Appalachia Appalachian Writers

Charles Fletcher’s New Book Is OUT!

Charles c fletcher living their dream

In late November, Charles Fletcher published the third book of his Little Sam Mountain series. The book is titled Living Their Dream. At age 91, Charles is still going strong-his latest book makes the seventh book he has written about his memories of growing up in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Charles generously donated a copy of Little Sam Mountain-Living Their Dream for me to give away here on the Blind Pig. Before I get to the giveaway details, I’d like to share one of my favorite Charles Fletcher stories-The Medicine Show.

Canton NC

The Medicine Show by Charles Fletcher

A medicine show consisted of three people: a doc, a pretty young girl, and the very popular music man. The young girl was always dolled up with make-up and wearing a dress pulled up to her knees, with short sleeve bows, a low neck and no collar. Us boys got our ears pulled a lot and the men got a lot of elbows in the ribs from their wives for gawking and trying to get up close to her. The music man would play a guitar, harmonica, and drums all at the same time while singing. He would ask for requests but would just ignore them and sing what he wanted to. The main attraction of The Medicine Show was the Doc though. Doc was the fancy dressed man that owned the truck and the show. After the young girl and the music man warmed up the crowd, Doc would come out for the main act.

We didn’t have any telephones back then but news of a show coming to town would spread from one person to another quickly until everyone in town would know.

On the night of the show, Mom cooked supper and we children got the milking, feeding of the animals, and wood chopping for the cook stove done in a hurry. We rushed to finish eating then started the three mile trip to town.

“I’ll wash the dishes when we get back”, Mom said. “Don’t want to miss any of the show.”

There was always a small platform on the back of the Doc’s truck that acted like a stage where everything took place. Doc, as he was always called, strode out onto the stage.

“Gather up close neighbors and friends. I want to tell you about the Miracle Medicine I’ve brought you. If you have back problems, sore feet, head aches, lack of energy, sleeping issues, or any other problems, this medicine will have you up and going in less than half an hour. (you children move to the back). It’s only fifty cents a bottle and, if it doesn’t do what I say, I’ll give you your money back. Now step up. Who will be first?”

My Mom took a dollar from her apron pocket and handed it to the Doctor.

“Lady, to let you know how much I appreciate your trust in my medicine I will let you have three bottles for a dollar.”

“I’ll take it”, Mom said.

Then nearly everyone began to step up with their dollar to buy three bottles.

“Better head for home”, Mom said. “Got to clean up the kitchen before going to bed. Won’t be long until four o’clock in the morning and it’s time to cook breakfast.”

Back home, Mom went into the kitchen to clean up. Me, my brother, and our two sisters went in the parlor where Dad had two oil lamps burning for light. We were getting our school homework done when Mom began to sing at the top of her lungs.

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

Mom was always humming and singing, but never this loud.

“Better go see why she is singing so loud”, Dad said.

She started up again.

I’ve got a home in Bul-

“What’s wrong, Mama?” Dad asked.

“Nothing. Just felt like singing.”

Dad noticed that one of the bottles of medicine was sitting on the table, about a quarter empty.

“You been taking this medicine?” he asked.

“Just a few spoons full. Was sort of tired but I feel much better now.”

Then she started singing again at the top of her lungs.

In the sweet by and by

In the sweet by and-

Dad picked up the bottle and read the front label.

Cure All Miracle Medicine

He then looked on the back of the bottle.


25% Spring Water

75% Alcohol

Oil of Peppermint added for color and flavoring

Patent Pending

Dad went to the parlor, got his hat, and headed to the door.

“Where are you going?” Mom asked.

“Got to catch that Medicine Man before he leaves town. We need a few more bottles to get us through the winter.”

Out the door he went. My Dad was known to like a little drink every now and then. In fact a big drink anytime.


I hope you enjoyed the story of the medicine man as much as I did-it makes me giggle every time I think of the part about Charles’s mother singing. To be entered in the giveaway for his latest book-all you need to do is leave a comment on this post. (*Giveaway ends Wednesday January 8)

All of Charles Fletcher’s books can be found at Ingram,, Baker & Taylor, Barnes & Noble, as well as directly from Charles himself at [email protected]


p.s. It’s not necessary to read all 3 books of the series in order-while the books do tell the ongoing story of the Dowdy family-each book can also stand alone as a seperate story.

