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Out on Huckleberry
Out on Huckleberry
When I was born in October 1948 my parents lived in a rural area here in our county. Zirconia is the name most associated with this area of our county and the name we pen our address when we have need to use the postal system. More specifically, it was in the community of Mount Olivet where my parents lived. Mount Olivet was and remains a small Western North Carolina mountain community where life is still tranquil and laid back.There are few farms now but when I was a kid, there were many.
In my youth almost everyone who lived on Mount Olivet were farmers tending those fields ladened with rocks freshly plowed out each year with a horse or in some cases oxen. Crops were grown with much hard work and when harvested sold at the local farmers market in Hendersonville, NC to brokers who catered to big chain grocery stores up and down the East coast. Any excess was for family use canned or preserved in some other way.
Those days have now come and gone and our little community has changed demographically as the population has shifted with an influx of people who have moved here from up North or who have moved to Florida and also own second homes here in this pristine area of rural Appalachia. From an economic standpoint, realtors and developers have benefited greatly through the acquisition of large once family owned parcels of real estate.The face of what once was has taken on the semblance of gated communities,golf course and high end homes.
To get back to subject of this article where I was born was known of as Huckleberry. I really don't know why the area was called Huckleberry but one thing for sure it was a lovely spot.Possibly this mountain land held an abundance of wild blue berries. We have always called them huckleberries. Those grown in the wild seem to have the best flavor.
Huckleberry sat right on top of the mountain but where we lived and was basically flat compared to the ridge tops and hollows that surrounded. The house that my parents rented was nothing more than a shack without electricity and running water. By all practical senses, primitive yet provided for our most basic need of shelter. The roof didn't leak which was a plus and in the winter, the house heated with wood was cold. It seems surreal now but I can remember living in that old house and I wasn't even three years old.
Our nearest neighbors were the Osteen's, Harvey and Virginia. They had a large family. Harvey was killing a hog one winter day and daddy was going to go down to their place and help with the slaughter of the hog. Killing and cleaning a hog is a pretty big job and an extra hand would have come in handy.
Mama dressed me up as best as she could to keep me warm as we walked the trail down to the Osteens. I had a toboggan to keep my ears and head warm and enough clothes to protect me from the cold wind that was whistling up the hollow. My short legs and me being bundled up like a package made it hard for me to walk. We would spend the morning with the family that day as daddy and Harvey killed the hog and dressed it. Harvey and Virginia were nice folks. The Osteens had owned Huckleberry and most of the surrounding properties on part of Mount Olivet for almost a century.
As the years rolled by daddy moved our family into a mill village house in Tuxedo to be close to his work in the mill. Huckleberry became a memory but as an older kid became a place where I would sometimes go with my Uncle Roy who would take his Beagles to run rabbits in the summer evenings. We would sit on the tailgate of his truck. He had a dig box and when he would release his hounds, it wouldn't be long before they struck a hot trail and the race soon commenced. For country boys who loved rabbit hunting and beagles a good evening on Huckleberry was as good as it could get. Beagles barking and hot on the trail of a mountain cottontail rabbit sometimes ended all too soon if the rabbit found a sinkhole.
Every once and awhile if we were out and about we would meet Harvey or one of his sons and we always would ask, "How are things up on Huckleberry?" There was always an amicable smile, "Everything is great!"
Being on Huckleberry meant we would be in a happy place. The cool summer evenings with a hint of fall in the air and the katydids singing or maybe a whippoorwill off in the distance just seemed to fit the mood. Life was good on Huckleberry.
It's sad not many know about Huckleberry or don't have a place they can call their own Huckleberry. Those are the places we can resort when we need a break from the craziness of our present world.
Good Neighbors on Huckleberry
As I have already stated in the first text capsule, my parents lived on Huckleberry when I was born. Good neighbors are a blessing and ours were the best. Harvey and Virginia Osteen. Harvey was a farmer and Virginia a farmer wife and between them the fostered a large family. Virginia was the glue like many country women who lovingly cared for her large family. Cooking and washing clothes and doing all the things necessary to create a healthy home environment for her family.
Harvey loved to drink and always kept a churn of home brew sitting in his living room. He wasn't a bad person when he drank but after years of drinking his body in later years had taken a toll.
Virginia was a Godly woman. She was at church at every service and would pray for Harvey and her children. One by one each of her children came to know the Lord and became good Christian people. It would be years later after many prayers that her husband, Harvey would finally give in and accept the Lord as his Savior and give up drinking. It was a happy day for Virginia when Harvey came to know the Lord and they would walk together to church from their home down on Huckleberry.
It would be after Virginia death that one of her granddaughter memorialized her in a song that gained notoriety. The granddaughter had married a local man who was gifted in music and had been active playing in his band, The Lonesome River Band. The granddaughter, Dena Keith had often told the exploits of her grandmother and her husband, Larry Keith wrote the song about her.
What a great tribute the song has become and so reflective of a woman who loved her family and overcame the trials of life. As a young boy, I worked side by side with Virginia picking pole beans and those hot days doing farm labor were softened when she would sing the old hymns of the church as we worked.