple of things here. First, he is confessing his sin to God. He isn’t making excuses, and he isn’t pretending The Psalms have always held We see in Scripture that the only thing we have to do that God has a different a special place in my heart. Not only could I guarantee to enter into this covenantal relationship with the Living set of standards for him, that if I opened my Bible God is to confess our sin and believe that He is Lord. no matter how much he was “after God’s own with my eyes closed I could find the Psalms (again, I was a very obnoxious little Christian), heart”. We see in Scripture that the only thing we have to do but there is something about the way they are written that to enter into this covenantal relationship with the Living God captivated me even as a punk kid. I’ve always loved writing, is to confess our sin and believe that He is Lord. We see David and there was something that resonated with me about David, coming to God as a first-time believer would – as a sinner that Moses, and Solomon crying out to the Lord. There are Psalms desperately needs grace that he doesn’t deserve. for rejoicing, gratitude, and worship, and there are also Psalms that blatantly lay out these writers’ grievances with God. They Second, we see David worshipping God in the midst of His lament openly and ask God hard questions. They doubt God confession. He is acknowledging that God is all-powerful (while without wondering if they will be punished. They talk to God also remaining merciful) by saying that he understands that like someone would talk to an incredibly close friend, spouse, or what he has done was evil and worthy of death.  I wish that I family member. They don’t engage God by writing a report card more often invited God into the conversation of my prayers in for Him. They don’t even just perform for His amusement, as if that way. I think that sometimes we forget that God wants to we were created to just be God’s personal American BandStand. play an active role in our lives. He isn’t a professor that is simply They come to God as their authentic, unfiltered, emotional, and grading our papers and keeping tabs on our progress. He is a sin-riddled selves. That is what God wants in a relationship with loving, caring, and all-powerful Father that paid an unthinkable price for us. He did that to grant us full VIP access to Him. We hit us.  the jackpot and won the outrageously expensive Harry Styles

Tucker Ficklin is a part of the creative team at Clayton King Ministries. When he’s not designing or doing communications work for the ministry, he is probably reading everything he can get his hands on or looking up flight deals for his next trip. He lives in Anderson, SC. Resources are available to help you in your Christian walk at and you may also visit or Tucker has his own website

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backstage passes, except the general consensus is that Jesus is around one bajillion times better than Harry Styles. And the backstage pass lasts forever.  David goes on to write in Psalm 15:16-17: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” If you had live video footage of me reading those two verses out loud, you would see a huge blubbering baby that couldn’t contain his tears if his life depended on it. It’s the best news there is. Our sacrifice has absolutely no line item on the “Who Gets to Be Loved by God” rubric. It will not be on the end-of-course test. It won’t be weighed and averaged into a score. We get to be loved by God because sacrificing our broken, messy, dumpster-fire lives are enough. It’s all He asks for. And He knows we’ll screw it up. He doesn’t even care.  He will not despise a broken and contrite heart. So if that’s the case, do you think God’s ideal role in our lives is to be the almighty SAT proctor in the sky, just making sure everything goes as planned? Only being there for us to praise and feel judged by? Of course not. He wants to be right there beside you, keeping His promise to never leave or forsake you. The Holy Spirit is living and active. His word is just as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago. His love is still the most powerful thing in the universe. We get to invite Him into that and live in that. We’ll see it when we read the scriptures, and we’ll see it when we desperately need a Father to come rescue us. God wants to take on the role He has wanted in your life since you were born. Are you ready to have that kind of intimacy with God?

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Welcome to Clarkesville, Georgia

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Service with a Smile

The name “Community Dental” says it all, doesn’t it? By Anna DeStefano ~ article and photography


he new adult dental program available at the Rabun County Health Department is a fantastic example of the impact local leaders and volunteers can make, tackling a community need. Two years ago, Tim Ranney and Bob Fink of the Rotary Club of Clayton approached the Rabun County Board of Health (RCBOH) with the idea for a collaborative venture. The Rotary could help the RCBOH provide low-cost dental services to the estimated thirty percent of adult residents unable to afford care. The far-reaching benefits of such a project were undeniable. The average uninsured cost of a filling is $288;

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the expense skyrockets to $501 for an extraction. The consequences of poor dental hygiene range from medical issues (heart disease), economic limitation (when seeking employment in a field valuing personal presentation), and diminished socialization. The RCBOH and Rabun County Board of Commissioners were on board. Fast-forward two years, and Community Dental now offers adult dental services one day a month at minimal cost to the patient. A host of volunteers have joined the effort, including dentists and dental assistants. Equipment was donated from Atlanta’s Grant Park Clinic and a retired dentist. The Clayton Rotary Foundation provides financial support as

needed. Health Department staff offers administrative assistance. Then just a month ago, I was fortunate to discover a way of my own to contribute. My “paid” work—healing nature photography placed in Emory Healthcare women’s, cardiac and cancer units throughout Atlanta—offers moments of calming inspiration to patents, staff and caregivers. When I heard about Community Dental, I jumped at the chance to make the same impact in my own back yard. Through Affirmation Photography™’s HeART Open non-profit donation program, thirty pieces of fine art were installed in the clinic’s reception, waiting, exam, staff and office areas.

About the Community Dental clinic, John C. Davis, Chairman of the RCBOH says, “The Rabun County Board of Health is proud to be a part of this outstanding community effort.” Timothy Ranney, Clayton Rotary Foundation Trustee and CFO adds, “We are so proud of this collaborative venture comprised of passionate volunteers, the Rabun County Public Health Department, the Rabun County Commissioners, and the Clayton Rotary Club.” And I’m proud as well, to know that my art will offer moments of ease that enhance the Community Dental experience. When health department staff saw the Affirmation Photography™ placed in the dental unit, I witnessed their excitement firsthand. I couldn’t help but smile. “THIS!” I thought. “For a healing artist, it doesn’t get much better than this…”

Clayton has a new doctor in town!


r. Sue Aery has opened a branch of Aery Chiropractic & Acupuncture right here in town. The office will be operating as Aery Chiropractic & Clayton Ortho Stem, focusing on integrated health care, including chiropractic care, nutrition, kinesiology, pediatric care, Stem Cell Activation therapy (also known as Tissue Regeneration Therapy) – all designed to ease, heal and prevent pain as well as create, support and enhance a healthy, vibrant life. Stem Cell Activation is the newest addition to the practice and is already finding great success in the Highlands and Atlanta offices. The therapy focuses on stem cell activation using noninvasive acoustic waves that are very effective at bringing the body’s own stem cells to the part of the body being treated. This enhances the body’s natural healing potential by significantly reducing inflammation and increasing circulation. This therapy is FDA approved and has proven to be an effective treatment for

those in pain from injury and other causes or facing surgery or invasive procedures. Practicing in Highlands and other areas of the plateau for over 15 years, Dr. Aery brings a wealth of practical knowledge and a deep level of wisdom and compassion to her practice. In the Clayton office, she has partnered with Drs. April Kerr Roscher and Miriam Croft, premier chiropractors from the Atlanta area. Dr. Croft specializes in family and pediatric care and Dr. Roscher specializes in clinical kinesiology. This trio is a dynamic team of healthcare physicians, providing chiropractic, lifestyle and nutritional therapies that complement one another and target each patient’s specific needs. Each doctor is available in the new Clayton office by appointment only. Appointments are available through online booking at or or by calling 828-200-4476. Hours and availability are also posted on the websites. The office is located at 91 East Savannah Street, Suite 202, Clayton, Georgia. Dr. Sue Aery, Dr. Miriam Croft and Dr. April Kerr Roscher invite you to come see them and take your health to new heights today! May 2021 - GML 49

Healthy and Well


All May long, Skin Cancer Awareness Month encourages us to learn preventative skin care habits and seek screenings for early intervention.

