448 South Turkey Creek, Leicester, NC, USA
January 2003 – November 2003
We were renting the log cabin. Eric and I used to often dream of owning our own home again and would sometimes pop in for a look when we passed a place that sold mobile homes.
We found a house we really liked. It was parked way at the back of rows of mobile homes for sale. It was a double-wide. We didn’t have much money but we thought we’d ask the lady how much it cost – just for fun!
“Oh that one! It’s been repossessed twice. You can have it for a song.” And we did! Little did we know when we left home that morning that we’d come back owning a house! The trouble was we had nowhere to put it!
The local newspaper had a tiny advertisement. “Looking for land for your mobile home? Phone Merton.” Merton was a delightful old lady and we arranged to meet. The site was on a farm. Very quickly we had approval. The water and sewerage and power were hooked up! The piles were in! The two parts of the double-wide arrived! All watching were horrified! We insisted they install the house facing the wrong way round!
The main entrance wasn’t placed facing the road. The main entrance side of the house had windows galore. We didn’t want to look out at the road; we wanted to see the magnificent Mount Hanlon. Once installed there wasn’t a single visitor who didn’t enter and say “Wow! Look at that view!”
We asked Merton if we might have a vegie garden. Next thing her younger son, Grover, came and ploughed half a field. Our vegie garden stretched to Timbuctoo!
But none of this is what I really want to tell you. I want to tell you who Merton really was.
Merton was one of six daughters (all in their 80s and 90s) of Appalachian Minstrel Bascom Lamar Lunsford.
I believe Mountain Dew named its product after Bascom’s song Mountain Dew. It was Bascom who saved Appalachian music and dance from extinction. He set up folk music festivals – since popular all over the States. He went around collecting songs that the old folk used to sing around the fire. Living in a strict religious neighbourhood Bascom, his wife, son, and six daughters were sometimes regarded as conspiring with the devil. The dance and music events were a scandal.
Bascom was long dead when we came on the scene, but the daughters, being our neighbours, took us to every festival and concert within driving distance. I almost learned to dance the Appalachian way! Nelson, Merton’s oldest son, became one of our great friends. Occasionally too we’d get an emergency call. Old age can produce a strange complaint: they couldn’t get the cork out of the bottle. Could we pop over?
What a wonderful time it was! To be immersed in a traditional Appalachian family (children, grandchildren, great grandchildren) was a great joy and privilege.
Sooner than later Eric’s work called us to Quebec. I stayed behind for a month or so to pack things up, to get Doggie’s vaccinations and papers, and to sell the house.