It was after we published our first book, “Echoes From Catawba Volume 1” in 2018 and while still residing in Greensboro, I experienced a situation that I chuckle about to this day. It was time for the pre-winter furnace check-up and I had a favorite man from the service company that I always requested. He had been raised on a farm, liked gospel and country music, and he was a great technician that was sound in the mechanical sense and had common sense, in a day and time whereas common sense seems very uncommon. I always like to tip workers who made house calls for various purposes. So, I offered and he, unlike most others refused, saying he was paid a fair wage and a tip was not necessary. I respected what he said but came up with an alternative. I went to my office and got a copy of Echoes Volume 1. I gave it to him as a gift and he graciously accepted. He thumbed through the book asking me if that was my life story. I said no but I would be writing a series of the book, one each year. He looked at me and said, “You are going to be a millionaire!” The inside of me wanted to burst out laughing but I restrained myself while explaining that this would be a hobby and something I had been planning for several years. I never forgot that moment.
In March of 2018 when wife Tina uttered those now famous words: “Just write about your Catawba growing up times.” She had heard many times those experiences, and I had said multiple times that I was going to write about life in my beloved Catawba. I knew it would take time and money. I also knew that research showed that an individual writing a book could expect to sell at most 250 copies in that book’s lifetime. Most writers depend upon family and friends to buy their books. Furthermore, I was writing non-fiction books about history, real people, and cultures. To make big money one must get a publisher, write fiction, preferably about sex, murder, deceit, and somebody-did-somebody-wrong stories, and then your chances to make money are razor-thin. I enjoy reading certain fiction books but cannot write them. Note: My books about Appalachian life and times sound like fiction at times so maybe I get some cross-over readers.
Tina and I set our business up as “sole proprietors”, got a business license, own a website, own our trademark, pay appropriate taxes, etc. We knew we would have to provide our own money to fund this endeavor because we desired to keep the price of books reasonable. Which we have. The bottom line is that we own a “non-profit” business, right?
But Ted, you have painted a picture of a hobby business that cannot pay for itself, much less create an income stream and forget any idea of wealth????
I understand but there is an important thing yet to state: The rest of the story. Yes, we travel many miles, interview many people, spend hours writing, formatting, gathering pictures, proofreading, fact-checking, etc. Then we have to get the book out to the public and we speak to groups about our writings upon request.
So where is the wealth? Fair question. Keep reading.
The many people that contact us through different methods to comment positively on the book and share personally how our efforts link folks to loved ones living and deceased.
Doing interviews and video/audio taping allows us to share with folks we know and new people we meet. And there are many! To laugh and shed tears of joy while shutting out worldly noise.
For Tina and me to be enriched and uplifted in the presence and fellowship with God’s best.
To inform and educate folks who do not understand Catawba or Appalachian culture.
Preserving the treasures in these books will echo through the ages to future generations.
And recently hearing from Catawba folks in Lower Catawba rejoicing in hearing the stories about Upper Catawba people—-and vice/versa.
And so much more.
Folks, all the above, Tina and I count as riches that are flowing into our hearts as we pursue our writings. When we do interviews in your homes, we leave with a feeling of enrichment that can never be taken away or forgotten. The joy when we finish a book and receive the official “proof” is indescribable.
Remember the Furnace technician that I reference earlier who stated: “You are going to be a millionaire!”
HE WAS RIGHT——-thanks to all of you.
I was tired, on that rainy October day of 2020 eight months into the pandemic laboring to finish up the Echoes From Catawba Volume three. Yes, I wanted to take advantage of being secluded in my home to write on Echoes three and possibly get started on Echoes four. I was in for a big surprise! My friends were saying, “I guess you are getting lots of writing done with being inside your home so much.” I understood the comment, but it was not accurate! With all that was going on and knowing not what to believe I found myself in an altered state of mind that stripped me of creative writing. I barely met the deadline to finish book three and get it to Tina for the publishing process.
The last article posed the question: Is this my last book? I knew with the state of America turning more worldly and less Godly, going into 2021 creativity could be side-tracked again. The obvious choice was to suspend my writing indefinitely and ask God to lead in the way I should go. I received blessed assurance from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes “To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under Heaven.” I had been there before to hear what King Solomon (alleged writer) had to say and found an answer in verse seven: A time to keep silence and a time to speak. Since speaking and writing are close kin, I felt this would be a good approach.