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The Illness of Addiction By Mandy Kuntz


am a recovering alcoholic/addict and also a treatment provider that specializes in addiction/recovery at Georgia Mountain Psychological Associates, Inc. I have experienced fully the definition of being an addict and treating an addict. I commonly treat people who struggle with addiction and have underlying trauma/mental health issues that contribute to their addictive behaviors. Untreated mental health issues are the root cause of many substance use disorders today.

53% of drug abusers also have at least one severe mental health illness.

I struggled with addiction for more than half of my life. The greatest barrier to my recovery was: I did not want to face all the issues underneath my addiction. One day I realized I was out of options, and I was hopeless. That is when my window of grace opened and at age 29, I got sober. It was the last time I overdosed, the last time I chose drugs over my family, the last time I went to jail, and the last time I went to treatment. Getting sober has not been a perfect nor smooth journey. It took a long time. Some days the only goal is to not drink or use. Today my life is way different in an awesome way! I get to do the normal human things like be a mom, take my dogs on walks, maintain a job, go to school, be committed, show up to things, and best of all the obsession to drink/use has left me. So, from one alcoholic/addict to another there is still hope, always!


The word “addiction” is often connected with the following: a vice, a struggle, a disgrace, a disappointment, a mistake, or even a danger. It is not often thought about as an illness, a disease of the mind, or a coping mechanism that is used to deal with mental health issues. Addiction is actually an illness that is to be thought of along the same lines as cancer or diabetes. People don’t think about all of the mental health issues that began way before the addict became addicted. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reviewed various reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and found the following: 50% of individuals with severe mental health disorders are affected by substance abuse. 37% of alcohol abusers also have at least one severe mental health illness.

29% of people diagnosed as mentally ill abuse either alcohol or drugs. If you have a loved one who is addicted, consider the following a list of “What to do” and “What not to do”….

Educate yourself about addiction: Without experience, you may be misinformed about what addiction is, who it affects, and how it affects them. Address the Issue: Ignoring the issue won’t make it go away. It is difficult to confront a loved one, but this needs to happen sooner rather than later. Set Boundaries: These are lines that cannot be crossed. Boundaries play an important role in assuring your well-being and hopefully, encouraging your loved one to seek help.  Practice Self-Care!!! When a loved one is struggling with drugs or alcohol, the last thing on your mind is your own well-being. But addiction is a family disease, and whether you realize it or not, your loved one’s addiction is taking a toll on you too. Be sure to take some time to take care of yourself: exercise, eat healthy, enjoy some time outside, read a book, and do things you enjoy. DON’T: Don’t look down on them: It is normal to feel upset, but understand that addiction is a disease. They did not decide to become addicted. Don’t ignore the problem: Addiction is a progressive disease, and your loved one will only get worse the more they use or drink. Don’t try to force them to quit: Hold your boundaries, express care and concern, but accept that they will have to decide when they are ready to truly recover. Don’t enable them: Some common ways that family members enable their loved ones include giving them money, paying their bills, lying for them, bailing them out of trouble, and excusing

Mandy Kuntz is a Therapist at Georgia Mountain Psychological Associates Inc. She is finishing her Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology, specializing in Addiction Recovery at Liberty University - Graduation May 2021 with goals of becoming a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC II).

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their behavior. Pay attention to your behavior and ask yourself if you are truly helping them or if you’re inadvertently enabling them to continue to use drugs and drink alcohol. Don’t give up: You might become frustrated with your loved one if they refuse to get help or if they relapse, but don’t give up on them. If you give up on them, they are likely to give up on themselves as well. Remember, battling addiction is hard but not impossible, and having a strong support system can make all the difference. Resources for Recovery: Georgia Mountain Psychological Associates Inc.: - 851 Hwy 441 South Suite 105, Clayton, Georgia 30525, 706-968-9060 Freedom Ministries Lighthouse Inc.: - 7247 Old 441 S, Lakemont, Georgia 30552, 706-212-0272 Black Bear Lodge: - 310 Black Bear Ridge, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia 30571, 706-914-2327 Freedom Hill: - 210 Loudermilk Lane, Demorest, Georgia 30535, 706-776-7109 Homestead Recovery Residence for Women: - 3123 Alec Mountain Road, Clarkesville, Georgia 30523, 706-754-6637 Hickey House:, 706-878-1463 Alcoholics Anonymous: Narcotics Anonymous:

Healthy and Well

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Tis the Season for Allergies By Jaime Smoot Speed


imagine a few readers have been in this position… sitting at the Veterinarians office, explaining that you have religiously used the flea prevention they recommended, fed the best possible food you can afford, checked blood work yearly, and given your heart worm prevention regularly. Yet, despite all these efforts, your pet is balding, shaking his head, itching like it’s his job, licking his paws, or simply has a terrible odor from his ears, skin, or anal glands. These visits to the Veterinarian can be quite costly, as they must not only find the underlying cause of “Fido’s” problem, but also determine what secondary factors are adding to his discomfort, such as bacterial or fungal infections. Then they must determine the appropriate oral medications, topical medications, or combination of the two. One of most common causes of these problems is an allergy. Unlike people, dogs and cats exhibit allergies more through the skin than the respiratory tract. This means they will itch far more often than they sneeze or cough. There are several different types of allergies. The most common is to insects and the least common allergy is to an ingredient in the food. But between those two types is an elusive allergy called atopy. This is an allergy to something in the environment… Grasses, molds, trees, dust mites, storage mites, weeds, bacteria, or yeast. While insect allergies do exhibit a certain pattern, atopy and food sensitivities can look identical. Animals can develop these allergies at any time in their life. However, it is most common for Atopy to develop between ages 1 and 3. This is considered a heritable condition, so certain breeds of animals are more predisposed than others. The more popular your dog breed is, the more likely they are to develop atopy. If

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you have a German Shepard, Boxer, Shi Tzu, Dachshund, Lab, or Golden Retriever, this is one of the times of year to be on the lookout. People tend to assume their pets allergies are standard and constant. We most commonly hear that a dog has “ear mites” when they have itching ears or that a certain food caused this flareup. The reality is much more complex. Allergies can present for many more reasons than the average person considers, and even if your pet has had this problem for years, the way a Vet treats them can vary based on time of year, the expected cause, and the type of infection they have secondary to their allergy. Trade Secret: your dog RARELY has ear mites. They most often have a combination of yeast and bacterial infection that takes testing and proper medication to treat. This is why your Vet asks to see them and do testing to properly treat the problem. Some of you may ask, “Well, I have had many pets over the course of my life and this is the first pet that has had so many problems!” Yes, allergies are ever increasing in humans and in pets. This is due to a variety of factors, including breeding practices, changing environmental exposures, and the increase in close human to pet contact. There has been an explosion of research in pet allergies, and new oral and injectable medications can help to reduce the inflammation in your pet’s skin. However, truth be told, allergies take a multifaceted approach. Supplements and bathing are very important in allergy management. In general, omega fatty acids are great oral supplements that help. Your veterinarian can help you determine if you need moisturizing, follicular flushing, or antimicrobial shampoos, and they can direct you on how often to bathe. Often with allergies, your pet will need a bath at least once weekly. Supplements, medicated bathing products, and insect control products can be found at your Veterinarians office or local pet stores, such as Clayton Claws & Paws in downtown Clayton.

