An Uncommon Remembrance

Landscapes from Floyd County, Southwest Virginia by Fred First
From where I stood to take the picture of the store (posted yesterday) I could have reached behind me and touched this stone and bronze memorial. Placed by Clyne Angle’s wife, Myrtle, I wonder each time we pass this marker about the generations that have walked, driven wagons, ridden horses, and navigated Model T’s past the store that bears its last owner’s name.

I wonder, too, about legacies. The best most of us can hope for is a rank and file slab of granite far from where we spent our days. Here is a tribute in place, marking where the celebrated life was lived.

Click the image to read the inscription. How unpretentious and simple. How heartfelt.

What would your memorial say? And where would it be placed to show the center of your life’s work and joy?

Note: Visit Nameless Creek (Fragments Annex) today for the first of several pieces on Roscoe Willis’ Store on Goose Creek. This series is possible because of the kind contributions by several readers after yesterday’s post on Floyd County history. link


I feel the first stirrings out of hibernation after a long winter of oblivion to writing, speaking, thinking about Slow Road Home or whatever might come next.

I’ll have at least two events between now and the middle of April to make me think in concrete terms about the future of my writing and photography–two complementary passions I hope to bring together in new ways in the coming book year.

For both my events (in Wytheville VA and Birmingham AL) I will arrange for a digital projector to run a little pictorial preamble before my discussion about writing, Goose Creek, sense of place, and Slow Road Home.

I think if listeners can gain a visual context for the story, it will mean so much more to them. Do you agree?

And so, even if “whatever comes next” borrows heavily from SRH, it is a second step I think worth taking, plus of course adding some new material as well. Details very much TBA.

But the book year is about to bloom. What it took to make me realize this is the call I got yesterday requesting more books for my best public perveyor to Floyd visitors: Bell’s Studio and Garden on Main Street, just down from Oddfellas Cantina.

I am so proud to have my book on their checkout counter. If you come to town, be sure and stop by to see Billy Bell’s incredible photographic prints, JoAnne Bell’s glass creations, and other pieces representing local craftspeople. Plus, it’s just such a nice place to hang out and get a sense of the heart of Floyd.

Here’s David St. Lawrence’s account of the Bells’ fine establishment, written at the time of their opening–coincidentally taking place the same day in April that 1100 copies of Slow Road Home were delivered to Goose Creek! Find store hours and more details on my Nameless Creek site.

Clyne Angle’s Store

Landscapes from Floyd County, Southwest Virginia by Fred First
I feel certain that, while I’m not able to find anything on the web, there is plenty of information about Clyne Angle’s Store at the Floyd County Historical Society.

Mrs. Angle still lives in the house across the road, there at the intersection of Shawsville Pike and Daniels Run, and there is a commemorative plaque to Mr. Angle embedded in a stone marker. I don’t think I have any photos of it, but wish I did. It’s text would shed some light on this image, and on the old Post Office (Floyd County’s first, I think I remember) and a building that was active during the Civil War.

You can see the small, green sign in the window that locates the store in the community of SIMPSONS, now not much more than an intersection of two roads. This was once a thriving farming community. A steep mountain path, and later a motor road, was constructed by hand to allow mail delivery and commerce between Simpsons and the similarly active community down the mountain in Goose Creek.

That old road follows along the descending waters of Nameless Creek, and ends up at our barn. We walk it every day–another place in our valley that harbors “good ghosts” as I say.

I’d be interested if there are any readers who have knowledge, stories or recollections of Simpsons or Clyne Angles Store. Please offer comments or emails to share.

Floyd County, VA: Blog Grand Opening!

Floyd Country Store Friday Night JamboreePlease stop by Southern Mountain Melodies, the brand new and still growing website for our friends Mac and Jenny Traynham. These local musicians are familiar faces (and voices) in Floyd, and it’s time their music gained a wider listenership.

This is a specially important time for them to become more publically accessible in as much as they will soon have two new CD’s available. You’ll learn about that on their blog.

And please turn up your speakers! There are THREE audio files (two excerpts and one full song) to sample their sound–traditional mountain, gospel and blue grass duets, solos and instrumentals you’ll enjoy.

Leave a comment, add them to your blogroll, and when the time comes, get yourself some CDs–and a couple for your friends! Watch their schedule for performances in and around Floyd!

Every Home’s a Stage

Another Saturday in Floyd County, another house concert. Last week, music of the mountains, sitting in folding chairs, in jeans. This week, classical music of the ages, seated in an elegant living room, in a coat and tie.

The setting: The Inn at Hope Springs Farm, almost to the Carroll County line, on 221 the other side of Willis.

We met the owners, Candace and William, a couple of years back through a friend who was filling their extensive needs for custom draperies, upholstery and such. Last night, the music also was from local talent–Mike Mitchell playing the masters on violin, with accompaniment on the grand piano.

From Floyd County, Blue Ridge Mountains, Southwest Virginia Walking in last night, we realized this was a different crowd. We recognized only the host and hostess, and our veterinarian. But from the remaining strangers, we met quite a few new couples. Some were guests at the Inn from Richmond or Greensboro. Others, like Sandra and Ken, had local ties–and connections to the Inn owners by their common interest in alpacas. Here’s their alpaca website.

And so there was some conversation that followed from my question: “So you think I could actually turn a profit on our six acres of level land with these animals?” Boy, did I ask the right question to the right folks. The tax benefits are significant. There’s even an Alpaca 101 page that seems likely to answer all our questions. Yours, too.

So we have had two Saturday house events in a row, and sampled the diversity of music and culture that is available in this wide place in the road. No, you won’t find a civic center in town. No movie theaters or streets lined with ethnic restaurants. But there’s plenty to do. It’s just that we enjoy much of our entertainment where we live: at home. And invite the neighbors.