Profiles of Mountain People

Uncle Bob

Today’s guest post was written by Charles Fletcher

Uncle Bob Haywood County NC

 

Uncle Bob written by Charles Fletcher

Before I tell you a story about Uncle Bob, you need to know a little about his brothers and their homes many years ago up near the top of a mountain in Western North Carolina.

On the Stamey Cove side of Pressley Mountain there was a family called Putnam. They were my aunts and uncles. My grandmother, Mary Putnam, married Charlie Pressley. This is how I became a part of the Putnam Clan. I will only mention three of my Putnam uncles who were sort of special to me.

There was Uncle Joe and Aunt Corey. They lived near the north side of the mountain down near the bottom. Uncle Joe was a part-time carpenter.

Then there was Uncle Wilson who lived down toward the bottom of the mountain on the east side. He was a farmer, and he kept honey bees. Uncle Wilson had two girls, Janie and Flora, and two sons, Don and Arthur. My brother and I loved to visit Uncle Wilson because the two girls would cook barley hot cakes, (flap-jacks) for us, and Uncle Wilson would be sure we had plenty of honey to pour over them.

The other uncle was Uncle Bob. He lived near the top of the mountain. Roxie was his wife’s name. Their children were named Virgil, Vaudney, and Lucille.

Aunt Roxie would always cook something special for my brother and me when we went to visit them. And Uncle Bob would take us fishing in the Pigeon River, which was several miles away. Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie were our favorite uncle and aunt to visit.

Uncle Bob was the official Game Warden in Haywood County. He was very proud of his title, and he wore his badge on his chest so everyone could see it. Uncle Bob would walk down the mountain and into the town of Canton and make sure everyone knew that he was doing his job as the Game Warden.

My family and I lived on the road leading into Canton. When Uncle Bob went by our house in the morning, he would stop for a visit. We would serve him a cup of coffee and maybe some ham and biscuits if there were any left over from the breakfast.

On one of Uncle Bob’s return trips from town, he stopped by our house and said to my mom, “Ellen, I’ve been thinking. School is out, and those two boys of yourn need to come on home with me and stay a few days.”

When my brother TJ and I heard Uncle Bob offer us a stay with him, we were all for it.

“Well, I guess it will be OK with their dad if they go and stay for about a week,” Mom told Uncle Bob.

Up the mountain trail we went with Uncle Bob for what we thought would be a week of fishing and eating all the special food Aunt Roxie would make for us. But Uncle Bob had other plans for our week with him. He had cut and burned the trees off a patch of land for what he called “new ground” where he planned to plant corn. Planting corn was a long hard job because all the planting was done by hand with a hoe. His plan was to get some free help with the planting from us.

When we arrived to the house where Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie lived, Aunt Roxie was sitting in her favorite rocking chair. There were two cats sitting in her lap, and she was petting them. She loved her cats, and if you would ask her how many she had, she could not tell you. During all the many years she and Uncle Bob had lived there on the mountain, the number of cats she kept had grown by leaps and bounds. The only way the number of cats ever decreased was when a fox or bobcat caught one for their dinner.

“Brought a couple of Ellen’s boys home to visit for a few days,” Uncle Bob told Aunt Roxie.

She gave TJ and me a big hug and said she was glad to have us visit them.

Little did TJ, (8 years old) and I (10 years old) know what we were in for. Shortly after we finished eating our breakfast the next morning, Uncle Bob took us to the tool shed in back of the barn and handed each of us a garden hoe and took one for himself. He then took down a bag hanging on the wall. We found out that the bag was full of corn seed to be used for planting the new ground that Uncle Bob had made for his new cornfield.

We planted corn until dinner (the noon meal), ate, rested a while, and then went back to work in the corn patch until nearly dark. This went on for two days.

When we returned back to the house on the second day, Uncle Bob said, “Well, we’re done for now, and we’ll take off tomorrow and go catch us a mess of fish. We’d better go out back of the barn and dig us some worms for bait.”

“Need to get an early start in the morning. Long walk down the mountain and down the road in Stamey Cove to the river,” Uncle Bob told us.

Aunt Roxie was looking forward to going on the fishing trip, too, and she had breakfast ready just as the sun was rising at the top of the mountain. She loved to catch fish as well as eat them just as much as Uncle Bob did. This would be the first time we had ever fished in the Pigeon River, and we were real excited.

