Memories of the Mountains in Western North Carolina

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Growing up in Western North Carolina during the 60’s was adventure. It was a time of cultural change, traditional Appalachian folk culture meet the Flower Power Movement. And coming from a rural community, just outside of the third largest city in North Carolina, I got to see it all.

My family had been one of the first settlers back in 1778, moving into the Asheville area from Pennsylvania. A long line of hard working, proud country folks which prided themselves in being able to survive.

I never really thought about it much as I was growing up, but as I look back now the diversities in lifestyles around that mountain city was truly amazing. Even within the households which I grew up in. Slopping the hogs, and milking the cow before breakfast. Hot home made biscuits, mixing home churned butter with the molasses my Uncle ran off, and on special occasions having fried eggs we gathered from the chicken coop. I remember cold mornings sitting in the outhouse, doing my business, while looking through the Sears & Roebuck’s wish book trying to decide what I was going to ask Santa to bring me.

These are things I remember vividly from my childhood at my aunts house who looked after me while my parents worked. At home, I grew up in a modest three bedroom home with running water, and a bathroom which the whole family shared. I can faintly remember my mom and dad picking out the first RCA television in the community and I remember listening to stories being told on my aunts console radio.

Growing up in the early 60’s on the outskirts of Asheville was full of contradictive lifestyles for me. I remember news clips of Oswald getting shot on the 6 o’clock News, and black n white images of Walter Cronkite reporting the early stages of Vietnam. My parents both worked hard, together to support our family.

My Mom worked a 40 hour work week in a local factory, sewed and made her own dresses, always kept the house clean, and supper was on the table for Daddy every night when he got home at 6. My Dad’s work scheduled started a little later than Mom’s so he was the one who got me up and going. I always saw him three time a day, When he got me up, while we ate supper, and when he came in from repairing other people’s cars around 8:30 or 9 o’clock at night.

Yeah they both worked long hard hours chasing that American dream, and in a way, I guess they did have it. The refrigerator and freezer was always full, shelves in the basement were stacked with home caned vegetables from our garden, everyone had one back then. Mom went to the beauty shop every weekend to get her hair done, and Dad had  his monthly fishing trip throughout the summer months. They worked hard and saved, but still found time and a way to enjoy life. While I was growing up we made two cross country journeys by car to see places like the Grand Canyon’s, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, Redwood’s, Yellowstone, and Mount Rushmore. Along with many more short trips to the coast of North Carolina and Florida.

When I think back to those day’s and remember all that we did when I was younger it just amazes me. A simpler time, a time when a trip to Asheville on one of Mom’s shopping trips meant a hot fudge sundae in Woolworth’s Malt Shop or visiting the toy department in Sears & Roebucks. A time before strip malls when a shopping trip meant finding a parking spot and spending the day walking around town.

Back then a trip to town was exciting, now 5 & dimes are a thing of the past, along with Woolworth, Sears is no longer Sears & Roebucks, now it belongs to Kmart. Seem’s like most of my nostalgic memories are fading fast, I visited the Wall in Washington DC a couple years ago and was appalled at how run down and dirty the Lincoln Memorial was.

Every day, grabbing onto and holding memories of the past becomes more and more important. It’s been said that a history which doesn’t remember will repeat itself, sometimes I wonder if that’s such a bad thing, I guess if the good history equals out with the bad it might not be, but you never know.

Anyway I hope you have enjoyed my little story, and get out there look around at Vintage shops like mine at Estates In Time, fine your little bits of history, you can tell stories about, and enjoy a few moments of nostalgia.

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