Having abandoned writing I began a season of rest, studying scripture and waiting on God. Things started to clear up like a veil of fog moving from a mountain revealing a new day and purpose. The clincher was when I received an email from Pat Carper in New Castle. Having never met her, I did appreciate Pat reaching out with encouragement to be patient and the urge to write would return. Coming from an experienced writer her advice was well received. I made the decision to start on Echoes 4 this Spring and that is now about to happen as appointments for interviews and research are underway.
The obvious question is “what will be in volume four?” The starting point will be to write about what many folks (including me) call Lower Catawba, which extends into Botetourt County, but nonetheless is considered Catawba. After the Will and Louemma Garman family of 17 children there came an impactful family of Martins/Garman which had as its matriarch the firstborn of the Garman family, Gertrude Garman Damewood. It will be a story written along the lines of the Garman family in Echoes, volume one, my first book. For our Craig County neighbors, I will be doing a story on the Craig Healing Springs which features a girl who experienced this as a child growing up there. Two members of the Will and Louemma Garman family, John Garman and Lilian Garman will be featured.
Typically, we do 10-12 chapters and there will be several other stories about folks who have been on our list. We will reveal those in a later post on our website as we finalize interviews and research appointments.
Tina and I are excited about the continuation of writing and eventually, doing speaking engagements again. The response to our Catawba books has been great. Books can be purchased at our website: echoesfromcatawba.com, The Emporium in New Castle which was recently re-stocked, The Salem Museum, and Amazon.com.
God Gives us New Beginnings
A significant number of “Echoes” readers this past year have posed a similar question with regard to my book-writing focused on growing up in the Appalachian Mountains. “I guess being shut up at home in 2020 has allowed you to get a lot of writing done?, they said.” Certainly, a reasonable question with a surprising answer (at least to fans of the Echoes From Catawba series) who look forward to a book each year. My answer reflected on a year of difficulty with on-going drama of a Pandemic and Presidential Election occupying what was normally a creative mind. A thought to push Volume 3 into 2021 did pop up as an option. I had a notion to “hunker down” and get this year behind me, treating 2020 as a lost year. Was I wrong!
It came to pass as God reminded me, life is a journey filled with “new beginnings”, as tough times make for tough people. The Apostle Paul said it quite well as he faced adversity with an attitude of gratitude saying: “I take great joy in my sorrows!” Being humbled through challenges is a vey teachable experience as we welcome a new beginning to lead us forward. A New Year is always a great time to turn the pages of a year the likes of which we have never witnessed.
Tina and I wish you a Blessed, Merry Christmas rejoicing in the birth and life of Jesus; And follow Him into a New Beginning of this upcoming New Year.
We hope to see you at the Volume 3 Book Launch at the Salem Museum on Sat. Nov. 21 from 10-2. If you can’t make it to the book launch, books will be available at the Emporium in New Castle, the Salem Museum, and at our online shop.
Thank you for following Echoes From Catawba!
Ted & Tina
We are excited to announce that Echoes From Catawba Volume 3 book release will be held Saturday, November 21 from 10 – 2 at the Salem Museum! Help spread the news and share this with family and friends!
We were disappointed when we learned that Catawba was not going to be able to hold the annual Holiday Market because of Covid-19. Thankfully, our biggest book distributor, the Salem Museum graciously agreed to host a book launch and book signing. There is plenty of room to spread out at the Museum allowing us to safely hold an event. Guests are required to wear masks at all times, over both mouth and nose, and maintain a distance of six feet from others. If this will be your first visit to the Salem Museum, you are in for a great treat!
A portion of book sales on this day will be donated to the Museum. Echoes From Catawba Volumes 1 and 2 will also be available for purchase. We hope you will join us on November 21!
So, what’s in Echoes From Catawba Volume 3?
This book contains twelve articles about interesting people and a variety of subjects. The lead article is a history of the Catawba Sanatorium as experienced by three generations of the Carroll family. The article follows the life of a man and his family, who were greatly impacted by the dreaded Tuberculosis disease. On what was property occupied by a resort community in the late 1850s, the first-ever TB Sanatorium in Virginia became a reality in Catawba in 1909. Guest writer Carolyn Pillow Mayhew gives us a wonderful story of her childhood living on the Catawba Sanatorium Campus. This article is a must for the hundreds of people who had loved ones there as patients, as well as for the doctors, nurses, service personnel, farmworkers, and anyone else with a connection to the Sanatorium.
