Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year to all!
May this year encourage you.
Has it been windy enough for you? I was looking at the webcam and it was bouncing around and dancing in the winds like a bobble head.

Here are a few pictures from inside of the school that were made just a few days ago. It was a rainy, cold, blowing rain day that most folks would chose to stay home.
However, I enjoyed seeing the work carry on despite inconvenience.
More than once I stopped to clear my lens.
I found this area and thought it was an interesting feature. Perhaps you might like to guess the location? A clue for frequent readers, it is on the farthest, south facing part of the building......

I also enjoyed contemplating this notion that came up while talking to Mike K. In these conditions our school could be said to be in the
"Frank Lloyd Wright" phase of design.
(BTW, nice reflections)
Wright was noted for bringing elements of nature
from the outside into the inside of the building!
We sure were full of the elements that day, rain, wind, cold. ;-)
By the way, the photos above are the "main commons area".
It is more than the length of a foot ball field.
(FYI, that is one of the main stair wells on the right side of the photo.)
The other architect and designer "Frank" we might mention is Frank Gehry. Sometimes the contrasting angles and shapes and forms remind me of his work.
I will try to get some new photos up soon, once school starts back and things settle down again.
Hope you enjoyed the last look at our school for this year.

In just a few minutes, it will be true that
next year we will move into our new school :-)
Check the time stamp below :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's Going on Here?

I was watching the webcam yesterday and noticed a sequence of men and machines repeating a process over and over again. They progressed from the left of the screen to the middle right. This is the standard "home" view you will see from the webcam.

When I zoomed in to study it I was able to figure this process out. The photo quality is not as great as usual, but, it was a rainy day and the camera shield was wet. But, still I am impressed with the quality of the zoom images. How Cool!

The process begins on the first machine on the left. You will notice the roll on a spoll. I thought it was paper, or something soft and pliable. But it is sheet metal! In this photo above you can see it is being fed into the machine as a flat continuous sheet. This machine edges, shapes, and cuts the standing seam roof sections for our radial (curved) roof.

On the other end, a worker removes the length of metal which is now folded on two sides and cut into 10-24 ft sections. The standing seam is J -curved and locks over the matching edge on each adjacent sheet.

It is then fed into the next machine which is a "Bending machine". This machine puts the appropriate degree of curvature to the length in the overall piece of metal so it will fit properly on our radial roof section.

Each piece is then placed in an ordered and standing storage bin and kept ready for installation once the roofing under layers are completed. Every piece of our roof is being fabricated to specifications on site.

There are many, many pieces to be installed. Notice that you are seeing the "white" underside of the standing roof sections. The top finish of these panels is charcoal gray. You can see that color in the second photo as the metal comes off of the roll. Or look at the finished sections of the actual roof over the gyms in the center of the home view.

So, you never know what you can learn by spending a few minutes looking at the webcam! You can check out the view via the live webcam if you....

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10 and 54 Days Ahead of Schedule

We are still impressed with the progress the construction teams are making on our building and site. We are entering winter which is typically a slow down period with a gain of 54 days. That is great news!

A few new attributes can be noted from the entrance drive that are noteworthy.

The photo above shows the columns that will line the front covered sidewalk into the main lobby. These are the core forms and the masonry treatment will follow. This is on the northwest side of the building. The driveway will be immediately in front of this portico. Parents may drop off students along this stretch.
The curved roof is still an amazing feature. These three levels are on the south end. On the right the highest curve is the main gym, the middle level is the auxiliary gym, and the lowest is the wrestling room. The small area in front is an equipment storage room for PE. I love the aesthetic continuity of the roof lines and shapes.
Notice the offset in the roof edge along Area 3. It adds an interesting visual attribute to the roof line. This feature is an accommodation to the building codes for the Town of Boone. We have conplied to those standards in our building design in many ways. This attribute insures variation along continuous lengths of roof. There are accommodations on the variety of color in the exterior masonry surfaces as well.
Notice there are some windows in Area 3 now. That is a milestone. Once windows are in then interior finish work can begin. At this point the steel framing you can see in the top right window awaits drywall and finish work. Soon, Area 3 will be ready for walls!

