Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Monday Morning

Posted October 13, 2008

How do you remember your parents, grandparents and other loved ones who have passed on? What tangible things did they leave behind that help you remember their many gifts and talents? Maybe they carved toys out of wood or left handmade quilts. Please share your thoughts on this topic.

This week on Carolina Conservations I'd like to share with you some of my father's mountain watercolors and my stories about growing up in Western North Carolina. These paintings, prose and poetry are included in a new book to be released on Friday evening October 17 with a signing and musical performance at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh . The book is called Bue Ridge Reunion. There is also a companion CD which I will talk about later.

The first painting is called Monday Morning. My father finished it in 1965. However, it had been marinating in his memory and imagination for about 20 years. It was taken from a windy wash day in autumn. I don't know the specific location but I believe the painting came from a country scene in northern Burke County about 20 miles from where my family lived in Morganton. This watercolor reflects a much simpler time yet includes the struggles of the day. There was a rhythm of life back then that was pretty predictable. Here's what I wrote about the painting in Blue Ridge Reunion:

A windy wash day,

Dawn after our day of rest,

Big baskets of heavy wet work,

Lift ‘em up on the line,

Smell the sweet Appalachian air,

Sheets and pillow cases in a pine tree breeze,

Flapping flannel shirts will soon be dry,

Tomorrow we'll iron 'em,

Wednesday we'll sew 'em,

Gather groceries on Thursday,

Scrub a dub on Friday,

Bake and shake on Saturday,

Worship and rest our bones on Sunday,

Before another round of weekly chores,

The Blue Ridge Rhythm of Life.


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  • thefensk Oct 13, 2008

    I enjoy reading these grandmother/grandfather memories, I have a bunch of my own. But this sort of dialog has caused me to reflect on the sorts of memories we are making for our own grandkids.

  • carolina buckeye Oct 13, 2008

    My grandmother Dorothy, died when I was 9 years old. I have to admit that because she was sick and sort of cranky she wasn't my very favorite. But among the things that she left behind was a large wooden bookcase full of family history. She was an avid genealogist and spent most of her times collecting photographs, writing letters to possible cousins and writing down every bit of family information she could find. Although I was born and raised in Ohio, I have discovered since moving here that among the records she left were details about the lives of my North Carolina ancestors that predate the Revolutionary War. Knowing where you come from is surely a gift to be cherished.

  • bleslie Oct 13, 2008

    Beautiful memories and legacies. Thank you for sharing. I'd love to read some more.

  • iamac Oct 13, 2008

    My grandmama was a very special lady. I remember her crocheting and sewing. I remember her sewing my clothes and begging her to hem my dresses to my finger tips. (This was in the early 70's) She never would and now I understand why. She made all of my Barbie clothes. I kept them for years, but they were distroyed in the floods of Hurricane Floyd. In the summer we would go to the garden and get a watermelon and take it to the wash house. She and I would cut it and just eat the heart. My grandaddy was a worker. He could find something to do no matter what the weather. I remember he would sing in the fields and you could hear him all over the farm. "Bringing in the Sheeves"(sp?) What a beautiful voice he had. I could go on and on just like all of you, but these are some of my best memories of them. My grandmama died in 1979 and my grandaddy died in 1990. I miss them both. :-(

  • Wheelman Oct 13, 2008

    My grandfather on my mother's side was called Pa. My parents both had serious health issues when I was very young and I spent a lot of time staying with Pa and Mammy. If you're lucky, as a child you get to have someone love you unconditionally. Pa did. He had lots of other grandchildren, but we had that connection. I would ride with him to Wendell and Zebulon on his weekly trips to sell eggs to the small local grocers. At the last one he would always buy me a small cup of vanilla ice cream with a little flat wooden spoon to eat it with as we made the trip back home. I have a straw cap he bought me one one of the last trips we made together since "working men" should have a cap. He would sit in his rocking chair and let me whittle his lap full of wood shavings at night while teaching me how to do it safely. The cap is in my closet, the chair in the bedroom and the knife is in the safety deposit box. He died suddenly when I was 6. Fifty-one years later and my eyes still show I miss him.

  • Legswilson Oct 13, 2008

    Wow Bill... what a beautiful painting! Your father was very talented. I have lots of memories of my grandparents. My father's dad (Granddaddy) used to bring us penny candy on every one of his visits. I got so excited waiting to see what was in those small paper sacks. He left each of us a silver dollar from the late 1800's. Maybe we were to use them for candy? I kept mine. My Grandmother on my Mom's side was a very talented quilter. Both she and my mother are gone now but I have several of their quilts which are more like objects of art than anything else. There wasn't any kind of needle work that they couldn't do. I remember the many quilting bees that were held in the living room with ladies sitting all around the quilting frame, sewing, talking and laughing. I'm sure many problems were solved at those gatherings. Today, people don't slow down long enough to sit that long and produce such beauty.

  • ziradog Oct 13, 2008

    Slightly off topic, but that painting reminds me of one Bob Timberlake did many years later called "Gilly's Place" (I think). IBM used Timberlake's painting as part of their United Way campaign, and my father brought me home a poster of it. I had it tacked up in the garage for many years.

  • tarhillmom Oct 13, 2008

    My cousin recently gave all the cousins in my family a real treasure---copies of letters that our grandmother wrote to her daughters in the 1940s! And each cousin also got an original letter still in its envelope postmarked 1945! What a treat. Can you imagine that our aunts actually kept the letters (noting on the outside when they answered their mama's letter)so that we can read them today? My grandma's letters commented on what she'd done that Sunday--church and visits--and on general neighborhood and family happenings. Most letters also included a snippet of information on at least one of the many extended family member serving in World War II.

    This gift has made me think that I need to write more real snail mail letters! And, I need to keep the precious few that I receive.

  • ltstegal Oct 13, 2008

    I have been very fornuate to have been blessed to have known both set of my grandparents as well as 3 great-grandmothers. I have lost all of them except my dad's mother.

    My Grandma Dorothy is the absolute best & she is an inspiration to everyone that comes into contact with her. I have learn so many things from her that are things that are "going way" with her generation. Over the years, she has taught me the love of canning & quilting. It really blows my mind when I think back to all of the things that I have learned & continue to learn from Grandma. Like I said, she is amazing.

    I'm truly blessed that I live right across the road from her & that my two children are able to see her every day & spend time with her. They love her dearly & they help keep Grandma young & she loves them so much.

    Grandma Dorothy is definitely an Angel sent to us from Heaven & I love you very much & treasure all my time with her.

  • happy Oct 13, 2008

    My grandmother's pound cake. Always baked and ready when we arrived with a camellia blossom in the center. I was born on her birthday and her name sake so one time when I asked her why her pound cake was better than anyone else's in the family, she pulled me to the back porch and we sat on the couch. She said, "I will tell you the secret to my pound cake but ONLY because you are my namesake. I put in a special ingredient that no one else can add. Love. That's what makes it taste so good." I remember it like it was yesterday. She's been gone for 16 years and even though a number of us have her recipe, no one has ever been able to make it taste quite like hers.




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Bill Leslie