The Week of July 24th, 2011


An early photo (c. 1949) of the stage presentation “Echoes of the Blue Ridge,” a predecessor of the Horn in the West outdoor drama. A hand-written notation on the back of the image identifies some of the costumed participants: “?, ?, Mabel Brown, ?, Kent Brown WPL, L. Aldridge, ?, Dolly Matheson.” The brief initials WPL may identify some of those pictured as part of an historical recreation society (perhaps the Watauga Pioneer League?).

July 22, 1909

“Shropshire Rams,” announced a notice in this week’s edition of the Watauga Democrat. “I have some fine lamb rams sired by registered Shropshire bucks, imported, last summer, from England, and from good native ewes. This is a fine chance to get a good buck for your flocks. These lambs are now grazing on the Bald Mountain farm on Long Hope. Price Ten Dollars ($10) each. Harrison Baker, Todd,Ashe County,N.C.” A postscript, “June 24, 4 t.” would seemingly indicate that Mr. Baker had first entered this advertisement to be run a month prior, and for appearance four times in the local paper.

A very lengthy letter to the editor began: “Mr. Editor – While I do not pretend to stand out as a critic, I stand ever ready to raise my voice in behalf of morality.” The author recounts his status as a native-born Wataugan, and states his love for the county where he “first saw the light of day; breathed her pure air, drank her limpid waters and beheld the profusion of flowers.” The writer then notes some human fallacy in himself, having “in boyhood days” not only “walked over [Watauga’s] hills” and “waded her streams,” but also “robbed the bird’s nests and killed frogs,” as well as delighting in “other little mean tricks, as all boys do, because of that streak of brute I inherited from old Adam, and it seems that a streak of a brute is hard to get rid of.” While recognizing personal shortcomings, and acknowledging that “a man has a right to conduct himself wherever [sic] he pleases so long as he does not infringe upon the rights and privileges of others,” this letter-writer was most distressed by a violation of this principle in a recent experience. He recounts, “[n]ot long ago I was in a place in Watauga county, and there were at least two hundred drunken men and women, or I suppose the women were drunk, as they were in the company of drunken men.” Says the writer, “the mere fact of their being drunk was of little consequence had they not cursed, swore, and blackguarded in the presence of ladies and children.” Our letter-writer notes that not all the persons were involved were from Watauga county, nor was the intoxicating substance at work, he believed. A saloon “just below the state line” was allegedly the source, where “800 gallons had been sent out on July 2nd and 3rd, in violation of the law.” The editorialist notes, “I could never stand drunk people unless I was in the same condition,” and recommends as a partial solution that the “young ladies” should “put their foot down.” He confesses, “I would never drink another drop if my girl made me believe that she would quit keeping company with me if I did.” The letter concludes, by way of further recommendation in response to the particular incident described, “[i]f there is no law covering such cases, we want our next representative to try and have one passed. Joe T. Ray,Elk Park,N.C.”

July 21, 1938

“Work on Electric Lines May Begin in Next Two Months” was a front-page headline in this week’s newspaper, which reported that, “[a]ctual construction on rural electric lines in Watauga county will begin in the next two months, predicted G.F. Messick, superintendent of the Caldwell Mutual Corporation, in a letter to prospective customers announcing the execution of allocation between the co-operative and the federal government.” The full text of the letter was printed, which states that, “with our long-sought goal so close at hand… we cannot afford to make any mistakes,” alleging that, “from now on, it will pay us to proceed slowly and build carefully.” The cooperative argued that “this be done quietly and without fanfare,” and asserted that, “impatient as we are for electricity, these next few weeks may be the hardest of all.”

July 21, 1966

“$100,000 Mental Health Center Being Sought” reported on this date that, “[i]n Watauga, Alleghany, and Ashe counties, an estimated 25 per cent of persons being treated for mental illnesses are children, and another 10 per cent are teenagers,” and, according to New River Mental Health administrator Dr. Brooke R. Johnson, “more youngsters should be receiving treatment.” The story announced an upcoming meeting to be held on the campus of Appalachian State Teachers College, attended by representatives of Watauga County government (County Commissioners and members of a local advisory board). The meeting would “give interested individuals an opportunity to contribute ideas at the planning stage” of a possible site, to be located in Watauga County, to better serve the mental health needs of young patients in the tri-county area. A main goal, according to Dr. Johnson, was “to treat the majority (of those requiring treatment) in their own communities, rather than in Broughton Hospital or another institution.”

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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