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
Meg Hibbert from the Salem Times Register visited the Salem Museum Monday night during Ted’s presentation on writing about life in Catawba in the first half of the 1900s. She did a nice article giving an overview of both Volume 1 and Volume 2 books and about Ted’s purpose for writing.
The mystery sign:
I suppose it was love at first sight when I came to know “The Sign”. After all, it was a novelty, with Catawba Valley in unique black letters painted on a 12” inch by 55” inch chestnut board; and Squab Farm painted in a like manner on a separate board. It was something seldom seen in early Catawba. The lettered boards were part of the backside of a twenty-foot by ten-foot barn containing a single milking stall on one end and a hay storage/feed barrel space on the opposite end. We had one milk cow on our property that we milked twice daily but sold it shortly after my Daddy being admitted to the Catawba TB Sanatorium in1943. I knew that the barn was built of lumber taken from the Catawba Valley Squab Farm, wherever that was located. The two lettered boards were nailed in a vertical manner with the lettering facing to the interior protecting the letters from fading due to weather. As I entered my teens, Daddy was discharged and returned home to stay after nine years. The barn started to get in disrepair and was razed. I salvaged the two boards, although the Squab Farm board was damaged badly.
I can’t remember the exact date I retrieved the signs from our homeplace, but I eventually did, although the damaged one was turned into picture frames. Thankfully, the Catawba Valley sign has been kept inside, usually hanging in the various houses I lived in over the years. It now awaits being attached to our Salem residence in a room we have designated the “Catawba Room”.
Over many years I have inquired about the history behind the sign from Catawba folks and searched the Internet without success of identifying it. I would confidently estimate it to be one hundred years old, maybe more.
And now the rest of the story: What in “Sam Hill” is a squab? A squab is a young pigeon used as far back as Medieval times as a food source. The meat of squab is dark similar to the dark meat of a chicken, duck or goose. Actually, it is more tender and considered a delicacy in many foreign countries. A young pigeon when hatched grows fast and is tabbed a squab up to about 30 days of age. The fast growth puts them the same size as an adult pigeon after a month’s growth. Pigeons were first domesticated abroad, centuries prior to coming onto the American scene during the Great Recession as a food source. Pigeons were raised by Appalachian folks during the Recession years of the late twenties and early thirties. They used barns and coops to house them including nesting areas. Pigeons pair off male and female and can produce 300 eggs a year to hatch as squabs or be eaten as eggs. In many areas of Appalachia, squabs and/or their eggs made a difference in providing supplemental food. The United States Department of Agriculture created a bulletin that provided instructions on how to raise squabs.
It would appear to me that someone in Catawba Valley most likely started a Squab Farm as a business endeavor. It would have been a profitable venture for several years before the demand ended. Perhaps it got lost in the minds of folks and knowledge of the Squab Farm faded away. I am in hopes that someone will have some information that will shed light on this most unusual occurrence in Catawba Valley. As for now this “one of a kind” keepsake hangs on the wall revealing those proud words of Catawba Valley, but smugly keeping within itself the mystery of its past.
801 E. Main Street, Salem, VA
In early 2018, Catawba native Ted Carroll began to write a series of non-fiction books about life in Catawba in the first half of the 1900s. On Monday, January 20 at 7 pm at the Salem Museum, Carroll will speak about the cultural heritage and history of this beautiful Appalachian community. In case of inclement weather, his talk will be postponed until January 27. Admission is free.
In 2018, Carroll published “Echoes From Catawba, Volume One:” Growing up in Catawba Valley Appalachia. This first book in the series is a compilation of a dozen stories featuring families and individuals, Keffer’s General Store, Morgan Farm/Homeplace Restaurant, and the history of Catawba’s one-room schools and the Catawba School (1928-1981).
“Echoes From Catawba, Volume Two: Granny Taylor of Possum Holler” is a biography of Winnie Earl Taylor. This extraordinary woman, Carroll’s aunt, chose to live a primitive lifestyle for 103 of her nearly 109 years. “Volume Three” is underway with a target release of November 2020.
Ted Carroll was born in Catawba, Virginia to a mother who was the seventeenth and last child of William and Luemma Garman who settled there in 1889. Carroll was milking a cow at a young age and worked on the Morgan farm through high school and college. He worked for 25 years as a member of the Virginia Tech Extension faculty and served four terms as the Mayor of the Town of Orange, Virginia. Answering a call to the Ministry, Carroll studied at the Southeastern Baptist Seminary Extension in North Carolina, became an ordained minister and pastored a church in North Carolina for 14 years. Carroll is a graduate of Andrew Lewis High School and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Virginia Tech.