Saturday, July 29, 2017

Experiencing the Solar Eclipse from atop Max Patch

In case you're one of the very few that hasn't gotten the memo, let me enlighten you: There's a much anticipated, "once in a lifetime" total eclipse of the sun on its way to dazzle those of us lucky enough to be in its path.

Ready or not, it's almost here. August 21, 2017. Save the date, because you don't want to miss it. No matter where you will be in the United States that day, you will see an eclipse, a path of a total eclipse from coast to coast in the midst of ever decreasing partial views.

I've ordered my eclipse glasses and they've arrived and are sitting by the back door, waiting for the day. I've arranged for this year's edition of Granny Camp to coincide with that day. After all, isn't the bonding over a stellar event what grannies are for?

Sad news. Our house is not in the direct path of the total eclipse, according to the eclipse locator I found. We're in the 96.7% range. In order to experience the total 100% at the nearest point, we'll have to drive seventy-five miles southwest into South Carolina.

About an hour and a half distance from my home, yet still in North Carolina, is a better opportunity, even though it is 26 miles away from the nearest total eclipse view. Registering at 99.1% blockage, it's one of my favorite spots on earth, Max Patch.

That's me on top of the world.
Maybe a perfect place to witness a solar eclipse.
Max Patch is a bald, one of several in the western North Carolina mountains. It's a rounded, treeless mountaintop, almost eye level with a few of those mountains in the background. Hike the Appalachian Trail and you'll be there. Or do what I do, drive up and up and up on dirt and gravel roads.

Imagine watching the intersection of the sun and the moon from this spot.

Max Patch was a part of one of my latest books, Back in the Time, a nonfiction about medicine, education and life in general in the nearby communities back in the thirties, forties and fifties. It was the scene of summertime fun for the locals, picnics, ballgames, circuses, even a landing strip for early bi-planes, also the summer pastures for sheep and cattle. The afternoon I took these photographs, it was also the scene of a marriage proposal. I only saw the staging by the friends of the hopeful groom.

I wonder if she said yes.
Max Patch on August 21 will offer a panoramic view of this heavenly event unmatched by any, I'm sure. I'm still in the deciding stage, thinking if I should go there or somewhere else. My issue with this spot, I can only imagine the hordes of equally delighted people that will walk the path to the top. Will there be room for my gang of five? On the mountain, I'm sure. For my car in the parking lot, the teensy, tiny, six or seven space parking lot? No.

So my search for the perfect spot to experience the eclipse goes on.

Enter your zip code here and you will see the percentage the moon will block the sun in your area. And then start looking for the perfect spot.

Catch of the day,


Monday, July 17, 2017

Lenoir's part in the 1943 Buy-A-Bomber Program

Researching into a project last year, I stumbled upon an article in the May 1943 local newspaper about a homefront war support campaign the students here in Lenoir had begun. They were going to buy a bomber! Ordinarily I would have filed it in my brain in the gray matter I labeled interesting, but not what I was looking for, except that my friend and fellow critique partner, Sandra Warren, had just published a book about her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the South High campaign to buy a bomber for the war effort.

Of course I had to share my discovery with her. And then I had to investigate more, because that's what writers do, investigate. And then I discovered a whole story just waiting to be revealed.

So Tuesday, July 18th, we are doing just that. I say we, because Sandra and I are presenting the Buy-A-Bomber details we both uncovered to the Caldwell County Historical Society. It's a together presentation and it's open to the public. She'll tell about her discoveries (and wow are those details beyond interesting) and I'll share what I found about the 1942-43 school campaigns here in this western North Carolina county. We'll be at the Caldwell Heritage Museum  (112 Vaiden Street, Lenoir, NC 28645) starting at seven.

One important essential critical (you pick the adjective) key to the success of the United States victory in World War II was the support, both economical and morale boosting, of the citizens. Our local newspaper was full of reminders of those who were on the front fighting for our country, and why using ten percent of weekly pay checks to purchase bonds would help the war effort.

There were posters.


So with that as a backdrop, the local schools, with the strong suggestion (make that requirement) from the powers that be in Raleigh at the Department of Schools became washed up in the Schools At War program, of which the Buy-A-Bomber program was just one element. Also on the list was the Triple Threat Jeep Campaign to buy a jeep for $900. And more!

I can't wait to share the rest of the story with everyone. Did Lenoir actually buy a bomber??? Come and find out! 7:00, Tuesday, July 18, Caldwell Heritage Museum, Lenoir. See you then.

Catch of the day,


Thursday, July 6, 2017

When I am ninety-one, I shall wear rhinestones on my jeans

Happy Birthday to my mother's cousin, Jean Lorraine Frese. She is ninety-one years old today, very much alive and kicking, still driving at breakneck speed around mountain curves...and wearing rhinestones on her jeans. She has a cane now, but even that comes thrown in with a grain of salt. She gave it a name. George. "Don't forget George," she's reminded me often as we are going out the door on our latest adventure.

This is the relative of mine I featured in Called to the Mountains: The Story of Jean L. Frese. That's her picture on the cover.

There's so much more to her life story beyond the Salvation Army bonnet on the cover picture and the rhinestones on her jeans pockets picture taken a few weeks ago.

There was the fishing expedition.

The horseback mission.

The hours and years of study and preparing sermons, no easy task for her.

Her goal is to have many, many more birthdays, at least to one hundred and five, God willing. In fact, those two words have driven her life all these years. God willing. She depends on God to send her the right person at the right time, and that has never failed. She firmly believes God brought her to this spot, called her to these Smokey Mountains for a purpose. Her life is a testimony to what God can do. And. She's not finished yet. 

Ninety-one years and counting.

Catch of the day,