UNCA Special Collections ; The Sandy Mush Chronicles Oral History Collection OH-SMC H36 J3

James Hannah

Interview with James R. Hannah

Leicester (Sandy Mush), N.C.

Conducted by Stephen Cain

Saturday, Aug. 1, 1998

(Interview at his farm)

Cain: This is, are we Aug. 1 already? Saturday, Aug. 1, interview with Jim Hannah on Robinson's Cove Road, three foundling cats. My first question - and then I want to get into some of the ancestor stuff - and this has to do with identity. I spent my childhood in Tennessee, but I was really raised in Michigan, so I see myself as a Yankee. Other people were country boys or city folk. Are you mountain folk?

Hannah: I try to be. I was born here on the farm, and I went to Sandy Mush School down here for 10 years. They consolidated with Leicester. Everybody pronounces is Lee-cester, but, if you know your Webster's, you pronounce it Lester.

Cain: Well, I get about half and half.

Hannah: Foreigners.

Cain: Foreigners pronounce it Lester?

Hannah: Lee-cester.

Cain: Foreigners pronounce it Lee-cester?

Hannah: You can tell whether they are natives or not.

Cain: And the natives pronounce it Lester?

Hannah: Lester.

Cain: Geez. I knew it was Lester. Maybe I'll make it. Well, I can't fake it, though. Being from the mountains, does that have any meaning for you?

Hannah: Well, you know, when you get out of the mountains and go around the world like I've been, and I've gone to college in about every state in the union, and I was in Japan taking a speech class. And, of course, all the class has to analyze your speech, and I got criticized for my southern accent, except for the professor, who got onto the class about getting above your place. He said, if you've got a southern accent, you should keep your southern accent. Or it will eventually go away a little bit at the time, but you can't ridicule people for their accent. That was a strange twist.

Cain: In Japan?

Hannah: Japan.

Cain: The people who are raised in a place like Sandy Mush or Catalooch. Are they different in some ways than someone that, say, grew up in the Piedmont or in Asheville, or the rural south rather than the rural mountain?

Hannah: Socially backwards.

Cain: Okay.

 

 

Hannah: To a certain extent.

Cain: Does that socially backward, may or may not be a good thing or a bad thing. What's that mean?

Hannah: Hah! They tend to do things like, as I say, like their pappy did it.

Cain: Okay. All right.

Hannah: And they speak the language that their pappy spoke. And the people who, when I left here and got educations and seen the world, come back and said, gee you guys talk funny, talk slow. Yep. My wife's from California. When she first come here with me, she didn't understand. I had to be an interpreter for her. She said, "That's a different language they speak back there than I've ever heard."

Cain: I've found it easier to pick up on the language of mountain people than I do flatland south.

Hannah: Yeah, we tend to use the old-time slang words or words that have been passed down. For instance, a wooden wedge is called a glut.

Cain: I wouldn't know that, but I like that.

Hannah: The terms they use. Over yonnie.

Cain: So let me ask you, what wood would you use for a glut?

Hannah: A wedge.

Cain: What kind of wood.

Hannah: Locust or hickory, only two types of hardwood, really. Mainly locust because they don't splinter.

Cain: The little green cabin that Frank Black built and Carl helped him a little bit with it. It's all wormy chestnut board and batten on the outside.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Cain: The floor. I thought the floor was red oak. It isn't. It's locust. He was saying that was the biggest nightmare, well his momma was saying, too, getting that in and getting that all fit together, it was just a real bear to work with. But I guess that floor, you couldn't dent it with a hammer.

Hannah: Well, that reminds me of a little story. My father gave a gentleman down here (Tom Cook, Irene's late husband, Larry's father) a rocking chair here in 1950 to redo for him. I guess he forgot all about it. Dad died in 1972. And I was coming down here pretty regularly around, between '88 and around that area, and I asked this gentleman that makes furniture if he would make me a rocking chair. He said, "Yes." So the year I came down on vacation, the first thing I do is call him. Ask him if he has my rocking chair ready. "Nope." I think it was 1991, I came down here and called him up. He said, "Got it ready." So I went down there to pick it up, and he had taken that old rocking chair that he had stored in his attic, hadn't done anything but put the runners on, the rockers. They were pretty flat. And he said, if I redid those runners on the bottom, it would kill the antique value. And he said, "You know why those runners are so flat?" He said, "Your mammy, excuse me, your mammy titled all you kids as she rocked you." He didn't say breast feed. Mammy titled all of you as she rocked in that chair, and it wore the rockers flat on the bottom over those locust wood floors.

Cain: And you got well fed in the process. I gotcha.

Hannah: That"s a term, you know, for breast feeding.

Cain: The Hannahs. Are you familiar with this book, Michael Ann Williams.

Hannah: There's always somebody trying to sell me a book with the Hannah genealogy.

 

 

Cain: Well, it just mentions Big and Little Catalooch and the reunions.

Hannah: Have you ever been to Catalooch?

Cain: No. I'm going to go up next Sunday.

Hannah: There is a self-guided little tour there that has a brochure -I meant to bring it today and forgot it. I'm getting old. It has a picture in there of an old, one-room school house, and the kids, and the teacher. That teacher happens to be my father.

Cain: In Catalooch?

Hannah: Uh huh. He started out teaching there at $19 a month. So I asked him how he lived on $19 a month, and he said that's $19 more than anybody else had.

Cain: Your dad's name was what?

Hannah: Mont, M-O-N-T.

Cain: Let me go back a little bit. The Hannahs, when did the Hannahs come to this part of the country?

Hannah: Beats me.

Cain: When's the earliest family recollection. I mean, you go to a family cemetery in Catalooch.

Hannah: Oh yeh. And I've got the genealogy of it, but I just don't know. We've got it on the computer.

Cain: We're talking early.

Hannah: Early 1800s, I'm sure it was.

Cain: The reunion that's next Sunday. Is that Little Catalooch or Big Catalooch?

Hannah: Big Catalooch. Food galore.

Cain: Food Galore? Okay. So if I show up and I don't have my own dish, people won't shoot me?

Hannah: Nope. I'll look for you.

Cain: Later I'm going to get directions from you. How many people are showing up these days at this thing?

Hannah: Probably 500, close too it. Strangely enough, that's not too many of the old ones. My Uncle Mark is 92. He's in a rest home, probably the oldest living survivor over there. Don't know whether he will be there or not, but he has vivid memories. He was a ranger in there I guess for 40 years.

Cain: But you were bom here. When did your family leave Catalooch?

Hannah: Oh I'd guess probably 1920.

Cain: Were they evicted or bought out?

Hannah: Bought out/slash evicted. I think my grandfather got $800 for his farm. And that was probably 'cause he had an uncle that was a lawyer. He didn't do as good a job as the Palmers did. Now the Palmers give their place up, the Palmer House is still there, and in their contract, the Palmer House is supposed to be kept in mint condition. And it is.

Cain: Well isn't there a Hannah cabin still there?

