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Category Archives: The way we were

It’s an ill wind that …

Mabry Mill, running on water from former Hurricane Ida The last week of August felt like the hottest, most humid, and most miserable week of the summer. Late Sunday, Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans. The levees held, and the storm moved north. On Wednesday, what remained of the storm passed over central Tennessee, bringing rain […]

Brochs again

The Mousa broch in the Shetland Islands. Wikipedia photo. An article in Smithsonian Magazine says that archeologists are planning to build a replica of a broch. Brochs, found only in Scotland, are a kind of prehistoric castle. They are towers with very thick double walls. What a place to live! I wrote about brochs in […]

Elbow patches

I caught a virus on the Isle of Harris last summer. This virus causes an obsession with collecting tweed. It starts with one’s first Harris tweed jacket. But it doesn’t end there. Oh, no. Before you know it you’re scouring eBay for more, discovering in disappointment that there are only so many colors of Harris […]

A road trip to the real Mayberry

Here is a video from today’s road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. American readers will be aware of the “Mayberry” angle from the classic American television show with Andy Griffith. Those of you in Europe may not be aware of the cultural complications, which relate to the fact that Andy Griffith the actor was […]

Things we lost when newspapers died

Rob Morse, former metro columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. Photo: Mill Valley Patch, 2011 I am the product of an almost-extinct culture: newspaper culture. I got my first newspaper job at the age of 17, as a part-time copy boy when I was still in high school. I retired as a newspaperman in 2008. […]

Time flies

While retrieving my passport from the lock box, I flipped through all my old passports. There are five passports altogether. It was in April 1984, I was reminded, that I made my first trip to the United Kingdom, including my first trip to Scotland. What a trip that was! At the time, I had a […]

Return to Mabry Mill

Click here for high-resolution version. The abbey is only 15 miles south of the Virginia state line, and the new Fiat 500 drives like a mini-Ferrari (while sipping gasoline). I can be on the Blue Ridge Parkway in a hop and a skip. Road trip! You’ll find Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway at […]

My first library book, rediscovered

I have a clear memory of the first book that I ever checked out of the public library. It was Space Cat, by Ruthven Todd. It’s a short (72 pages) science fiction children’s novel. Whether I was in the second or third grade, I’m not certain. I think the book would have been within my […]

What can we learn from railway maps?

A coal train near Cotton Hill, West Virginia. Source: Jason Bostic, Flickr As I mentioned recently, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to go on more hiking and picture-taking expeditions. When I made the resolution, I was vaguely aware that I wanted to focus on the Appalachian highlands. But I also wanted to get […]

Architectural history: Some biodegradable, some not

Click here for high-res version My county, Stokes County (North Carolina), is a county of rolling hills and forest, with a few small and picturesque mountains, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which of course are a part of the Appalachian chain. Stokes was never a prosperous county. There were a couple of […]