Posted in Country Treasures & Landmarks, Uncategorized

Country Treasures & Landmarks: Deerfield, Virginia

elliott_knob_augusta_county_virginia_usa

Tucked away in the arms of mothering mountains, there lies a sleepy, little town that hardly a soul may think to venture to. Not because it’s not worth a trip, but because most people now days seek out Water Parks, Zoos, or Beaches with Five-Star Hotels. And when I say sleepy, I don’t mean life no longer lives there. The town I am speaking of is, Deerfield, Virginia, and I know first hand that life does indeed live and breathe in this tiny, untouched town where the world finally slows down.

 

My husband was born and raised there and much of his family, still own homes and land in a place where the progress of our age seems to be more of a stranger than a common visitor.

 

They have the bare essentials: a tiny little store they jokingly call, The Deerfield Mall, a Post Office, a Fire Department, and once upon a time, it’s very own Historic School House, which is now a Community Building and Library.

 

My husband was actually the last to go to that School, which combined it’s classes and grades to very few teachers and might have seemed more like something out of Little House on the Prairie, or ,The Waltons, to those of us now. (That’s how small it was.)

 

Deerfield is made up of folks who are mostly Natives — those who come from long families that were born and raised there, and Hunting Camps — those who visit from time to time during Hunting Season. Population is roughly, 336.

 

There is a cellphone tower — finally— but no cellphones will work out there as there has been nothing else done to it. No Brand has reached out to claim it and the local telephone company, MGW, usually makes people more mad than anything else these days– lacking better and more affordable calling packages to make having a phone easier on the wallet. Pretty much, living in Deerfield, makes everything long distance.

 

They have great internet, since the owner of MGW’s son owns, LINGO, but there seems to always be an issue with folks needing help with Routers not working or lines and the hefty bill of having to have someone come out and fix it.

 

Sadly, Deerfield is becoming one of those places damaged by Taxes and a World that would soon run it over rather than just leave it alone. Sometime after 9/11 when the economy went belly up, Tax Assessors went out and marked the worth of everything far too high. It’s enough to make a person choke. That means, properties don’t sell like they should. Instead of being priced at their actual worth, they are listed for prices that would better reflect a newly built home with granite counter tops, skylights and all the trappings of a newer age. While many homes are nice there — and Id love to still have one– they need updated and some, repaired- certainly not up there with the the price tag that makes them untouchable to locals who would like to, well, re-locate, or stay where they were raised or are familiar with.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a bit of eye-catching homes stretched far and wide, here or there, in Deerfield. But that brings me to another problem… people from bigger cities and net-worth building million dollar homes in an area of modest people. Perhaps this is the reason Assessment skyrocketed? I’m not an expert, just broken-hearted because I’d give anything to go back where life slows down a bit in a world that seems to be spiraling out of control. Unfortunately, even the Modest Homes have a price way out of reach.

 

Deerfield is a stretch of long roads bordered by mountains on both sides. Land is the key-word here because there is so much of it. Just a trip to the grocery-store or nearest town, Staunton, Virginia, where there are places like Walmart, Food Lion, Krogers, etc, can take you up to 45 minutes one way.

 

The people are still friendly there. Most have never known a stranger, and for those who haven’t a clue as to what that means, it means, they will never treat you like one even if you are.

551054-commercial-8kc7s7-m

The Deerfield Mall has just enough of what a person may need if passing through or in a pinch. Pop, Beer, Smokes, Snacks. A small kitchen in the back will get ya something quick.

 

For gas, folks will have to hit, The Mountain View Store, or as folks also like to call it ,The Forks of the Road, because that’s what the road does up there. One fork takes you to Deerfield and the other, to Highland County.

 

To dine, you can hit the Buckhorn Inn, which is on the way to Deerfield. Check out that post here: The Buckhorn Inn House Dressing

 

And then there is White’s Wayside, famous for it’s Depression Bread since 1929. A picture from then and now….

 

 

While both, The Buckhorn Inn and White’s Wayside, are actually in Churchville, Virginia, it’s as I said, on the way to the hidden gem of Deerfield.

