Appalachia Pap

Serendipity and Pap


the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.


Chitter has been helping the John C. Campbell Folk School organize their archives for the last several weeks. Most every day she comes home excited about something she discovered as she worked. As you might imagine the folk school has a wonderful collection of carvings from the famed Brasstown Carvers. Chitter has become slightly obsessed by the carvers and is even trying to learn to carve herself. She stumbled upon a few of Hazel Dockery’s carvings at a local antique store and you’d have thought the girl found gold in the Stamey Branch.

The Wilson Brothers have a rich history with the folk school and because of it they show up in the archives quite often. One day as Chitter sorted tapes she discovered there’s an interview with the duo. She didn’t get to listen to it, but at least we now know its there.

All the music recordings and photos of performances are really cool and its heart-warming to know the school documented so much of The Wilson Brothers’ music. But the best discovery she’s made thus far is the photo at the top of this post.

The first photo she showed me that she found that day was of me. It wasn’t a very good photo and since I’m on yon side of an old house it took me a few minutes to figure out that it was me. Just as I was wondering how in the world the photo ended up in the folk school’s archives she showed me the photo of Pap by the giant old oak that used to stand at the first house on Mason Road. Once I saw the picture of the tree I knew where the photos had come from.

Several years ago a sweet lady named Anna worked at the folk school and she asked if Pap would take her around to some of the oldest houses in Brasstown that he could remember from his youth. Of course I tagged along.

We had a great time and I snapped photos like crazy. My camera wasn’t the best in those days and most of what I took was so blurry they were unusable. I have no memory of Anna having a camera with her, but obviously she did.

I don’t think I could have staged the photo of Pap any better. Rolling hills in the distance, beautiful skies, curious cows, the old oak, and Pap looking back in time as he told Anna and me about the places we visited.

I thought about having the photo framed and giving it as a Christmas gift to Granny, Paul, and Steve, but in the end I couldn’t wait to show them and gave each of them their own copy. Paul said he was going to put it in a frame and set it on his desk. Granny said she wanted her’s hung on the wall. I’m sure Steve and I will come up with a special place to display ours as well.


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  • Reply
    Rick Gillenwater
    October 12, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Great picture of your Pap. He was a wonderful Godly man. Was this picture taken in the yard of the ole Clarence Hemphill house. That looks like the farm I grew up on in the background

  • Reply
    Rick Shepherd
    July 20, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Beautiful photo of your father, Tipper!…..It reminds me so much of my Dad in a similar situation…..I could almost smell the fresh country air as I saw it!….I treasure the few pics I have of my folks!…..Thanks!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Though I’ve never met him, I can hear him speaking. Good photos do things like that..

  • Reply
    Maxine Appleby
    July 19, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    A seredipitous treasure- for sure!!!

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    July 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    amazing to get that photo and such a thrill to be able to share it with the rest of your family its very special have a beautiful day

  • Reply
    Susie Etheridge
    July 19, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Such a sweet sharing to have the opportunity and privilege to read . Sitting on the other side of this screen, looking into that picture, I imagine the possible cool crispness of the air mixed with the warmth of the sun on the back of that shirt your Pap was wearing….. the bigness of that tree, the love and care in all his wealth of reminiscing, wording the threads of his words like a weaver would with the particular stories he chose to share that day…, a rich tapestry ….we have a big ole oak tree right beside our house too. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 19, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    Gave me a chill. Serendipity….what a wonderful word and feeling.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 19, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    My father in law carried a silver dollar in his pocket for almost 50 years. It was lost for several years and I recently accidentally found it in our storage building. It is wore totally smooth, no picture no date, nothing, just a silver disc. I bought a silver necklace and bezel and put it in it.and gave it to my wife for our 51 anniversary. She is very pleased.

  • Reply
    Lee Mears
    July 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    It might have been anyone else in county going thru and sorting the photos but it was Chitter. !!
    Old photos are priceless and leave you smiling thru your tears.
    I’m the guardian of albums and boxes and boxes of old mostly black and white photos and now the only one who knows who they are…and the last and only one who cares….. -(
    What a wonderful surprise for all of you.

  • Reply
    July 19, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Serendipity is when you stumble across something beneficial that you weren’t looking for and didn’t even know existed. Just such a thing happened to me a few years ago. I was on the internet looking for information on relatives in Cherokee County. Up popped something that caught my attention. Blindpigandtheacorn? What in the world! Just gotta check that out! I did and I am so glad I did. Life altering is an inadequate description. The only drawback is that it happened so late in my life. Still I thank God that it did!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2018 at 11:01 am

    A picture says alot!!!

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    July 19, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Beautiful picture! So glad Chitter ran across it!

  • Reply
    Stephen Suddarth
    July 19, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Life has been one serendipidous moment after another. Blessed , coulda’ done very little on my own.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 19, 2018 at 8:12 am

    How special. Watch out Chitter or you may get drawn into genealogy. Finding a family-meaningful picture is thrilling but connecting it with a back story is addictive. I’ve been drawn to the ‘old stuff’ as long as I can remember. Good for you that you are working in the archives. Hope you mine lots of rich nuggets.

    Off the subject but I hope you all will be generous with me. We were in church with Morris Stancil on Tuesday night. (You can find him on YouTube.) He is a gospel singer and songwriter extraordinaire. He doesn’t even know how many songs he has written. However, that is not why I am writing about him but rather because he has the sweetest spirit. He is among a very few that I have known. But I much suspect each of us knows of at least two others.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 19, 2018 at 7:20 am

    A beautiful picture and just sooo Pap! You have such ties with the folk school it is fitting that the girls are both working there!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2018 at 6:55 am

    It is much like discovering gold to find an old photo of family we did not know existed. A moment in time remembered, Pap always seemed content in all his pictures.

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