Barn Dancing

collage of photos of a family

“Now, when I built my barn up yonder, I given’em a dance. Oh gosh! That was a tremendous crowd. And that was a barn dance. Yeah, a barn dance. I put a floor in it, and made a upstairs. Made stalls downstairs and then put a floor in it upstairs. And they wanted a dance. And I just says, “Well just go ahead, what you want.” And I never will forget, Lena, she was Odell’s girl, and Stacey and Bonnie. They come, but they said, “Now, Grandpa will get us.” But he didn’t; he just laughed about it.”

—Reed Hawkins, 1895 Buncombe County – “Rough Weather Makes Good Timber”


Today’s Thankful November giveaway is a used copy of the book “Rough Weather Makes Good Timber” by Patsy Moore Ginns. To be entered in the giveaway leave a comment on this post. *Giveaway ends Saturday November 9.

The winner of Jeff Biggers’ book “The United Stages of Appalachia” is Carol who said: “I was just thinking yesterday about how life is so much easier with a thankful heart. Complaining just feeds into misery. I’m looking forward to the November posts.” Carol email your address to me at [email protected] and I’ll get the book to you!


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  • Reply
    Cheryl Anderson
    November 7, 2019 at 7:20 pm

    The location of Buncombe County brings memories of a time many years ago when I was blessed to call that home for a short time. Wonderful memories of that beautiful part of the area


  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan
    November 7, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    I enjoy all the memories you invoke in people. I enjoy the responses about as much as I enjoy your blog which gives so much to all of us. I sit with my own memories and re-enjoy my relatives and past fun times and hard times. I think sometimes memories help me to be more grateful and live today better. Thank you.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

    I have been to a few ole barn dances when i was younger. There was one in Fall Branch, Tn. I would go there every weekend. Dancing is good for the heart and soul. Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2019 at 9:17 am

    Making a comment about Carol’s comment: “I was just thinking yesterday about how life is so much easier with a thankful heart.” An article the other day stated that being grateful for three things each day leads to improved mental and physical health, and I have no doubt that our uptight, always rushing, noses in phones, quick to judge society would greatly improve with a weekly barn dance, too.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2019 at 9:06 pm

    I attended many dances without dancing until my grandmother taught me to square dance. It took a long time to learn the various moves because different callers called them by different names. My old knees wouldn’t take now.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 6, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    I knew Odell. He didn’t have a girl named Lena. Why he wudden even married! Not that you have to be married to have youngins but Odell didn’t even like women. Or at least none of them liked him. He lived in a one room cabin back in the woods on his brother Lloyd’s place. He and Uncle Wayne built it for him so’s he didn’t have to beg for a place to sleep. He didn’t have water in his cabin but he didn’t need much. The branch ran right outside his little cabin door. The water was clean enough for the few uses he had for it. The only liquids he drank were a high percentage of alcohol so he had no worries about disease except maybe to his liver. His sanitary facilities were the great outdoors.
    Odell died in 2010 in Sylva at the tender young age of 89 outliving all his 11 siblings. I lost touch with Odell but I think he gave up alcohol in his latter years, probably because nursing homes don’t allow it.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    November 6, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Grandpa Thea (Theodore) and Grandma (Ola) had a bunch of boys. They outnumbered the girls, Toots and Elda. There were Jud and Daddy and Frank, (he was in the Hitler War). Those were the oldest and Frank was wrong-handed. Me and Harold had the pleasure of carrying Frank to his Final Resting place at Red Marble. Some of the Boys had nicknames, like Howard, (Wrone), Ray ( Tobe), and Carl (Sperge).

