Tuesday, July 1, 2014


So many times I've run across people who have some connection to Pilot Mountain School, but were not in my radar for interviews. The stories they tell could fill another book, Lessons Learned, the Sequel.  

The same goes for people I interviewed, who are mentioned and whose stories already enriched the book. They approach me and tell me of something else they remembered. Lessons Learned, the Sequel. I really ought to do it. But no. I'll just post them here.

Last week I was sitting in an outdoors venue, Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton, NC, listening to Bluegrass Music at the eleventh annual Red, White and Bluegrass Festival. 

A sample photo from the 2007 performance
 from the Red, White and Bluegrass website photos
Just before dark, when the lightning bugs would be the only visible form of illumination beyond the stage lights, I recognized a man I had interviewed on the school project. Yes, he remembered me. And yes, he had a story he had forgotten to tell, but not about the school. This particular memory was precipitated by my asking him if he knew a particular moonshiner I mentioned in my newest book.

Yes, he did and that man's family made the best banana brandy ever. While I was mulling that taste over in my mind, he went on to tell a story.

Since his mother was the only local medical person living in that part of the South Mountains in the late thirties, people often came to their home for assistance. Late one night a knock came at the door, rousing the family from a deep sleep. It was a neighbor from further back in the hills. He had been in a drunken argument that ended in a violent fight. His enemy had bitten his ear, tore at it, nearly pulled it off, left it dangling. He came to this nurse, begging her to cut it off. She refused, but he persisted. Finally she woke her husband, told him to build up the fire in the cookstove and boil some water so she could sterilize the kitchen butcher knife. She whacked off the ear, threw the evidence in the fire, patched him up and sent him on his way. I don't know who really learned the lesson that night, but it was well remembered seventy years later.

I admit, some stories fit into a sequel about lessons learned at a school better than others, but this particular story gives a glimpse into one thing that I found over and over at Pilot Mountain: community. Reasons don't matter. Compassion does, caring for neighbors, helping them through rough patches. What a lesson this man learned as a small child that night. We should all be so fortunate.

Catch of the day,


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