Mountain Houses and Memories

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Today I want to share a story with you.  A story about 5 siblings from Florida and how they ended up building 5 mountain houses in the Smoky Mountains of NC.  This story begins back in the 1960’s and goes into the late 70’s. Back before cell phones, the internet, and most of the technology we have at our fingertips today, my family spent a lot of time in the NC mountains, away from it all in Franklin, NC.

When I was young and growing up, I didn’t appreciate during those moments what special memories were being formed right then and there.  I took them for granted but later pulled them out when I was older and realized what a treasure we have in these family memories.  I sure didn’t know growing up what a really special family I had.  Oh, I knew I was blessed with Godly parents and extended family too, but I didn’t know just how unique we were to have the closeness we have had with my immediate family and many of my extended family as well.

{L to R: Grandaddy Clarence Blount, my mother’s daddy, and his 4 siblings, Eva, Lovic, Myra, and Lenora} I love this picture! It captures a time period that cannot be duplicated.  I’m surprised my grandaddy didn’t have his Brownie camera in hand in this pic. 

It all began in the 60’s, when my mother’s daddy and his 4 siblings bought land in Franklin and all decided to build cabins up there.  They were all retired and all Florida natives, but after visiting the beautiful mountains of Western NC, they fell in love with the mountain views, cooler air, and slower pace of life.  Three Blounts married three Porters, and thus began the memories of Blount Mountain and Porter Ridge.  I always had trouble remembering who was who back then, because everyone was kin to us in some way.  If you live near Plant City, FL and you know Blounts or Porters, they are most definitely kin to me.

When I think back to those simpler times, I’m so glad that was my childhood and that we got to experience those very simple times as youngsters.  Carefree.  Innocent.  Stable and steady.  Those words describe my childhood and I’m grateful they do.  We didn’t have a lot financially, but what we didn’t have in money, we had in richness of life and lots of love.

During those carefree summers of the late 60’s and 70’s, our family spent a lot of time in these mountains of Western NC. Before cell phones and technology, we were climbing mountains, swinging on tall swings from the trees near the cabins, picking wild blackberries across the mountain in the fields nearby, looking for gemstones in the nearby creeks and streams, wading into Deep Creek over in Bryson City for a cold as ice inner tube ride down the rapids, waterfall looking at all the many mountain streams around the area, and so much more.

It was a childhood of memories and they were good and rich.  The extended relatives from Florida and my uncle’s family from SC would all flock to these mountains in the summer months.  We never knew who would be there when we arrived and it was always fun to hang out with our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins.  There were always plenty of kids to play with and play we did!

On a recent Friday, our family met up with my mom’s brother, Uncle Edward and his wife, Frances and their 3 daughters, and we all had lunch in Franklin with a few extended family members there in Franklin as well.  I’ll show you a pic of that too!  After lunch, we all drove a few short minutes away to the old mountain cabins and it was so good to be there again. It took me back to being a kid again and remembering all the fun we had in these mountains.

The cabins are all still there except one burned many years ago, but only 2 (maybe 3) of them are still in the family  My grandaddy’s cabin was eventually sold to someone else, but we did walk up the hill to see it.  Mom and dad enjoyed sitting on the porch of my cousin Nancy’s cabin.  She and her husband bought the house that her grandmother built, my great aunt Lenora.  They retired up there a few years ago and love it.

We walked the short walk up the hill to my grandaddy’s old cabin with my uncle and his girls.  We loved talking about our memories and how different it looks now.  They closed in the front porch, which was such a wonderful part of the old cabin.

My cousin, Howard, who is a retired teacher and now travel blogger, wrote a really good post about Franklin and the mountain cabins where we all spent so much time growing up, so read his post Mountain Memories for more old pics of what we did up there.  It was such a fun time!

Here it is from the driveway coming up the mountain.  We heard a little lady owns it, but only comes there occasionally.

