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DECEMBER/JANUARY 2012/2013 • VOL. 12 • NO. 6


For more information on Pardee’s Orthopedic Services, call 1-866-790-WELL (9355) or visit


Smoky Mountain L I V I N G

Celebrating THE

Southern Appalachians



Blacksmithing Life MOUNTAIN LAWMEN &


Fabric & Stitches

7 Years in a Row (2007-2013)


Ranked Among the Top 10% in the Nation for Joint Replacement



C H O O S E A T R E E | S W E E T P O TAT O P I E | S T O C K C A R R A C I N G

Elizabethton, Tenn.’s Historic Doe River Bridge John Batchelor’s Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants & Recipes from Western N.C.

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in North Carolina

108 ACRES IN JACKSON COUNTY $395,000 108.341 acre riverfront tract on the Tuckasegee River at Cullowhee. Varied topography property with over 800' of riverfront and long range views of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Located minutes from Western Carolina University, Jackson County Recreation Center, Cullowhee Valley School and the town of Sylva. This tract can be subdivided.

4.28 ACRE LOT ON CEDAR CLIFF LAKE $149,000 4.28 acre lake front parcel on Cedar Cliff Lake with dock. Easy access lot, level fom road (HWY 281) to ideal building site on large lot. 780' drilled well at 60 gpm. 5 bedroom septic permit.

CABIN IN HAYESVILLE $135,000 1.5 story with full basement, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, living room, family room, eat-in-kitchen, fireplace, utility room, open balcony, covered decks, new flooring, fresh paint, new heating/air unit, new hot water heater. This one will go fast!

RESIDENTAL LOT IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY $12,750 1.77 acre residential lot in the established and quiet community of Red Oak Plantation. Paved roads with street lights. Spectacular mountain views! End of road privacy. Community of nice homes.

Adam Born 706-400-9971

Maura McCarthy Cindy Stone 828-577-9924 706-400-9973

View additional properties at

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we lco m e :


r. r

In the seven years that my husband and I have been together, he has left me home alone only twice. I am typically the one who travels—most often for work—allowing him free reign to engage in home improvement projects, eat microwavable eggplant parmesan dinners, and drink beer while ironing his button-up shirts in front of a TV tuned in to “Top Gear” or “King of the Hill” reruns. He’s a complex kind of man. The first time he left me home alone, one of our cats died. It was July, and Athena apparently ingested a lily, which is poisonous to cats. Trips to the emergency vet and our regular vet had proved to no avail, and I, living in a townhouse with neither a yard nor a shovel, was forced to store Athena’s body in a Sarah E. Kucharski cardboard box on top of the air conditioning vent until my father could drive over the mountain and take her home to bury. A year later, we moved into a 1930 bungalow that afforded us more room and a yard for the hound we had adopted since Athena’s passing. The house was in good shape, owned by only three other families before us, the most recent of which had lived there for forty years. Granted, the house had its quirks. There was no shower, only a cast iron tub—a situation we told ourselves we would remedy within the first three months of living there, and a situation that proved to last more than two years. The yard bore not a stick of landscaping, which I set out to resolve with complete disregard for the summer’s sweltering heat and bone-dry drought conditions. We did not dig holes; we chipped away at baked red clay. The house’s windows were the original single pane glass in wooden frames that neither kept out the heat of that summer, nor insulated us from the cooling temperatures as the season turned to fall. It was an early weekend in October when my husband left again, this time for a weekend of work training in Knoxville, Tenn. The cold snap was unexpected, and bundled up, I watched the mercury fall in the antique thermometer passed down from my husband’s grandfather. The problem was that in that first year of marriage, I had grown somewhat complacent in my attention to household infrastructure and equipment. Home alone in my 1930 house, I did not know how to turn on the heat. A child of central heating and cooling, I recognized only modern thermostats. The round dial on the wall of the dining room perplexed me. More over there were things in the basement of which I knew nothing at all—a large blue box thing called a boiler and some affiliated black box with a red button that my husband had once explained to me, but at the


ken with


time I had failed to pay attention. Stubborn in my refusal to admit my plight, I did the only thing I knew to do. I set the oven to self-clean. For four hours, the smell of burning leftovers filled the house, but by gosh, I wasn’t cold, and once the oven finished its searing cycle, I went to bed. When the weather failed to improve on the second day, I knew I couldn’t—or shouldn’t—pull my self-cleaning oven trick again. The house was cold and the radiators in each room mocked me with their untapped usefulness. I knew I had to do the unspeakable. I knew I had to ask for instructions. I went to shuffle through the stack of files that the previous owners had bequeathed to us upon our purchase of the house, a stack of files that included receipts for window blinds and strange calculations to equate the depth of oil in the tank with the quantity that existed. Surely, given the wealth of information contained therein, there would be a name, a phone number, a person other than my husband who I could call to ask how to turn on the heat. My efforts were rewarded with yellow carbon copy of a receipt from the boiler’s last servicing. Although it was a Saturday, I called the number listed. To my utter delight, someone answered, and that someone was another woman.

The house was cold and the

radiators in each room mocked me with their untapped usefulness. I knew I had to do the unspeakable. I knew I had to ask for instructions. “Hi!” I gushed, immediately launching into an explanation of my situation—husband gone, old house, etcetera, etcetera. The woman on the other end of the line laughed. “Do you see a thermostat?” she asked. “Yeah,” I replied. “Turn it,” she said. And as the clear plastic circle with its tiny red hashmark rotated, a low rumble came from the boiler below. Sheepish, I thanked the woman for her help. As the boiler did its boiler thing, the radiators clanked and popped to life, and a soft warmth emanated. It took no time at all for the entire house to become toasty enough to match the blush of my cheeks. This issue of Smoky Mountain Living is dedicated to heat. We hope you enjoy reading it in the warmth of your own home. — Sarah E. Kucharski, managing editor

Connect with us at! Fans have access to special promotions and giveaways including subscriptions, tickets and more.


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About our writers VOL. 12 • NUMBER 6 Publisher/Editor . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Mc Le od General Manager . . . . . . . . . G re gBoothroyd Advertising Sales Manager . . Hylah Smalley Managing Editor . . . . . . . Sa ra h EKucharski . Art Director . . . . . . . . . . . Travis Bumgardner Graphics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mi ca h Mc Clu re Finance & Admin. . . . . . . Amanda Singletary Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . G re gBoothroyd, Whitney Burton, Scott Collier, Drew Cook Distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Scott Collier Editorial Assistant . . . . . . G el nda Kucharski Contributing Writers . . . . . . . . . . Paul Clark, Colby Dunn, Rod Gragg, Joe Hooten, Scott McLeod, Jack Neely, Anna Oakes, Angela Raimondo Rosebrough, Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, Dawn Gilchrist-Young Contributing Photographers . . . . . . . . . . . . . Paul Bonesteel, Travis Bradey, Jimmie Daniels, Victor Ellison, Jon Estes, Jennifer Garbrecht, Mark Haskett, Micah McClure, Allyson Praytor, Ken Shook, Sherry Shook, Suzanne Wise Contributing Illustrator . . Mandy Newham Smoky Mountain Living is published bi-monthly by SM Living LLC. Smoky Mountain Living has made every effort to insure listings and information are accurate and assumes no liability for errors or omissions. For advertising information, contact Hylah Smalley at 828.452.2251 or For editorial inquiries, contact Sarah Kucharski at Smoky Mountain Living assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Queries should be sent to Sarah E. Kucharski at ©2012/2013. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reprinted without the express, written consent of the publisher. Smoky Mountain Living is published bi-monthly (Dec/Jan, Feb/Mar, Apr/May, Jun/Jul, Aug/Sep, Oct/Nov) by SM Living, LLC, 34 Church Street, Waynesville, NC 28786. Application to Mail at Periodical Postage Prices is pending at Waynesville NC and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: please send address changes to Smoky Mountain Living, PO Box 629, Waynesville, NC 28786.

Rod Gragg, a native of Asheville, is the author of 16 books on American history, including Covered with Glory: The 26th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, which earned the James I. Robertson Award as the best of book of the year on the Civil War. A self-professed fan of Smoky Mountain Living, he cheerfully contributed this article to our winter “heat” issue.

Scott McLeod is editor and

publisher of Smoky Mountain Living and its sister publication, The Smoky Mountain News. Originally from Fayetteville, N.C., McLeod has made his home in Western North Carolina for more than 20 years. He enjoys exploring the region with his family including camping, hiking, and skiing.

Hooten writes about his all-time favorite hobby—music—for The Smoky Mountain News and Smoky Mountain Living. A second-rate guitarist, he can be found most evenings pickin’ some tunes on the back porch while enjoying the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

Colby Dunn is a freelance writer splitting her time between Western North Carolina and the wilds of Europe. Her most recent overseas home was in Amsterdam. She is a native of Asheville, N.C., and a graduate of the University of Georgia-Athens.

Paul Clark

is a resident of Weaverville, N.C., and has worked as a journalist for more than three decades. He is currently studying photography and videography.

Anna Oakes is a reporter for the

Dawn Gilchrist-Young

Watauga Democrat in Boone, N.C. Raised at the base of the Blue Ridge Escarpment in Caldwell County, Oakes is proud to be a mountain girl and a graduate of Appalachian State University. She tolerates the harsh and downright offensive mountain winters in exchange for the heavenly summers of the High Country, where you’ll find her on the river, dancing to an old-time string band, or attempting a vegetable garden.

teaches high school English in Swain County, N.C., and was the recipient of the 2012 High School Teachers Writing Award from the Norman Mailer Center for her short story, “The Tender Branch.” Another story, “Lullaby,” appears in this edition of Smoky Mountain Living. The Mailer award included as part of its prize a residency this past summer at the Norman Mailer writer’s retreat in Massachusetts, which is where “The Lullaby” was written.

Joe Hooten was born in Macon, Ga., but spent his formative years surfing the beaches near his home in Mt. Pleasant, S.C. He eventually found his way to Western North Carolina. Hooten taught public middle and high school history in Hendersonville, Cary and then Raleigh for ten years before moving back to Asheville with his wife and three young kids in 2008.


Angela Raimondo Rosebrough is

associate editor of High Country Magazine and a freelance writer. She loves hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway and has fun experimenting with cooking, entertaining friends and traveling whenever she can. She lives with her son in Asheville, N.C.


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THE HEARTH & THE HOME Until the mid-20th century the gathering point in most Southern homes was the parlor, and the center of attention in the parlor was usually a fireplace. Historian Rod Gragg explores the role of the fireplace over time. BY ROD GRAGG







From fabrics to design, quilts tell a story of their makers and transcend utility to become art.

With the heat of the forge, iron bends its will to the blacksmith’s hammer. BY ANGELA RAIMONDO

Recounting the tales of great lawmen of the past and mountain bootlegging.

How weathermen know when the forecast calls for snow and what happens when the white falls fast.













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Cutting through the cold.


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Rayna Gellert keeps folk in the family.


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Preserving and documenting the history of stock car racing.


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N.C.’s choose-and-cut tree industry.


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John Batchelor’s Chefs of the Mountains.

ARTS ON THE COVER Doc William Cudd Jr., master blacksmith living in Barnardsville, N.C., inspects a work in progress. “People don’t realize it but blacksmithing is what allowed America to become what it is,” Cudd says. JENNIFER GARBRECHT PHOTO


Moroccan Spice Chickpea Soup and Sweet Potato Pie.


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Short fiction by Dawn Gilchrist-Young



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Weathering the cold in a domestic wilderness.



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Tell a tale with the International Storytelling Center.




Holiday Shopping Directory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Waynesville, N.C. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Eastern Tennessee . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59 Select Lodging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Calendar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

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As the season grows cold and the landscape white, we search to warm ourselves—rubbing hands and stomping feet, laughter shared and good things to eat. Smoky Mountain Living’s readers turned their lenses onto winter’s world in this edition.

Allyson Praytor

Sherry Shook

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Ken Shook

Travis Bradey

How winter emphasizes the movements

of wildlife! The snow and the cold are the white paper upon which the print is revealed. A track of a mouse, a bird, a squirrel, or a fox shows us at a glance how the warm pulse of life defines the embargo of winter. From cracks and rents in the frigid zone which creep down upon us at this season there issue tiny jets of warm life which play about here and there as if in the heyday of summer. The woods snap and explode with the frost, the ground is choked with snow, no sign of food is there for bird or beast ... — Nature Near Home, John Burroughs

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Nothing splendid was ever created in

cold blood. Heat is required to forge anything. Every great accomplishment is the story of a flaming heart. — Arnold H. Glasgow

Sherry Shook

The next edition of Smoky Mountain Living will focus on the theme “Adorn.” What decorations do you see—on people and on things—that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary? Send your images to by Dec. 17, 2012. For more information, visit

Victor Ellison

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Chimney Rock State Park

Sherry Shook

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d e p a r t m e n t :


Scott McLeod enjoys a 2007 winter storm with his children (from left) Megan, Hannah and Liam. FAMILY PHOTO

Cutting through the cold BY SCOTT MCLEOD


e were standing along the wall-side aisles of the supply store, staring at the racks of hand tools—shovels, posthole diggers, pick axes, mauls. My 14-year-old son picked up an axe, hefted it in a small semi-circle that only slightly imitated a genuine wood-splitting stroke, and pronounced it acceptable: “This one will work.” Back at our hillside home, we immediately headed to the woodpile behind the house, where the yard (green weeds with a little grass mixed in for good measure) meets the rising, forested mountain. Over the years, the woodpile has grown to include a place for


stacked wood, a pile for downed limbs and branches, another pile for tree sections not yet cut to log size, a few logs ready to split, and a fire pit. It is now a 20-by-15-foot semi-circle. Needless to say, we had plenty to work with. A few trees near the house had crawled over our roof and had been raining limbs and leaves during every weather event. I had those unruly branches cut this past spring. Several other trees— mainly locust—had fallen naturally during a horrific windstorm about a year ago. My 16-year-old daughter, my son and one of his friends, and I had already moved the sawed lengths of tree to the


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appropriate pile, a job that had left us with bloody wrists, sore backs, and tired legs. That pile will take me and my son all winter and spring to get split and stacked. For years I’ve purchased firewood, and every time I handed over the money my own guilt poisoned the transaction. My thoughts would go to our small piece of land on the mountain, the downed wood all around, and wonder when I would make the time and effort to cut my own. Oh, I’d done it in fits and starts, taking pride in occasionally turning a felled tree into wood to burn in the fireplace. But then I would pass a pickup truck of seasoned, stacked wood with a “for sale” sign taped to the bed, an old guy just as seasoned as the wood sitting in the cab or on the tailgate in his coveralls. I’d stop and make the deal. Now, though, with my son changing from boy to man before my eyes, the many hours of hard work it takes to turn trees into firewood has taken on a new value. Liam wants to get stronger, I want to spend as much time as possible with him, and the family can always make use of a regular source of heat. Heat. At 3,500 feet, we are at that elevation in the Smokies where we get “the weather.” Those few extra degrees of coolness make our mountain a heavenly haven and let us do without air conditioning in the summer, but we pay for it when the days get short. We often wake up to snow or ice that is non-existent once we make it down the mountain and into town for school and work. Or, a downtown dusting could mean several inches at our place. There’s joy in those storms, the sledding and playing, the unearthly silence of walking through the woods during a snowfall. There’s also the treachery in maneuvering down the mountain in the Subaru—numb, cold fingers fumbling with tire chains, second-guessing myself as to whether that tortuous process is necessary, the slippery close calls going up and down the road. There is also dealing with the very real possibility that we will lose heat. We went a decade or more at this house without losing power to snowstorms. Slowly, though, as the forest around us has grown taller and with more understory dying off and wreaking havoc on power lines, we’ve become susceptible to occasional outages. Just last winter, we were down to the fireplace as

our only source of heat on a couple of occasions. Two years ago it was a five-day span without power after a rare two-footer blanketed the Smokies. A few years back the furnace belched its last dying breath a day before relatives arrived for a holiday visit. Truth be known, I love the mountains but detest the cold. Most of my youth was spent in warmer climes, and my body is attuned to it. My wife and two children who still live at home could as well have come from some Artic tundra tribe. All winter they leave windows open in the bedrooms and run fans and are perfectly fine burrowing beneath a pile of blankets and comforters every night, just their faces exposed to the elements to keep them

home of our friends, the Enterlines. They live at close to 4,000 feet. Police had declared the county a disaster area and told people they would be arrested for going out on the roads, but we needed supplies. Tom and I had to crosscountry ski out with empty backpacks to rendezvous with friends who had gotten as close to the house as they could with the two essentials we had run out of —diapers and beer. Our infant children—and the parents— were saved, as it was three or four more days before we could get a vehicle out. Needless to say, living on a mountainside in the Smokies has taught me several lessons in survival. Always having a source of heat is chief among them, so Liam and I have been

Now, though,

Liam bringing in a pile of wood after superstorm Sandy dumped snow in the Smokies in October 2012. FAMILY PHOTO

from suffocating. I literally have been snowed on while sleeping in my own bed. Close calls with the cold seem to happen often to me, and they are frozen in my memory. Lori and I were sailing with her father one winter along the coast of North Carolina when a line got caught in the prop and left us without power. We had to dive beneath the boat, taking turns in the frigid water trying to get the line untangled. We didn’t have wetsuits or a mask, but we somehow got the prop back in working order without catching hypothermia. Brrrr. During the great Blizzard of 1993, we were stuck under four feet of snow on a mountain in Boone, N.C., at the


with my son changing from boy to man before my eyes, the many hours of hard work it takes to turn trees into firewood has taken on a new value. Liam wants to get stronger, I want to spend as much time as possible with him, and the family can always make use of a regular source of heat. working on that woodpile since we got home with his new axe. We’ve had four or five good sessions, probably six hours of back-andforth banter, friendly joking, wood-cutting challenges, and the stack of firewood is slowly growing to a respectable size. It should provide all the warmth we need should an emergency occur. He will split as many logs as possible, perhaps wearing out the new axe and possibly a couple of others before he graduates from high school. My job is to make sure that pile of ready-to-split logs is never-ending, promising hours and hours of time together. I’m already feeling warmer.


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d e p a r t m e n t :


Keeping the folk in the family BY JOE HOOTEN



hen we were young and full of wonder, for many of us our first encounters with music started when we were only but a few hours old. As a child, there must be a genetic trait that kicks in, allowing us to enjoy the world and all its marvels through music. It’s no wonder the recollections we have come from such innocent and often loving sources. From a softly spoken countdown before jumping into a mother’s arms—“One, two, threeee!”—to the attention-getting cadence of a goodnight rhyme, or the calming melody of a bedtime hymn, these unforgettable moments of our childhood are the pleasant memories we can always return to for comfort, solace and even inspiration. Rayna Gellert, Asheville, N.C.’s, accomplished singer\songwriter and acclaimed fiddler, was raised in a warm and loving home that embraced traditional music as an obsession since she can remember. Inspired from an early age, Gellert stayed true to her family’s heritage and picked up the fiddle at age 10 and embraced what would seem like her musical destiny. Playing her great-grandfather’s fiddle, Rayna has collaborated with many incredible musicians, toured the world, and graced some of the most prestigious stages. Now, she has finally released her solo



debut: Old Light: Songs From My Childhood & Other Gone Worlds to the delight of many Americana and folk enthusiasts. The ten tracks that make up this stirring album are a mix of original compositions and fresh takes on time-honored tunes that blend together into a solid album that is both soothing and stimulating. The deep tones of her radiant voice are reminiscent of a young Tracy Chapman or Gillian Welch, and her fiddle playing is equally astonishing as she clearly adheres to the old-timey, Appalachian style that fits in perfectly among the Smoky Mountains she calls home. Although her impressive songwriting skills are one of her attributes, a few guests (Abigail Washburn, Scott Miller, and Andrew Heller of Toubab Krewe) drop in on the album to add some musical flare. This thoughtful collection of folk songs becomes a remarkable solo debut for a musician who has been an in-demand collaborator for many years. With the world experiences she’s had in her life, now is the time for Rayna Gellert to offer her own contribution to the revered pantheon of American folk music.


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Q&A with Rayna Gellert SML: Tell me about your earliest musical memory. Rayna Gellert: It’s hard to say which is earliest, so I’ll just guess: I have a memory of shag carpet and the sound of my parents singing “God Gave Noah the Rainbow Sign.” I didn't understand the song, but I liked all the images.


