Mommy and Earn
My grandparents and dad were from Murphy but moved to Gastonia to work in the cotton mills. My parents lived with them when I was born, and my grandmother babysat while everyone worked.
They had a cow, a garden and hogs, so I was raised understanding farms. After work, my grandfather would hold me on his lap in his old rocking chair beside the pot-bellied coal heater and tell me stories. He put potatoes in the hot coals to bake and put candy bars in the freezer where they stored the vegetables and meat. I thought that he was the most amazing man in the world.
When my grandfather retired, they moved back to Murphy to a small farm. I had two brothers by that time, and we made many trips around the mountain roads to see Mommy and Earn, as we called them. My dad would help plow with a mule and haul wood off the mountain. Mom would help make jelly, kraut, butter and prepare vegetables for canning or freezing. When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, they moved back to Gastonia to live with my parents until they died.
Interstate 40 makes the trip much shorter now but not as colorful as the trip through Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, Cherokee and Chimney Rock. I have cousins who are still there. and a part of me will always remember and love that area.