Hannah: Absolutely.

Cain: We'll go take a look at that.

Hannah: It's in Little Catalooch. You have to walk in to get there.

Cain: This is for comfort.

Hannah: It's about probably an hour and three quarters in.

 

 

Cain: Tell me about the cabin. Is it one room? Two rooms?

Hannah: One room with a.

Cain: With a loft?

Hannah: With a loft. I don't know how they got a bed or anything up in the loft because there's not much of a hole up through there, stair steps.

Cain: Whose cabin was that?

Hanna: John Jackson Hannah.

Cain: And he was what relation?

Hannah: Probably my grandfather's uncle. I'd have to look it up. I've got it.

Cain: We can handle that later. I'd love to get a copy of the genealogy to stick with this. So you left, Mont and who all was there that left? Mont and.

Hannah: All of us. Let's see. Dad was the oldest.

Cain: He was married then.

Hannah: Yep. And (inaudible name) was the next one. And then there was Fred, Robert, Thurmond, and Mark was the youngest.

Cain: Six.

Hanna: I guess my Uncle Robert turned out to be the richest one of 'em. He bought some property over in Fairfax, Virginia, off of (inaudible), corner of (inaudible), 167 acres, paid $5 an acre for it. And when he passed away, the kids took some property, I'd say probably 120 acres, and went out on bids for it. The highest bid was $260,000 an acre.

Cain: $260,000 an acre?

Hannah: It lays in there close to the (inaudible).

Cain: Oh, okay.

Hannah: So they went back with another letter and said, would you like to reconsider? Open up the bids again? They eventually sold it for $290,000 an acre. Now my uncle was an old-time, very religious person, and he could be the biggest (inaudible) in the world, and if he liked you, and you never done anything or said anything to him, you were fine. Now, he was strange. Very religious, as I said. Wouldn't let you smoke or chew on his place. Didn't drink. The only soft drink you could have was fruit drink. But anyhow, he would serve you root beer with your lunch, half a glass of root beer and pour the rest of it away. For his exercise, he would go out and take his 10-pound sledge hammer and hit on a block of wood a hundred times every day.

Cain: Not splitting it. Just hitting on it? How long did he live?

Hannah: Eighty-five

Cain: That's pretty good.

Hannah: They diagnosed him with leukemia about 30 years before he died, and he wouldn't let them treat it. He said I ate right, and I lived right. Maybe the way to go, gang. You know. You never know.

Cain: You dad was Mont, right?

Hannah: Uh huh.

Cain: And did he move from Catalooch here?

 

 

Hannah: No, he moved from Catalooch to Candler. There is a place out there, a school, I went to see it the other day, called Glada. He taught there for a couple of years.

Cain: G-L-A-D-A?

Hannah: Uh huh. Then he came to Sandy Mush. And all I can gather from what I can gather, he, this is the (Davidson?) Gap Road here, connects across to Doggett Mountain Road. There is a place down there called Cross Rock, down about two or three miles. Used to walk across that mountain there every day, teach school there. And as he came back up in the evening, there was some people over there named the Clancys (?). And he'd stop every day, and they'd give him a glass of com bread milk before he come back across the mountain. Never missed a day of school. Snow, rain, sleet - it didn't matter. It's about a two-and-a-half-mile walk, I guess.

Cain: Over the mountain. That's pretty good.

Hannah: Or maybe he rode a horse sometimes.

Cain: So that was Cross Rock, then. How long did he teach there?

Hannah: Couple years, I understand. Then he taught down here at Sandy Mush all but I guess a couple of years. He was drafted into the shipyard at Newport News, instead of going into service. I didn't know they did that, but he was up there for two years.

Cain: Was that during?

Hannah: World War II. The start of World War II.

Cain: When did he begin teaching in Sandy Mush, about?

Hannah: I'm guessing probably 1925, '24 or '25. Somewhere in there.

Cain: And when did he stop teaching there.

Hannah: Well he taught for 46 years, something, I don't know, probably 1965, '66, '67, somewhere. He lost his hearing or he'd have never, he'd of died teaching.

Cain: When did he pass?

Hannah: 72, August of 72.

Cain: And your mom?

Hannah: February of 72.

Cain: Where did he live here?

Hannah: Right over there at that house.

Cain: Is that the original house? Did he build that house?

Hannah: No. We built that house in 1950. Everything in that house came off the farm. The rock house. The inside of it. We sold it to a cousin. Inside of it was poplar. And had a couple of pine trees on the farm, and a little pine paneling, not pine paneling but pine flooring upstairs, but the rest of it is oak. All the rock came off the farm.

Cain: Who actually did the building?

Hannah: Ott - O-T-T - did the rock work, and a gentleman by the name, his last name was George. We always called him George. He was a one-eyed carpenter and he couldn't hear. An excellent carpenter. Stayed with us while we did it. Four or five months it took him to build it. He wife would bring him out from Asheville on Sunday evenings and pick him up on Friday nights. Got paid every week.

Cain: I wish you could build things that way now.

 

 

Hannah: A well-built house.

Cain: And that was sold to a cousin, so it was still kind of in the family?

Hannah: Yeah. Dad had about 500 acres. There was eight boys in the family.

Cain: Your dad had eight?

Hannah: No girls.

Cain: Where did you fit in on that.

Hannah: I'm the youngest. I'm the last of the Mohicans. Three of us living.

Cain: Did any of the boys stay in Sandy Mush after they grew up?

Hannah: Yeah, my brother Tom and Gene and Ray stayed around here and farmed. Max lived in town. He taught school and then worked for the government, the state.

Cain: You're living now in Asheville?

Hannah: I live out in Erwin, behind Erwin High School (Moved back out to Sandy Mush in 2000).

Cain: Where is that? I don't know.

Hannah: It's on out Leicester Highway. You know where the Ingels Store is?

Cain: Yeah, I do.

Hannah: I'm right behind there. Over behind the dog pound. They laughed at us and said, why did you choose that place when you got here. Well, I said, well, the old building up there used to be the county home. I said, if the old lady gets mad at me, I can either go to the dog pound or the county home, only it's no longer a county home. It's an Army Reserve unit. So I lost out there.

Cain: But you're thinking about coming up here then?

Hannah: I'm going to build me a house up there and live part time. I'm out here every day.

Cain: Why?

Hannah: I got a little farm here. Sometimes I work part time in town. I worked for Lowe's for five years part time -Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, from six in the morning till noon.

Cain: Do you farm because you want to?

Hannah: Yep. I have a few beef cattle and sell honey. Fifteen stands of bees.

Cain: What kind of honey?

Hannah: Honey.

Cain: Just honey honey.

Hannah: People ask me that. That's another story. Everybody has different flavors of honey.

Cain: It's all the same, right?

Hannah: You can't tell what the bees make. There's 60,000 bees in a hive during honey season. All 60,000 of 'em going to a sourwood tree or clover? (laugh).

Cain: You might get a few.

Hannah: I belong to the North Carolina Honey.