For the first time, I have included Craig County stories since Catawba and Craig are so closely connected. The Craig section is a delightful story by guest writer and longtime friend Betty Munsey, who shares her childhood years visiting her Grandparents Smith in Paint Bank. I share some personal experiences of good times in our neighboring county.
I have an enjoyable article of the most recognized couple in Catawba, Frankie and Louise Garman, which will appeal to everyone. It portrays their lives together in the late 1940s, resulting in a lifetime together spanning 65 years.
The last residents of the Garman Homeplace are in an article that covers Will and Louemma Garman, Paul and Stacil Garman, and Gene and Truddy Garman.
Seven other articles cover a variety of subject matters for informative and enjoyable reading.
If you can’t make it to the book launch, books will be available for purchase at the Salem Museum, The Emporium in New Castle, and through our website on November 22.
When I realized what I had gotten myself into, it was too late! I cannot say my life flashed before my eyes since I was only twelve years old. That would be a short flash. On the other hand, I will never forget that day in May when the honeybees swarmed, and I was left holding the rope, literally. Folks, bear with me, as I start from the beginning.
I have made mention in my first two books that I was a hard worker even as a child, and that reputation has followed me throughout my life. I do believe working hard was instilled in me by my Mother Elizabeth and my Grandmother Carroll. Neither one of them let any grass grow under their feet. I was called upon in Catawba to work at odd jobs and was able to earn some money and gain a lot of knowledge at the same time.
It was a very warm day in May when Mama called me in from outside, saying Marvin Brillhart had called and wanted me to come up and help him out for a little while. I thought about a haymaking job, but hay was not ready to cut yet. But it was a job, and pulling weeds in our garden at home would have to wait. I got on my bike and headed up the Creek Road, now called Blacksburg Road; however, I don’t recognize that name because Blacksburg is several miles west. Nothing against Blacksburg, mind you, but it was the Creek Road when I left Catawba, and I am not changing now. And while I am at it, I call the Back Road by that name even though the people there have addresses called Newport Road. They ain’t nowhere near Newport.
I hardly ever wore a shirt during the summer and did not have one on as I peddled my bike past the Andrews property. My usual attire was to wear blue jeans with the right leg rolled up a bit so as they would not get caught up in the bike chain. I also wore my Wolverine work shoes purchased at Minor’s Store. I was about five minutes from the farm that was managed by Mr. Brillhart. He lived on the property with his wife Amy and daughters, Elizabeth and Eleanor. Eleanor Brillhart Avery, currently, lives in Colonial Heights Virginia and was a co-writer of the Echoes From Catawba Volume 1 article on the Catawba Methodist Church. The Brillhart family of Catawba was a highly respected family, especially, active in the community and Catawba Methodist Church.
I sped down the long driveway and parked near the back door of the house like I always did when reporting for work. Mr. Brillhart came out to greet me and lay out the reason for his wanting me to help him. He said, “honeybees from one of his hives swarmed into a big sycamore tree near the house.” As I looked up, I saw honeybees gathered in a clump the size of a basketball on a tree limb 25 feet above the ground. Things got very interesting with what he said next. “We are going to get that swarm down and back into a hive if we could.” Honestly, two words in that sentence bothered me: “We” and “if”? (Go back and read the previous sentence.) Understand my concern? I wanted no part of this, but I saw no way to avoid it. Sometimes during life, a person has no option but to tackle a bad situation and hope for a good outcome. On top of the obvious challenge, there was a backstory that is best described by this Bible verse in Galatians Chapter 6 Verse 7: ”for whatever a man (boy) sows this he will also reap.”
Every boy growing up in the Appalachian Mountains would own as his first weapon of choice, a handmade gravel-shooter (sometimes called a sling-shot). A favorite target was a hornet’s nest, gray-colored and shaped somewhat like a football. We used small pebbles up to the size of marbles. Hornet and wasp nests were primary targets, although bee hives were used as targets on occasion. Every farm had bee hives for harvesting honey as well as having a source of pollination for fruit trees. My background in abusing all kinds of bees was about to come back and even the score.
I did not see Mr. Brillhart go back into the house, but my gawking at the bee swarm was interrupted when he came back out. I stared in awe at this very tall man decked out from head to toe in “bee wear.” He had on thick pants extending down snugly over his boot tops, a pullover shirt that came up around his neck, and long gloves covering his hands. Lastly, he wore a straw hat with a netting that drooped down completely covering his face. There was no way a bee could come into contact with his skin. Later I learned that all that he wore was official “bee wear” for handling bees, including extracting honey or, in this case extracting a bee swarm.
