You were likely to encounter everybody you ever met

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 2, 2016

“[My father] started one trend that horrified all the old friends. He put the kitchen on the front of the house. This was a thing unknown, inconceivable to the local populous. You didn’t put the kitchen on the front of the house. People built houses on Montford Avenue where there was a superb view in the back of the house, with porches that had the whole Pisgah range…the whole Cold Mountain, Pisgah, Spivey, Eagle’s View panorama…in those days it was just clear as crystal all the time, that view. In those days you could see it, but now all that stuff is just a crick in a particulate fog.

Anthony Lord, Asheville NC“Anyway, they put a streetcar track on Montford Avenue, and there was a certain amount of traffic, and a certain amount of streetlights. People had porches on the front of their houses, where they could see nothing but whatever went on on Montford Avenue. This is entertaining, I think, because it illustrates the standards and mores of the period, and I guess of the people. The interest in activity far outweighed the interest in natural scenery or the fantastic set of views.

“The sun sets off this back porch, and its clouds troop across the garage…crocodiles followed by giraffes, incredible Chinese dragons would cross the sunset. Well, you don’t see them anymore. It’s a shame, because they were great pleasures. And big thunderheads we would get over the Duck Mountains out there. Tremendous cumulous clouds, and as it got darker they’d turn gray and keep lightning within the cloud…a flash of lightning would illuminate the whole into pink…it would warm up the whole into pink flesh, these gray clouds. Incredibly beautiful. …

“Well, [Asheville] was an exciting place, in the boom days. The pleasures were very simple, though. It was a very open, kindly, low pressure sort of place. In the late 20’s the…at least that was the way it was to me…it was, for example, there were band concerts on the square. It was not this mad rush always. At least I didn’t feel it. And it felt that way until the beginning of the second war.

Montford Avenue, Asheville, NC“At first it was a stock company that gave the lease to the Plaza Theatre. And they would do a show every week, I guess or every two weeks, and they would rehearse with a chorus line with about 5…one of whom was Lenny’s wife who was pregnant at the time, and could still kick as high as anyone else. And of course this was all during prohibition days. You went up there with a couple of friends, and you came out and had a cola or something…after probably Goode’s Drug Store, a place where you were likely to encounter everybody you ever met.

“It was on Patton Avenue. Ran through…it was where the Wachovia Bank is now. Ran through from Patton to College. I remember Tom Wolfe holding forth on some trip he had made to France, his pleasure and amusement in the provincial French one night stands…and Charlie Parker, who was an architect here. They could all be found standing out front at Goode’s, from about 1:00 in the afternoon to about 6:00 in the afternoon. He didn’t stay in his office because people came in and bothered him. Then he’d go back after supper, at night, and turn it out, and go to work early the next morning. So this is the way we operated. But he was good. He’s the man who did the Arcade building.”

Anthony (Tony) Lord, 1900-1993
August 2, 1979 interview

Architect Tony Lord left his mark on many public and private buildings in Asheville, including the Pack Memorial Library and the D. Hiden Ramsey Library on the campus of UNC Asheville. He was also influential in the greening of downtown Asheville, planting and protecting trees. He was one of the founding members of the architectural group Six Associates. For many years he was a member of the Board of Directors of the public library.


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The Sunday Lady of Possum Trot

Posted by Dave Tabler | August 1, 2016

Her schools earned plaudits from Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin Roosevelt. The Boys Industrial School motivated communities throughout the South to begin educating their young people in earnest, blazing a trail for the establishment of an agricultural and mechanical school in each of Georgia’s congressional districts. As a result of her 40 years of work in education, Martha Berry (1866-1942)—the Sunday Lady of Possum Trot— is among Georgia’s most prominent women of the first half of the 20th century.

In the 1890’s, the young Berry had come back home to Floyd County from a finishing school in Boston. She often spent time reading and writing in an old log cabin on her family’s property. One Sunday, goes the story, she noticed that mountain children were peeking in to watch her. Inviting them in, she told them Bible stories. Week after week, more children and even adults came to listen to the Sunday Lady. Berry was taken with the bright youngsters, who had virtually no chance of obtaining an education. In 1900 she opened a small Sunday School in the old Possum Trot church near Lavender Mountain, painting scriptures on the walls to compensate for the lack of Bibles.