The door going in the side of the carport.  We have so many great memories of staying at this cabin with our grandaddy.  What I remember most is eating all the vegetables that came out of the garden up there.  The grandads had gardens that they planted in the spring and that meant a summer full of fresh veggies.  There are so many fun memories of the mountains.  Roasting weinies in the big bonfire down at the other nearby house.  Playing tag and hide and go seek.  Playing card games late into the night during summer months. And there was always another adventure to be had in our many day trips we took off the mountain.

We went to Cherokee to see real Cherokee Indians and also went several times to the outdoor play, Unto These Hills.  Anyone see it?  I’m happy to see from an online search that the outdoor Cherokee drama is still going, in its 69th season! I’d highly recommend it if you go up to NC on a vacation.

Uncle Buel and Aunt Myra’s cabin is still in the family.

I can remember going in and out of this door many times and sitting on their porch looking out over the field below, where the garden was.

No garden now, but this was a big garden spot back then and full of fresh produce during the summer months.

Nancy and Mark’s cabin where they live full-time now.

Dad and Uncle Edward catching up on the porch.

The view from that porch, still as lovely as ever.

We spied a possum up in the tree.

The foliage, the scents, and smells of the mountains are still the same.  It took me back to those simpler times that we all love and cherish.

I couldn’t help but remember what a fun childhood it was.

I asked my cousins what their favorite memories of the mountains were and my cousin, Jacque said her favorite memories are swinging on that mountain swing, hiking through the woods, hunting wild blackberries, and eating the best dill pickles that grandaddy made.

My sister reminded me of the time we got lost and walked probably 10 miles (or maybe more) in one day getting back to the mountain.  That was so crazy!  I think I was about 11 or 12, Renee was maybe 13 or 14 and we were with our cousin, Diane, who was an adult, in her 20’s.  Diane was mentally challenged and so we were the ones who had to figure out how to get home.  We walked up the mountain for a little hike that morning, somehow got our directions mixed up and walked DOWN the other side of the mountain, which took us to a big pasture and finally houses and barns.  We finally found someone to ask how to get back to our side of the mountain and the only thing we could think of was to tell them the person’s name that had sold our grandaddy the land. We knew his name and so that’s how we got back home. The man knew his name and told us how to get back to the other road which would take us back home.  My sister said you would have thought a grownup would have offered to give us a ride back home, but no, that didn’t happen. We were on our own.  We walked out their road back to the main road and made our way down to the road that would take us back to the cabins again.  All in a day. The parents were just beginning to get worried about us when we came walking up the dirt road late that afternoon.

It’s all been paved now, but it was all dirt roads back then.  Oh, the fun we had on that mountain with all of our relatives.  Simpler times indeed!  I hope children of today have a chance at cherishing some of these great memories that we had.  It was a different world back then!

All of us gathered for lunch at Fat Buddy’s, a popular BBQ joint in Franklin. It was delicious and we all enjoyed it, so it gets my vote for good BBQ.  The onion rings were fabulous!

{Cousins, Jan, Jacque, Joy, me, my sister, Renee}

The first cousins lined up for a photo opp and it’s always great to see these pretty gals.  Jan, Jacque, and Joy are the daughters of Uncle Edward and Aunt Frances.  And they have a whole slew of children and grandchildren between them.  It’s a beautiful sight to see their family pics. They grew up in Greenville, SC and we used to go visit them too, such fun times with these girls.

I have to end with this cute story! Fat Buddy’s BBQ is right next to a Goodwill.  We arrived 30 minutes before our scheduled lunch time (thank you, Daddy!), and so of course, as soon as I saw Goodwill, my sister and I headed in there.  I spotted a pair of these vintage bamboo chairs, in great condition and $15 each!  I about had heart palpitations right then and there.  I wanted them in the worst way!  I was driving my Murano which has fold down seats, but I knew it would be iffy on getting even one of these inside, much less 2.  Besides, I had mom and dad in the backseat, so had no idea if I could even get one in there. Honestly, I have no room for 2 of these chairs until we finish our under deck porch, so I decided to try to get one of them home and I was successful!  Yippeeeee!!  The boys at Goodwill got the best one in the back of my car and off to Georgia we went that afternoon. It now sits in my basement waiting until we get that porch finished and it will make its grand debut!