This is a stitched together view of the main building from our driveway entrance. I have posted this in a large image so when you click to enlarge, you may look around inside of the building. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

November Aerial Photographs

Sky Site Aerials made the fly over on November 23. That was just before Thanksgiving. I have put a photo at the end of this post that references the locations of some of the Edmisten farm features.

In the photo above we are looking at campus from the south end. You can clearly see the two athletic fields, the softball and baseball, parking and main entrance at the top center, 12:00 high. This is a good view of the entire campus.

For a photo of this view from the 1950's Scroll down about four postings.

or simply click here

This view is approaching our campus from the West. The plane was flying from the Boone airport on Bamboo in the direction of Deep Gap. It was a chilly winter over Thanksgiving. The blues and whites of the season cool the photo and the earth below.

OK, below is the same view, zoomed in a bit so you can study details. Notice the three classroom wings. They are oriented East to West. That way the class rooms receive the most beneficial lighting, North/South light.

If you click on the image to enlarge it you will see our masonry work and the finished roofing color on the short wing on the left. The other two wings are in development at a different pace. The building process has been counter clockwise (3,2,1,6,5,4). You can also clearly see the triangular Commons area located behind the radial roof. The wing on the left is Area 3, Area 2 is in the middle, and Area 1 is the right wing. They are all three stories or levels. Areas 4,5,6 are on the front levels two and three.

In the zoom above you can see the kitchen area and the loading docks designed for supply delivery. A truck will be able to circumnavigate around the building and back into the loading dock with all kinds of supplies from food to paper and equipment.
This photo is also revealing for the variety of subsurface materials that are used on our walls and roof. In fact you can view in this photo everything from footers to steel, to block to insulation board to masonry to roof decking, under layers, insulation, surface layer and finish metal. There is a lot to be learned about construction in this photo.

Over Thanksgiving break I posted a series of stories about the Edmisten farm. I have annotated a relationship to the log house, the barn, and Baker Edmonton's brick house.
If you missed the stories you can follow these links:
You can scroll down to view the earlier posts or follow these links ~ sw

">All aerial photo graphs are provided by

SkySite Aerial Photographs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Webcam ~ Rainy Night Capture

A little FUN on a Rainy Night in November with the Webcam.

These are based on "captured" images from our webcam.

You too can check out the view via the live webcam.
(It may not be rainy or night time now, but this is the same view you will see in real time.)
Where are you?
How did you come to be here?
What are you going to learn from this opportunity?

You are viewing the main level, directly across from front entrance, and the orange area is entering wing 2, level 2.

If you enter down this hallway in the center of the photo. Cosmetology studio will be on your left, Special ed area classrooms, some academic classrooms would be on the right.

This area is adjacent to the elevator for our special needs students, our community, and elders, and just off the center of school, beside the special needs rooms, the lobby, student services, and the main entrance.

It's all where it was supposed to be. Now we will have to learn how to get around in our new high school!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Joe Remembers the Farm ~ Part 4 ~ Thanks Given

Dear Readers,

This is the fourth and final installment of "Joe Remembers the Farm". I had the opportunity to visit with Joe Edmisten and listen and learn of the heritage of our land that was his family farm in Perkinsville Valley before it became our new campus. I hope you have enjoyed reading his words and learning from his stories.

There is similar knowledge and a wealth of stories from within all of our families. But the ways of the past as practiced in these mountains is fading from elders memories. I do hope if nothing else comes of this sharing that we all will take the time to ask an elder to tell us their stories.

And it is in this spirit I have titled this series of posts : "Thanks Given"


In summer, we hoed the corn, cabbage, tobacco, and potato crops three times before they were "laid by." We cultivated between the rows, leaving the weeds in the rows with the crop plants. These we removed with hoes. We hoed three rows at a time and sometimes, four or five, if Hill Bumgarner and/or Dillard Idle happened to be working for Daddy. Although we generally started at the same place, because of our differing skills, we would end up at different points all over the field. I was usually left behind, and Dillard, always finishing his row first, would hoe back to me to help me out.

When all the crops and the two gardens were "clean," we would be allowed to go fishing at two favorite holes in the New River. The Big Rock had deep water running under and around it. We counted on catching something there within an hour. It might be brown trout, red eye, sucker, large-mouth bass, or even a mud dog.