Growing up in Indiana must have been very different from the experiences you’ve had traveling the world. There’s more to Indiana than John Cougar Mellencamp, right? Ummmmm... Not much more! Sorry, that’s not nice. Of course, plenty more to Indiana. But yes, a mighty different experience from traveling the world. I grew up in northern Indiana, in a manufacturing town. When I was a kid, the factories were thriving, but it makes for a pretty lonesome landscape—lots of flatness and greyness everywhere. I have a kind of pride about where I come from because of the bleakness of the place. Like, “My hometown is lonesomer than your hometown!” It certainly gives me a deep appreciation for where I’ve landed in North Carolina, which I think is about as lovely a spot as one can find. At ten you picked up the fiddle; did you gravitate towards that instrument by instinct or did you consider another instrument? It wasn’t instinct, it was definitely a choice. My dad, Dan Gellert, is a fiddler, and his grandfather was a fiddler, violinist actually. There was a lot of music in my home and there were plenty of instruments laying around. I knew I’d play something, but wasn’t sure what. My brothers had started trumpet and drums, and I considered clarinet for a bit, but I remember thinking that I didn’t know any young people playing the traditional music my parents played, so I very consciously chose to learn violin because I thought I’d want to play old-time music someday. I was worried about it dying out! But I was too intimidated by my dad to start with the traditional stuff, so I played classical music, which is one thing he doesn’t do. Then as soon as I left home I started playing traditional music.

String-band music has its pockets of popularity across America; is there a continuous revival of sorts with this genre of Americana music? Interesting question. I don’t think it has been truly continuous. There was a gap for a while—there aren't that many folks around my age who were playing when I got started with it. There’s a big wave of younger folks playing now, which almost feels like a revival of the revival—at what point does it stop being a revival and just start being a living tradition? Not sure. But it feels pretty alive to me at this point. What was the inspiration behind your latest project, Old Light: Songs From My Childhood & Other Gone Worlds? It began as an album of favorite traditional songs I remember from my early childhood. It morphed into a project about memory and memory loss. I

“I remember thinking that I didn’t know any young people playing the traditional music my parents played, so I very consciously chose to learn violin because I thought I’d want to play old-time music someday.” WWW.SMLIV.COM

realized that my recollections of these songs were being seen through the very faulty filter of my own memory. And I was reading a lot about memory and the brain, and was writing songs about amnesia—in the end I combined the traditional and original material, because it felt like different angles on the same question. I hope listeners will get it. The song “Nothing” is remarkably touching; can you explain the story behind it? I was reading a lot about memory. That song came out of feeling struck by how fragile we are, and how we hold on so tightly to these ideas of self that are simply wrong. We’re all just tiny blips, and what we trust about ourselves and our minds is so untrustworthy. Seems dark, but it's also joyful—we’re all in the same boat. There are some gifted musicians that perform with you on the record; did the recording process allow them to take liberties with their own styles? Oh, you have no idea! This album was so collaborative. Everyone on it brought ideas that changed my perception of my own music. My main collaborator was guitarist Nathan Salsburg, and he not only brought his incredible playing to the album, but also helped me think about arranging in a way I never had. I’m an old-time musician at heart, so my idea of arrangement is to figure out a start and an end. Nathan has a much more versatile and deep sense about how to treat a song. The drummer, Jamie Dick, was also amazing to work with. Drums were an unknown for me, and Jamie had to translate my ideas into parts, and he brought great ideas of his own. Now I feel like the songs don’t sound like themselves without drums. I know you don't have space for me to rave about everyone, because a lot of people contributed to the recording, but trust me: they’re all magical and generous people. The folk traditions that Western North Carolina embraces are very unique and sacred to this area; what makes our region so extraordinary? It’s a place that embraces its placeness. That’s more and more unusual these days. But how could you not want to embrace it? It’s glorious!


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NASCAR, fast car, not gonna be last car


he Appalachian State University Library Stock Car Racing Collection is preserving racing history for future generations by building a comprehensive repository of stock car racing materials. Fans, scholars and journalists from across the country utilize the collection, which contains 1,600 books, 300 videos and DVDs, 160 serial titles, as well as photographs, race programs, press kits, and a clippings file covering more than 1,500 topics. It is considered the primary public source for archived materials related to the sport. Interest is widespread, with the staff receiving inquiries from France, Australia and the BBC. After receiving key donations—including boxes of Richard Petty’s media coverage and fan correspondence as his wife, Lynda, cleaned out their North Carolina home—Appalachian opened a stock car racing collection in 2000. “We live so close to the founders of what’s become a major national sport, that it’s natural for us to be at the center of documenting its history and culture and what it has meant to this region,” said Appalachian’s Dean of Libraries Mary Reichel. Stock car racing got its start in Southern Appalachia, with moonshiners transporting illegal goods at insane speeds along mountains roads. It evolved into weekend races to see who drove the fastest car. Competition became formally organized in 1947 with the

Top: a photo of Bill Hemby, donated by Les Hemby, the son of the Georgia-based race driver. Exhibit curator Suzanne Wise has amassed a large collection of photos of stock cars from the 1950s to the 1980s (right). SUZANNE WISE PHOTO

founding of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The collection includes thousands of images from the 1960s to 1980s taken by NASCAR

photographer T. Taylor Warren; Hank Schoolfield’s live audio broadcasts from his Universal Racing Network in the late 1960s to early 1980s; and exhibit curator Suzanne Wise’s own research on 1940s and 1950s driver Louise Smith, the first woman to be inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. Brought in by NASCAR’s Bill France to draw more spectators at his races, Smith won 38 competitions during a 10-year period and was known for her frequent and spectacular crashes.


Learn more about the collection by following the blog “Trading Paint” at, visit at the Belk Library on the ASU campus, or call 828.262.2798.

Historic bridge spans three centuries The Doe River Bridge in Elizabethton, Tenn., which spans the Doe River, was built in 1882 and is the oldest such bridge in the state still in use. As the county seat, Elizabethton grew throughout the 1800s. However, Lynn Mountain hemmed it in to the east and the Watuaga River lay to the north. The Doe River flooded often and limited growth to the south.



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To span westward, to the site of the current downtown, the city would need a bridge over the Doe River. After extensive debate, in 1882 the County Court approved $3,000 for the bridge and $300 for approaches. The court appointed a committee to select a site for the bridge. However, the committee encountered a problem— the men could not find a qualified contractor to erect the bridge. After county officials were unable to find a bridge contractor, a local doctor, E.E. Hunter, accepted the contract and hired experienced people to work on the bridge. Hunter selected Thomas Matson, who had been an engineer for the Narrow Gauge (Tweetsie) Railroad as an engineer and architect. Hunter referred to the bridge as his “$5 bridge” since he made a profit of $5 as contractor. Although logs from a lumber operation and a barn were thrown against the bridge and its supports during a disastrous flood in 1901, the bridge survived and was the only major bridge in the area not to close.

In 1882, the County

Court approved $3,000 for the bridge and $300 for approaches. Structurally, the bridge contains one span, a covered wooden Howe Truss that is 137 feet long. The total length is 154.3 feet. The bridge contains one traffic lane and a single walkway. The curb-to-curb width is 16.4 feet and the out-to-out width is 20.4 feet. The substructure is masonry stone and concrete. Each end of the bridge features a projecting truncated gabled roofline. The Elizabethton Historic District contains a variety of properties ranging in age from the late 1700s through the 1930s, including the Carter Mansion (oldest frame house in the state of Tennessee) and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area (site of Fort Watauga, area of the first permanent settlement outside the original 13 colonies). However, the Elizabethton Covered Bridge is a focal point and a well-known landmark in the state. In addition to this bridge, the district also contains a significant 1926 concrete arch bridge over the Doe River.

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HIT THE TRAILS AT JOHN C. CAMPBELL Brasstown Creek and its branch, Little Brasstown Creek, provide a beautiful accompaniment as you explore the natural splendor of native plants and trees and over 120 bird species. Trails range from the .13-mile Herb Garden walk to the .4-mile Northside Trail. The Rivercane Walk is a quarter-mile long, creekside loop trail featuring installations from area artists honoring the strong Cherokee heritage of the Appalachian area. Be sure to see Eagle Dancer, Uktena Serpent, Clan Cane Pole, Rivercane Rendezvous, Corn Maiden, Seven Clans Poles, and Medicine Wheel & Fire Circle.

DECORATE YOUR FLOATS FOR A WET HOLIDAY PARADE River Sports Outfitters will host a holiday paddle launching from the Outdoor Knoxville Adventure Center in downtown on Nov. 23. Paddlers are invited to decorate their canoes and kayaks for the season and take to Volunteer Landing waterfront from 6 to 8 p.m. to compete for prizes for the best decorated boat. The event is free; however, rental boats are available for $15. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served afterwards. Spectators are welcome at this family-friendly event. For more information, visit or call 865.696.2300.


Over the river, through the woods Winter is a beautiful time to visit the mountains, but watch out for the weather. In the Great Smokies National Park, weather-related road and facility closures may change throughout the day. For updated road and weather information, call 865.436.1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast. Road status updates also are available on Twitter by following @SmokiesRoadsNPS. Updates are available for Newfound Gap Road (US-441), Little River Road, Laurel Creek Road, and Cades Cove Loop Road. Short-term or weather related closures on the Parkway are updated at the park information line at 828.298.0398. Also note that visitor’s centers and other staffed facilities generally close on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Treacherous conditions such as these usually result in a closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway, though the unoccupied roadway provides scenic hiking for the adventurous. MICAH MCCLURE PHOTO


Feet, don’t fail me now

The Complete Naturalist in Asheville, N.C.’s historic Biltmore Village recently celebrated the end of its 20th year in business. Laura and Hal Mahan have been doing business in the same spot since July 26, 1992. During a November inshop celebration, a portion of sales from the day were donated to Discover Life in America (DLIA), a non-profit organization whose mission is to discover and understand America's species through science and education for conservation. 2013 will bring a year-long celebration of DLIA’s 15th anniversary. The organization will hold its annual biodiversity conference in March in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Named in honor of the football matchup known as “The Battle for the Old Mountain Jug,” the Run for Research takes a 175-mile course that begins at the Appalachain State University football stadium in Boone, N.C., and ends at Western Carolina University’s E.J. Whitmire Stadium in Cullowhee, N.C. The course is run as a continuous relay, with runners completing five legs in fivemile increments. Runners traverse up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway’s massive elevation changes for 152 miles before exiting off the scenic road at Balsam and completing the final 15 miles to WCU. SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

The relay is organized to raise funds for the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Research and Education Foundation, which awards research grants and academic scholarships in the field of sports medicine. WCU’s athletic training program has captured the NATA’s Student Challenge Award each of the past four years. The award is given annually to the athletic training program that raises the most money to support the research and scholarship efforts of the foundation. Donations are still being accepted and may be made in the form of checks, made payable to the NATA-REF, and sent to Jill Manners, WCU Health and Human Sciences Building, Office 362, 4121 Little Savannah Road, Cullowhee, N.C. 28723. All donations are tax-deductible.

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The holiday tradition of choose-and-cut

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rom Thanksgiving until Christmas, cars scuttle about the twisty roads of the North Carolina mountains with giant Fraser firs lashed to their roof tops like industrious ants bringing the holidays home. In the High Country, where Fraser firs grow best, it’s more common to see vehicles bedecked with a tree than not. A short ride home oft is marked by bushy, bouncing limbs of green, while out-of-state plates carry their evergreen prizes bundled snug in nylon netting. To choose and cut one’s very own tree is a mountain tradition. It’s an adventure that breeds a close connection with the land, as clambering up and down the steep slopes best suited for tree growing is no easy task. What may seem from afar to be rows and rows of identical green pyramids becomes a lineup of unique characters auditioning for the starring role in the holiday home, each with its own distribution of sturdy branches and fragrant needles, nooks and crannies for special ornaments, heights and widths to tuck into a corner or fill a room. Across the field comes a call and response, “Hey, hey! What about this one?” “I like this one over here!” Depending on the farm visited, visitors may keep warm with hot chocolate or cider, huddle around a campfire, and choose a handmade wreath to accompany their tree. Once a decision has been made, the cut is made, releasing the sap only seen on these freshest of trees. The trunk of the tree always feels cold until the tree, large seeming outside in the field, grows more full with the warmth of the home, its branches fluffing out to welcome strands upon strands of lights. The smell, the “awe factor,” the beauty of a real tree make what some would describe as a hassle all worthwhile. As of 2009, the North Carolina Christmas tree industry was ranked second in the nation in number of trees harvested, and the state produces more than 19 percent of all the real trees grown in the U.S. The North Carolina Fraser fir Christmas tree is the most popular

Every acre of

Christmas trees planted gives off enough oxygen to meet the needs of 18 people.

ASHE COUNTY CHRISTMAS TREE TO AGAIN GRACE WHITE HOUSE The White House’s Christmas tree will once again come from North Carolina this year, thanks to Ashe County growers Russell and Beau Estes, owners of Peak Farms in Jefferson. This is the second year that Russell Estes has sent a Fraser Fir to Washington. In 2008, he and then business partner Jessie Davis, owner of River Ridge Tree Farms in Ashe County, presented a 20foot tree to first lady Laura Bush. The honor comes as the result of having been awarded The National Christmas Tree Association’s title of grand champion. Paul Smith, owner of Cool Springs Nursery in Banner Elk, was selected as the reserve champion with a Fraser fir. Reserve champion


Christmas tree in North America and is shipped into every state in the U.S. as well as points all over the world. What tree growers fear are the country’s changing demographics—a growing elderly population that may choose artificial trees for their ease, an increasing number of young singles that don’t put up a tree, and socioeconomic stratification. That is, real trees becoming associated with middle- to upper-class families and artificial trees adopted as an affordable option for the working class. Working-class families with children often find themselves struggling to put presents under the tree. Many simply can’t afford what has become the luxury of a real, live tree, according to forestry agents. Consumers often cite financial savings as a reason for purchasing artificial trees. Artificial trees, depending on height, fullness and whether they are pre-lit, run a couple hundred dollars. While that may seem like a lot, purchasers argue that it’s an investment. However, the N.C. Christmas Tree Association bills real trees as renewable resources. The farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide a refuge for wildlife. Often, Christmas trees are grown on soil that will not support any other crops. When one Christmas tree is cut down, others are replanted, and the used tree may be recycled or allowed to naturally biodegrade while providing refuge for wildlife. To locate a choose and cut tree farm in North Carolina, visit or call 800.562.8789.

winners traditionally provide a tree to the vice president's home. North Carolina is known for its Fraser firs, named for John Fraser, a Scottish botanist who explored the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the late 1700s. It is a pyramid-shaped tree that reaches a maximum height of 80 feet and a trunk diameter of 1-1/2 feet. The Fraser fir grows naturally only in the southern Appalachians, above 3,000 feet. The cool temperatures and lots of rainfall allow the Fraser fir to keep its needles throughout the Christmas season. More than 50 million Fraser firs are grown in North Carolina on 25,000 acres for use as Christmas trees, and the Fraser fir represents more than 96 percent of all the trees grown in North Carolina as Christmas trees.



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Chefs, restaurants take center stage BY REBECCA TOLLEY-STOKES


ome of Jessee Roque’s earlier cooking experiences include making soufflés in a kitchen so hot she wore a bikini. The chef of Never Blue (Hendersonville) and Blue Gypsy (Saluda) is one of forty chefs and restaurants profiled in a new guide to Western North Carolina by John E. Batchelor sure to compel readers and eaters out of their hot kitchens for a chance at new experiences and a return to old favorites. Batchelor, who has reviewed North Carolina restaurants for the News and Record (Greensboro) and Winston-Salem Journal, relied on several sources, including the Western North Carolina Chef’s Challenge, the Fire on the Rock Chef’s Challenge, Best Dish North Carolina competition, and the Foodtopian Society for his book. While Batchelor’s guide is by no means comprehensive—not every chef and restaurant contacted responded to his invitation for an interview—it provides an overview of the variety of culinary options available. The work brings into focus the region’s farm-totable emphasis, in which North Carolinians are seeing “a generational phenomenon of family members moving off the farm, often going to college and starting careers, but eventually returning to the land and readopting a lifestyle and approach to farming closely mirroring those from a hundred or more years ago.” Each entry follows a standard style. Readers learn about each chef’s origins, education, and work history in food service; a morsel or two regarding the kitchen atmosphere, such as the kind of grunt work one needed to work one’s way up the hierarchy; or how to balance Chefs of the Mountains: fun with perfection, if that’s possiRestaurants and Recipes ble. Often readers learn about from Western North Carolina kitchen catastrophes, like when by John. E. Batchelor. WinstonSpruce Pine’s Knife and Fork Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 2012. “found fuses blown on our only refrigerator, and $3,000 to $4,000 worth of food ruined. We not only had to throw it away, we had to figure out how to completely restock and prepare for our busiest night, in about three hours.” Next, readers learn about each restaurant, how it was established, how it approaches prep, cooking, service, and customer satisfaction, and how it supports the local economy and local farmers. And last, each chef shares one or more recipes from his or her menu.



n Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, Christopher Benfey traces the origins of American art and Southern pottery via recollections of family history, interweaving travelogue with memoir that brings him to the Smoky Mountains in search of “the fine white clay in Cherokee country,” reminiscent of a pot his parents bought at the Cherokee Artists’ Collective in 1949 while honeymooning. Clay, stoneware pottery, Japanese (and Chinese) pottery, and Black Mountain College appear in Benfey’s narrative as he traces their intersection across centuries, the piedmont, and the mountains. Benfey’s mother, Rachel Elizabeth Thomas, was the daughter and granddaughter of brickmakers and bricklayers. Benfey’s childhood home in Indiana was filled with Jugtown pottery and other pieces from North Carolina potters. On a family trip to Japan in 1970, Benfey had the opportunity to live and work with a potter and his family, the Takedas, in Tachikui. Benfey alternates this narrative with time he spent in Pittsboro, N.C., with Mark Hewitt, a potter whose “monumental Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay: Reflections on Art, Family, & Survival by Christopher Benfey. N.Y.: The Penguin Press, 2012. pots—glazed in the rich oranges and juicy alkaline browns of traditional Southern folk pottery and studded with bits of partially melted blue glad—were of truly Ali Baba-esque proportions.” He puts into context the English potter’s practice by comparing it to nineteenth century North Carolina pottery practices “when potters made large-scale whiskey jugs and grave markers.” Benfey’s father’s aunt and uncle, Josef and Anni Albers, fled the Bauhaus in 1933 due to Nazi pressure. Offered refuge outside Asheville at the experimental Black Mountain College, the Albers stayed fifteen years, “bringing the Bauhaus to Black Mountain” by attracting John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauchenberg, Buckminster Fuller, Willem de Kooning, Cy Twombly, and Jacob Lawrence to create, teach, and study in the Great Smoky Mountains surrounding them. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park itself inspired Albers and his students. Through collage and color Albers’ work reflected the geographic change, as did Anni Albers, whose jewelry making included parts fashioned from ordinary found objects like bobby pins, paper clips, and faucet washers.


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The Southern Highland Craft Guild is an authorized concessioner of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

work shown: Jim McPhail



Explore Our Rich Heritage!

Memories Visit our Wineries

December 1-8 1 1-2 1 1 1


are made!

