Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Rose Ellen, A Mountain Angel

It was November 1, 1910, in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and all who lived in Boone Gap experienced the chilly fall breeze; as it blew leaves of every hue from golden-yellow, burnt orange, sprinkled with colors of reds and browns, to accent the beauty of God’s creation of fall.

The colored leaves adhered to Rose Ellen’s Granny’s fresh hung wash. Granny Purvis had just scrubbed the sheets white with the lye soap she made in the old black iron pot yesterday, and she was so proud of how white they came out.

Granny Purvis inhaled the chilly air to fill her lungs and then exhaled slowly; as this always felt so good and brought back memories of her youth, when her parents and sisters were still alive and living on the same land; where she now lived.


She thought, I might be old, but I can still scrub on my old washboard, without getting too tired. She smiled as she looked at the new clothesline her neighbor, Nathan had built for her. 

The wire was new and anything new in the Gap was a miracle to behold, and she knew everyone would come to see her new clothesline, soon.

“Rose Ellen.” She called in her sweet Southern voice.
“Yes, Granny, I am right here behind you.” Rose Ellen laughed her musical laugh that her Granny always loved to hear.
The Gap's Angel

Rose Ellen was Granny Purvis’ pride and joy. As she would tell anyone that stood still for two seconds that God takes away, but he also gives back. God took her daughter, Alice one freezing winter day, after giving birth, and left a little baby with blond hair and blue eyes, whom she named Rose Ellen----- for her to love and raise.


“Where have you been, Darling?” Granny asked with her concern look.

“I've helped Miss Sally Ann in getting ready for the Hayride on Saturday. I was mixing the molasses cookie dough, jelly cakes, and Ladyfingers in large bowls for Miss Sally Ann as she put in the ingredients. Then, she bakes them in her two big ovens, and I helped her watch the time to take them out.

And, her old Big Ben alarm clock helped us to time the cookies and cakes, so we would know when to take them out of the oven in time---- wasn’t that great Granny that I helped.” exclaimed Rose Ellen, as she was always so proud to help someone.

Little Rose Ellen was Boone’s Gap Angel, from the day she took her first step; she had journeyed from one end of the Gap to the other end. She spent almost every day visiting families that lived on her mountain path for that day. Each day a different path was hers to travel. 

She was faster than a June bug on moonshine, making sure everyone got help and if they needed anything, this little Angel would get it, if possible. She was only nine years old, but was a blessing to Granny Purvis. 

Everyone in Boone’s Gap would tell you that little Rose Ellen was the Gap’s Angel.
Rose Ellen was Granny Purvis’ pride and joy. As she would tell anyone that stood still for two seconds that God takes away, but he also gives back. God took her daughter, Alice one freezing winter day, after giving birth, and left a little baby with blond hair and blue eyes, whom she named Rose Ellen----- for her to love and raise.

“Where have you been, Darling?” Granny asked with her concern look.

“I've helped Miss Sally Ann in getting ready for the Hayride on Saturday. I was mixing the molasses cookie dough, jelly cakes, and Ladyfingers in large bowls for Miss Sally Ann as she put in the ingredients. Then, she bakes them in her two big ovens, and I helped her watch the time to take them out.

And, her old Big Ben alarm clock helped us to time the cookies and cakes, so we would know when to take them out of the oven in time---- wasn’t that great Granny that I helped.” Exclaimed Rose Ellen, as she was always so proud to help someone.

Little Rose Ellen was Boone’s Gap little Angel, from the day she took her first step, she had journeyed from one end of the Gap to the other end. She spent almost every day visiting families that lived on her mountain path for that day. 

Each day a different path was hers to travel. She was faster than a June bug on moonshine, making sure everyone got help and if they needed anything, this little Angel would get it, if possible. She was only nine years old, but was a blessing to Granny Purvis. Everyone in Boone’s Gap would tell you that little Rose Ellen was the Gap’s Angel.

Granny Purvis Sold Honey
Granny Purvis made her living by selling her honey from her hives, and she had a lot of them, and by making beautiful quilts, which she sold to the city folks. She was not going to let little Rose Ellen to be without because of pride like some that lived in the Smoky Mountains.

Some folks pride kept their children in rags and without winter shoes. Not many children went to the doctor without being on death’s bed. However, this did not apply to her Rose Ellen; because Granny Purvis made sure she had two yearly check-ups; to make sure her baby was well.

Rose Ellen was always clean and dressed nicely because Granny made her clothes out of material she traded for her dry herbs, and her own clothes were just as nice, as Rose Ellen’s were because Granny never wanted her to feel ashamed of how she dressed.

