Just A Little Ways

Today’s guest post was written by Charles Fletcher.

Appalachia Cherokee County NC


Just A Little Ways written by Charles Fletcher

I can never forget when and where  the phrase, “JUST A LITTLE WAYS” really meant something to me. Jim Casada’s guest posts often mention the small town of Bryson City, North Carolina. After reading a recent entry by him, I began thinking back to the days I was stationed in the CCC Camp up on the side of the Smoky Mountains. During that time in 1940, usually one or sometimes two truck loads of us CCC boys got all cleaned up, and dressed in our best uniforms for the Saturday night trip to Bryson City. Not so much for the town, but for all the pretty young girls that come from all the hollows and ridges of the mountains. They came to meet the young boys all dressed up in their uniforms.

I became acquainted with lots of the local people and enjoyed their company, but to be honest the real reason I wanted to ride into Bryson City was the Square Dance they held every Saturday night.

As I sometimes see those dances today on tv, it is hard for me to imagine that one day a long time ago, I could kick as mean a leg as anyone. Now to the story “Just A Little Ways.”

There was this pretty little blond girl that I had danced with on several of the Saturday night dances in Bryson City. The last dance of the night was about to start when this sweet girl asked if I could walk with her home. “Where do you live?” I asked her. “Oh, just a little ways.” she told me.

We were off to where I hadn’t been before. Through town to the big turn at the graveyard. We took the trail behind the graveyard; crossed a couple of foot-logs across some creek; went through a wire fence; and then I asked “How much farther?”

“Just a little ways” she answered. I told her “I have to leave you. The truck will go back to camp soon and if I’m not on it I’ll have to walk all night to get back to the camp.”

“But it’s just a little ways” she said. I didn’t waste any more time telling her goodbye. I began with a full trot and soon was in a fast run. I had to catch that truck.

When I came around the corner at the graveyard, I saw the boys were getting in the truck. I started hollering for them not to leave me. Someone did hear me and they waited.

I danced with my little blond girl several other Saturday nights but never walked her home again. Because I never trusted her when she would say “Oh it’s just a little ways.”


I hope you enjoyed Charles’s memory from long ago as much as I did-it reminded me of all the times I tell the girls I’ll be there in a minute. If I’m not mindful-it’ll be more like 20 or 30 minutes before I go see what they need.





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  • Reply
    March 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Bryson City to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!

  • Reply
    August 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    Enjoyed the story and Ed does have a start on a good thriller!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 27, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I remember my aunt/uncle owning a chicken farm in Long Valley, NJ and when we would go for a leisurly walk down the paths, my aunt would say it was just a little ways down the path. It always took forever to get there. Great memory story! Oh, did you ever make her your sweetheart/wife?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    My Dad’s oldest sister was one of those girls that met a young CCC man from Middle Tennessee around Jackson County, NC. They married, and Bob and Kathryn (Aunt Kat) Cantrell lived a long life into their 90’s, raised a great daughter and son and were favorites of my brother and I. Thank you, Charles, for helping me to get a glimpse into what their relationship might have been like in the early days.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Charles Fletcher always does a nice story of how life use to be.
    I remember my folks telling me about the CCC camps. The one I’m
    familiar with is on Nantahala Lake. I’ve deer hunted all around
    there and caught many a small mouth bass where the water backs
    up in a big cove.
    Before school started each year,
    daddy and mama would take us to
    Bryson City to get a new pair of
    shoes. They had a Belk’s Store
    pretty near the town red light back then. But today, I really love them sliced barbeque sandwiches at Neighbor’s, “just a
    little ways” out of town…Ken

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Mr Fletcher’s story was most enjoyable, and I have one a bit similar:
    It’s not been but ten years since we didn’t have house numbers in this tiny city; folks that lived within the city limits had to go to the Post Office to get their mail as there was no delivery for us city folk, all 1,912 of us, not counting the loose dogs and coyotes. Directions to my house were “Come down the 4-lane and turn left at the flashing yellow light, come up the hill ’til you get to the Post Office, then a little ways further and look for the old John Deere in the yard.” Sometimes, about 50-50, I think, it got to be “a little piece..” We have house numbers now but the directions remain the same.
    My dad was in the CCCs ‘way back in the thirties. He was stationed in Rhyolite, Nevada; I think they were planting trees there. If I remember correctly they got $30 a month but they were required to send $25 of it home to Momma. Since their food and found were provided, that was a really good deal back in those times; the boys that joined the CCCs provided for the rest of the family at home. Anyway, of all the things he may have told me about that time, the tale that sticks in my mind is about the sign. The sign was in the Rhyolite saloon, it said: “Please don’t shoot the piano player, he’s doing the best he can.”

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 27, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you, Charles for a wonderful story. Yep, just a little ways is a s statement with many meanings!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Thank you Charles, your story put a smile on my face!
    “Just a little ways” reminds me of my Grandma Martin, the self-proclaimed Pennsylvania Hillbilly; she would describe a place as being “just a hoot and a holler over the hill”!

  • Reply
    Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads
    August 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    The “Just a little ways” story was great. We should all listen closely to older folks. We can learn more than just a little bit.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Have heard it and said it all my life. i remember when we’d be going somewhere and i wanted to be there NOW. So Mama would say “now Sissy be still, it’s just a little ways so we’ll be there in a minute”.Don’t think it was ever that quick of a trip!

