Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Prowling Through Things

Did anyone ever tell you not to prowl? Maybe it was at your Grandmother’s or Aunt’s house where you heard “don’t be prowling around in the back room.” Granny never liked us prowling around in her dresser drawers-Steve was forever warning me and Paul not to prowl through his things when he was gone to work or out hunting. Earlier this week I got to prowl to my hearts content through someones things. 4 boxes of stuff he collected and saved over his lifetime. Even though I had permission-I still kinda felt funny-like maybe I was prowling in Granny’s dresser and she might come in and catch me at it. What did I find? Fascinating stories-most of which occurred right here in Brasstown. Some quite scandalous. Don’t worry I’ll share all I learned.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    I was always told not to prowl when we went to someone’s house or I couldn’t go back anymore, that took the fun out of everything. LOL

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    My Aunt Rhoda had a lot of ceramic do-dads sitting around and I remember wanting to touch them so badly but she wouldn’t let me. Otherwise I don’t think I ever prowled; however, I’ve had grandchildren go through just about every closet and drawer in the house. And a nephew who would go to the refrigerator and help himself to the orange juice. I was too timid to prowl.

  • Reply
    Kim Haynes
    May 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Mama always said “plunder” as in “Quit plundering.” She lived in fear that company was “plundering”, thus knowing what was in our medicine cabinets or that our drawers didn’t hold perfectly folded clothes, even though they did. She was in immaculate housekeeper. She also lived in fear that we would plunder when we went to somebody else’s house. She always told us not to plunder. It’s just good manners not to plunder, to respct your host’s privacy, even though I have been tempted to plunder many times…

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Aunty has always had a drawer of spools of thread, perfectly arranged according to color/shade. I was always told not to prowl-but Aunty would let me open that thread drawer at every visit, to look at the pretty colors. When Grandma died, Aunty and Dad went through her things. They found a square of chewing tobacco (unchewed) that was Grandpa’s. He had passed away 25 years earlier!

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    May 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Mama always told us “Don’t go plunderin’ through other peoples stuff”

  • Reply
    Granny Sal
    May 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I inherited my Dad’s letters, (every one he ever got) and they were bundled up and tied with twine, and were in his little trunk with the broken lock, that his brother brought back from Panama in 1827. My late sister would get very upset if any of the letters were taken out from the twine, and doubly upset if the twine was untied, from the way he left it. Although he has been gone for 30, years and my sister for eleven years, I still feel apprehensive when looking at those letters and such.
    Can’t wait to see what you found with your “prowling”, remember you promised.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    My grandma’s words were, “Don’t be meddlin’ around in my things.” Thanks for bringing that memory back to me.

    • Reply
      Patricia Winters
      March 28, 2020 at 4:43 pm

      Yes that was what my great aunt would say to me…then it became here come miss meddlinsome

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    we always said “poking around”-
    it’s exciting, this promise of new scandalous stories!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    My friend came over last night and
    he had been prowling underneath his house. He found an old camping
    stove and tank that had been lost
    for years. We took the thing all
    apart and after lots of spraying thin oils and pecking the rust loose, we now have an extra gas stove to take to the river for a fishfry. Even the old propane was
    still good. Its kinda good to fix
    something and make it function

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 11:41 am

    yes, i have always loved prowling through my grandmothers drawers and china closet and hope chest and her sweet smelling cedar closet. I had her permission and would sit in a chair and pull each treasure out and sit up on the top of whatever and handle and ooh and awe. daddy used to yell at me, and she would say Leave her alone, she is fine and i was.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I just love all these old words….plundering, pilfering, prowling…I did them all. I was a very curious kid…truth to tell I am still curious. lol!
    AND, Tipper, we are counting on to tell all!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Telling someone to not prowl around is like giving them verbal permission, at least that is the way kids think.
    Whitetail Woods™

  • Reply
    delores (Rusty) ellis
    May 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

    My gr granddaugher at very young
    age was being taught not to peek
    in the drawers. One day her
    Granny caught the fact she was
    behind a locked bathroom door.
    She begged and begged for the child to open the door and so,
    finally had to get the little
    crook to open it herself. There
    on the floor was the little snoop
    and on the floor and in her lap
    were Barbie’s toes all cut off
    with the nail clippers she found
    in the bathroom drawer at the
    sink area. So, it seems the Lord
    creates this instinct in the very,
    very curious youngin’s. Rusty

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Prowl or pilfer is what I remember being used. Either way, a guilty pleasure!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    May 26, 2011 at 10:19 am

    We were told not to be meddlin in stuff, cause we might find some goodies Mamaw had hidden. Oh! and we were told not to waller on her bed. Mamaw was the best thing in the whole wide world let me tell you.