Most folks did not have any Sunday go to the meeting clothes to wear, as the mountain folks called clothes you wore to church. But Rose Ellen never notice what people wore, only what she could do for them to make them happier, and well cared for as only she could seem to do. She well deserved the name of the Gap’s Angel.

Hunger Won Over Husband's Pride

A new family named MacDonald had moved in the Gap so Granny and Rose Ellen went to visit them. They wanted to invite them to Saturday's Hayride.

After knocking on the wooden door that hung lopsided to the door frame; they waited. Finally a woman answered the door in a dress full of holes and tears with two children standing behind her in such rags. 

Granny Purvis gave one of the baskets of food to the woman.

“My Samuel would not like us taking charity from strangers.” She spoke with tears in her eyes.

“Well, where is he now, Mrs. MacDonald?” Inquired Rose Ellen with a slight frown.

“He is out hunting and gathering firewood.” Mrs. MacDonald whispered softly.

“Well, he is not here now, and these children are starving, so I do not see any harm in letting them eat. What do you say Granny?” Rose Ellen asked adamantly.

The children starting eating as fast as they could--- it seems they hurried to finish before their father came home.

Rose Ellen and Granny had tears in their eyes, as they noticed only one chair and a tiny table in the house, no beds only rags and torn and dirty quilts were on the floor for them to sleep on, and the children did not have shoes on their cold dirty little feet.

There wasn’t any food in the house as far as Granny and Rose Ellen could see, so before leaving Granny invited the family to the hayride on Saturday. Then to The Church of God on Sunday. Their baskets  contained honey, beans, flour, cornmeal, lard, salt, pepper, pickles, jelly and smoked pork.

Mrs. MacDonald was so overjoyed she hugged them both, and smiled a lovely dimpled smile, with tears glistening in her green eyes. Unbelievably, she stood out in the cold without shoes on; on the broken down porch waving until Granny and Rose Ellen were out of sight.

The Hayride
It was Saturday, the day of the hayride and everyone in the Gap glowed with excitement---but not just about the hayride, but about the MacDonald's coming to it. Anyone new in Boone Gap was a rarity, so everyone felt the need to question the new family---- without offending them, of course.

With Miss Sally giving out her bags of treats to all the children and adults on the hay wagon everyone was in a cheery mood, and all the MacDonald children starting with the one-year old to the seven-year old were all onboard with the biggest smiles on their faces because they had food, and the other children had made them feel welcomed.

Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald were talking to everyone and before it was over they thanked Granny Purvis for everything she did for them; including the food and clothes for the family. Everyone in the Gap shared and traded their extras with other families of the Gap. Money was not important when someone could trade without it.

When the Hayride was over and they returned to the Gap, Rose Ellen had games planned and the winners would receive a surprise box containing shoes and clothes, and yes they would all fit because she had a plan. Everyone in the Gap knew not to go against her plans because one would never hear the end of it, as she would ask why repeatedly until the unrelenting party relented.

Rosie a Special Angel

Rose Ellen looked at Granny and they both laughed because they knew Rose Ellen would get her way.
(Just for you, Rosie)
My friend Rosie is just as wonderful as the Rosie in this story and her heart is just as big and loving. I only write about special people and she really is an Angel and will always have a special place in my heart.

PurvisBobbi44 is the sole author of this article and if copied anywhere else on the Internet or printed in magazines or books it was taken without written consent and is strictly prohibited.



Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mountain Life: In 1911

It was 1911 in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, outside the icy winds howled as they blew through Backers Creek Hollow, sending chilled puffs of air between the tiny cracks of the old wooden church. The only warmth was an old wood stove used as a heater, which furnished warmth for all the mothers with babies who sat on the front rows. The church ladies always spread blankets on the wood benches, to make it more comfortable for all.

After the congregation sang its last song, Preacher Miles called for any announcements, and Brother Sampson stood up. However, he did not speak until Preacher Miles knotted his approval to do so.


Then Brother Sampson told them what the preacher in Sandy Hill Gap had Informed him about yesterday. He said that a train was bringing two children from New York for adoption; and the two little girls were six years old. And, Brother Sampson said the children would be brought to choir practice on Wednesday, to Backers Creek Hollow.

Adoption agencies existed only in the larger cities; so, mountain communities adopted through the churches. This was the adoption process in the Great Smoky Mountains in the early 1900s.

“Mama,” asked Little Billy Sands, “Adoption—is that something bad?” His mama indicated no talking in church. So, he would wait for his answer later.

Well, that was the best news Becky Sue had heard since forever, now maybe she would have a sister. And, she was sure her daddy would get her anything she wanted; after all she was eight years old, and almost a full-grown lady. Mimi said so herself, and her Mimi was always right.


