Snakes, rocks and a road graded

Published 12:57 pm Friday, August 20, 2010

Working for the past nine years, Beauford Arledge, 84, gathered his memories into a book that only he could write, The Stories of the Green River Cove. With permission, the Tryon Daily Bulletin is sharing excerpts from the book with our readers over the next several weeks. If you would like to purchase a copy of Stories of the Green River Cove and read the entire book for yourself, call Arledges daughter, Susan Howell, at 894-3724 to order a copy.

A road graded

Last week (5/27/2005), I made a trip up in the Green River Cove. Hugh had told me of some work grading out a road. Uncle Isaac Arledge lived there last. Before the old house was torn down, we knew of most of the land owners in the cove and where their lines were.

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The North Carolina Wildlife Commission owns most of the land here now.

As I arrived at the river, I saw a truck and trailer parked alongside the road. A man was getting out of the truck and was looking up the hill. A road had been built to the top of the ridge, and a tractor pulling something behind was coming down the hill.

When I talked to the man, I learned that he worked for the Wildlife Commission out of Marion, N.C. He told me they had graded off about an acre and a half and were sowing grass for the wild life to feed on.

After coming back and trying to sleep over this, I decided I would need to go back and look this over. Some 65 years had passed, but in my mind I can see the old four room house with a loft, and a porch on the side. There was a walkway to the kitchen that was built away from the house.

I remember the well just outside the kitchen door, with a wooden top and a bucket and rope to wind around a log. Most of the water they used came from here. Of course, living on the river had some advantages a river of water, sometimes too much. If one wanted a good drink of water, the spring was about a quarter mile down the road. The smokehouse was just above the kitchen, with the stable and old log barn just beyond.

Standing here looking, I see that all the buildings are gone and the timber has been clear cut and set out in trees. All that is left is piles of tree tops and the road they have made going up the hill with a gate placed on it. Standing here at the gate and looking above the old house site, you can see a dead cedar tree standing on the point of the ridge.

Here is where Granddad Levi was buried along with two more of the Arledges. As a boy I remember walking up the road from school. Uncle Isaac had peach trees set out here, and did the peaches taste good.

My main reason for wanting to go up this road was to see if I could find a good way to make a walkway or trail to these graves. And also to see the spot that had been graded off. I believe at one time it was called the cotton patch.

I passed the gate and started up the hill and the lower end of the Green River Cove came into view. You could see just how high the hill above the river was. I guess it was some two to three hundred feet. The three ranges of mountains across the river were a real view to look at.

The Deep Gap where Sugarloaf and McCraw mountains join create a deep cut in the mountains. Some time or other I had been to most places here the river the rocks, the binds and the holes of water. I had been there many times, swimming, fishing and playing in the river. This was home for me in my early days, a view I will never forget.

The rock I saw

As I walked along, something caught my eyes an odd, long rock that looked to be the size of a baking potato. I picked it up and rubbed it off to make sure what it was. I had seen many river rocks, and how they had been worn slick by the water over the years. I should have carried it home and slipped it into the potato bin.

Looking around, I saw there were different size rocks, as you would find in a potato hill. These were white flint rocks, and there were larger ones lying around with the slick sides.

I had spent many hours standing on the river bank tossing rocks and hoping someday I would get one across. If they could have been baseballs, I might have made to the major leagues.

If these are river rocks, just how did they get here? The old people would remind you of the 1916 flood which they would never forget, but the water never reached this height. Some would say at one time water covered this area, with the rocks rolling around till they became slick.

In traveling this road to church I had been taught that God had made everything. By speaking, he made the mountains and placed trees on them, and he made valleys for the river to run down. He may have seen a need to make the rocks round and slick to take care of my feet from the sharp rocks for the days I spent walking over these hills bare-footed.

The road and snakes

As you traveled the sandy road where Uncle Isaac lived, the cow pasture was on one side and the river on the other. Many times I have walked this road barefooted.

In the summer time, when the sand was hot, it felt like it would blister your feet. Being young and with lots of energy, I would run from one shade spot to another. The trees along the road side and river helped a lot.

We used to think the marks in the sand that snakes left when crossing the road were made when they were going to and from the river to get water. I dont know if this was true or not.

I remember my Dad killing at least two rattlesnakes swimming the river. People believed you could tell the difference in the markings in the sand between a poisonous snake and a non-poisonous one. The black snake leaves a straight line, while the rattler would wobble and leave a wide mark.

You guess sometime we would catch him in the road. Many times these snakes would be in pairs and it was said that three days after killing one, his mate would be there hunting for him.