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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at www.clsnet.org if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Uncle Jess Nease, Lee Smith's Dimestore and Marble cake

      My friend Lynn Arve of Upstate South Carolina doesn't see her name in print as much as Penny Cooper and Karen Ellers and I do so want to mention her at the outset as she is anxiously awaiting this blog.

   Weekend of May 22 on Ga NPR's Two Way Street I heard a grand interview of Lee Smith re her new memoir Dimestore. Was already aware of Smith as the author of the tantalizing scene in Oral History, and the snake Handling novel Saving Grace which is set good bit of the story in Newport Tn where I was born. She is the wife of Hal Crowther, himself a fan of Marshall Frady; and Lee as she said Sunday is great fan of my friend Ron Rash so she runs with the right crowd. And she has a great story in this charming new book about Eudora Welty as well as Lou Crabtree so I'm all in.

    Her story about Eudora Welty covers Welty's short story The Worn Path and Marble Cakes. I'll let you read the book for context but hope Smith's eyes find this tale of mine about one of Newport's finest Uncle Jess Nease, of the Bethel Baptist Church community and Parrotsville.

    Wayne Whiteside once met Jess Nease so that was one great moment in American History right there.

    But this is Uncle Jess Story.

    I guess he was born in the 1890s, never owned a car and walked more than a mile if somebody didn't pick him up across the hills of East Tennessee ever Sunday to get to church. He's one of the most memorable characters --and there were many including Aubrey Dickens and Sadie Kiser and a host--my Dad ever had in a congregation an otherwise anonymous Saint if there ever was one.

     My Dad visited him often after leaving Newport in 56 or so. I cant remember if he was still alive when we got to nearby Knoxville in the late 70s or not.

    But he always kept a caramel or marble cake under the bed. That was a high point of all dad's visits when Uncle Jess and the wife would offer some cake and then go under the bed.  Seems like they always had one.

    Marble cakes are central to Lee Smith's telling of the Eudora Welty visit to Hollins College in the 60s that changed the course of Smith's writing career.

     Ralph Stanley and Mother Maybelle Carter are in this book too. I've already recommended to Martha Barksdale as Im convinced she'll resonate with memories of Graves Hardware in Collinsville which made an impression on the life of my Uncle Bill Jordan. Great stories. Good read and hope many of you will google up the Two Way Street Interview, an education in itself.

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