Cain: Oh, wow. Pooh Bear Honey.

Hannah: But anyhow, comes into another story. A lady called me up one night and wanted to know if I sold organic honey. As far as I know, all the honey is organic. I said, now if you're going to ask me if my bees went to sit

 

 

on a flower that's been sprayed with insecticide or pesticide or whatever they spray with, I couldn't tell you. She said, "How come?" I said because I don't have time to watch 'em cause there's 60,000 bees in a hive. For some reason, she hung up on me.

Cain: My father is a conservationist-ecologist. So I guess, given my druthers, I would use as little pesticide or herbicide as I could, but.

Hannah: Herbicide won't hurt it.

Cain: I'm talking about, in general, being kind to the environment and all the rest of that. If you have a choice, you can use something that's biodegradable, doesn't persist, and so on. But you can't grow food if you don't do something.

Hannah: We get into organic farming. Not a sore subject with people. I think it's an interesting subject. You know, fertilizer comes out of air. They don't want to use fertilizer. Now they'll use cotton seed mill. They'll use soybean mill on homemade gardens. They'll put manure on it.

Cain: As much as I appreciate what they're trying to do, they don't have a sense of humor, do they?

Hannah: Nope. It's like, I was to judge some honey, five or six different crops of honey. And they called me up. Cause I got the beard and gray hair, I guess they always pick on me. Anyhow, I got up there, and just for kicks, the gentleman was head of North Carolina Bees, has his Ph.D. (inaudible). I labeled it all sourwood. He, very flustrated, "Why did you label it all sourwood?" "I didn't know there was any other kind of honey made in North Carolina." I said, "If you don't believe it, you go over here to the Farmer's Market."

Cain: Been there, bought it.

Hannah: And I said, "It can be as black as that cat there or it can be just as white as your shirt, it's still labeled sourwood, because North Carolina is native for sourwood, and if it doesn't have a sourwood label on it, it does not sell. Last year, a new twist come out, and I guess this is in line with what you're interviewing. The New Age group or what they got into Asheville.

Cain: It's there.

Hannah: They decided that, going out in the country, see all the blackberry blooms. They saw the bees on them, so they started calling the bee keepers up and wanted blackberry honey. So all of a sudden, you see blackberry honey labels all over the honey, and the prices go up.

Cain: Now the folks up here making the honey, you kind of enjoy that, eh?

Hannah: Yeah. I do not say what kind of honey I have. They call me up. A gentleman called me up and wanted 40 quarts of sourwood. I said, pure sourwood? I said I don't have it, but I know someone that'll sell it to you.

Cain: I love it.

Hannah: You see, a label changes the flavor and changes the price. I stopped on the way up from Greenville the other day to see my son, at a roadside stand. Sourwood honey. It was in June. Sourwood don't bloom until after the 4th of July. And they were selling this year's sourwood honey at $16 a quart. It was labeled. I sell all the honey I can get. I sold out this year already. I just sell honey.

Cain: What do you sell it for?

Hannah: Eight dollars a quart. I'm going to have to go up. Honey prices, the honey supplies have gone out of this world. To treat a stand of bees now costs 20 bucks. You gotta do that twice a year, so that's $40 you got in it. And

 

 

you gotta buy your foundation comb. And it's a dollar and something a strip, so if you three supers on it, you've got $27 in that. So you buy your jars. Jars are expensive. You have to buy your lids separate. I do it as a hobby, but this year I think I'm going to go in the hole at $8 a quart.

Cain: Serious? Wow.

Hannah: A bee suit costs you 165 bucks. I had a friend that had some bees. Called him up one day, and he said, I want you to come up and check my bees. He said, "I pulled a rack of honey out, and it looks like looking into a church, stained glass." He said, told him he thought about it. Said, "Aw, I'll go up and see what's going on." So he went up there, and the guy pulled it out. He said it did look just like stained glass. So he sent his team of researchers up there to find out what was going on. About a mile and a half away was a street stand, sold snow cones. At night, he'd dump it on the street, right? All the different flavors and what. The bees were just having a ball with his, and it tested, and there was nothing wrong with the honey and noting wrong with the flavor. They just couldn't get the dye out of it.

Cain: Let me go on to some of the things. Family. How important is family to mountain folk?

Hannah: Very important. I guess family ties are closer, particularly in the mountains here than they are anywhere else. You know the farms are not sold. They're handed down. As the parents get older, it's kind of expected that the oldest, that the property takes care of them 'till they die. Change a little as time goes on, but that's the normal procession. You'll see. As a son or daughter gets married, papa gives them a couple acres of land, and here comes a trailer, as you can see. We're getting inundated with trailers out here. Not as I'm against trailers, but, down the pike, when these trailers get old, we're going to have an awful, awful garbage problem. What do you do with a trailer?

Cain: Well, you already have it.

Hannah: I know, but I mean, worse, what are you going to do with this junk trailer? They got the steel beams in them.

Cain: Same thing they do with junk cars.

Hannah: Just throw 'em over and let 'em go. I know.

Cain: When I first drove through the mountains. I'm looking at that. It bothered me, because it is so beautiful. Now I don't see it as much as I used to.

Hannah: No. You don't look for it. We had a meeting one time down here once on taxes. Taxes had gone up, fire tax and all that. People were up in arms. My wife told them, being an outsider, she said, you know you live in the garden spot of the world, whether your know it or not. You got to pay a little in order to do that.

Cain: And what did they say to that?

Hannah: No comment. You know. We Americans want, want, want. And our wants, for roads, sewers, better schools and everything. It comes out of your right hand pocket, gang. They can't do it without money. And pardon the expression, we bitch about our taxes, but we also bitch about everything else in the world not being right. Better sewers. Better roads. Better electric. Better phones.

Cain: And they don't want any zoning. God help us if we zone out here. Man's got to be able to do with his property what he wants.

Hannah: You know they almost took this area for atomic.

 

 

Cain: Irene Cook was telling me about that. When was that, about?

Hannah: It was about '85, I guess.

Cain: I understand they had a big meeting.

Hannah: They even met with Bush.

Cain: Who?

Hannah: Bill Duckett met with him. He came out and briefed him. I was up working in D.C. at the time, and I was their political liaison with the congressional people. Not as I know as it done any good because you never know with politicians.

Cain: Where would the stuff have come from?

Hannah: Oak Ridge. There was a geologist at Western Carolina University saved it. He took a year's leave of absence and proved to 'em that there's so much underground water over there that it's not feasible. Too many streams and springs and creeks.

Cain: Irene was telling me they did a quilt.

Hannah: Yes. Have you seen it?

Cain: No. I'm going to on Friday. The Community Center's open on Friday for potluck. I'm going down.

Hannah: I've got a key. I can take you down and show it to you, or you can wait till Friday.

Cain: Maybe I might go down. Tell me, whose idea was it, do you know?