Soon she came to believe that these children needed a live-in school, not just a few hours of classes a week. But the state was poor, and mountain conditions made schools hard to maintain. So in January 1902, Berry, who came from an affluent plantation family, dedicated her family inheritance, 83 acres of land near Rome, GA, to be the site for The Boys Industrial School. The county supplied her one teacher for five months. Berry gave of her own money, and Elizabeth Brewster, a Stanford graduate and friend of Berry’s, worked with her for the first four years to help raise additional funds.

Students at the Boys Industrial School stand in front of an early dairy barn.Students at the Boys’ Industrial School stand in front of an early dairy barn.

The students—there were 5 to begin with—did pay a nominal $50 yearly for boarding, but mainly earned their way by running a self-supporting farm and doing construction work. The first structure the students constructed, a two-story building with attached dormitory, cost $5,000.

Berry inspired fierce love & loyalty from her students. When one of her young charges from the early years died, his parents marked his tombstone: “He was faithful unto death; by request of Martha Berry.” She named the gate leading to the campus The Gate of Opportunity and believed that every building on the site should have a spire, “to keep people looking up.” And look up they did. One of the five original students at the Boys’ school subsequently graduated at the head of his class from the University of Georgia.

Martha Berry traveled widely, seeking support for her schools, and became an accomplished fund raiser. Among the largest donors were Andrew Carnegie and, later, Henry Ford. President Theodore Roosevelt, who held a dinner in the White House to raise money, encouraged her to build a girls school as well.

Martha Berry and Calvin CoolidgeOn Thanksgiving Day 1909, Berry did open a girls’ school, with a dormitory built by the boys. Early classes aimed to teach everything connected with homemaking, such as sewing, nursing, and gardening. In 1926, the complex became a junior college, and in 1932, Berry College, a four-year college.

And the original Possum Trot church building? Three rustic school rooms were added in the 1930s, and the grammar grades were moved there from the log-cabin area on the main campus. Today the building is used for staff housing at Berry College. The college has continued its founder’s focus on providing students with a comprehensive education of the head, the heart and the hands. Her motto still endures: “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

UNIQUE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIMENT PUT TO THE TEST AT POSSUM TROT; Miss Martha Berry’s Industrial School for Country Boys in Georgia and Its Possibilities., NY Times, April 23, 1911, Magazine Section, Page SM9

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The frog legs contracted in the pan and appeared to jump

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 29, 2016

Aunt Clarice was an excellent cook. I’m sure she and my mother got their special culinary education in French cuisine from their mother, Maria.

Since my Uncle Augie was a company man and wasn’t on a time clock for the Rolland Glass Plant, he had an hour for lunch at noon. The glass plant was only a few blocks down the street, so he came home for lunch every day. I was frequently invited to join them for lunch, which I often did. My father was a glass cutter at Adamston Glass Plant and was paid for each piece he produced; his time was of the essence. He carried his noon meal to work and took only 1/2 hour for lunch. Hence, we had our big family meal in the evening when my father returned from work.

I have always been at least a few pounds overweight—I presume my weight problem started during these early years, when I ate a big meal at noon at Aunt Clarice’s and another big meal at home in the evening.

Olga Hardman's aunt and uncleClarissa Amelia Caussin (1889-1948) and August Aristide Malfregeot (1885-1950).

At one of these noon meals with Aunt Clarice and Uncle Augie, I had my first encounter with frog legs. The dish in the center of the table was a turkey platter heaped high with frog legs.

As I watched the muscles of the frog legs contract and appear to jump in the pan, I was quite reluctant to try them. However, being aware of just how delicious everything that Aunt Clarice cooked was, I did relent.

I don’t remember that you could buy frog legs in grocery stores in those days, but I do remember our fathers and uncles going out at night to “gig” frogs.

We always had lettuce salad with our big meal and after the lettuce was washed it had to be dried so the dressing would cling to each leaf. There was a small porch off the Malfregeot kitchen door and Aunt Clarice could frequently be seen standing there shaking water drops in the grass below as she swung the wire basket to and fro.

