Are You Listening To Christmas Music Yet?

Christmas CD

Christmas is hands down my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it. Granny is crazy over Christmas too and I guess that's why I'm plumb foolish about it.

I've been listening to Christmas music for over a week.

If I'm at work I have Pandora going in the background with Christmas tunes and if I'm in the car I'm listening to Pap and Paul's cd Songs of Christmas.

It's been several years since they made the Christmas cd, but I'm still amazed by the quality of the music. By far the best Christmas music around if you ask me. Here's a track list:

  1. Joy to the World
  2. It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  3. O Little Town of Bethlehem
  4. Away in a Manager
  5. Good Christian Men Rejoice
  6. Silent Night
  7. The Little Drummer Boy
  8. The First Noel
  9. What Child is this?
  10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  11. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
  12. The Friendly Beasts
  13. Jingle Bells
  14. We Three Kings
  15. Oh Come All Ye Faithful

Do I have a favorite? It's too hard to choose!

O Little Town of Bethlehem has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs; Good Christian Men Rejoice has such a hopefulness about it; and Pap and Paul make Away in a Manger sound like a lullaby. 

What Child Is This? gives me chills every time I hear it; Jingle Bells makes me pat my foot and think of Christmas morning; and We Three Kings is breathtakingly beautiful in a way that makes it hard to believe someone (some 2 ones) from my family played every instrument and sung every word. 

Wish you had one of the cds? I'm giving one away for part of my Thankful November. All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is leave a comment on this post telling me the name of your favorite Christmas song. Giveaway ends Monday November 20. 

You can go here Pap and Paul's Songs of Christmas to purchase a cd of your own. 


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Turkey Bean

Turkey bean sow true seed

Photo courtesy of Sow True Seed

turkey bean noun 
1980 Smokies Heritage 297 Settlers hearabouts tell a tale of how the "turkey bean" came to the mountains. It seems a flock of wild turkeys once wandered into the Jones Cove community, and consequently ended up as the main course for several Sunday dinners. But something strange had been discovered when the people killed and dressed the wild turkeys: in each bird's craw lay a handful of bean seeds. Not being wasteful, people put the seeds by and sowed them the following Spring. What grew as a result were a special type of bean with a flat hull and tiny, pea-like seeds inside. The delicious beans came to be called "turkey beans," for they had first appeared in the wild turkey's craw. 1996 Montgomery Coll. = string bean (Cardwell). 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I don't think I had ever heard of turkey beans before I saw the entry in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. I jumped over to Sow True Seed and wouldn't you know they sell turkey bean seeds. You can find them here


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The Brasstown Economy in the Early 1900s - Part 2

Fred O. Scroggs 
Fred O. Scroggs - Brasstown NC


Excerpt from Fred O. Scroggs' writings about the community of Brasstown

I marketed a lot of  sun dried apples. I think the price usually ran about .05¢ per pound, and my customers furnished rather large quantities, and I also bought from other merchants. I remember selling at one time three thousand pounds to one commission merchant in Atlanta. One year I sold over 5000 pounds. Sometimes I exchanged the dried apples to Atlanta Wholesale firms for groceries. Some times I shipped away to Florida and other places. Dried apples were packed in 50 pound white bags. We used second hand, laundered sugar bags. I remember buying at one time, 88 bags from a Mr. Elliott a merchant near Blairsville, Ga. 

We bought a lot of field peas. Price was usually $2.00 per bu. Black eye or brown eye peas around $3.00 One year I marketed over 200 bu. of these in Atlanta. A lot of corn field beans were grown and always brought a good price. (Hulled) Around $4.00 per bu.

During this time there was a ready market for sun dried  apples, and we marketed a lot each year. I remember selling one firm in Atlanta 5000 pounds bagged in 50 bags. The price was around .10¢ per pound. Every one worked and made good on their farms.

There was no relief money in those days. No government pensions. About three in the whole area drew Confederate Veterans Pensions from our State, which was round $30 per year, and payable annually.

Some folks raised sheep which were bought by out of state dealers. We bought the wool which brought a good price.

Farmers cut the tops off the corn and pulled and bundled the corn fodder. There was always ready sale for any of their surplus feed stuff to the livery stables, drayman and "wagoners". Some times we baled the corn fodder, core shucks, etc, with our horse power baler. Lots of this baled feed stuff was sold to "lumber camps" in different parts of the  section.

