Appalachia courting/love

Puppy Love

chickens in chicken yard

Today’s guest post was written by Garland Davis.

From the time I was three until my father’s premature death when I was twelve, I spent my summers at my grandparent’s farm in Yadkin County. My GrandPap farmed a couple of acres of tobacco, milked a cow and two goats, raised a couple of hogs, and of course, there were the two mules, not to mention Granny’s formidable herd of free-range chickens. There were a half dozen cats who kept the property free of vermin and baby chicks when Granny wasn’t looking. GrandPap always had, “the best coon dog in Yadkin County” and a bunch of pups in training. 

GrandPap also, as he put it, “squoze” enough corn to fill the three jugs that lasted him through the year. I once asked him to teach me how to make “likker,” but he refused, he said, “You don’t need to know nuthin’ about that stuff boy.”   

My other grandfather was more accommodating. I never made moonshine, although I have seen it done and know how to make the stuff. Farming tobacco is arduous work. Making moonshine takes a close second, what with slipping around, hiding from the law, and the physical labor of setting up a still. 

But that is not the story I am here to tell. 

The summer I turned twelve, GrandPap drove down to get me the day after school was out. On the way back to Yadkin he told me that there was a farmer sharecropping on the next farm. He had a girl my age and they had a deal for swapping work. In other words, they would help each other with their tobacco. The girl and I were a part of the deal. She would work in GrandPap’s fields, and I would work in her dad’s tobacco. He added, “If it’s all right with you.” As if I had a choice. 

They had set their plants earlier and they were getting up to hoeing size. The next day, after breakfast, animals milked and fed, and armed with a hoe I stood looking at the river wishing I was Huckleberry Finn going on an adventure on the Mississippi instead of having to hoe tobacco.  

There was a boy coming up the lane, dressed as I was, in overalls and a floppy straw cowboy hat with a Hopalong Cassidy deputies star printed on the front of it. He was carrying a hoe. I rightly surmised that this must be the girl from down the road I would be hoeing tobacco with today. 

She walked to where I was standing and said, “Hey, I’m Junebug, well my name is June, but everybody calls me Junebug. I guess we are supposed to work together hoeing today. Daddy said we have to do your Pap’s today and our’s tomorrow.” 

As much as I hated my nickname, I introduced myself as “Buster.” Up until now, I had kept my interaction with girls to a minimum. They were lifeforms that seemed to cry for no reason and would tattle on you for making them do it. 

That summer Junebug and I hoed tobacco, topped, and suckered the stuff, primed it, cured it, and packed it down after it cured. 

After the initial awkwardness with each other, we developed into an efficient team. As we worked, we talked of the things we liked and disliked about school, teachers, books, we had read, songs and singers, and what we saw for our future. She wanted to be a nurse and I, of course, was going to the Navy. 

June, somewhere along the way, I stopped calling her Junebug and she started calling me Dave, I didn’t much care for Garland either. She sensed that. I don’t believe I ever told her so. 

The summer was winding down. Soon I would be going home. Her father had found a job in Virginia working in a shipyard and had made a deal with GrandPap to sell his tobacco. They would be leaving the same day I went back to Winston-Salem. We spent the little free time we had in those last few days walking along the river together, holding hands and talking, both of us avoiding the subject of leaving. We said goodbye that last evening as the sun was setting. 

That last morning, I was loading my clothes and stuff into GrandPap’s car when she came hurrying down the lane where I had first seen her. Only this time she was wearing a dress and there was no mistaking her for a boy. She came to me with tears on her face. She placed her hands on either side of my face and kissed me, then turned and ran back toward her home. 

My first kiss!

GrandPap saw the kiss. I was sure to be in for some teasing after he told the story. He never told it. All he said was, “Boy, you orta keep up with that girl, she’s a good one.” 

Probably should have followed his advice but I was fixated on a Pacific Ocean horizon. 

—Garland Davis


I hope you enjoyed Garland’s post as much as I did!

Last night’s video: Appalachian Vocabulary Test 2.

Tipper

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    November 11, 2021 at 8:16 am

    What a great story! Bless her she probably pined for him for a while.

  • Reply
    Nancy Johnson
    November 5, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    What a sweet story!

  • Reply
    Ron Bass
    November 5, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Great story. Brings back many happy memories. I grew up on a small tobacco farm. My dad and uncles swapped help, meaning we worked all week to get everyone’s tobacco barned and cured each week normally for 7-8 weeks. There was no pay, but that’s ok. You did what you had to, to support your family.
    Tipper, thanks for the hard work you do to bring a bright spot to everyone’s day.
    As a added note, we had our first frost here in Carolina flat country this morning.

  • Reply
    Donna Sue
    November 5, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I enjoyed this story so much! Mr. Davis gave the perfect amount of details, so my mind was vividly seeing the story as he told it. Having lived in Iowa for a few years, and knowing many people who detassled corn in the hot month of August, farm work is not easy. I enjoyed the romance in this story. It makes your heart smile. It was sad to find out they went their separate ways. But it was nice to hear that he realized he let the good one slip away. Ron Stephens asked how a young boy living in the mountains dreamed of the navy (I paraphrased, please forgive me, Mr. Stephens!). I grew up right next to the ocean, in sunny San Diego, yet my heart longed to be in four seasons, even snow! I guess we read a book, listen to someone’s memories, or today see something on tv or the internet, and it calls to our hearts. We want to experience what we don’t know first hand – that is me. You picked a very good guest to write your post today, Tipper! Thank you for sharing this.