Turtle soup was a monumental French culinary delight. The men in French families often “felt” for snapping turtles in local streams. “Feeling for turtles” simply meant that you waded in the stream as you felt beneath the water for submerged turtles. The only problem was that on occasion one might grab at the wrong end of the turtle and encounter a vicious and sharp beak.

On one such outing, Uncle Augie raised his hand from the stream, a huge snapping turtle hanging from one of his fingers. There was an old wives’ tale which proposed that if a snapping turtle bit you, it would not let go until the sun went down. Imagine my chagrin when I contemplated Uncle Augie with that ugly beast holding onto his finger until nightfall. Many of the turtles I saw were large, ugly, vicious and very frightening to a child.

I often watched as my father and uncles cleaned snapping turtles in the basement of our house. First they teased the turtle with a stick until the turtle latched onto it with fury, then the holder of the stick stretched the neck out while someone else chopped off the head. The turtle was then skinned in much the same way as the hide of wild game is removed from the body. After the ordeal, when my father carried the meat to the kitchen, the meat was a pinkish white and looked very much like chicken. It was delicious, either fried, or cooked in soup.


Olga S. Hardman
Clarksburg, WV
source: [offline in 2016]

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I played with the little Indians here. They were my only playmates for years.

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 28, 2016

One of the most venerable of Georgia pioneers was Col John W. Gray, who lived for seventy nine years at Adairsville, before that town, halfway between Chattanooga and Atlanta, was founded.

His father settled there in 1833, at which time the Indians were so numerous and the whites so scarce that the lad’s playmates were chiefly the papooses. Colonel Gray was one of the best known men in North Georgia. As a young man he went West in search of gold as one of the “forty niners,” but ere long he returned.

He went away again in 1861, and after the four years of war, in which he was a gallant field officer of the 8th Georgia Infantry, and later on the staff of Gen WT Wofford, he returned to Adairsville and of course that was home all the while.

Confederate Colonel John W. Gray

He was a fine model of the pioneer type. He was over six feet tall and until the last was as straight as an Indian, as hard as a hickory knot, sinewy, active, clear minded and clear blooded. He was a fine example of a vanishing kind that cut their way through the frontier in the old days and faced bravely whatever was before them.

He was one of the bitter opponents of secession. He fought it with determination and he helped to carry Bartow County in a vote against it. But when Georgia did secede and war was on he was one of the first to step to the front and declare his loyalty to his State.

And during the war he proved himself a gallant soldier. After the war when sensibilities were raw and feelings were bitter he was one of the leaders in the regeneration of the stricken South.

Bartow County had its share of scallawags, a lawless lot. They infested his own neighborhood until he laid aside the ways of peace and used violence upon them, risking himself single handed against their combined lot, and he saw them scatter.

In the early seventies he was a member of the lower house of the Georgia Legislature, but he loved straightforward talk and quick action. He did not know the meaning of fear. After the war Colonel Gray returned to Adairsville. He took up merchandising and for years was one of the best merchants of that section, being noted for his honest dealings.

His father gave him a rightful inheritance to his pioneer ways. He had penetrated from North Carolina into Georgia, locating first in Columbia County, next in Carroll and then permanently in Cass County, which afterwards became Bartow.

The elder James Gray was the father of several children of whom this son was the last survivor. On June 12, 1909 an automobile in which were his son James R. Gray and several guests stopped in front of his house on its way from Atlanta to a good roads meeting in Dalton, and a reporter of the Atlanta Journal (which paper is owned by the son James R. Gray) wrote: “Eighty years of winter and summer have passed over his head but they have left it little silvered.

“Nor have they bent him nor broken him, for he stands as straight in his tracks as a university squad youth, and his voice is deep and full toned. He is a remarkable living demonstration of the healthful and preservative qualities of the North Georgia air in which he was born and reared.

“His son, himself a proud grandfather, was one of the party that stopped to pay the vigorous old gentleman of pioneer Georgia their respects on his own threshold.

“Colonel Gray said, ‘I have lived right on this knoll for seventy nine years. I played with the little Indians here. They were my only playmates for years. I can well remember the first white boy I ever got acquainted with. He went out to California with me a good many years later and came back with me. He died about ten years ago.’

