The man you see in the picture is Ted Hicks, son of Ray Hicks, who was considered the last of the old time story tellers. The other picture is the view from his back porch. I had the pleasure of meeting Ted when we lived in the “High Country” near Boone, NC, and I worked for the public transportation system for Watauga County, NC.
On my frequent trips to pick up Ted and carry him to the doctor’s, he fascinated me with the old stories his dad taught him over the years before he died; stories of the mountain people who lived in this region and the old time “Jack Tales”. He told me how his dad and his mother taught him how to look for certain herbs and plants, and how to use them, how to hunt, how to survive the harsh winters, how to plant gardens on those steep slopes, what would grow, and what would not. He spoke with that old mountain brogue which took me some time to understand, but when I finally mastered the language, I was even more fascinated with the stories.
At the time these pictures were taken, Ted lived with his mother in the house you see, which is high up on Beach Mountain. This is also where he was born. They heated and cooked with wood, and only got indoor plumbing a few years prior to this photo. Life on these mountains is tough, and the winters are even harder.
Ted told the following story which you would think was right out of a survival book. One winter day when he was just a young boy, he and his two sisters and brother were in the old one room school house, when the winter snow which had begun early that morning, turned into a blizzard. The snow was accumulating at a frightening pace, the temperature was dropping, and the winds were howling. Since most of the children lived several miles from the school house, and all walked to and from school, the teacher let the children out early and told them to go straight home.
Their dad had always told them, “If you get caught out in one of them “howlers”, stay on the road as best as you can and look for the tops of the fence post to guide you. Don’t take any shortcuts, even though it might be a shorter distance.”
Ted said, “Well, I thought I knew these mountains pretty good, and the snow was almost to the top of some of the posts, so I told my brothers and sisters to follow me, I knew a better way.” He said they told me, “You know what Paw told us, follow the fence post, we aint going with you.”
Ted said, “I bet I’ll beat you home,” and off he went by himself. After an hour, Ted said everything looked the same, the snow was 4-5 feet in places, he didn’t recognize any landmarks, it was really cold, the wind had increased, and he was lost. Ted told me, about this time he was thinking, “I sure wish I had done what Paw told me to do.”
Well, the story did have a happy ending, as he was very close to his Grandparents’ cabin, and he smelled the smoke from the chimney, he said he struggled to get there, and arrived on their doorsteps half frozen. Ted said “God was a looking out for me that night.”
He spent the night with them, and most of the next day. His Granddad took him home the next evening after the storm had quit. He said, “I expected my Paw to get his switch and give me a good spanking, but he guessed they was so glad to see me alive, my adventure was lesson enough.” Ted said there have been many storms since then, and, “I always look for them fence posts.”
As I got to know Ted and his family, I fell in love with them and their simplistic life style, and most of all the tenderness of their hearts. They would do almost anything to help you if they could. I realize now that they were “preppers” by many of our definitions, but they would not have called it that. I think they would say that they had to have food stored in the root cellar if they wanted to eat during the long winters.
They would have to have the firewood cut and stored, and stove wood cut all the time. The kids listened to the stories their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles told around the fireplace in the evenings and learned how to live and survive in those hard mountains. Ted told me those were some of his favorite times growing up, and in many cases, where he learned so much.
The point is, we all have a natural resource available to us as “preppers”, that being the knowledge of our elders, and maybe just a friend who has a skill that is needed.
Unfortunately, most people in today’s culture do not want to take the time to sit and listen to those with this wealth of knowledge. They would rather watch something on YouTube, or Google a subject on the internet. These can be excellent resources, but you really need to do your research to trust some of the information you get. Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying, much of the modern technology is great, and makes our lives much easier.
However with that said, what happens when we don’t have our smart phone or iPad due to a natural disaster such as the recent hurricane that hit the East Coast and North Eastern section of our country?
Many of you reading this article have the type of knowledge I am talking about. I believe one of our greatest challenges as “Seasoned Preppers” is to find out how to give this knowledge to the younger generations. We are so close to losing so much knowledge about our heritage and our history that it is scary. Have you looked at some of the new history books our children are being taught these days?
On a personal note, I found out rather quickly that if I wanted to talk, I should say communicate, to our children, and especially our grandchildren, I had to learn to text message. That was, and still is a challenge for me. But at least we had some good family talk time as most of our children and grandchildren were home for the holidays.
Wow J100, What WISDOM! Being from the North Country I have heard many stories from the “old folks” who walked uphill both too and from the old one room schools (hill country you know)sometimes up to six miles one way (rich kids had an old horse or pony)and they too talked about blizzards and the hazards of getting caught in one!
