Thursday, September 1, 2016

Lick Skillet School



 Rondy Ledford (my father) and his siblings Ralph, Reba, Rena, Reuben, Robert, Robenia, and Ray attended Lick Skillet School.  It was a little one-roomed school located deeply in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Hayesville, North Carolina.


"Mind your teacher!" yelled Ma Ledford as she shooed her young'uns out the door.  They walked two miles to Lick Skillet School that was located on Myers Chapel Road.  On warm days, the children went barefooted.


The children made it to school just as the bell rang.  School started at 8:00 each morning.  Miss Opal Crawford stood on the steps of the little white-plank school and rang the bell.  "Good morning, scholars," she said with a smile.  "Hurry and take your seats.  You have a lot to learn today."


Rondy, Ralph, Reba, Rena, Reuben, Robert, Robenia, and Ray put their lunch buckets on a shelf in the cloak room.  Ray got a dipper full of water from the bucket.


Reba poked him in the ribs.  "You better not drink all that water.  You'll have to go to the outhouse before recess.  Miss Crawford won't like that."


Ray stuck out his tongue at Reba.  He drank the full dipper of water.


The young'uns took their seats in the one-room school.  Girls sat on one side and boys on the other.  Children who misbehaved had to sit on the opposite side--a punishment that sometimes backfired.  Reuben had a crush on a little red-headed girl and enjoyed being sent to the girl's side to sit beside his girlfriend.


The one-room school included a blackboard, desks, the teacher's desk, and a potbelly stove.  The older boys carried buckets of coal into the classroom.  Students often asked the teacher if they could dust the erasers.  What a pleasure to get outside, get out of work to dust the erasers.


The day started with the students giving the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and singing, "The Star Spangled Banner."  Miss Crawford read from the Bible and they had prayer in the classroom.


Then the scholars started working on their morning assignments.  They practiced penmanship on slates.  Miss Crawford called students to the blackboard to work arithmetic problems.  She called groups to the front of the room.  The scholars memorized spelling words and read from the McGuffey's Readers.


The morning flew and it was time for recess.  The boys played ball.  The girls went to the woods and cleaned out spots for a playhouse.  They used moss for furniture and little pieces of glass they could find for dishes.


The children had an hour for lunch.  After they ate, the pupils played games such as:  Ring Around the Rosy, hopscotch, Andy Over, Kick the Can, Drop the Handkerchief, and other games.


Recess ended too soon.  Miss Crawford rang the bell for the afternoon session of school.  Sometimes they held spelling bees.  She wrote the homework on the blackboard and dismissed school at 4:00.


It was a busy day at Lick Skillet School.  The children received a good education at the little one-room school that served as the heart of the community.  People also voted there, held cake walks, benefit singings, and square dances.  The community was proud of their school and supported the schoolmarm.


Today Chatuge Shores Golf Course rolls over the hill where Lick Skillet School stood.  A golfer swings his club and strikes a ball.  It twangs like the softball some pioneer scholar once struck on the same green spot.








Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Olympic Games

Early one August morning,
light ricochets through the poplars;
dewdrops sparkle like diamonds
on blades of grass.


Cotton clouds brush Brasstown Bald,
a rain crow resounds in the woods,
corn shocks pulse on a breeze,
and sunflowers carry the torch.


Squirrels fly like gymnasts,
gather walnuts on the ground.
Joe Pye weeds open fuchsia fans,
goldenrods hug the road banks.


Trout dive in Hiwassee River,
beavers splash like Michael Phelps,
a waterfall rushing 100 meters,
five white-tailed deer finally sprint


over a split-rained fence.
Nature holds summer Olympics
in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
earth wears the gold.
                      --Brenda Kay Ledford








Fall's slipping into the mountains,
moment by moment,
the earth's wearing the gold.





Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pie Crust

PIE CRUST


She leans her elbows
on the kitchen counter,
watches every move.
I measure the ingredients
making my first pie crust.
"You're wasting stuff!"
With trembling hands,
I scoop flour,
sprinkle the floor.
Mama sweeps it up:
"The secret to cooking
is to clean as you go."
I nod, knead the dough,
roll it paper thin.
The shell tears
as I press it into the pan.
She pats my shoulder.
There is so much
to love in a torn shell.
            --Brenda Kay Ledford


This poem was printed in Come Sit at Our Table.