My cousin, Joy, said when they drove up and saw mom and dad sitting on a bench outside the restaurant, that someone said, oh I thought the girls were coming with them.  Joy piped up and said, they’re in the Goodwill. She knows us well!

I knew y’all would appreciate this story. I’m always looking for thrifty treasures and scored on this one.  I don’t think the rest of my family got why I was so excited about this bamboo chair, but they were happy for me. So many people on Instagram told me I should go back and get the other chair, but really I’m fine with one.  Our under deck porch will only hold so much and I also want Mark to build a swing bed for that space too.  Besides, after getting a hefty speeding ticket coming down the mountain out of Franklin, that sort of put a damper on my good deal at Goodwill. That one cost me some big bucks!

I loved sharing my memories of these family mountain cabins in Franklin and I hope you enjoyed tagging along with us on this trip.  Oh, what fun it was back then!

 

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- Rhoda

Comments

  1. You and your family are TRUELY blessed. There was nothing that I didn’t have growing up…..except Love . I think even when you grow up it still always affects you.

    • HI, Linda, that makes me sad for you. I know not everyone had such an idyllic childhood and I know it’s such a blessing to have that. I just can’t imagine not feeling loved, but I know that so many people do not have a tight family bond like we do.

  2. We have a condo in Whittier just up the road from Franklin. We have started renting it because we didn’t go up very often. We love that area.
    I finally got to see “Unto These Hills” this past summer. It was wonderful however not handicapped friendly. I use a walker and even though they take you on a golf cart half way I still had more steps to maneuver.

  3. There’s nothing like family! Beautiful memories. Since vacationing in the Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge many times, I would love to live there! I always enjoy your posts and pictures about your family. I cracked up at the end about the ticket! (Sorry.) Just the way you put it struck my funny bone.

  4. What a wonderful special story! Family history and time together is so important, and you have a remarkable family! I LOVE the Western NC mountains and go to Sapphire Valley and Cashiers frequently…. The area is a treasure! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Rhoda, such a wonderful read about growing up in simpler times when it was about family, being together and enjoying each other… thanks for sharing these precious memories !

  6. A lovely story. I could almost smell the fresh mountain air.

  7. Kathryn Buckley says:

    Small world. We have a mountain home in Franklin, NC, too. We love the friendly folks and laid-back lifestyle there, yet it’s close to so many great places to explore. We’ve eaten at Fat Buddies many times and I’ve shopped at the Goodwill there. Have you eaten at Cafe REL located in the Hot Spot gas station? If not, you must try it, it’s fabulous…… but take cash with you as they don’t accept credit cards. I really enjoyed your story about a place that is near and dear to my heart.

    • HI, Kathryn, that’s so neat too. I don’t spend much time in Franklin anymore, so haven’t been to Cafe Rel, will definitely keep it in mind for future.

  8. Lynn Osborne says:

    Hi Rhoda, so fun to hear another story about your extended family. I first made the connection when you wrote about coming to Florida for your Aunt Mary’s service after she passed. My mom’s side of the family live in Durant and Pleasant Grove. Our family are the Johnsons and Hinsons and are somehow connected to the Blounts and Porters. But good gracious, I sure couldn’t tell you how we are all tied together. Sometimes I ask my mom or aunt about who someone is and they will say, “not really sure, but they are cousins of some sort. Kin folk, you know.” Thanks for sharing such special memories to cherish of the mountains!

    • We have some tie-in with the Hinsons also but couldn’t tell you how exactly. I know there were some Porters who married Hinsons and there were usually Hinsons around on those trips to the mountain.

    • Hey, Lynn, that is so neat! Then your family is definitely connected to our family. As my sister said, the Hinsons married into our family too and there are lot of them as well. But like you, I have no idea how it’s all intertwined. My mama knows it all though.