 

The charm of Deerfield is, the privacy and the small, Mayberry feel. While there isn’t an Andy Griffith or Barney roaming the roads, there is a sense of comfort when the world takes a rest. People out there still raise their own food, butcher it in their own buildings, hunt and make things from scratch. Many heat with wood and live frugally with the times. They plant gardens and they keep chickens — and have done so before it became a “thing” on Social Media or Backyard Chicken sites.

 

Their kin is buried out there and while many families have lost their homesteads to greedy relatives selling it off, many can still ride past, point and say, “That’s where my Great Grandpappy shot his first deer or gave my Great Grandma her first kiss.”

 

The tiny burial ground where my husbands people were placed is so old that the hidden cluster of graves are sinking into the ground. What gravestones there are, are so old, the names have completely worn off of rock depressingly eroded. The land this hidden cemetery sits on used to be in his family until relatives sliced it up and sold it off. My husband dreamed of buying it back one day but so far, that has never happened. It weighs against our spirits that one day, no one will know a graveyard is still there or, they will just plow the whole thing over.

 

Money is the seed to preservation and while many of us work instead of plopping on our butts in front of a TV all day, we will never have enough money to preserve anything, especially in lost and overlooked treasures like Deerfield.

 

A place that will also be plowed over, soon enough, as The Pipeline, fights to shove it’s way through there despite the natural springs, history and near extinct, Native Trout.

While I love certain things about progress, Cell Phones– which makes getting a flat tire and not being stranded a real possibility, or the Internet, which makes Blogging, Researching, and keeping up with the world as easy as breathing, some things are just depressing.

 

The only thing that eases my mind just a little bit is that there are still places like Deerfield, Virginia, out there. Places tucked away deep within’ the Appalachian that time may turn it’s back on causing the majority of everyone else to turn a blind eye to, but those of us who are lucky enough to know about them, will never forget. Some of us try to carve out a life there, hoping the world wont change so much that our kids and grandkids will have a chance to stay if they have a mind too. Some of us will be forever haunted by what we had to leave and at some point, will always find ourselves going back….even if just a little while.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Back in the Day, Country Treasures & Landmarks, Food Facts, Herbicidal Hens, Uncategorized

It’s Almost Time to Hunt Ramps!

foar_ramps608

This, is a Ramp and if you live in the South, you already know what these are. If you don’t, they’re a cross between an onion and garlic. You find them in the woods. And believe me, there are lots of folks out there findin’ them!

original

So, maybe you’re wonderin’ what to do with them? Anything and everything. People fry taters with em. Grill trout with em. Anything that you would normally put onions or garlic in, well, that’s what folks use a Ramp for.

They are strong, though and not many people can handle them. My father-in-law’s wife, who is from up North, won’t even allow him to cook em in the house, lol. Our Uncle Eddie, though, will cook them from sun-up till sun-down and most folks will dry em or preserve them tryin’ to make em last throughout the season and even into the winter.

Like I said, they are a cross between an onion and garlic and will start to pop up in the Spring. They’re easy to find and easy to dig.

Ramps are high in in Vitamin A, C, Selenium (antioxidant), Chromium (important to metabolize fats and carbs).

For those of you who are ready to go, happy Ramp huntin’! Maybe we’ll see ya out there!

Posted in Back in the Day, Country Treasures & Landmarks

200 Year Old Gem Lives On the Corner of Wythe and Carroll County, VA

 

943909_1269543973060357_9157815695698533501_n

I found something new to Crow about. A sight that many of us grew up looking at, visiting and maybe, just maybe, never imagined a day having to live without. A welcomed sight tucked neatly away in nearly every nook and cranny of countless unknown, tiny towns. A Ma and Pa store where every local came to need, love and know. Where every Passer-by made a much needed pit stop for directions or a cold one.  If nothing else, more than likely, both Local and Visitor, dropped in just to, as we say in the South, shoot the sh*t.

Now, I know we hear the term Mom and Pop on the news all the time usually when Politicians are battling it out. But they never quite look like the one up above, do they? No, the Mom and Pop, Ma and Pa,  stores that I’m talking about are , now a days, places that are now few and far between.

“Progress”. “Big Business”. These are the guilty culprits that have run most of our little Ma & Pas’ under. Without straining much, they have pushed the little, locally owned gemstones out of their big, corporate way. Most Ma and Pas’ are now empty shells, sitting along the wayside, rotting with an endless amount of history no one no longer seems to appreciate. Or perhaps they just simply don’t have the means or ability to preserve these historical treasure troves or grasp what all lies within.

