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By Danny Fulks:
In 1981, at the age of five, Kristin Scott played mandolin for family and friends at home, even as she learned about circles and squares in kindergarten at Foster Park Elementary School in Union, South Carolina. Nothing unusual about that in her family, or in the region. Her father, Fred, played mandolin and guitar; her mother, Carolyn, gave support. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and Don Reno’s records played on her mom’s record player. But the unique inspiration for Kristin was her maternal grandfather, Arvil Hogan, who played professional music with a group called the Briarhoppers, a country and bluegrass band whose home base was Charlotte’s 50,000-watt radio station, WBT. The band featured the Decca Record Company’s singing team, Arval and Whitey Grant. Arval Hogan was born in Andrews, North Carolina, near the Smoky Mountains, Lake Chogie, and the Nantahala River in the southwestern corner of the state, a place […]
Greasy Ridge—twenty-two miles of rugged two-lane in southern Ohio— got its name from pioneers killing bears, butchering for hides, meat, lamp oil, from the 1820s through the Civil War and after. The name told the story. Not romantic like Winter Haven, Lakeview, Oak Ridge, Squaw Valley. A family with fifty-acres could get by. But they worked. Sweat of the brow. Like the Bible said. It was no place for dead beats. Surviving took grit. Elbert Davis had it. He cleared flats on fifty acres using a one-hand crosscut saw, mattock, mowing scythe, corn cutter, goose-neck hoe, hillside plow, team of work horses. Davis walking up to a big oak before dawn, looking up saying, “Mr. Oak, you son-of-a-bitch, you’re comin’ down today.” It might have been after dark, coal miner’s carbide light shining from Davis’s cap, but the tree fell. Time never did much for Greasy Ridge. By 1920 road […]
June was the month of smooth rhythm. Tobacco and corn had taken hold. Honeysuckle vines sprouted tender buds. Onions and radishes popped through the ground. White leghorn pullets got fat on cracked corn and bugs. Strawberries were ripe. The Mud River, spring floods passed, slithered on west toward Huntington, West Virginia. The bottomland was rich with good dirt where corn, tobacco, watermelons, and muskmelons grew green and strong. Squirrels, rabbits, ground hogs, raccoons, ruffed grouse, deer lived in the woods. The white leghorn pullets were plump and slick as deep summer came. Rhode Island reds and black Minorcas were coming on. Momma, ax in hand, threw out a handful of cracked corn, reached in and grabbed a white, fat one. Squawking, the bird struggled as she laid it on the chopping block, cut its head off. It died in a fit of flips and flops. She dipped the bird in […]