A giant frog frozen in time? Memories of Old Beech’s Buckeye Creek
Mary Wagner / Special to The Avery Journal-Times
This is just a huge rock that looks just like a frog. The rock is located in Buckeye Creek, which is located on Old Beech Mountain.
If the rock could talk, it would tell of stories of an old saw mill run by Mr. Dewey Harmon some years ago. Part of the waterwheel that was used to power the sawmill is still in the creek.
I got to meet Mr. Harmon and his wife Sadie years ago. I was 15 and it was the first time I had ever been to the mountains of North Carolina. You see, my sister Barbara married Dewey and Sadie's son, Dan.
What a first impression. My sister and I were from Baltimore – not city girls but not used to mountain folk and their ways. They were such good-hearted, good-natured people. They made me feel so welcomed in their home.
Friends and relatives of the Harmons came over to meet me. They were all so jolly and friendly. I loved the drawn-out Southern dialect.
There was no television, only a radio that played gospel music and sometimes I could hear a Hank Williams song on somebody's radio in the holler. Night was dedicated to a good card game of Rook. These people were serious about this game but yet there would be a lot of laughing and storytelling. This reminded me of home before television. We would sit around the radio and listen to “The Lone Ranger” or listen to the old songs of the early 1950s.
Supper was pork chops – not bought, but a pig Dewey and his brother-in-law Jack butchered. Dewey and Sadie were not rich in money, but they were rich in love, in heart and soul – just like my parents. Maybe that's why I wasn't homesick, they were good people-just like my parents.
I did have one little problem I had to overcome – there was no bathroom. But when we were growing up in Baltimore, there was no sewerage on our street either – we also had an outhouse. But that was years ago – these are the mountains, you know, snakes and other critters.
My sister and I made the trip to the outhouse together. It was a two-seater, in case you wanted company. What I really had to overcome was taking a bath. Mrs. Harmon brought in this big washtub and put it in the middle of the kitchen floor. I looked at my sister. I didn't have to say anything – she knew what I meant. Mrs. Harmon filled it with buckets of water. I was already a very shy girl and the kitchen had a few big windows. I was told it was safe, that no one was going to be walking around the house outside – Mrs. Harmon made sure of that. I took my bath, said goodnight and went up the steep narrow steps to the upstairs bedroom.
I really did sleep well; must have been that good, clean, country air. When I got up the next morning, breakfast was being made – homemade biscuits and fried chicken. And I have to say the chicken was not bought from the store – it was killed and plucked by Mrs. Harmon. What a breakfast! I couldn't get over having fresh fried chicken early in the morning. It was explained to me that before you go into the fields to work, a good breakfast is something you have to eat.
Lunch was the same – delicious and a lot. After lunch my sister and her husband took me into Boone to show me the town. At that time the road in front of the Harmon's home was a dirt road and the Town of Boone consisted of the main street and a small college. Today Buckeye Creek Road is a busy hard-topped road and Boone consists of highways, a mall, all kinds of restaurants, elegant stores, beautiful homes and the college surrounds the town. There is so much more to add to this list; it would take all day to list the amenities that Boone has.
When we got back to the Harmon's home we all sat on the porch. It was so nice. Mr. Harmon would tell jokes. Mrs. Harmon would make fun of him. The night came, another game of Rook with family and friends then off to bed. I hated to see the day end. We had to head home to Baltimore the next morning.
The next morning we all said our goodbyes. I really hated to leave. I thought how lucky my sister's husband was to have such good-natured parents. I realized even more at that moment how lucky my sister, brother and I were to have loving, caring and hardworking parents like we had.
As we passed the rock frog leaving Buckeye Creek for home, I thought, “I'll be back Mr. Froggy.” I was 15 then, I'm 66 now, my sister is 70, Dan and his brothers and sisters and parents are gone. I still visit my sister as often as I can and Mr. Frog is still in Buckeye Creek and he is still a stone and hasn't been kissed by a princess yet.