    Donna. : )

  • Reply
    Garland Gray Davis
    November 5, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Tipper, I’ll try to answer some of the questions your readers posed. I don’t know what happened to June. While in third grade, I read a story of John Paul Jones and the birth of the American Navy. That awakened in me the desire to go to sea. I did go to the Navy and spent thirty years of my life chasing that Pacific Ocean horizon. I now live on the side of a hill overlooking Pearl Harbor with my wife of 56 years, a lovely girl whom I met in Yokohama, Japan. I often sit on my rear patio with my binoculars where I can see whatever comes over that Pacific Ocean horizon..

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    November 5, 2021 at 11:11 am

    Sweet story. God bless!

  • Reply
    Linda Daniel
    November 5, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Such a sweet story, I could see every bit of it as I read. I love your blogs. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    November 5, 2021 at 10:10 am

    What a sweet story. I wish he had kept up with Junebug. It would have been a “happily ever after” tale, I’m sure. I love all these little stories you share, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Gigi
    November 5, 2021 at 10:10 am

    What a love story. He would never forget his first kiss. I to , wished he would have kept up with June. This is one to sure to remember. How they got along and worked together. It passed the time and made their hard work,( not so hard) . Loved this one Tipper.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    November 5, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Many of my ancestors migrated into western Virginia , now West Virginia, from Yadkin County, NC. I enjoy reading any history to find the reasoning behind the migration into such a rugged and untamed wilderness. Garland is a great writer, and it is so easy to relate to his story of Puppy Love in the beautiful Yadkin County. Most of us can remember with fondness our first puppy love or even childhood friends. Youth is such a special time in life’s journey. As time has passed I look back at those young friends and acquaintances as the cream of the crop. In those days there seemed to be no political or social barriers, and many days were spent passing the time with friends. Never anything exciting going on, just lots of giggling and sipping on Pepsi. We had no worries about drinking soft drinks, because the health conscious obsession had not emerged yet.

    I was not as fortunate as Garland, as there was nobody to be found when I was working in the garden or feeding chickens. One nice neighbor boy did feed the pigs occasionally which was the one chore I detested . Come to think of it he was kinda cute. I must have been a weird child because I loved most work, but nothing quite as sweet as those long Summer days with young friends.

  • Reply
    Margie G
    November 5, 2021 at 9:36 am

    I loved Garland’s post!!!! Wonder what ever happened to June? Did Garland go sailing off into the Navy? One will have to wonder…I liked when he said his Pap told him “You don’t need to know anything about that, boy!” I remember being told that about a few things I questioned. Kids today should hear that more too and have their innocence guarded or try to….AINT it a crazy world?

  • Reply
    Curt Murphy
    November 5, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I see you deleted my comment.

    • Reply
      Tipper
      November 5, 2021 at 10:50 am

      Curt-I didn’t delete your comment. Comments are set to moderation meaning they don’t publish until I approve them. Sometimes that’s quickly and sometimes its a good long while depending on how busy I am 🙂

  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    November 5, 2021 at 9:22 am

    I love a good love story, but I was sad they did not keep in touch. Life gets busy , I reckon, and young people gotta fly.

  • Reply
    Curt Murphy
    November 5, 2021 at 9:00 am

    Sweet story about the boy and girl but it seems that they got no compensation for working all summer in the tobacco fields. As a child growing up in tobacco let me tell you it is hot, nasty, hard and sticky work. Its seem the GrandPap and the father were using the children as free unpaid field hands. As the boy stated he had no choice in the matter. Somehow that part just dose not seem right.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    November 5, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Memories like those are minted gold, worn smooth with remembering but still precious. If memories could be sold and thereby lost, what price might we refuse if offered? More than there ever was, or is or will be?

    I can’t help but wonder though, how does a North Carolina mountain and piedmont boy get a hankering for the “boundless deep”? I like to visit and see it and marvel at it. But for everday, I want to see mountains when I lift up my eyes. Not faulting what or where anybody loves, just pondering how we differ and we don’t quite know why ourselves.

    I have put a hold on “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk” at our library.

  • Reply
    GoodGriefLouise ( Bill )
    November 5, 2021 at 8:06 am

    Well pshaw I was hoping for a happy ending. But maybe it was. Puppy love doesn’t always work out.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    November 5, 2021 at 7:41 am

    Sweet story.
    I can’t help but think it could have been sweeter if he had kept up with Junebug.

  • Reply
    Melinda
    November 5, 2021 at 7:22 am

    Another wonderful guest writer along with all your good stuff!

    Was excited to learn a wedding is being planned – Wow, your family must be extra busy.

    Take care of yourself. It’s hard not to overdo at these times in your life.

  • Reply
    Robert
    November 5, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Makes you want to know what happened to Junebug turned June. Maybe it was June Allison . . .

  • Reply
    Martha Justice
    November 5, 2021 at 6:55 am

    Love can find you anywhere ❤

  • Reply
    BUZ SALMON
    November 5, 2021 at 6:24 am

    Tipper I really have enjoyed these last few stories from Doris woman last night vocabulary test( so much fun with the girls!) And I’m now an emotional hopeless romantic and Garland’s first kiss from June Bug was …well, it opened memories I’d forgotten! Good memories! Have a great Day! All of you, especially You Tipper

    • Reply
      Garland Gray Davis
      November 5, 2021 at 12:54 pm

      Buz, My GrandPap was named Salmons. I have many Yadkin Salmon/Salmons relations. Possible that we are related???

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 5, 2021 at 5:59 am

    Sweet story , a love that could have been. Life was harder then, requiring much more physical labor than most of us do now. Minimal or no TV, no cell phones, no Starbucks, few/no cars. It was a lot of work, physical work, to live and feed your family.
    We have it so much better now, I guess!

    • Reply
      AWGRIFF
      November 5, 2021 at 8:32 am

      Miss Cindy, loved your comment of I guess. I guess too!

      • Reply
        Miss Cindy
        November 5, 2021 at 3:17 pm

        Indeed, some days I wonder.

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