  • Reply
    Joe Mode
    May 26, 2011 at 10:14 am

    I think my mother-in-law kept EVERYTHING she ever owned and I was the ONLY one allowed into her basement or attic to see all that she owned and stashed away. I never prowled, but always wondered what treasures were stored away. She would yell from the top of the steps,”Don’t be snoopin around down there.” Her basement was so full one could hardly walk around.
    Well folks, when she passed away suddenly at 91 I sure found out what meant so much to her. She kept EVERYTHING and I was the chosen one to clean it all out. Bags and bags and bags and bags of garbage at the road, several times over. Truly sad. I have even been trying to return letters from old boyfriends to appropriate family memebers. Lots of good stories in and of itself.
    It took a full year, to the actual day day of her death, to settle the estate business.
    I guess the lesson is we should get our own houses in order so our children won’t have to worry about our junk. This type of prowling isn’t so much fun.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 26, 2011 at 9:43 am

    I have to tell this story…and I am not sure if it is still going on today or not…
    When we were in the (antique) business…We knew a place where these folks bought whole estates from up North, boxed them up and brought them back to Knoxville in a tractor trailor truck load!!!…
    The dealers would show up on said day, given a number, and line up behind the truck. They opened the doors at 7:00 AM and started passing out boxes (per number) if a lot of dealers were there…
    You would take your box (some very heavy) and carry it down in their yard..each dealer lining them up in a long row..You would start prowling thru YOUR box and pick out what you wanted to buy and put it in YOUR pile on the side of the yard…NO ONE, WAS TO TOUCH YOUR SELECTED PILE OF STUFF OR YOUR BOX WHILE YOU WERE LOOKING THRU IT. IF CAUGHT DOING SO YOU WERE BANNED FROM COMING BACK TO THE SALE..When you are thru you would go and get another box from the truck and start prowling thru it again until all the boxes were unloaded…then and only then you can prowl in other peoples boxes for things they didn’t want..Next, the seller comes to your pile of stuff and prices it and you have an option of buying it or returning it to the box for others to look thru..Sometimes a dealer would stand over you waiting to see if you wanted something he/she collected or sold…After the main dealer sale, signs were put up and anyone could come and buy. After the completed sale they would bundle up the rest and sell it off as a whole lot or give it away…
    That was the most fun I ever had of prowling thru other peoples stuff….My husband and I were just talking about the fun we had there and are going to check and see if any of the guys family is still conducting this fun sale…
    Thanks Tipper

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

    My mother’s word for prowl was “pick.” Don’t be picking around in my dresser… 🙂

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    May 26, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Mother had a sister she hated to have visit because she said “She prowls through everything I’ve got!”–which wasn’t much, but she didn’t like the prowling anyway.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Prowling was not allowed at home…unless you were helping clean out and organize dresser drawers or cabinets…then you could look and sort and read until you were told to get busy again…
    There was a rumor that there was a “plunderer” that would prowl and pilfer small items when she/he visited.
    Momma had a pair of her matching china salt and pepper shakers disappear..she said..after a visit by this said person…
    We know they were in the china cabinet and to this day they are not to be found. I always wondered if she broke them and hated to tell since Dad had spent, what he said, was a “four-tune” on those new dishes!..ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Guilty of whatever it was called at the time and a few paddlings to teach me not to do it again. Not that it really stopped the pilfering,just tried to be a little quieter the next time.Loved going thru Grandma’s goodies. Am excited to read about your finds in those boxes.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 8:23 am

    After my father-in-law passed away, we found some interesting things a a metal box that no one had looked in but him. Two of the things were F-in-L’s dog tags from WWII and my husband’s from the Vietnam era, laying together. We remembered when he had asked for his son’s dog tag, but didn’t know what he had done with it.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 7:53 am

    We were always told not to go poking around in someone elses stuff!

  • Reply
    Celia Miles
    May 26, 2011 at 7:38 am

    My mother and grandmother said “prowling” and “plundering” a lot..and my sisters and I still use “plunder” with a laugh if we know we shouldn’t have done it. I love both words. Is prowl more looking at the surface or superficial looking and plunder is digging in…searching for what’s not too visible?

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    May 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Sadly, sometimes when the old folks say “don’t go looking” or such, its for a reason. Sometimes what one finds is something that changes your mind on who you are, and who the ones you love, were.
    But we look anyway, don’t we? haha..
    I hope all your finds, won’t alter how you feel about others. I would think if they said you could, means they got rid of the harmful stuff if there were any!~ ( though I doubt there was anything in any of your folks secrets, they are like you and wonderful. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 26, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I’ve poked, prodded, messed,and a few times prowled around messin’ with things.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    May 26, 2011 at 7:17 am

    I just remembered she would sometimes call it “pilfering”.

  • Reply
    Vera Guthrie
    May 26, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Our Mama also called it “plundering”. She was always saying we “plundered” in the dresser too much looking for who knows what. If she couldn’t find something she would swear her “plunderin youngins” lost whatever she was looking for.

  • Reply
    Phyllis Salmons
    May 26, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Like Jo, we were told not to “plunder.”

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 6:22 am

    Sounds interesting! I can’t wait to read more.
    We always called “prowling”- nosing or poking around. Getting permission is a special treat.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Mammy calls it “plundering” and laughs at us (most of the time).

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