There was a steady demand for cross ties, tan bark, (bark off of chestnut oak and black oak) also chestnut wood for making tanic acid, (large plant at Andrews then) also pulp wood, as now was shipped to Canton, N.C.

Every one kept busy. Many of our farmers, after crops were finished, (laid-by) worked short intervals at some of the lumber camps or at the Ducktown copper mines. Seems they could always get work and quit any time to return to gather in their crops; seed their fall acreage of grain, etc. 


I hope you enjoyed this second small peek into Brasstown's economy in days gone by. If you missed first entry from Fred O. Scroggs go here


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Big Cats, Bears, and Coyotes

Dorie Woman of the Mountains

One of my favorite books about living in Appalachia back in the day is Dorie Woman of the Mountains written by Florence Cope Bush. The book was first published in 1992 and has been published at least 7 times since then if not more. In the introduction Florence Cope Bush writes

"Dorie: Woman of the Mountains was not written with the idea that it would ever be published. I wrote it as a gift to my daughter, my mother, and myself. The manuscript was in my possession for fifteen years before a friend talked me into letting him publish two thousand copies in paperback for local distribution."

The book is a biography about Bush's mother, Dorie. The story spans the years between 1898 and 1942 and is set primarily in the Smoky Mountains.

Even though my life is drastically different than Dorie's I identify with the way she looked at her world. As part of my Thankful November I'm giving away a copy of the book so stick around till the end of this post to find out how to enter.


The only animals we have to take care of other than Ruby Sue are our chickens. The Deer Hunter built them a nice sturdy house that is totally enclosed in a large run. He even added doors on the backside of the house so we can get to the eggs without going inside the closed pen. My sister-n-law refers to it as the Chicken Condominium.

The chickens have a ramp that leads up to the house, which is on stilts so that they can get under it if it rains, although our chickens seem to prefer standing in torrential downpours for some reason! At the top of the ramp is a small door that latches on the outside. Once the chickens go in to roost at night, we go out and lock them in. Next morning we go out and unlatch the door so they can come out. 

The girls feed the chickens in the afternoon and check for eggs, but the unlocking and locking up of the chickens is The Deer Hunter's job, unless he's gone off hunting. When he's not here the putting up and letting out is left to us.

I try to remember to shut the door at dusky dark so that I don't have to go out in the pitch black, but sometimes there's no help but to go out in the dark and get it done.

In the last few months we've had a bear practically on the deck and two large coyotes near the back deck that didn't seem intimidated by The Deer Hunter nor his bright flashlight. These recent sightings have caused the girls to be reluctant to be the one who shuts the chickens in at night. 

Dorie's daughter faced a similar dilemma when she was sent to the spring house. 

"The mountains were beautiful. Cold, crystal springs cascaded down the slopes. We got our water from one several yards away from the house. Countless trips were made to it everyday. One evening at dusk, Wilma took a bucket and started for water. Unknown to her, the water had attracted something else too. Just above the spring, two golden eyes glared at her, watching every move. A wildcat crouched low to the ground, ready to spring when she came close enough. Wilma could feel the intensity of the gaze before she saw the cat. She froze for a second as the golden eyes narrowed. She dropped the bucket and ran toward the house. She didn't look back to see if the cat was coming. Her eyes were on the crossties. If she missed one and fell, the cat would be on her in a minute. The door flew open and a white-faced ghost of a child collapsed on the floor. Fred took his rifle and went back to the spring, but the cat was gone. "

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Dorie Woman of the Mountains. Giveaway ends Saturday November 18. 

The winner for Pap's cd Shepherd of my Soul is...Ron Banks who said: "Many thanks to all of our Veterans for their sacrifice to our country."

Ron send me your mailing address at and I'll send you some music!


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He Didn't Say Pea Turkey - He Just Left!

