July in Pigeon Roost


The 1974 Winter Edition of the Foxfire Magazine contains a compilation of newspaper articles written by Harvey Miller. At the time of the magazine’s publication Miller’s weekly column had been around for sixty years and was till being published in the Tri-County News located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Here are a few of the July excerpts from the magazine.


Harvey J. Miller of Pigeon Roost found a large terrapin dead on a rock beside the branch of Jake Hollow. The next day he saw another large terrapin in the branch looking up the rock toward the dead terrapin. For a week, he noticed the terrapin at the rock in the same position before he removed the dead terrapin to see if the terrapin would go away. But a month has passed now and the terrapin still awaits at the foot of the rock where the dead terrapin lay, which possibly was its mate.

The downpour of rain here on Pigeon Roost Friday morning was what could be termed a million dollar rain because the corn and tobacco crops needed it so badly. But it came too late for early planted gardens and the potato crops to recover.

Homer Gouge reports he set .06 of an acre of tobacco during the dry weather and estimated he had only 300 plants growing Friday when he began to reset them.

Worms and grasshoppers long have proven bad pests to tobacco crops and have done the worst damage here this season that they have in many years.

A very large crowd, despite the dark cloudy weather, were in attendance Sunday mornings at the annual decoration and memorial services at the Bennett cemetery in the upper section of Pigeon Roost.

A profusion of flowers were carried to the cemetery on the little hilltop. Mr. and Mrs. Homer Gouge brought beautiful bunches of flowers that came from the flower garden of Mrs. R.W. Bennett of Relief and placed them on the graves.

The next decoration slated for this area will be the first Sunday in August at the cemetery on the farm owned by Don Barnett.




Several residents here this summer have engaged in the job of collecting moss from old rotten logs. The moss is sold to a firm in a nearby Tennessee town. The moss has to be dried in the sunshine before it is ready to be sold on the market.




The appeal that I made recently is the Tri-County News for greeting cards for my birthday brought in 25 cards with several enclosing letters in them.

Pigeon Roost folks, as well as from many other places, are now making their annual pilgrimage to the huckleberry scalds on the Unaka mountain; where it is reported that berries are in abundance this season and the crop is a week to ten days earlier.

Several woodsmen have reported that the sourwood trees are in the heaviest bloom they have been in in many past years and that of course is a good sign of big sourwood honey flow. One bee raiser said bees should get rich as cream on the sourwood bloom and he farther said that sourwood honey is his favorite kind.



I hope you enjoyed the peek into Pigeon Roost. Be sure to jump over to the Foxfire website and poke around. They are still publishing the magazine and those wonderful Foxfire Books too.


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  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 20, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I do enjoy reading this. The terrapin especially touched me. Its mate or a good ‘friend’.
    Wed night I watched a doe giving birth in my front yard, in the cool grass. She had one ‘friend’ who didn’t leave her side, the others in the herd wandered away then came back but one never left. Tho most aren’t scared of me, the friend kept a good eye on me. ‘A real friend walks in when others walk out.’ I sat on the wall and wanted to help her thru her labor but knew Gods way was best. Me getting kicked and killed wouldn’t help anyone.
    It took a long time and I was worried. .

    We used to pick huckleberries at Shining Rock. Bet it isn’t allowed now, not that I could.
    Why was I not scared to DEATH of the rattlesnakes? ??

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 20, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I love reading about the times of life, how it was away from here in the 50’s and 60’s. Mr. Miller was a fine writer and saw things about the way we did back then.

    Just leave it up to my friend Ed, to use those big words. …Ken

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 10:56 am

    A wonderful post of the daily happenings in an area of the country. I bought the Foxfire books years ago for my Daddy. He would say this is just the way we did it when I was growing up. Once a year my vacation was used to take my family and go home to be with my parents. It was a wonderful time of listening to stories of their youth, visiting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Taking our sons fishing and actually catching a lot of fish. Reading newspaper articles of daily happenings in their town and visiting our old pioneer cemetery and looking at the dates on the headstones. We repeated all of this yearly and never ever got bored.

    We were away for a couple days so I just was able to catch up on your last four posts and have enjoyed them immensely, Tipper. I have noticed the Wildness of Summer you mentioned. Here in south central PA it is in its fullness. Of course, I have always loved the woods, creeks & rivers, and I will take the back roads to go over one lane bridges and go through the woods just to enjoy the nature in that area. It is refreshing to my mind, soul and spirit.

    Yesterday the wildness of the forest visited me. I was sitting out on our patio when I heard a terrible commotion and something hit the far side of one of our sheds. I looked up at the shed about 75 feet from where I sat, and saw a chicken burst out from the side running for her life and right behind her exploded the most beautiful young fox in hot pursuit. Having no weapon to stop the fox, I yelled “Hey, Hey” as loud as I could. Mr. Fox put on his brakes and froze looking at me as to say “you talking to me.” I clapped my hands and he whirled and went back around the pine trees and into the neighbor’s yard where I now heard more chickens running for their lives. I quickly notified the neighbor and she went out and put the chickens back in their safe fenced in area. That type of wildness I can do without and for now the chickens are safe from Mr. Fox.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 9:23 am

    And here I thought Unaka was over there closer to you in Cherokee County. Apparently Spruce Pine has one too. Unless them folks with their berry buckets was trudging all the way to Murphy. Thatudahadtabe some awful good huckleberries.

    Yes! Thatudahadtabe is a word.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 9:01 am

    You introduced me to the Foxfire Magazine when you had a give-away several years ago. I have bought several old magazines and four books since then. I love reading about things we can all understand and relate to, like reading your post and the reader’s comments here on the Blind Pig & the Acorn.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 20, 2018 at 8:51 am

    I always enjoy his reporting. I wonder if people still go to the scalds and pick huckleberries?

    Ron, I never could find that sugar baby melon.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 20, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Then as now one obvious thing is that weather is variable. Every year it seems I think there is something different that year from all others I can remember. It is probably true that no two years are just the same. Guess that is a major reason that nature has to be watched very closely to see the variation. And most of us do not watch that close. After spending a great deal of time in the woods over about a half a century I still get reminded I haven’t paid enough attention. Like your post about the wildness of summer and I had to admit I hadn’t noticed it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 20, 2018 at 7:17 am

    I did not know that terrapins mated. Wonder what they did with the moss? Never heard of huckleberrie scalds.
    Interesting snippets of life in another time! This was a time when life centered around home, family, church and making a living.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2018 at 5:30 am

    We’ve come a long way since the day’s of this kinda writing and reporting, just a different outlook and feel to it, now all we get is who said what and how they said it and what did they mean when they said it, makes you sick at your stomach, I got find me some pepto bismol.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      July 20, 2018 at 8:57 am

      Amen, I need some pepto bismol too.

      • Reply
        b. Ruth
        July 20, 2018 at 12:47 pm

        AW Griff
        I am going thru Pepto-Bismol and giant bottles of Tums like water running over our mountain water falls…I’d just love to back so far in a holler it would take weeks to pump in the afternoon sunshine…and no media or TV reception could make thru the trees and rocky terrain…

        • Reply
          aw griff
          July 20, 2018 at 2:37 pm

          I love your idea. Just seems like there is no way to get there from here for me.

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