Hannah: I don't know. At one time, it was shipped about all over North Carolina. Some very, very talented people in this community. We've got people that can do, if you mention it, there's somebody in this community is an expert at it. There is a gentleman over here that is probably the smartest man that's been in this country. He can make anything.

Cain: Who is he?

Hannah: Vance Garrett. He's probably over at the shop.

Cain: Spell me the name.

Hannah: Vance. V-A-N-C-E. Garrett. G-A-R-R-E-T-T.

Cain: And he lives where?

Hannah: He lives in Leicester, but he has a little shop up here and has any kind of tool in the world. He's a graduate of N.C. State in engineering. Just never worked. He's got plenty of money. When I say never worked, never worked at a public job.

Cain: I looked at the Census for a number of years. And Sandy Mush is older than the rest of the state because a lot of the young people move out. During the Depression, you had a reversal of the population loss. People came home because they lost their jobs in Cincinnati or Asheville or where ever.

Hannah: Back to farming. There was plenty to eat here. They eat good. Their clothes are clean. May not have been the fanciest clothes in the world, but they were always clean. And probably some of the best cooks around. We have a Sandy Mush School reunion every two years. I had an inter-tribal Indian honor guard come out and present the flag for us and stuff, and they stayed to eat. Insisted they stay. They said they'd never had that offer before. Of course I gave them all a jar of honey. They thought they'd never eaten as good food anywhere they'd ever been, and they said they didn't know green beans could be fixed so many different ways and still be green

 

 

beans. And they tried to get a couple out of every pot. Anyhow, they have a Sandy Mush cook book. In order to get them back this year, I had to, they said they had to have a recipe of all the food. I said, I'll get a Sandy Mush cook book.

Cain: I'd kind of like to get one myself.

Hannah: Twelve dollars.

Cain: That's fine.

Hanna: It's got a little history of Sandy Mush in it too. Dr. Melton (?), a minister down at (inaudible). His daughter married one of Bill's sons here. And he wrote the history of the Sandy Mush churches. The charges, I guess it's called. I can get you his phone number. You might talk with him.

Cain: Sure. Let me move on. Tell me about your old homeplace?

Hannah: See Dad bought this original place here, 65 acres. When he bought it, '35, '36, somewhere about in there. He paid $6,000 for it. Then he bought a mountain pasture over here, and a farm up above us and another farm up above us. Dad bought the land, and we boys farmed it. I can remember at one time I think he said he had, after World War II, five of them in college over at Western, two in high school, and I was in grammar school. Of course people would have a heart attack today wouldn't they?

Cain: Hey, I put seven through college. Had some help, but I did it.

Hannah: I put three through college. Cost me $72,000.

Cain: I couldn't tell you how much. The house that you grew up in before they built that. Tell me about that house.

Hannah: It was a wood house with a big porch. Let's see. It had three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.

Cain: Frame house?

Hannah: Frame house. Colder than hell. Fire place to start with, and they got modern, got a pot belly stove and whatever. But anyhow.

Cain: Was that your old homeplace in terms of the house?

Hannah: Yes.

Cain: What became of that?

Hannah: Tore it down and built the other one right in the same place. We moved up to one of the other farm houses while it was being built. But one of the bedrooms, the big one, had four or five beds in it. And the other room had two double beds and one double bed.

Cain: People grow up in a lot of homes. And today people move from one place to another and don't really have much affection for this house or that house. But from what I've read, at least, the homeplace.

Hannah: Is sacred, here.

Cain: Has that been lost? Has that sense been lost? Do your kids have that sense of homeplace?

Hannah: My children moved 27 times before they got out of high school, so home is where they hang their hat. In the military, we moved as much as three times in one year. I took my son out of school in northern California on Friday and had him back to school in northern Japan on Monday. That's 10,000 miles and never missed a day of school.

 

 

Cain: I'm not saying that person is deprived doing that, did he miss out on something, not having a homeplace? He got something else in its place.

Hannah: We talked about that. And they think they've had a better education and better rounded because of the travel. You find people that grew up around here, go off to college, and they want to come back to Buncombe County to be employed. Unless you work at Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Lowes or Home Depot, those are probably the available jobs. You know, really. If you are going to live, you've got to get out of Buncombe County unless you've got a relative who's got a business or something. My oldest son works, he graduated at Western and got his degree in emergency medical, went to work for the state, no, the county of Greenville, South Carolina. To work down there as a paramedic, you got to have a four-year degree. And you got to be a nationally registered paramedic. My other son is an engineer for Thomas Buskin They make school buses.

Cain: Can you spell that last name for me.

Hannah: T-H-O-M-A-S.

Cain: Oh, Thomas Bus Company. My ears are a little off.

Hannah: My southern accent is coming back, evidently.

Cain: Or my Yankee ears haven't adjusted.

Hannah: He started out after he graduated over at Western with Homelite down in Greer as plant manager for an engine, which he truly loved. And it was a (?) part-time job. That gives you nothing. Then he went to work for Consolidated down in Charleston.

Cain: The kids move away because there is nothing here for them to support themselves with?

Hannah: Basically there's nothing for them to keep 'em here unless you inherit a farm.

Cain: And even then it's hard to make a living on.

Hannah: I suspect the average farmer - unless you are a dairy farmer around here - tobacco and cattle, the average farmer around here makes between $25,000 and $30,000 gross.

Cain: Oh, that's awful. A couple of them do better. I know Burder Reeves picks up a bunch of tobacco allotments and brings in crews of Mexicans. A good acre of tobacco will be about $3,500 gross.

Hannah: Gross. And I suspect he'll spend $700-$800 doing that, fertilize, spray. Some of this spray you get to spray for blue mold is 400 bucks a gallon.

Cain: And doesn't necessarily work.

Hannah: Doesn't necessarily work.

Cain: Because they've lost a lot in the last five years to blue mold.

Hannah: Absolutely. Cattle market. Your average farmer around here, cattleman, I would say would probably run 40 cows. So a good calf that's six months old will probably bring you (inaudible), and that's considering that you've had none of them die, get lost, stolen, shot, whatever. This is the first year in five years that I haven't lost a calf. One year, I had five. Lost two.

Cain: Forty percent mortality.. (Tape 1, Side B)

Cain: Side two.

Hannah: Side two. Let me tell you how I got my phone.

 

 

Cain: Phone or farm?

Hannah: Phone. Interesting story. I tried to get the phone put in up here because I was using this all the time. So I called Southern Bell up and asked if they'd come and put me a phone in. I said it was a converted dairy barn. What you got in it? Microwave, all the stuff I told them what I have. Then she said, do you have a bathroom? I said, No mam, I have a path-a-pot. She being a city girl didn't know what a path-a-potty was. She said I've never heard of such a thing. I said, if you got to go potty, you got to go down the path. She would not give me a phone because I didn't have a bathroom. So I asked her, does that mean I have to go to the bathroom before or after I talk on the phone? She hung up and decided I was an S.O.B. I guess. But anyhow, I got my phone by getting me a house number. But I thought that was an interesting tidbit.

