Conley Cheek, who passed away in August 2009, was like a grandfather to all of us in Fleetwood of Ashe County. A decorated war hero, he was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. When he married, his wife had a log cabin built by her great-grandfather. He numbered the logs, took them apart piece by piece and moved them to their property here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"Back when I was a boy," he said one time, "everyone had a patch of land and raised buckwheat. The Hartzogs owned a gristmill and the '40 flood took it. Over yonder on the South Fork they buried that apple tree in pine-sap, and those timber cutters let trees fall on it. So I went over there with a chainsaw and cut them away so it could grow. In winter the gobblers go off together, and the hens roost in these river chestnuts."