Big city folks may look at these buildings and cringe with fear. Its not as visually alluring as a 7-11 or as tempting as a Sheetz.

I often wonder if that’s really the case, though, since now days “rustic” is the new “black” and when a new business goes up in these parts, it often does it’s damnedest to mimic what was forced into an early extinction. Problem is, the items filling the insides of those new “businesses” have no real history to them. They weren’t handmade unless you count the person living in the third world country suffering a sweat shop.  The items have no depth. They have no truth. They simply mimic what the world slammed a lid on. 

My children have seen a few of these local meeting places, here and there. They haven’t seen them in the numbers that I have, though. One actually still lives in the town where my husband grew up, which is humorously called, “The Deerfield Mall”. My kids love going in there grabbing a snack or ice cream and while its sadly up for sale and I would love to save it from extinction, this article isn’t about what we well know ourselves. Its about the one in the picture above – a place that has had it’s doors open for nearly 200 years.

I caught wind of it by way of, Toby Carpenter, who posted the picture in a group on Facebook called, Appalachian Americans. Toby had plenty of reason to be proud.

TWO. HUNDRED. YEARS.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine the footprints washed off those floors? The local gossip, hardships, opinions and world-views spoken within that those walls have absorbed?

Toby proudly said that inside his Pa’s old store, the Wanted Poster of Jesse James still hangs on a wall. Not an imitation or computer print off, folks. One of the actual Wanted Posters circulating during the time of Outlaw Jesse James.

TWO. HUNDRED. YEARS.

THINK ABOUT THAT.

Imagine this store is a living person. Imagine that the windows are it’s eyes witnessing the world and how that world is changing all around it. Imagine it’s walls collect what it hears and sees. Memory. Imagine what all it has heard and seen!

That means, the store opened, roughly, in the early to mid 1800’s. It was born. That means, it’s eyes saw the beginning of a community and all of it’s growth. If history doesn’t jolt you awake, then think about fashion. It saw a massive change in Women’s long skirts to short ones, pants to shorts. Remember when a woman’s clothing could weight up to over a 100 pounds? Hello, this store witnessed that. Remember when walking out of the house without a man’s hat and long pants on was considered improper? All the way to now, when men run around in shorts and tank tops.

Moonshiners is a hit show on TV now – this store actually saw Prohibition—how many original Moonshiners came in and out of there? How many men snuck into the back for a tiny swig of what his wife must never know? How far was the local Honkey Tonk?

It saw a woman’s fight for the right to Vote and shoot, even the timeframe for when they all began to metaphorically burn their bras. Did women living on that mountain care about voting? Did they mentally burn their own bras when the rest of the world did? How many ran to get the Pill when suddenly there was one?  Or were they too caught up in their own communities and homes? Trying to live through the beginning and end of the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War I and II,  the Korean War, and … and … and get my drift?

What you see above was probably people’s only connection to something other than their own troubles and hardships. Aside from Church, Toby Anderson’s family store was probably the most popular place on that mountain. It was the gateway to what was happening in the rest of the world even though at one time, more than likely, Current Events moved at a snail’s pace. Except for gossip, lol, we all know how fast that can travel.

These days, as I said before, places like this are beginning to disappear. In a town near me, Craigsville, I can ride through on the back streets and see the aging emptiness of what were once places of business just like the one above. Unlike Toby Anderson’s family store, the places I have laid eyes on didn’t quite make it. Weathering wood housing a history that will soon be lost and forgotten. How many abandoned homes do we see on our way to where ever? Sitting helplessly alone in an overgrown field like some forgotten toy abandoned by someone we will never even know. Sitting that way, until Progress plows it over. A new store, a new town or a subdivision mounted in it’s place. It makes me feel like I just lost my best friend or security blanket. Does it affect you? Do you know of any little stores or monuments where you live?

Send me a picture. Send me a bit of history. Let’s Crow about it.

Until then, if you happen to be driving down the road and pass a place like the above, make it a point to stop in.  Support your local Business Owners. Don’t take it for granted because there may come a day it’s no longer there.