Cain: Clearly that was not a mountain person.

Hannah: Nope.

Cain: This is a question I had more for the women than for the men, but for the men, too. A lot has been written about mountain families that portrays them being ruled by the patriarch. The man is the boss. I'm not sure that's always true.

Hannah: It's true of the mountain folk. If they were born and raised in here, the southern women say "Yes, dear" to their husbands, 99 percent of them. My perception. I could be wrong. I've been wrong one time before.

Cain: And that was?

Hannah: I don't know, but I'm sure I was. But anyhow, the modem women, no. The young women, they are kind of on equal footing, and particularly if the wife works out of the home. That makes the big difference. I probably make more money than you make.

Cain: In talking with Irene Cook, interestingly. I liked her very much. The one time she wanted the tape off. When the tape was off. My father, who was from southern Indiana, would call her a "piss-cutter." Now I can't translate that directly but it means someone, by God, she knows her mind and does her thing. She worked right along side with her husband making the furniture and cabinets and stuff and made a living doing it. And after he died, she still goes to the divisional reunions of the people who landed on Normandy together. This is not a lady that sat in the back seat to anybody. But I hear what you're saying. Religion. Is your family a church family?

Hannah: Ah, Dad taught Sunday School.

Cain: What church?

Hannah: Sandy Mush Methodist. I'm not a truly religious man. He very seldom ever missed church, and he taught Sunday School, and his philosophy was, you can't be an educated man without you know the Bible. There is as much history in the Bible as there is in the history books.

Cain: But thaf s not necessarily typical of Sandy Mush.

Hannah: I talked with a gentleman up at (inaudible) when I was up there. He was a self-made Ph.D. He come up digging ground hogs out of the ground and got his high school education and worked his way through college and his masters and his Ph.D. And very respected man. He did (inaudible) for National Geographic. Anyhow, we was talking about religion. And he said down in the country, meaning down here, he was from over towards Tennessee, but he was on the Tennessee side though. He said, religion in the south is more of a social outlet than it is strict. And he went on to explain that a lot of the mountain folks didn't go anywhere except to church on Sundays.

 

 

Cain: And sometimes Wednesday.

Hannah: Or Thursday night when they had prayer meeting. And he said, why I said if s a social outlet because, he said, anybody that walked into church after everybody was seated, everybody turned around to look to see who's there. And they caught up on all the gossip before and after church. And he said, really, truthfully, that was their only social outlet, church suppers, you know, revivals.

Cain. Yes. Sandy Mush as a community. There are a lot of young people moving out. You've got people moving in but they're kind of like me - not too much like me, I think I'm different from a lot of people - but a lot of them don't mix. They don't try to become at least some part of the fabric of Sandy Mush. They are in it but not of it.

Hannah: They moved in here to get away from the strains and pressures of the big cities, and they don't really give a damn whether they speak to anybody or not or whether anybody speaks to them. We've got people in here that don't even put up a mailbox. They get their mail in town. I used to know every house and every person in Sandy Mush. I bet you out of 500 or 600 homes now, I couldn't tell you 35, and they're the people that have lived in the hollow for years.

Cain: Kind of sad?

Hannah: Sign of the times. Well, the people in here are sad. But I try to convince them that that is progress. You know, if your neighborhood don't grow, then you're going backwards. Yes, it's sad, but no, it's not. You know, I can understand why people come in here. You come down here and buy 30 acres for $50,000, you got a bargain.

Cain: But that's changing real fast.

Hannah: That's the way people look at it. These people in here cannot comprehend somebody coming in here and paying that much cash for a little bit of land. And I said, you don't know what land sells for elsewhere.

Cain: The young people leave. The new people don't mix. The old people die off.

Hannah: Absolutely. Now lots of people who have come in to here and bought places have really fit in. We got a house out at the road up here. Some people from Silver Springs bought the land, built a 10-room house. Now that house sticks out in these mountains like a sore thumb. House up here. A gentleman built it. Bought the land from my dad. From our estate. He was a nuclear physicist down in Florida. And I guess he figured the blocks and the sand up here weren't worth a damn, because he brought it all in from Florida on trolley cars. The first thing he built was a five-car garage that he could back his trucks in.

Cain: Is he what they call "Flor-idiots?"

Hannah: I can't. Now that gentleman was originally from Germany. When they come down on vacation one time, I went up to see how the house was and what was going on. The local carpenter was building it. I said, I told him, you know, I don't see any plumbing. No electrical outlets, which there wasn't. He looked up with a smirk on his face, and he said, I get paid damn well not to ask questions. Now when he got that house finished German style, they came back and chiseled out the blocks and put all the electric lines in, tore up the floor, sewer lines in. Oddest house in the world. Everything in his kitchen was double. Two sinks. Two stoves. Two freezers, Two dishwashers. Nobody had any idea what he was on. He got killed going out to a (inaudible), a helicopter... the house is still up there, beautiful house. We was building a fence. I went up and asked him and said, you know, it is customary here, if you run a line fence between two people, that they split the cost. He said I don't give a damn whether there's a fence there or not Ain't helping. Okay, I'll build the fence myself. Build the fence. He come down and ask me, is it

 

 

on the line? Told him it was none of his damn business if he didn't care whether the fence went up or not. Would not make a fence if it wasn't on the line. That would be crazy. Just the fact that he wasn't interested in it and then wanted to know if it was on the line. He couldn't tell you where the line was anyway.

Cain: Well there is a lot of acreage out here that is plus or minus.

Hannah: I guess with a good stern answer, he decided he better not mess around.

Cain: I'm going to move on to some other things. If you heard someone described as a good liver, what would that mean to you?

Hannah: A good liver is a man that has plenty. He provides for his family. Has a good car, good equipment His farm's in good shape. A good liver. Now there are people in here that are good livers that don't really try to keep up with the Jones and the Smiths. They keep it in their right hind pocket.

Cain: They set a good table?

Hannah: Absolutely. Everybody in here sets a good table. People in this country here are big eaters, as you can tell. And it insults them if they ask you to eat with them and you don't. Somebody says, you eat with me. They don't put on any airs. It may be country food, as we call it. Green beans and squash, taters and maters, and beans.

Cain: When I was over at Ms Cook's. We did the interview at the kitchen table. It was, I don't know if it was linen, but it was a cloth, white, not a spot on it, not a crease in it. She put on a new dress, or a fresh dress. When we were all done talking, she asked me whether I would like some cobbler with some ice cream. I said, mam, would you adopt me? Can I be one of your kids? It was warm in the oven.

Hannah: She is one of the better cooks around. She enjoys cooking. That's her hobby. Nice lady.

Cain: How would you measure the worth of someone?

Hannah: Well, it's kind of hard to measure the worth of somebody in here because, except if you know how much land they've got. They sure as hell aren't going to tell you how much land they've got or how much money they've got.

Cain: I'll ask it a different way. How do you measure the worth of someone as a human being?