“It seemed but a step from the voice that was speaking back to the unknown days when the redskins roamed the woods about and traded their wares at the kitchen door with the slave cooks, while the little white boy in the wilderness got acquainted with their bare thighed sons in the yard. His good-by was the benediction of a patriarch.”

Confederate Veteran, Volume 20, Issue 1, by Confederated Southern Memorial Association, Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, 1912, Nashville TN

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He’d seek out the sheriff and get him on a chase

Posted by Dave Tabler | July 27, 2016

During the July 27, 1941 race at the Daytona Beach-Road Course he suffered a crushed chest, broken pelvis, head and back injuries, and severe shock. He raced his two brothers and his sister in the July 10, 1949 race at the same course, the only NASCAR event to feature four siblings. And years later, after all the track dust settled, he died on July 15, 1972. You could say July tended to be an eventful month for NASCAR pioneer Truman Fontell “Fonty” Flock.

The Ft. Payne, AL native delivered moonshine as a teenager on his bicycle, and a few years later he was making trips in his car from Atlanta to Dawsonville, GA hauling moonshine. Fonty once said that he would seek out the sheriff and get him on a chase because he had a faster car. Fonty would send off to California and get the best parts for his car and the sheriff couldn’t keep up with him and loved to tease him. The sheriff didn’t have the sources to get the parts to make his car keep up with Fonty’s.

He ran some of the semi-organized races before World War II broke out, winning a 100-mile race at Lakewood Park in Atlanta in 1940. By the time he was 20 in 1941, Flock was regarded as one of stock car racing’s best drivers. After running the dirt tracks in Georgia for a couple of years he made his way to Daytona Beach, Florida searching for the high speed excitement of the Beach-Road courses.

NASCAR driver Fonty FlockHe got plenty of it and more in the July 27, 1941 race mentioned above, where he landed the pole position alongside Roy Hall. Flock took a narrow lead in the opening lap, but the relentless Hall was nipping at his heel all the way down the long but narrow blacktop backstretch. As the pair wheeled into the South turn, the cars banged together. Flock’s Ford darted to the high side of the corner, climbed the outer edge of the track and spiraled end-over-end and side-over-side into a clump of palmetto bushes. The seat belt had snapped in one of the early turnovers and Flock’s limp body was flopping around inside the car. Flock was rushed by ambulance, to the Medical Center in Daytona Beach. He lived, barely.

Five months after Fonty’s wreck the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and auto racing was banned until 1945. Fonty missed the 1945 and 1946 seasons because of his injuries and the ’47 season was well under way when he was healed enough to race again. Despite the late start he was crowned the champion of the 1947 National Championship Stock Car Circuit, the forerunner to NASCAR. He finished second in the 1948 NASCAR standings and won the 1949 Modified title. Flock won 34 races in a few more than 100 starts.

During the early 1950s, Flock drove mostly in Grand National events. He finished second in the point standings in 1951, fourth in 1952, fifth in 1953, and tenth in 1955. Fonty quit NASCAR early in the 1954 season and campaigned in a Midwestern stock car series. He returned to NASCAR in 1955 and won three races, including a March 26, 1955 event that gave Chevrolet its first NASCAR Winston Cup victory in a 200-lap, 100-mile dirt-track race at Columbia (S.C.) Speedway.

He had established an insurance agency in Nashville and raced only part-time beginning in 1954.

In 1957 he entered only the beach-road race at Daytona, though he also drove in the Darlington 500 as relief for Herb Thomas, who’d been injured in a practice crash. The car was in bad shape: it blew a tire on the sixth lap and got hit by two other cars. On the 28th lap, the car escaped his control and spun at the entrance of turn three. Split seconds later, Bobby Myers and Paul Goldsmith smashed full-bore into the idle Flock. Flock and Goldsmith were seriously hurt. Bobby Myers was killed instantly. Flock announced his retirement from a hospital bed.

Fonty Flock was inducted into both the Georgia Automobile Racing Hall of Fame Association and the Talladega-Texaco Walk of Fame in 2004.


Fonty+Flock NASCAR Ft.+Payne+AL appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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