Author Archives: John Idol

John Idol grew up in the Blue Ridge, attended Appalachian State University, served as an electronics technician in the United States Air Force, and took his advanced degrees in English at the University of Arkansas. He spent most of his years as a teacher at Clemson University, and held positions as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society (for which he served as editor of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review), and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. His books include studies of Wolfe, Hawthorne, and a family history, Blue Ridge Heritage. In retirement in Hillsborough, North Carolina, he takes delight in raising daffodils and ferns, and in promoting libraries. Idol hopes one day to awake to find that all parasitic deer and squirrels have wandered off with Dr. Doolittle. Author Photo: Lindsay K. Apple

The Late Doc Watson of The Great Blue Ridge

“During the intermission, I took advantage of an opportunity to talk with Doc after the ones wanting to say hello and take snapshots had cleared out. We chatted briefly about our ancestry in common, the Greene family, and then, turning serious, Doc said, ‘I’m really concerned how people have lost respect for what other people […]

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Gardening Alone

“We left our Frederick-Law-Olmsted-inspired paths winding among my fern garden to move to a retirement village in Burlington. Gardening space was provided, an ungenerous plot some 10 by 12 feet, on clay soil that could have been shaped into brick or slabs for sidewalks. After one season of hard, unproductive work, I headed to Lowe’s […]

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Shuffling, Stumbling & Falling: Battling Neuropathy

Out to Pastoral By John Idol BURLINGTON North Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—2/25/2013—It is now with a sardonic half-laugh that I channel Tim Conway imitating the walk of an old man, a butcher, doctor, sheriff or some other codger in one of his skits with an exasperated Harvey Korman [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQqXESf5wJc]. For much of the day I now shuffle […]

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Continuing Tales from North Carolina’s Great Blue Ridge Mountains

“A few of the older students transformed one of our favorite games, Fox and Hounds, into Get the Democrats. The game didn’t bear that name, but its object was to chase, catch, and then pound on or kick the son of a Democrat. The Idol, Wellborn, Moretz, and Hardin boys were sons of Yellow Dog […]

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More Boyhood Tales from The Great Blue Ridge Mountains

“As done in my early years, harvesting hay meant labor intensive work, especially when time came to stack it. Our haying methods could have provided some 20th century artist a scene almost exactly like that painted by Pieter Brueghel in 16th century Flanders, the exception being the use of a mowing machine and a hay […]

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Of Cabbages, Beans & Spuds

“The back-breaking and knee-dirtying job of picking them brought pay in the amount picked, something in the range of 50 to 75 cents a bushel. A full day in the field for me usually put only $2.25 in my pocket. Annie and the Greer girls did considerably better, earning up to $5.00. Myrtie made something […]

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Celebrating a 40-Year Hiatus from the Evil Weed: Tobacco

“Alone in my basement study, since my wife had ordered me not to befoul the house with puffs from my pipe, I took a long draw on my favorite pipe four decades ago and then put it aside, never to pick it up again. It joined a row of other pipes, corncob to Meerschaum (in […]

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Farming Alongside US 421

“I knew firsthand what it was like to get out on US 421 in a farm wagon. When Rufus and Lane ran short of corn meal or chop for the livestock, Rufus hitched a team of horses to his wagon and then hoisted bags of shelled corn onto the wagon, often stopping by Lane’s to […]

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Listening to Doc Watson for the Last Time

“During the intermission, I took advantage of an opportunity to talk with Doc after the ones wanting to say hello and take snapshots had cleared out. We chatted briefly about our ancestry in common, the Greene family, and then, turning serious, Doc said, “I’m really concerned how people have lost respect for what other people […]

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Myrtie

“Breakfast fare was always far better. Myrtie had a knack for baking crisp biscuits, perhaps because she used a generous portion of lard. They came from her oven hot, tough, and tasty, something I could get my teeth into, something that went well with thick gravy enriched by crumbled sausage, something that made a perfect […]

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