Historical Landmarks, State Parks & Local Artists

Festival of Trees, Unicoi State Park. 1-800-573-9659 Deck the Halls, Unicoi State Park. 1-800-573-9659 5th Annual Christkindlmarkt, Downtown Helen. 706-878-1908 Annual Christmas Parade, Downtown Helen, 2 p.m. 706-878-2181 Bi-Annual Holiday Tour of Homes, 10AM-4 p.m., White County Chamber of Commerce. 706-865-5356 Annual Christmas in the Mountains Festival, 3-8 p.m., Downtown Cleveland. Annual Christmas in the Mountains Lighted Parade, 7 p.m., Downtown Cleveland. 706-865-5356 Nacoochee Village Christmas, Nacoochee Village. 706-878-2181

January 19 26

Hogpen Hill Climb, Unicoi State Park. Contact: Habitat for Humanity, 706-754-5313 x 201 Winter Wino Carnival, Sautee Nacoochee Vineyards. 706-878-1056

February Fasching, 7 p.m., Helendorf River Inn & Conference Center Front Room. 706-878-1908 9 Valentine’s Celebration, Babyland General Hospital. 706-865-2171 22-23 Helenblitz Mini Cooper Car Show, Helendorf Inn. 706-878-2271 2

March Adopt Hand-Stitched Originals

Bavarian Shops

3-16 2013 Youth Art Competition and Pottery Studio Exhibit, Helen Arts & Heritage Center. 706-878-3933 16 St. Patrick’s Celebration, Babyland General Hospital. 706-865-2171 30 24th Annual Trout Tournament, 706-878-1908. 23 Magical Easter Eggstravaganza, Babyland General Hospital & White County Chamber of Commerce. 706-865-2171 or 706-865-5356 30 Easter Fun, Unicoi State Park. 1-800-573-9659 All events subject to change. Call the White County Chamber for new or changed information. 71107

From waterfalls to beautiful mountains, our natural surroundings are breathtaking! 22



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Handcrafted cheer for the holidays

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Members of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild will hold their annual Holiday Sale from from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 8 at the Folk Art Center near Asheville, N.C. The sale is an excellent opportunity for the artist to liquidate overstocks and 2012 items, try out new techniques, and sell studio seconds. For the customer, the sale means deals for holiday shopping and a chance to connect with the craftsperson. It also provides an exciting, festive alternative to mall and big box import shopping. Choose from a variety of gift items including ceramics, jewelry, fiber, paper, glass and wood. More than 70 artists will participate over the course of the two days with a different group of artists each day. The Southern Highland Craft Guild, chartered in 1930, is today one of the strongest craft organizations in the country. The Guild now represents close to 1,000 craftspeople in 293 counties of 9 southeastern states. The Folk Art Center is located at Milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For more information call 828.298.7928 or visit

Works by Southern Highlands Craft Guild members Magruder Glass (left) and Walt Cottingham, plus the works of many other artists, will be available for purchase during the Guild’s annual Holiday Sale. DONATED PHOTOS


BRINGING LIVE THEATER TO MOUNTAIN YOUTH Appalachian Young People’s Theater brings live theater to school audiences in Western North Carolina and occasionally beyond, and targets children from kindergarten to fifth grade. Productions by this outreach program of Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance are seen by up to 6,500 young people each spring, largely in rural areas and by children who possibly would not be exposed to live theater otherwise. “It gives children an opportunity to see stories that help make meaning out of their lives,” said Professor Teresa Lee, who has been the director of AYPT for the past 25 years. “Theater brings people together in a space to witness something live. It is a shared experience.” The company consists of dedicated undergraduate students from the Department of Theatre and Dance at Appalachian. They are in charge of the entire production, including building the

sets, rehearsing, loading the trailer and van for shows and managing the tour. Spring 2013 brings “Luna” by Ramon Esquivel. Soledad, the daughter of migrant farm workers, is constantly changing homes and schools, so she turns inward and finds comfort in books, the stars and the company of the friendly moon, Luna. The play will stage at the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre and travel to classrooms in April and May. For more information about the program, call 828.262.6376.

GET THE STORYTELLING STARTED WITH BOOK TEMPLATES The International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tenn., is dedicated to inspiring and empowering people around the world to capture and tell their stories, listen to the stories of others, and use storytelling to produce positive change. By partnering with Cherish Bound, a company dedicated to creating products and services that help people find, capture, and share their stories, the ISC offers book templates in which one may upload photos and text to create a one-of-a-kind book. Through the ISC’s website, story starters are available to help get the ideas flowing about families, memories, and more. Story Starters are full of questions that can help one explore specific themes and guide one in recording life events. Visit for more information or call 800.952.8392.



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HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS TREE AND VINE Asheville, NC: 828.505.4049 22 Lodge Street • Asheville, NC Knoxville, TN: 865.985.0524 439 Union Ave. • Knoxville, TN Extra virgin olive oils • balsamics • artisan foods • gift baskets • stemware • wine accessories • Mediterranean wines • cookware • cutlery

AFFAIRS OF THE HEART 828.452.0526 120 N. Main St. • Waynesville, NC Bring nature’s essence inside! Wax potpourri bowls provide home fragrance without the flame.

2 ON CRESCENT • 828.274.1276 Mon.-Sat. 10-5:30; Sun. 11-4 4 All Souls Crescent • Biltmore Village, NC Clothing with everyday elegance by Eileen Fisher.

EARTHWORKS 828.452.9500 21 N. Main St. Waynesville, NC We see the Earth through our Artists Eyes! Clothes by Jedzebel, Rising Tide and Benjamin. Jewelry by Four Elements Beadwork.

CAKES BY JANE • 888.834.9981 Melissa Kreidler • Asheville, NC Made from scratch Gourmet Southern Pound Cakes. Wonderful holiday gifts for everyone on your list!

CHOCOLATE BEAR • 828.452.6844 170 N. Main St. • Waynesville, NC Not Your Ordinary Confectionary. Peppermint Bark: Bring home a taste of the holidays with our best selling Christmas time chocolate.



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“We wish we would have moved sooner.” It’s the comment we hear most often from new Deerfield residents. They delight in our location and their new-found friends; love the state-of-the-art amenities; feel safe, secure and well cared for by our expert staff – their only complaint is that they didn’t make the decision to move sooner. Since the best time to move may have been years ago, then isn’t the next best time now? Call to schedule a visit and learn how you can thrive at Deerfield – in body, mind and spirit.


1617 Hendersonville Rd. Asheville, NC (828) 274-1531 press 1

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Family bakery finds a home on Main Street City Bakery, a well-known café and bakery with two locations in downtown Asheville and a successful wholesale product line, has become a beloved addition to Waynesville, N.C.’s, Main Street since taking over the space formerly occupied by Whitman’s Bakery. The Howell family ran Whitmans’ for three generations until 2006, when the family chose to sell. Under new ownership, Whitman’s quickly declined in popularity and lost its standing as a Main Street institution, and owners were forced to close the doors for good in late 2011. Taking over the location was a chance for a family busiy 18 North Main St. Waynesville, N.C. ness to pick up where a family 828.452.3881. business left off. Pat Dennehy, y 60 Biltmore Ave. the owner of City Bakery, got Asheville, N.C. into the bakery business upon 828.252.4426 buying his wife’s brother’s y 88 Charlotte St. bakery. At the time, Dennehy Asheville, N.C. 828.254.4289 was still general manager at the burgeoning Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee, so his wife, Ruth, ran the bakery. “She always wanted to have a business,” Dennehy said. “We also wanted a business our children could be involved in.” Each of the Dennehy’s five children has been involved with the bakery at one time or another, and now Megan Smith, the Dennehy’s daugher, and her husband, Jeff Smith, are managers of the Waynesville branch. Both live in Waynesville not too far from downtown. Before opening this spring, City Bakery renovated the bakery—keeping the familiar feel of the dining area but updating the overall décor. Thanks to friendly staff, decadent cheddar biscuits, breads, cupcakes, and donuts, and a bustling lunch hour, City Bakery has restored the location to its historic position as a cornerstone of the community.




The Asheville Public is a welcome addition to the culinary scene in Asheville’s trendy River Arts District. Husband-and-wife team Mark and Jenny Henegan opened their first restaurant in Brooklyn in 1999. Madiba paid homage to Nelson Mandela and through its eclectic cuisine, authentic music, arts & crafts and catering business celebrates Mark’s native South Africa. Madiba grew, and Gourmet magazine named it one of the ten best restaurants in America. They opened a second location in South Beach Miami, which the couple successfully sold as their first franchise in 2007. The couple relocated to Asheville and opened The Asheville Public in December 2011. The cozy restaurant is an informal gathering place with an eclectic vibe and menu that is both approachable and adventurous. At dinner, look for the in-house smoked pork belly served with a jalapeno relish and cornbread, or taste a twist on an old standard with the Bobotie Cape Malay Curried Meatload served with a custard egg topping and saffron rice. Brunch brings steak and eggs, lox and bagels, and a benedict featuring smoked Carolina trout and wilted spinach on fresh biscuits. There’s always a crème brulee of the day for dessert—this fall offered pumpkin brulee served in a pie pumpkin with whipped cream, cranberries, and almonds—along with a root beer float and flourless chocolate cake among others. Lunch offers South African herbed beef sausage in Henegan’s version of bangers and mash, a Red Angus burger, quiche, soup and salads, while drinks like the Silver Dollar with Camarena Silver tequila, St. Germain elderflower, apple cider, and lemon or the Thistle with vodka, strawberry puree, and rosemary are an enticing reason to visit in and of their own. Find The Asheville Public at 175 Clingman Avenue in Asheville, visit, or call 828.505.1720.




From Africa to Asheville

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Laurie Green Bakke

gourmet-to-go style that quickly caught on and established Laurie Bakke and Café Laurie as a unique addition to the culinary world. She sold the business in 2007 and almost by chance began her path of cookbook author. Behind the Scenes from Café Laurie was intended to be a gift to her daughter, Megan, as she was heading off to college. Working with scrapbook artist Brenda Fuqua, it became a oneof-a-kind, handcrafted edition. Now a commercial cookbook, the collection of Bakke’s recipes is available for purchase at


attended culinary school in the 1990s at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. Initially a way to hone her love of cooking and appreciation for it as an art form, she had no idea that it would be the start of a career that spanned her time as an Executive Sous-Chef at Highland Lake Inn, restaurateur, restaurant and food consultant, cooking class instructor, and ultimately, writer. She made her mark in Hendersonville, N.C., when she opened Café Laurie in 2002. For six years, her restaurant embodied a fresh, fast

Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Soup by Laurie Green Bakke INGREDIENTS: ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil – plus more for garnish 1 large onion – medium diced 1 cup celery – medium diced ½ teaspoon granulated garlic 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1 pinch saffron (optional) 1 (14.5-ounce) can fired-roasted chopped tomatoes 3 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas – drained and rinsed well 1 quart chicken broth – reduced sodium

2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 teaspoon sugar Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper ½ cup cilantro – finely chopped – plus some for garnish 1 (5 ounce) package pre-washed baby spinach – rough chopped 3 tablespoons goat cheese – crumbled for garnish 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese – grated for garnish Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring about 10 minutes until softened and beginning to color. Add spices and sauté for two minutes or so. Add saffron, tomatoes, chickpeas, broth, tomato paste, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well. Chickpeas should be just covered with liquid. Add additional broth or water to make sure the chickpeas are just covered. Bring to a simmer and then lower heat to low and gently simmer for 45 minutes. Use a blender stick to pulse the soup 3 or 4 times to lightly blend the some of the chickpeas, making sure to leave the soup semi-chunky. Stir in the cilantro and spinach and let heat through until wilted for just a couple of minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste accordingly. To serve, ladle soup in bowls and garnish with olive oil, goat and parmesan cheese and cilantro. Serves 6.


d e p a r t m e n t :


Sweet Potato Pie with Ginger and Orange INGREDIENTS: 1 9-inch piecrust, unbaked 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1 teaspoon fine grated fresh ginger 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated orange zest ¼ teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk 1 ½ cups mashed cooked sweet potato 2 large eggs 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the crust. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, ginger, orange zest, and salt until combined and no lumps remain. Add the buttermilk, sweet potato, eggs, and melted butter. Use an electric mixer to blend all the ingredients until the mixture is Buttermilk: A Savor smooth. the South Cookbook Pour the by Debbie Moose. mixture into the piecrust. University of North Bake for 50-55 Carolina Press, 2012. minutes, or until the edges have puffed up slightly and the center does not feel liquid when tapped lightly with a finger. Author’s note: “You can either boil or roast the sweet potatoes. I like to roast them because I think it adds a richer flavor.” Recipe Copyright © 2012 by Debbie Moose. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press.






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Paul Gauguin, an argument in which Gauguin claimed he had been threatened by Van Gogh’s razor. Jill, who had herself been reared in a contentious family that lived, fought, and killed for their opinions, wondered what opinions had prompted the artists’ argument. She also wondered why Van Gogh had then used the razor to remove his own left ear lobe, offering it to a prostitute who lived in a brothel nearby. And while Jill knew that sane people did not want gifts such as the one the prostitute had received from her artistic acquaintance, she had always been bothered more by the woman’s reputed apathy towards poor Van Gogh than by his dubious and desperate gesture. Although she had developed a number of eccentricities as a result of her genetic line as well as her profession, Jill had not gone beyond the pale. She knew that it was not at all wholesome to keep a severed appendage, and though she had been, as a child, both fascinated and horrified by the ear that was given to her (or, as she had described her feelings in her Bible journal that same day, “fascified/horrinated”), she now wished she had kept the sad pink ragged shell that had once been the top of her Uncle Dempsey’s right ear. As she sat there on the bench looking at the tiny representation of the Van Gogh painting, Jill had no trouble calling from memory the image of that ear that she had once held in the cradle of her palm. She thought now, at this moment, that as small and unassuming as it was, she could still have it in her possession, instead of having buried it in an empty crayon box in the corner of Great Aunt Mary Edna’s jonquil bed. However, although Jill no longer had the ear herself, she did have the Bible in which she had sacrilegiously recorded her thinking about that and other matters that held importance in the years she was a child in the bosom of the loving and violent Laughlin clan. Just a few weeks before this trip, Jill had celebrated her upcoming retirement by booking this trip to London, (Edinburgh, Scotland, of course, would be the finale of her unextravagant two weeks abroad), and,


Jill Laughlin, a recently retired American English teacher, knew she was not objective about severed ears. Indeed, her emotions regarding ears given as gifts were heavily influenced by her own experience as a child with such an item. Hence, as she had thumbed through the Courtauld Gallery’s catalogue of works and come upon Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” she could help neither her pity for Van Gogh nor her disproportional anger towards the prosititute who, no doubt, was in a prone position somewhere outside the painting. While looking for all the world like what she was, a tidy, aging, entirely predictable woman on vacation, Jill contained within her vivid experiences and congenital passions that no one would guess. Wrapped sensibly in a long wool coat and wearing a bright knit cap that covered and warmed her own ears, she sat on a cold wrought iron bench beside a still wintry flower bed on London’s Museum Mile contemplating the mysteries of suffering and art. Her destination, the Courtauld Gallery, inside Somerset House, was not yet open. She had arrived thirty minutes early because she heeded the advice of her hotel’s receptionist, and, after walking around the outside of Somerset House for fifteen minutes hoping a kind human might see her and let her in, she had given up and left the frozen courtyard to seek the morning sun while she waited. Not one to waste time, she had sat herself down, removed a glove from one hand only, and thumbed with chilled fingers through their catalogue of works available for public viewing. When she came to the Impressionists’ section, her eye was caught and held, as had been many eyes before hers, by the famous self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh with his bandaged ear. She knew the various stories behind the mangled ear that was hidden beneath bandages in the portrait, including the one that historians agreed was accurate, that the self-mutilation followed an argument with


rather than use her retirement funds to pay for it, she had cleverly spent a number of weekends the previous year paying homage to her Scots frugality by going through her attic and basement and having numerous profitable yard sales. It was while going through the last mysterious storage boxes that she had rediscovered her Bible journal. When she pulled the Bible from beneath scrapbooks and albums, none of which she would have considered selling, she had been quite pleased to know its whereabouts, having thought it lost for years. With a mix of self-consciousness and delight, she had re-read a number of the marginal entries she had written throughout the King James Bible that had been a ninth birthday gift from her deeply religious mother. She could not entirely remember why she had chosen to use it as a journal, but she did know she’d had a clear sense of resentment that her mother, often too tired from her second shift as an aid at a nursing home to attend, always sent her daughter to church anyway, unless Jill was staying over at Mary Edna’s. Jill was sent with neighbors who thought both she and her extended family were odd and in need of salvation. In the Sunday school class she attended, she had brought to bear on all that she was told the reason for her neighbors’ concern: her great aunt’s and uncles’ fixed agnosticism. She recalled that the day she was instructed that the Bible in its entirety was “God’s infallible word” she had gone home and looked up “infallible.” When she put the definition together with the Laughlin skepticism and what she knew about storytelling from the reunions of her ornery family, she understood the extent of the hoax that was being perpetrated on all the children and adults who attended Lackey Hill Missionary Baptist. Regarding Great Uncle Dempsey’s ear, she had recorded her thoughts in the margin of the very apropos John 18:10, which read, “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.” Her own tiny but perfectly legible writing read, somewhat querulously, “Malchus is a dumb name, and he must have been really dumb because he doesn’t even get mentioned again,” and then, less so, “Dempsey was passed out on the back porch this morning at Mary Edna’s, and Uncle Clyde had bitten his ear off, mostly. Demp


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had it in his shirt pocket to get it sewn back on. The ear did not make it to the doctor. I have it.” Jill the ten year old had loved to ignore the dividing line between the two columns on the page of holy text, and instead read the words straight across, from left to right, entirely because they made no sense that way. She did this again, five decades later, laughing to herself, little changed in irreligiousness from the girl who had done so all those years ago. Directly beneath the nonsensical words “without. Then went out that / therefore unto him, Art not thou,” there was more of her childish penmanship: “I buried Uncle Dempsey’s fascifying/horrinating ear in front of five fat daffy-down-dillies. Clyde and Demp keened. It was very pleasant.” On that Saturday morning of the ear burial more than five decades before, Jill had awakened with a sense of anticipation, and lying in her great aunt’s bed the anticipation was even happier than usual. It was only Saturday, and she still had the whole churchless weekend ahead of her before having to return to her mother’s exhausted company. But she herself was distracted from her joy by a heaviness in the regions below. That weighty feeling told her to what extent she needed to pee out all the Bryson City Bottling Plant’s Grape Nehi’s (bought at a discount) she had drank the night before, but she knew she would have to hold it since she had a reputation to maintain. She had not peed the bed here nor at home for over a year, not since she was nine. So she squeezed the muscles down there as tightly as she could and thought about the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, that she had seen in town weeks before with her great uncles. They had argued afterwards, as they did about anything historical or political, whether they were stone cold sober or dog drunk. This time, sober and largely responsible, they debated about whether or not Lawrence was a sado/masochist, (another interesting word which she noted and had to look up later), and then about the merits or lack thereof regarding British colonialism in the Middle East. The difference in their disputes was only that violence didn’t creep in unless they were drunk. But that did not concern her now; her overly full bladder did. So she pictured the Sahara. Then she pictured Peter O’Toole’s dry face and blue, blue eyes as he sat astride his horse. Then she thought about last summer and pictured the cracked mud of the dry lake bed in August where she and her cousins picked up bottles and cleaned out the odiferous sediment for the nickel refunds they received at the bottling plant. Jill then pictured her dry underpants that she wore beneath her also dry pajamas. “Dry Dry,” she repeated in her head. It didn’t help. The pressure on her bladder was getting worse, not better. 30

