Friday, July 30, 2010

Hugh Chatham Memorial Bridge, Elkin NC, 1931-2010

Many years ago as a young boy growing up in a small town, namely Jonesville, NC in Yadkin County, my grandma Nannie Hopper Hall would take us for walks. Grandpa had his driver's license but grandma never learned how to drive so we would walk every day from Jonesville where they resided to Elkin NC. The two small towns were divided by the great Yadkin River, another story for another time. We would begin our stroll on North Bridge Street and walk down by the Northwestern Bank, then by Roses Village Motel where grandma must have known someone that worked there because she would always stop and talk. Then we would stroll across the Hugh Chatham Memorial Bridge which crosses over the Yadkin River. Our journey would always end up at Roses 5 and 10 cent Store where they had a counter full of hot cashews and peanuts. There was also all types of candy that you could buy by the pound. Grandma would always buy a pound of something and share it with us. A few years ago the bridge was condemned by the state for vehicles and for the last few years has been used as a walking bridge. This year however the death sentence has be sent out to take the bridge down on July 26th. DLB Inc from Hillsville, Va got the contract and has already begun moving in the heavy equiptment. The old icon is going to be torn down along with all the old memories. We also don't want to forget who it was a memorial for. Hugh Chatham one of the pillars and owners of Chatham Manufacturing Company in Elkin, NC. They were a major employer and provided a lot of jobs for the people of Elkin and the surrounding area. The Chatham Family generously did so much for this town and now that is being torn down. My grandma, grandpa, dad and mom all worked for the Chatham's. Bye, Bye Hugh Chatham Bridge.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Slop Jar, or Proper Chamber Pot

My grandmother and grandfather grew up in the old ways of living. My grandfather had a house in the city limits of Jonesville NC with indoor plumbing and sold his nice home and moved to a cabin in Lone Hickory NC without any plumbing. He had nothing but an old outhouse. I guess since he grew up that way it didn't bother him very much. As a young boy playing in that old cabin I used to see a white enamel bucket with a lid under their bed and I ask grandma what that was? She said it was a slop jar. Well being young I didn't question it anymore until it hit me just a few weeks ago. I was thinking what it would have been like to live back in the days of no indoor plumbing and nothing to use but the house out back. I thought to myself that it would be mighty cold to go out and use the bathroom in twenty degree weather and how cold it would be sitting on the throne in the dark in the middle of the night. That would be almost intolerable. Then it came to mind what grandma had said while I was about seven years old. What is that old bucket under the bed grandma? She said it was a slop jar, and now I realize why you didn't have to go out in the cold, cold weather to use the bathroom. I still can't imagine how one would put the merchandise into the jar but that is another story to ponder upon. I can only imagine a special wooden chair with a hole cut out in the center.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Bitter End, New Yorks Oldest Rock Club

Back in 1973 David Tenery and myself had a band. We were into the acoustic-folk scene at that time. Artist like Arlo Guthrie and Jim Croce were doing real well along with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. David wrote some real cool songs such as "Southern Serves the South" a very popular train logo on the boxcars and inspired from working in the train yards at Drexel Furniture. In our band was Ricky from Elkin, NC playing banjo and guitar, his brother Micky playing fiddle, guitar and conga drums, David Tenery on acoustic guitar and myself on bass guitar. We were invited by a lady that ran the rock club to the The Bitter End in New York City to come and audition. We had put together a demo tape and sent it to her and she really liked the sound. We were practicing at Ricky and Micky's apartment in Gardner Webb where they were attending college and everything seemed like a go with the audition. We were on our way to stardom. If we made the audition we were to go on tour on what they called the "coffeehouse circuit" all over the country. I'll have to admit we had a unique sound and style of music which everyone was into at that time. A week before we were to leave for New York City, Ricky and Mickey backed out of going because they were in college and wanted to continue their education. Looking back, that was a wise decision for them but at the time all the effort we had worked on and put together was shattering our dreams. David and I were determined to go and perform in New York City in Greenwich Village. We put together a last minute band with Rob Conrad on electric guitar from Elkin, NC and Paula Dagenhart on drums using the same songs but now it had an electric sound. There were no banjos, fiddles, or congas to be heard. We went and performed for the audition and the lady knew that it wasn't the same band so we failed the audition, but we still got to perform at the Bitter End, New York City's Oldest Rock Club back in 1973. Maybe we should try again because the place is still there and I am still performing a similar style of music to this day. We have banjos, fiddles, and mandolins doing the Americana Sound.