He didn't say pea turkey

pea turkey noun A call for turkeys to eat; also in fig phr not say pea turkey = not say anything, the term expressing displeasure with another's lack of manners or breach of etiquette; somewhat milder than never say dog
1940 Haun Hawk's Done 63 All that bunch of starved chickens and turkeys started after me. I seed I might as well go back and feed them . . . . I was shucking away and calling the chickens at the same time, "Chickie, chickie - pea, turks, pea, pea, pea, pea" when all at once I took note that I had a red ear. 1976 Dwyer Southern Sayin's 9 never said pea turkey = never gave an invitation or offered information. 1997 Montgomery Coll. (Cardwell); He got up and left without saying pea turkey (Ledford). 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Seems like I've heard someone say pea turkey to describe a person not saying anything about a certain subject, but I just can't quite think of who it was. I know I haven't heard the phrase very often.

I asked the girls if they knew what pea turkey meant. They both guessed it meant a little turkey. Who knows how they got that!


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Cooking With Family

Janet Smart Cooking with Family

 Instead of sharing one recipe with you today, I'm going to share a whole book full!

I first met Janet Smart way back when I first started the Blind Pig and The Acorn. She lives in West Virginia and she blogs at the site Writing in the Blackberry Patch. Janet and I have many things in common with our love for family and Appalachia right up at the top of the list. 

A couple weeks ago Janet sent me her latest book, Cooking With Family: Recipes and Remembrances. It is a fantastic cookbook! There are many recipes that I'm familiar with, but there are quite a few that I've never even heard of even though Janet's family are Appalachians too. Especially interesting and heartwarming are the short tid-bits of information Janet shares with the recipes. 

As if all the delicious sounding food wasn't enough, Janet also shares "Non-Edible Recipes" like how to grow a coal garden and how to make three aprons from one pair of old blue-jeans. 

I haven't even told Janet yet, but I'll tell you. Her cookbook is so well written and such a wonderful representation of Appalachia that it will reside on my bookshelf beside my John Parris and Sydney Saylor Farr cookbooks. 

If you'd like to pick up your own copy of the book you can grab one on Amazon here or you can contact Janet at 


p.s. Additional info from Janet: 

Hi, Tipper. Thank you so much for your kind words about my cookbook! I enjoyed putting it together. If your readers go over to Amazon and use the 'look inside' feature, they can see the table of contents with its list of recipes. There are also 4 original poems. I hope people who read my cookbook get inspired to write down their family recipes, (pages included in the back for them to do this), family traditions and food superstitions, so they won't be lost and, most of all, they have fun creating memories in the kitchen with their family!

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It's Train Month on the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel!

Blind Pig and The Acorn - Month of Train Songs

Today's post was written by Paul.


We are declaring November to be Train Month on our Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel. There is no national train month that we could ascertain. Once upon a time, Amtrack designated May as National Train Month, but they discontinued the designation after a few years.

We got the idea of doing a video series from Gary Chapman, who does a hymn per week on his Youtube channel. I didn't want to copy him completely by doing hymns, although I know enough hymns to keep me busy for years. I asked myself, what's another subject that is widely covered in Appalachian music? I soon thought of trains.

I quickly realized after doing a count, that I probably know at least 30 or 40 train songs. Originally, I wanted to do one a day for an entire month. I then realized that even though I have enough material for that, I don't have enough time to film and upload every day. We decided to just do one per week, and that way, we can do the train series annually.

We also decided that every song would be filmed and uploaded in just one take. This would leave some mistakes, but would save time and might lead to performances that were spontaneous. We also decided it would be fun to feature some of our other musical friends and acquaintances, having them join us on songs that they knew of but perhaps had never played before.

Tipper and Chatter had never heard this song before. I told them the chord pattern and the number of beats in each chord and they took right off on it.

We hope you like the series. If you're not a member of Youtube its free to join. Once you have an account on Youtube you can subscribe to all manner of channels, including the Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel for free. 

Here's info on the first Train Song - The Wreck of Old Number Nine

Performed with one half of the Pressley Girls (Chatter) on guitar, and her mom Tipper on Bass in E flat.

I heard Doc Watson do this song in the mid 90's on Wayne Erbsen's "Country Roots" radio program on WCQS in Asheville, NC. It is one of my favorite train songs, mostly because of the lyrics. Doc picked the verse very similarly to how I pick it in this video. He or Jack Lawrence also played the chorus the last time around, which I meant to do in this video but forgot. According to Wikipedia, it was written by Carson Robison in 1927. Other than Doc, the only other version I've heard is Jim Reeves (just heard tonight on YouTube). I don't know if this song documents a real event or if it is completely fiction.