She also thought about waking Mary Edna. She would eventually have to do so because the bureau, which they had pushed against the bedroom door the night before, as they always did, was too heavy for her to move. She did not know how long she would have to wait until Mary Edna awoke on her own before she could even begin the long trek downstairs to the bathroom. The house was old. There was no upstairs bathroom. So Jill shifted her legs and squeezed tighter. She knew her aunt would not mind being wakened, and might even want to be since they were going to put out onion sets this morning, but the situation had become one of Jill’s games, compulsive games, a therapist later told her. If Mary Edna awoke before she counted to one thousand, Jill told herself, today would be a good day. She willed Mary Edna awake. Her clairvoyant game was only partly inaccurate in its predictions. Awake. “A wake” was a phrase Jill thought pretty that she had learned yesterday from a book she was reading that was set in Ireland. Apparently a wake was when living people stayed with the dead body of the dearly beloved until time for it to be buried. And they wailed, at least in the book. She asked Mary Edna about the wailing. It was, her aunt said, because they were Irish, and that’s what the Irish did. She herself, like her aunt, was pure Scots, straight from Campbelltown, not Ulster. She was NOT Scots-Irish. Her great aunt and great uncles influenced Jill’s aspirations in a number of ways throughout her life, but the one she could and had thus far accomplished fully at the age of sixty-five was to have grown old like them, independent and unmarried. What was impossible for her to accomplish through following their example was that they were first generation Americans, and that she could never be so was one of Jill’s lifelong regrets. However, she rationalized that she was only a second generation American, only twice removed from Scotland, because she dismissed her mother’s heritage as uninteresting and did not include her father at all in the chronology of her lineage. This argument was not convincing to anyone but herself, but, as a Laughlin, that was all that mattered. Scots people, Mary Edna implied with her offhand comment about the Irish and the nature of their mourning, were much tougher than that. Scots people, the behavior of her great aunt and uncles implied, did not wail. They saved up their emotions like they did their dollars and spent them, if they spent them at all, only on whiskey or books. Scots people, her great aunt and uncles modeled, did not whine. Scots people, even if they lost a sister (her father’s mother) to lung cancer, and bottom land to the SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

damming of a river (the Little Tennessee), they did not cry. Scots people, even if they came home from a world war with the lasting gift of malaria (Great Uncle Demp, who’d served in the South Pacific), and a permanent limp, (Great Uncle Clyde, from Monte Cassino), might indulge liberally in drink, but they would not utter a whimper. They might even have had a gun held to their heads (Great Aunt Mary Edna, once, when Clyde was out-of-his-headmean drunk), but they did not sob, at least not in sight of another human. Scots people, even when they had to give their unbeloved niece by marriage a hand (Jill’s mother) with her daughter (Jill) because of their nephew’s (Jill’s father’s ) incarceration, they did not keen (another fine word she had picked up from her book). The Scots, Jill learned, did not grieve publicly over their dead or their terror or their injuries or their inconveniences or even their imprisoned relatives. No one, including Jill’s distracted and hard working mother, spoke of her imprisoned father much on normal days. So what Jill had learned about him had been on not normal days, through careful work as an eavesdropper, at times such as family reunions and cemetery decorations. It seemed that what family gathered for was to tell and retell their versions of everyone’s lives, particularly those not present to dispute the creative aspect of the stories as they were offered. Only a few of the relatives who came flocking in for gatherings from far off provinces such as Gastonia and Lincolnton liked to get drunk, and Jill was never allowed near them as they went off to wherever Great Uncles Clyde and Dempsey took them. The other relatives at family gatherings, the ones who didn’t drink whiskey, did drink coffee, and they made gallons and gallons of it and stayed up all night telling stories and playing gin rummy. It was through pretending to be asleep on a sofa or in a chair nearby that Jill had learned the pieces that explained to her why she had no father. Her father had been missing from her picture as long as she could remember, and what she came to know about him was that he was in prison for voluntary manslaughter, and that the relatives thought it both a tragedy and pure bad luck that the man whose skull her father had fractured in a bar fight had had the great incivility to have died. “Man slaughter.” The first time she had heard this about her father, she had been about to turn seven, and she had gone and looked it up, first just “slaughter,” and then the two words together, in the Thorndike-Barnhart Revised Dictionary of the English Language that sat on the crowded end table where her aunt kept her

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ashtray, her unfiltered Camels, her loaded Colt revolver, (not always, but often, during the daytime—at night it was tucked neatly under her pillow), her books of crossword puzzles, and whatever book she was currently reading. Thorndike-Barnhart (Jill thought of the two names as a married couple with a godlike knowledge of words—Thorndike was prickly and male; Barnhart was animal-loving and female, as their names seemed to dictate), the ill suited pair, told her that “slaughter” meant “the killing of livestock, particularly associated with the butchering that follows,” and “manslaughter” was defined as “the killing of another human being in self-defense or without forethought or premeditation.” In Jill’s mind, even after she was an adult and her father, though released from prison, remained entirely absent from her life and that of her extended family, she continued to subconsciously think of the act that took him from her life (and from the Laughlin clan) as one in which he had absentmindedly killed a man and then quartered him up for later consumption. The romance novel she had been reading the night before, as she drank Grape Nehi and her aunt drank coffee, had been chosen entirely because of its lurid cover. The ones with that sort of cover were all on her aunt’s high shelves, the ones out of reach of the other children, the relative’s lesser children, (when they came to visit), but not out of her reach. She had been allowed, ever since she had learned to read, to stand on a kitchen chair and take what she wanted. She read anything with words she could decipher, which, as a result of her precocity and the books that were always lying about, included everything from autobiographies (Patton) and histories (The Battle of the Bulge) to shockingly racist soft porn (Mandingo) and classics (Jude the Obscure). Therefore her head was filled with a disparate set of facts and fiction about sex and death, love and war, men and women, and this early knowledge, accurate or not, contributed to her lifelong and constant cheerfulness about the planet on which she lived. The only rule, and it was unspoken, was that she could read what she liked as long as she didn’t tell her mother what she was reading. Her mother, had she been aware more and tired less, would not have approved of Jill’s reading romance novels, particularly with busty women clasped in the arms of brawny men on the cover, even if they were interestingly situated on the edge of a green Irish cliff, waves crashing against the rocks below, and the ocean so wild that sea spray was shooting high in an unnatural looking arc that left tiny, suspect droplets on the woman’s bare arms and almost bare breasts. It

was a rousing image, though perhaps not one meant for ten-year-old readers. But Jill could not think about the Irish sea just then because it was so very wet, like the inside of her bladder, and although Jill’s game continued to progress in numbers achieved, that same bladder also continued to progress in fatness. Jill had almost counted to 700 when rescue mercifully appeared as the rough sound of her aunt’s horny-toenailed feet scraping against the smooth fabric of the sheets. To move beneath the pile of quilts and blankets that lay atop them required a conscious effort. Her aunt, then, was finally conscious. A hand with arthritic knuckles and liver spots came from beneath the bedding and reached over to pat Jill’s arm.

The Scots, Jill

learned, did not grieve publicly over their dead or their terror or their injuries or their inconveniences or even their imprisoned relatives. “Corn flakes and coffee, or instant grits and coffee?” “Cornflakes if you have brown sugar. But I’m about to bust to pee, Auntie.” In less than a minute, her aunt’s usual lack of alacrity replaced by Jill’s urgency, they had slid back the bureau and she had flown dangerously down the wide wooden staircase, her hand barely grazing the banister and her bare feet only just touching the steps. Once safely on the toilet with her pajamas and stilldry underpants proudly pooled around her ankles, she relaxed and began to notice the world outside her bladder, particularly outside WWW.SMLIV.COM

the open curtains of the small window that looked onto the porch and then the lawn beyond. And what she saw was something large lying half on and half off the top step. After only a second, she saw that it was not a something, but a someone. A man. And except for a dark stain that covered up much of the head that rested on an arm, the mix of reddish blonde and grey hair looked exactly like that of her Uncle Dempsey. And that’s who it was. It did not take long for Jill and Mary Edna to discover that Great Uncle Dempsey was alive, that he was still very much inebriated, and that almost all of his right ear had been removed, hence, the dark blood that had pooled, caked, and dried all over his head. By combining their ten-year-old and seventy-year-old strength and perseverance, they got Great Uncle Dempsey mostly standing and fully on to the porch. He tried to speak. He managed to slur something that seemed to be directed at Jill. “I got shomethin” for ya’ .” And he pulled his arm out of Mary Edna’s clasp, fumbled at the top of his shirt until he found his shirt pocket, also smeared with his now-dried blood, and reached inside. He pulled out something the color of the chunky erasers Jill kept in her zippered pencil bag for school. Which she was often tempted to bite. Except that they were not speckled with Dempsey’s blood. “Here it is. It’sh my ear.” And he took Jill’s free hand (the other was still trying to prop him up under his armpit) and carefully placed his present in her open palm while Mary Edna said, “Lord God, Dempsey, she don’t want that. Lord God, what IS wrong with you?” What was wrong with him, as was later made clear to Jill as she listened in on the phone upstairs while Mary Edna was hateful with Clyde on the phone downstairs, was that the previous night the two of them had celebrated Friday evening by buying a pint of white liquor from a bootlegger. They had sensibly taken their liquor to Clyde’s apartment to drink, (which was, as her adulthood progressed somewhat, the reason behind Jill’s refusal to live in anything but large houses for the rest of her life—she had a deeply held belief that people who lived in apartments in small towns were either alcoholics or pugilistic veterans). At the apartment, they had begun to argue about who was the greater of the German generals, Erwin Rommel or Heinrich von Vietinghoff. Clyde felt strongly that since he had been in Operation COBRA, and had also been wounded at Monte Cassino, whereas Dempsey had merely been fooling around in Tarawa, that only he himself had the direct 31

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experience to substantiate his thesis. (He chose Vietinghoff, and Jill sometimes wondered what he would now make of Rommel’s reputation). And so, as the argument wore on, the two resorted to a physical settling of the dispute, and the final settlement came when, wrestling on the apartment floor, Clyde sank his impressively sound (though infrequently cleaned) teeth into what was available, Dempsey’s ear, and removed a large portion of it. This act shocked him by his own savagery into a measure of sobriety, and he spat out the ear, sat up, wiped his mouth with his shirt sleeve, wiped the ear on his pants leg, and then gave the ear to Dempsey, who was drunker than Clyde. According to Clyde’s recollection, he immediately told Demp he was sorry for what he had done and that Demp should go get it sewn back on while it was still warm. But Demp’s drunken sense of direction had sent him to his sister’s house rather than to the emergency room, and the ear he wanted to save was beyond redemption by the time they found him around 6:30 a.m. Seated uncomfortably on her bench, on the still chilly Strand, Jill looked at her watch and saw that she still had a few moments left before the doors opened and she could go inside the museum, see their collection, and, she hoped, warm herself, although warmth, she was discovering, was never a guarantee in Britain. She glanced around the grounds and noticed that next to her bench were what looked like jonquil leaves emerging from a small patch of snow. They were in a spot that might receive sun later in the day, but at the moment the crusty snow looked like it had frozen around the new leaves. Jill set the catalogue next to her bag on the bench and knelt in front of the hardy shoots, her sixtyfive-year-old knees cushioned against the icy sidewalk by her thick coat. Gently, with fingers almost as gnarled as Mary Edna’s had been, she plucked and brushed away the frozen crusts that might hamper spring from appearing in this particular spot. When she was satisfied, she arose, stiffly, as befit her age, and admired the wet greenness against the dark wood chip mulch that some gardener, she liked to think, had lovingly provided as protection. Given the right encouragement, she thought, one could produce beauty from frost or desert, insanity or pain. Her own garden, at home, was encouraged, orderly and loved, just as had been Great Aunt Mary Edna’s. And her own early flowers included jonquils whose bulbs were second, third, and even fourth generation descendants of those that Mary Edna had planted and under which Jill had planted Demp’s ear. Although the morning all those years earlier had not unerringly fulfilled the promise of Jill’s counting game, because Great Uncle Dempsey 32

And so, as the

argument wore on, the two resorted to a physical settling of the dispute, and the final settlement came when, wrestling on the apartment floor, Clyde sank his impressively sound teeth into what was available, Dempsey’s ear. was alive, and because she had the horrinating/fascifying ear now wrapped in tissue from Mary Edna’s Kleenex box. it had still promised to be quite a distinctive day. Mary Edna had bathed Demp’s head, poured coffee down him, run him a hot bath and then put him to bed. Only afterwards had she called Great Uncle Clyde, whose reputation directed all suspicion towards him, and he had indeed been the perpetrator. His drunken evilness was so legendary, Jill knew, that it was the reason behind the blocked door at night and the mostly present Colt revolver. Jill’s illicit listening on the upstairs phone confirmed all of this as Mary Edna listed a litany of Clyde’s past and present sins. Nonetheless, he was still Jill’s favorite, if not her great aunt’s. However, he was Mary Edna’s brother, she loved him as much as she hated him, and she was possessed of enough common sense and courage that she stood up to him and told him, any time he was sober and sometimes when he was drunk, exactly what he needed to hear to increase his moral rectitude. What he needed to hear that morning was a series of questions demanding to know his part in Demp’s injury, and then a series of orders that SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

included he get himself cleaned up and over to her house to see just what he had done to their brother. The conversation was mostly one-sided, with Clyde saying just enough for the story to have made itself gruesomely clear. When it was done, Jill and Mary Edna finally had their coffee and cornflakes with brown sugar, but no onion sets were put out that morning. That same day, but not until the crepuscular evening hours, (“crepuscular,” Jill still thought, was an underused and excellent word that sounded as precise as its meaning), Great Uncle Clyde had made his shame-faced appearance. By this time, the gentle Great Uncle Dempsey was sitting, clean and rosy and minus an ear, on the porch glider enjoying yet another fresh cup of coffee and the Asheville Citizen newspaper. When Mary Edna and Jill heard Clyde’s truck approaching up the gravel driveway, they made their way from the kitchen where Mary Edna (who did not cook) was opening up cans of chicken noodle soup, and Jill was peeling canned biscuits off of each other and placing them on a baking sheet. He approached the steps, Jill remembered years later, with his head down, unwilling to look at the remainder of his good brother’s mangled ear. When he did look up, he almost immediately cringed and put his hands over his face. Great Aunt Mary Edna just stood there with her hands on her hips, and Jill sat down on the glider next to Dempsey and looked back and forth between the three. Clyde was the first to speak. “Aw, Demp, you know I’d never have done you such a trick if I’d been sober, and I am terrible sorry.” She had looked at Dempsey. She was sitting on his good side, and she saw his mouth begin to turn up at the corner that was in her view. “It’s awright. It’s awright, Clyde. I can still hear, and I always did think the left side of my face was the handsome one.” Mary Edna butted in with, “The two of you are pathetic drunks, and I don’t know why I tolerate you or why you put up with each other. I can’t stand here and listen to this. I’d rather go back in and watch the soup boil. Jill, you come in with me.” As the screen door closed behind Jill, she heard Clyde ask, “What became of your ear, Demp? I gave it back to you. Do you still have it?” “Naw. I can’t remember what I did with it.” Jill put her head back out the door. “Don’t you remember? You gave it to me this morning. I’ve got it wrapped in a Kleenex in an empty crayon box. Do you want it back?” “A crayon box? No, I don’t have any need for it.” He paused to think. “But since it’s already in a coffin, maybe you should bury it.”

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Jill had liked the idea, and, unusual for her, had ignored Mary Edna’s scowled disapproval. So she had retrieved the crayon box, into which the tissue wrapped upper ear fit cozily, and brought it out to the front steps. Beside them in one small bed, the daffodils, (as an adult she preferred the sophisticated “jonquils,” but as a child she liked “daffodils”), were beaming their sunny faces at all the world. Great Uncle Clyde brought her a small trowel out of the shed, and she gently dug a deeper than necessary grave for Great Uncle Demp’s appendage, and then still more gently laid it to rest before she paused and looked up. “Aren’t you going to finish? If you don’t put the dirt on it, a stray dog’s gonna smell it and run off with my ear,” Demp told her. “I think Great Uncle Clyde should say something in its memory before I cover it over,” Jill offered. “Do you want us to cry, too?” Clyde teased. “Well, this is a wake. We could keen ... just a little.” As the doors of the Courtauld Gallery opened and Jill entered the rarefied air she knew from her reading that artists seldom intend when they depict their visions for others to decipher, she

asked first, as a predictable tourist, though only a second generation American tourist, where the Impressionist works were. And when she finally stood in front of the portrait entitled, cleanly, “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” she was pleased to note the happy Japanese woodblock print hanging behind Van Gogh and the calm and focused expression in the artist‘s eyes. As a compulsive reader, Jill had read a little bit about almost everything, and in her nondiscriminatory list, she had read a collection of Van Gogh’s letters. In one of them, to his brother, Theo, she remembered he had described the Japanese painting style “as simple as breathing.” There were also letters that she remembered between Van Gogh and his friend/enemy Gauguin. In one of his letters to Gauguin, Jill recalled a mention of another painting, one of an older woman in a rocking chair. In the letter, Van Gogh had said, somewhat oddly, she thought then, that he hoped that if a cold and lonely fisherman saw the painting, he would be reminded of and comforted by the memory of childhood lullabies. As Jill remained fixed to the spot staring at the artist’s vulnerable face, her mind went back and forth between her own life and that of the

artist, and she arrived at a place that she believed would have satisfied Van Gogh in terms of his own artistic intent. She went back to that place half a century before where southern light faded to dusk, and where a ten year old girl stood with two alcoholic veterans, sober only for an evening, while her spinster aunt watched over the soup and all of their lives from inside. Jill could remember neither the words Clyde spoke nor the looks on the two men’s faces as she insisted the keening begin. She did remember the three of them had decided that humming was as close to keening as a true Scots should be willing to come, and so they had hummed. And she also recalled that after she had gone to bed, she had again heard Dempsey, who was, since he was injured, spending the night that night in the room next to theirs, humming the same tune once again. Jill could not remember what song they had chosen to lay the ear to rest, but as her aging gaze took in Van Gogh’s lucid gaze and brush strokes of bright greens and pale yellows, she realized that Dempsey’s humming was the last sound she had heard that night when she was ten, and thus, at least for that one night, it had been her lullaby.


CAROLINA Gem Capital of the World

May 10 - 12

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July 4 4th of July Fireworks Macon County Veterans Memorial Recreation Park July 25 - 28

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August 9 & 10

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ew folks have parlors now. Even in the Land of the Sky, the place where families gather today is usually called the den, or maybe the great room, and the room’s central focus is likely to be a television. That’s the norm for most of us today. Until the mid-20th century, however, the gathering point in most Southern homes was called the parlor, and, instead of electronic equipment, the center of attention in the parlor was usually a fireplace. And for good reason: unlike television, a fireplace not only heated the room, it also kindled conversation.




Even in the late 1950s, the fireplace was the only source of heat in the parlor of my grandparents’ mountain farmhouse. Upstairs there was no heat. Then, as now, winter nights could be icy cold in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge country. Layers of quilts on the upstairs beds would eventually overcome the chill, but the inevitable shock of cold sheets was a sensation that deserved to be delayed as long as possible. Knowing that you soon would have to brave that cold upstairs bedroom made sitting around the parlor fire even more appealing. Many houses in the Globe, the Caldwell County farming community that was our ancestral home, were still heated solely by fireplaces in the late fifties. America was plotting a space race to the moon, but most folks in my grandparents’ isolated mountain community were still without telephones, central hear or indoor

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War” were always about the Civil War. My unheated upstairs bedroom. We were plumbing. If my grandparents felt wiry, craggy-faced grandfather had a fascinating mesmerized not only by the parlor fire—but underprivileged by the absence of such repertoire of stores about mountain folks and mainly by the conversation it kindled. With conveniences, they never complained around us the war. Blessed with the Southerner’s pleasant three generations of family often at hand, those grandchildren. drawl, he would verbally unfold his accounts at flames sparked many an old-timer’s tale—what Like many of his generation, my father had a mountaineer’s traditional pace—slow and today is known as oral history. And for me, left the mountains during the Great Depression steady—as he methodically opened a cherry-red those stories lit a lifetime fascination with family to find a paying job. After a stint in the Civilian tin of Prince Albert smoking tobacco and lore, American history and the Civil War. Conservation Corp and military service for the constructed a roll-your-own cigarette. His Why the Civil War? Perhaps because it was duration in World War II, he had pursued captivating cadence was usually interrupted still such a deep wound in the Southern heart. postwar success in a small town far away from only by an appropriate chuckle or an Or because it was still so firmly imbedded in the the mountains and the family farm. Raised in appreciative grunt from other grownups, Southern conscience. Or because the town, my older brother and I eagerly seized although my great-grandfather—in every opportunity to visit our his nineties and sporting a white mountain grandparents on their farm handlebar moustache—sometimes in the Globe. Not only did we exercised family rank with a terse treasure time with “Granny” and comment while leaning forward on “Granddaddy,” who doted on all their his walking stick. grandchildren, but a visit to their Staring trancelike into the flames, I remote mountain community, which heard tales about hard men and hard lay at the headwaters of John’s River, times—tales of bushwhackers and was like time travel backwards to battle scars, of Southern soldiers another century. The nearest place bound to do their duty, of Unionist with streetlights, supermarkets and ancestors hiding from the Home telephones was Blowing Rock, which Guard in the mountain wilds. There was almost an hour’s drive away on an were also whimsical tales about unpaved winding mountain road. scalawags and carpetbaggers, and A visit to that farm in the Globe serious stories that conveyed respect offered priceless adventures that for Unionists and Confederates alike. could never be found in town. In the I don’t remember hearing direct summer we splashed in the creek or mention of the 26th North Carolina fished for trout. In the fall and winter Interior of mountain farmhouse, Appalachian Mountains near Marshall, N.C. Infantry—the famous regiment that we squirrel hunted on the mountain LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PRINTS & PHOTOGRAPHS DIVISION, FSA/OWI COLLECTION, REPRODUCTION NUMBER: LC-USF33-T01-000473-M4 included a company of soldiers from ridges or tracked rabbits in the snow. the Globe—but there were comments There were jars of fruit and canned aplenty about men from that vegetables in the smokehouse, honey community who had served in the fresh from the hives, and warm 26th. As a boy at the turn of the 20th biscuits waiting on a cast-iron woodcentury, my grandfather had known stove. We romped with the squirrel many of them and their families. dogs, rode bareback on the plowHearing such stories left me horse, played on the hay bales in the amazed at the grit of those Tarheel barn loft, and cheerfully gathered soldiers – what they called eggs and firewood. “gumption” in the mountains—and eventually I approaching centennial of the war prompted Those adventures provided an exceptional came to respect all Americans who had to thought and talk. It wasn’t the only fireside opportunity, allowing me to sample the same endure that war. Those stories made me deeply topic. Sometimes the talk dealt with local mountain pastimes my father had enjoyed as a aware of the proximity of “the War”—so close politics. Or baseball. Or coon hunting and trout farm boy in the 1920s, and likewise his father that my grandfather and even my father had fishing. Sometimes it was about the latest and grandfather in the 19th century. Memorable actually seen and touched and talked to men doings in Blowing Rock, Lenoir or Asheville. as those daytime activities were, they paled in who had lived through it. The men and women Sometimes it repeated the news from comparison to what was engraved in my heart whose stories I heard while sitting before the neighboring farm families. And sometime it and mind at nighttime. Only then was I fire were not one-dimensional figures from the offered wise counsel about crops, livestock or exposed to a traditional mountain routine that page of a book or oversimplified characters the weather. produced unforgettable lifetime memories and dreamed up by Hollywood. They were real But often, all that was just a prelude. If I lessons—all acquired around parlor fireplace. people who had lived history. could stay awake and wait long enough, After the supper dishes were cleared, the And what did I learn about my family history eventually, the talk would turn to “the War.” grownups would pull the straightback chairs from those fireside conversations? One of my And it was always about that war: the Civil War, from the table and sit in a semi-circle around the Civil War ancestors had served in the or—as many Southerners then called it—“the parlor fireplace, where an armload of hickory Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded War Between the States.” Talk about World and oak firewood kept a healthy blaze alive. On by the inept and irascible General Braxton War II exploits was apparently deemed too every visit my older brother and I would Bragg. A pre-war family ambrotype photograph fresh, too modern or too immodest; tales of “the routinely prolong the climb to that oh-so-cold

Knowing that you soon

would have to brave that cold upstairs bedroom made sitting around the parlor fire even more appealing.