I had mixed feelings about catching a mud dog, which really is an enormous salamander up to twenty-four inches long. We were told that if one ever bit you, it would not let go until it heard thunder. The scientific name for it is Cryptobranchus alleganiensis. The first part of the name refers to the genus to which it belongs and to the anatomical feature of having hidden (crypto) gills (bronchus). Alleganiensis is the species designation, and, in this case, tells us that this large amphibian was first found in the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania. Out of our ignorance, we would kill these ugly but harmless creatures.

We placed the "good" fish on a hand-made stringer made from a slender birch branch. We inserted the main stem through the fish's gill flap and out through the mouth. We kept the stringer with the water so the fish would live until we walked the mile back home with our fresh catch. We cleaned, scraped, and gutted the fish, making them ready for the frying pan.

The second favorite fishing hole was next to the ruins of the old power dam. Here the water was as deep as eight feet. Even as far back as the 1940s, hardly anyone could remember when the dam was intact and functional. The timbers of the dam are still visible in the water, and the many walkers on the greenway from Boone can stop and see the rock building where the generator was housed and the same timbers that I saw in the 1930s and 1940s.

We cut our own fishing poles and used a single hook with a gob of worms. We never used artificial lures. I remember catching an eight-inch brook trout on such a rig, and, as I was pulling it in, a water snake (Natrix) bit into my trout and didn't let go until I got the fish on the bank.


On one fishing expedition, a panther killed and ate me. David, Paul, Cousin Conley, and I had crossed the steel cable-supported, swinging bridge over the New River to visit the Green family who lived in a house where the sewer plant and dog pound is currently located. The men of the Green family all worked for my momma's daddy, Pa Lige Hollars, in his slaughter house and on his large farm. Mrs Green gave us some cookies and told us to be careful because a large, mean mountain lion, a "painter," had been seen prowling the area. We went back across the swinging bridge and through a potato field to the Big Rock to fish.

Just as we settled in and baited our hooks with earthworms, we heard a loud screaming nearby. We knew that it was the painter, and that he would surely kill and eat us. We panicked and made a mad dash across the potato mounds. I must have been five or six years-old, and the fishing hook and line got caught in my pants. David, Paul, and Conley left me behind and the painter killed and ate me.

At least that is the way I remember it.

(Betty tells me this is Nelle Edmisten atop Howards Knob! )
My family moved out of the log farmhouse when the new brick house was built. Grandma Nan gracefully moved her things into one of the three bedrooms on the ground floor. Baker, Rufus and I slept in the basement bedrooms. By this time, David was in the Navy; Paul, married and in the Air Force; Betty was married; Rufus and Baker were in high school, and I was in college. While I was still in college, I married Margaret, who was already out of college and working for a newspaper in Elkin. Momma and Daddy let us live in the old log farmhouse. Margaret taught history at Beaver Dam, and I continued at ASU, playing football to pay my way. It seemed strange living in the old place where nine people and guests had previously congregated for meals and rest.
Margaret and I had little furniture but lived well. Horses and cattle "mowed" our lawn because there had never been a fence around the place. It took Margaret a long time to get used to the loud clumping sound made by horses and cattle as they ate the grass near the house. We were young and in love so it all seemed like paradise.
One Sunday evening, we convinced Momma and Daddy to go to a movie with us in Blowing Rock. As we were leaving the movie, the manager, who knew us, told us that he had been notified that the old farmhouse was on fire. The nine-mile-drive back to our home took an eternity. We could see the raging inferno from a mile away. It seemed as if all of Perkinsville was there to watch. We had left our dog in the house, but David had kicked in the door to save it. Apparently, an electrical circuit had over-heated. We had left a light on to guide us back up the hill in the darkness. (the old farmhouse is in the back in this photo)
The loss of the old house was devastating, especially to Granny Nan because it had been such an important part of her life, the place where she had delivered eight children. And all this pain and sorrow because we went to a movie on a Sunday!

Now we are saying goodbye to the farm, the site upon which the new Watauga High School will be built, on the same land where we stacked hay and grew cabbage. How can we not be sad? As some sage once said, "more than one thing can be true," so today we rejoice to come together as family to honor and remember our loved ones and our rich mountain heritage.

