Appalachia

Wandering Back in Time

1940s era Nehi soda bottle

1940s era Nehi soda bottle found up the creek

Back when I first started writing here on the Blind Pig and the Acorn I followed Terry Thornton’s blog. Terry has since passed away, but his writing strengthened my belief that we need to understand what went before to gain a hope for the future and an appreciation for the present. Terry documented not only personal details about his life, but also described in detail the landscape of his homeplace in Mississippi and the many changes he’d seen take place over the course of his life.

I live in the same mountain holler I grew up in and even though I don’t consider myself an old timer like Terry was, I have seen great changes in my lifetime. One house is gone, five have been added, fields have turned to lawns, roads have been re-worked for better access and too many trees to count have been taken down to make room for all the growth.

I’ve always been intrigued by the trails and old road beds that run through the acreage surrounding our land. Pap could remember when they were traveled by people, sleds, wagons, horses, mules, and a few cars.

Growing up we had gravity water (water that came from a spring up the mountain). I always enjoyed going up the creek with Pap to check on the water. He told me stories about the cornfields that used to be on the sloping sides of the ridges, he showed me where a stone stable had stood for horses, and he pointed out old house places and told of the people who had lived there. Even though the houses were long gone having been erased by time and nature, Pap made it all seem so real to me.

As I’ve traveled the same trails with the girls during my life as a mother I’ve tried to point out the changes I remember. At one creek crossing I can recall there were a few logs rotted and turned green with moss that were left from a wooden bridge. There were random car pieces here and there including the dash of a model t Ford.

Most of the trails have grown up with trees, saplings, and bushes because there’s no need to walk them now. And as with each passing generation children who might have played along the trails as we did have more and more to occupy them indoors.

I’ve always thought if I could sit quietly by one of those trails and wait I’d eventually be able to see some of the folks who traveled the paths in days gone by. Maybe it’d be some of my ancestors walking to check on a neighbor or work in the corn, maybe it’d be settlers who lived before Pap’s time, maybe it’d be my cousins, my brother, and me walking, arguing, playing, and keeping the paths wore.

Tipper

 

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    tmc
    July 22, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Yep, I rode thru the, use to be rock road I was raised on some time ago, every thing has changed, more houses, the road is paved now, never would have imagined that happening, Dad’s brother is dead now his wife is still living and her daughter has to see after her, the old house I was raised in is gone, it burned a few years ago, the family that lived below use is all gone now, kinda sad. But the Lord lets use barrow a little bit of time and then we must move on.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 21, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    Tipper you are an old soul. I knew I liked you for some reason!
    I too am fascinated by the ones who came before us. The stories they could tell us the pride of hard work and everlasting faith they could teach us and the sense of community they shared with each other. I too like to sit by the creeks, trails and old home places and imagine life in another time. Their joy their heartaches and their grit in making a life out of a meager existence. If we could all just sit in silence for a while I believe we can connect with the the ones who walked before us.
    This was a very poignant post and it has touched me deeply. Well done Tipper, well done.

  • Reply
    Beth Durham
    July 21, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Tipper you are such a KINDRED SPIRIT!
    I too have such trails on my mountain and Daddy’s told me the stories of all the folks until it seems I can see their shadows and hear their whispers as I walk among the ghost town they once inhabited. I want so badly to share these with other people – those people that don’t have stories from their own ancestors as well as my own cousins and children. So I write stories and they’re set on the trails and dirt roads. I write about the old homes and the hardships experienced there. And I write the victories and the lessons and the love of those families.
    I’m so glad to read this article and realize that someone else might understand that passion.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Wow Miss Cindy. You shore said a mouth full. Really good.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Wow Miss Cindy. You shore said a mouth full. Really good.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Wow Miss Cindy. You shore said a mouth full. Really good.

