ALICE COBB STORIES “Trouble and Satisfaction in Notes November 1927”

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel
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ALICE COBB STORIES “Trouble and Satisfaction in Notes November 1927″

TAGS: Alice Cobb Stories “Trouble and Satisfaction in Notes November 1927”; Big Black Mountain; cattle; herding; snow; weather; mountain family; cabins; hospitality; foodways; spinsters; honey; ginseng; income; economics; Dutch ovens; troubles; satisfaction;

This story was collected by Alice Cobb, PMSS secretary, fundraiser and teacher (1932-1952), and later PMSS trustee. The following appeared in PMSS Notes of November 1927, vol. 11, no. 8.


[The taxi driver, as he brings two workers over a newly opened road on Big Black Mountain,
tells a tale of his boyhood in the mountains.}

ONE TIME when I was just a lad, a man over in Virginia come along and asked me and another boy to help him go and take some cows across Black Mountain to his mother. Hit was November and about noon, and after a little snack to eat we started off. When we come to the top of the mountain we found snow, though we hadn’t seen none that year down below, and hit was hard going. We missed the trail and went right through the woods and we kept on a-goin’ down the mountain, right down that branch we passed back there, till along about one in the morning we begun to see a light a-glimmerin’ way down below. When we come nearer, we see that hit shined through the chinks of an old house, and hit was fire-light. Hit looked mighty good to us boys! We had started when the day was warm and hadn’t no coats over our shirts. We had sweated and then froze, and we was awful cold.

When we come to the cabin, the man pecked on the door and a woman inside says, “Who’s that?” “Hit’s me.” “Is hit you, John “Yes, hit’s me.” Then she come and opened the door a crack and looked out, and we could see that good fire on the hearth, but we had to just look at hit while her and John talked more. He says, “Well, Maw, I’ve been fixin’ to come for a long time, but my baby died and we had to bury hit.” “Didn’t know you had ary baby,” said his mother, and then she said, “But that ain’t nothin’; we buried your brother Rufe today.” And all he says was, “Humph!”

Well, finally John says, “We’d like mighty well to warm by the fire, Maw,” so at last we got to come in, and the old woman she says, “They’s some corn licker behind the chimney,” but John says, “Fix us some supper, Maw.” “Well,” she says, “We haint got nothing left to eat, they’s been so much company today, with the burying and all.” But John he insisted, so she called the two girls from the back room — great, long footed gals they was, old maids — all of twenty. They fixed the supper. And I want to tell you what all we had to eat. There was a ham that hadn’t hardly been cut into, and biscuits as big as your fist-es, baked in a Dutch oven, and they was a platter of slabs of honey, every one of them weighing as much as five pounds!

Then we went to bed. I guess them gals had to sleep before the fire the rest of the night, for they gave us the bed in the back room. I can remember now how the feather mattress was so high, you had to climb into hit with a ladder. Yes. folks lived well then, when they could hunt, and had plenty of land. But they’d made six thousand dollars gathering sang (ginseng) and the old man was off at the very time, buying a farm in Tennessee. The old woman talked about moving. She says, “They say down there on that farm hit’s level, you can see a man clear from one end of the land to the other. I’Il be mighty sorry to leave these grand old mountains, though I haint never seed nothing but trouble and satisfaction all my life. Trouble and satisfaction —that ‘s all there is to livin.'”


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