Our lives have taken different courses. We each have our own histories, all affected by the mountain qualities of our parents--dependability, industriousness, persistence, creativity, loyalty, charity, and love of family.
As for me, I've since been blessed by my twenty-three year marriage to Patricia, who helped me with these sketches of the farm.
Thank you Joe, we have all learned from your sketches. ~
You can scroll down to view the earlier posts or follow these links ~ sw

Sunday, November 30, 2008

1950's era Aerial of Perkinsville Valley

New Posting Update:
At the end of this post there is an updated map provided by Joshua Reese with annotations of existing and past features. Thanks Joshua!

Several folks have asked me about this aerial photograph.
click here for original posting showing school site

It was given to me by Joe Edmisten. There is not a date on it but he believes it was taken around 1950. It is an official National Forestry Service photo. If you can see any features that offer clues to the date taken please let me know.

I received it rolled in a cardboard tube. So this is a photo of a photo. I have finally figured out how to show it all at a scale that you should be able to click to enlarge and then move around inside of it.

See what you can figure out. I have have presented oriented with North at the top of your screen. Notice how much is still in forest. Follow old 421, the only way into Boone until the four lane was built to the 194 intersection on the north west quadrant.

At that intersection was the Jones Minute Mart on the out skirts of Boone! The Farthing farm was there (the silo in New Market Shopping Center) and now Hardees sits on that intersection.
This annotated map shows some of the features I have identified. i am curious about many others and have included some questions.

Annotated full photo
In these four following photos, I have taken four quadrants and enlarged them.

North East Quadrant

North West Quadrant
See if you can find anything familiar or recall any details from these days.

When Perkinsville was the outskirts of Boone East and there was no fourlane. Our new school campus was a farm. The Edmisten Farm.

Southwest Quadrant

Thanks to a reader who gave the following information about this photo above. The ASU area is the "State Farm" that provided food for the college. The road is State Farm Drive. I believe the building on the right is the National Guard Armory. The building on the Left side of State Farm Road is Shadowline.

Shelton says, I never knew why State Farm Road was named that, Thanks!

Southeast Quadrant

I am having more difficulty figuring out these two lower quadrants. Is that State Farm Road? Is that the ASU physical facility? Is that Blairmont Development? Look how sparse it is.

If there is anything you recognize or think helps date this map, please share. For example, when did the water treatment plant get built? When did the Farthing Farm house burn?

The Edmisten Farm ~ A Thanks Given Story ~ Part 3

This is Part Three of the stories of Joe Edmisten as he tells about life on the Farm. Our campus is largely being built on the Edmisten land. These stories of his family and the farm where they worked and lived are a part of our New School heritage and Watauga County history.

I learned a lot from the story on "Saw milling". Knowing that this community and region were mostly explored, opened, and populated by timbering folks gives me an insight to the work of settling in this area.

But, the story about the "Value of Horses" is incredibly insightful and beautifully told by Joe. I hope you readers enjoy learning about the working horses.


After Momma's inheritance from her father, Pa Lige Hollars, and after my parents became more prosperous, they decided to build a modern house near the west side of the farm. They also decided to build a new barn. The house they built in 1951 is the one Baker and Dian Edmisten remodeled and expanded. The "new" barn will be torn down to make room for Watauga High School.

The lumber and timber for the house and barn came from our own family sawmill, placed on the south side of the creek, at the base of the hill that joined Appalachian State University (ASU) property. There was a stand of mature, white pines that had grown up after that crop field was left fallow. The trees were sixty to eighty feet tall, with a diameter of two - three feet. Mr. Hill Bumgarner helped us with the logging.

We learned to fell a tree within inches of where we wanted it to fall. To accomplish this, we used a sharp, two-man, crosscut to saw into the base of the tree, about eighteen inches from the ground. This cut was on the side of the tree where it had to fall and was six to eight inches deep.
Then we took a sharp, double-bit axe and cut out a wedge-shaped gap above the cut. The double bit axe head was placed into the gap with the handle pointing out to indicate the direction the tree would fall. The wedge cut could be modified to fine-tune the direction of the "fell."
Then two people with the crosscut saw would saw from the opposite side of the tree to a spot just above the thin edge of the "felling" gap. We usually managed to fell an eighty-foot tree within a few inches of where it was intended to fall.

