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A Brief Step Back in Time

My wife, a second-grade teacher, usually has her mind, even during her summer vacation, on school-related matters. Sometimes, that leads us on excursions to scout out sites of potential field trips for her classes. I usually go along for the ride, unless it somehow deals with history.

That’s what we were doing yesterday. For several years, she had heard about the Hagood Mill, a location that she thought might be a good field-trip venue for second graders–an example of a small mountain settlement, including restored log cabins, grist mill, a cotton gin, blacksmith shop, pottery shed, and even a moonshine still. It even sounded of interest to me. After all, my own ancestors came from such humble beginnings (minus the still, I hope) in the mountains of western North Carolina, and it’s always good to remember where you’ve come from.

“Since Saturday is your birthday,” I said to her, “I’ll even take you out for lunch at some quaint local eatery near the rustic village.”

My wife readily agreed, and off we went, camera in hand. Since it was hot and projected only to get hotter, we took water bottles. “Don’t forget a couple of power bars,” I called over my shoulder as I headed for the garage. She got the water; she hadn’t heard my comment about food, so we had none.

The village was out in the middle of nowhere, much farther out than I ever dreamed it might be. En route, we passed a couple of seedy-looking eateries, one calling itself a cafe, the other named a diner. “Keep them in mind,” I muttered, hoping that we would find something better farther down the road.

Arriving at the site, we entered the office and inquired about a tour. It was supposed to be a self-guided tour, the lady at the desk told us. We looked around the gift shop briefly. It didn’t take more than a brief glance to cover everything inside. Then I asked the lady what she could tell us about the site before we embarked on our self-guided tour. My eyes glazed over quickly as she mumbled about something or other. But then she mentioned something that caught my ear: petroglyphs.

“Would you like to see the petroglyph exhibit?” she asked. “I’ll show them to you if you’re interested.” She moved toward the door before we could reply. We followed dutifully.

Petroglyphs are drawings left carved on stones by ancient peoples. (In our area, that could have been Cherokees, but it might also have been some earlier peoples.) The meanings of the drawings are unknown. Were they mere artistic renderings? Were they messages of some sort? “Good place for hunting.” “Good place for medicinal plants.” “Dangerous place for poisonous snakes.” (That was my thought as I later wandered in and out of and around the various buildings! They and the nearby stream provided excellent hiding places on a hot day for the venomous, slithering creatures.) I watched my steps as much as I did the historic features of the place.

By the time we had finished, it was past my normal lunch time, and my stomach was letting me know it. We retraced our tracks, hunting for a place to eat. We hadn’t seen any but the two questionable-looking eateries on the way in. Both of them were by that time crowded to the gills with numerous construction crews. We chose to persevere and find something closer to home. We ended up dining at two other places we had long wanted to visit but hadn’t for lack of opportunity. Hunger has a way of creating the opportunity. We grabbed an Asian wrap and a Great American cheeseburger at

Now we know.

Copyright (c) 2018, Dennis L. Peterson

#writing #teachers #teaching #writers #History #education #heritage #Lessonslearned

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