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    August 27, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I enjoyed the story and the comment from Ed. I can see a story there waiting to be written down. I’ve always heard and said ‘just a little ways,’ and still do.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    August 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Tipper and
    Charles….How I loved this story and the comments of all the readers.
    Just a little ways, means different things to different people…As a child I remember going on a trip and a little ways turned into a nap taking long trip. Later in my life, a little ways is a little ways, maybe just down the road a piece…
    Now that I’m much, umhumph, much older lady…a little ways may and a lot of the time means that I just forgot how far it was…Tipper, aliken’ to the time we were hunting the house on stilts, where we thought we left our cell phone, on the Andrews road…LOL
    Thanks Charles and all for a great post and thank you Tipper for sharing all…

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    August 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

    An answer I frequently gave to my little girl’s “when?” question was “tomorrow.” One day she looked up at me with seriousness and asked, “Mommy, is today tomorrow?”

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Tipper–I enjoyed Charles’ story for multiple reasons. One was that the phrase “a little ways” associated with pretty young things is all too familiar. When I was a teenager there was one year when a special train carried fans from Bryson City to Sylva for a Swain High vs. Sylva football game. At the time my girlfriend was a girl (a relative, incidentally of the Ammons boys who post here regularly) who lived maybe a mile or so from the railroad station. I walked her home after the train got back to Bryson, going past a graveyard (School House Hill) in the process. I never thought about anything until I was almost back home when here came Daddy looking for me. I had neglected to tell either him or Momma (both had ridden the train) that I was going to walk a girl “a little ways.” He was understandably worried sick, and I sure enough got down the road from him.
    On a different note, I’d love to know which CCC camp Charles called home for a time. There were a dozen or so in Swain County. I also suspect Don might be interested in the nature of the work he did, especially if it involved razing of old home sites in the Park (which was one of the duties of the local CCCs).
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I enjoyed the story, Charles. You have to wonder if that cute little gal would still be dancing with you if you would have had time to walk a little piece farther and get to know her better.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    August 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

    Distance is really a matter of perception, to the young lady who had made the trip into town often it was “just a little ways” while to the young corpsman worrying about an all night walk back to his CCC camp it seemed a fer piece. I have noticed that age has greatly changed my perception of distance when traveling by Shank’s Mare.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Fun story, Charles.
    When I’m out tromping through the mountains, there’s a little blonde-headed girl who sometimes tags along with me. Occasionally, I’ll detect a bit of despair from her about the climbing – or more likely, the thrashing that we’re taking from the rhodo, laurel, and briers. When I do, I’ll often say something along the line of “Why, it’s just a little ways on up there” or “It’s just over this next rise”
    For some reason, the little blonde girl – who’s been hanging around with me for over 40 years now – has never gotten the hang of how far “a little ways” is, or the fact that there could possibly be a couple of intervening ridges between you and “the next rise.”
    I reckon you’ve just got to be from Swain County to understand these sorts of things.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    August 27, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Oh yes, grew up hearing that phrase and still hear it frequently today. Sounds like the title to a future song…well maybe?

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I well remember “It’s just a little ways” and usually “further” was added to it. It was just a little ways to walk to Grandpa Collins’s house; but it really was more than a mile–along a trail over a very steep hill–seemed like a mountain to me when I was young; then down the other side of the hill, and for a long ways along a creek, by the huge chestnut tree (still alive then), over a little narrow wooden bridge (with no handrails) and finally Grandpa’s house was up ahead inviting me inside to rest, get someething to eat, and have a wonderful time while my little brother and I were there. And, going the other way, “It was just a little ways” to Grandma Dyer’s house up on Town Creek in the shadow of Bald Mountain and in sight of New Liberty Baptist Church. But it actually was over four miles–a long way for children to walk. I can remeber our going in the wagon there–even in cold winter time when Mother would heat black irons, wrap them in blankets, and put them in the wagon to keep us warm. We usually spent the night at Grandma’s house. The scariest time I remember was when the “chimney caught fire” and I thought the house was going to burn down! It took a bucket brigde from the spring to the house to get the suet fire put out that was raging strong from the chimney. And “It’s just a little ways” back to many other memories, unique to where we lived and had our wonderful Appalachian way of life.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

    When my mother answered with, “In a minute.” we responded with, A real minute or one of those big long ‘wait a minutes'”?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 27, 2012 at 7:31 am

    I think I’ve heard of that little blonde girl. She went into town on Saturday night and lured young men back to her home in the holler where she lived with her mother and two older brothers. Every Saturday night a new young man, every Monday morning a fresh grave in the graveyard. What happened in the intervening hours would be only speculation. Charles, you are the lucky one. The rest didn’t have a ride to catch.
    I made this all up, but it sure sounds like the start of a good thriller.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Yes, heard that all my life. Still do. Also heard “It’s just a little piece.”

  • Reply
    Carol Killian
    August 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I used to answer my son someday. He would ask if he could go or do something…I would reply , “Someday.” He said, “I know someday means never.” Have a marvelous Monday!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 6:09 am

    I loved Mr. Fletchers’s story so much. It reminds me of something that happened to me when I was a boy (seems like so
    many of my comments start with this phrase now).
    Once my cousin about six and his little sister and I were at Granny’s place. We were down in the pasture and there was a small creek. It was so small that my cousin Jack and I jumped over it. Actually it was only about a few inches wide and no more than a couple inches deep. Still it looked like the raging Mississippi to Sylvia my little girl cousin. Jack and I had alredy crossed while Sylvia was left on the other side. She was wanting him to help her cross. He said, “Come on and just wade out a little ways so I can get to you.” She did and he said to just wade out a little ways more. Finally when she was standing midways the little rascal said. “Ah, you might as well just wade on across now.” It ain’t but just a little ways more. Funny how a phrase can awaken memories of days gone by. Thanks Mr fletcher and Tipper.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2012 at 5:15 am

    I’m told that when I was little my mother said to me she’d get me a drink “in a minute”. My reply was “What? All that time again?”

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