    Daddy and Jud ( Daddy called him Juck) and Daddy was Jew, I don’t know how they all got their Nicknames. That was before my time and I never asked. One time Jud and Daddy decided to to posseum hunting down the Railroad toward the Quarry at Nantahala. They didn’t have a gun, just their dogs and a toe-sack to put ‘en in. Since Jud was the oldest, he was to carry the posseums back home to skin. They got several and one wasn’t dead, just sulled. It climbed to the top of that toe-sack and bit Jud on the shoulder. He went down and hollered for Daddy to get a stick and kill that thing. Daddy found a stick, but couldn’t see thru the sack. Jud said to just hit that thing, he had to have some relief. Daddy swung, the posseum had moved, and Daddy hit Jud right in the neck. Jud swore he would get him when they got home, but by the time they got there, Jud had forgotten the incident and never mentioned it again. …Ken

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 6, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve never been to one of the old time barn dances but as a young boy I would listen to the adults talk about barn dances. The ones they talked about in E.KY. sounded like bad places to be. There were plenty of fist fights and some knife fights. I heard Dad tell of one barn dance where one fellow was carving on another and he pulled a pistol and shot him plime blank in the heart. Another story I remember well was about a Great Uncle who had a kicking, bucking mule that he kept his whiskey on. When anyone would ask for a drink, he would tell them if they could get it off his mule they could have it. So the story goes nobody ever got any moonshine. Fast forward many years and my Great Uncle was the last person I remember riding his horse to church. He never owned a car or got a driver’s license.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    November 6, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I think and hope that this year we get some of that weather (like the book title.) I don’t want any thing bad to happen to anyone, but I sure would love to get a big ol’ snow like we used to have. My heart misses them.

  • Reply
    Patricia Small
    November 6, 2019 at 10:06 am

    Have a happy day!

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    November 6, 2019 at 9:33 am

    There’s a lot of truth and wisdom in the title of this book. In the seventies I was working three jobs and cutting and splitting Locust Stakes. There were several large Locust trees on the Swain County Recreation Park near where the were building a Softball/Little League field. I contacted the County and inquired of their plans for these trees, they advised me could have them if I wanted them. These trees stand on a point of land overlooking the bridge and trestle just above the confluence of Deep Creek with the Tuckasegee River. I went up and checked these Locusts and found three trees with a diameter of over two and a half feet, closer examination revealed that these trees had been twisted by the winds that swept up and over this point of land their whole life causing the grain to look like a Cork Screw. I contacted the County Manager and thanked him for his generous offer of the trees but I would have to withdraw my request since with the twisted grain imparted to these trees by wind it would be impossible to split these trees short of using dynamite which one would have to use a volume of dynamite that would leave the trees just piles of splinters. This was a perfect example of “Rough Weather Makes Good Timber” as these trees are still standing being battered daily by the winds but should it be possible to saw these trees and keep the from dry splitting the lumber would last forever in some interior building project.

    • Reply
      Cousin Ed
      November 6, 2019 at 8:43 pm

      You made a mistake in passing on the locusts, Bill. Sure they would have been tough to split out but there is a massive a benefit not usual in locust stakes. You wouldn’t have to dig a post hole. You could just screw them into the ground!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 6, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Mama used to tell us about dances in someone’s house. Furniture was moved so they could have the dance. Mama’s daddy was a fiddler and he played at many of these parties. The fiddle was lost in a house fire and never replaced.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 6, 2019 at 7:48 am

    The title of that book reminds me of the story about the best wood for violins. In that story the best wood is from spruce growing near timber line where it is smothered in snow, battered by strong winds and struggling to root in the rocks. We relate to it because we know adversity overcome builds character.

    Us foresters call it ‘slow growth’ when the growth rings are close together and an inch of diameter growth may take decades. The wood is often dense, hard and heavy so is more durable.

  • Reply
    William P Dotson
    November 6, 2019 at 7:37 am

    I would love to read that book Tipper.

  • Reply
    Colleen Holmes
    November 6, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Weather Makes Good Timber is a great title for a book. Reminds me of my Grandpa Mose.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    November 6, 2019 at 6:36 am

    Glad the girls are staying busy! Keep on keeping on!

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