We have a lot of Amish around here and the kids use ponies or old horses, and they even have a horse drawn “bus”/wagon to pickup kids and drop them off.
Fence posts above the snow is how I have navigated home myself sometimes!
I buy used books on American History – books that have been around a long time – books that haven’t been “revised” (revisionist history). They’re part of my “prepping”, for when we have to do all of our own teaching, and we want our kids to have a better picture of the REAL history of our nation.
I have also bought books on both past and current leadership, what they are doing, and how it has affected our nation. I want them to know how we got where we are (politics).
I also keep “family records”, such as evidence that there are two Native American tribes in our lineage, and that a forefather was an officer in the Continental Army. Our “kids” are adults now; perhaps someday they will have children of their own to teach well, who knows?
And since we’re talking about the lost art of “storytelling”, why not revive it? Hone those skills now, and you may just be the most popular person around, in time!
Learning to speak their “language” (texting) is a good thing, in the end analysis, but it would also be good to occasionally simply TURN OFF all electronic communication, maybe even turn off lights, and have a meal by oil lamp or candlelight, no distractions…and just revert to that time-tested family-building communication form: talking and listening. Now, there’s a thought! We may soon see a day when this is the “norm”, so, the fewer big changes when SHTF, the better. Practice, practice, practice!
Great article! It reminded me allot of the Foxfire Book series that were written to preserve much of the backwoods wisdoms before they are lost forever. If there is interest here, the books would be worth a read too!
Thanks for your comment
Talking is always a good thing – husbands and wives, parents and children, neighbors and friends. People just don’t talk as much as they should about things that are important. Too many people today think that the lives of Snooky, Snook Dawg, and The Kardashians are more important. Too many people count their Facebook friends as real relationships. What a shame.
I totally agree, McKYPrepper!
We all have to deal with “generation gaps” with kids and grandkids. We are also dealing with an extreme version of “written vs. oral tradition”, since the internet became so ubiquitous. I’m guilty of this myself. There are still people in Greece and Turkey who can sing the entire Iliad and Odyssey in Homeric Greek, and never read a word of it, just listened to their elders. I still have to check Google just to be totally sure I’m not undercooking a roast chicken. (This may have something to do with a quote from one of my ‘heroes’ – Albert Einstein – ‘never bother to memorize anything you can easily look up” – he supposedly never did remember his own phone number..)
My only addition to John’s excellent ideas would be to take them outside and show them how to do what you know. Lighting fires, pitching tents, campfire cooking, gardening – whatever your own skills are. Tell them stories. Feel free to embellish a bit, if needed. The “naughtier” the story, the more likely they are to remember it.
I can’t swear that I remember all my parents’ “Depression Stories” (my parents were ‘grandparent age” when I was born), but the “Don’t tell your Mom, but back when we were smuggling liquor out of Canada…” ones are still there 40 years later.
Gotta keep the young’uns interested. :)
Bev- Sounds like you have been in some of those “howlers”. We have a new Amish community in our county and I noticed a sign in front of one of the farms that they have a leather shop which I will be visiting very soon.
Oh, my goodness! I am SOOO jealous! ;) I wanna go! I wanna go!
Servantheart- I really like your idea of buying old and current history books. You know, there may be two kinds of math: new math and old math,But history is history period.Our family has started a family tree, I have already found out things I never knew. You are so right when it comes to communicating. It does take PRACTICE.
Right on every count, J100!
John from Iowa- I totally agree, the Foxfire books are great.
Mckyprepper- Good observation about Facebook. I may be wrong, and if I step on any one’s toes, I am sorry, but I think Facebook is all about the person whose Facebook page you are reading and posting to their page. We are becoming a society of it’s all about me! I’ll stop ranting now.
I do not think you are wrong on this, J100. I agree. It’s also very dangerous because, IMHO, the majority of people using it don’t really know “how” to use it; oh, yes, they know the basics, but, they don’t know that by “linking up” with you, and not protecting their own account, they are feeding information about YOU to everybody who is linked to them, because they have not set up their account to not share it. That, and what’s being stored and shared with the powers that be, the fact that both present and prospective employers, lenders, etc., are mining it for information about you….privacy is non-existent if you are using facebook, pinterest, etc., — these alone should keep all preppers OFF all of them, IMHO.
I agree 100% about Facebook being dangerous. It seems that those who use Facebook and Twitter brag about the number of followers they have.
Wyzyrd- Sounds like some of my scouting days. Some of my fondest memories were sitting around the campfire and listening to our Scout Master’s stories.