By contrast, there I stood, with no shirt, jeans, and my Wolverine boots with no socks. Mr. Brillhart gave me a coat of his that was too big but would cover some of my chest and back. He proceeded to tell me about his plan. I was cautioned to show no fear, which would send a message to the bees not to sting me throughout the process.
He would climb the tree with the help of a ladder up to the limb with the swarm on it sticking straight out from the tree. He tied the rope to the limb about 2 two feet from the trunk. He then climbed up to the limb directly above the swarm and tossed the rope over it, and the long rope fell to the ground. He had created a reverse pully system. Mr. Brillhart climbed a little higher and gave me instructions. He would remove the limb with a saw while I held the rope taut so that when the limb was free, I could slowly lower the rope to the ground, and Mr. Brillhart could then carry the limb with the bees to a nearby hive.
The final stage of this job started as I slowly let the rope down as Mr. Brillhart was guiding me, saying “easy now, slowly, slowly, don’t show fear.” The limb was ten feet off the ground, and I saw those bees were very agitated. It happened quickly as I realized some bees were following the rope that led to the holder. I showed fear, lots of fear as they got on my neck, hands, face, and a couple down to my ankles. The limb settled on the ground, I let go of the rope, and I ran. Mr. Brillhart gave me a dollar and thanked me, while at the same time scolding for a bit, before taking the bees away to a hive. Mama counted ten stings on me and said the dollar should cover a tube of lotion.
I like honey drizzled over a warm cathead-sized biscuit and always keep some in our pantry. But every time I eat honey, I think about The Catawba Honeybee Swarm in Catawba.
One of my memories of growing up in the Appalachian Mountains left a stinging impression upon me. Hope you enjoy!
Thank you for being a subscriber to the Echoes From Catawba blog. We hope and pray that you and your families are well and managing through this trying time! We are all experiencing something that has never happened before, being confined to our homes. If you haven’t done so already, it’s an excellent opportunity to read true stories about Catawba’s history. During this time of staying in, we are offering special prices on both Volumes 1 and 2 now thru June 1st on online orders!
$23 hardcover – collector’s edition, $16 paperback, and $4.99 Kindle E-book edition. Order online at www.echoesfromcatawba.com
It is hard to believe Echoes From Catawba turns two this month. It seems like yesterday Tina and I were crafting this idea of writing stories about the people, places and times of Catawba Valley, Virginia. Today, Echoes From Catawba is now a registered trademark.
The publishing of the first-ever nonfiction book about Catawba, Virginia, “Echoes From Catawba Volume 1, Growing up in Catawba Valley, Appalachia” was released in 2018 and “Echoes From Catawba Volume 2, Granny Taylor of Possum Holler” was released in 2019. It has been a rousing success resulting in hundreds of books sold. Both Catawbains, as well as folks that have never heard about Catawba Valley, have enjoyed reading about the history and culture of this unique place.
In review of the past two years:
- echoesfromcatawba.com has served as the platform for broadcasting over 60 articles about Catawba, displaying photo albums of people and places of Catawba, as well as hosting an online store for book purchases.
- The website has been visited by almost 15,000 visitors and has had over 25,000 views.
- The Echoes From Catawba Facebook Page has over 530 Followers.
- Support from local entities has played a big part in distributing Echoes From Catawba Volumes 1 and 2. Books can be found at The Emporium in New Castle, The Salem Museum, and The Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba. Not only can books be ordered from our website, but paperback and Kindle edition books are available on Amazon.
So what’s in store for 2020?
- In the near future, look for more articles to be posted to echoesfromcatawba.com.
- Plans are in the works for some exciting promotions for our website subscribers and Facebook fans.
- I have several speaking engagements coming up this Spring and early Summer.
- Echoes From Catawba Volume 3 will be released, which will include an in-depth story written about the Catawba Sanatorium starting with its beginning as a resort location and the Catawba Sanatorium Farm with three generations of Carrolls being highlighted. Also, a beautiful story about growing up at the Sanatorium by guest writer Carolyn Pillow. Stories about Craig County and Paint Bank will be featured with the help of guest writer Betty Munsey. There will be additional appearances made by some Catawba families including Frankie and Louise Garman.
Thank you all for being a part of this exciting journey as we share with the world this wonderful place called Catawba Valley. –Ted