Hannah: Boy, that's a loaded question.

Cain: Sure it is. If s a good one.

Hannah: I suspect, what they do for the community. The church, the community, the schools.

Cain: Is that pretty much the way other people view things too?

Hannah: Absolutely.

Cain: It's kind of neighboriiness, with a broad definition.

Hannah: Neighboriiness used to be not a broad definition. It is now. There are some people who move in up here, they ask how the neighbors are. I said I'll give you one definition of neighborhood. If you're going to have a neighbor, you've got to be a neighbor. Kind of startled him.

Cain: When was the last bam raising you remember.

Hannah: Oh what, three years ago.

Cain: Really?

Hannah: Over on North Turkey Creek. The Rev. Bill Gillespie's barn burned down. Burned down on a Sunday. Hit by lightning.

 

 

Cain: Spell me his name.

Hannah: Gillespie: G-I-L-L-E-S-P-I-E.

Cain: North Turkey Creek.

Hannah: North Turkey Creek. The neighborhood got together and I think, two or three Saturdays, as he got the materials together, which everybody helped gather, not as they needed to. He had plenty of green stuff to take care of putting the barn back up himself, but just a neighborly thing to do.

Cain: I had not heard that. I had asked. There was another. But it used to be everything was built that way.

Hannah: Uh huh. If you really want to see a building that was built before its time, if you turn up Willow Creek, that white, it used to be a store. Now, Mr. Gates has a broom factory in there, makes brooms and sells them all over the world. He's an outsider. Plays Santa Claus during Christmas.

Cain: This is Willow Creek?

Hannah: Second building on your left. You see a house. White front. A big tall building there. There's a house and the big store and there's a little building aside of it.

Cain: Now that store used to be.

Hannah: Old man Will Waldrup's.

Cain: Waldrups. Oh, okay. When did that close down?

Hannah: It changed hands many times, but I think maybe in 19, I was away when it closed down, '60, maybe '70. People have been in there, in and out. Anyhow, if you go in there.

Cain: What's his name again?

Hannah: Gates. G-A-T-E-S. There's a loft in it where there used to be shoes and stuff up there. He was the only merchant in the country here, and a carpenter. There's no hooks, supports, holding up this balcony.

Cain: So how does it not fall down?

Hannah: He (inaudible).

Cain: Oh.

Hannah: That amazed everybody.

Cain: So he had to have some pretty good trusses in the ceiling, but, all right. I like that.

Hannah: Now as you go back down the road before you get to that is a big tall barn on the left. Bill Duckett owns that. That's a three-story bam.

Cain: That's the one with the truncated pyramid roof. I want to talk to Bill. I've got to call him first.

Hannah: You can talk to him anytime.

Cain: When I was down here before, he was in the hospital with his bypass. I understand it came out pretty well.

Hannah: Yes. Too well.

Cain: You mean he didn't slow down at all? His boy's working with him, isn't he?

Hannah. Yes. I call him "Guido." He weighs about 365, big guy. I tell him he's my nephew from Miami. He's a kneecap specialist. There's a story related to that. When I worked at clothiers, I had an Italian guy that did alterations, his name was Nick. And he spoke eight different language, but English was his worst one. He always called me Jimmah. I called him up one day. I called him Nickah. I said,"Nickah, whata Jimmah. I gotta have some alterations a done tomorrow.'' He said, "No canna do, no canna do, no canna do." I said, "Nickah, gotta have 'em."

 

 

"No canna do." "Nickah, if you don't do it, I'll send Guido to see you tonight." Big old pause on the phone. He says, "Jimmah, that is a no afunny." He must have gone to Guido in his time.

Cain: What are some of the ways in which mountain folk are different from other people?

Hannah: Very private. They wouldn't tell you their business or they'll always refer to someone, I'm helping a person. Or this person told me, or someone told me. Never use a man's name.

Cain: A lot has been written about southern Appalachians, mountain people, being independent, resisting authority. I think what I hear now as a curse word is the EPA.

Hannah: Absolutely. Let me interrupt you. Did you ever see the movie "Nell?"

Cain: Yeah, yeah.

Hannah: I think that depicts a lot of the country people in here. Some of them are not educated, still aren't. Got their own language. But you have to live here in the south to understand that.

Cain: I'm trying to learn.

Hannah: But you know, those people live back there in the coves. You wouldn't think so.

Cain: Probably back in the coves there are people different from you and I.

Hannah: Absolutely. Let me state it for you: Whether it is a truant officer or a highway patrol or sheriff, they refer to 'em as "the damned law." I saw the damned law go up the road.

Cain: Just down on Leicester Highway just a little ways in town from Reeves' Store on the, if you're going back, it would be on the left side of the road, roosters.

Hannah: Sore subject with my wife. She threatens to go down there and turn 'em loose.

Cain: They get turned loose from time to time, I suspect.

Hannah: Ah yeah, and one of them don't come back. However, cock fighting is illegal, but it goes on. If you go (Highway) 19-23 towards Tennessee up through Hot Springs, keep your eyes pealed. I think those people make a living off those, because you see hundreds of those.

Cain: It's like the damn law has smarter things to do than mess with that.

Hannah: Unless somebody calls them.

Cain: I was, did a lot of reading, oh I did finally buy Cold Mountain by the way. I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Hannah: Hard novel to read.

Cain: Why?

Hannah: I think he jumps. But unless you live here, you wouldn't get as much out of it, I think.

Cain: He sees it with good eyes is what you are saying.

Hannah: Yep.

Cain: What really interested me is all the people that have been writing about Appalachia for the last oh hundred and some years, and it seems like almost everyone, you learn more about that person than what they are writing about. I mean the Presbyterians and the Methodists that came in because these were unchurched people and they wanted to convert them to their particular denominational religion, so they had these portrayals of these unchurched, rude people. The anthropologists have their own version.

Hannah: You know, it wasn't many years ago that, if you wasn't a Democrat in Buncombe County, you couldn't

 

 

get a teaching job. They asked you your politics before they asked your qualifications.

Cain: How far back did that go?

Hannah: Not many years ago. As I used to hear when I was in service. If you're from North Carolina, you're a Democrat and a Baptist. I said, you're probably 60-70 percent right. We had the same sheriff for 25 years.

Cain: There is also an awful lot of negative stereotype. Hillbilly started off as a kind of neutral thing - it's the bands, music. Then it becomes kind of like a dirty word, everything from "Beverly Hillbillies" to "Deliverance."

Hannah: You know, as you go away from here. For instance, my wife is from Northern California. My father-in-law used to call me (inaudible). He thought everybody back in here was hillbilly country people. He died before we could ever get him to come back and visit.

Cain: So there is some prejudice out there.

Hannah: Oh yeah. Still are prejudices. There are a lot of prejudices in here, believe it or not.

Cain: There hasn't been a black in Sandy Mush.