Jaime Smoot Speed was born in West Virginia, went to James Madison University with a BS in molecular biology, then worked at Johns Hopkins doing research until attending UGA for Vet School. She graduated 2010 and moved to Clayton with her husband who is a native five years ago. She works part time at Rabun Animal Hospital. She opened Claws & Paws in December 2020. You can reach Claws & Paws at 706-212-7322 or visit their website: or on facebook and instagram: @claytonclawsandpaws

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A dream come true. By Tracy McCoy


love a great story. One of humble beginnings that includes hard work and ultimate success. You know the kind with a strong family who works hard and has a can-do attitude even in the face of adversity. It’s one thing to watch it on the big screen, but entirely different to sit down to an interview and hear it for yourself. In this issue I will share the story of Janene (Pooh) Lancaster, her husband Todd, and ultimately their beautiful and bright daughter Madison. Born in Hickory, North Carolina, Pooh’s father moved his wife and five children back to his hometown of Cherokee, North Carolina, on the Reservation, in 1973. Mr. Cooper and his wife took a leap of faith soon after and built the first commercial hotel, a Holiday Inn, in the family’s cow pasture. “I grew up in the hospitality industry right there in Cherokee,” she says, “not just hospitality, southern hospitality!” The hotel had a gift shop and Pooh says she always wanted to be a shopkeeper, so she would gather things from the gift shop and set up a table in the conference room, selling to hotel employees. Fast forward a couple decades and she meets and marries a handsome fellow who shares her dream of entrepreneurship. Add to the story three incredible children: Nicholas, Madison and Andrew. The Lancasters purchased the Native American Craft Store in Cherokee. “I was proud of my heritage and loved being able to display the art and crafts made by locals,” Pooh says about the shop she still owns today. The couple bought not one business in Cherokee, but two. Todd became the owner of Smoky Mountain Tubing. The business offers what is now the number one tube trip in Western North Carolina. With over 250 rafts there is no waiting in line to enjoy tubing in the smokies. Owning both businesses and raising three children kept the couple beyond busy, but that’s how they like it. Now, you may be wondering how this story involves Rabun County… hold tight I am getting there. When Pooh sees a need in her community it has been her goal to fill it. Living near Bryson City, North Carolina she knew there was nowhere for women to find clothing and accessories without traveling to Asheville. Pooh decided to open a clothing store called Madison’s on Main, offering an option for women to find the things they needed closer to home. Madison, twelve years old at the time, worked right alongside her mom in the business. It only made sense to utilize the upstairs space over Madison’s on Main in Bryson City, so they created two suites for guests to stay. The Suites by Madison can be found on VRBO and offer a great option for a night away but close to home. If you’ve met Pooh or Madison you know they are smart, confident and beautiful, both inside and out. The pair is unstoppable, even when faced with life altering circumstances. In 2010, Pooh got very sick; the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma put her down. It was summer in Cherokee. On July 4th weekend with her mom in the bed, her future

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uncertain, Madison ran the store by herself at only thirteen years old. Multiple Myeloma is cancer, the word none of us want to hear. Myeloma begins with one abnormal plasma cell in your bone marrow — the soft, blood-producing tissue that fills in the center of most of your bones. The abnormal cell multiplies rapidly. This young mother who pulls no punches, headed straight to Emory University in Atlanta, where she began treatment for this disease. Her battle continues; she is still a patient at Emory. All four of their businesses are still in operation and then a global pandemic happens. 2020 was a year when business was scary enough, Pooh Lancaster and daughter Madison Hall, now married and living in Alpharetta, Georgia were working diligently to keep it all going. “I have always loved Rabun County and dreamed of owning a store here. My youngest son Andrew was going to start at Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School and I needed to be a little closer to my doctors at Emory, so we just did it, we opened a second location of Madison’s on Main in late summer 2020.” The store has been an outstanding addition to downtown Clayton and was recently voted Best Retail Shop by Clayton Tribune readers and for good reason! Opening the door to this boutique clothing store is a treat to the senses. From their signature scent, Sweet Grace, to the beautiful things that fill the racks and shelves, a woman can find just what she is looking for. The Madison’s style is modest, classy and comfortable. Their selection of gifts range from candles to inspirational books, signs and body care. Every woman must accessorize and it’s easy to do here. Handbags, scarves, jewelry and shoes that will entice you to take them home. Yes, that’s first hand experience talking. I am a fan of M.O.M (an appropriate acronym) a fan of the store and the ladies behind the counter. The best part is that Pooh and Madison strive to keep their quality merchandise affordable. Sizes range from XS – 3XL in ladies clothing and they have infants clothing from birth to 12 months and have a baby registry for mothers-to-be. You can look forward to their annual September birthday sale Labor Day weekend. They also offer you 20% off shopping during your birthday month. “I believe in shopping local with small business owners. I was a customer of Reeves years before I moved here and today I support the businesses around me in Cherokee, Bryson City and Clayton. I think it is how we stay strong, by supporting each other.” Pooh is very active in building strong communities. From supporting local football teams to giving back through volunteerism, she says, “I am here and I am not afraid of hard work. I want to do everything I can to be part of Rabun County. I now have a part time home here and my dream of owning a store in Clayton has been everything I thought it would be.” Her battle with Multiple Myeloma is not over, but she says if her health stays good she has plans that could include a third location for Madison’s on Main. How she does it all I am not sure but she does, and she and Madison do it well! If you have not visited the store on Main Street in Clayton, I encourage you to do so. You will love it just as much as I do! Shopping online and on Facebook are two additional options. The website is and their tagline is appropriately “All Things Pretty”. Additional information is available by calling 706-782-1989.

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Reeves Gets a New Look By Tracy McCoy


lanning a remodel can be a big undertaking, but when you start talking about remodeling the busiest store in downtown Clayton it becomes monumental! Pencil was put to paper in 2019, a date of February 8th 2020 was put down as the day it would all begin and changes would be made in almost every department. Changes would include new flooring, some painting, and new fixtures with a whole lot of moving around! The majority of the work would take place while keeping most of the store open and operating while ensuring the safety and comfort of their customers. Easy peasy, right? To say there were challenges would be a slight understatement! Covid hit and many adjustments to the way a business operates had to be made. Add to the list in paragraph one, keeping employees safe and well. The remodel was scheduled to be done in phases and considering all things, it went relatively smoothly. All employees dug in and worked just as hard as contractors. “I can’t thank our people enough,” said Jeff Reeves. “We are blessed to have such outstanding employees and we appreciate every one of them. Of of our 130 employees we only had 8 Covid-19 infections. Again I credit our staff for their hard work keeping things clean and following protocol. The first change you’ll see when you walk in the door is the new counters. They were designed to improve flow and make it easier for customers to enter and exit. The new Outdoor and BBQ area is directly behind the point of sale. The gift shop and bridal registry received a new look as well. A couple years back the store added Tuxedo rentals and that is located behind the gift shop. The Reeves Furniture was a large part of the remodel. The upstairs included painting all of the walls and removing and replacing 400 wrought iron banisters. The department was shut down for two weeks while this project was completed to keep customers safe. The hardware department got all new fixtures and a new line of battery powered equipment. E-go is the industry leader. They