After the tree was down, we would take the axes to lop off the limbs up to a point where the tree was too small to be of value in the production of planks. Most of the trees in this stand did not have any branches on the lower thirty or forty feet because they had been grown close enough to be self-pruning, due to the shade.

Once the tree had been topped, and the branches lopped off, it was cut into logs of various lengths, depending on the length of the two by eight that would be needed for the house and barn. For example, if we needed sixteen, foot-long, two by sixes for rafters, one would cut the log at about sixteen feet, with three or four extra inches.

Pulling the logs out of the woods to the sawmill, and down to the bottom by the creek, was difficult and dangerous. Two large, claw-like grab hooks, about three inches long, were connected by three- foot chains to a common swivel joint. This swivel would allow the log to roll without twisting the two chains attached to the grab hooks.

Old Bill, our horse, would then be connected to the swivel joint by a "single tree" bar. Old Bill pulled the log out. The driver would have to be careful to always stay up slope from the log in case it rolled. The logs were accumulated into stacks, always uphill from the sawmill, where they would be rolled one by one by a peavey pole onto the carriage, which carried each log into a large, circular saw powered by an old automobile engine mounted on a sled.

First, the log would be "squared up" by shaving off the round "slabs." Each time a slab was removed, the log had to be turned to square off another side. Somebody strong had to do the turning. Also, it was hard work to carry the generally useless slabs off and out of the way.

It took common sense and three-dimensional forethought to envision the planks, two by fours, two by sixes, and two by eights in each log. I am amazed that nobody was killed or injured. It was rewarding to have been part of the process that produced the lumber used in our own house and barn.

It is also instructive to realize that the fields where I once hoed corn are now covered by dense, tall stands of white pines, ready for the harvest, after sixty years. Incidentally, you can determine the age of a white pine by counting the whorls of limbs from the ground up to the tip of the tree, or in the case of self-pruning, you can count the scars on the trunk, where the limbs had been attached.


We grew up within shouting distance of fifteen first cousins. There were four more cousins relatively close by at Aho; seven more in Johnson City, Tennessee.

The close by, "see them every day" cousins consisted of two sets fathered by Uncle Bynum (Swifty) Green. He married Aunt Blanche, and they had Hoy and Mary Kindle. Aunt Blanche died of appendicitis while Mary was an infant. Uncle Bynum then married Blanche's younger sister Lottie. He and Lottie were parents to cousins Conley and Georgie.

Two more of our aunts married and settled nearby in Perkinsville. Aunt Nell married Lloyd Hayes and they had Helen, Farthing, Margaret, Ed, and Ruby. Aunt Lena married Uncle Rob Shull and they had Ruby, Brian, Rufus, Mary Lee, Nancy, and Della.

The Aho branch of the clan was founded when Aunt Lydie married Uncle Marion Coffey. Their children were Bill, Eula Mae, Geneva, and Nan.

In Johnson City, Uncle Wade and Aunt Johnsie had two daughters, Barbara and Gladys, and five sons: John, Mack, Bobby, Ralph, and Larry.

We lived very close to the Greens, Hays, and Shulls when we lived in Perkinsville. We often visited the Coffey cousins in Aho and even rode a bus to Johnson City to spend a week at a time with the six Edmisten cousins in Tennessee.


All our plowing, logging, cultivating, and hauling was done with horses. In addition to Old Bill, a sorrel gelding, we had Dina, a mare. Even though Dina was about 200 pounds lighter than Old Bill, they pulled a loaded wagon or a large plow in perfect balance.

I spent many days working these horses as a team and even more days working them individually when plowing between the rows of young corn, potatoes, cabbage and tobacco. Most of the time, I only needed verbal commands to control them in the delicate job of plowing within inches of the young plants.

"Gee" was for the right, and "Haw" was for an adjustment to the left. A gentle "Gee" signaled the horse to make a slight adjustment. A loud and repeated "Gee!" resulted in larger adjustments to the right. The same subtle animal communication worked well to go left.

The long leather reins leading back from the horse's mouth were tied together around the back of our necks, as we held the handles of the six or eight plow-bladed "cultivator." In retrospect, now sixty years later, it is impressive to realize what efficient communication was achieved between two widely different mammal species.

