Yesterday I received the sad news that long time Blind Pig reader Bill Burnett passed away. Over the years Bill was a true source of encouragement to me. His comments were always insightful and full of mountain wisdom and knowledge.
I’d like to share some of Bills’s comments with you as a way to remember and honor him today.
August 24, 2011 “Butter on Your Nose”
When growing up at Needmore, NC we always had Milchows, hogs and chickens. The cows we had were Golden Guernseys so the cream would be a third of the way down on a gallon of milk so Mom would skim it off and we would churn almost every week in an old crock churn with a dasher while chanting “Come butter Come”, it was tedious work but the resulting butter was worth it and helped support the family as we sold butter and milk (fresh & buttermilk) to several neighbors. Hot biscuits, home made molasses went very well with it not to mention the Honey we harvested off our many hives of Bees. Thanks for helping keep the memories fresh.
February 11, 2012: “Mules and More Mules“
This brings back memories of how smart mules are. Once when in my early twenties Dad borrowed a mule from an older neighbor of ours to plow out our “Taters”. I made one trip down the row turned the mule around and said git up, nothing happened, I tried again, again nothing. I tried for approx five minutes and suddenly she took off, plowed back down the row, turned around and again just stood there for another five minutes. I finally realized that our neighbor who was in his seventies had to rest at the end of each row and no amount of begging, pleading or threatening could get the mule out of her trained way of plowing. I finally got the “Taters” plowed out but it was on the mules terms, not mine. I had a real life example of where the term “stubborn as a mule” came from.
February 4, 2013: “Eating Food You Put Up“
Another thing I remember about “puttin up food” was the pride everyone had in their productivity and self sufficency. The cellar and smokehouse were my parent’s way of keeping score on how busy and productive they had been. One of my favorite memories was bleached apples made into fried apple pies or as a side to a slice of cured hickory smoked Country Ham and biscuits that would melt in your mouth. Of course the Apples and Biscuits required a dollup of freash churned butter which was also a fruit of our labor. Another source of pride was after showing the bounty of the cellar my parents would always share with the guests and visiting extended family, most visitors in the Fall of the year left with a bag of taters, a jar of something or a helping of cured pork. This showed that even though we may not have been wealthy in terms of money we were in our ability to work and produce sufficient food to survive as a family and even enough to share our bounty with others. Tipper you sure have stirred up a lot of memories today. Have you tried puttin up any of your snow to use later?
June 24, 2016: “Overheard“
My Dad used this expression on me a lot, he would tell me “son, you could have the job done in the time you spend trying to figure out an easier way to do it” I would tell him that the wheel was invented by someone trying to find an easier way to move something than just sliding it along. That’s when I’d get “son don’t worry about the mule, just load the wagon” meaning just get the job done. I knew then the conversation was over and the matter settled and I’d better “get er done”.
January 9, 2018: “Shanks Mare“
When in High School I played football for four years and not being able to afford a car many days after a three hour practice I rode “Shanks Mare” fourteen miles home. I usually arrived about 10:00 PM to milk a cow or two, feed several head of hogs and numerous chickens. I then ate my supper and sacked out to arise at 5:00 AM to tend the stock before catching the School Bus, I was glad I didn’t have to walk to school in the mornings but did have to pole our boat across the Little Tennessee river after a flood washed the Needmore Swinging Bridge out in the mid-sixties. The funny thing is that I thought nothing of doing this until I was older. Sadly we didn’t realize what a great gift youth was until we lost it.
March 26, 2020: “Finding Solace on High Ridges“
Your fire brought back some wonderful memories of my youthful opening day of Trout Season. It was an unwritten law with my Dad that we had to open the season irregardless of how cold it was. We would take a frying pan, a can of Spam and a dozen free range eggs and when we would get to cold to fish we would build a small fire like yours’ and cook a Spam Omelet and toast some bread over some green sticks. This with a small pot of coffee was wonderful cuisine. I can still smell the smoke and taste the smoke flavor. I don’t know why, but it seems the opening day of Trout Season was always cold, I have thawed ice out of my rod eyes almost every day I can remember even though it was the first Saturday in April and we already had our potatoes planted as Dad insisted they had to be in the ground by the middle of March.
There were 43 pages of Bill Burnett’s comments to search through. Yes, he was a true friend and supporter of Blind Pig and The Acorn. Bill also came to our performances when we played near his home. He was always a delight to talk to.
When Pap died Bill left this comment: “May God grant you all solace in the knowledge that “Pap” has run a blessed race and won the ultimate prize, his place in Paradise. The wonderful example he set for all of you and the great memories he leaves each means he will forever live within your hearts. My thoughts, prayers and condolences are with each of you. Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him you kindly shared him with each of us who follow the Blind Pig and Acorn and I feel I knew him. Thank you so much for this.”
I send the same sentiment and solace to Bill’s family.