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even offer a Zero Turn Mower that will run two hours on a single charge. Behind the hardware department you’ll find the all new Gun and Ammo sales area, a gun enthusiast and hunters dream! Upstairs is clothing, accessories, shoes and boots with brands that you know and love. Downstairs there’s more hardware, plumbing and tools. Reeves hardware company has flown the “Ace Hardware” flag since the 1950’s. Ace Hardware is a wholesale dealer owned coop residing in Oakbrook, Illinois and provides product, marketing, and other retail services to more than 5,000 independently owned stores. Ace has chosen 4 product categories to put a high level of focus on for the coming years. These 4 categories are called Ace’s “famous for 4”. These are (1) Paint with Benjamin Moore Paints; (2) BBQ with Weber, Traeger, and Green Egg; (3) Power Equipment with Stihl and Ego; and (4) Home Restoration with all the various products found to keep your home up to date and preserved! With the exception of the Ben Moore Paint, (paint is exclusively sold at Reeves Building Supply), Reeves on Main did a major upgrade to the 3 of “famous for Four”. Another new and exciting venture for Reeves is the acquisition of The Summer House in Highlands, North Carolina. Jeff says,”We have a great team up there too and it’s been a great transition. We are updating that store as well.” This is fodder for another article in the coming months. We must not end here without mentioning the Reeves family and work family’s greatest loss in 2020 and that was the lives of both parents only a month apart. Lewis & Carol are sorely missed by all. I can’t help but imagine them walking into the doors to see what has been accomplished. What a great family and what a remarkable business they’ve built. Another blow last year was the loss of Kyler Page the infant son of Corey and Savannah Reeves Page. “Everyday I realize how fortunate I am to have grown up here, went off to college and was able to return home and work in our

family’s business,” Jeff remarked as we finished our visit. “We know none of this would be possible without this community and we are so grateful. Reeves has locations in Clayton, Georgia; Dillard, Georgia; and Highlands, North Carolina. Remember, delivery is free and Jeff said, “We might not be Amazon but we will get it there for sure.” You are also invited to visit their newly redesigned website www. Or stop in when you visit Main Street in Clayton or call 706-782-4253.

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Services for your home and property

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This Home’s Image Reflects Unforgettable Lifestyle By John Shivers


nforgettable lake living often evolves around the dwelling used to stage that lifestyle. The home at 4183 Blalock Goldmine Road on Lake Burton understands how lake house owners should live, thanks to the turnkey, hands-on efforts of Pritchett + Dixon architects. Their name alone carries with it a reputation that ensures the house will be in a category all its own. “Refined mountain modern meets casual California-cool” is the image Todd Pritchett and Craig Dixon aimed for when they designed and built this six bedroom, seven bath home for themselves. Whoever is fortunate enough to buy this 4,494± square foot home will inherit design innovations and grand living opportunities, in keeping with the professional reputation of these two talented architects. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the home when the sun begins to drop over the mountains of western Rabun County, prepare for a most unforgettable experience. Thanks to the siting of the home, and the strategically placed windows and the NANA accordion style glass doors, the evening light bathes the white and neutral interior in the oranges and purples of the waning sunset. This three-story opportunity for lakeside living is ideal whether there are two or fifteen calling it home. Inspired by historical mountain lake architecture, the exaggerated scale of the various design elements creates a more modern structure, while retaining a natural sense

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of being at home on the shoreline. It encompasses all the quintessential requirements for comfortable lakeside living and effortless, seamless entertaining. Thoughtfully designed spaces combine indoor and outdoor living to bring the lake and surrounding mountains to the forefront, truly enhancing the living experience. When you enter, you’re greeted by sweeping four-season views, thanks to the custom glass doors. The eat-in kitchen offers dining for eight and more and opens to a spacious screened porch perched over Lake Burton, facing beautiful mountain and sunset views. In addition to being perfect for entertaining, the great room and kitchen can become screened outdoor space, thanks to those same glass doors. The porch features a masonry fireplace and high vaulted ceiling for late night stargazing. The highly customized chef’s kitchen includes Wolf and Subzero appliances, custom lacquered raised grain oak cabinetry, a Leathered Quartzite topped island and Honed Vermont Anthracite Granite countertops at the bar area. A walk-in pantry/keeping room provides customized storage for easy organization, a built-in Gaggenau coffee machine, extra fridge/ freezer, laundry room, and access to a grilling deck. The living room features wide plank solid white oak flooring, ten-foot ceilings paneled with Canadian Spruce, and a masonry fireplace with limestone plaster and stucco finish. A powder room is conveniently tucked away just off the living room. The main floor owner’s lake view suite includes a custom-appointed walk-in closet, spa-like bath with double vanity, water closet, soaking tub and deluxe shower. Three private lake view guest suites with individual en-suite baths occupy the upper level, while a family room with fireplace and wet bar opens to a covered porch with easy access to the two-stall boathouse on the terrace level. A ship’s galley style bunk room features two separate bedrooms, each with built-in twin over queen bunks. A shared full bath with oversized steam shower and double vanity, a home office and gym with lake views and a full bath complete the lower level. Most furnishings are negotiable. Is this Pritchett + Dixon fee simple waterfront home, MLS #8957152, calling your name? Agent Leigh Barnett at Harry Norman, REALTORS® Luxury Lake and Mountain is ready to introduce you to this amazing home and the lifestyle it delivers. Call her at 404-931-3636 or at the office, 706-212-0228.

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Home Services

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Sanctuary, Livability at the End of the Road By John Shivers


ocation. Location. Location. It’s one of the axioms for a good real estate purchase. However, when that location also comes with spreading out room, a house with a great, livable floor plan, a secluded mountainous setting with breathtaking views, and the beauty of a tumbling, musical waterfall, how much better could it get? When you come to the end of the road at 92 Race Path Lane in the picturesque Persimmon Community off Highway 76 west of Clayton, you’ll see firsthand just how much better it can get. Sited on 4.56± acres of beautiful Rabun County landscape, this home is just steps away from U.S. Forest Service lands that surround and cradle those who live there. In addition to the miles of wilderness hiking trails just waiting for you to explore and enjoy, the privacy these lands deliver is an added plus. A mountain stream fed by the waterfall, a rustic footbridge, and a fish pond right in the back yard are additional perks.

anywhere. From the cozy, comfortable library just inside the front door to the two main floor bedrooms, to the cook’s kitchen and adjacent dining area and the great room that opens onto an expanse of deck overlooking the babbling stream, find your niche and enjoy life at the end of the road. The spacious master bedroom with en-suite bath that includes double but separate vanities, jetted tub, shower and toilet closet affords both comfort and privacy. The second bedroom and bath, as well as a powder room are on this level. The great room with its two-sided stone fireplace anchors the center of the home. Off the dining room is a sunporch with windows on three sides. Everything here is about the views and bringing the outside in.

Whether you’re looking for a year-round home or a weekend sanctuary away from the daily grind, this custom built home with over 4,000± square feet of living space on two levels delivers everything you need. And then some.

But what’s a destination for family and friends without a way to feed the multitudes? With generous cabinet and pantry space and countertop work area, the kitchen features a full complement of stainless appliances, hard-surface counters, a breakfast bar adjacent to the dining room, built-in china cabinet and easy accessibility to the great room. The laundry / mudroom and double garage are on this level.

Between expansive square footage and generous size rooms, a whole lot of living awaits with not a bit of wasted space

The daylight terrace level adds to the livability factor of this well-maintained home. A second family area with stacked stone

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fireplace and kitchenette make for comfortable TV watching or entertaining, and the third bedroom and full en-suite bath are on this level. An office with outside entrance, a mechanical room and storage area are here as well. Both the family area and the bedroom open to a covered, stone-floored patio overlooking the creek and the forest. Two easily-adjacent outbuildings further expand the convenience factor of this property. The smaller of the two is a quaint little log-sided cottage, perfect for a man cave or a she-shed. It’s your call. There’s covered storage space for your mower and yard tools on the back side. The larger building, with wide double access doors works well for a workshop, crafts and hobbies, a home-based business or storage and are wired and plumbed. Are you in the market for a musical waterfall and acreage enough to spread your wings? Check out MLS #8952993 and contact Poss Realty Agent Jim Blalock at 706-490-1404, or at the office at 706782-2121.

