The ladies and gentlemen who traveled up to the Mountain House with my Great Aunt Nana and Uncle Bim were very brave souls. If you were unfortunate enough to make that trip after torrential rains, you were going to walk a good quarter of the driveway in mud. The driveway was a road that led up the mountain and past several homes along the way. When you stopped passing homes, you were on the driveway. Keep on driving and you would drive right through the front door. That last half mile of the trip was all mud. The state did eventually fix this mess but it was a long time coming.
Anna, or Nana as all us kids called her, always had a gang of people go up to the Mountain House with them. I’m sure this is some gardening group of proper ladies who have hiked through the mud to be with my charming great aunt and uncle. Nana had tremendous knowledge of the flora and fauna. She was an excellent conversationalist and she could cook like none other. Her guest book is filled with folks saying the food was so much better on the mountain. I agree. Nana’s guest books are a rich account of the kind of people she liked to entertain. Many were gardening groups and many would later become very famous. She knew Elizabeth Lawrence–hmmm—wonder if she is in that group?
Nana took the ladies on long walks up the logging trail that weaved its way around the property. She pointed out rare Lady Slippers, Mountain Laurel, rhododendrons, She pointed out the animals and their tracks. She taught us what an animal had eaten by the look of its scat. She also dammed up the creek so we could all play in that cold cold water. You were very brave if you could dunk your head under the icy breathtaking hold.
Look at my Nana and Uncle Bim with a friend. Uncle Bim has his straw hat and the two ladies are dressed so nicely. All the folks who went with my aunt and uncle to the Mountain House were quality people. If you only got to listen to one converstation, you’d be rich for the rest of your life. But I got to listen to dozens of these conversations as I was always hiding somewhere wating for a treasured word.
You don’t dare go to the Mountain House without spitting a few watermelon seeds. My Uncle Bim was so patient. He would place the watermelon in the branch or creek–we called it a branch. The watermelon would get icy cold just like the water. Then he’d slice the pieces nice and thick. The best place to eat the watermelon was down by the branch so the seeds and rinds would wash on down for the critters.
And I’ll never ever forget how she tilted her head when she was telling me something I needed to know. I’ll always and forever remember what her voice sounded like and how she smelled so wonderfully like Noxema. She rubbed Noxema on me all the time. She is the reason my elbows are soft to this day. She told me a million times not to forget my elbows. She and I both always had clear sinuses due to the strong smell of Noxema. I love you Aunt Nana and Uncle Bim.
Nana would drag you up that mountain iffen you had britches or not. There never seemed to be a problem and there was a long waiting list of people who wanted to go to The Mountain House.
Uncle Bim was very often standing right here in this doorway. He was tending to the pot bellied stove that kept the water hot. He was a quiet man and smart as anyone I know. His full time job was being a engineer for the Southern Railway which is something his daddy did. My Uncle Bim could do anything.He built a good many houses in our area too.
They are quite proud of themselves. Uncle Bim is standing and they have just finished working on the dam. That’s one of the neighbors down the road there with him—I think.
I can’t look at this picture of Nana without a tear and experiencing the strong smell of good coffee and homemade jam. My aunt set a table like this for 3 meals a day. She set it for two or she set it for 100. She also wrote out all her meals in a book which I have! She would not let you go hungry and there was always something sweet. See those bisquits with jam on top. She made them just like that and made sure it was a pretty presentation. You ate it even if you were full cause she went to so much trouble to care for her family and friends. I miss you Aunt Nana!
Here is Nana on the left and my grandma on the right. Two of the most influential women in my life. My daddy is the baby and that other hateful kid is my awful aunt. Do I need to say I didn’t like her. Unfortunately—I look a great deal like her.
Aunt Nana was raised very strict. I doubt she ever kissed a man or held his hand for that fact. I loved it cause she was all mine except for that hateful aunt getting in the way. Anyway, Nana went to Salem College in Old Salem, NC and graduated in 1913. She worked for the college from the time she graduated until 1957. She was the treasurer. She was chosen because she worked in that office while going to college and collected tuition from all the students. They did not like her because she was a by the book taks master. See what the yearbook crew had to say about her. That would hurt her feelings forever. I would say she had the last laugh as she died at 102 a very wealthy woman.
This is her mother, Mary Letitia Miller. Mary was a sister to Martha Miller where my mother’s side of the family comes from. My mom and dad were 3rd cousins. They never knew it.
In the picutre is the Mountain House back during the mid 1950′s. I’m not born yet. My youngest brother is in the lap of the man and my middle brother is to the right.
Here is the Mountain House today. The picture below was taken in 2008. That’s MrD squating down in front. The place hasn’t changed a bit huh?
You can read more about the Mountain House. See my sidebar for–Memories of the Mountain House
The home is located up close to North Wilkesboro, NC