Saluda News & Notations: Raising memories from an old rock well

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, April 20, 2017

“As a child, they could not keep me from wells

And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.

I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.”

~ Seamus Heaney, excerpt from for Michael Longley, Personal Helicon

Old hand-dug rock wells have always had a fascination for me: both the frightening thought that the bottom is dark and unknown, the far-away splash of a rock dropped in, the cold-clear water trundling up in a zinc-metal well-bucket, rolling up from the hidden reaches deep from earth and rock.

There’s a sense of danger, a sense of mysterious depths, a morbid curiosity to lean over to catch a possible reflection in uncharted depths, heady with moistness and secrets far down. My Grandma’s old farmhouse had a quartz-rock well, dug in the 1920s by strong-backed men with a mule to haul the rocks from Twelve Mile Creek and red clay fields, combined with bravery to descend into a dark airless pit with pick-axe and shovel.

It was a deep well: covered with a stout wood cover and well house roof. On her screened-in back porch, Grandma kept a long metal dipper hanging from a rusty nail. You drank long and deep from the dipper, the combination of cool metal and water against your lips. We’d lower glass bottle RC Colas in the bucket on a summer day for cooling, sometimes one would disappear. A well monster that liked RC?

That well is filled in now, just a memory now buried in countless oceans of two-story houses with manicured yards and paved streets, each mailbox the same as another. No one has an old rock well, no metal dippers hang from a back porch nail. Sometimes when spring drizzle hits dry earth, the long-ago scent of moss and rain rises, as if the bucket was once again emerging from dark depths below into light again.

~ ~ ~

Saluda Welcome Table is at Saluda Methodist Church every Tuesday from 5:30-6:45 p.m. Everyone is invited. 

Saluda Train Tales featuring Terry Ruscin is April 21, 7 p.m. at Saluda Historic Depot.

At Saluda Center, there’s a community potluck/bingo on April 24, 6 p.m. Bring a favorite dish to share.

Learn more about Saluda Community Land Trust (SCLT) by visiting or calling 828-749-1560. SCLT’s annual meeting will on April 26, 6 p.m. at Saluda Center; come hear what SCLT’s been doing as well as updates for future plans! All welcome, food and drink will be served.

Saluda School is collecting plastic bottle caps of all sizes and colors for an art mural. The first grade classes distributed bottle cap collection containers in various businesses downtown. Please donate bottle caps in the containers or bring to the school office.

Get your tote bags ready: Saluda Tail Gate Market re-opens for the growing season May 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m. each Friday, May through October.

Historic Saluda committee will have a tour of homes on Shand Hill, plus other historical buildings. Save the date for June 3 and visit for more information.

Saluda get well wishes continue for Emma Jean McGraw, Ruth Anderson and Mary Ann Asbill.

Happy April Birthday to: Martha Ashley, Melody Gibson, Dave Prudhomme, Kaye Vazquez, Cindy Keeter, Betty Anna Brown, Hope Pace, Diane Pace, Ruth Anderson, Greaton Sellers, Clay Arrington, Bonnie Bardos, Luther Connor, Gary Pace, Dee Owen, Doug Honeycutt, Niece Lundgren, Julie Roy, Tommy Williamson, and Rhonda Corley. Please add your birthday to the list; no ages mentioned unless you’re under 2 or over 100!

Thank you, dear readers, for reading this column. You can contact me at, 828-749-1153, or