Hannah: There used to be a couple of black families here, and nobody. Just accepted them as if they were white. I've eaten with them many times. Didn't think anything about it. But I don't know about it now. I asked that question one time at some of the churches, you know, about the ministers. I said, what if you got a black minister? I did not get an answer. I did not get a comment.

Cain: Different with Cherokee? There's no Cherokee living here either, according to the Census, but at least they are closer at hand.

Hannah: There was one that used to live up here not long ago. He was a (inaudible).

Cain: Census missed him.

Hannah. Census missed him. Probably yes. Very interesting, very well-educated man, Loved to talk to him. He lived around Sandy Mush four or five years. Everybody seemed to like him.

Cain: We started off talking a little bit about changes. There are good changes, I guess. You can get a heart bypass operation if you need it. You can get a phone, refrigerator. It means you can get an electric pump on your well. This road is dirt, but you have paved roads that get to where you want to get to. People would say those are advantages. Some things have been gained. Have things been lost, too?

Hannah: I'm not so sure the people in here would be still happier if then had damned dirt roads. I think they would be just happier with dirt roads. I was away 40 years and come back. I can see the changes, and I see the changes that need to be done. But I'll probably die before those changes come.

Cain: What are some of those changes?

Hannah: Roads, mainly. Land is sacred. You give up a little comer of your land for a road. Might make you a few bucks but hard to part with. I see the modem, the younger group, making their barns different, making their houses different. The standard of living is different from their dad's and mother's. Their diet is different. Their dress is different. Their cars are different.

Cain: Better or worse or just different?

Hannah: The youngsters have good cars. To the older ones, if it runs, if it gets me from Point A to Point B and I don't have to put too much money in, it's a good car. As long as a piece of farm equipment hangs together with some hay bailing wire and some welding, whatever. As long as ifs functional, no matter how old it is or how much

 

 

trouble it is, they'll still use it. Or how slow it is. The younger farmers like the faster equipment, get into a hay field and get out the same day. The old people would stay in a hay field for a week and be happy. They want to get in there and get the hay out and into the barn. But the old-timers say they're always in a hurry. But the old timers.

Cain: Are you in a hurry?

Hannah: Not since I retired. I don't wait in line nowhere. I promised myself, after I got out of the military, that was the last line I would stand in, and I pretty much held true to that. I go to a restaurant and, if there is a line outside, there's another restaurant in town. I guess I'm impatient. I want what I want when I want it.

Cain: I guess what I'm saying is, if you were doing a field, would you have to have the fastest piece of equipment you could have to do it.

Hannah: I would want to get the job done fastest.

Cain: So you're really not all mountain man any more.

Hannah: No. I like my modem conveniences. I can't stand to patch a fence. My fence has a hole. Instead of patching it, I tear it down and build a new one. Having been retired twice, I guess, I just, I try to. I've invested my money good, and I've got a good retirement, and I don't mind putting out a buck for what I want. I looked for a car for three weeks. I made up my mind I would buy me a used one, one year old under 20,000 miles. I doubt such a thing exists that I could find that they don't want a new car price for. So finally I said, okay, buy me a new one. Find out what the dealer has in it, the blue book to find out what my car is worth, sit down and say I will pay this much difference between this car and mine. It took me three-and-a-half hours to negotiate that, and I got within $200 of it. I gotten. I guess I've gotten independent. I'm at the point in my life I don't have to beg anybody for nothing. If they don't like the way I am, to tell with 'em.

Cain: Is that pretty typical of the mountains?

Hannah: Nope. I travel. I don't stay in a motel when I travel.

Cain: I meant if that sense of independence is pretty typical.

Hannah: Well the people in here are still tighter than a banjo string. Some of them, I tease them. I say I'll buy the 409 and the sponge so you can clean the mold off your money because they won't take it with mold on it.

Cain: Do you get an answer to that one? What's the future of Sandy Mush?

Hannah: Growth.

Cain: Much growth?

Hannah: You're going to see the smaller places, for instance, like mine, turn into lots. If I could sell an acre of land to some Florida dude, quote unquote, for $35,000, I would jerk his arm off. I was fixing to do something when I walked out the door. There was a Realtor up the road. He said, would you sell this place here? I'd sell my wife for enough money. He put his car in gear and left.

Cain: Didn't figure he was going to get a buyer, eh?

Hanna: No. There is a point of no return on how much money you can make off a piece of property. And if you get that offer, as much as you love it, you should take it. But there are people in here, you couldn't buy their land if you offered them a million dollars. And there are others, if you make them a reasonable offer, they jerk your arm off. If you didn't take it, they'd probably beat you to death with the stump.

Cain: You look south of Asheville on toward Hendersonville, any sense of what was there is gone.

 

 

Hannah: Absolutely. But again, progress.

Cain: Well, is progress good?

Hannah: If you want people to live in this part of the country or come back to it, they've got to have something they can make money off of. Where would you get a job here? That would pay you enough.

Cain: Oh, I couldn't.

Hannah: That's what I'm saying.

Cain: I've got some retirement, so I can afford to do it.

Hannah: That's the only people that really can come in here and play like I do. You know, for instance, when the tax file this year. Don't know whether they are going to accept your farm. Five years in a row you made no money. I'm a small farm. You build a bam. I spent about $4,000 rebuilding this; $5,000 for that, $10,000 for a tractor, $20,000 for a truck. You rebuild your fences, a bale of wire is 25 bucks. Fertilizer, $250 a ton.

Cain: What do you farm up here?

Hannah: Hay.

Cain: Tobacco allotment?

Hannah: I've got it. I gave it away. I'd sit on a street comer and beg before I'd grow tobacco, get me a white cane and a dark pair of glasses. That's a year around job, a hard job, cold job, hot job.

Cain: How long ago did burley come into this area?

Hannah: Probably 1925.

Cain: It wasn't earlier than that?

Hannah: I mean to really. To me the farmer's life stay, i.e., if you had tobacco, you could make your mortgage payment. For a long time, they didn't call it that. They called it land payment. They could pay their taxes and pay their mortgage.

Cain: You ever farmed tobacco?

Hannah: Oh yeah, growing up.

Cain: When you hang it in the barns, before you go to the sorting. How long does it hang?

Hannah: 45 days unless you got real hot weather. Then again, it is determined by how ripe your tobacco was when you cut it and how long you left it on stick in the field.

Cain: You said 45, not four to five.

Hannah: 45.

Cain: Month-and-a-half.

Hannah: Month-and-a-half.

Cain: I was going through looking at all these bams that were originally built with dovetail logs.

Hannah: Bill's got one over here.

Cain: Then, they came along and they raised the roof so they could get more headroom to hang tobacco, and they weren't doing the big logs with the dovetail but were doing little saddle notches and things about six inches in diameter, sort of building it up. Go through and see all the old bams that had their roofs raised.

Hannah: Now if you'll see the new modern tobacco barns. They have it so you'll drive your tractor through it to unload your tobacco. A lot of these old bams just had one level like this one, and you had to drag it through the

 

 

earth, drag it down to the (inaudible). Come out at night and look like a boxer because you had knots and cuts all over your head from bumping.

