Appalachia Brasstown

Brasstown Blotter – Dear Boys and Girls


The Brasstown Blotter was a small publication published in the late 1930s and early 1940s by the John C. Campbell Folk School. In their own words: “The Brasstown Blotter aims to soak up local news, to boost local programs and enterprises, to be interesting reading.”

During war time the Brasstown Blotter acted as a form of communication between those who had left to serve their country and those who were left in Brasstown. In the September 5, 1944 issue Georg Bidstrup begin with a letter to the boys and girls.


Dear Boys and Girls,

Our aim during this period has naturally been to produce as much food as possible. We have done this, even increasing our production above normal. Wallace Massey and Johnnie Cantrell have kept the home front going in the dairy and, by the way, they are very proud of “Pop-Eye’s” daughters.

March Coker is now producing milk on my own farm from a herd of eight cows. That with Dub Martin’s dairy, of nine cows, is giving us encouragement in getting local milk production started.

Oscar Cantrell is busier than ever keeping old machines going both on the school farm and in the community, and additional responsibility has come to him as Hickory is no longer with us.

During the slack farm period this summer we have built a hammer mill shed with an adjoining corn crib. This is in the lumber yard so we can use power from the 40 hp moter. Frank Hogan has been the master-carpenter.

Raymond (Bun) McLain besides tending to the chickens has been fine help in the general farm work since early June. His mother —”Bicky” — has given such good vegetable service to Miss Gaines that she will be “plum spoiled”— if she can be spoiled!

I had some “pretty girls” to help me this summer. Ethel Capps a a Knoxville gym teacher, Ellie Lambert, and Lucile Gault stayed on after the Short Course for several weeks. They were excellent help in the garden; threshing, haying and dairy barn.


This excerpt from The Blotter is a fascinating peek into Brasstown and their attempts to keep the home fires burning while the country was at war. I knew March Coker. Well I say I knew him, I should say I remember him. He went to the church where my Papaw Wade and Mamaw Marie are buried. He lived just below the church a ways and I always thought his house looked neat and comforting even though I don’t think I was ever in it, unless I was too little to remember.


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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    October 3, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    I remember my mother talking about Victory Gardens. During that time they had just come out of the Depression and were involved in WW2. Everybody grew every edible they could, even though it was more that enough for them. They knew somebody would need it. Even after the war was history Mommy kept the notion that she should grow at least enough for her own family but usually had enough for friends and neighbors too.
    I have a vivid memory of her giving food away. My uncle, his wife and 3 or 4 kids lived in a little house that my Daddy helped him build. One of the kids had come over and said his mother had sent him to ask if we had anything to eat. Mommy got some food together and I helped them carry it home. My aunt was propped in the bed. She told one of the kids to bring her something. They took her a quart of green beans which she promptly opened and started eating right out of the jar. Cold! With her fingers! Every time I eat green beans now that picture pops in my head. It is a little disconcerting but I have, in the past few years, developed a love for good home grown green beans.
    Daddy raised chickens. Not to eat nor to eat their eggs. The eggs were hatching eggs. They has to be stored properly in a cool room he had built back into the mountainside. They were packed into “flats” that held 36 eggs each. The eggs had to be inspected and sorted into small, medium and large by weight. Anything larger or smaller were culled. Double yolked and cracked were culled. Everything except perfect eggs were culled. The perfect eggs were sold to the hatchery. The culls were eaten, sold to the public and often just given away.
    Well, one evening about dark me and Harold caught a couple of those same kids, our cousins, coming out of the “egg room” with two flats each of those hatching eggs. 12 dozen! 144 eggs! There were plenty of culls but they chose the perfect ones. The eggs we could sell.
    We were all just kids at the time but I was old enough to realize that kids don’t just go steal eggs. Somebody had to have sent them. Why they took them without asking I can’t understand. They had always been given food before.
    I won’t say much about my aunt except she had an accent. I don’t know where my uncle found her but let’s say she wasn’t raised locally.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    October 3, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Ellie Lambert returned to Brasstown from NY after the war to marry Monroe Wilson and stayed the rest of her life. She was Danny Wilson’s mother. He still lives in Brasstown. Lucile Gault was Lyn Gault’s wife and they later moved to Brasstown–permanently.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    October 3, 2018 at 7:57 am

    My memories of the wartime were gas rationing and sugar coupons. My Dad worked for the Pennsylvania railroad and they gave him a truck to use during the week so we had gas to go the farm on the weekends. Each family member got coupons for such things as sugar. It was a treat to get a
    small bag of sugar and go home to make cookies. I still have coupons my Mother saved after the war was over. I don’t know if she was afraid we may need them later or just as a reminder as to how things were.
    I remember after they announced the war was over going into the city and riding around the square blowing our horns and waving flags. I was about six years old but it left quite an impression.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    October 3, 2018 at 7:38 am

    I have long thought that too little attention has been given to the home front during WWII. When one looks it becomes plain that everybody was affected in their daily lives through rationing, materiel drives, family members in service and victory gardens. I don’t know of any other change that was so profound. The closest one is probably the Depression. While the reason for it was terrible, the national unity and co-operation are things to celebrate.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    October 3, 2018 at 7:11 am

    A crisis, and war surely qualifies as a crisis, surely serves to bring folks together for the greater good. The Folk School has been around a long time, always working for the greater good.
    That little snip-it from the Brasstown Blotter certainly reflects that!

  • Reply
    October 3, 2018 at 5:36 am

    Interesting how down home and personal the writing was back in the day, it sickens me what we’ve become today, but the good book said this day would come, and here we are.

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