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Transformation Realized Professionally and Personally, Constance Ogram has Found Her Niche By Deena C. Bouknight


ucked into a historic neighborhood atop a hill overlooking Clayton is a formerly dilapidated shanty-turned-restored-dwelling that has become Constance Ogram’s home. Although she has worked in the high-profile, fast-paced world of architectural interior design, Ogram is currently content with bringing her expertise to Georgiamountain-based residential clients. “The people I’ve met and worked with here have been lovely,” said Ogram, who moved full-time to Rabun County a little over a year ago. “I love meeting them, seeing their spaces, and helping them determine how to make their homes comfortable and livable. Because of my background, I bring a lot to the table.” A Cincinnati-native, Ogram’s journey began when she chose design, art, and architecture as her major in college. She took a job in Atlanta with a large architectural interior design firm and, for many years, immersed herself in the planning of spaces for corporate accounts. “We would take on multiple stories or even the whole building and start by designing the public spaces and then move into the private spaces,” she said. “By the end of the project, I would know everyone from the CEO to the janitor. The goal was to create functional but beautiful spaces. And everything we did was avant-garde, state-of-the-art, and custom.” Ogram’s portfolio includes work with national banks, law firms, and the Braves. “I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was working 70-80 hours a week and my husband, David [an architect], was working long hours, so when our first child was born, we realized the workloads were not conducive to being parents.” The couple decided to focus on smaller projects, “ones we would know had a clear beginning and end,” she said. They had another child and committed to a workload that would not burn them out, yet provided a living and left time for family. “Everyone said I would not like going from the glamorous, large projects to smaller ones, but I love it and I am able to bring to residential clients my years of creativity and experience.” While the Ograms vacationed at their home on Lake Rabun and lived and worked at their home in Atlanta, they considered their future. “We decided to sell our property on Lake Rabun and purchased a lot in Clayton because we wanted to be closer in, and our extended family already had a house on Lake Michigan where we vacationed.” However, a few years ago, her husband posed: “Why don’t we look for a home that’s already built?” The first house they looked at was up a narrow side road just off one of the main streets in downtown Clayton. “It was neglected, had been a May 2021 - GML 75

OGRAM DESIGN CONTINUED... rental, and didn’t even have a functioning kitchen,” said Ogram, “but my husband saw potential.” Plus, the original 100-year-old well-constructed 1,000 square feet and the extensive large-stone walls, walkways, terrace borders, and fireplace were selling points. The 1950s piecemeal additions – not so much. “There isn’t a crack in any of this stonework, so we knew the construction was quality.” Though Ogram has tried to find information on the original builder/owner of the home, she has been unsuccessful. “But the kitchen area was in three sections, the downstairs area wasn’t finished, and there were vines covering all the stone walls and the terraced area.” Since the home needed an “overhaul,” the couple traveled back and forth from Atlanta to Clayton for almost two years to open the kitchen space into one larger room, renovate the bathrooms, add an interior stairwell from the kitchen to the downstairs, add an entrance/exit from the downstairs to the stone-terraced yard, and oversee general cosmetic projects, such as painting, floor refinishing, etc. Not much in the way of major construction was added. “We did have some of the downstairs area dug out from the hillside to make it into a larger guest suite, and we added a full bath down there.” And a focal point in the modernized kitchen is the tri-frame window with an arched transom. Not only does it allow light to flood the kitchen area, but it offers a view of the town and brings a visual element of the outdoors to the inside. “The light is just beautiful in this home … warm, subtle … The walls were all dark paneling, so we painted the wood white to lighten the spaces. All the stone gives the house a European feel, and it’s like nothing else in the area,” she said. “And from the road it has a small cottage look, but it’s just spacious enough.” When the vinyl siding was taken off the house, the Ograms discovered cedar shakes in one section. They decided to cover all

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exterior areas that are not stone with new cedar shakes. Heart pine flooring was preserved. And, old English doors from a source in London replaced 1940s doors on both the upstairs bedrooms. After the kitchen and bathrooms were functioning, the Ograms began staying at the home more frequently and longer during the final stages of the renovation process. In December 2019, they decided to move to Clayton full time. Ogram noted that the home is the ideal living, working, and entertaining space. Large, rich-hued paintings by her husband [who passed away last year] are central in the living room and kitchen. “He was inspired to paint old masters’ works [such as Peter Paul Rubens 17th century “The Tiger Hunt”], and he did a whole series of birds.” The dining room is surrounded on three sides by windows, and the screened porch’s painted concrete floor resembles slate. Ogram’s approach to new client projects is similar to how she tackled the transformation of her home from dysfunctional to dynamic. Her skills in spatial planning, organizational logistics, adequate flow, etc. result in aesthetically pleasing interiors whether clients need assistance with one room or the entire residence. “Sometimes things are just not quite right about a home, whether it’s the proportions, or the lighting, or the spaces,” she explained. “Instead of just wanting to add on to supposedly solve potential problems, I like to work with a client’s existing structure to determine how they can have a comfortable, inviting environment – a home and not just a house. Your home is where you should feel the most comfortable.” Like she did in her own kitchen, she also looks for ways that clients’ homes can integrate nature and the outdoors into interior spaces, whether it is the flow of the floor plan from the outdoors in, windows bringing in more light and views, or finding the right colorations for walls and furnishings. “Sometimes a home just needs a little tweaking here and there,” she added. “And sometimes it’s just a matter of reworking the furniture and accessories. It’s not about how much money is in the home, but about making the environment right for the client’s lifestyle … beautiful, functional, practical.” Although Ogram continues to travel occasionally to Atlanta for various projects, she is determined to maintain a client base that is local and manageable. “I love it here and I want to meet people and settle in and help them with their homes.” You can contact Constance at 706-851-9923 or 404-9316442 or visit her website at

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By The Way

A Pottery Jar for FDR? By Emory Jones


s many of you know, two of my favorite things are folk pottery and Georgia history. And believe it or not, those two things cross paths more often than you’d think. That’s why I was so excited to learn that President Franklin D. Roosevelt—a man who certainly made a bit of history—may have had an eye for folk pottery, too.

After the woman got back in the car, the man driving waved and flashed a familiar smile. Arie realized she had just sold pottery to Eleanor Roosevelt and her husband Franklin D., the President of the United States.

“I was down in the front room of the house feeding the baby, Ruby. She was just three or four months old then, so it was the spring of 1938. That’s when a big ole car pulled off the road, and the ugliest woman I’d ever seen got out. She pointed to a little clay pot sittin’ on the rail, and said she wanted to buy it. That woman talked so twangy; I barely could make out what she was saying.

After committing to help rebuild the town, he came back in (wait for it…the spring of 1938!) to check on the progress. So, regardless of whether or not Cheever believed his wife’s story, we now know the president WAS within 25 miles of Arie’s house at the time she claims that twangy-sounding woman bought the pottery.

She hurried to tell Cheever who greeted her story about like you’d expect. He never did believe Arie had actually met Eleanor Roosevelt, so she didn’t talk about the matter You see, back in 1937, Arie Meaders, the matriarch of the much after that. But I have her on tape telling the story. famous Meaders pottery clan, was on the front porch of And, if Aunt Arie Meaders said it happened, I believe it did, the little house she shared with her husband, Cheever, and even if her husband didn’t. their eight children. That old house still stands (barely) just And how about this? I recently found some facts that above Mossy Creek in the southern part of White County. support Aunt Arie’s story. When the tornados of 1936 Arie was my great aunt by marriage, and here’s what she demolished Gainesville, President Roosevelt stopped by on his way to Warm Springs to survey the damage. had to say about what happened that day.

