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Playing Since: 1971

Experience Level: Purty Good

[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: musician/physician/metaphysician

Gender: Female

Age: 63

My Instruments:
1910 A.C. Fairbanks Regent
1896 Fairbanks & Coles Fretless

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
Tommy Jarrell, Kyle Creed, Matokie Slaughter, Sydna Meyer, Frank Proffitt, Wade Ward, Jim Hyland, Riley Puckett, Bruce Green,Dan Gellert, John Balch, Blossom Dearie, Ben Zion Shenker, and a whole lot of other people

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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 1/27/2008
Last Visit 10/4/2012


Pigeon Roost, NC

Thursday, January 31, 2008 @12:58:25 PM

I think Pigeon Roost is mostly known for its abundance of rattlesnakes.  Harvey Miller used to make note of the sizes and quantities of the week's rattlesnake harvest alongside the weather report in his weekly column in the Tri-County News.  That was when weather reports had to do with weather that had already happened, not like now when they try to tell you what's going to happen next year.

Harvey's column was called, "Happenings In and Around Pigeon Roost and Lower Mitchell County".  I believe the Foxfire people devoted an issue to a collection of his columns that they called "News from Pigeon Roost".

Every week we looked forward to reading Harvey's homestyle reports of who had gotten married or laid to rest, who had been home visiting from college and who had stirred off a batch of apple butter. 

My mom and I took a ride over to visit Harvey one day.  We sat on his front porch listening to stories and drinking fresh cider.  I happened to have a banjo in the car so of course I played him a tune.

In a mountain minute we found ourselves being introduced to my new foster aunt and uncle:  Uncle Garrett and Aunt Nora Arwood.

Garrett and Nora lived all the way at the end of Pigeon Roost Road, at the tip of the holler.  Their little hand-built cabin was tucked into a fold between the arms of the mountain.

Before we knew it, Mom and I were ensconced in hand-made ladderback chairs watching in amazement as Aunt Nora spread a table with chicken, biscuits, butter, jam, pinto beans, green beans, yellow squash, fried taters, fried apples, fresh milk, coffee, and two kinds of pie, fresh out of the wood-burning cookstove.

Never mind protesting that we'd just had lunch.  We ate until milking time.

 Behind the house was a path to the chicken house, the cow barn and the spring.  The garden spread out in neat patchwork beds along the path, where the sun bathed the holler part of the day.

The garden was full of guinea hens and their chicks hard at work eating bugs.  No insecticide needed in that place!  Nor fertilizer either, as the guineas took care of that job too.

As I followed Aunt Nora down the path to the hen house the guineas crowded around us, chattering away as if to tell us about their day in the garden patch.  Nora had hand-raised them and she was "mom" to them.

The gentle Jersey cow greeted us with her sweet breath, and we lugged a full can of her milk back to the spring.    The sun was getting low by the time we came back to the house.

Garrett disappeared somewhere and came back with a fiddle case. My heart fluttered in my chest.   Out of the case came the newest fiddle he had made,  hand carved of local pine and maple.  The bow, too, he had made.  And a hand-carved bridge.

He rosined the bow and drew it across the strings:  an open tuning I had not heard before, tuned down low.  Then Garrett and Nora began to sing.  Old sacred songs, and heart-songs:  precious memories.  Garrett accompanied their voices with the old chord style on the verses, repeating the melody in between with many pretty trills and ornaments, simple and clear. 

When Mom and I at last looked at the time and exclaimed that we had to go, Garrett and Nora cried out, "Don't go!  Stay with us!"  And they meant it.  But we had left Dad home in his studio.  In those days before cell phones, when we were late we were just plain late.

Next time when we returned we brought Dad with us.  That time we almost did stay all night, playing and singing, with the kitchen table so loaded down with food that there was hardly room for the plates.

We had many fine visits with the Arwoods over the next years.

12 comments on “Pigeon Roost, NC”

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2008 @2:10:54 PM

You spin a great yarn, Laura.  And it's not to late to learn to play the fiddle well, just like it's not too late for me to learn to play the banjo (or to switch to old-timey banjoing instead of three-picking).  Too bad you don't have field recordings (I guess that's what you'd call them) of Garret and Nora!
Laura P. Schulman Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2008 @2:28:19 PM

Actually, I do have some very poor quality and fragile cassettes that I'm going to try to clean up.  Stay tuned.
Joanchek Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2008 @2:56:29 PM

Laura, thanks for a lovely story inspired by what I am sure are lovely memories.  Music makes our world so much bigger, and so much smaller at the same time.
Cottonmouth Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2008 @3:30:21 PM

Thanks so much for taking us along with you on your visit; I wish we could go back right now!
Debbielee Says:
Thursday, January 31, 2008 @5:43:41 PM

That was wonderful. Do tell more.


Wes Lassiter Says:
Friday, February 1, 2008 @6:54:51 AM

Really fine story. It made my morning
Old Man Says:
Friday, February 1, 2008 @9:26:11 AM

Lots of Rattlers here at the foot of Clinch Moutain, but I love living here.The music is great in this area too.
mmruss1964 Says:
Sunday, February 13, 2011 @7:57:17 AM

Hello, thanks for the wonderful shared memories!
Garrett and Nora are related to me! Please visit my blog.
Thanks again, Martha

Laura P. Schulman Says:
Sunday, February 13, 2011 @8:31:49 AM

Wow, mmruss, thanks so much for turning me onto your blogs! The pictures of my old friends got the tears started. I'm back in these mountains and so missing them. Now Red Wilson is gone, it seems like the mountains are getting emptier and emptier.
pluckyfingers Says:
Sunday, February 13, 2011 @6:15:01 PM

The mountains may seem emptier, but the music and the memories linger on, and continue to travel around the world. Thanks for sharing both Laura
sheri08 Says:
Saturday, September 20, 2014 @8:48:49 PM

Garrett Arwood was my great grandfather. Does anyone know where I can buy one of his fiddles? I have searched the internet but with only 59 made I am having no luck. The best memories I have as a kid is listening to him play.
yankees1 Says:
Tuesday, December 13, 2016 @6:17:27 PM

My wife and I stayed with Nora and Garrett back in the spring of 1981 or 1982 for several days. Garrett made me a fiddle and bow and a year or two ago I gave it to his granddaughter ( Pat) here in Illinois.

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