Everyone, was buzzing about this for sure, and was wondering who would want more children, or better yet, who could afford more children. Now, this conversation went on for the next few days, wherever, any two women met to talk.

All up and down the hollows the news traveled, to all the neighbors, friends or foes in the Great Smoky Mountains. Why bring more children to the poorest of people, the mountain people, no one knew the answer, only God knew—that was the only answer.

By Wednesday, the weather was not accommodating to the people of Backers Creek Hollow’s plans, as the icy wind sent the swirling snowflakes and snow flurries throughout the mountainsides.
Sometimes, it was difficult to see the way around the Hollow. The snowy weather was not omitting any Gap or Hollow, everyone, received the same.

As the snow piled higher than normal, outside the humble homes, their occupants had prepared as best they could. The women and children tucked papers and old rags into the cracks that helped keep the coldness out and the men nailed card-boards over them. The warmth felt so good as fireplaces blazed with Hickory, Oak and White Ash, which was plentiful in the mountains.

Inside the homes they felt warmth from the fireplaces and from their hearts. These were good people, and since being poor was not a sin, they were also, very proud.

The congregation finally all arrived at five o’clock in the afternoon, the darkness was coming too fast because of the bad stormy weather. So the church women lit candles at the altar and put lit candles in the crude wooden sconces on the walls around the inside of the church.

Everyone, was talking quietly, until the big double doors opened, and the wind blew in the flurries of snow in front of the guest and behind them.

The two children looked frozen and afraid, and but not the man with them. The preacher introduced him as Mr. Finworth, secretary to the Tennessee Adoption Agency. One could tell that he felt very important as he walked into the church like a banty rooster with his chest stuck out, so full of himself--because he was doing a great service for these poor backwoods people. He thought of himself as the Adoption Agency because no one else was a smart as he; or so he thought.

He was a small shrimp of a man, and his manner was borderline rude. He went straight to the front of the church and shoved the little girls ahead of him. He stopped and turned around and proceeded to give his little speech, as he told the little girls to stand up straight and look ahead--- so the people could see them.

The little girls had on ill-fitting shoes, and hand me downs that were too big for them. And, their coats had holes in the elbows, and both coats had missing buttons and pockets. And, the girl's red hair was long and uncombed. But through all the rags and dirt one could see they were very beautiful children.

Well, now this did not sit well with Becky Sue, but she listened quietly for a while, literally biting her tongue so she would not speak out. She kept inching her body to the edge of her seat really to bounce at a second’s notice.
Mr. Finworth said, “These children are here for adoption purposes, and as you can see they are twins. Do you people know what the word twins mean?” he continued, “They were born the same time, one after the other. (No one in the congregation said anything) Fine, I will carry on.”

Becky Sue stood up, and said, “Mr. Finworth, I am eight years old, and I know what twins are, we are poor, but not illiterate.” Then she smiled her lady like smile and returned to the edge of the bench.

Preacher Miles looked at his wife and, then his daughter, and smiled—two peas in a pod—yes, he was one lucky man. His wife and Becky Sue would keep any man on their toes, and he was happy that he was that man; he loved his strong outspoken ladies.

Then Mr. Finworth made a grave mistake, he bellowed out, “Well, I am standing here waiting for someone who wants to adopt these girls to say something.”

And, then the twins started crying. That was all she wrote, the man had dug his grave right there in church. Before anyone could say a word, Becky Sue had kicked Mr. Finworth in the shins of both legs, one for each twin she later said to her friends in the Hollow.

“Daddy, this Mr. Finworth has not told us anything about the twin, he has only made them cry and made me mad here in church.” The twins had stopped crying, then turned big blue eyes at Becky Sue, their hero.
Becky Sue rolled her big green eyes, as she put a red ribbon back in her long black hair that had fallen out during Mr. Finworth’s introduction of her foot.

Mr. Finworth made a movement towards Becky Sue, and Preacher Miles stood in front of his daughter, shielding her from him. He whispered low to Mr. Finworth,“Sir, if you want to be able to walk out of this church you will conduct yourself as a gentleman and I will be writing the Agency, about how you treat children.”

And, after saying this—Preacher Miles pocked him in the chest with his finger several times making him back up into the coldest corner of the room.

Mr. Finworth backed down as the Preacher was a tall man with muscle to back up his words.
Preacher Miles asked Mr. Finworth if he could tell them anything about the twins and their background. And Mr. Finworth said in a superior tone, “Their names are biblical, because one is named Ruth and the other one is named Esther and their last name is not known to us, and the twins do not know it, either.