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Those fireside stories—oral history at its best—left me forever impressed with the notion that comprehending history and writing it factually—whether it’s an era, an event, a war, a battle—requires discovering the details about the real people involved. depicted a hopeful-looking youngster, dapper in his best Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. A wartime carte-de-visite photo taken midway through the war showed a bearded, weary-eyed soldier who had obviously aged much before his time. He had deserted once, I learned, apparently in order to come home and check on his family. But he soon went back to Bragg’s army, and was accepted back in the ranks—just in time to die of pneumonia in winter camp. He wound up buried in a mass grave in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Another Civil War ancestor, I learned, left the mountains to serve in the Army of Northern Virginia, and survived the war. While walking home from the surrender at Appomattox, however, a calamity befell him that was likely worse than death from a Yankee bullet. Somewhere on the road home, in the wilds of the North Carolina mountains, he was—in my grandmother’s words—“kilt by a varmint, ” presumably meaning that he was attacked and killed by a cougar. These two sons of the South belonged to a family that did not hold with slavery, and which risked disfavor in the postwar South by openly embracing the Republican Party. Yet, according to family lore, both men wound up in unmarked graves because they thought it was their duty to defend their folks and their homeland from Northern invasion. Their common experience really wasn’t such an oddity: serious students of the 36

Civil War know that it was a complex conflict in many ways and cannot be truthfully reduced to simple stereotypes. Around that parlor fireplace, I also learned that some of my other mountain ancestors were slave-holders—unusual for mountain people— and yet most of them were Unionists. A few felt their first call was to their state – and one kinsman died on McPherson’s Ridge at Gettysburg in Company F of the 26th North Carolina—but most were Unionists who were more suspicious of the government in Richmond than the one in Washington. They hid out from the Home Guard atop a mountain ridge at the headwaters of John’s River in the Globe. According to family lore, federal cavalry under General George Stoneman plundered the family’s farm in the spring of 1865, despite the fact that they were Unionists. What little money the family possessed was supposedly buried under a collard patch in the garden. When a loyal family slave refused to reveal the hiding spot, he was reportedly taken out to a big rock at the convergence of John’s River and Racket Creek and executed. Shot to death. I grew up trout fishing on that rock when I visited my grandparents. I’ve often thought about that poor slave and those Southern Unionists—all trying to do what they believed was right. Knowing about those mountain folks— slaves, Confederates, Unionists, Southerners all—made me want to understand all sides of SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

that conflict and record Civil War history without a bias. Equally important, I also came to understand that the Civil War—all American history, in fact—was more than just national and Southern history: it was also family history. We Southerners have sometimes been jokingly accused of ancestor worship, and perhaps that’s why: because much of American history— especially Southern history—is really our family history. And family means a lot to Southerners, especially mountain people. Those fireside stories—oral history at its best—left me forever impressed with the notion that comprehending history and writing it factually—whether it’s an era, an event, a war, a battle—requires discovering the details about the real people involved. Those long-ago stories—conversations kindled by the flames of a mountain fireplace—fostered and fueled in me a fascination with American history, especially the Civil War, which thankfully has not ebbed to this day. And that unforgettable fireside talk almost made me realize that as Americans, our national history is family history. The good, the bad, the ugly—it’s all family history. And, to me, most of it is good— because I believe that no nation has historically blessed more people than America. So, I am deeply indebted to those hours beside the fireplace in that long-gone mountain farmhouse parlor. Television has its value. I admit that. But it can never compete with a parlor fireplace.

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Historic, hearty fireplaces uilt of granite boulders hewn from Sunset Mountain, and opened in 1913, The Grove Park Inn was the vision of E.W. Grove, a St. Louis entrepreneur who made millions in the 1890s selling Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic. Visitors to the inn enter into The Great Hall, which measures 120 feet across and features 24-foot ceilings and two gigantic 14-foot stone fireplaces. Each of the fireplace’s 10foot wide openings is spanned with a single massive natural stone. The


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resort’s elevators are hidden in the chimneys of the fireplaces. Today, one of the fireplaces is no longer in use, but the fireplace closest to the bar roars with whole log fires throughout the season. Visitors angle for one of the coveted spots in a rocking chair facing the fire, and entire families pose for pictures standing on the massive hearth. The Grove Park Inn will once again host the National Gingerbread House Competition on Nov. 17, with sugary creations on display through Jan. 2, 2013.

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Appalachian CHRISTMAS — Saturday, December 1 • 7p.m. Nostalgic recollections of past holiday celebrations, HART Theater Tickets, The Shelton House, 828-452-1551

Waynesville CHRISTMAS PARADE — Monday, December 3 • 6 p.m. “Dreaming of a White Christmas”

“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” — Thursday, December 6 • 7 p.m. A special preview evening at HART Theater - Haywood Spay Neuter Fundraiser Tickets, 828-452-1329

ART after DARK — Friday, December 7 • 6-9 p.m. Galleries & Studios remain open until 9 pm • Artist Receptions, Musicians, Santa, Refreshments

A NIGHT before CHRISTMAS — Saturday, December 8 • 6-9 p.m. Galleries & Restaurants Open • Luminaries • Wagon Rides • Santa • Carolers, Musicians & more Stroll through a re-creation of “Bethlehem Marketplace” with a live nativity, First Baptist Church parking lot

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Haywood County, N.C. Winter Family Fun is to be had in the Smokies! This winter bring the kids and have a blast with affordable family fun in Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Canton, Clyde and Lake Junaluska. Cataloochee Ski Area, located in Maggie Valley, has 16 exciting slopes and trails for both skiers and snowboarders to enjoy With the KIDS STAY FREE KIDS SKI FREE program, children 17 & under can STAY FREE and SKI FREE when accompanied by a paying adult. But the fun doesn’t stop on the slopes. Restaurants & merchants in the area will also be offering giveaways and special deals throughout the season, making your Smoky Mountains winter getaway even more affordable. For detailed information on the KIDS STAY FREE, KIDS SKI FREE program visit OTHER EVENTS: • 12.01: Maggie Valley Christmas Parade in Maggie Valley • 12.03: Waynesville Christmas Parade in Downtown Waynesville • 12.06: Christmas Parade in Downtown Canton • 12.7: Art After Dark • 12.07-12.09: Appalachian Christmas featuring The Lake Junaluska Singers at the Stuart Auditorium • 12.08: A Night Before Christmas in Downtown Waynesville. For detailed information connect with us on Facebook at www.Facebook/SmokyMountainsNC or call 800.334.9036

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radiate the warmth of the hands that made them


orty years ago, when Evelyn Coltman’s grandmother died, the question in the family became—what happens to the quilt? Coltman’s mother and her three siblings were having an easy time dividing up the rest of the Rose Powell Rigdon estate. And they didn’t want to squabble over the exquisite quilt that Rigdon’s mother, Martha Sitton Rigdon, pieced together sometime around 1870 in her home in Speedwell in Jackson County, N.C. Martha Sitton Rigdon, the wife of a Confederate soldier who walked home from Appomattox after Gen. Lee surrendered, was about 27 when she sat down to create a “Trip Around the World” quilt, so named for the concentric shapes that form its particular pattern. Rigdon, who had several children, hand-stitched it from small bits of plaids, prints and solids. “Hundreds of one-inch hexagons,” Coltman, her greatgranddaughter, said at her home in Bethel. “It must have taken hundreds of hours. Very tiny stitches.” The quilt was so beautiful that Coltman’s grandmother, having inherited it, kept it wrapped in a pillowcase and stored in a closet, away from the rambunctious grandchildren and out of the light that streamed into her Bethel home. Coltman had heard the family talk about it, often in the J.B. Rigdon General Store that her grandmother and grandfather ran in town. Coltman even saw the quilt a time or two. But over the years it receded to the back of her mind, not reappearing until her grandmother died and the estate was being settled. “When she passed away, it was the only thing my mother and her family couldn’t agree to divide up,” Coltman said. “Everybody just sat there, and John, mother’s oldest brother, came up with idea of donating it,” she said. “Everybody agreed that it was a good option.” Today the Martha Sitton Rigdon quilt is at the Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. It’s “a showstopper,” said Pam Meister, the center’s curator. “Our collections manager did a mathematical calculation and figured out there must be 5,800 patches in it. It would take years to make. All those tiny


stitches, done by hand. This particular art form is a particularly friendly one. You can touch it. It feels really good. “Quilts really are objects that are usually given with love and used with love. People attach sentiments to them.” And each one, it seems, comes with a story.

LAYERED IN HISTORY Quilting goes back at least to ancient Egypt and China. Among its first recorded appearances in European history, during the Crusades, was as a layer of clothing that soldiers wore under their heavy, uncomfortable armor. In 18th century England, women loved the look of quilted petticoats. Men then were enamored of quilted waistcoats. Immigrants brought the homespun technology across the Atlantic when they landed in the New World, but in the hardscrabble times of creating a country, money was tight and quilts were rough. Born of necessity, they were strictly utilitarian, created by women to keep their families warm, made from clothing and other fabric items that had outlived their intended purposes. Used as batten material if too worn out for the top or bottom

This quilt in the Trip Around the World pattern was made by Speedwell, N.C., resident Martha Sitton Rigdon, pictured above with her husband. The wife of a Confederate soldier, Rigdon was about 27 when she created the quilt. IMAGE COURTESY OF EVELYN COLTMAN


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Georgia Bonesteel has pursued an interest in quilting for decades, even hosting the TV show “Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel.” PAUL BONESTEEL PHOTO

layers, these rags got new life (if little aesthetic appreciation) as bedspreads and improvised door coverings that kept out the cold. Patched and repatched, they were used to death— none are known to have survived the earliest days of America. Manufacturing made fabric less expensive. Freed of the chores of spinning yarn, women had more time to put toward embellishing their quilts, and quilting as an art form began. Many of the earliest surviving American quilts were created in the mid 1700s to mid 1800s, many elaborately done and carefully passed from generation to generation. Mechanization during the Industrial Age made much of life easier for many homemakers, freeing up time that many put into creating beautiful quilts they gave to their children as they set off on their own new lives. During World War I, the American government requisitioned wool for soldiers’ blankets and encouraged women to make quilts for their families. Far fewer were made during the Great Depression when money for fabric was short. Though there was a slight uptick in interest during World War II, quilting dropped off considerably in the 1950s and 1960s, when a revved up economy produced goods in 44

“Cotton was plentiful back then, so cotton was used in quilts made out of necessity but also for weddings and special events. Widows made a ‘widow quilt’ out of fabric from the suitings of their men. Quilting became an emotional outlet for women.”

— Georgia Bonesteel, quilt historian

astounding numbers that made home items like blankets affordable for much of America. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the generation whose back-tothe-land interests spurred creation of the “Whole Earth Catalogue” sparked the modern quilt movement, one that emphasizes art as much as utility. The word “quilt” comes from the Latin word meaning “stuffed sack.” A quilt has three layers. The top part is usually the decorative one. The middle one, the batten, gives a quilt its weight and warmth. Both layers are stitched into a bottom one, often a whole piece of cloth that is unadorned except for its print. Quilts are made in many styles. Patchwork, or pieced, quilts like the Martha Sitton Rigdon quilt are literally made of patches—bits of SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

fabric often stitched into blocks of elaborate patterns and designs. Appliqué quilts are made from bits of fabric in shapes like flowers that are stitched onto a background. Art quilts are expressive quilts that are more for looking at than keeping warm. Quilts have been such a significant part of Western North Carolina heritage that the Alliance for American Quilts is based in Asheville, one of the nation’s preeminent centers of American craft. The alliance, a national nonprofit organization, documents, preserves and shares American quilt culture by collecting stories about quilts and their makers, both historic and contemporary. One of its projects, Quilters’ S.O.S.—Save Our Stories, is an oral history project to collect

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Tempe Jane Burrell lived in Zirconia, N.C., with her husband William Alfred Russell from 1927 until William Alfred’s death in 1956. This quilt, along with other family heirlooms, was donated by the couple’s granddaughter, a Western Carolina University graduate, who was inspired by a visit to the Mountain Heritage Center in 1988. COURTESY OF THE MOUNTAIN HERITAGE CENTER

stories from quilt-makers in the United States and elsewhere. Interviews collected are archived at the Library of Congress. The alliance’s Quilt Treasures project documents the lives, work and influence of leaders of the American quilt revival of the 1960s and 1970s. Among the 50,000 images of quilts in the alliance’s Quilt Index ( is the Martha Sitton Rigdon quilt. In Waynesville, the Museum of North Carolina Handicraft at the historic Shelton House has several quilts, including one made in 1855 by Elizabeth Jane Little Goelet Rogers. The great-granddaughter of Col. Edward Buncombe (the Revolutionary War hero for whom Buncombe County is named), Rogers was twelve when she made the quilt at Buncombe Hall, Col. Buncombe’s estate in what is now Washington County in eastern North Carolina. The quilts that women made in WNC typically were not elaborate, especially compared to those made on plantations in Virginia, said Meister, the Mountain Heritage Center curator. “They tended to be fairly utilitarian, made a lot of times from flour sacks and scraps of worn-out clothes,” she said. If a family had some money or something to barter, the quilts might have

been made from store-bought fabric. “Something that was brought home to us when we were hanging quilts for an exhibit this summer, was that even with the most humble quilts from the most homespun, worn-out materials, the quilters took the time to make them beautiful and to put something of themselves in there,” Meister said. The exhibit Meister referred to was the North Carolina Quilt Symposium, a migratory confab of quilts and quilters that WCU hosted over the summer. Expecting a knowledgeable crowd, the curators in making their selections gave extra weight to quilts that came with stories. “There was one quilt, one of my favorites, done in a brick pattern—very rectangular, put together like a brick wall,” Meister said. “This quilt was made of samples of men’s suiting materials, mostly gray, brownish and black wool. You’d think ‘boring.’ But on top of this very plain, monochromatic quilt, the quilter and her friends put brightly colored embroidery, this explosion of flowers, and wrote their names with it. It’s the most wonderful thing. I call it the ‘girls gone wild’ quilt.” One type of quilt popular in the mountains in the early 20th century was the Album quilt. WWW.SMLIV.COM

Each person created a square and, when they got together to assemble them, they embroidered their names on the quilt and gave it to the recipient as a gift. The nature of the gifting created the names of other kinds of quilts. In the late 1920s and early ’30s, the federal government evicted homesteaders and others from their land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Negotiations between the government and the pastor of the Tow String Baptist Church in Smokemont saved the church from the destruction that claimed other churches and buildings in the park. In appreciation, the congregation made their pastor a Friendship quilt. When he passed away, his wife decided the quilt should remain with the congregation, so she gave it to a member, whose daughter gave it to the Mountain Heritage Center. The quilt is now part of the center’s permanent collection. “I never fail to be touched by people who call us and offer us their family treasures,” Meister said. “We had a donation recently of a pre-Civil War woven coverlet. The donator said it had been passed down for seven generations of his family. I just blurted out, ‘Why do you want to give it to us?’ He said, 45

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‘It’s old, it’s beautiful; I’m not going to put it on my bed, and I wanted to share it with other people.’ He then went on to tell us the story of Mary Ann Penland Rice, who made it between 1858 to 1859 out of wool that she carded and wove herself. Her husband served and was killed in the Civil War. He had a little portrait of her. It’s wonderful when you hear the stories that go with them.”

MOVING TOWARD MODERN “Whether it’s for family or to win a prize, quilts have stories,” said Georgia Bonesteel, a Flat Rock resident who helped pioneer the American modern quilt movement. People make quilts for the granddaughter going off to college and the grandsons their own children have had. The reasons why the quilts were made attach themselves to the fabric like the stitches that hold them together. “These stories are part of the family,” Bonesteel said. “They warm the heart. They’re like an extension of grandma’s hands.” Older quilts often contain the seeds of cotton from which the batten was made, dating them to a time when women carded the cotton themselves. Bonesteel loves finding the seeds, because they bring her back to the time in which the quilt was made. She especially loves finding the name of the quilt’s maker stitched into or drawn upon the quilt, because it indicates to her the pride that the maker had in her creation. “Think of the time of our grandmothers, before electric blankets and duvets,” Bonesteel said. “Cotton was plentiful back then, so cotton was used in quilts made out of necessity but also for weddings and special events. Widows made a ‘widow quilt’ out of fabric from the suitings of their men. Quilting became an emotional outlet for women.” A clothing and textile major at Northwestern University, Bonesteel was born in Sioux City, Iowa. Her father’s job as a government attorney meant the family moved around a lot before the family settled in a home on the north side of Chicago. Her mother made her daughter’s clothes, not because she liked to sew (she didn’t really care for it, her daughter found out years later) but because times were hard and most women needed to make their family’s clothes. 46

Bonesteel can’t remember a time when she herself wasn’t sewing. Married, she and her own family moved to New Orleans, where she not only sewed her daughter’s clothes but also made clothes in a department store from fabrics the store sold. On her own, Bonesteel started using silk fabric for men’s ties to create quilted evening bags. “All of a sudden I realized that what I was doing was quilting,” she said. In 1971, her family moved to Western North Carolina and Bonesteel began teaching sewing at Blue Ridge Community College. She was still making the quilted evening bags, and students suggested she teach a class in quilting. To demonstrate the different kinds of quilts, she made quilts that had blocks of each kind

The Shady Ladies quilting group is one group that’s putting a modern spin on the art. Each year the group hosts a show at Lake Logan, located near Canton, N.C., and exhibits works made over the course of the year. FILE PHOTOS


(applique, crazy, patch, for instance), expanding her repertoire in the process. In demand because of her teaching, she traveled widely in the U.S. and Europe, which exposed her to new ideas in quilt-making and nudged her into the modern quilt movement. Her work helped her land a TV show, “Lap Quilting with Georgia Bonesteel,” in 1979 (look for it on Create TV). Having to come up with new artists every week exposed her to even more quilting. And to more stories about quilts. Here’s a great one. Bonesteel’s great-great grandmother was the town seamstress in Portage, Ohio, south of Bowling Green. People brought their mending to Lottie Sayler from all over. She made clothes for lots of people. She made many wedding dresses. Married and with three daughters of her own, she lived on a farm and milked the cow, bustling about in a long apron and an anklelength dress. About 1888 when she was 42, Lottie Sayler pieced together the top of a quilt. A busy woman, she never managed to finish the project, however. Years later after Bonesteel had started teaching sewing, her mother Virginia Watson gave her the quilt top that Lottie Sayler never got around to using. Stored in her mother’s linen closet, the top excited Bonesteel not just because of its pattern but also because, in running her hands over it, she could feel a connection to her great-great grandmother. “She had touched every piece,” Bonesteel, still touched by the experience, said. “The fabric represented the era she lived in. She probably made dresses out of the fabric. It was just a little bit of history.” In Bonesteel’s closet hangs what may be the very apron she remembers seeing Lottie Sayler in when she was 3. And the quilt top lives on as well— Bonesteel made it into a quilt that she plans to give to her own, very first, greatgrandchild. Lottie Sayler’s work continues to spread its warmth. “That’s pretty special,” Bonesteel said. “Quilts are often the only record that some women leave,” said Suzanne Hill McDowell, a former museum curator who advises museums in Western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee on their textile collections. “This is one way those women still speak to us. A lot of them didn’t write, other than sign their names. We can’t learn a lot of about them, but we can see

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their needlework and the creative skill and talent that they had. To me, that says their lives were not all drudgery. They had creative instincts, just like us. The way they would express it was through fabric, in making quilts.” Diane Piper knows what an outlet quiltmaking can be. A resident of Maggie Valley and president of the Blue Ridge Mountain Quilt Guild in Canton, she believes the process is as valuable as the product. She’s a worrier by nature, she said. She worries about her dogs, about the economy, about a lot of things. She works a couple of days a week in a real estate office that gets hectic at times. All of that melts away in the evenings, when she enters a spare bedroom of her house dedicated to quilting. There, among her two sewing machines, a sixfoot cutting table and a TV she turns on for company, she starts piecing together patches. And time disappears. “It just flows. I can lose myself,” Piper said. “It calms me down.”

