DAY 56- NEW NEW NEW meeting craftsmen of Appalachia
I am up an moving by 7, my camp is packed and most other campers appear to be still in bed, so I slip through the upper camp ground quietly. There is a light drizzle of rain falling and the sky is a heavy leaden grey which promises to make somebody wet by the end of the day.
I ride out of the Norris dam area, and within a couple of miles I come to the Lenoir Appalachian Museum, the Norris Grist Mill, and Bevins Threshing Barn. I cannot pas this up, so I take it in just for you. I will brag that the pictures are great, but they will not let me put them up here in Tenneessee just yet...............so please wait paitiently.
The Lenoir Collection is the sole gathering by one Willaim G Lenoir and he has donated it to the State now as a permanenet collection. The Museeum houses some 8-10,000 artifacts that emcompass all aspects of Appalachian life from the earliest times up to present. From Chiina collections, to crystal, and wood working tools, metal working tools etc.
Very intersting to walk thru and very well displayed. I move on to the Grist Mill, and take a look around, talk to the fellow who explains it all, the Mill is doen at the moment with some wheel preoblems but will be running this summer and grinding bags of corn etc for buyers.
I pedal on to the actual town of Norris, and have Coffee and apple pie.................hey, what are you chuckling about. After that barn storming ride I made yesterday................I nned a little caloric addition to my diet.Anyways, I was going to work on the blog from Norris Library but alas it was closed for Weednesday. SO, I ride on towards my destination of The official Appalachian Museum in Bethel.
It's Tennessee Home Coming Week, and that is what I had wanted to attend. In fact, I had ridden so hard that I got there 1 day too soon for the opening of the event. There were vendors in place for the event and to my luck and amazement I got too meet quite a few folks whom I had heard of and who were also quite knowledgable in Appalachian Lore. Do you remember the Fox Fire Books from back in the 70's, they were just great and I do not know what happeend to all of them now since I never see them around anymore. These books took in all aspects of hand craft and bush or woodsmen lore, they visited with folks who done ewach craft and wrote in depth explanations of how to do each craft etc. JUst great.
ANy ways, one fellow I remember is instrument maker, Charlie Blevins...........actually it amazed me that he was still alive. BUt low and behold, here he is not just showing me one of his latest Dulcimers, but playing it for me as well. Charlie, along with his wife done a great job of explaining all the details of maing instruments, playing, and having a opassion for what we do. Its not in the young folks anymore says Charlie a little saddened.
Back in the 60's and 70's you had a real revival of interest in these pursuits, but today is would seem that once agian it will all be lost. Charlie spent 38 years as a Army Special Forces soldier, and he is a bear of man even today. HIs wife showed me her favorite, a 4 hen scratcher............with each hen sratching and pecking on corn in the center of a board as you sway the board about in your hand............very cute.
I move on past strumming playing musicians, some on spoons, some on guitars etc...........its a cacauphony of sounds and melodies al intertwined at times. I meet a trio called the Ross Trio, a banjo player, a washboard and Harp Psaltry (3 string wash tub bass). These folks play only historic tunes, and it is just great. I loved the old hyms that they done in this manner.
The Museum houses a great collection of buildings that have ben moved in and completely restored to working order, there are canins aplenty, barns, loom sheds, grinding sheds and sawyers sheds. The you have the early homes of the famous, such as Mark Twains first birth place home. And the first Senators home. The log cabins that I really loved, were the ones with an open "dog run" or what some may call a breeze way thru the middle of two attached cabins..........very cool.
The soft melody of an instrument that I was not familiar with caught my ear and I let it lead me to another quieter area of the Museum grounds. And I met and befriended a great gal , Betsy. Who as it turned out was playing a Hammer Dulcimer, and a very fancy one it was indeed. She played some great tunes, and I asked why they had so far off in the corner? To which she replied it was so that folks could actually hear her instrument, since the others around would drowned the sopund of hers out. Hers was soft and quite delicate...............they are the actual fore-runner of the Piano she tells me.
I wonder over to the huge Red Barn Exhibit, and take in another collection but about 3 times the size...........of Appalachian Artifacts. What a great exhibit it is, with all the same sort of things just much more of it.............I am starting to get hungry since I haven't eaten all day. I can smell something that lures me.........yes it is the smell of some great cobbler being cooked in a Dutch Oven of all things. Now this is beggining to feel like home again. Ed Blackwell, is the cook and a mighty fine cobbler he makes. I visit with Ed for quite a while and it is begging to look like some seroius rain coming and it is 4:45 so I ma actually thinking of getting a Motel to charge up my cell phones and camera batteries.
I ride toeards Clinton, and find Circle *, and a cheap room..........everything is charging
Good Night and God Bless