Meeting interesting people is one of the things I love about back roads America. People can be interesting in different ways. On this day, while driving down Gerton Highway US74A we came to the little mountain community of Gerton at the base of BearWallow Mountain. To our surprise, nestled in the side of the mountain was a little dirt floored home with a wilting roof, and a sign imploring us to stop in for a visit.Before the sign was crashed it said, “Original Carolina Hilbilly, pictures OK, Stop Meet Sam.” With this open invitation coupled with the desire to see the carved walking sticks, we pulled over to meet Sam.
Being from Michigan, I had met one other self-proclaimed Hillbilly before, so grabbing my camera I proceeded to the front porch where Sam sat whittling away on a mountain stick. If you feel uncomfortable meeting new people try using this technique. My husband and Sam had something in common and that was an interest in walking sticks.
So while they talked, and with Sam encouraging me to take pictures I did just that.
Choosing from a pile of hatchet chopped native sticks my husband handed it to Sam. With quick motions he began slicing off the bark saying it would only take a few minutes to carve.
As he carved, he talked. Speaking of mountain life and his family who lived on that mountain since the roots of our country. Indeed, the streets were even named after his kin.
Ever once in a while Sam would spit into a old crusty bucket. I moved my foot back watching him carve. Soon his wife joined us. She opened the door revealing a dirt floor and one lone light bulb.
We left there, newly carved walking stick in hand, feeling more blessed than when we arrived.