Saturday, March 17, 2018


The robins twitter as they fly,
gems glitter on Hyatt-Mill Creek,
purple crocus pop up,
the year's at the spring.

Cotton clouds kiss azure skies,
mountains unfurl purple ribbons,
wild strawberries dot roadsides,
the robins twitter as they fly.

Sound the flute!
The winter is past,
life bursts forth from earth's tomb;
gems glitter on Hyatt-Mill Creek.

The hillside's dew-pearled,
frogs croak on the pond,
there's joy in the hills;
purple crocus pop up.

Willows wave lacy fingers,
the winter has retreated,
roses waft on a chilled breeze;
the year's at spring.
                  --Brenda Kay Ledford

I hope all my blogger friends will have a Happy Spring!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ledford Pubished in Good Old Days Magazine

For my blogger friends who subscribe to the "Good Old Days Magazine," I wanted to share this good news.

My story, "Matheson Cove Trading:  Bartering was a practical fact of life," appeared in the March/April, 2018 issue of "Good Old Days Magazine."

During the Great Depression, there was little money in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  My grandparents had no cash to buy another cow when their animal got drowned in the creek after a flash flood.  The children were very sad because their cow, Beauty, was also a pet.

Granddaddy Ledford was a savvy farmer and traded one of his hogs for a milk cow with a neighbor.  That's how both families were able to feed their children until the Great Depression ended, and they were able to earn money to buy products.

If you can get a copy of this issue of the "Good Old Days,"I hope you will enjoy reading this true story about my family.


Granddaddy Bob Ledford and Grandma Minnie Matheson Ledford survived the Great Depression by trading products and fed their family until money became more available to buy food.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Dozens of robins spread
an orange blanket
on the verdant grass.

Daffodils poke through
the bony fingers of winter,
the first bluebird flits

like a kite through azure skies.
A breeze whispers in the woods,
hundreds of birds flock

to the tops of trees,
the syncopation of songsters:
a prelude to spring!
                  --Brenda Kay Ledford

I hope my blogger friends are well and that the weather is warmer.  After the cold snap, I was so happy to see the daffodils blooming.  Although we will probably get more cold weather, I'm reminded when the daffodils bloom, that spring is coming again!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Blanche's Permanent Wave

Rondy and Blanche Ledford after getting her first permanent wave. rage in the mountain town of Hayesville, North Carolina during the 1940s was bobbed hair and curls.  Those with straight hair got permanent waves, but many women simply set their hair at home using pin curls or twisted up in rags.

Movie stars such as Betty Grable and Ava Gardner influenced the fashion of women.  My aunts got hairstyles like these glamorous actresses.

My mother, Blanche, dreamed of getting her hair bobbed, too.  She enjoyed the cinema and these stars provided an escape from the gloom of World War II.

War influenced how women wore their hair.  Working in the fields, factories, or armed services, required hairstyles that would not get caught in machinery or in the way.

Many women who worked in factories wore trousers.  Granny Trese didn't approve of her daughters wearing pants.  She was a religious person and thought females should not dress like men.

Much to Granny's chagrin, her daughters wore trousers at home.  Pants were more comfortable than dresses to do housework.

Although Blanche never wore trousers, she still desired to bob her hair and get a permanent wave.  Of course Granny Trease frowned on that.

But Blanche's fiancée, Rondy Ledford, helped her fulfill a dream. He was serving with the Civilian Conservation Corps in Aquone, North Carolina.  One weekend Rondy came home and took Blanche to a movie.  She told him she wanted to bob her hair and get a permanent wave, but didn't have the money.  He gave her the cash to go to the beauty shop.

On Monday morning, Blanche sneaked into Mary Jo Burch's Beauty Shop.  She told her she wanted to bob her hair and get a perm.  When Blanche saw the wicked- looking permanent machine, it scared her to death.  She was afraid it would electrocute her.

But Mary Jo assured Blanche it was safe.  The machine had clips that hung from above and heated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Dampened hair steamed and curled as it was heated on rods.

The machine got so hot that Mary Jo had to fan Blanche's head constantly.  The beautician and customer ran the risk of serious burns.

Blanche's heart raced and she broke into a sweat.  She promised herself if the beauty shop did not catch on fire, she would never get another permanent.

Hours later Blanche dragged out of Mary Jo's Beauty Shop with stiff and brittle hair.  Her fiancée loved her new hairstyle, but Granny Trese just rolled her eyes.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford

The wicked-looking permanent wave machine!


