(this heres a good shot of our land took with Reubens polaroid)Reuben come up to Foxy Mountain ( our home place) to ask my pap if he could court me, an my pappy sent em off a'runnin. My pap, ole Clifford Flowers were a mite handy with a gun an a knife an he figgered fer shore he'd done seen the last of Reuben James. But Reuben had done took a peek at me an he weren't to be outdid by one Clifford Flowers. So Reuben, he were tryin to sneak back up onto the mountain an my pap's hogs had got loose. Reuben seein a chance to look good to my pap ketched ever last one of em an had em back in the pen afore you could turn yoreself around. Well fer shore Pappy seen somethin in Reuben that day an he commenced to askin around about em an next thang I knowed Reuben were at my doorstep with posies in hand an a'courtin we went.
(you kin see here some of the folks I aim to talk about)
I swear I could ramble on an on about all the thangs about my darlin whut makes my heart flutter so. Why he were the very most handsomest man I ever did see with that deep voice of his an them twinklin big ole brown eyes. He mostly always wore hisself a mustache or whiskers on his face, an he had the very best shape to him you ever seen on a man. Why there weren't an inch of fat nowheres on ole Reuben K. James. An boys Mollyelou liked a'lookin at em. He shore made her twist an shout. I shouldn't be a'tellin all this. My youngins might near'll be a'blushin when they read of hit. But lordy bee, I had them girly feelins an their daddy shore brung em outta me.
(heres a shot of me n Luke my oldest boy a'walkin up to the schoolhouse)
A lookin back I reckon the saddest part of me an Reuben's life together wuz that we never had enuf time to do all the talkin we wanted to. Oh but we could set an talk til the cows come home. I reckon we wuz either tickled with one another or we wuz both jest full of hot air. I don't rightly know, I jest know we never onest got tired of hearin the other one talk. An I thank thats good.
We did have ourselfs a glorious weddin day. Hit were held at the Holiness church an were attended by all our kin and friends from all parts. There weren't no glitches of any kinds an hit were a beautiful springtime day. My mama had stitched fer me a purty white dress goin all the way to the ground an hit had ruffles a runnin all around the bottom. I had put some little white flower blossoms that my sissy brung me to put up in my hair. There weren't no need fer shoes because my feet wuz clean an besides, the hillside wuz grassy an good feelin.
Reuben were the dandy in his dungarees an white shirt all starched an reachin all the way down to his hands. He wuz wearin his big ole black hat he favored an if I'm recollectin right he wuz wearin some brand new boots. Reuben's feet wuz always tender to cockle burs an he never cottoned to goin barefoot noways.
My sissy Irma Lou sang fer us an Reuben's brothers picked with her. They done some Elvis an some regular bluegrass which we all really loved. jest ordinary pickin. Oh hit wuz somethin. An Brother Rupert were the one whut blessed hit fer us. All our kin put on a big ole dinner on the church house grounds an the boys all frolicked an I reckon you never seen sech agin. I tell you the James an Flowers clans done some rejoicin on that day!
(as you kin see I don gone an got all my story pictures outta whack an heres a good un though of Mikey Philbert whut wuz our 4th grandyoungin with his granny on his pa's side) hit were puttin the cart afore the horse all along on these pictures
Next come the honeymoonin time an I don't aim to talk too much on that private time but I kin tell you hit were somethin this ole gal will never forgit. Reuben had took me up to our cabin after the weddin day wuz near done fer he wuz dyin to show hit to me. Him an his pap an the other boys had been workin fer weeks on our little place up on that mountain, an oh boy were hit somethin to behold. Made all of logs an saplins cut from tulip trees on the south side of our spot. They wuz chinked real good an a body could stay right warm when the wind were a'blowin. Hardly none a'tall of a wind come through them logs. We started our first little place with a settin room to rest in of the evenin an our cookstove an eatin table which made the kitchen wuz at the other end. Reuben had got me an old black cast iron stove an I had the pie safe which had been my granny's. Our bedroom wuz next to the settin room with the bed we kept all them years. Reuben, Jeb Daniels an my pappy had made that bed fer us. An we had a nice little privy right outside next to the woodpile. Bless his heart, he had made hit good with tin over the top so we wuz saved from the rains an snows. An bein so close to the house, ole Mollyelou didn't have too fer to run at night. Reuben always thought of hit all.
(lordy but if this ain't a cute shot of little Jakey with one of his ole dawgs)
Later on when I were in the motherin way fer the second time with little Georgie Lou, he were addin on to make hit more pleasin fer his growin family. But I'm gittin ahead of myself here, an I aim to slow down. Boys I tell you though we enjoyed ourselfs many fine evenins in them early days. We'd pass the time after supper with Reuben a'pickin an me a'harmonizin. Suzie Lou were jest a little sprout an she'd be right there with us in her little cradle which my pa had made. There'd most always be an old cat or dawg a'layin around. Jest a'restin.
