Best Friends

When I was younger, I was never really good at making friends. The kids at school were boring and unimaginative. Playing with Barbies consisted of “Ooh why I love your dress, let’s comb your hair.” Girls were mind numbingly dull. But at least the boys I knew enjoyed adventure. 

My mom wasn’t one to to let me have friends over. That meant meeting and communicating with people she’d never met before. What I did have however, were two god-brothers. My parents and theirs had been friends for years. Chris was four years older and Mikey was only 2. 

We played together since I was old enough to crawl. I played cops and robbers, masters of the universe, and in turn they would even play My Little Pony with me. Never combing of hair, more like search and rescue and daring adventure. 

The boys would spend every summer with us. Sometimes it was just at home. Though often we would venture into the Blue Ridge Mountains with Old Red Socks. We trekked over Mount Mitchell and Pisgah and Craggy Gardens. Every weekend night we’d spend on Curtis Creek spearing crawfish, fishing, and generally getting dirty. 

As time goes, families grow apart, children grow up, and people move on. But the memories you gain in between are enough to last a lifetime. 

I still talk to Mikey from time to time. He is married with two beautiful children (including a son that looks EXACTLY like him). 

Curtis Creek

I may have blogged about Curtis Creek in the past. It’s fine if I did. It’s a great place and worthy of multiple mention.

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t read that post… I was adopted. It was set up before I was born. I guess my due date must have been toward the middle of July because my mom and Old Red Socks decided to take short vacation before I came along.

Dad packed up their R.V. and took off to his favorite haunt. An old logging/hunting/fishing road just off of US 70 in Old Fort. About six miles up the road from when you turn is a small bridge that crosses over this babbling creek. They parked in the little stretch and prepared to camp. They weren’t able to enjoy their trip for very long. A messenger was sent to find them. I was born on July 2nd and the messenger tracked down my parents on July 4th. At least in the time of no cell phones, they were predictable.

There were a couple of places that we always visited on summer days and weekends. Curtis Creek was at the top of the list.

If you drive down this road now, there is a beautiful little campground set up for r.v. and tent camping. $5 a night complete with bathrooms and picnic tables. If you continue up the road from the campground there are other little spots along the road that make for some good camping. Little pull offs. Park your car, have a campfire, set up a tent.

Make sure to bring your fishing pole and license. The stream is FULL of rainbow trout and crawfish. When I find the pictures I have of it, I’ll be sure to put them up.

The man in the red socks

I got to see the old man this weekend. He will never change. And at this point in his life, I hope he never does. I’ve accepted the crazy old bat that he is and love him for it.

My father flew down for a long weekend to visit with my brother. We drove down and had dinner with them. It was a nice evening, though my dad isn’t happy unless he’s insulting someone. It doesn’t have to be to their faces, it can be behind their backs. Though I was pleasantly surprised to see him bheave this time. 

I keep staring at the calendar to try and figure out a long weekend or something to take a little trip up to TN to see him again and my sister. I know Ethan would love to go up. We have A LOT to plan around though. A friend’s wedding, a friend’s party, Halloween, board meetings, mailout schedules… but I think Ethan and I can spare a weekend. If we go the middle week, I can take Ethan to the Woolly Worm Festival. 

I do what I want!

Obviously, my father was a headstrong man. He didn’t follow the rules even if he was aware that rules existed. When we first moved up to Black Mountain, the little brown house we lived in was in an HOA. Now that I work in the industry, I can’t imagine how many fines my father must have racked up for the poor owner in the year that we were there. Surprisingly enough, he rented to us again after a couple of years… in the SAME community.

The brown house had this nice back porch that had warm Southern exposure. You could stand on our deck and look out over the mountains. We had a humming bird feeder and a regular bird feeder as well. Only as the days went on, the bird seed in the yard below the deck started to attract some unwanted neighbors.

Rats

These rats were pretty big. Not the giant sewer rats from New York, but definitely their second cousins. They would come out in the afternoons and raid any birdseed that had fallen through the day. My brother John lived up the hill from us at this time. He and my dad put their heads together and decided to come up with a solution.

John would come over in the evenings with his .22 rifle and take pot shots at the rats. He did this for a week and took out quite a few of them. He’d shoot the rat and my dad would go down and toss it beyond the bushes. There seemed to be a never ending supply of them though, and it wasn’t doing the job fast enough.

So Old Red Socks, after having a few beers, came up with the best way to get rid of them all at once. He got up early one morning and drove down to the gas station. He returned with a couple of five gallon jugs of kerosine. – I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.-

The rats lived in the bushes that grew over the fence. The barbed wire fence kept our community separated from the pasteuer beyond. The fact that this fence didn’t belong to my dad (nor the bushes) meant anything to him as he liberally doused them all with the kerosine. John came down and we were all outside as dad lit the fire.