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  • Reply
    John Rawdon
    January 7, 2014 at 7:58 am

    A delightful story. I am sure the book is wonderful. Thanks for all you post on here Tipper. I enjoy reading all that you share with us.

  • Reply
    Carolyn Knutter
    January 6, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    Thanks Tipper, for sharing a story from Charles’ book with us. So glad he took the time to write all of these stories down for others to enjoy.

  • Reply
    janet pressley
    January 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Good story! Would love to read the book.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    January 6, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I always love Mr. Fletcher’s stories. Sure would like some of that “cure all” on this frigid winter night-lol! Since I’m getting such good use out of Grannie’s hat this week, I’d feel guilty about winning the book. Just wanted to let Mr. Fletcher know how much I enjoy him.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    January 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Never did see my comment this morning
    around 12 ish. Anyway, great job
    Charles! I always enjoy reading your

  • Reply
    Nate Beck
    January 6, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Never read his wrightings but sure sound like a hoot.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    I’ve heard stories like this for many years from parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Some were hard to believe until I could verify them with someone I trusted. Now I’m the one telling ‘tall tales’ with only a few people still around to verify them. I enjoyed Charles’ story.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    I’m weighing in kinda late in the day, but had to comment anyway. Your “Miracle Medicine” reminds me of “Hadacol” that my grandmother took when it was popular in the 1940’s. It was primarily ethyl alcohol and provided some immediate relief for the aches and pain of old age.It was said to sell well in the dry counties. She, of course, never took a drink in her sweet, loving and innocent life. In the 1960’s when we landed on the moon, she didn’t believe it was real, but firmly denied that TV wrestling was fake.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    January 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for the chuckle. I feel like having some tonic some days myself!! Great memory.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I s’pose it’s no secret these days that a lot of the ladies’ ‘pick-me-ups’ of yore were usually peppermint schnapps, but I was somewhat taken by surprise when I read that the most notable (or is that ‘notorious?) of them was Lydia Pinkham’s…
    On sale at your local old-timey family operated drugstore, alcohol no longer included, though.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    January 6, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    tipper as always i enjoy your stories and the folklore.. loved the health tonic.. mebbe i needs some of that here.. lol
    it cant hurt.. eh…. spring water is good for you
    hope you are warm and happy in your corner of the world. . here in pa its bitter cold.. ugh
    sending big ladybug hugs and love

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    January 6, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Great story and sounds like a great read. Thanks for posting it.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Loved the story & would love to have the book. With the peppermint that tonic might have been pretty tasty. I remember a spoonful of whiskey & sugar being used–I think for coughing. Also have heard of whiskey being rubbed on sore baby gums but never saw that.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Love the story, brought a laugh and a smile to my day. Love to hear the stories from our elders, makes you appreciate the simple things.

  • Reply
    Bob and Inez Jones
    January 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    These memories written in story form are absolutely priceless. What a marvelous thing for Mr. Fletcher to still have such a wonderful memory. Preserving the past for the future!! Thank you Mr. Fletcher.

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    January 6, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Loved the story. I guess that it doesn’t count as drinking if it is for medicinal purposes…

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Charles’ family is blessed that he shares his stories. All my life I’ve tried to get family members to share their stories but have rarely been successful. I do have a few bits and pieces but they are more like miscellaneous pieces from a broken pitcher than a full flowing story.
    Keep up the good work Charles!!

  • Reply
    Ken Ryan
    January 6, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I sure would like a chance of winning that book! Appreciate Mr. Fletcher giving up a copy for the drawing. Hope all is well with everyone.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

    I have always enjoyed some of the writings you have shared from CF; I must admit that I have not read his other stories, but I sure would like to read one. Maybe I will be a winner. Thanks for offering this opportunity to win a book. I did a chuckle at his mom’s singing because back then, women were more prim and proper, at least that was my impression.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 10:33 am

    It makes me giggle too, funny story. I wonder what time it was when they got home and she was thinking about 4am rolling around.

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    January 6, 2014 at 10:28 am

    These books sound great, Tipper! I think we know why his mom was singing away, hehe.

  • Reply
    Patti Tappel
    January 6, 2014 at 10:12 am

    I bought books at John C Campbell that you recommended before, so I’m sure this one is a winner too!

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    January 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I would like to be included in the book give away. Reading like this is always interesting and entertaining to me.

  • Reply
    Debbie Nobles
    January 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I love his books, I had a hard time finding them before but I have them all up to now. It lets me picture how my grandparents must have lived. I share his books with an 80 year old friend and my mom who is 85.I love that just being 90 plus doesn’t slow him down.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    January 6, 2014 at 9:51 am

    So glad Mr. Fletcher is preserving these stories. Our music, dance, and stories like this one are going to be lost forever if not for folks like you and your family.
    Keep spreading the word for everyone to somehow keep the stories flowing.

  • Reply
    Robin Naneix. ᏥᏉᏉ
    January 6, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Wow! Thank you for the story. My daddy grew up in McCaysville and told me things like that. Because he also told a lot of tall tales, I didn’t think to believe it. Have a great day. All animals inside tonight, right?

  • Reply
    Joe Penland
    January 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I love those stories from old timers. Please put my name in the pot for the book.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    January 6, 2014 at 9:35 am

    I would love to have one of these books since I love the way he writes. He is very entertaining. Ya’ll stay warm. Even Florida is cold right now.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Charles writes the best stories I have ever read. I have bought all his books, but haven’t finished reading the last three. The part of the story about the pretty girl dressed in a low neck dress with no collar made me laugh and think about how my mom and her sisters always wore high neck dresses with a collar. Mom kept a safety pin handy if the dress or blouse neckline wasn’t high enough.
    Thank you, Charles, for sharing your life stories with us. I have enjoyed every minute of it. Without Tipper, I may not have ever found you.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    January 6, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Good story of the mountain culture. I can remember my Granny dosing us kids with a spoon of brown sugar to which a few drops of whisky were added for a cold. Alcohol was and is a base for many medicines.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    January 6, 2014 at 9:17 am

    good story. we forget how much folks enjoyed simple things. it takes a lot more to get us excited now…too bad.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 6, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I have read some of Charles Fletchers books…I, of course, would love to have this one as well! He, he! The lucky spin of the old blog comment counter will likely pick the winner…if it ain’t froze up! Everythin’s froze!! So there won’t be no spinin’ of anything here! Glad we got our “bread-n’milk” and I also got a big pot of stew in the fridge ready to heat up with a big pone of cornbread! Hot and spicy cornbread, for the extry heat! LOL Less a little meat…have you checked the price of beef lately? I usually just add a can of mushrooms or extry carrots and ‘taters when I can’t get a good buy on stew beef! Wow! Well, I’m offtrack as usual…back to the weather..
    We are very cold, snowy and icy…Are you having any of this storm? It was supposed to come your way by late last night or this morning!
    Stay warm…since we don’t have supplemental heat anymore, (closed up our fireplace, too old to tote wood!) we hope that the electricity stays on…LOL
    Guess we could go to the motorhome and fire up the gas, but I think it might be nearly empty for the winter…LOL
    Later and thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 6, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I enjoyed Charles Fletcher’s story. I am not much of a drinker, but with the temperature in Brevard forecast to reach a low of 2 degrees tonight, I may have to take it up!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, PhD
    January 6, 2014 at 8:19 am

    ONE MORE EARLY NOTE! I just read your post of Charles’s ‘intro’ to Jim. Afterwards he was laughing. I ask him if he had hear the story already. He said, “NO! I lived it!”
    Cheers, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Gina S
    January 6, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Mr Fletcher wrote a gem of a story. His tale reminded me of events in my neighborhood.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull, PhD
    January 6, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Hey Tipper: Since I am kind of frozen in over here in TENNESSEE and the VERY FIRST ENTRY your blog this morning, MAYBE I WILL BE LUCKY and WIN THE COPY OF CHARLES’s “Living Their Dream” book you offer. And then maybe I won’t. YOU BE THE JUDGE!
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    Author: “Fiddler of the Mountains”

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 6, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Charles Fletcher’s books sound like winners, indeed! I admire his persistence into age 90 of continuing to tell his stories. Our culture and way of life are worthy of preservation, and it is to people like Charles Fletcher and others we owe much for recording life as it was in the Appalachians. Thank you, Charles, for your Little Sam Mountain series!

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 6:52 am

    That’s a good story 🙂 I enjoyed reading it this morning.

  • Reply
    Linda Johnson
    January 6, 2014 at 6:33 am

    How funny! What a gift for storytelling.

  • Reply
    January 6, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Great story from Mr. Fletcher’s book. I am so amazed how folks back then could enjoy life so much even with all the endless chores.

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