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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Old-Fashioned Christmas

Not a sound
in the Matheson Cove,
snow glowing on black velvet,
cattle kneel at midnight.

Rabbit tracks zigzag
across the Shewbird Mountain,
wood smoke curves heavenward,
icicles hang from the log cabin.

Hickory sticks pop and crackle
in the fireplace,
cornpone bakes in the Dutch oven,
paper chains and popcorn

drape the fir tree.
Young'uns toss in the featherbeds,
listen for reindeer on the roof,
will Santa Claus find the cove?

Early on Christmas morning,
cranberry skies spill over
the Blue Ridge Mountains
echoing with sleigh bells.

Ronda, Reba, Ralph, Reuben, Rena,
Robenia, Robert and baby Ray,
grab goodies from their stockings:
apples, oranges, hazel nuts,

candy canes, peppermint drops,
and toys Granddaddy carved.
Before breakfast, Ma reads
the story of baby Jesus.

Robert gets his fiddle,
voices blend with carols.
An old-fashioned Christmas,
tinsel glistens in the candlelight.
--Brenda Kay Ledford

I wish all my blogger friends a blessed and peaceful Christmas.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


In the gap of Shewbird Mountain,
I revisit the old home place.
Perhaps it is the taste
of churned buttermilk, the smell
of cornbread baking in Grandma's
Dutch oven over the fireplace,
maybe the memory of sorghum syrup
Grandpa made each fall from cane.

I remember my childhood:
Harold pulling Rover and me
in a red wagon, swimming
with cousins in Hyatt Mill Creek.
Bantam chickens cackled and scratched
hieroglyphics in the barnyard.
The goat ate clothes off the line,
Mama shooed him with her apron.

Revisiting the space, I steal
a moment on the front porch:
whippoorwills whistling, catching
lightning bugs in a Mason jar.
I can still hear Grandma
calling us to supper as clouds unfurled
across the Matheson Cove like
mums twirling their skirts.
                 --Brenda Kay Ledford

This poem appeared in "The Sunlight Press"
                                       September 26, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Great Grandpa's Apple Orchard

red delicious

Great-Grandpa Dallas Matheson owned 300 acres of land in the Matheson Cove section of Clay County, North Carolina in 1844.  His property included half of Shewbird Mountain.

His ancestors departed the Scottish Highlands in 1772 and sailed into the harbor of the United States of America.  They were some of the earliest settlers in present Clay County, NC.

Great-Grandpa Dallas was a learned man and spoke correct and distinct English.  He read many books and so did his children.  He and Great-Grandma Martha Norwood Matheson had three girls and three boys.  Minnie Lee Matheson was my grandmother and married Robert "Bob" Ledford in 1916.

Great-Grandpa Dallas was a farmer.  He grew an apple orchard above the frost line on Shewbird Mountain.  He raised the black beauty apple that was so red it looked black.  The Ben Davis was light with small streaks and white inside.  Other apples included the horse apple, hog sweet, red June, striped June, striped May, pumpkin apple, queen pippin, pound apple, and others with no names.

Each fall my family took a sled and mule on Shewbird Mountain and hauled apples to the house to store in the cellar.  They also dried apples on trays outside in the sun.

Dried apples were delicious, especially when made into fried pies or a stack cake.  It was made with five or six thin layers.  Dried apples were cooked with a little sugar and cinnamon then spread between the layers.  It was best when soaked for a few days.

Here's my grandmother's recipe for the stack cake:

Great-Grandma Martha's Dried Apple Stack Cake

2 cups dried apples                                                        1 cup raisins
1 cup sugar                                                                     1 cup molasses
2 eggs                                                                             1 cup milk
3 cups or more of flour                                                   1 teaspoon soda
2/3 cup baking powder                                                    nutmeg and cinnamon

Soak apples in water long enough to make soft.  Then chop them to about the size of raisins, and boil them 15 minutes in the molasses.  Add nutmeg and cinnamon to taste.

Mix eggs and sugar, add enough lard until it looks like a biscuit dough.  Add flour, baking powder, soda, add enough milk to make dough soft.  Mix in raisins.

Turn dough onto floured surface and roll in thin circles to fit black iron frying pan.  Bake in moderate woodstove oven until golden brown.

Spread cooked apple mixture between layers.  Will make 5 to 6 layer cake.

Put a dish rag over the cake and soak it for a few days before serving.

by:  Brenda Kay Ledford


The robins twitter as they fly, gems glitter on Hyatt-Mill Creek, purple crocus pop up, the year's at the spring. Cotton clouds k...