Usually I keep all the book reviews over at my other blog but this particular book is part of the whole Moonshine Capitol of the World Appalachian folklife culture.
Written by Frank B. Rowlett, Jr., Say...Have I Told You? just summons up all my memories of my granddaddy and the little store at the foot of Wilburn Valley, over in Giles County. It was smaller than my livingroom and had a cast iron potbelly stove sitting on a wooden floor. I used to jump at the chance to ride down there with Granddaddy to get a loaf of white bread or a gallon of store milk.
My favorite part of each trip was seeing all the familiar faces of the other farmers in the valley, and listening to their stories while I drank my Coca-Cola, straight out of the floor cooler.
See, telling stories is a huge part of being Appalachian (it comes from being Scots or Scots-Irish I think). This book is full of those stories, so many of which are being lost, on account of today's children have television and computers to entertain them every waking minute.
"Taletelling or yarn-spinning as it was known in the mountains, is fast becoming a lost art. This is true because most of the country stores and gristmills no longer exist. These two places in the rural setting of yesteryear were the favorite places of the mountaineers as they gathered to swap yarns, to horse trade, perhaps to sip a little moonshine, and to try and solve the world's problems on their own terms.
From the author:
"The mountaineers...are a people whom it is a joy to be around. They are warm and friendly, and when one really gets to know them one finds that they are full of interesting stories and anecdotes and a part of the joy in their acquaintanceship is hearing them tell favorite stories in their own particular way."
Reading this book really brings back my memories of my granddad, Charlie Hodge - his overalls, the sweet smell of his cigarettes, the everpresent plug of tobacco, his weathered hand holding out that ice-cold Coca-Cola, and most of all his stories about running moonshine, working for the CCC, or traveling his mountains by horse and buggy.
I really miss his generation.
Say....Have I Told You?, by Frank B. Rowlett, Jr., 1975, First Edition with dust jacket.
Offered for sale by Chewybooks as of July 9,2010.