Speaking of facebook, if you’re still on it, look what will be shared about YOU, and what you can mind about others, NOW:
MENLO PARK, CALIF. — If you’ve ever wanted to know the most popular TV shows among your Facebook friends who are doctors, or wanted to see all the photos any of your friends have taken in Paris, the world’s biggest online social network has the answer.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new search feature on Tuesday in Facebook’s first staged event at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters since its May initial public offering.
Called “graph search,” the new service lets users search their social connections for information about people, interests, photos and places. Until now, Facebook users were unable to search for friends who live in a certain town or like a particular movie. With the new feature, people can search for friends who, say, live in Boston who also like “Zero Dark Thirty”.
Zuckerberg says the search feature is “privacy aware.” That means users can only search for content that has been shared with them.
Zuckerberg had hinted last fall that a search feature was in the works.
TRANSLATION: More of that personal information they’ve been storing is being released.
I meant, “mine”, and not “mind”, but it all comes out in the wash! ;)
The :Devil: is in the details. Along similar lines, Craigslist never destroys your personal information when you place an item for sale on their site. They don’t say what they do with it, but they do say they keep it.
LOL on that image! I did not know that about craigslist…but, then, I don’t use them, either!
Big internet corporations like Facebook, etc. are businesses – they are selling some product to make a profit, and the bottom-line is all that matters, unlike “the good old internet days” and smaller-scale labors of love like SCP. ( I don’t think we need to worry that the huge multinational corporation, RoarkeCorp, will buying the nation of Belize as a winter home, any time soon :) )
If you are getting an expensive-to-run “service” for free ( I GUESS Facebook and Twitter could be considered “services” – fairly useless ones IMHO, but services nonetheless..), then, guess what? YOU are the product that is getting sold to somebody else.
I don’t know…I’d kind of like to see Rourke have enough $$$ to buy his own private island, or nation, or, whatever…he would then need TRUSTWORTHY people to help him run it and DEFEND it…just sayin’… I’m available! I can cook…and grow stuff…and shoot sumpin’, if I must..and…and…”I can bring home the bacon…fry it up in a pan…oh, heck! Who brings it home when it’s already there? It’s hog processin’ time, me thinks!
I like that idea!
Sign me up!
The bottom line on any of those sites is that you can participate by using them, or not, it’s your choice. (at least for the time being) Whether there is privacy or not is a moot point, because there is none on the web.
My personal experience with Facebook is that my Stepson was murdered due to a comment that was posted on Facebook by his Stepdaughter. There are risks in any of the social sites, in privacy, and how your data is used. It’s part of the total thing about the web.
With that in mind, each person must decide for themselves what they want to use, or participate in. The web is a fantastic thing, but like most things, it also has it’s dark side too.
Hey! I’m all for the island thing though! : )
John from Iowa- I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine! Everyone on Facebook needs to read about your story.
My heart goes out to you and your family, John from Iowa. I am so sorry.
This happened last year, and is a story of how something like posting on Facebook can go very badly.
The Stepdaughter posted a derogatory comment about her Cousin (My Stepson’s Nephew), and he had lived with the family in the past for a couple of years. He was of course offended by the comment, and came to the house to kick some butt! My Stepson intervened to protect his Stepdaughter, and got stabbed three times with a screwdriver.
To die because of a foolish post on a social website is a senseless tragedy that will affect his children the rest of their lives. Social networking is not harmless, as this is not the first time something like this has happened as a result of a thoughtless post on a social network.
Makes me remember traveling to Ft Campbell Kentucky from East Central Illinois in January of 1962 during a howling blizzard that started after we left. Before we left Indiana, it was down to navigating by the tops of the fenceposts along the right of way. Often wondered who else had their hand on the wheel that long long night until we finally pulled out of the snow just before we reached the place we had arranged to live in near Oak Grove Kentucky.
I think your poor ol’ Guardian Angel must be plum worn out, Harold! (It’s ok, y’all – H doesn’t mind me pickin’ on him a bit, do you, H? H? ;)
Count me in on Rourke’s Island! Bev :)
Hey! This is starting to sound like a new TV series! ‘Rourke’s Island’ It kinda has a ring to it! (heh…heh)
Looks like it’s up to Rourke now?
O.K., but, I refuse to be the short guy who runs around hollerin’, “da’plane! da’plane!Da’ plane, boss!”!!!! :Girl-Teasing:
Just so you guys know, at J100s request, Rourke put Emoticons at the very bottom of the comment box for us to play with! AND if you click on the Zaazu.com you can find a lot more!
Oh, boy! Thanks, Rourke! :Cool: