Growing Up In Western NC

Growing up in western nc 1

A few weeks ago, Lewis Kearney sent me this post in an email. He has graciously allowed me to share it with you.

After reading one of your daily blogs, the thought hit me of things I had not thought of lately growing up in western NC:

emptying my mother’s chamber pot
seeing my grandmother’s flowers on the outside porch rail, mostly in coffee cans
going to church in straight back chairs in the back of my uncle’s pickup
building the tables for dinner on the ground at church
starting the fire in the cook stove with “coal oil”
gathering eggs and putting my hand on a black snake in the nest
playing with new kittens in the hay in barn loft
eating a cold watermelon on Sunday afternoons
sitting in the shade of the front yard visiting on Sunday afternoons
slopping the hogs
playing in the creek
Saturday night baths
getting a moon pie and “pop” at the country store
watching my grandfather salt his hams
seeing a new baby calf
seeing new chicks
seeing a new litter of pigs
baling hay
driving my uncle’s tractor at age 12
making a sling shot
not wearing shoes all summer (except for church)
visiting “smelly old aunts”
porch swings
the whole crowd sitting on the porch after supper visiting and talking
hearing the whip ‘or wills
shooting crows

hanging out clothes for momma
Helping my grandfather churn butter (his job only, but he would let me “help”)
an after dinner nap (noon) when working in the fields
pork chops, fried chicken, or country ham for breakfast
biscuits, eggs, and gravy every morning for breakfast, 365 days a year
keeping the wood box full
picking blackberries for jelly
helping to milk our two milk cows
riding behind my grandfather on his horse, Snapper, going to church
watching my mother using the wood stove to make a cake
tinkling out the upstairs bedroom window rather than going downstairs and going out back
staying all night at the tobacco barn
using the gourd dippers at the springs on the farm


I hope you enjoyed Lewis’s thoughts as much as I did-I’m glad to say I experienced many of those same things during my growing up years here in Western NC.

Leave Lewis a comment and I’ll make sure he reads it!



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    May 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Tipper, you tinkled out the upstairs window?!?! LOL, just kidding.
    His memories brought back many memories for me, too.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

    What a wonderful post! Have a few of the same memories…and loved everyone’s comments, too.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    You mean we weren’t the only ones who wee’d out the upstairs window? ROFLOL
    We were girls though, so it was in the trash can that we emptied out the window, but only once – cause mom caught us.
    The other things I remember are these:
    *seeing my grandmother’s flowers on the outside porch rail, mostly in coffee cans (our gran had a small closed-in back porch that she “started” her plants in)
    *gathering eggs and putting my hand on a black snake in the nest (eggs yes, snakes no)
    *playing with new kittens in the hay in barn loft (we had plenty of kittens, but no barn)
    *eating a cold watermelon on Sunday afternoons (yep)
    *sitting in the shade of the front yard visiting on Sunday afternoons (it was our side yard)
    *slopping the hogs (yep)
    *playing in the creek (with us it was the swamp)
    *Saturday night baths (yep, whether we needed it or not – LOL)
    *seeing new chicks (yep)
    *seeing a new litter of pigs (we got them when they were little)
    *driving my uncle’s tractor at age 12 (yep, but it was dad’s)
    *making a sling shot (only once)
    *visiting “smelly old aunts” (they were more gossippy than smelly)
    *porch swings (yep)
    *the whole crowd sitting on the porch after supper visiting and talking (with us it was sitting in the yard)
    *hearing the whip ‘or wills (yep)
    *hanging out clothes for momma (seemed like every durn day)
    *helping my grandfather churn butter (his job only, but he would let me “help”) (with us it was for dad, and we’d do it in a scalded out old Miracle Whip jar while watching Ed Sullivan)
    *tinkling out the upstairs bedroom window rather than going downstairs and going out back (with girls, it was in the trash can which we emptied out the window, but only once – cause mom caught us)
    staying all night at the tobacco barn
    God bless.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you Lewis and Tipper, this sounds like an idyllic childhood!

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    May 15, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I enjoyed these wonderful memories..Thank Lewis for me..I remember doing a lot of these..Awww the good old days..wish I could bring them back..

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Bill Burnett says Ivory in 99.99% pure. Pure what?

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I have a feathered friend “Whip” that answers my calls at twilight whenever I go down to the river or the garden. He just loves to follow me and repeatedly flies just over my head to land up ahead on the branches of one of the trees so we can sing our melody together. Whip must have really appreciated my gift of a brazier to collect the rain water a couple of years ago during the drought. This year I anxiously awaited an answer to my calls and was thrilled by his familiar song and the gentle touch of a feathered wing across the top of my head to confirm that Whip is back again this year.
    Lord knows this woman loves her Blue Ridge Mountain friends!!!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

    These are wonderful memories & I share many of them. Down in Granny’s cow pasture there was an incredible growth of blackberries–they were the biggest wild ones I’ve ever seen. It was in a small “holler” and they were lush & damp. We were scared of the cows & the snakes & the chiggers would eat us up but we always had cobbler & preserves.
    The slop bucket at home was a five gallon can that sat on the back porch. All discarded food went in & by night it was really percolating–we could have made whiskey. It took my older brother & me both to get it to the hog pen & pour it in the trough. The end of the trough extended out of the fence so we could pour it in without getting in the pen.
    Brother & I also had to go “get the cows” for milking at night. Since we were both scared of cows this was a dreaded time. We couldn’t have been more that 6 yrs. old as the cows were taken by the country store for debt soon after that. So different then–I can’t imagine a kid that young let loose in the cow pasture & some of those cows were mean.
    We found Daddy up in the hay loft after he accidentally got locked in the barn with one of the mean ones!!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Laurie-whipporwills are still fairly common here. In fact I have one so very close to the house that Ive thought about recording it-maybe I will : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    May 15, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Thanks for sharing your memories, Lewis – a wonderful way to grow up.

  • Reply
    Joy Newer
    May 15, 2012 at 10:10 am

    79 and still dreaming that i could have had the opportunity to have lived the lifestyles that Tipper and Guests have spoken about, can’t get enough of these wonderful stories, and thank you Lewis for such a good read. Every day we look forward to what Tipper shares and we just keep wishing. God bless each one of you, we no doubt will never meet but we love you all.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

    I am from WNC also and I have done all but a couple of things on Lewis list. A lot of them I still do. One of my favorite memories is “going to town”. Stopping by the old 5 and dime, watching the old men playing checkers, Men trading guns and knives right off the hood of their trucks, and of course the street corner preachers. Other thing I remember is my daddy coming home from work and my brother, sister, and me all running to see who could get to him first so we could see if he had eaten his raisin pie for lunch. If not the winner got it. There are so many other memories but this will turn into a blog post if I keep going.

  • Reply
    Larry Proffitt
    May 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Lewis ,Your memories brought back a flood of the same memories I had growing up on the farm here in east tn in the 40’s and 50’s. We couldn’t shed the shoes till May 1 however. I remember starting to school and having a new pair of overalls. We little fellows all wore bibs . I was afraid my pants would fall down just wearting a belt. Larry Proffitt

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    May 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Didn’t have the benefit of “growing up country,” but Denver, Colorado, in the early 1940s still had a touch of the “good old days.” Our milk was delivered by horse-drawn wagon. The friendly milkman would reach down and pull us youngsters up on the seat, to ride beside him to the next block.
    Dad, whose grandfather was a Texas Indian fighter, considered himself a Westerner, and he loved the mountains. His friends, the Laurers, lived on a ranch in the Rockies. Father had a .22 rifle with a bent barrel, and would sit on the porch shooting the heads off chickens in the yard.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Thank you for this touching and authentic ‘slice of life’; but I’m wondering when all this took place?

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    May 15, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Sounds like Lewis has been reading my mail.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I did a lot of these things growing up in Arkansas, but no grandfather, had an Uncle that was my hero/idol.. he could do most anything!! Sure do miss him!
    Ed Ammons, sure wish I had a farm and tractor, I’d invite you over to enjoy to your hearts content!!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Reading Lewis’ post makes me homesick for the way my life was as a child. Thanks Lewis, you’ve helped me revisit some wonderful memories.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I enjoyed Lewis’ take on life as
    it once was. I’m like Ed Ammons
    when it comes to driving a tractor. I’ve made parts for them and serviced them, we even have one, but its just something I’ve
    never cared to do. I appreciate
    the things I learned and did
    while growing up in the mountains
    of Western North Carolina. Wouldn’t take nuthin’ for that…

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Lewis, those were the good old days! I remember doing most of those things and I’m not that old. It’s just that my parents couldn’t afford the modern things some city folks had. Some of the things like using a wringer washer up until the 80s and hanging out clothes was a choice. I still hang out clothes, but not all the time and not because I have to. We never had city water and carried wash and bath water from the creek. The well was used for cooking and drinking. I thought it was the weirdest thing I had ever seen when my new sister-in-law fixed pork chops for supper.
    My girls don’t believe some of the stories I tell them about growing up. I’m sure you have had your kids or young folks give you that ‘whatever you say’ look, too.
    Talk about eating snow cream and watch the pitiful looks you will get.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Brought back memories of my childhood. It seems like those things were a part of country living, no matter where you lived.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    May 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Looks like he had some fun memories – especially the ones that he knew were not necessarily acceptable to some. I do remember the use of a chamber pot and an outhouse. I didn’t like the spiders or the smell in the outhouse.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    May 15, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Yes, it sounds like growing up in the country. Wasn’t it grand!

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    May 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Opps.. forgot something.
    Does anyone still have whippoorwills? I haven’t heard one in probably 20 years.
    I do have a pet mockingbird – actually a pair of mockingbirds. They made a nest in the backyard. In the afternoons I play “sounds” for him. I think the male is the smartest wild bird I’ve ever known! So far he’s learned the call of the whippoorwill, bob white and the whistle from Hunger Games (courtesy of my daughter)
    He already had a good play list of water birds and car alarms.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    May 15, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Thanks for the memories…. not mine, but I love to hear what it was like. I grew up in suburbia. No chamber pots, tractors, hay bales, etc.