They were brought to the orphanage by their grandmother who was very ill when they were two years old. Their parents died in an accident, and that is all we know. So, if anyone will come forth to adopt them I will be able to signed the papers with two witnesses.”

Becky Sue stood up with her hands-on her hips and said, “Nobody had better not raise their hand, or stand up--- because Daddy, I want them--- these are my sisters.” And before the word sisters were completely out of her mouth—the twins ran to their new older sister and hugged her and would not let go.

So the three children stood in front of the altar, with arms wrapped around each other, and Preacher Miles and his wife Margaret joined them. Yes, in a matter of minutes their family had grown from a miracle, which had spread its love over the Miles family, and the congregation.

All the children of the congregation went up front to welcome Becky Sue’s new sisters. Becky Sue was already planning on what clothes she was giving them because unlike so many of the children of the Hollow, she felt blessed with her Mimi, who gave her lots of clothes and everything else. And, she always shared with the other children. She believed in sharing if you can because her Papa said in his sermons that it is better to give than receive, and truthfully Becky Sue liked both.

That was the same logic she used when she kicked Mr. Finworth in his shins. She felt he deserved her gift of those kicks, to make him a better person, and if that didn’t do it, well; she left those lessons to a higher teacher.

Becky Sue would teach her new sisters about being strong ladies. And, how not to let rude people intimidate them. She would make sure her sisters received the best education, and had a good life, yes, she now had responsibilities above and beyond herself. However, she was not aware that she would become a better person herself, by giving of herself.

Little Billy Sands asked his mother as they walked out of church, “Mama, adoption--is that something bad?”
“No, that is something good. Becky Sue’s parents chose the twins to love, and that is very special. Tonight, Billy, I believe Jesus is smiling down on this little church in our Hollow, because he is pleased about the adoption.”

“But Mama, it was Becky Sue who really adopted them, wasn’t it?” His mama smiled and put her arm around him as they went out the door in the freezing night.


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PurvisBobbi44 is the sole author of this article and if copied anywhere else on the Internet or printed in magazines or books it was taken without written consent and is strictly prohibited. 


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Moment on the Dark Side

He travelled Home with a bullet in his back,
He could barely see,
With his hat pulled down low,
His horse knew where to go.

The strong man in leather---a gun at his side,
He rode in the shadows ---better to hide.

Home was nearer now,
He would make it somehow.
                                                                                    

He could almost smell his ma’s cooking,
He hoped she would not come looking.

His blue-green eyes turned jade with pain,
He wished he could numb the signals to his brain.
The blood had ceased to flow,
With a bullet lodged in his back,
Still the pain and pressure was not lack.

A jaw full of chew,
He spit in the morning dew.

He avenged his Pa,
Yesterday, at the showdown,

He killed that murderous clown.
The murderous scum shot an old man for laughs,
His Pa went to town to sell one of his calves.

Who is laughing now you rotten Son of a Snake,
I watched you die---to never again wake.

I killed your men
They will never ride to murder---again.

The Sheriff---a wimp of a man,
With his slow attention span.

Never drew his gun,
Until, after the deed was done.

He heard riders from the north coming fast,
It was “Black Hawk” with his fellow
Comanche’s---at last.

They took the wounded cowboy off his horse,
Black Hawk cleaned the blood away with Whiskey
—of course.

The cowboy named Will was Black Hawk’s
half- brother,
They grew up together---they shared the
same mother.

His father a white man,
The cowboy was a breed,
But their love was unconditional---indeed.

Will’s two worlds spun as the bullet was cut out,
Biting on leather kept the screams--- back without
a doubt.

Next morning when the sun came up over
the plains,
They all rode towards home---once again.

To bury a good man in the cold Texas ground,
That was shot by a murderous clown.

Nothing is thicker than blood,
Not water---not Texas mud.

Their mother stood between Will and
Black Hawk,
To watch the Heavens as Will’s father
did his upward walk.

Drums echoed through the hills---as the
wolves and coyotes howled
The biggest wolf stood on a hill and towards
the Heavens he growled.

With heavy hearts they watched the sun go down,
Behind the hills as they stood on the cold Texas
ground.

Tomorrow would be another work day,
That was the hard Texas way.

In Texas hard times called for strong men,
Some went to war---never returned again.

It is not the linage or race of Texan born,
Their hearts in the land that is mourn.

No other born in any land,
Ever took the place of a Texas man.

Texas gave her best to secure her place,
No one ever shamed her face.

The proud and mighty Texas women fought by their side,
Their home was Texas---their “Big Star” pride.
PurvisBobbi44 is the sole author of these poems and if they are seen anywhere else on the Internet or in print it was taken without my consent.
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