“I told her that particular pot waddn’t for sale, but that we had plenty more just like it up at the shop. But that wouldn’t do a-tall! She said her husband had seen it from the road and wanted that one.”

FDR, who suffered from polio, often slipped behind the wheel of that handsome convertible with custom-made hand controls, eluded his secret service detail, and hit the road, so it could have happened. It was definitely a different time.

Being a practical woman, Aunt Arie sold it to her for a That car offered him an escape from the duties of the quarter even though the woman could have bought a presidency. So, it’s quite possible he drove the short dozen more just like it or better a hundred yards further distant to White County during his stop in Gainesville. north. And, if he did, I wonder where that pottery pot is today. During their chitchat, the stranger commented on Aunt Wherever it is, I’d sure give more than a quarter for it. I Arie’s jonquils. Arie told the lady her hat was nice. “It did mean, just in case anyone in the government is listening suit her,” she remembered later. and wants to sell it.

Emory Jones grew up in Northeast Georgia’s White County. After a stint in the Air Force, he joined Gold Kist as publications manager. He was the Southeastern editor for Farm Journal Magazine and executive vice president at Freebarin & Company, an Atlanta-based advertising agency. He has written seven books. Emory is known for his humor, love of history and all things Southern. He and his wife, Judy, live on Yonah Mountain near Cleveland, Georgia.

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from the Rabun County Historical Society

Working on the Tallulah Falls Railroad Meager Wages, Women Hewing Crossties and Frozen Overalls By Dick Cinquina


abun County was remote and isolated, populated by subsistence farmers scratching out a living on hardscrabble mountain land. The Tallulah Falls Railroad opened Rabun and the surrounding region to the outside world. The TF also brought badly needed jobs. Working on the TF involved backbreaking labor for paltry wages, typically about one dollar per day. But mountain men and women eagerly sought railroad jobs, since meager pay was better than no money at all. Much of the following narrative about railroad jobs and the men and women who did them is drawn from oral histories compiled by the Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center in Mountain City. Picks, Shovels and Mule-Pulled Scrapers The TF used some of the roadbed prepared by the defunct Blue Ridge Railroad decades earlier.

Preparing miles of new roadbed for tracks was the first work offered by the TF. Carving a route through mountainous terrain was done laboriously with picks, shovels and scrapers pulled by mules. When rock outcroppings were encountered, “cuts” were blasted. Will Seagle, who worked on the TF from the Georgia state line to Franklin, recalled the time when dynamite used to blast a cut accidentally exploded. “I seed him (one of the workers) a-goin’ up (in the air)…I run and jumped in the river and got him out… he didn’t have a rag nor a shoe on him. Flesh was a-dropping off of him. Boy, he was pitiful. He lived till midnight and then died.” “I drove steel (making holes for the dynamite),” Seagle continued. “There was two of us. There should be a right-hand man and a left-hand man. There was a colored man there, and he was a left-hand man, and the boss asked me, ‘Mr. Seagle, do

Rail tongs allowed workers to pick up and move heavy sections of rail. Photo courtesy of Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center

Dick Cinquina holds graduate degrees in history and journalism, making his work for the Rabun County Historical Society a natural fit for his interests. He is the retired president of Equity Market Partners, a national financial consulting firm he founded in 1981. In addition to writing monthly articles for the Georgia Mountain Laurel, Dick helped produce the Society’s new web site and is involved with the renovation of the group’s museum. After vacationing in this area for many years, he and his wife Anne moved to Rabun County in 2018 form Amelia Island, Florida.

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you care to drive with a colored man?’ I said I didn’t care…I drove with him for a long time.” Hewing Crossties from Oak Trees With the roadbed prepared, the next work involved obtaining the wood crossties onto which the steel rails would be spiked. “A lot of people hewed (chopped crossties out of trees with an ax),” according to Dan Crane. “They had to. That’s the only way they had to make a few dollars to buy groceries with.” After he cut down a tree with his crosscut saw, Roosevelt Burrell would stand on the log “and start busting chips out. Get right up on top of her and go to chopping. Just chop one end to the other, and then turn that around and hit the other side.” Homer Parker recalled, “My daddy could hew ten crossties (a day). Eight was a good, easy day’s work. I could hew six or seven myself, and I was just a boy then, 16 or 17 years old.” 45-55 Cents for First-Class Crossties Oak was the preferred lumber for crossties, which had to be eight feet, six inches long and seven inches thick with a nineinch face. Dan Crane explained, “The hewed crossties came from the heart of the tree, and they would last longer than the sawed ones that were cut out of any part of the tree, so the railroad would pay more for a hewed one than a sawed one…The railroad paid 45 to 55 cents for a first-class tie and 25 to 45 cents for a second-class tie.” Hewing crossties was not simply work for men. Mary Cabe reminisced, “I’ve cut many a cross tie … Anybody who could hew good could hew one in an hour, after they got it (the tree) sawed down.” Many people, including women, also cut firewood as fuel for the wood burning locomotives used during the early years of the TF. The firewood was stacked at designated places along the side of the tracks. The railroad would inspect the woodpile and pay the cutter. Driving Spikes

pounds. Two men grabbed and lifted therailroad rail with a rail dog. The Hewing crossties for the new rail then had to be “gauged,” meaning rails had to be 56 ½ inches apart, although being off by ½ inch was acceptable. Anything more than that could cause a train derailment.

Rails were attached to crossties with spikes. Lawton Brooks said, “I’ve drove many a spike. Now you might think that was easy. You start that (the spike) in an old white oak (crosstie) with an eight-pound hammer, that’s what you drove with. Come over that hammer and hit the spike, you straddling that hot rail, the sun a-boiling down on you. Man, you talk about sweating…I’d rather do anything than spike up track all day. It hurts your old back stooping over all day.”

Lawton Brooks recalled the time a landslide destroyed a lengthy section of track. “We (his section crew) had to build the railroad back up. They even sent the convicts to help us that time. They had the durn woods full of convicts…It was three nights, I know, before I went home.”

Once the rails were laid and the trains were running, maintaining the railroad was an ongoing challenge. Section crews maintained the roadbed and tracks, while bridge crews repaired the bridges and wooden trestles.

The most spectacular feature of the TF was its 42 enormous, wooden-truss trestles that could carry the weight of a 70-ton train. However, those engineering marvels required extensive, ongoing maintenance. Unlike section crews, bridge crews worked the TF’s entire 58 miles. According to Fred Williams, bridge crews lived in shanty cars. “There we cooked, ate and slept. We had one car to cook and eat in, the other to sleep in. The shanty cars pulled us from one place to another to repair the trestles.”

Section Crews and Convicts Section crews were assigned an eight to 10 mile section of track. Paid one dollar for a 10-hour day, workers were hired from the area near their section so they could live at home. The crew was responsible for replacing crossties and rails and keeping rail joints smooth and level. When crossties were replaced, both sides of the track were jacked up. Occasionally, a worn rail had to be replaced. Each rail was 30 feet long and weighed about 600

Maintaining 42 Wooden Trestles

Carl Rogers remembered that bridge crew workers “would just swing down right under the trestles. They had ropes, and they had a hoist mounted on that flatcar, and they’d secure that flatcar to the rails and let the (replacement) lumber down. CONTINUED to 81... May 2021 - GML 81

RABUN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY And they would climb those trestles. I don’t mean to compare them to monkeys but they were very agile.” 37 Cents/Hour Was Good Pay Injuries were not uncommon while repairing trestles. J.B. Stubblefield remembered, “They’d let a piece of timber fall and hit ‘em, or maybe their foot slipped and they fell (into the ravine or stream below). Bridge crews were compensated for the dangers they faced with better pay than section crews. Roy Shope recalled, “When I left section to go to a bridge gang, I was making 20 cents an hour. The bridge gang was paid good money, and I think I went to work there for 37 cents an hour. That was good pay.” Frozen Overalls Stood By Themselves Lawton Brooks recalled the time an ice jam broke loose and washed out a trestle. To clear the maze of fallen timbers, “You got in that water, stay in there five minutes, get out and stand by the fire five minutes, and jump back in and stay five more minutes. Your legs would get numb, froze.” After going home, he said he “laid down on the bed, and my wife would have to pull my overalls off, and she’d set them against the wall and they’d stand there. After a while, you’d see them go down (as they thawed). Yeah, froze.”