We used the horses as a team to pull the large wooden wagon with steel-rimmed tires. (According to legend, that was the same cabbage-laden wagon that slid through "Greasy Corner," marking the last time in history that a legitimate freight wagon passed through Boone.)

We needed our horses for plowing, disking, and harrowing the fields in the spring. It took the combined strength of two good horses to split the ground with a large, shining plowshare. It was rewarding to see and smell the renewed earth while walking in the eight inch-deep trench that revealed the moist, black soil beneath.

After breaking the ground with the plow, we pulled a disk over the freshly plowed earth to cut the soil into smaller pieces. Most disk machines had a seat on which the operator rode. Finally, we broke up the soil into smaller and smaller crumbs with a harrow. Soil is made up of various-sized particles of stones, gravel, sands, silts, and clays. A good soil has enough organic matter to cause these materials to adhere, giving the soil structure. The best soils have a crumb structure, which is what we tried to achieve.

In addition to their labor and strength, our horses provided the manure that was important for the soils to hold water and nutrients. Each spring we used pitchforks to clean out the manure and straw bedding that had accumulated in the two barns during the winter. We loaded the manure and bedding onto a wagon and spread the rich, stinking mixture over a field before plowing, disking and harrowing it. In later years, we used a mechanized manure spreader that ground and spewed it out as horses pulled the machine over the field. The value of our horses' contributions on the farm was inestimable.

The recipe for Tiger Stew starts with the phrase, "First, catch a tiger." Before a horse could be useful, we had to "catch it." As a twelve-year-old, skinny, wormy, eighty-pound boy, I found it daunting to be asked to catch and harness one or both horses.

They always wore halters with a lead ring under their necks. The trick was to get the snap of the leather lead strap into that ring. Once that lead was in place, the horse "thought" it was under control. I took an ear of dried corn in one hand and the lead strap in the other.

I repeatedly signaled the horse by whistling a simple two note--high, then low--call. The horse had been conditioned since a colt to associate this call with food. As he took the ear of corn, I snapped the lead line into the halter and led the horse to the barn to harness it. I could write a long essay on how to harness a horse. In fact, Mark Twain did just that.

The short version of harnessing a horse called for first putting a padded collar on it before you threw the large, complicated harness onto the mid-section of its back and clamped its two wooden "hames" to the collar, one on each side of the horse's shoulders. The long hames were critical parts of the harness because all of the force needed to pull a plow or cart was transferred from them via two chains. You pulled the harness back, then over and under the horse's tail.

Once the horse was harnessed, the chains could be attached to a cultivator plow, or a log, or any single horse device. For example, the device might pull a cabbage cart while six rows were cut, or we could plant corn seed using a "drill" that dropped the seeds out of a hopper, while fertilizer was dropped from a second hopper. We found the one-horse rake to be a real labor-saving device.

We grew the hay our horses ate. After harvesting it, we built stacks by sinking into the soil a carefully chosen pole with side branches, made from a young locust tree. We placed split rails around the bottom of the pole to keep the hay off the ground. Having scraped the hay together with pitchforks, we carried it on top of two slender poles to the stack pole and foundation, where I received and shaped the hay as it was pitched to me and also caught by the branches of the stack pole.

I rose with the haystack, continuing to receive the hay, shaping it into a rain-shielding, stream-lined structure up to twenty - thirty feet- high. A well-constructed haystack, properly capped, with its raked sides, was a work of art. I took pride in its symmetry before sliding down the side of the itchy monument.

We usually fenced off the stacks with split rails so cattle could graze the field for a month or more before winter. And, if the weather was mild during the winter, we fed the cattle from the stacks instead of in the barn.

After the horses had spent a leisurely winter, the sudden and intense work in spring and summer resulted in sores and blisters on their shoulders, under the padded collars. The abraded areas soon healed with the salve we applied after each work day, and scars and calluses formed to protect the horses through the hard work of summer and fall.