  • Reply
    Laurie Stone
    May 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    We didn’t get to use the “good” straight back chairs in the pick-up – it was always milk crates, and the smallest children had to sit in the middle on a smelly blanket. Straight back chairs were reserved for hanging out on a front porch in the evenings.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    May 15, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Yep, done a many of those things, but not all. What a great list of things from Lewis along with the others added by B Ruth. May be good narrative for a “little book” with some old time photographs…Tipper?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    May 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Thank you, Lewis. I only visited the farm, so my memories are different. I did get to drive a tractor chopping corn for sileage when I was about 12. I especially remember finding out why cows are contented in winter. That chopped corn was already starting to smell of fermentation before we could make the trip from the field and load it into the silo!
    B. Ruth’s comment reminded me of hand-cranking ice cream. We had neighbors who got one of those new-fangled electric freezers, but the ice cream wasn’t as good. The hand crank freezer was turned longer, resulting in firmer ice cream, plus I think the hand labor we all put into it made it taste better. We switched between vanilla and peach when they were in season. Nothing better…

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    May 15, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I really enjoyed reading the post and comments. I can relate to many of the things mentioned and it brought back some fond memories. Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 8:01 am

    the majority of these things i remember and have done, but in Kentucky not NC. i did not tinkle out the window. LOL

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Tipper–Lewis has some grand memories, and by the very nature of them, I suspect he is somewhere near my age (in other words, not exactly a sprightly sapling). Almost all his recollections were familiar to me as well. Among the exceptions would be driving a tractor in the fashion he mentions (although I spent endless hours on one as a teenager mowing on the local golf course), emptying night soil (we had indoor plumbing),and riding a horse to church.
    To his list I would add:
    Splitting kindly and laying a fire in the cookstove before going to bed.
    Listening to WSM and WCKY on the radio, along with some of the wonderful radio programs like Gunsmoke.
    Going to the movies on Saturday afternoon for a dime (later inflation took it to 12 cents)
    Lots of fishing, squirrel hunting, and rabbit hunting.
    Summertime swimming, skipping rocks, and just general playing around Deep Creek and the Tuckaseigee River.
    Camping trips.
    Picking poke salad to sell.
    Picking not only blackberries but wild strawberries, dewberries, and gathering walnuts.
    A great post and one which tickled up some warm thoughts of yesteryear.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Been there, done that all except someone forgot to tell Daddy about the after lunch nap, we always just went back to the field. One memory I have that isn’t listed is bustin the Little T. when we were through for the day. We would always have a bar of Ivory Soap which you would throw as far up river as you could, duck down get wet, catch the soap as it floated past, lather up, throw the soap, duck under and rinse off then catch the soap and give it to the next person so you could swim and cool off. This may not have been so environmentally correct even though Ivory is 99.99% pure but it was always something to look forward to when working in the hot fields.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    May 15, 2012 at 7:53 am

    Thank you, Lewis.
    It’s no puzzlement why we’re here, and including central Kentucky and other rural areas of the South beyond the mountains, it’s why most of us want to stay.
    I would add another experience that, if not uniquely southern, was and is refined here:
    listening to our grandfathers and uncles tell stories of places close and far away, and learning to do the same.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 15, 2012 at 7:19 am

    and Lewis….thanks for your memories…
    Could I add a few…since I didn’t do all those you stated…
    Making homemade ice cream with a hand cranked churn and Uncles and cousins taking a turn at the crank…Putting newspaper on top to keep it cold while trying to wait until it set…That was back in the days, the eggs weren’t cooked…Most always it was vanilla with homemade toppin’s.
    Listening to the mowers in the field and then the rake…And my husband says the worst itch of putting bales on the truck on a hot summer day…
    Roosters crowing and cows mooing at the break of dawn…waking you up for another day…
    And one of my favorite things…my Grandmothers’ toasted open faced peanut butter toast…so good…to this day I don’t know exactly what she put on it….so it must have been the wood stove that made it so good…
    Thanks Tipper,
    and Lewis for reminding me of these memories

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    May 15, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Sounds like “Country Livin” no matter what State you were born in, most of the things listed I’ve done or seen done, life was much harder on my parents than it was on me, and the next generation under me will most likely not have it as hard as we did, there is a little song we use to sing when I was a child ” Count your Blessing ” name them one by one, seems fitting…

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 15, 2012 at 7:17 am

    It sounds like a perfect way to grow up.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 15, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Could have been me Lewis, except the parts about Grandpa and driving the tractor. Both my grandfathers died before I was born. I used to get to ride on a tractor but never got to drive. I’m 61 now and still haven’t driven a farm tractor. I’ve driven all manner of heavy industrial equipment but never a farm tractor. It ain’t fair.

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    May 15, 2012 at 5:09 am

    I’m from West Virginia and I’ve done most of those things, too.

  • Reply
    Sue from Ky.
    May 15, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Everything on the list sounds very familiar to us folks here in central Kentucky.We visited Western NC this past month and it is a very beautiful place.I feel I could make home anywhere, but that area and way of life would definitely fit in our lifestyle.

  • Leave a Reply