  • Reply
    Larry Griffith
    July 21, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Wow Miss Cindy. You shore said a mouth full. Really good.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 21, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    You may think me strange but I do not believe that time exists. There is no past and no future. It is we that move not time. God created the allusion of time to let us realize the futility of our own schemes. When our allotted “life” is done, we go back to where we could have stayed but for our rebellious nature.
    The Bible says “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” That tells me the beginning is the end and everything is contained within. That all creation is Now! The only part of now is what we can see from where we are. When we put life behind us, if we have accepted our role as part of creation, we will be able to see it all together. And experience any or all of it whenever we want.
    So, those forerunners you wait to see on the trails of life are there now. You can’t see them but they can see you. One day you will once again walk with them.
    Now do you think I am strange? Don’t answer that!

  • Reply
    Charline
    July 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Thank you, Tipper, once again, for your poignant reflections. And Tamela, Miss Cindy, and all the others.
    I have no old trails to sit by, connected to my own past, unless I travel a good distance. Then, I am limited by time and present-tense. But, I’m glad not to be the only one to hope for a glimpse of someone with a story to tell when there is time to sit, listen, and watch.

  • Reply
    Marg Mackall
    July 21, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I found this post to be so timely as I am reading my father’s journals where he describes his life growing up in south western Pa. I had asked him to write about his childhood as I am a history buff and when he sent me five completely filled notebooks recounting all his memories of the past, I was amazed. What a wonderful gift! I have read and re-read them many times, and they still give me such pleasure. I would recommend that everyone should write their memories and past them to their children.

    • Reply
      Nance
      July 31, 2020 at 6:55 pm

      Wow! You are rich!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Tipper,
    I love old stuff, old stagecoach roads, old trails, old trees, old fields, old creek beds, old wet weather springs, the old French Broad and the old Clinch rivers, old country churches, old slowly improving towns, home places and the cornerstones of old cabins, old graveyards with their old stones and old wrought iron gates, old mountain swinging bridges, wooden covered bridges, old bottles and jars, old country music, old blue grass, old true country western, especially old good gospel and shape note singers, Old dogs and Watermelon wine….Oops, the previous was a favorite song (title?) I loved to listen to, reminiscing about all these things…I love old people with there old clothes comfortably dressed that have character lines from smiles and frowns with old hands that worked hard to make a living…
    Wait a minute….I’m old…76 and nearing 77 in five months…Yep, I love me pretty much and yes, if you close your eyes your already there!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Just yesterday evening I got through cleaning n’ washing up a ‘warshtub’ of old antique drink bottles similar to yours. That just have the raised lettering no colored type, but a few fifties ones , salve, ointment, medicine and elixir bottles….so strange how this connection happens….getting ready for the big sale next month! You can’t imagine what a surprise when I opened your blog and saw the picture of the NEHI bottle!

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    July 21, 2017 at 10:19 am

    Miss Cindy, your are correct about the Blind Pig and Tipper. I enjoy reading this blog every morning. I live in two worlds, being born to my parents, both part Cherokee and White.
    I know what work is and what a hard life we lived. I am thankful for living this life and we have the Casino money which makes thing easy for some and for some it buys more drugs and death. So many young people are dying.
    Peggy Lambert

  • Reply
    Ken
    July 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Tipper,
    This is the main reason I like the Blind Pig and the Acorn so much. You write about the past and I’ve studied about the old Liquor Trails worn clean by Moonshiners. When I was just a boy, squirrel hunting around a bunch of Hickory and huge Oaks, I’d watch for the Moonshiners and wondered why they carried that stuff so far from their homes. Sometimes I’d see one or two, never meaning no harm, like today. There weren’t no jobs so most of ’em just tried to make a living. Daddy cleared and tilled the fields, so we could have a garden. I often wonder how he did all this, and with just a horse and plow. I’m glad I got taught the dignity of work. …Ken