TF bridge crew at their shanty car The running crew of a TF train consisted of the engineer, fireman, brakeman and flagman. On passenger trains there also would be a conductor and frequently a postmaster responsible for mail service to the communities along the line. Locomotive Engineers The only way the engineer could figure the train’s speed was to measure the time traveled between mileposts. The engineers also had “meet orders,” instructing them where and when to expect a train coming in the opposite direction, since the TF was a single-track railroad. Engineer Goldman Kimbrell recalled, “A freight train would have a certain time to be at a certain place… If you were delayed, you had to report it to the agent at the nearest depot.” If the delayed train was not near a station, Kimbrell said, “You could usually flag down an automobile to go to the nearest station. Course, if you broke down or derailed and they was somebody coming behind you, then a flagman had to go back to flag him to keep him from crashing into you.” The fireman was responsible for shoveling coal into the steam engine’s firebox and regulating the water flowing into the boiler. It took four hours to bring the engine up to operating temperature. To bring the engine from cold to operating temperature in less time put “a lot of torture on the boiler.” Shoveling Tons of Coal

TF construction workers, circa 1905

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The tender behind the locomotive held five tons of coal. Hoyt Tench, a fireman on the TF, remembered, “On a passenger run, I’d use four tons of coal for a round trip. On the freight run, they’d burn six and eight (tons), depending on what kind of load they had. There’s skill to it. You’ve got to know how to throw your shovel in, spread your coal. If your coal is not good or if you put too much in at one time, then you get the white smoke. Then you’ve got to get your rake and rake it up a little, shake down your grate in order to get a dark, black smoke. That’s when it’s steaming, when you get a black smoke, not a white

FRANKLIN NORTH CAROLINA smoke. I always watched my smokestack.” The tender also held 3,000 gallons of water. According to Dan Ranger, “The difference between a good fireman and a bad fireman is that a good fireman knows when to feed water into the boiler to keep the water level up…and he knows at all times on any portion of the railroad where that water level is supposed to be. That is a trick, a real trick.” Perhaps Lawton Brooks best expressed what it was like to work on the TF. “I had to work 10 hours for a pitiful dollar. Ten cents a hour is all they’d give you. You had to work, too. I mean you worked 10 hours. You worked from the time it got light enough to see ‘till it got so dark you couldn’t see. It was the hardest work you’ve ever done, but I loved it better than any work I’ve done in my life.”

Learn more about our history by becoming a member of the Rabun County Historical Society. Membership and complete information about the Society are available at www. You also can visit us on Facebook. Following completion of an extensive renovation, the Society’s museum at 81 N. Church St. in downtown Clayton is expected to reopen later this Spring. However, the building is open from noon to 3 on Saturdays for people interested in researching county and family histories. The Society is a not-for-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, making your membership dues and donations fully tax deductible. May 2021 - GML 83


Billingsley plowing with a mule

“A Salute to the Vanishing Mule” June 1968 George Burch & Mickey Justice Adapted by Kami Ahrens


In his spare time, he plowed land, and helped to get the planting and cultivating done. He was there to help harvest and haul the crops. Everything that was too heavy to be moved from place to place by man was moved by the mule.

That got us thinking. Were mules following oxen into extinction? The result was the following study which we hope you will find as interesting as the subject was to research.

In the horse and buggy days, it was most often mules instead of horses that was hitched to the buggy. It was always convenient to hitch up the mule or put a saddle on him to go to anywhere that was too far to walk.”

e assumed that nothing was amiss in the mule world until we were informed that their position of prominence had been blasted forever by the Industrial Revolution. “After all,” our friend continued, “when was the last time you saw a young mule?”

At one time, the mule was king. Mrs. Ada Kelly shared some of the important work mules did: “[The mule] helped clear timber so that agricultural products could be planted. It helped drag logs off the land for building houses and barns, and hauling the logs to building sites. After they began sawing logs, the mule was busy dragging logs out of woods and hauling them to the mills. After they were sawed, they were loaded on wagons and pulled by mules many miles to some place where they could be readied for building houses. Then the faithful old mule would haul the lumber back to building sites.

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Mules also pulled reapers, combines, and potato diggers; snaked logs for tan bark and telephone poles; plowed; worked sorghum mills; carried mail—the list is endless. Some mules were so well trained that they could haul sugar and malt to mountains stills alone and then walk back out alone laden with the finished moonshine. Farms in Kentucky and Tennessee specialized in breeding them. Their young mules were sold in places like Franklin, North Carolina, where Mr. R.L. Edwards’s uncle paid $400 for an untrained pair—and that in a day when money was worth considerably more than it is now.

Benny Brown snaking logs with a mule

Richard Norton plowing with Prince

Many farmers began breeding their own mules. Mr. Grover Wilson told us that some mules raised in this county were huge. Mr. Bill Blalock’s grandfather had a pair that weighed 2700 pounds. There were two or three “jacks;” these were carried to farms by request and bred to farmers’ mares. After the mare foaled, the breeder would come back and collect a $10 fee. Local farmers thought that the mules from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri—though bigger—were not as tough as the smaller “mountain mule.” Even farmers in the cotton belt often preferred the mountain mule for its stamina. Esco Pitts, the Farm Supervisor for the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, said when he arrived in 1909, the school had two mules named Pete and George. Before long, they added six more. The school was almost run by mule power: the sorghum was ground using mules, foundations and basements were dug out using mules, everything that had to be hauled, such as corn or rye, was hauled with mules.

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Maude Shope riding Frank Considering the disadvantages listed above, it is no surprise that the tractor sealed the fate of the mule. Mr. Pitts remembers that the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School switched over to tractors almost immediately. When asked if he was sorry to see them go, Mr. Pitts replied, “No, not at all. They were a tremendous amount of work.”

They cultivated 200 acres at the school and he can remember seeing eight mules at a time in the fields, each followed by one of the students. In the spring, the mules dragged the cutaway harrows out into the fields and readied them for seed. Then the rows were laid off with a mule-drawn “shovel plow” or “laying off plow,” and the planting would commence. Idyllic as it all may sound, the use of mules was slow, grueling labor. Mules had to be fed daily and equipment such as plow points had to be kept in perfect shape. And even the best mules could only cultivate four acres a day. With 200 hundred acres to be worked—well, figure it out for yourself. Conversations with other farmers turned up other disadvantages: Mules get tired. Tractors don’t. After two or three good rows, you have to rest both the mule and the man behind him! Mules are far more expensive than most people will admit. Mr. Wilbur Maney, the county agent, told us, “A mule costs about a dollar a day, adding in repair for the equipment and shelter for the animal during the winter. That makes about $365 a year. Nowadays for the same price, you could buy a Sears Roebuck tractor that would do the same amount of work and do it faster. Whereas a mule can only plow an acre or two a day, a tractor can do the same in about thirty minutes.” Another farmer in the county added, “Nowadays most farms have to be business ventures and mules just aren’t good enough when compared to today’s prices for labor.”