SOOTHING AS ALWAYS Quilts calm children in distress, too, according to Nancy Goodwin of the Asheville




Fantastic Fun all yearr round! round! o

Quilt Guild. As part of Project Linus, a national program to provide handmade blankets and quilts to children in times of crisis, the guild has made more than 40,000 quilts in the past five years (the Black Mountain Quilt Guild has contributed nearly 3,000 in that time, Goodwin said). Asheville and Black Mountain police officers have wrapped them around children whose families have experienced misfortune. Staff in area hospitals have snuggled them around newborns and premature babies. “The parents tell us the children calm down when they’re wrapped in them,” Goodwin said. “We’ve had the experience with children in battered women’s shelters that our quilts make them feel calmer and more secure. One of our neighbors just had a grandchild that went into critical care from delivery, and I received a phone call from them. They said what a wonderful thing it was to have a quilt. It made them feel as if somebody else cared. It made the situation a little bit easier.” Quilts warm us in multiple ways, everyone associated with them seems to agree. They warm us by making us loved. They warm by reminding us of the people, primarily mothers

and grandmothers, who made them and pulled them over our shoulders when they tucked us in at night. Quilts serve as nurturing, lasting mementos of the kindnesses we have received. A couple of years ago, Coltman took her mother and two aunts, all in their 90s, to visit the family’s old homestead in Tuckaseegee and tour the old family cemetery there. They went to Cullowhee, to the Mountain Heritage Center, to see the Martha Sitton Rigdon quilt, the one Coltman’s great-grandmother made. A center employee took them into a conference room and spread the quilt out on a large table. The four women took it in, each stitch, each patch, each fold. Coltman hadn’t seen it in 35 years. “It was still beautiful,” Coltman said, tearing up at the memory. She paused to collect herself. “It was kind of emotional, almost like you wanted to cry. I thought, what a hard life this woman had. She and her husband were never rich. They had to work very hard. They didn’t own land. But she was talented. I think she was probably more talented that she realized. It’s amazing to view something you have a connection to that was made over 100 years ago.”

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Despite gains in technology for blacksmithing and metal work, master blacksmith Doc William Cudd relies primarily on the ancient tools, just as the smiths who came before him in his family along with Bea Hensley, apprentice to Daniel Boone VI. JENNIFER GARBRECHT PHOTO




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The fire crackles to life with a single match strike, the small pile of kindling and tinder catching quickly. As it grows stronger, the blacksmith adds coke—a solid derivative of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal—to the yellow flames before turning on the blower that feeds oxygen to the flame growing in the small forge. Within minutes of that first match strike, gorgeous red and blue flames dance with the intensity needed to transform iron and steel bars into works of art.


lacksmithing has experienced a revival over the last thirty years, and today many hobbyist blacksmiths take to their garages on the weekends to produce blades for knives or other ornamental fixtures. Despite these weekend blacksmiths, ancient blacksmithing may not be on most people’s horizon. According to Doc William Cudd, Jr., master blacksmith living in Barnardsville, N.C., fewer than two hundred full time blacksmiths remain in America today. It may appear to some, then, as though it has faded into the fabric of the world’s history. Not if Cudd has anything to say about it, that is. Family narratives passing on a trade seem like the stuff of legends—and yet such stories are still relevant and current today. Cudd traces blacksmithing back over four hundred years on both his mother and father’s sides. He works full time in his metal shop, filling orders he takes years in advance of completion, and his creations can be found around the world. When he’s not in his shop in Barnardsville, he works as the smithy at Biltmore Estate, where he demonstrates the ancient craft of blacksmithing to many thousands of visitors each year. While technological improvements have simplified certain aspects of blacksmithing, such as toggle switches to turn on an electric blower fanning the flames in the forge, little has changed in the craft over the thousands of years it has existed. Ancient smiths began using soft metals such as gold, silver and copper, before transitioning to bronze and then eventually to iron and steel because of their durability for weapons and tools. Unlike iron, some metals—such as copper—do not require heat to

make them hard. They will only harden from being worked or hammered. Iron is unique because it does not immediately turn into a liquid when heated beyond its melting point. The sweet spot for blacksmiths is right around 2,700 to 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit when iron is its most pliable. In this temperature range, where it becomes more and more taffy-like, the metal worker hammers most efficiently to form the iron into shapes both functional and ornamental. At 2,900 degrees, however, the iron melts and the smith has lost all his hard work and must begin again. Cudd remembers that happening only once or twice and both during his apprenticeship, which began at the age of ten and lasted until he turned twenty. After serving as an unpaid apprentice under his father and great uncle for ten years, Cudd started working as a journeyman under his maternal grandfather, William Ben Crisp. This position earned him very little money, but once he was given the master’s test at the age of thirty he was officially recognized as a master blacksmith. He describes the test his grandfather designed for him as particularly difficult. “Just one part of it

Below: the first step in creating a fire poker is to smash the end of the half-inch bar to “push” the metal down and create a section that is three-quarters of an inch thick. The metal is then worked into a fine tip. Once the tip is created it is placed under the hammer where it is pounded flat. This hammer weighs 8,700 pounds. Patented in 1889 by the Delden Machine Company in New Haven, Conn., its vibrations can be felt across the street up to a few hundred feet away. “It still works as well as it ever did.” JENNIFER GARBRECHT PHOTOS



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lasted eighteen hours—not all in a row, of course—but there were a hundred parts to that test,” Cudd said. His grandfather, who had worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority building Fontana Dam, later told Cudd he made the test particularly hard because he wanted Cudd to be a great blacksmith. Shortcuts do not exist in this trade, and although he’s done this most of his life, Cudd readily admits he still constantly learns and refines his metal work. “It’s impossible for me to say that I would be as good as someone who’s done it for eighty years,” Cudd says. “I can be as good, but it’s not the same because I can’t know what they know until I’ve been where they’ve been. No one knows it all and anyone who says they do told you a lie.” A blacksmith Cudd holds in high regard is his dear friend, Bea Hensley, of Burnsville, N.C. Hensley and his family moved next to Daniel Boone VI’s smithy in Burnsville when Hensley was just four years old. Instantly fascinated with the fire and hammering, he spent hours watching the famed blacksmith work before beginning on his own path in the trade. When Hensley graduated from high school, Boone took Hensley under his wing as an apprentice. When Boone won the contract for restoring the ironwork in Colonial Williamsburg in 1937, he moved his forge to Spruce Pine, which Hensley eventually purchased years later. When Hensley returned from World War II he went on to finish the restoration work at Williamsburg in the 1950s. In addition to learning a tremendous amount about metal working from Daniel Boone VI, Hensley learned the 50-part ancient hammer language of the anvil, which he eventually passed down to his son. Today,


Cudd also keeps this language alive by continuing to not only use the language in a practical way but by literally playing the anvil as an instrument. In the early twentieth century anvils were adopted as a recognized orchestral instrument. The blacksmith’s rhythm is beautiful to listen to, but Cudd is quick to point out that “every move of that hammer and tap on that anvil is to allow the other hand to flip that metal and reposition his eye.” Blacksmiths preserve their joints by allowing the hammer to fall on the anvil while they turn the metal over. “A good, forged anvil will lift that hammer back up—you don’t have to hit it, but it will return that hammer ten to fifteen times.” Forged anvils are known to be superior to cast anvils, which can be too soft and not allow the hammer to return in the same way. Blacksmiths must work twice as hard on a cast anvil, and Cudd grimaces when speaking about it. “A cast anvil makes an annoying earpiercing ring. A forged anvil makes a beautiful bell chime—like the ones I play.” Today he is one of four who continues to play the anvil, and he is the only one in his family to do so. His father and grandfather and others in his family used that language to communicate with their strikers and he remembers tuning into it around the age of twelve, noting that it’s the first thing an apprentice learns. The anvil makes a different sound depending on which part the hammer strikes, and the apprentice learns where to hit the metal based on the “song” the master plays. Each one of these songs gives instructions for what is to be made, and Cudd happily plays his anvil with the love and care a musician applies to any other instrument. It is evident how much awe he


holds for the tools he uses in the craft that has dominated his life and continues to do so. The philosophy of training twenty years for a profession is completely out of step with the instant gratification so prevalent in modern society. It certainly stands as quite a contrast to programs designed to turn students into blacksmiths in just a matter of months. However, Cudd is unfazed by modern society. “I don’t have the Internet,” he explains, and he lives a very simple down-to-earth life. Following in the same tradition from which he was taught, he currently works with two apprentices. Cudd readily admits that even though the world doesn’t look upon the trade the same way, and the labor board certainly doesn’t, it is still important to go through all the steps to becoming a master—all twenty years of them. Steven Schroeder, Cudd’s apprentice who can also be seen twice a week at the Biltmore forge, is from Ohio. He decided around the age of nineteen that he wanted to become a blacksmith after exposure to the profession at Hocking College where he initially majored in forestry. He became enamored at the simple way of life and wanted to be a part of historical reenactments, which led to him working at Conner Prairie and then eventually finding his way down to Biltmore. Schroeder relocated to the mountains of North Carolina to begin his ten-year apprenticeship under Cudd’s tutelage. The legacy of George Vanderbilt lives on through his functioning estate. It has brought together the master blacksmith and his apprentice, each from completely different backgrounds but who have found a common love of working with their hands.

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Below: once the metal is flattened, Doc sets about using his chisel—“Old Faithful” as he calls it—to create the veins in the leaf. Next, the rod leading into the leaf is reheated and then worked into a loop, creating a hook from which the fire poker will hang. Ever a perfectionist, Doc carefully inspects his work and makes a few alterations to ensure the straightness of his lines. JENNIFER GARBRECHT PHOTOS

“I don’t want years from now for

someone to look at something and say, ‘Well he must have been in a hurry on the day he made this one’.”



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Steven Schroeder, The Bearded Blacksmith, currently apprentices with master blacksmith Doc William Cudd Jr. From top, left: The crosses made by Schroeder begin as one bar with simple cuts in two places. Once the cross is heated it can be opened. The diamond-shape in the middle naturally occurs as a result of the pre-made cuts. With an eye for perfection, Schroeder examines this cross and ultimately decides the cuts were not even, resulting in an imperfect cross which he will discard. JENNIFER GARBRECHT PHOTOS

When asking if shortening the typical decade one spends as an apprentice was possible, Cudd told him with a grin that he likes him and would be willing to shorten his time—to nine-and-three-quarters years. Schroeder knew then that while it may be a while before he’s ready to truly earn a living as a blacksmith, that at least he’d have fun working with a man with such a sense of humor. Schroeder’s experience as a blacksmith has his entrepreneurial wheels turning. That connects him to the resurging American dream where more and more people are pursuing their dreams rather than working for another. As he develops his craft under the careful guidance of Cudd, he envisions what he can do with his talent and his space. Schroeder dreams of working with home-schooled children and setting them up to learn blacksmithing, and wonders what types of metal workings will become his specialty as he continues to hone and refine his skills. He recently opened his own shop, The Bearded Blacksmith, in Fairview, N.C., just outside of Asheville. Working side by side, the master and apprentice both contribute to keeping the 52

incredibly rich and historically important craft of blacksmithing alive. “People don’t realize it but blacksmithing is what allowed America to become what it is,” Cudd said. “The railroads wouldn’t have been built without us. Agriculture couldn’t have thrived without us.” While both Cudd and Schroeder work the ornamental side of the business, each realizes the contribution blacksmithing has made to the birth and growth of our nation. While some may romanticize working in a craft that is centuries upon centuries old, that is not the case with Cudd. He may live a simple life, but he typically works nineteen hours a day, “Mornings begin at 5 a.m. I eat breakfast before heading to the shop around six,” Cudd said. “My cousins work with me down there and two of them show up around 7 a.m. I get them started until about 10 to 10:30 a.m. then I come to Biltmore. I have another cousin who comes around 8:30 a.m. They work and then I get home, eat supper, rest a bit then head back out to the shop until about 1 a.m.” Truly dedicated to his trade, however, he sometimes finds himself unable to sleep because he’s busy thinking about a particular creation. On nights like that he SMOKY MOUNTAIN LIVING VOLUME 12 • ISSUE 6

walks back over to his forge and begins again. The pride that goes into the blacksmith’s work boils down to the perfection for which they approach their legacy. Cudd, who has been in the trade over three decades, and Schroeder who is going on roughly three years, both inspect their work ever so carefully looking for any minor imperfections that could exist. “If I wasn’t putting my name on this I may say I don’t care, but I don’t want years from now for someone to look at something and say, ‘Well he must have been in a hurry on the day he made this one’,” Cudd said. Durability is something that matters. Most of the tools and machines in Cudd’s shop are well over 100 years old and they still function beautifully. Visitors are always given a warm welcome, and Cudd takes time to speak with them and to never turn his back on them. “I’ve had that experience where someone’s so caught up in what they’re doing that they barely take time to say hello,” Cudd said. That doesn’t happen here. Perhaps the only thing warmer is huddling in his Barnardsville Blacksmith’s shop with the wood stove crackling away and the forge nestling a 4,000 degree fire.

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In the age of mass production and imitations, some folks find themselves willing to settle for less than the best in order to “save money.” Cudd recounts the story of a woman at the Mountain State Fair a few years ago interested in buying one of his hand crafted five-piece fireplace sets complete with hand woven broom. She argued with him over the price and he said, “Ma’am I am not trying to sell you this set.” She said she could get one at Walmart for $20. He gave her his blessing to do so and she left. The following year she came back, however, and he instantly remembered her as she again started inquiring about his fire set. He said he thought she was buying one at Wal-Mart. “Well, I did,” she admitted. When he asked her how long it lasted she replied softly, “Until about Christmas.” He said then as plainly as he says now, “My work lasts forever as we know forever. It doesn’t need replaced but if it ever does it comes with a lifetime guarantee as long as I’m alive.” It upsets Cudd to note that several places now exist where what he calls prefab metal work is manufactured. “There was a great sink in blacksmithing, but about twenty years ago there was a revival of blacksmithing in America and people started realizing we needed this in our lives—this is how America was built,” Cudd said. “But when it began coming back, you had lost a span of people who truly believed it should be perfected. And many of the ones who are in the business now took some really beat-up metal work where it’s hammered and beat to death. And the pre-fab metal work is based on looking like that.” Cudd glides his hands across the hammer marks on the fire poker he created, noting how each one is even and controlled. “Bad hammer marks were considered cheap grade, unlearned work. But now people think that these bad hammer marks make it more authentic,” Cudd said. “Metal work should look like smooth glass.” And it is clear that Cudd is able to produce this quality of work—and he strives to continue to instruct apprentices such as Schroeder to pursue the same perfection. “There’s a wide gap between the perfection work and this other side that’s trying to kill the perfection work, and then there’s the middle, and I’m trying to close up that gap with the work that I do and to teach people to respect and understand how hammer-marks should look,” Cudd said.

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Jesse James Bailey, who served one term as sheriff in Madison and later Buncombe counties, said he often doled out confiscated liquor to friends and others with a “doctor’s note.” #5260 JESSE JAMES BAILEY PAPERS, SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, WILSON LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL



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Lawful & Lawless Hot pursuits, bootlegging and politickin’ in the backwoods BY ANNA OAKES

lenty of wildness remained in the Southern mountains well into the 20th century—in the untamed forests, for one, but also in the fierce, independent spirit of the mountaineers. Moonshiners ruled the woods, car thieves chased railroad trains, and many country folks resented government intrusion into their lives on any level. Officers of the law often had no training at all, and in some cases, cops were past offenders themselves. In Avery County, it wasn’t until 1970 that the Sheriff’s Department secured uniforms for its deputies. The old days of law enforcement produced fascinating tale after tale—tinged with danger, yes, but they were by and large simple, informal affairs, unfettered by bureaucracy. It was the era of straight shooters.



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Jimmie Presnell Daniels gives a tour of the old Avery County Jail, where she lived as a teen. Daniels’ family lived at the jail when her father was the jailer.

CHASING BOOTLEGGERS AND BUSTING STILLS By the time the “noble experiment” of Prohibition banned alcoholic beverages nationwide in 1920, a number of states had already banned liquor and other hard drinks on their own, making for plenty of work for local law enforcement. The movement was so pervasive that politicians and other prominent figures were labeled not according to “right” or “left” but on either side of a different dichotomy: “wet” or “dry.” Well, Jesse James Bailey took up with the dry crowd in his efforts to be elected as sheriff of Madison County, N.C., opposing an incumbent in the primary by the name of Ramsey. “The moonshiners all liked him pretty well; of course, he hadn’t ever had any law enforcement,” Bailey said in an oral history interview conducted in 1972. “Now I’m not a

strong prohibitionist; I just don’t drink. I never took a drop in my life! But the dry people, because of the fact that I didn’t drink and they knew it, that put them with me against my opponent.” But that didn’t stop Bailey from courting the “wets” as well. “I went out there into the bushes with them moonshiners, and I promised them everything. I said, ‘Now boys, listen, if I get in you fellows needn’t have no fear unless I stump my toe over your still—just don’t put it out here in the road where I’ll find it if I’m going somewhere and stump my toe over it or something.” But the wets weren’t swayed. “They’d say, ‘Well, we know what the other man will do, and we don’t know what you might do. We’ll have to be for him,” Bailey recalled. The interviewer asked Bailey if he knew how many moonshiners he caught while Madison


County sheriff. “No, I haven’t,” Bailey said, “but I’d say it would run up about a hundred or more. My golly, I got two or three hundred stills! You see a lot of times you’d get to the operation, and the operators would get away. All you’d have was the old still, tear it down. They’d get them another boiler and equipment and start out again!” Jimmie Presnell Daniels, whose family lived at the Avery County jail when her father was the jailer, tells a story of one of the county’s bestknown bootleggers. “Around 1925, Newland had a notorious bootlegger that no one had any luck catching. Seems he had a trap door leading to a storage place under the floor in his house,” Daniels said. “One day he messed up and sold liquor to a man that turned out to be a lawman. He was caught and prosecuted. No one living today knows what his punishment was, but he moved from that house and left the town.”