By that time my mammy an pappy had really took a shine to Reuben an they knowed he wuz the one fer me. Reuben as I've said so many time afore were the hardest workin man I've ever saw. He would no quicker be done with the work around our place afoe he would up an be workin at my pa's or hisns. He were jest made thissa way. Now them James boys wuzn't all made like Reuben. Them were another story indeed. Oh don't take me wrong here they wuzn't all the way lazy but they nere one had the gumption Reuben had. They fooled around with pickin an made theirselfs a few dollars here an there down at the Rooster. An they done a little farmin, balin an sech. But they mostly spent their time a'workin on an tearin down them ole pickups an cars an sech. A body jest couldn't of walked up on their place without havin to climb over some ole parts tore off somethin. They liked it like that.
An the funniest thang wuz that Reuben's mammy, Miz Rose never did appreciate all Reuben's ways of hardwork an livin right. Least not like she fancied the others. Specially Jimmy Dewayne. Course I always figgered it were cause of him bein the baby an all. Maybe she knowed whichn to appreciate but weren't of a need to show hit most likely. Who knows with mamas. Sometimes folks thinks we is feelin one way an the whole time we is feelin jest the opposite. I reckon we all have our ways an our reasons fer showin our feelins like we do.
Now Reuben James weren't one fer readin books or to even fancy lookin at the pictures but he did favor me readin the word to em. I reckon he specially liked a'hearin the proverbs or the Psalms from the good book. Said a feller jest knowed the way to live after a'hearin the Proverbs and the Psalms could alwyas make em thank of a song to sang.
I can't rightly recollect too many a night afore we closed our tired ole eyes that we wuzn't down on knees afore our bed a'givin thanks. Bout the onliest times we neglected a doin hit were when we wuz real young an had got ourselfs all likkered up over in Pidgeon Forge. But we wuz always so full of remorse to do sech a thang as that. I reckon the Lord might have understood the ways of the young an foolish, fer I'm right shore he did forgive us of our selfish ways.
(the girls always makes a smile lite up on my face)
I tend to forgit of folks whut don't come from the hills an sech an maybe wuzn't brung up the same as us, an fer them I'll do my best to try an explain our ways.
Music.........pickin an sangin were a very important part of our life. Comin up we wuzn't able to git the store bought thangs that the youngins today has to entertain theirself with. We wuz used to always hearin sounds of music from our kin. We took to hit natural a'teachin ourself an when we wuz growed hit jest were as hit were to them whut come afore us. We had banjos, fiddles, juice harps an french harps too. We also had sech thangs as scrub boards, jugs to blow into an all the other stringed thangs sech as dulcimers, mandolins an guitars of course. Why we even made musical instruments outta hair combs. That there is another tale I'll git into afore long.
Pert near everbody could pick somethin an we all sung. We sung to the good lord God Almighty, to our sweeties, our babies, sung in the fields an hills an we jest sung fer the pure pleasure of hearin ourself sang. Why this very state we wuz raised up in wuz knowed all over as the music capitol of the whole world. An manys the youngin raised up aroun here that made a neme fer theirself sangin an pickin. My very own sissy Irmy Lou got herself quite a name of her own. Oh I'm shore you've all heared of her.
Hit had all started over at the Rooster. She'd picked with the James boys an others an hit had took hold of her an she couldn't stay put without hit. Well she upped an went off to Nashville an wuz heared. An afore we could say jack squat she wuz headin off to all parts on a big ole bus sangin an pickin to hoardes of folks whut clammored to see an hear our Irma Lou. Oh we wuz proud of that gal. An boys that gal never onest forgot where she had come from. She sent a passle of money back home to mammy an pappy an that wuz whut had gave them the way to go down to Louisiana from the hills. With Irma Lou a'helpin Sugar like she done, he were able to git on down from the mountain an go into police school over to Louisiana. He were not a hill man like my Reuben. Sugar wanted the excitement an differences the rest of the world had to offer him. He were searchin fer somethin more.
Oh don't git me worng about hit. My kin all loved the hills. Why hit were their life. But ma an pa wuz plumb wore out an they wanted a little easier way of livin out the rest of their days. I shore missed em but I were greatful fer the little comforts they found from changin their lifes like that. My pap were always the one whut folks come to up in the hills to git their meat cut when they wuz not able to do hit fer theirself. So he took that up when they left Tennessee an wuz gittin paid good money fer doin hit fer the city folks. Another good way he got to makin ends meet wuz takin them musical instruments he knowed so much about, an sellin em fer a feller whut had a music instrument store there in town. Now I thought this were usin his head fer shore. He wuz a travellin man goin around to school houses an sellin em fer the youngins to learn on. Where we wuz from we jest picked em up an started a blowin or pickin. But over there the youngins studied hit at school. I reckon he wuz right pleased a'doin that.