Lyrics: On a dark stormy night, not a star was in sight As the North wind came howling down the line. There stood a brave engineer with his sweetheart so dear And his orders to pull old Number Nine.

She kissed him goodbye with a tear in her eye, And the joy in his heart he couldn't hide. As he left there that night, his whole world seemed right for Tomorrow she'd be his blushing bride.

The wheels hummed a song as the train rolled along, As the black smoke came pouring from the stack. The headlight a-gleam seemed to brighten his dream Of tomorrow when he'd be goin' back.

As he sped around the hill, his brave heart stood still For a headlight was shining in his face. He whispered a prayer as he threw on the air For he knew this would be his final race.

In the wreckage he was found, lying there on the ground He asked them to raise his weary head His breath slowly went as this message he sent To a maiden who thought she would be wed.

"There's a little white home that I built for our own Where I dreamed we'd be happy, you and I, But I leave it to you for I know you'll be true Til we meet at the Golden Gate, goodbye.".

I hope you enjoyed the post from Paul and the video to! Even though I hear his guitar picking at least once or twice a week it still blows me away sometimes.

Be sure to check out the month of the train over on our Blind Pig and The Acorn Youtube Channel. Song number 2 is already up!


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Veterans - I Thank You For Your Service

Veterans day oteen nc

The good doctors at the VA Hospital in Oteen took good care of Pap's medical needs over the years. Whether you're going for a doctor's appointment in the outpatient area or visiting the inpatient floors going to a large VA Hospital is always a humbling experience.

By far the majority of patients at the Oteen VA are elderly men. There are some women sprinkled in and some younger vets too, but mostly it's old men. I was always struck by their voices. Some grown shaky with age; some so strong and vibrant it was easy to visualize them in their soldier boy uniforms standing at attention.

It's funny how the different branches of service seek each other out and sort of eerie how they seem to know if their neighbor in the waiting room is a leather neck, a ground pounder, or fly boy.

Due to Pap's health, I've been at the VA in Oteen for extended periods of time over the years. As I sat in the waiting rooms I would listen to snatches of conversation as families and friends talked of their loved one who were sick.

I also listened in as the Vets talked one with another. You could always hear a man or woman asking the others where they were stationed and what year they served. The answers always brought about talk of rations or meals, of memorable Sergeants, and trips to distant lands. Often the good folks who work at the VA joined in the conversation as many of them are Vets who are still serving, now taking care of those they used to stand beside in the chow line.

After every visit we made to the VA there were always folks who stood out in my mind over the days and weeks that followed. Like the gentleman from Franklin who was discharged at the same time Pap was. We all joked about how we were going in the same direction once we left Asheville for home.

There was the patient in the bed across the way who looked so frail and weak I wonder how long he made it, but knew his wife and daughter would be there to comfort him and each other no matter what happened.

There was the young tattooed janitor who entertained Pap and me with his out going personality and obvious gift for gab. He was in awe of Pap because he was a Marine. He told us he'd never get over having his childhood dreams of wearing Marine dress blues crushed by type two diabetes.

One Vet stands out in my mind from several years back.

He was a tall gangly old man who could barely walk. His daughter helped him shuffle along with a walker. Once he got seated in the chair by Pap they began to compare stories of service. The old man told Pap he was at Normandy and that all four of his siblings had served too. Even his two sisters had been nurses in the war. He said they all come back home except both the sisters' husbands.

What gifts of service the man and his family gave! What sticks out in my mind till this day is the way he talked to Pap about it. He talked like it was just yesterday or last week; like he and his siblings were all still young; like they were recently home after having marched off to war for the good of me.

At Oteen I looked at the old veterans and thought "They made it." Every one of them came back home and the loved ones who hovered around them in hopes that their pain would be lessened is evidence that most of them went on to have a good lives.

My wish for all those who are serving now is that they come home and live long lives surrounded by family and friends who love them and that someday they become the old Vets at the VA talking about their past service with their comrades.