Sweet suspicions In Highlands, N.C., in the late 1800s, one method the revenuers employed to find out who was operating a still was to check the ledgers at Cleaveland’s store to see who had bought one hundred pounds of sugar—an expense the typical household could not afford. (Heart of the Blue Ridge by Randolph P. Shaffner)



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“A lot of big wheels like judges and other fellows sort of had to depend on the sheriff to get their drinking liquor. Of course, I myself never handed it over personally to the governor, but I took stuff down there that I know got to him!” — Sheriff Jesse James Bailey

THE SHERIFF AS PHARMACIST Now, the sheriff’s office may be the last place you’d go knocking with a doctor’s prescription in hand, but during Prohibition days, the local sheriff pretty much cornered the market on the hard stuff. Jesse James Bailey served one term as sheriff of Madison County before returning to the railroad to work security. After he moved to Buncombe County, he was elected sheriff there in 1928. “If a good friend of mine come around and say, ‘Sheriff, you got something that will knock the cobwebs out of your throat? I’ve got a little cold’,” Sheriff Bailey would dispense about a pint to them from the evidence room stores.

“Yeah, and some I wouldn’t give any,” Bailey said. “See, I knew pretty well who was the liquor heads. I had doctored the people there for everything from in-growing toenails to falling hair.” Bailey recounted the most curious of ailments he was asked to treat—for a chap who exhibited the nervous behaviors of a man whose story was less than straight. “When a fellow comes in and wants a little liquor, he’ll go to looking at the walls, and look up at the ceiling, then look at the walls, and look around to see who else is there. Then he’ll go fishing around for that prescription. He said, ‘Sheriff, I’ve got a little prescription here I’d like for you to fill. He pulled it out, and it read like this: “Please let the bearer, Mr. Buckner, have one half a gallon of good whiskey to rub a cow’s other end, who’s just had a calf.”


“I said, ‘My friend, I’ve been a’doctoring human beings ever since I’ve been sheriff, but this is the first time I’ve ever had a request for animals, and I ain’t a’going to start to doctoring animals now!” “Everybody was my friend then,” Bailey recalled. “A lot of big wheels like judges and other fellows sort of had to depend on the sheriff to get their drinking liquor … I had a friend of mine who I used to give a little nip to down at Raleigh. This fellow was state auditor down there, dead and gone now. Every time I’d take a little business down there, I’d put some maybe in a little jar. Of course, I myself never handed it over personally to the governor, but I took stuff down there that I know got to him!”


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The Durham Murders: A 40-year-old triple homicide remains a mystery Undoubtedly the most infamous of crime stories to hit Watauga County is the still-unsolved murders of the Durham family—a heinous, mysterious job conducted in the midst of a howling snowstorm on Feb. 3, 1972. According to newspaper reports, Bryce Durham was the new owner of a Buick dealership in Boone, and his wife Virginia served as bookkeeper. Son Bobby, 18, was a freshman at Appalachian State, and the Durhams’ daughter Ginny, also a student, lived four miles away with her husband. That night, Bobby met his parents at the dealership to brave the ride home in a four-wheel-drive GMC, and neighbors reportedly watched the vehicle drive by around 9 p.m. Around 10:30 p.m., Ginny’s phone rang. Her husband Troy, who arrived home a few minutes earlier, stating he’d been at the ASU library, answered. A voice on the other end—Ginny’s mother Virginia, Troy said—frantically asked for help as men were beating Bryce and Bobby. The call was cut short. A busy signal sounded when Troy dialed back. When the couple’s car wouldn’t start, they asked a neighbor to drive them to the Durhams’ home. Inside, the rooms were ravaged, but a deposit bag full of money and other valuables remained. The phone was yanked from the wall. Following the sound of flowing water into the bathroom, the men found the three family members’ bodies, clothed, draped over an overflowing bathtub, with rope marks striped across all three of their necks. The GMC was found abandoned three miles away, with lights on, motor running and windshield blades wiping. Later that year, four men were charged in the case, but their charges were eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence. Team after team continued to work the case. The State Bureau of Investigation. The attorney general. At one time, $40,000 was offered for information leading to the killers. “Sad case, and still far as I know is unsolved,” lamented James C. “Red” Lyons, who served for twenty years as Watauga County’s sheriff in the ‘80s and ‘90s. “A lot of real good officers worked on that thing and tried to solve it.” In the sleepy college town of Boone, the incident sent shock waves throughout a trusting community. “Things began to tighten up. People began to be more conscious and careful. It’s when they first began to lock their doors at night,” Lyons remembered. “Certainly they paid a little more attention to security and protection and things of that nature.”


THE JAILER AND THE JAILHOUSE Jimmie Presnell Daniels spent her teenager years living at the Avery County Jail in Newland. Her father, Jim Presnell, served as chief deputy and jailer from 1954 to 1962. “Families with their children lived here and cooked for the prisoners and took care of the jail,” Daniels explained. “Moving to the Avery County Jail in late 1957 was a culture shock to me and my sisters. We had spent many years in a very rural area of Watauga County, not far from the Avery County line. When we moved to the jail we were living in a glass house, so to speak. Our living quarters were open and folks walked right in anytime they wanted. There was no privacy.” Court only took place every three months, and if prisoners couldn’t make bail, they were in for an extended stay. Children played cards with some of the prisoners through the bars of their cells, Daniels remembered. “They kind of got to be like family,” she said. “They ate the same food we did out of the same pots.” Most transgressions landing people in incarceration were alcohol-related, said Daniels. There were the repeat offenders—those who hit the booze every payday. “We had very talented people who got in jail every weekend,” Daniels joked. If there was a special event in town, the “jail would be bursting at the seams,” she said, and that included the gospel Singing on the Mountain at Grandfather Mountain. “That was a spiritual singing, but they didn’t always abide by that.” “We did have one murder while Chief Deputy Arcus Benfield and Sheriff Wilburn we were there,” she related. “A 16Hughes with Wilburn’s sons Jack, left, and year-old boy killed his mother’s Lynn, right, with a liquor still they had busted up boyfriend in Elk Park. I really do that day. JIMMIE DANIELS PHOTO not know what happened except he went home and his mother was there with her boyfriend and word had it they were drunk. The boy shot the man and killed him. I remember the boy went to prison, but I do not remember for how long.” Once, prisoners almost burned down the jail. “We had a jail fire that could have been very bad except for the quick thinking of some prisoners,” said Daniels. “Four or five young men from the Newland area were drinking and rowdy. All of them were arrested and put in jail. They gathered the mattresses from the bunks and blocked the jail cell door. Then they lit a fire to the other mattresses.” The Presnell family, downstairs below the jail cells, could not smell the smoke nor hear the prisoners. “The other prisoners stuffed rolls of toilet paper in the two commodes and flooded the downstairs of the jail,” she recalled. “When the water started coming down, Daddy went upstairs and opened the cell door getting the prisoners out, and the fire department was called to help put out the fires.” Today, the jail is the site of the Avery County Historical Museum, open to the public on weekends. Daniels wrote a book about her experiences: Families, Friends, and Felons: Growing Up in the Avery County Jail.


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A view inside a cell in the old Avery County Jail, which closed in 1970. The building now serves as a history museum. ANNA OAKES PHOTO

‘DIED AT THE POST OF DUTY’ “Death of a Brave Man” read the headline in the April 6, 1892, Lenoir Topic. Julius David Miller—once a Caldwell County deputy sheriff, then a Lenoir policeman and finally a United States deputy marshal—had been slain in Wilkes County at the hands of a horse thief fleeing from Limestone Cove, Tenn. At the report of a bay mare stolen from C.H. Baker in Unicoi County, Tenn., Baker and another man started on the thief’s trail—a task made easier by the distinctive tracks of the horse, which had been shod on one foot with a mule shoe. The hot pursuit led in short time across the state line to Bakersville, N.C., on to Marion and then north to Caldwell County, the thief all the time giving false aliases and begging for food along the way, according to the newspaper’s account. Miller joined the hunt in Caldwell County on a Saturday morning, chasing leads to all points in the western and northern ends of the county until finally, on Sunday, he and John Small drove a horsedrawn cart to King’s Creek, near the Wilkes County line, where they arrived but an hour’s ride behind the bandit. The newspaper recounted the “tragic occurrence” in great detail: “About a mile on this side of Little Rock Church, they sighted the fugitive, got in hearing, and called to him to stop. He whipped up and Miller shot at random. Then began an exciting

race, passing by Little Rock Church, where there was a large crowd assembled at preaching.” Miller and Small began to gain upon the thief, whose stolen horse was exhibiting signs of exhaustion. “In their race they met several men who yelled at them, as the few past, that the man ahead sent back word for them not to follow him, as he had killed a Negro in Tennessee and would do them up,” the article stated, but the wheels of the cart rolled furiously on. “Seeing himself ‘bout to be caught, the fugitive threw himself from his horse and took to the woods,” the story goes. “Miller leaped from the cart, calling to Small to stop the horse as soon as he could and hitch it, while he ran through the woods with the intention of heading off his game. While Small was slowing up the horse and hitching it, he heard five or six shots. About the time he hitched the horse, he heard Miller calling to him from the woods.” The young marshal, 33 years old, had been shot in his right side, with the bullet passing under the heart. “He did not live over five minutes after he was shot,” the newspaper claimed. Miller left behind a widow and three children. Upon hearing the news, twenty horsemen set out at once after the murderer, soon accompanied by a posse of dozens of men sworn in by the sheriff to aid in the manhunt. The thief was still at large at the time the account was published. Seventeen years later, Julius’ younger brother, Willett, would reach a similar fate. Thirty-six-year-old Willett served as a Blowing

Rock policeman and in summer 1909 he paid a visit, warrant in hand, to the house of Bill Baldwin, who was ordered to be arrested for concealing about ten gallons of whiskey belonging to the jailed Frank Greene, according to a July 8, 1909, article in the in Watauga Democrat. Baldwin wasn’t at home, but upon return Willett Miller spotted the man leaving a village

Always undercover: Other than a badge worn by the sheriff, Avery County lawmen bore no insignia until Chief Deputy Jim Presnell lost a case on this account, remembers Presnell’s daughter, Jimmie Daniels. “How did I know he was the law?” the defendant reportedly asked the judge. “He wasn’t driving a marked car, he wore no uniform and had on no badge.” Presnell designed his own badge, and his wife sewed it to a shirt. It wasn’t until 1970 that Sheriff “Bev” Daniels secured a government grant to purchase marked patrol cars and uniforms in Avery County.

shop and gave chase on foot. The newspaper’s account spared few details, however gruesome. “Mr. Miller soon overtook him, and caught him by the left arm when without a moment’s warning, Baldwin drew a piston and fired four shots at the officer, all of which took effect— one ball piercing the left breast, and passing en-

Deputy William Mast, Jr. (1988-2012) Despite better training and equipment, the work of the modern officer has never been free from danger. Nowhere in the region is that more evident than in Watauga County, where the community is still coping with the summer 2012 killing of 23-year-old Deputy William Mast Jr. Mast was shot while responding to an open line 911 call, and his partner returned fire, killing the assailant, according to reports. Mast was the first deputy killed in Watauga County in more than 100 years.



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(Clockwise) Jim Presnell served as chief deputy and jailer in Avery County from 1954 to 1962. Bob Church plays his banjo on the jail porch. “Folks accused him of playing so the prisoners could escape jail, but nothing was ever proven,” said Jimmie Presnell Daniels, who lived at the jail as a teen when her father was the jailer. “Bob was ambushed and killed a year or so later. His assailant was captured but escaped and was never caught.” Della Presnell, sister of Jimmie Presnell Daniels, was married at the Avery County Jail when her family lived there. JIMMIE DANIELS PHOTOS



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“You’uns can just leave our men folks alone. We women up here tend to our men ourselves.”

—Two women who busted their husbands out of jail in Highlands, N.C., according to an account by Randolph P. Shaffner

tirely though the body; one in the right side; one in the neck and one in the hand. Then to make his murderous attack complete, he turned the butt of the revolver and gave his victim several heavy blows on the head before it could be wrenched from him. Mr. Miller fired at Baldwin once, and snapped on two other cartridges, but in his weakened and paralyzed condition the bullet went wild of its mark.” Willett Miller died three days later. Col. Ogden E. Edwards spoke at the funeral, paying tribute to a man who “died at the post of duty,” reported the newspaper, concluding, “Peace to his soul, honor to his memory.”

WOMEN AND THE LAW As new towns incorporated across the hills of Appalachia, with them came new sets of laws and new law enforcers. Some had great respect for the letter of the law, even going so far as to


turn in law-breaking family members. But others found the new ordinances to be an offensive invasion of privacy, noted author Randolph P. Shaffner in his book Heart of the Blue Ridge, a history of Highlands, N.C. “Helen Hill Norris tells of two locals who had ‘run afoul of the law’ and found themselves overnight in the town’s calaboose,” wrote Shaffner. “The next morning, during Helen’s geography lesson at the school across the street, the wives of the culprits appeared ‘wearing wide calico skirts, sunbonnets, and all armed, one with a double-bitted axe across her shoulder, the other with a double-barreled shot gun.’ Warning their husbands to stand clear, the one with the shot gun blasted the hinges off the door, and the other finished the job with her axe. As they marched past Mayor O’Farrell’s drugstore, he tried to inform them that ‘the law had been violated.’ All he got was a sharp retort from one of the women, ‘You’uns can just leave our men folks alone. We



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women up here tend to our men ourselves.’” At the Avery County Jail, women could be jailed for adultery or prostitution. “They were all good ol’ boys—and a few good ol’ gals,” quipped Jimmie Presnell Daniels. One time, a man had been fighting so much that he required stitches in his jail cell. “Daddy sent word to his wife that he was in jail. She sent word back: ‘Let him rot there; I won’t come get him again.’ Couple of days later, she came in carrying a big pocketbook, and she was mad! She went right at daddy and started hitting him with her purse, saying, ‘You feegrabbing SOB! What do you need, bacon? Or flour?’ Or ‘What do you need to make you arrest an innocent man like my husband?’ Daddy finally got her stopped hitting him, and she got her husband and left. “Today,” Daniels mused, “she would have been put in jail and charged with an assault on an officer.”

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n 1993, I spent eight days in my house on the crest of Beaucatcher Mountain, blanketed in snow drifts that obscured mailboxes, minivans, and anyone under six feet who dared to venture into them. Equipped as we were with three woodstoves and enough instant oatmeal to last a minor apocalyptic event, the blizzard of ’93 is well remembered as a pretty enjoyable event by all the inhabitants of that lonely corner of mountain. With the exception of, perhaps, our dog, who we didn’t really consider might not fully appreciate being dropped onto a snowdrift and watching walls of snow rise up around her tiny schnauzer body.



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ut that particular storm went down in the annals of history in Western North Carolina; for years after you could still spot the odd ‘I survived the Blizzard of ‘93’ Tshirts on Goodwill racks. It remains a reference point for snow in the region, and stands unsurpassed at the top of the National Weather Service’s official snowstorm rankings with a whopping 18.2 inches between March 12 and March 14. Only one other snowfall outpaces it, the unofficially measured 26 inches dropped in 1886. That was winter so notoriously harsh across the country that it actually permanently changed cattle ranching practice in the west, along with birthing a spate of cheerless paintings featuring skinny, frostbitten cows. In the Smokies, our relationship with deep snow has been much more occasional since pioneer times. Since 2000, Western North Carolina has averaged 12.98 inches of snow a year, and even that really isn’t a fair estimate. The nearly 60 inches dumped between 2009 and 2011 sort of pads the numbers for the preceding decade, where most years saw cumulative snowfall cracking the single digits. Eastern Tennessee isn’t far off, their official average snowfall according to the NWS stands at 13.3 inches. Unlike our northern and western brethren, Appalachians can’t really claim significant snow as an integral part of our life. But unlike say, Buffalo or Dayton, while snow might come often, its effects can be mighty. Should a snow drift blow you from the road in South Dakota, you may find yourself keeping company with cattle for a while. But slide from a snowy pass in the mountains, you could find yourself parting company with solid ground altogether. That’s if you can make it out of your house and onto the road at all. Or up the road and back into your house. When it comes to weather, altitude doesn’t just affect attitude. It affects everything. For any child raised in the mountains, the phrase, “buses will not run on icy roads” is a staple of winter. Winter weather waivers—passes from the state to allow schools with a history of snow days to start earlier than everyone else— have been granted to a number of mountainous districts like Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Cherokee counties. Perhaps we don’t get as much snow as Syracuse, the average snowiest place in America, where they enjoy an overwhelming 9.6 feet of snow a year, and shut down schools for only two days last year. But our topography is far less hospitable and missteps are a more treacherous proposition. Most would prefer to test the boundaries of

With its mile-high elevation, conditions at The Swag Country Inn can be a bit more intense than in low-lying areas. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SWAG COUNTRY INN



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Advisor practically squeal with delight at having found themselves snowed in in the mountains. In 2010, Guy Jacobs and his fellow employees found themselves shut into Eight Gables Inn in Gatlinburg with 10 guests on Christmas, which turned out to me such a singular experience that it has led to something of a tradition with one repeat customer. “We had one guest, Maria, who comes back every year because it was just so magical for her,” said Jacobs. “When the guests were waking up Christmas morning, it was like a winter wonderland. They couldn’t get out since it wasn’t plowed. We serve breakfast


flight in an airplane, rather than behind a steering wheel looking down at an expanse of black ice between snow-dusted peaks. In general, things here shut down. But that’s not always a bad thing. “You know, we go so chockablock right now with so many people there, to finally have the opportunity to slow down and just drink a cup of hot chocolate or mulled apple cider and just enjoy being. The views are just incredible,” said Deener Matthews, innkeeper and co-owner of The Swag, an inn perched atop the mountains overlooking Waynesville. They shut down to customers in the winter months, but she can recount some treasured family memories being snowed in during the off season. “We have these individual toboggans, and when we get there with the kids all with us, my husband puts one big, long rope and each kid holds on to the rope and he pulls them up with the Land Rover, all the way up to Gooseberry Knob and they can come sliding down,” said Matthews, or other times she would send kids, strapped up in skis, skiing down the driveway to meet a neighbor and trek up to nearby Cataloochee Ski Resort for a day on the slopes, whose nearness has made various winter snow-ins more idyllic and less survivalist. “We’re very fortunate because we’re the last stop on the way up to the ski slopes, so you can be sure they’re keeping the power on up there.” True, winter weather can be a threatening prospect. The New York Times described that storied storm in 1993 as “a monster with the heart of a blizzard and the soul of a hurricane,” and laid out such disastrous vocabulary as “spawning … six-foot snowdrifts,” and “worst storm of the century.” Though, to be fair, they did borrow that last one directly from the National Weather Service. But as stories like Matthews’ show, blizzards can be beautiful. Children love no word more than “cancelled” when there’s enough snow on the ground to accommodate a trash-can-lid-sled, and the cabins frosted in creamy snow against a backdrop of mountains draped in white are the stuff Hallmark movies and Thomas Kincade paintings are made of; his afghans sold like hot cakes for a reason. Out-of-town reviewers up and down Trip

“We’re very fortunate because we’re the last stop on the way up to the ski slopes, so you can be sure they’re keeping the power on up there.”


— Deener Matthews, innkeeper and co-owner of The Swag

here, so we have some things around. We just happened to have soup in the cabinets and crackers, and we had wood-burning fireplaces, so it was kind-of magical.” The setting probably didn’t hurt: a bed-and-breakfast tucked away in the mountains, decked out for the holidays, dusted with snow on Christmas Day. If you have to be snowed in… And Jacobs said most visitors take weather disruptions pretty placidly. “I think they take it in stride,” Jacobs said. “We’re not up in the mountains and guests don’t feel they’re trapped. There’s a convenience store on the corner, so we’re OK.”