The flames easily reached ten feet at times as dad threw more kerosine onto the already burning fire. I went without eyebrows for a good month afterward. It’s hard to say what my neighbors thought, though one of them obviously called the fire department because eventually they came along.

My mom brought me inside as they took care of the burn with my dad. In the chaos of the day, nestled by the steps of the deck, I found 2 adorable field mice taking cover from the fire. I quickly grabbed my bug cage and picked them up. I wanted to save them. To my heartbreaking dismay, they ended up suffering too much smoke inhalation and they died before the day was out.

It may have been unorthodox and illegal… but we didn’t have any more problems with the rats after that. The barbed wire fence held up pretty well all things considered. It didn’t have to get replaced and the bushes died out, leaving an even nicer open view beyond the deck.

In the Grove

The knot of trees blocked out the sun. Ominous stones stood among the bushes, each one holding a story. We crept quietly at first off the small path. It wasn’t meant to be a foot path, but a small road that belonged to whomever owned the property.

We were trespassing.

I didn’t know what trespassing was. Old Red Socks didn’t believe in the concept thus didn’t teach it to me.

It was a brisk fall day. I had on my little pink and gray checkered coat. The fence was barbed behind the house. My dad took off his members only jacket and threw it over one of the wire strands, pushing down.

“Go ahead Jennifah, we’re going to go exploring!”

I was by no means graceful, but I made through without snagging myself. We tromped through the field and headed toward the cluster of trees.

Now whether be previously had stumbled upon this place, or if this was his first discovery as well – I cannot say. The birds were quiet, and it was eerie beneath the canopy.

“Do you see that Jennifah? It’s an Indian grave yard!”

“Really?” I remember breathing. I bounded over to one of the headstones and he quickly called me back over.

“No, no, no… they’re haunted!” I froze and looked around. “In fact, this whole place is. We should get outah heeah.” I agreed quickly and we continued on to explore the fields between Beech Glenn and the gravel company.

Thinking back to that day – it occurs to me that the headstones wouldn’t have necessarily (or even most likely) Indian in nature. They are (or were as of nine years ago) still in the same place. The world grew up around them, but the person who bought the property put a little double wide mobile home just on the outside edge of the trees.

Next time we get a chance to visit, I’ll have to do a little sneaking on property and see if they’re still there. What? I learned from the best didn’t I?

 

 

 

 

The great explorers

At the time that we lived in the brown house, it was mom, dad, my brother Jimmy and myself. Johnny and his wife Kay lived just up the hill from us. Jimmy’s best friend, Jimmy Hutto, would always come over to hang out.

Old Red Socks LOVED to explore. He was happy as a clam to take the car out and just drive. He didn’t need a destination, he just liked the trip.

This particular night, when everyone was over, he had a destination in mind. Beer was involved – it usually was. And after all of the penis bearing members of my family were comfortably inebriated, my father announced they were going on an adventure. There was no arguing with him, no stopping him.

I wanted so desperately to go. I didn’t care where they were headed, I had my father’s wanderlust. My mother put her foot down however. Johnny (who had not been drinking) promised to keep an eye on them all. I mentioned before that the view from our deck at the brown house put our eyes on the mountain peaks of Lakey Knob and High Top Mountain. There were homes built onto the sides of these hills (we could see their lights at night). My father decided he wanted to go get a look at these homes.

So Old Red Socks, Johnny, Jimmy and Jimmy piled into my dad’s oldsmobile and started driving. I sat at home, playing on the deck, wishing I could see the houses as well. My mom and Kay remained inside talking.

The hours ticked by and they weren’t back. I could tell mom was starting to get worried. Dusk was creeping up quickly. There were no such things as cell phones yet, so we were soon going to be in the literal dark. It wasn’t long after the sky went black that we noticed different lights than normal on the side of the mountain. They were flashing in a general S.O.S. pattern.

We knew immediately that it was our men. My mom had already been on the phone with the police and she passed the information along to them. After another couple of hours, the four of them were delivered safely by some officers. The rain from a few nights prior had caused the roads to get all muddy on the mountain. Dad’s car had gotten stuck. The next day they had to call a tow truck to climb the mountain and bring the oldsmobile back down.

I still would have liked to have been there.

It’s so very odd. I feel like I’ve been away forever. A little sore tonight, a little tired. I just feel like I’ve dropped the ball again. I put my blinders back up and started moving through life once more. Let’s not look at the details – details are all dinged and dusty. Very random… I know. I’m eccentric like that… or maybe it’s just weird. I don’t think I’m rich enough to be eccentric yet.

I was going to leave a little story with you… but I wanted to share the picture with it. Instead, I’m sharing a picture that goes with one of my older Red Socks posts. The day we went sledding up on Mount Mitchell.

snowman

 

It’s funny how when you start going through old pictures, the memories that were just fuzzy glimmers in the peripheral of your mind comes flooding back. I found myself crying tonight as I flipped through them.