Saturday, April 30, 2005

Freight Train Blues

I was born in Dixie in a boomer shack
Just a little shanty by the railroad track
Freight train was it taught me how to cry
Hummin' of the driver was my lullaby
I got the freight train blues
Oh Lord mama, I got them in the bottom of my ramblin' shoes
And when the whistle blows I gotta go
Well, it looks like I'm never gonna lose the freight train blues
Well my daddy was a fireman and my old ma here,
She was the only daughter of an engineer
My sweetheart loved a brakeman and it ain't no joke
It's a shame the way she keeps a good man broke
Well, the only thing that makes me laugh again
Is a southbound whistle on a southbound train
Every place I wanna go
I can never go, because you know
I got the freight train blues
(Dylan/Lair) 1962

Huddleston, VA. Named after oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers. He started Old Virginia Railway in 1907. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), a close friend helped dedicate railroad.

Ralph's Last Stand.

Abandoned VW Bus by tracks.

Dead water snake lying by tracks.

Old Citizens Bank (Huddleston). Built in 1915. Sits at end of Whistlestop Way on Goose Creek.

Abandoned farmhouse facing tracks.

Old Virginian Railway is now home to Norfolk Southern. Above NS freighter #5575.

Freight Train Blues

There is something to be said about railroads and the blues. The cry of the lonesome whistle has come to symbolize man's never ending search for companionship. A search for meaning in life. Bob Dylan's haunting version of John Lair's ballad "Freight Train Blues" is not about loneliness but about seeking fulfillment, knowing that as long as the freight cars keep rolling we will never truly be satisfied...
Excerpt from "Huddleston trek uncovers railroad history and more." Published in the Smith Mountain Eagle (March 2005). To read complete story, go into archives at

Friday, March 18, 2005

SML Book Signing (General Store-Hardy)

Smith Mountain Lake is rich in so many ways. The 500 miles of shoreline so abundant with God's simple gifts. Ospreys and striped bass, lush rolling hills that look like watercolor paintings . It's wealth can also be measured by the growing number of people it inspires. The craftspeople, musicians, artists and writers. On Saturday March 12 six local authors converged at the General Store (an old-fashioned country store) to meet with neighbors and discuss their latest books. Most are working or retired educators who call the lake home. Many belong to the Lake Writers group that meets every second and fourth Friday of the month at the Moneta Public Library. All were either inspired or include the Smith Mountain area in their works.
Two newcomers joined the group: Shirlee McCoy drove in from Maryland with her first book , a inspirational suspense novel titled "Still Waters" and Franklin County schoolteacher Sharon Bailey made the short jump across the lake with another suspense book called "If I Should Die."
James Morrison, past president of the Virginia Writer's Club, was on hand with local best -selling history book "Bedford Goes To War" and Jeffrey A. Bradshaw brought along his second book, a young adult mystery titled "Lake Letters. Also joining the group was Sally Roseveare, an up and coming novelist with a lot of promise who chatted with new fans about her labor of love, a first novel "Secrets At Spawning Run .
The group was rounded out by Becky Mushko (aka Ida B. Peevish) a popular local writer and part-time college instructor who had several books to plug. A collection of short stories "The Girl Who Race Miles and other stories" and "Peevish Advise," based on her bi-weekly advise column for the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper .
If in the area the mentioned books and others can be found at assorted gift shops are go online and check Amazon or the author's website or publisher for availability. E-mail me if any problems.

(check out story in Smith Mountain Eagle March 16 edition or go online to

Sharon Bailey (end of table)

Shirlee McCoy

James Morrison and Jeffrey Bradshaw

Book Signing 03/12/05

Ida B. Peevish

General Store signing

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Witcher Creek (Huddleston) Smith Mountain


Tarheel Fan

One-eyed Jack

Shoveling Snow (Hendricks Store Rd.)

Snowman (Virginia Woods Dr. Moneta)

Lady and Cat (Diamond Hill Rd. Moneta)

Hippie Girl

Franklin County Jail

Snow People

We finally received the " big one." Well maybe that's an exaggeration. It was a nice snow. Being it 's March it will probably be the largest of the year 2005. A mild winter snow wise. Perfect for making snow people though. I found my first one leaving the Franklin County Courthouse. He resembled a school crossing guard or VDOT worker. He was crafted by some trustees from the Franklin County jail. Not much to look at but made with love. Yes criminals have feelings too. I scoured the countrysides from Burnt Chimney to Glade Hill, Goodview to Huddleston and finally back to my home turf in Moneta. Looking for the one's who brought me joy. There's something magical about the snow people. Like a butterfly they are sent by God for our enjoyment... even if it's only for a few days.
(Smith Mountain Eagle March 9, 2005)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Virginia Dare Marina-Moneta, VA

Friday, February 18, 2005

alone on a country road

(click to enlarge)

Country Church

Pond #2



Stone Mountain

January 2005 is coming to a close and the first snow of the year finally arrives at Smith Mountain Lake. It is early morning and I fire up "Bertha, " my faithful Jeep Wagoneer and together we go in search for something...not knowing what. The inner child in me wants to play. But the spirit needs something more substantial. A inspiring drive over Stone Mountain in Huddleston provided direction and much needed comfort. Not knowing the mountain I was afraid of what I might face around each bend...much like life. Nervous, yet excited . Sort of like a first date, but this date was with destiny.
My journey produced a new friend and greater respect for the beauty that surrounds us. Things we take for granted. It also produced a quick poem that was finished after a few stops to jot down lines and snap a few photos.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Strawberry Banks #7

Strawberry Banks #6

Strawberry Banks #5

Strawberry Banks #4

Strawberry Banks #3

Strawberry Banks #2

Strawberry Banks #1

Strawberry Banks Campground

Strawberry Banks holds a special place in my heart. It was a summer retreat for my family back in the late 60's and early 70's. The lake was new, virtually untouched by the hands of water lovers . You could take a Jon boat out safely and catch crappie until your arms or the fish grew tired . Most coves were uncharted and you had to be careful in some areas because of underwater debris. The dammed waters covering homes, barns, bridges, large bull pines and whatever else was in its way. Night fishing was done only by locals who knew the waters.
The weekends consisted of cookouts, Saturday night square dances or just sitting by a campfire with other families. Some from as far away as North Carolina, all friends who shared a common love for this new man-made wonder. The same families returning year after year. Life was simple. There were no Airstream trailers or speedboats, just tents, pop- ups and if you had a little money, maybe a nice ski boat or a small Shasta trailer. A canoe the boat of choice.
Unfortunately, the years as well as real estate development took its toll on these special places. The family camping trip became passe. Families began vacationing at popular beach resorts. Soon campgrounds would become nostalgic like drive-in movies, curbside service restaurants and duck pin bowling.
By chance in December of 2004 I searched and found Strawberry Banks . It was hidden by new homes and subdivisions. It was a little weary due to old age, but nevertheless a stubborn soul not willing to compromise. A diamond in the rough. How it survived through the years is beyond me. Almost as if it were in God's plan. One step on its red clay soil and I felt like a child again.
(Complete story in the Smith Mountain Eagle Feb. 16, 2005 edition)

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sunrise at Bridgewater Plaza 1/31/05

The Bridge


Seagulls on boat slips Posted by Hello