Members of Clay County, NC Eastern Star published this 80-page cookbook.  Each copy is $10.00.


For ordering information, contact:  Judy Patterson
jpatterson@clayschools.org





Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Homecoming

The Blue Ridge Mountains
unfurl royal blue ribbons,
ancient; carved from granite;
patchwork farms dot the cove.

Cornfields sway like ripples
in the honeysuckle wind,
Queen Anne's lace spins
doilies on the banks

welcoming me to the old homeplace.
Granddaddy's old grey barn
painted with a Lone Star quilt,
a raincrow performs the coda
to a love song.

The gravel road forks,
Hyatt-Mill Creek gurgles
over moss-covered rocks.
A footbridge shimmies,

Great-Granddaddy Dallas Matheson's
log cabin sheltered at the foot
of Shewbird Mountain;
I savor the sweet memories.
                   --Brenda Kay Ledford

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Picnic

Beneath the maple tree,
Daddy cuts a watermelon,
Mama shakes salt.

In the Matheson Cove,
a Fourth of July picnic;
beneath the maple tree.

Ma and Grandaddy waiting,
Uncle Ralph roasting hotdogs;
Daddy cuts a watermelon.

The cousins spit seeds,
Harold swimming in Hyatt-Mill Creek;
Mama shakes salt.

The wagon trail
curving over mountain trails.
Fireworks erupt!
           --Brenda Kay Ledford

This poem was published in "West End Poets Newsletter," June/July/August 2016


Granddaddy Bob Ledford and Grandma Minnie Matheson Ledford.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sacred Threads Quilt Exhibit





"A Poppy for Mother"
Karen Ponischil; Charlotte, NC


The Sacred Threads Travel Exhibit was displayed at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Hayesville, NC in May, 2016.  The display of art quilts explore themes of joy, inspiration, spirituality, healing, grief, peace and brotherhood.  The exhibit is staged in Herndon, VA in odd numbered years.



                                                    "Aspen IV-Sunny Day"
                                           Dorothy Raymond; Loveland, CO


"War in Black & White"
Deb Cashatt & Kris Sazaki,
Cameron Park, CA

"Let Justice Roll Down Like Water"  Kit Tossmann; Louisville, KY
"Fiery Shield"
Marianne Williamson; Miami, FL
"Swan Song"
Sally Wright; Los Angeles, CA

"Hallelujah"
Jane Bachus; Paradis Valley, AZ
"Joy"
Judy Warner; Victor, NY

"Hope & Love"
Yvonne Porcella; Modesto, CA

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Call of the Earth

Each spring the earth calls my name just like it beckoned my mother.  She could hardly wait to plant her vegetable garden each year.

Gardening.  I loathed the word.  To me it was nothing but hard, hot, back-breaking work.  What pleasure could you get from digging in the dirt?

Each summer my siblings and I worked in the garden.  We planted seeds, chopped down weeds, and picked the veggies.  We sat on the front porch stringing bushels of green beans, cutting corn off cobs, and snapping peas.  Sweat ran down our faces.  Work never ended on the farm.  Even at night I dreamed of stringing green beans.

I vowed when I grew up to never garden again.  Let someone else labor and grow the vegetables.  I would just buy some fresh veggies at a road-side stand.

Years passed and one spring I got the call.  A desire to get my hands in the dirt churned in my heart.  It was the deep-rooted longing of my ancestors to; yes, garden!

I bounded outside and drank in the beauty.  Jonquils spread churned butter on verdant grass.  Robins lifted praise songs, Bradford pear trees offered vanilla ice-cream cones, and minnows jumped in Hyatt-Mill Creek.

I grabbed my hoe and pounded the clay dirt until every bone in my body hurt.  Sweat soaked my blouse.  I rubbed my aching back and filled my lungs with the fragrance of wild roses.  Silence.

Now I knew how my mother and ancestors felt working the good earth.  I was revived, at peace with God, myself, and nature.  Gardening!  Oh, what a pleasure.
                                                                                                     --Brenda Kay Ledford








Now that spring is here
Now that the year's advanced to spring
And leaves grow large and long
Forget each sorry and rueful thing
Hearing the wild bird's song.
               --Byron Herbert Reece