Cain: I'm wrapped up. (tape off momentarily). Another question. And that is reputation. You said about Larry (Cook), never hurt anybody.

Hannah: People go more on reputation around here than on anything else. I will give you a good example of that. My wife is from California. And they don't accept you, quote/unquote, as a person. They accept you as a foreigner until you've proved yourself. And she was out at the Community Center (helping), and the gentlemen always carried out the trash and stuff. And the trash, a lot of it wasn't too heavy. She said, if you'll wait a minute, I'll help you carry the trash out. She was helping him carry the trash out and said, how long have you lived here, sir. And he looked at her and said, "Hell, 85 years.". She said you may know my husband's people over at Sandy Mush are Mont Hannah. He said, oh yeah, I knew Mont. In fact, I eat up there many times. She said he hadn't spoke five words to her in three or four months until he found out she was related to my father. Dad taught him, and everybody knew him. Dad was kind of the, he wrote a lot of wills for people that were having legal problems or whatever, advised 'em.

Cain: He wasn't a lawyer, though.

Hannah: No, he just, people trusted him to help them with their business, and he knew a lot of the politicians, whatever.

Cain: And once you get a name, I suppose you don't lose it.

Hannah: Yep.

Cain: (tape off momentarily) Oops, I ain't going to transcribe that, (tape off momentarily). It looks like it's working.

Hannah: When an individual is deceased, the community digs their grave. (Tape end)

(Tape 2, Side A - marked Side 3 on tape)

Cain: Now we're back on. This is Side A of Tape 2, and we're still talking with Jim. Let's go back through what you said before about the deceased, when the community comes and digs their grave. That still go on?

Hannah: Still goes on, absolutely. As soon as they find out about it. According to which graveyard it is, they get permission and somebody comes and lays out the grave. The community either brings a backhoe in or, of course, if they bring a backhoe in, one of the farmers has a backhoe. Otherwise, they dig it by pick and shovel. I was talking to one of the undertakers that works for the funeral home, he says that, when they dig a grave out here, he never ever has to do any work on it, absolutely perfect.

Cain: But you were telling about a guy and counting, this was your dad?

Hannah: My dad. When he passed away, they said they didn't have money to buy flowers or anything, so they just took a break and here they came, and they said, okay, and they came. And one gentleman had a little stick in his hand. And sat down on this hill. And they started digging, and shoveling the dirt in a wheel barrow, and when they got that little stick, however long it was, well, a foot long, when he got it filled up with notches, he called 'em and said, that's enough dirt to throw away, because they were hauling over a bank or whatever, to put the rest of the dirt up there to cover the casket over.

Cain: That's what they did.

 

 

Hannah: Exactly that.

Cain: The casket was a store-bought casket or.

Hannah: Absolutely. Some of the community, when a person is deceased - I don't know as they do it as much right now as they did before, when they had their own graveyard. If a person passed away today, they'd bury him tomorrow. Made your own casket. Laid him all out. That's it.

Cain: Embalm him too?

Hannah: I didn't say they'd embalm him. I said they laid him out. And the preacher may. I hated to go to a funeral when I was a kid because the minister might preach for an hour, an hour-and-a-half.

Cain: Would he talk about the person or just talk about Jesus.

Hannah: Anything he got in his mind.

Cain: So you might actually hear a little bit about the person?

Hannah: Yes. Might hear some things you didn't want to hear about the person. But it's a very interesting community. I guess there have been more doctors and lawyers come out of this community than any other community in North Carolina.

Cain: How does that happen?

Hannah: They just get away and find out they can get an education or they're smart, and they go ahead and get their degree in what they want and go on.

Cain: Because there's not enough money here. There may be some, but.

Hannah: The rich farmers or rich people in the community used to send their kids off to school. The rest of them worked their way through.

Cain: But there had to be a value there in education, a value in education.

Hannah: I suspect they didn't want to come back and farm. Motivation factor.

Cain: Sure, but you can go work in a Wendy's or Hardie's or McDonald's or a Belk or something like that. You can go do something. You have to have something motivating you.

Hannah: I guess the style of living back here, by the way. You know, growing up, we didn't have any money. I worked silos sun up to sundown for $25 a week. If that won't motivate you, ain't nothing will.

Cain: You got some grit.

Hannah: Like an old gentleman got caught moonshining back here. We had a lady judge in town that was tougher than a Pondorosa steak, and she. That guy pleaded, you know, I got kids and I got tobacco and I got to work it off, and I can't pay my taxes and all this. So she went along with him. And he also said, you know, your honor, if carrying 100 pounds of sugar up a mountain to a still ain't making it, like the Bible said, by the sweat of your brow, but I don't know what is. Anyhow, he thought he'd won the judge over. She was going along with it, felt sorry for him. She said, well, "When do you have your tobacco worked out?" He said, "I can finish in December." She said, "Well we'll start your sentence the first of January."

Cain: Can you still pick up a quart?

Hannah: You got to know somebody. Anyhow, I remember Dad telling me one time, I guess these two gentlemen got into a fight, and one broke the other one's jaw. And the guy who got his jaw broke was saying that he hit him with something. And one of the lawyers, he said, "Can you show us the instrument you hit this gentleman with." And

 

 

he turned around to the judge and said, "Is it okay, your honor?" He said, "Sure." He just turned around and knocked that lawyer cold, said, "Right thar"s the instrument."

Cain: With a raised fist, yes.

Hannah: Right thar"s the instrument.

Cain: The folks from Catalooch. Your family was the only one that ended up staying in Sandy Mush.

Hannah: Yes.

Cain: You said there were others that had come here and then gone on.

Hannah: Dad had a brother that came here. And he left here and went to (inaudible) County.

Cain: Was this a lot like what they left?

Hannah: I suspect it was when they first got in here. You know, I asked my dad, and I'm sorry I didn't ask him that question. He used to go out on Cataloochee to go to Western. It was called Normal when he went there about 1917. And I asked how he got over to the college. And he said on horseback. He said his father was with him. He rode one horse and his father rode the other. And I said, how did you carry? I'm thinking about kids going to college today. You've got to have a transfer truck to take their stuff to college. So I said, how'd you get your stuff there. He said, he laughed. He said, "Hell, if you had two pair of underwear and two pair of socks and change, two shirts and two pair of pants, he said you belonged. But I personally forgot to ask him, did my grandfather stay over all night or did he ride back to Cataloochee. Don't know. Maybe I can get my uncle to tell.

Cain: Steve Woody, who kind of emcees things.

Hannah: Yeah, he kind of emcees things.

Cain: Where's he from now?

Hannah: His grandfather came out of there just like the rest of them.

Cain: But where does Steve live now?

Hannah: Asheville, I think. That's Jonathan Woody's son, and I'm sure Jonathan's dead, but I'm sure Steve lives in Asheville.

Cain: And Robert Woody is?

Hannah: All of the same clan.

(end)

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