To ALL Veterans young and old - I THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.


p.s. Since Pap was my favorite Veteran it seems only fitting that I would giveaway one of his cds as part of my Thankful November. Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win the last cd Pap made Shepherd of My Soul. Giveaway ends Tuesday November 14. To purchase your own copy go here.

p.s.s. The winner of The Pressley Girls cds is...Gloria Strother who said:  "I enjoy Blind Pig so much! I would love to have the girls' CD!" Gloria send your mailing address to me at and I'll send you some music! If you're interested in picking up your own copy of The Pressley Girls' cd go here

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The Brasstown Economy in the Early 1900s

How to crack black walnuts

Excerpt from Fred O. Scroggs' writings about the community of Brasstown

After the threshing season was over we baled lots of the wheat and rye straw. This we sold to lumber camps in Graham County and elsewhere where it was used for bedding material for their stock, and in the bunk houses where their men slept.

I had an Uncle by marriage, (Uncle Henry Green who lived at Mayesville Ga., who was a Veterinarian Doctor.) He obtained an order for me for a car load of baled straw for the Boney Allen company of Buford, Ga. I filled the order. 1200 bales in a box car. Probably the only car of straw that was ever shipped from Murphy. The price was good and we made money on the deal. Boney Allen owned a large tannery, a shoe factory and a harness factory. Also a horse collar factory. This straw was used as filler in the horse collars. They made large quantities of these a great amount of which was used by the U. S. Government for use in the army calverly services.

In trying to work with my neighbors and customers, I kept on the lookout for a market for anything that we might supply. Most every farm had some apple trees. The apples just dropped off and rotted. I made a trade with a jelly making plant in Atlanta to sell them a shipment of these "cull" apples. Any variety but some apples. The order was for 50 barrels at $1.00 per bushel. So I bought the barrels from Fain Grocery Co., in Murphy, and made a trade with Floyd Clayton and Frank Hampton to go around and trade for the apples and fill the barrels. They could pay .25¢ per bu., but most of the folks didn't charge anything. The boys went about buying apples. I paid them .50¢ per bu. and furnished the barrels and did the hauling. We placed a little straw in the bottom, and some on top, taking off the top hoop and covering with a piece of burlap bag and replacing the hoops. We shipped 30 barrels or around 90 bu. So this brought in around $90.00 for a product that would otherwise have been wasted. I did not try and fill an order the next season as these neighbors who had given their apples away or sold cheap, got an idea that we were making too much money on them and asked $1.00 per bushel. 

One time my good friend, Mercer Fain of Murphy, who operated the Fain Wholesale Grocery Co., contacted me and said that he had an order for 50 or more bushel of wild crabapples. Could I fill the order? The price would be $1.00 per bu. He said it didn't matter if they had rotten places, half rotten or what not. I said that I would try but was skeptical. Asked what he wanted them for. He said they they were going to a Nursery company at Cleveland, Tenn. They would let them rot and save the seeds which they planted to grow root stocks on which they grafted improved varieties of apples and sold to orchardist. I put out a call over the section and was able to fill Mr. Fain's order complete. For some unknown reason this order never repeated. 

At this time there was a demand for walnut kernels. We bought from any who would bring them in. I could never get enough to fill my orders. A hand operated walnut cracker had appeared on the market. I bought one maybe around 1926, and began buying walnuts. Stored them in the blank-shop building I had built, near the Elmer Sales House, the present Chas. Hedden Home. I paid .50¢ per hundred pounds and accumulated around 2000 lbs. They came in as far away as Shooting Creek, N.C., Ivy Log, Ga., and elsewhere. I then made a trade with a number of folks to crack and extract the kernels. Those who did the work would come and crack a quantity which they could carry home if they wished and extract the meats. I sold these meats at .50¢ per pound and paid the workers .25¢ per pound. It was just and experiment, but paid out for all of us. At the same time I bought kernels from others over the area. I marketed these kernels in Gainesville and Atlanta, also to the Sears Market in Atlanta. I remember selling to a creamery and ice cream supply house in Atlanta, (Bessire & co.) 700 pounds at one time. They would have bought several thousand pounds. We continued to work this market for some years. 


I hope you enjoyed this peek into the thriving metropolis of Brasstown in the early 1900s. Be on the lookout for another installation from Fred O. Scroggs detailing the way he worked with his neighbors to put a little money in all their pocketbooks. 


p.s. If you missed the hoopla-The Pressley Girls have their very first cd! Go here to get one!

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