  9. Hi Rhoda, This is my all time favorite story of your childhood and your family! I too was blessed with a close family of grandparents, uncles, aunts and a multitude of cousins who we remain close with today. THANK YOU FOR TAKING US BACK TO “THE GOOD OLE DAYS.” Those days along with many of the family are gone but nothing can erase the memories. Thank you for sharing from your heart. I feel like family.

  10. Diane Taylor says:

    I love this post so much! I too grew up with our family very close by. I knew we were blessed – but we didn’t take fancy vacations. Our “vacation” was a small cabin on a fresh water lake in Rhode Island (where I was born and raised). It was small, with 2 bedrooms, a small living room, very rustic. But the lake was the big draw. Every Sunday after church, Mom and dad would pack up the cooler with food, and our family of 6 would make the 40 minute drive to our lake cabin on Boatish Lake. It was actually owned by one of my aunts but she welcomed guests anytime so we thought of it as ours!!! We called it “camp”. Swimming, fishing, hiking, blueberry picking (oh I can smell that fresh blueberry cake my mom would make us from the ones we picked!) – volleyball tournaments, lawn darts, campfires……it was such a simple time but we felt lucky to have such a pretty place to visit. Family is everything – it still is. Sadly that little cabin is gone now but it lives in my memories and in pictures.

    Thank you for sharing all the pictures with us!

  11. This was so nice to read and makes us wish for days like that in this faster paced world. Maybe this cabin & garden is the reason your Dad loves to garden. It sounds like your family has had fresh grown produce all of your lives and that sounds great!

  12. Oh my goodness what an awesome post….. reminds me so much of my family…. as in extended wonderful memories with cousins… Blackberry picking.. watching my grandmother “tend” to her beloved cows…aunts and uncles setting the table with the most amazing food ever eaten (from Scratch.. lolol) ….. family reunions on my grandmothers little farm in south GA……I cherish allll those memories !!! I have been to “Unto These Hills” and loved that drama!! Such an amazing piece of history …. This post made me smile.. laugh and even shed a few “happy” tears!! We too have years and years of mountain memories… I soooo love that area… we normally stay over in the Townsend Tn. area … but Franklin has always been a beautiful part of our mountain drives !!! Thank you Rhoda for sharing ……………………………………..

  13. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Rhoda, thanks for sharing your childhood memories with us! Such a beautiful post! I, too, often look back on the many blessings I had growing up with such precious parents and family. These were such wonderful days and how I treasure those precious memories!

    What a wonderful opportunity for you to go back and see all those wonderful “family” homes of a more gentler life! You were truly blessed with such precious parents and your dear sister. Memories are wonderful and become more precious as the days go by.

    Enjoy those precious memories! Have a blessed week, Rhoda!

  14. Nancy Wheeler says:

    Rhoda, that was such a fun day. I can’t tell you how much my daughter Brooke, and grand daughter Belle enjoyed the afternoon!! It was so good to see everyone. I don’t think any of us girls had seen each other since Uncle Clarence’s funeral. Any time y’all are coming close, please call. Would love a repeat!!! ❤️

  15. Rhoda, your post reminded me so much of my family in South Georgia! Some of my most treasured times are those summers I spent with my cousins! My family is very close like yours! Thanks for sharing your memories and your trip with us! Makes my heart just a bit nostalgic tonight!

  16. Wonderful memories, Rhoda!!! My husband and I love North Carolina. We had a mountain home in Hayesville, but now we go to Pinehurst a couple of times a year.
    On another note, my maiden name was Blount, but we lived in Georgia and I didn’t know of any Florida Blount relatives.

    • Hey, Angela, that’s so fun! My parents have a mountain house near Hayesville they are trying to sell now. You’re the Angela I know here in Marietta, I think? And we might have talked about the Blount connection.

    • Yes, I’m Rachel’s friend, and I thought we had discussed this before. Love your blog😊

  17. Paula Taylor says:

    What beautiful memories!! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story!

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