As soon as we finished eating Uncle Bob took us to out back of the house and handed each of us a long cane poll.

“Here’re your fishing poles. Be careful that you don’t get a hook stuck in your finger,” Uncle Bob told TJ and me.

We didn’t waste any time getting started on our way to the river and a full day of fishing. The walk from Uncle Bob’s house to the river took about an hour.

We set up on a large flat bank of the river. Uncle Bob put a red worm on each of our hooks. TJ and I were ready to catch some fish for supper.

TJ caught the first one. It was a hog-sucker about ten inches long. Everyone was excited about his catch. It was a larger fish than Uncle Bob usually caught in the river.

By late in the afternoon we had a wide assortment of fish on a stringer that Uncle Bob had made. We had caught hog-suckers, horney-heads, red-horse, bream, and a couple of fish that we didn’t know the names of.

After the long walk back home, Uncle Bob cleaned the fish while Aunt Roxie started a fire in the stove and got a skillet ready. She was hungry and eager for a big fish dinner. Pretty soon, the best fish dinner I had ever eaten was on the dining table.

The next morning Uncle Bob told TJ and me that he had to go to Canton on some business and that we could come along with him and return to our house. It was the end of the only long visit and fishing trip that I ever had with my Uncle Bob, the Game Warden.

I didn’t see Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie again until twenty years later, after World War II. When I asked about Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie, I learned that they had moved down off the mountain into the valley. By that time I was married and had children of my own.

Note:  This is a true story, and all the names and locations are real.

Charles Fletcher

April 11, 2013

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Charles also sent me the photo below which shows where his Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie are buried.

Robert Coleman Roxie Stamey

 

I hope you enjoyed Charles’s guest post as much as I did!

Tipper

 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    April 16, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    I loved the story! I lived for almost thirty years in Stamey Cove so the places and people Charles mentions are familiar to me. Thanks so much for writing it, Charles.

  • Reply
    Charline
    April 16, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Thanks so much for the story, Charles. And I’m glad you and your brother were rewarded for the corn planting!

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    April 15, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    Great story,, I could see every segment in my mind.. Thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    April 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Nice story! I felt as though I was there.

  • Reply
    Ken
    April 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Tipper, (and Charles)
    I just love these stories of life
    in the innocent times. Thank good-
    ness you and TJ were able to help
    and share those wonderful days of
    youth with an Aunt and Uncle.
    Looking at the first picture of
    Pigeon River brings back a lot of
    fishing memories for me too.
    Thanks, Charles for another true
    story of life in Appalachia…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 15, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Charles is quite a storyteller. As I read I could picture myself walking right along with Uncle Bob, Aunt Roxie and the boys with a cane pole across my shoulder and a bait can in my hand. Can’t wait to get to the river and drown some worms!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Thanks, Charles, for the story. It is a heart warming old timey family story. This is what life used to be like……Lots of changes in life and the world since then!

  • Reply
    Shirla
    April 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I love to read the stories Charles writes! Guess that’s why I bought all his books. Staying away for twenty years was a sad ending to the story.

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    April 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

    i learned a lot working and playing with relatives and neighbors…good times that i didnt appreciate enough at the time.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    April 15, 2013 at 8:38 am

    A wise uncle introduces himself to his little nieces and nephews when they are young. Don’t have to do much; just buy them a hamburger and take them bowling or to a movie. They’ll remember that you cared. Time passes, and the ties of love and trust so established unite the family as a clan. It’s worked for me.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 15, 2013 at 7:23 am

    This reminds me of visiting my cousin when I was a child. They lived along the banks of the Sebastian River, we worked hard everyday, but it felt like play. I remember those days so fondly.

  • Reply
    dolores
    April 15, 2013 at 7:13 am

    This was such a beautiful childhood memory. Thanks for sharing it!

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    April 15, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I enjoyed the story about Uncle Bob and Aunt Roxie. Too bad you didn’t get to visit more. By their birth years, it looks like they were getting up in years and needed to move off the mountain for some reason.
    Glad you have this memory.

  • Reply
    Jeanette Dunaway
    April 15, 2013 at 6:50 am

    This story brings to mind that our only granddaughter will turn eight soon. I’m not sure just how much she likes fishing, but I know I could use some help in my newly acquired yard this summer. Perhaps I could entice her with a drive over to Sliding Rock. I just might even slide down that big rock with her.

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