Friday, June 24, 2016

Granny's Pantry # 34: Where the Worms Are

Sometimes it's the smallest details that come unexpectedly to mind that highlight just how significant certain people or places or things are...or have a life. The otherwise insignificant details can serve to anchor snatches of memories. Such it was on my recent visit to High Rock when I remembered where the worms came from.

Life was largely self-sufficient on the farm at High Rock for Granny and Granddaddy Cole. While they didn't produce everything needed to subsist and enrich their lives, a great deal of it they did. Vegetables from the garden and the fields, pork, milk and butter, fruit for the pies, wine and grape juice, eggs, chickens, turkeys, fish...they all came from the farm. Grain went to the mill and came back flour or animal feed. While some clothes came from town, Granny fashioned some from feed sacks or knitted others. She made quilts and rugs from scraps of cloth. Granddaddy could make furniture. 
The chicken house was located in the yard behind the High Rock house. It was made of wood and wire and was a considerable sized building. The chicken feed spread into the feeders or on the floor sifted, over the years, through the cracks in the floor and walls of the chicken house onto the ground around it. There it mixed with red clay and other soil to nurture another type of crop around and under the chicken house.

When it was time to go fishing, there was never a need to "go buy bait." There was only a need to harvest the bait that was already there. All it took was a shovel or hoe, a can with dirt in it and some muscle to dig. The process was a lot like digging for treasure, but of the long, slim, wiggly kind...earthworms. 

A tin can, some worms from behind the chicken house and a cane pole was all it took. And a pond, like the one at the Cow Palace.

And he [Jesus] said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."
(Matthew 4:19)


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Granny's Pantry # 33: Finding Newsom

on the road to Newsom

Have you ever heard of Newsom, NC? I'm guessing not. In all of my years going to High Rock, I only heard talk of Newsom as a place where folks could eat seafood, not that common in rural Piedmont NC back in the day. Who needed seafood restaurants anyway? Granny Cole’s cooking met my requirements--Granddaddy's catch from his own fish trap in a tributary of the Yadkin fried up with Granny's homemade French fries. 

As it turns out, I should have gone to Newsom back then. Most of it is no longer there.  


I love to learn about places that "used to be," but it’s difficult to find much information online about the little dot of a place in this southwestern corner of Davidson County.  According to one source, a Mr. Nixon Newsom was Newsom’s first settler in the 1770s.  In 1908, the coming of the Winston-Salem South Bound Railway brought growth to Newsom, and had you visited in 1910, you would have found “a post office, a railroad (passenger) depot, two general stores, a factory, a lumber mill, and a quarry” (
Newsom’s heyday, if this out of the way settlement had a heyday, lasted for fifty years. But change comes, and it came to Newsom in the form of the Tuckertown Dam located downriver on the Yadkin.  Most of Newsom sank beneath the river due to flooding of the area when the dam was finished in 1963.  According to the source above, “few remnants [of Newsom] remain—said to be only a few brick footings sometimes visible at the edge of the lake.”

To find what's left of Newsom, travel south down Highway 8 from Healing Springs and turn right onto Newsom Road (unless the sign is down and then you have a problem because there's really nobody around to ask). I'm guessing it's about 10 miles from High Rock. Don't hurry to get there because the view on the way in is worth the wait. 
on the road to Newsom

Don't expect to pass a lot of houses on Newsom Road. But there are a few, and this one is special. A sign says it's the Newsom Stokes House. It is the heart of a farm that looks like it could have been there for two hundred years. There's a family graveyard near by that would help tell the stories. Wish I knew more.
Newsom Stokes House
Newsom Road crosses Stokes Road, but just keep going. There's another house on the left that would make such a good writer's retreat---not sure if it's even occupied, but it should be. 
Don't miss the heart-shaped vent
A little further down the road and off to the left, there's a lovely old mountain rising up behind the Yadkin River--hard to see here but easy to enjoy in real life.    
HB Newsom Road turns off to the left, and a sign warns visitors that the area floods. But not this day.

Take the short road to it's end, and in front of you lies Newsom proper, resting in peace beneath the waters of the Yadkin River.
Here lies Newsom

Backtracking to Newsom Road (just past the trailer park where I think the old seafood restaurant still sits waiting for customers who are not coming), look to the right to find this beauty hidden beneath its lush covering...
Back at the corner of Newsom and HB Newsom, it's worth your while to turn left  and again go to the end of the road. Along the way there are more hidden stories...
so many stories...
The road ends at the Winston-Salem Southbound Railway and beyond that, the river. 
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked…
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
(Psalm 1: 1, 3)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Granny's Pantry # 32: Gone

Change is often difficult. Particularly hard is change that means "the old" is gone and will not be replaced by "the better," or maybe won't be replaced at all because the time of the old is gone.
Symbolic of the change that has slowly taken place at Granny's house at High Rock is the brooder house. 
It's here...
Brooder house on left under the tree

The old brooder house was the warm, artificial "nest" for baby chicks brought to the farm from the hatchery--like this one---that was once in Denton.

There was a chimney and stoves inside to warm the babies if the weather was cold. 
The brooder house was small and fell into disrepair as time passed with no more baby chicks to shelter.
And then one day/evening this spring, that limb from the big tree that sheltered the little building came crashing down and smashed into the structure. Unfortunately, the damage was too great and the structure too was not worth saving. 
Sadly, it sat in it's crushed state for several weeks. And then, on one of my last trips to High Rock, there was an empty space where the brooder house once stood. 
It's gone...

The change makes me sad. It was just a building...but it stood for more...a time when Granny and Granddaddy were here and things were busy and good at High Rock and would never change.
Things on this temporal planet do change. We can hold on as tightly as we can, but change still comes. And we change with it, gracefully or not. 
For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
Hebrews 13:14