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Mr. Maney dug into his United States Census of Agriculture books for us and came up with concrete documentation for the fall of the mule in Rabun County. The statistics read: “In 1950, there were 476 farms using a total of 740 farm animals—mules and horses.” But only nine years later, in 1959, there were only “96 farms using only 137 horses and mules.” There are no figures available for the situation today. Mr. Pitts said, “You won’t find two dozen mules in the county I don’t guess.” Mr. Wilson agreed. He knows almost every farmer in the county and he had trouble coming up with 15 mules. The farmers we talked to who still used mules offered a variety of reasons for keeping them: “Mules don’t pack the ground like a tractor does;” “My land is too steep for a tractor, and mules don’t slip;” “They cultivate better and cut deeper in to the ground;” “When plants are young, mules don’t cover them up like tractors do. You have better control;” “I already have the equipment I need for a mule. I’d have to buy all new equipment for a tractor and I can’t afford it. Anyway I’ve already got the mule and it’s not costing me anything.” Other farmers were just reluctant to change. The mule had become a part of the landscape and part of the family. One said, “The only reason I keep it is because I have it!” And Mr. Wilson gave one of the best reasons of all: “I really only use it once a year, and in terms of dollars and cents it probably isn’t worth keeping. And I have a tractor. But look, I’ve always been used to having one, and fact is, I like to handle ‘em in a garden.”

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These Brothers Gee-Haw by Tracy McCoy


dgar James was born and raised in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina. Farming was a way of life for the James family. When Edgar’s boy Bob was born, pretty soon after or as soon as he could walk good, he was out in the fields following behind his dad. There were no tractors or big harrows or planters so everything fell on the mule. A man and a team of mules could go many miles a day. They usually stopped at noon when they heard the farm bell and returned to the farm house where the mules drank a lot of water and ate some corn and rested a while. The farmer ate dinner and usually laid down in a cool spot on the porch to rest a while. After dinner it was the same thing all over again until darkness for

a day of about 14 or so hours. Back to the house, feed and water again, and be ready for morning. When Bob was grown and had his own kids (Lynn, Dale, Sandra and Neal), he took them to the fields and taught them to work growing crops. A good set of mules was a requirement for plowing and cultivating crops. There was always a good pair of broke mules in the James boys farm. Bob also had two strong boys to help him work the fields. Dale and Neal James learned to train the team (pair of mules) and how to work them once they were well trained. “You gotta fool with them from the day they are born. Just like your dog, you gotta spend time with them and work with them. When one gets about a year old you can start putting the harness on them to get em’ used to it. Then when they get a couple years old you can hook them to something and let them start learning,” Neal told me when we spoke for this article. I actually met Neal and his brother Dale in Rabun Gap while they were plowing with Neal’s team Mattie and Mandy and Dale’s team Rhoda and Ada. I learned more in 15 minutes than I’ve known my whole life about plowing with mules. Dale is a soft spoken man and he talked to Rhoda and Ada in that fashion. As he continued talking to them they made their way down the row, circled and came back. When two mules are working together one is always walking in the furrow meaning the row they just made. That mule has it a little harder but the next time it’ll be the other one in the furrow. Kinda like life I

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guess. The mules do as they are told and that comes from good training. So to get the mule moving you would say giddup and gee means right and haw means left and Neal says the most important command is Whoa! “A mule that is green, or not well trained can get spooked or excited and take off with you. I don’t want a ‘runaway mule’. If you get one that runs you’ll never get them trained and they can get you killed.” I asked who first came up with gee and haw and Neal said, “I don’t know but I’ve heard it from the day I got here.” Neal’s lead mule is Mattie. Mandy listens to what he tells Mattie to do and does it too. Neal and Dale plow up the ground to plant with their teams and then use them to cultivate the field. Sometimes they use a riding plow and sometimes a walking plow. Then there is a hillside turner. Plows can be made to throw dirt right or left or both. The plow they used the day I took photos was borrowed from David Hopper. The field was getting ready for cabbage, tomatoes, beans, and bell pepper. These brothers plant fields on Betty’s Creek, up in Scaly Mountain and in Otto. Running a team all day in the field is hard on the farmer and the team. I asked the obvious question, why? Why do it this way, it would be so much easier with a tractor, like the one parked on the side of the field. “Lack of sense, I guess,” Neal said laughing. “Heritage, it’s about heritage. It’s how we learned and we like preserving that tradition.” The brothers have sisters who worked in the fields too. They didn’t plow but they worked just as hard. I was told that Sandra was the fastest cabbage cutter in the family and Lynn was a close second. “We were taught that to have anything you had to work for it,” Neal said. He said he was taught if a mule was sweating, he is minding. “The mules are glad to get to the barn at the end of the day. We wipe em’ down, water and feed them and they stand still till morning,” Neal told me. I think he and Dale likely do something

similar. Maybe a shower, a plate of beans and taters with a slice of onion and cornbread washed down with a glass of sweet tea. The bed feels pretty good after a day in the field and you close your eyes knowing that tomorrow is more of the same. Farming has been the James brothers life and they are not ready to stop now. As long as Mattie, Mandy, Rhoda and Ada can pull the plow they’ll be riding. Neal and his mules sometimes find a little time to enjoy life. “I like to ride or go on the wagon train with Randy Teague, Dank James and Carl Chlupacek.” Randy owns Randy’s Horse Camp on Warwoman Road. Word is, they let mules in too. Another one that rides with Neal is his granddaughter Lyla. She is the apple of his eye and she looks pretty comfortable with the mules. Thanks to Neal and Dale for allowing me to come watch them plow and for talking with me.

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“Flying Butter,” © 2021 by Anna DeStefano, Affirmation Photography™

Gardens with Wings I’ve heard it once said that butterflies are gardens with wings. This May, a treasure trove of the little beauties are fluttering about my awakening world, heralding new beginnings. Vibrant splashes of color against blue sky, they lift and dash and then circle back to waiting blooms. They make the most of each moment. Their exuberance can’t be contained. If gardens symbolize rebirth, butterflies are totems of liberation. Mesmerized by their delicate dance, I sense the heaviness lift from my heart. Tension fades from my body. My thoughts elevate beyond everyday challenges. I rediscover the importance of free will and the meaning of this fleeting path I walk. We are all messengers, I believe. Life is our chance to make a positive impact on those who share our moment in the sun. As we embrace this new spring, let’s remain as awakened and beguiling as butterflies—glorious yet fragile, mesmerizing in our unbridled determination soar. Let’s become stolen moments of magic, oblivious to the relentlessness of time. Because, ultimately, it doesn’t matter who has the most or does the most or receives the most attention for their efforts. Our greatest gifts to this world are how we inspire, what grows from our nurturing, and the gardens we leave in our wake for others to cherish. Butterflies are unbounded opportunity, and so are we. This is our season to emerge brighter, our paths more meaningful than ever. What will our new beginning be? Anna DeStefano is a best-selling novelist and an award-winning fine art photographer who lives in Clarkesville, Georgia. Her visual stories of healing and hope evolved from her passion to uplift and encourage. Her Affirmation Photography™ is placed regularly in private collections and healing spaces, including Emory Healthcare locations throughout Atlanta. Explore Anna’s Heart Open blog and images of reflection and peace at View her new spring installation at Timpson Creek Gallery in Clayton, GA.

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Profile for The Laurel of Northeast Georgia

Georgia Mountain Laurel May 21  

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