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    July 21, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I was immediately interested as “wandering back in time” seems to be one of my favorite pastimes any more. All the knowledge of days gone by and stories behind run down stuctures will die when I do. Family cemeteries seem to be the greatest link with the past. They are there with dates of birth and death, and even the graves with a simple stone tell a story. Hard times sometimes was the reason a simple stone became a marker, and even on a warm sunny day the sadness once felt at that grave site hangs heavy in the air. You make a perfect watcher on the side of the trail because every small detail is so important to you. You have also been gifted by a wonderful ability to describe events so that the reader almost finds themselves sitting quietly beside you as you watch.
    Recently my large extended family has taken on the responsibility of upkeep of 4 old cemeteries that hold our kin and ancestors. It was so pleasing when money was raised to place simple name and date markers at graves of some children who died many years ago. This has helped some of the young to become interested in the faily history.
    I might add, I always read Miss Cindy’s posts with interest. She has a great writing ability, and always makes me wonder why I didn’t think of that.

  • Reply
    Doug Bishop
    July 21, 2017 at 9:46 am

    your comments on growth and change reminds me of a conversation after a visit back home. I said to a friend “I took my kids for a drive in the country, and there wasn’t any”.

  • Reply
    Tamela
    July 21, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I’ve mentioned this before on this blog: I’ve always been envious that my Mom and Dad could visit the area of their childhood and still run into people they knew on the street, still visit their home places and home churches – the store where Mom worked, the pond Dad and his twin drove the Model A into, the old schoolhouse where Mom taught her brother and his friends, the barn and fields Dad worked with his family. The roads are even much the same as they were, dirt or gravel although they now have drainage ditches. For me, there’s no going home – the gravel road (paved two line by the time I left home) is now a 5 lane highway, the orchards I picked fruit in and played Sherwood Forest among the tall weeds are now a subdivision, my uncle’s field where I picked corn is now a Junior High School, the bean and carrot fields where I first drove the Massey Ferguson as well as my great grandparents’ house are now a trailer park , the shed where I played marbles while Dad worked on the farm equipment is long gone . . . it only lives in my memories – – there are precious few pictures to share with my children and grandchildren. Guess that’s the way it is for most folks; and for many folks, they simply don’t care about or respect their past (and, yes, some “pasts” may be best tucked away only learned from, not revisited). I think the fact that you, Tipper, so cherish the past (both physical and family) while relishing the present and eagerly anticipating the future in your blog are what have made be a dedicated reader. Thanks for the memories, the observations and considerations of the present, and the anticipation of the future.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    July 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Tipper, today’s blog captures the very essence of what it means to be Appalachian. The scholarship says we are “backward looking” but as you point out, it is in understanding the past that we secure our future. Like we say in my neck of the woods, “time and place is everything.” I think that means just what you write here.
    The old timer comment is good too. It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Navajo friend. She is only in her 50s and other Navajo began to approach her as an elder. She said, “I’m too young to be an elder.” But, like you, it was about what she knew because she had fully engaged with her culture and knew the stories of time and place.
    My journey back started with my son. We went on a family trip to the Adena Mansion outside Chilicothe in Ross County, Ohio. It was the home to the first governor of Ohio. So, when we finished our tour and exited through the gift shop, my son saw a book about the Karshners. He said “is this about us?” My Dad said, “your 7-great grandfather brought the family who lived here into this county.” My son thought and said “so this place wouldn’t be here without us?” My dad said “well, I suppose not.” James said “you think they might mention that.”
    It occurred to me, at that moment, I wasn’t doing my job of being an old timer to my own kids. Somebody has to mention it and it should be those of us who feel that connection to time and place.
    Your blogs are all good. But, today’s really spoke to me.

  • Reply
    Jack Yates
    July 21, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I can do little more than echo Miss Cindy’s sentiments..

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 21, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Tipper, you do “sit by the trail” more than anyone else I know. You sit by the trail and quietly watch the people go by. YOU can see the old time folks walk by. You hear what they say and you know where they are going. You honor their memory, at their behest, they picked you for this job. They picked you to be the one to talk to us. You are the girl with one foot in both worlds so that we, those of us who care, have a link to what went before.
    When your time as watcher is gone I’m not sure there will be any one to pick up the flag. Most interest now is to far and too fast straight ahead with little thought for what came before.

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