The horses must have felt great relief after finishing a day's work, when their harnesses were removed. They would trot to a level spot near the creek, drink deep and long, and then roll on their backs in the grass.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Edmisten Farm ~ A Thanks Given Story ~ Part 2

The stories and photos in this series of posts were given to me by Joe Edmisten. The writing is his own storytelling. I hope you enjoy this visit with the family that lived and worked on our campus before it was our campus. In appreciation of that which came before us, our shared community heritage. Thanks is Given to all~~~~~~~~~

Joe Allen Edmisten

I was born in 1933. My first memories of the farm are those of a five-year-old boy. At the time, my family consisted of Momma, Daddy, David, Paul, Betty, and me. Rufus and Baker were born later.

Things were simpler then. We lived in Perkinsville, in a house without plumbing or electricity. There was also no electricity or plumbing in the old log farmhouse where Grandpa Rufus Farthing and Grandma Nan Edmisten lived. My grandparents cared for a raw-boned, bed-ridden woman, but I never learned about her background. They also had a live-in woman helper named "Aunt" Stella. She was a spinster from Aho who doted on my siblings and me, giving us big sugar cookies when we came to visit. Aunt Stella took on an even more important role when Grandma Nan was alone, after Grandpa Rufus died.

Along about then, we remodeled our Perkinsville home by digging a basement under it and installing an indoor bath. By that time, we also had electricity. During the summers, momma and daddy would rent that house to Mrs. Champion, a "rich" Florida woman and her female companion. So every summer we had to move into our grandparent's farmhouse. We looked like gypsies, moving out of our Perkinsville house in early summer and moving back in fall, when the Florida women left.

Upon grandpa's death, the farm was divided into as many plots as were children, and one extra for grandma. To keep the farm together, our dad, Walter Edmisten, worked and saved hard to buy those plots from his siblings. Once daddy pulled the land together, we moved to our grandparent's farmhouse for good, even though it had no electricity or plumbing. Daddy installed both in the farmhouse about five years after we moved in.


In those early years, we heated the entire farmhouse with a wood-burning "Warm Morning" stove, located in the living room portion of the house. The kitchen cook stove added more heat during the winter since it had a fire going all day, every day, because momma Nelle cooked three big meals a day for our family of nine, which included Grandma Nan. Often we had company and/or hired hands so that there could be as many as twelve to fifteen people for dinner, the noon-day meal.

We kept two milk cows "fresh" so that we always had enough milk to drink and make into butter and cheese. These cows had to be milked by hand twice a day. We raised extra cattle for sale and for our own meat supply. We kept hogs for meat, too. Daddy used to pick up the "slop" from the Daniel Boone Hotel for pig feed. We found many spoons, forks, and even cups in that slop.

We had wild game and fish to supplement our meat. We ate deer, rabbit, squirrel, groundhog, grouse, quail, and turkey. In the fish category, we often had brook, brown, and rainbow trout, red eye, bass, and sucker. Two or three times a summer, we would go frog gigging. I loved frog legs. We could easily gig thirty to forty frogs in two hours.
As we grew older, my two older brothers, David, Paul, and I were on the Appalachian High School football team. Betty started high school a few years later. The chores of milking, feeding the pigs, horses, and cattle had to be carefully choreographed before and after school.

We grew enough corn for our two draft horses and twenty-some cattle. We took corn to a gristmill where it was ground for corn bread and also used to make our own mix for cow "chop." We bartered some of the corn meal for the grinding.

We raised cabbage as a money crop. "Early Copenhagen" was the choice variety for the early crop. A compact, almost blue variety called "Danish," was planted for the later crop. We felt lucky if we got two cents a pound or about $1.00 for each fifty-pound bag. We made a special one-horse cart that straddled two rows. We usually cut six rows at a time, with three people taking two rows each. The boy on the cart caught cabbages tossed by the three cutters, packing them carefully on the cart. The cart held about twenty, fifty-pound bags. "Old Bill," one of the draft horses, pulled the full cart to the side of the field for bagging and weighing.