My mammy jest done there like she always done in the hills an that wuz keepin up a pleasin home. Cookin, cannin an puttin up, mendin an tendin to flowers an sech. Hit pleasured her to spend her days like that an she got great pleasure a'tendin to my pap. They stayed tickled with one another right up to the end. My mammy wuz a funny ole gal whut everbody like bein around. She could jest tickle you with jokin an sech. Both of my folks wuz close to Sugar Boy an his wife Betty Lou. Sugar wuz always dear to my mammy's heart too. Hit kindly put my mind to rest a'knowin that they wuz so close by fer visitin an helpin with chores an all. Besides even with me a'missin my ma an pa so, jest a'knowin they wuz gone from Foxy Mountain give all of us somethin to talk about an somewheres to go to from time to time. They wuz able to git on back to us now an agin fer a little visitin. I reckon hits jest one of them thangs that you jest can't hold onto. An when a bodys growed they got to act like theys growed. But all in all boys hit shore is hard fer a gal to be without her ma. Makes no nevermind how old she gits to be. Hits jest all them little thangs that ain't the same a'talkin to with nobody else.
You know, a'lookin back upon hit all now shore takes me as a strange thang in how first my baby brother, then my mammy an pap ended up over in Louisiana. Then a few more years after my folks wuz both gone Reuben's pa had passed an his mammy, Miz Rosie upped an settled herself there to be closer to her sissies. They had married up with boys from there at a right young age an hit were mostly their home all along. Course me an Reuben both took pleasure in seein all kinds of different thangs an sech but hit jest weren't home nowhere else. Why afore we could have up an left our hills we would as soon as ett a polecat. Hope youins don't git me wrong here. Livin in the hills weren't always easy or good. We wuz jest plain folks like most. There wuz the goog times, the bad times, an a whole mess of in between times. Some wuz real happy an funny an some wuz jest plain sad an sorry. But I reckon hits thatta way everway you go.
I'm gittin about tired of talkin now, but I aim to tell youins of one of them funny an sorry times whut jest come to mind first. Suzie Lou were about five or six year old an had growed tired of jug blowin, an had picked up her Uncle Sammy Logan's fiddle. An sirs whe wuz wantin to take right up an pick with her pa na me. But Suzie were always one whut wanted to git ahead of us, an Reuben figgered she might could do better with somebody a'learnin her the right way. Well Reuben got ole Justin Wilbert whut wuz knowed in them parts as the best fiddler there wuz to help Suzie learn. So Mister Wilbert got to comin up to Clingman's Dome where our place wuz an he would most times bring along his missus, Miz Estelle Caroline. Hit were quite a trek up from where they stayed an they would most times take their meals with us an stay over til morning. Ole Justin were a quiet man of little words an he knowed to keep Suzie hangin on in her lessons he had to treat her with sweets. He'd let her pick a while an when she done specially good he'd pull a little sweet from his pocket fer her. An that wuz how she learned to fiddle.
On them sech evenins Reuben James would be takin up time with the boys, and me, Estelle Caroline an my baby gal would mostly be puttin somethin up in the kitchen or piece'n on our quilt tops. We had some fine evenins like that an I reckon we filled our time thatta way fer most of a year.
Well sirs, this here I'm a fixin to tell about ain't somethin you're likely to forgit no time soon. Hit had hapened one evenin as we wuz settin an waitin on the Wilberts. We had waited an waited an they never did come. Well we jest knowed somethin terrible had be fell em. An boys hit didn't take long fer the bad new to ketch up to us. Seems they wuz gitten ready to make the trek to us when Estelle Caroline were finishin her chores an had went out to feed her old sow, Rebekka Lou. An the big ole mean thang had went plumb insane an wuz a'chargin into Miz Estelle Caroline. An she throwed her to the dirt an kept on a'chargin an a'rippin into Estelle's neck. Well poor ole Justin a'hearin all the commotion went back there an found his lovin wife layin there like that. dead. An after him throwin a slug into ole R.L.'s heart, he commenced to moanin an shakin so that he had to be carried off fer a spell. His nerves had got 'em an he plumb near lost his mind over hit.
The Wilbert's wuz without youngins an Justin didn't have nobody else left in his life. Well after a purty long spell, he begin to come around an had took up pickin agin to help ease his worries but he were never agin able to pick a happy tune. Mite near the onliest times we ever seen a grin on Justin's face were when he were listenin to Suzie fiddle. The year she had turned seven she were chose to pick the "Orange Blossom Special" over to Welch Ridge in North Carolina at the county fair. Well afore she commenced to pickin, she had gazed out an seen ole Justin an she jest up an told everbody there that she wuz pickin with a picture of Miz Estelle Caroline in her heart. She were thatta way with her little feelins.
(this heres a picture of Suzzie fiddlin and me an Georgie Lou in the swimmin hole)I reckon I need a good rest now. Hope I didn't put you'ins to sleep and iffn yore a'mind to you kin come back an visit me next Tuesday and I'll spin some more yarns fer you.
Lovin you in Jesus name, Mizmollye