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In that way, being snowed in is like a forced family gathering: lovely, as long as you know you’re getting out at some point. On the other side of the winter weather issue is knowing when that point is, because the pastoral peace of a snowstorm has a pretty short shelf life. The National Oceanic and Atmostpheric Administration, more commonly and somewhat biblically known as NOAA, is the entity behind the National Weather Service, and they’re the folks that attempt to stay a step or three ahead of the atmosphere’s wily moves. They have a shockingly extensive cadre of climatology tools in

their arsenal that do a pretty decent job of predicting the future. And their recently released winter report for the lower 48 sort-of says, ‘Southeast, don’t expect too much.’ The official report is somewhat densely named Prognostic Discussion For Long-Lead Seasonal Outlooks, and it’s looking like a dry one for our westerly friends and wet winter across the Gulf Coast, but for the rest of us here in the southeast, we’re looking at what weathermen call equal chances. Which basically means we’re likely to stay close to the averages in temperature and precipitation, according to Chris Horne, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Greenville, S.C., the post that covers most of the Smokies. Or at least, there’s nothing particularly compelling saying we won’t. “There’s not a whole lot of signals in the forecast pattern for the winter which conclusively says it’s going to be more than normal. We’re kind-of under equal chances,” said Horne. “There’s no signals that are point towards any large deviations from climatology.” Such a proclamation does bring to mind those—perhaps apocryphal—stories of a clear forecast predicted and then before you know it, we’re stuck with a mountain of snow in front our cars and no one was ready except the cats who intuitively knew to grow

thicker coats. And such skepticism was probably warranted in the days before complex weather modeling. Even though future prediction is still somewhat outside our grasp, the climatological advances of even the last two decades have put us far ahead of our predecessors in terms of knowing when we’re going to be stuck inside with some hot cocoa, a toboggan and our own thoughts. Major seasonal outlooks come from the national weathermen, but it’s local offices like Horne’s that put out seven-day outlooks and make decisions like when to put out winter storm watches and winter storm warnings. “We use computer model data and then we have a lot of local conceptual models and locally developed techniques and tools where we can recognize patterns from what has happened in the past,” said Horne. “Once we kind of get an idea that it’s possible, then we kind of start digging deeper in our local tools which we have developed over the past couple decades.” To get on-the-ground data from their vast coverage area, they pick up information from a staggering array of sources. Satellite data of various types, radar at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, neighboring radar information, upper air data launched from balloons, surface data collection. And those are just the ones he listed off the top of his head when asked by a layperson, essentially, “Hey, how do you wizards do this weather magic?” Weather has come quite a distance, and in fact, the meteorological field recognizes our own 1993 superstorm as a turning point in storm modeling. In a special report from 2008 looking at the storm 15 years out, the insurance firm Risk Management Solutions said, “the lead times for winter storm watches and winter storm warnings have been described as unprecedented by the National Weather Service,” given the five days of advance warning issued up and down the eastern seaboard. Today, local NWS offices use the same modeling to give residents a heads up on incoming storms. According to Horne, a winter storm watch will go out when they’re about 50 percent sure some hazardous weather will arrive in the next 48 hours, give or take about 12 hours. It jumps to a warning when meteorological confidence rises to 80 percent for bad weather in the next 24 hours, and by bad they mean five inches of snow or enough ice to be dangerous. For non-weather-geeks, this side of snow is not as sexy or picturesque as a crackling fire and a snowman. But these climate modeling techniques and the regional experience of people like Horne, who know what weather will look like when it hits the mountains, help us make sure we’re safely around that fire or building that snowman, not in a newspaper headline about a local man found just feet from front door because who knew that blizzards could happen in March. If the National Weather Service is to be believed, perhaps we won’t need our snowshoes this year. Our history suggests that it’s possible. Look at 1993, or 1962, when newspaper reports across the state regularly featured high winds in Boone, inches of snowfall on Clingmans Dome and photos of nattily dressed ladies in hats getting their cars ‘winterized’ by kindly gas station attendants. If this year does not produce a white winter, thought, at least we’ve got our old stories of snowpocalypses past to tell while we wait for the next trace of precipitation to blow our way. And should we have to get snowed in, well, hey, better here than Syracuse.



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RESIDENCES AT BILTMORE HOTEL Ideally located between Biltmore Estate and downtown Asheville. Studio, 0ne- and two-bedroom suites available with full kitchens, fireplaces, balconies and most with whirlpool jet tubs. Property amenities include 24-hour Concierge, fitness center, heated outdoor pool, hot tub and fire-pit. Your mountain retreat in the heart of the city. 700 Biltmore Ave. • Asheville, NC 866.433.5594 • THE SWAG COUNTRY INN Chosen by readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine as the #2 Best Small Hotel in the Unites States, the secluded hideaway itself consists of 250 private acres. The main lodge and cabins, consisting of 15 rooms, are built of 17th and 18th century hand hewn logs and local field stone. Join us for our 30th season to experience just how remote, rustic, refined and remarkable it can be at 5,000 feet. 3 gourmet meals are served daily, with turn down service each evening. 800.789.7672 •

HERREN HOUSE BED & BREAKFAST Six spacious guest rooms with sitting areas and private baths blend modern comforts and ample space with distinctive Victorian charm. Enjoy sprawling porches, an open-air gazebo, and relaxing gardens with nature’s seasonal colors. Situated only one block from Main Street Herren House offers convenience to an array of shops and dinning as well as easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 94 East St. • Waynesville, NC 28786 828.452.7837 •

BAINES MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY AND SKY COVE HIDEAWAY Choose from two luxury vacation rental cabins located in Bryson City. Both are minutes away from the Smoky Mountain Railroad, 18 holes of golf at the Smoky Mountain Country Club, Tsali mountain bike trails, Fontana Lake, Smoky Mountain National Park and the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Hiking, biking, paddling, boating, fishing, golfing ... all outdoor activities within minutes. Each cabin has 2 bedrooms, a full bathroom on each of the 3 levels, game loft with pool table, Jacuzzi bath tub, hot tub, outdoor fire pit, 2 fireplaces, 2 large decks, gas grill, satellite TV, wireless internet, mountain views ... rest and relaxation! Bryson City, NC 877.488.8500

BOYD MOUNTAIN LOG CABINS AND CHRISTMAS TREE FARM Featured in 2011 Southern Living Best Weekend Getaways . Enjoy a peaceful country setting in charming authentic log cabins, 1—4 bedrooms, located on 130 beautiful acres. Full kitchens, wood burning fireplaces, Wifi, & A/C. The cabins overlook the Smoky Mountains, our Fraser Fir Christmas tree farm, 3 stocked fishing ponds ,flower and vegetable gardens. Hiking trails to the top of Boyd Mountain, volleyball, basketball and badminton, swimming hole in the creek, sledding in the winter. Open every season. 828-926-1575 •

HEMLOCK INN This historic inn, set just off Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock, is only steps from shopping, restaurants and event activities. Eighteen unique rooms, including suites with fully-equipped kitchens. All rooms are non-smoking. Rooms feature private baths, cable TV, air conditioning, phone services, microwave ovens, refrigerators and WiFi. Take away the unnecessary stress and time spent planning your vacation by taking advantage of a variety of packages offered throughout the year. Downtown Blowing Rock, N.C. 828.295.7987 •

MAGGIE MOUNTAIN VACATIONS Maggie Mountain Vacations offers cabin rentals in the Smoky Mountains! Large or small cabins with hot tubs, views, creeks, waterfalls and privacy - anything you need for a great mountain escape - we've got you covered. Call us today or check out our website for 24/7 online booking. 213 Soco Rd. • Maggie Valley, N.C. 888.926.4270 • SMOKETREE LODGE Smoketree’s cozy atmosphere and prime location allows its visitors the choice of enjoying the peace and solitude of the Blue Ridge Mountains or the opportunity of partaking in the many activities available in the High Country! 11914 NC Hwy. 105 S. • Banner Elk, NC 800.422.1880 • GRANDVIEW LODGE Tucked away in a mountain cove just off the beaten path near Waynesville, North Carolina, the newlyremodeled farm style home on 3 acres features 8 deluxe, country rooms with private baths. There’s also the 2-bedroom, 2-bath Grandview Cottage with full kitchen, living area and dining area. The Lodge has just introduced Popcorn's Moonshine Grill on Friday & Saturday nights from 5 til 9pm featuring a full bar, live entertainment, and an American Tapas menu featuring items such as Pig Wings, Redneck Caprese, and Drunken Clam Dip. The Lodge is the perfect getaway destination, and ideal for your next special Event. 466 Lickstone Rd. • Waynesville NC 800.730.7923 • 828.456.5212 BEST WESTERN RIVER ESCAPE INN AND SUITES A Best Western with a style all its own. Overlook a rambling river from your spacious room or relax on our scenic riverside patio. Enjoy deluxe guest rooms, suites, a heated indoor pool and hot tub, a hot breakfast bar and an atmosphere flowing with charm. One block from Historic Dillsboro, NC. 248 WBI Dr. • Dillsboro, NC 828.586.6060 THE WAYNESVILLE INN GOLF RESORT & SPA This resort has been welcoming visitors to the mountains with southern hospitality since the 1920s. Traditional resort amenities include historic and mountain view lodging, 27 holes of championship golf, restaurant and tavern, plus outdoor event space and pro shop. The location provides convenience to shopping, skiing, fishing, hiking and more. 176 Country Club Dr. • Waynesville, NC 800.627.6250 •


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A REMARKABLE MOUNTAIN RESORT AT 5,000 FEET 2300 Swag Road • Waynesville, NC • 800.789.7672 • 68


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Join us this winter and select a tree from our farm. Nestled in 130-acre cove overlooking the Smoky Mountains, the Boyd Farm has been a working family farm for over 100 years. We invite you to join us to Choose-N-Cut your tree between Friday, November 16 and Sunday, December 23. Spend the night in one of our seven charming 1-4 bedroom antique cabins. 445 Boyd Farm Road • Waynesville, NC • (828) 926-1575 •

Managed by Vacation Resorts International WWW.SMLIV.COM


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ca le n d a r :


DECEMBER Trolley Ride of Lights

Visitors can soak up the spirit of the Gatlinburg Winter Magic season from the comfort of a Gatlinburg Trolley by taking the relaxing Trolley Ride of Lights. The specially designated trolleys carry their guests on a memorable journey through downtown and adjacent Hwy. 321, allowing everyone to experience the magical wonder of Gatlinburg Winter Magic. $5. 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 nightly through Dec. 30. Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Gatlinburg Winter Magic

Featuring one-of-a-kind LED lighting displays along Gatlinburg’s famous Downtown Parkway, adjacent River Road, and the triangle juncture of the two, the $1.6 million-plus rollout of custom designed and fabricated lighting displays is marked by sections reminiscent of winter forests, evergreens and romance. Through Feb. 28. Gatlinburg, Tenn.


A Celtic Christmas

The annual tradition of a magical snowfall from the Titanic Museum Attraction’s bow will be renewed every Saturday in December. Father Christmas, dressed in a style most familiar to the children aboard Titanic in 1912, will also be visiting the Pigeon Forge museum on those magical snow days to greet the museum’s guests. Visitors to the Titanic Museum Attraction will also be able to view thousands of holiday lights, Edwardianperiod decorations, costumed

The Flat Rock Playhouse transforms with mist and candlelight for three singer/storytellers and a group of unique musicians. Through Dec. 22 in Flat Rock, N.C.

The Nutcracker

This new interpretation of the holiday all-dance classic is choreographed by Playhouse YouTheatre alum Chase Brock, choreographer of the Broadway hit, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. A love letter to his hometown in North Carolina, Chase Brock's adaptation of The Nutcracker is nestled in mountains like the Blue Ridge Mountains, set in a town like Hendersonville, on a tiny-but-bustling street like Main Street. Through Dec. 22 in Flat Rock, N.C.


Ready yourself for a Christmas voyage

merry-makers, and a magical Gift Shoppe brimming with original, one-of-a-kind gifts. The winter events continue at Titanic Museum Attraction into January with the return of the attraction’s annual national ice carving competition on January 19, 2013. The competition, held under the auspices of the National Ice Carving Association, is an exciting one-day event attracting world-class professional and amateur carvers competing before a crowd of wonderstruck children and adults alike. Information about these and other winter events at Titanic Museum Attraction can be found online at

CANDLELIGHT EVENINGS AT BILTMORE As daylight fades into dusk, candlelight and firelight accent Biltmore House’s extravagant holiday décor, accented by live entertainment and outside illuminations. Biltmore House glows with holiday spirit, appearing much as it would have at the turn of the 19th century. Through Dec. 31 in Asheville, N.C. BILTMORE PHOTO



National Gingerbread House Competition

Contestants from across the country will bring their culinary masterpieces to The Grove Park Inn this holiday season. Delight in the imagination shown in these sugar-and-spice creations. Through Jan. 2 at Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.

Polar Express

The 1 ¼ hour round-trip excursion comes to life as the train departs the Bryson City depot for a journey through the quiet wilderness for a special visit at the North Pole. Through Dec. 30 in Bryson City, N.C.

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Claus, live music and a holiday sale. Chimney Rock State Park. Dec. 8 and 15.

Journey back to the days of yesteryear as Dillsboro, N.C., presents its annual Festival of Lights and Luminaries. The town is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights and candles, buggy rides, music, holiday treats, carolers and Santa. Dec. 7-8, 14-15. MARK HASKETT PHOTO

JANUARY Blowing Rock Winterfest

Wine auction, polar plunge in Chetola Lake, kid’s activities, chili cookoff. Jan 24-27. Blowing Rock, N.C.

FEBRUARY Cherokee’s Shiver in the River Trout Fishing Tournament Held Feb. 1-3 in Cherokee, N.C. $11 entry fee and $10,000 in tagged fish!

MARCH Georgia Bluegrass Jamboree Winter Wonderland

Historic downtown Franklin, N.C., will be changed into a Winter Wonderland. Live music, Santa Clause, wagon rides. Dec. 7.

10th Annual Sugarfest

Winter festival includes winter Olympians, Sugar Bear, new ski and demos, fireworks, music,

giveaways. Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk, N.C. Dec. 8-9.

Santa on the Chimney

Have you ever wondered how Santa can climb down millions of chimneys all around the world in just one night? He practices on 315-ft. Chimney Rock! This family-friendly event features rappelling Santa, Mrs.

The Boxcars, Curtis Blackwell & The Dixie Bluegrass Boys, and Crowe Brothers along with many others. General admission pass, $55, or reserved seating pass, $90. March 16-17 in Dillard, Ga.

Cherokee Fishermen Appreciation Trout Fishing Tournament

Held March 29-30 in Cherokee, N.C. $5 entry fee and $10,000 in tagged fish.

Gabriels Horn JEWELRY A jewelry and art gallery in the Great Smoky Mountain arts and crafts community of Gatlinburg.

THE OCTOPUS GARDEN SMOKE SHOP Western North Carolina’s premier smoke shop. Offering only the best in locally made glass, tobacco accessories, hookahs, water pipes, and much more. The Octopus Garden is here for all of your smoking and tobacco needs. | 865.430.5610 170 Glades Road Suite 13 | Gatlinburg TN


Check us out at: 210 Rosman Hwy Suite C, Brevard, NC (828) 884-8796 2000 Spartanburg Hwy. #300, Hendersonville, NC #697-1050 140 Airport Rd. Suite M, Arden, NC #654-0906 1062 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC #232-6030 660 Merrimon Ave., Asheville, NC #253-2883 80 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, NC #254-4980 1269 Tunnel Rd. Suite B, Asheville, NC #299-8880



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d e p a r t m e n t :


The Little House in the Suburbs B Y J A C K N E E LY


he wonders of modern life, our electronic technology, maybe the idea of civilization, can sometimes seem like a thin, tenuous thing. Sometimes it takes only weather to brush it away, take us back a couple of centuries. At times like that, heat can seem an urgent thing, so critical, moment-tomoment, that it’s hard to think about anything else. It never seemed so precious than one unusual weekend in March when I was at home with my wife and kids in my modern house, snug in our modern neighborhood. We greeted the weatherman’s chance of snow with something like relief. My kids, 7 and 2, had hardly seen a real snow, and seemed skeptical about Daddy’s stories that indeed snow used to happen, even in Knoxville. We sent the kids to bed that Friday evening with the television on in our cheerfully lit house. Maybe snow tomorrow, kids. Oh, Daddy. They’d heard it before. We knew this one was unusual when the noise of it woke us. Snow is supposed to be quiet, to bring a hush. This one roared in with muffled thunder, and, then, a crash. A large hackberry tree fell in the backyard. Sleep comes hard when you’re nervous. Maybe just to keep myself busy, I brought in some wood and built a fire. Our house was built in the ‘40s, the very end of the spell when a living-room fireplace came standard in domestic architecture. Most houses in our neighborhood were modern ranchers built in the ‘50s and had no fireplaces at all. Our fireplace was so small it was hardly more than ornamental, like a phony shutter, or simply vestigial, an evolutionary leftover from the pre-electric days when fires were essential. The hearth was hardly more than a foot deep. It would hold only a very small, silly fire, and even then one had to build it just right or smoke would come in the room. Sometimes, feeling droll on a Christmas Eve, I’d build a little fire big enough to roast a handful of chestnuts. Some winters would pass without one. But at four o’clock in the morning, the last time I knew for sure what time it was, it seemed like a good idea. My wife was in the back bedroom looking out the window. I heard her scream, then I heard a crash, and the lights went out. A huge tree, partner of the one that had fallen earlier, was on our roof,

Our fireplace was so small it was hardly more than ornamental, like a phony shutter, or simply vestigial, an evolutionary leftover from the preelectric days when fires were essential.



smashed into the attic, weighing so heavily on the back of the house we couldn’t open the back door. We had gas heat, but the furnace depended on an electric fan. The house got cold fast. For the next three days, we would own nothing as important as that fireplace. Morning brought light and the realization that two feet of snow had fallen. The neighborhood seemed dead. I wondered if everyone had somehow left. But then my friend Jonathan Tuttle came by to share the wonder of this strange weekend. Curious, we ventured out and shoved ourselves down to the river. There the snow lay more than waist deep. We could swim in it and of course did. That was the fun part. As night fell again, we worried, especially about our little Rebecca, two years old plus change and small for her age, and the Tuttles’ kid, a newborn baby. We nailed blankets over the doors and windows to keep the one room warm; the rest of the house was cold and dark. Often, when the power’s out, we worry about opening the refrigerator door, losing the cold and letting the food spoil. It wasn’t a concern that weekend. The kitchen was colder than any refrigerator. The living room, with its little fireplace, became a sort of survival capsule, a little cabin in the dark woods. The Tuttles, from Florida and unused to snow, lived in one of the many modern postwar houses with no fireplace. They did have some food, though, more than we did—some chicken and potatoes. We had a can of lima beans and some onions. We just chopped it all together with some oil and put it in a steel pan and put the pan in the fire, right on the logs, handling it with an oven mitt. Nothing ever tasted better. Some other neighbors, refugees from modern houses without fireplaces, saw the glow, and came by. In our tiny fireplace we cooked an unplanned meal for a dozen. It seemed a miracle of Biblical proportions. We all slept in the living room, in front of that silly little fireplace. Small as it was, it made the room the warmest room we knew about. Memory plays tricks, doesn’t it? The fact is, I remember the Blizzard of ’93 fondly, with something like warmth.


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in North Carolina

108 ACRES IN JACKSON COUNTY $395,000 108.341 acre riverfront tract on the Tuckasegee River at Cullowhee. Varied topography property with over 800' of riverfront and long range views of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Located minutes from Western Carolina University, Jackson County Recreation Center, Cullowhee Valley School and the town of Sylva. This tract can be subdivided.

4.28 ACRE LOT ON CEDAR CLIFF LAKE $149,000 4.28 acre lake front parcel on Cedar Cliff Lake with dock. Easy access lot, level fom road (HWY 281) to ideal building site on large lot. 780' drilled well at 60 gpm. 5 bedroom septic permit.

CABIN IN HAYESVILLE $135,000 1.5 story with full basement, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, living room, family room, eat-in-kitchen, fireplace, utility room, open balcony, covered decks, new flooring, fresh paint, new heating/air unit, new hot water heater. This one will go fast!

RESIDENTAL LOT IN BUNCOMBE COUNTY $12,750 1.77 acre residential lot in the established and quiet community of Red Oak Plantation. Paved roads with street lights. Spectacular mountain views! End of road privacy. Community of nice homes.

Adam Born 706-400-9971

Maura McCarthy Cindy Stone 828-577-9924 706-400-9973

View additional properties at

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DECEMBER/JANUARY 2012/2013 • VOL. 12 • NO. 6


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Elizabethton, Tenn.’s Historic Doe River Bridge John Batchelor’s Chefs of the Mountains: Restaurants & Recipes from Western N.C.

Smoky Mountain Living Dec. 2012  

Smoky Mountain Living is a bi-monthly magazine covering the people, places and events that make the Smoky Mountain region of western North C...