We hauled the bags of cabbage to the Goodnight Brothers Produce Company in Boone. In the early years, we hauled the cabbages to market on a large wagon pulled by our two horses, Old Bill and Dina. I once hauled a payload of one hundred bags to town. At fifty pounds a bag, that made a load of five thousand pounds! Driving the horses toward "Greasy Corner," I slid through the intersection with the back wheels locked and the steel rims of the wheels spurting sparks. The horses just couldn't hold back that load. I was lucky that no cars were coming.
I always feel good when I remember how the older men at Goodnight's, there to sell their cabbage from trucks, admired me for having backed my horse-drawn load into the chute. It is likely that I was the last person to drive a legitimate draft wagon through Boone.
We grew enough potatoes for our own consumption through the winter and spring, up into the next summer. In the old days, we dug a large hole in the ground, lined it with straw, and then stored the potatoes and cabbages in the hole before covering them with straw and two feet of dirt. In this cool dark place, the potatoes and cabbage kept remarkably well for up to six months. Later, we dug a small cellar under the farmhouse for the storage of canned goods, cabbage, potatoes, and certain apple varieties known for "keeping."

We always had an apple orchard, cherry trees, and a raspberry patch. We picked wild blue- berries and strawberries in season. Momma converted these fruits into preserves, jams, and jellies to get us through the winter. She also canned a grape juice drink in half-gallon Mason jars.

Picking blackberries and raspberries with Grandma is one of my favorite memories. She and I would pick every second or third day when the raspberries were in season. We would gather about eight to ten gallons which she processed into preserves. Blackberries were more scarce because Daddy was fastidious about keeping the pasture mowed for grazing. We often picked blackberries on the lands of our neighbors' who were not as industrious.

We kept chickens for eggs and meat. My brothers and I had to catch a young hen, chop her head off, dip the body in hot, scalding water to loosen the feathers, and then pluck them. At young ages, we learned to butcher the chicken after removing the entrails, always saving the liver, crop, and heart. It was fascinating to see eggs forming in the chicken's urogenital tract.

We also raised rabbits for meat. We could kill, skin, gut, and dissect a rabbit for a meal within thirty minutes. We fed the rabbits various greens during the summer and home-grown grain during the winter.

We harvested chestnuts, even though most of the large chestnut trees that had been abundant had already been killed by the blight. Every hillside had many large, white, dead chestnut trees, but there were sprouts up to five inches in diameter around the base of the dead ones. These ten-fifteen-foot-high sprouts would have a good crop of sweet chestnuts.

The chestnut had a relative known as the chinquapin. This small shrub was abundant, and we picked gallons of them in the fall. The "chinkeypin" nuts were sweet and nutritious. We would load our pockets with the nuts and play a game with them called "Hulley Gulley, Hand-Full How Many?" If you guessed the exact number of chinquapin nuts in your opponent's hand, you could keep them, but if you guessed twenty, and the correct number was ten, you had to give him ten nuts.

The newly installed electricity in our grandparent's farmhouse was wonderful. I no longer had to fill kerosene lamps, clean the globes, and trim the wicks. We could play a radio any time, except when doing chores or working in the fields and forest, doing homework, or going to bed early. In other words, we seldom listened to it.

There was only a single, bare, bright bulb with a pull chain hanging in the middle of the boy's bedroom, where my four brothers and I slept. We became adept at locating the pull chain in the dark. In many ways, the old oil lamps were superior to the electric light. At least, you could get close to an oil lamp at a table when you had to read or write. The living room had the luxury of a wall switch, and there was one wall outlet in the thick log wall. Boards covered the insides of the logs; the outside was covered with a siding of fake, brown bricks.

We lived in that old farmhouse while we attended high school. At one time, David, Paul and I were on the same football team at Appalachian High School. David was a senior and played quarterback; Paul, a junior, playing end, and I was a 110-lb- freshman, playing varsity football. (There were only thirteen to fourteen boys on the team.) David wore a "Jim Thorpe"- style, leather helmet. We played larger high schools from Winston Salem and often got beat 65-0.
So far, I've concentrated on what life was like for my brothers and me. I want to devote some time to my beloved sister Betty, who had a unique role in the rich, complex life on the farm.
Being the only girl with five brothers (Our daddy used to say he had five sons, and each of them had a sister.), she was overworked and overprotected. We three older brothers felt like we had to screen and approve her suitors, and she had many because she was, and is, a real beauty. While we worked the fields and forests, Betty was expected to do all the things that momma and grandma did to support the field hands. I've always believed that Betty was, and is, smarter and more capable than any of us five boys.
Part 3 to be posted soon.
Shelton says ~ I hope you enjoy these heritage posts. . Let me know if you do
If you have stories or photos of the heritage of our campus please send them to me.