Saturday, December 01, 2007


John Slagle had two boys and a girl.

They all helped him in his woodworking shop and in just about everything else he did.. But he still had a hired hand named Whid, who helped Miss Lucy Slagle around the house and yard.

The Slagle house was in a mountain cove in the Cartoochejaye valley between chunky gal and Wayah Bald near Franklin North Carolina, and the headquarters of the Nantahala River.

At the time of this story – in the 1940s – there is only a little bit of a paved road near Franklin and the valley was wild country.

There are paved three and four lane roads in that area now and it’s still wild country.

John made a deal with the Forest Service one April for some old downed chestnut logs up on the Wayah Bald. He gathered up sons Luke and Ed and put Whid on the bed of his two- ton truck. They left at daybreak after Lucy served shredded sausage, many eggs and cathead biscuits.

They didn’t have anything but crosscut saws back then, so John planned two to rest while two sawed. It took them a good hour to get out the old switchback Road on the bald two when John had the dead chestnut located and marked.

Then while they were trying to get up the bank , they burst a tire on the old truck’s rear wheel I got stuck in a ditch to boot . There wasn’t a spare, so John sent went back to the house for a tube and a tire and a ,come-along chain.

“He’ll make a lot better time afoot than we did in the damn’ truck comin’’’ up,” Slagle told his sons. “Now, lets git that wood sawed....”

They worked with a short break for cathead biscuits stuffed with sausage and some spring water, until about four in the afternoon. They had the precious wormy chestnut stacked for loading and were beginning to wonder about Whid.

“Oh,” the elder Slagle said, confidently, “Whid’ll COME, alright...But WHEN is sumpin else...”

So they all looked over the steep cliffside of the logging road, down upon the vista of switchbacks, stair-stepping up the mountain side. Far down, just a small speck in motion, was a red spotty figure in overalls. It was Whid.

He had a huge load of chain, with a come-along around his neck. He stopped, put the chain down in the roadbed, retraced his steps back down the road almost out of sight. Then, he bent down, pulled a huge wheel and inflated tire upright and rolled it to the next switchback curve and laid it in its side, and picked up the heavy load of chain and hardware and hump it on to the next switchback curve, then return and roll the tire to the chain.

They watched him for a quarter of and hour, then Old man Slagle hollered:

“Hayoo, Whid !!!”

“Hah now !” hollered Whid back at him, puffing a little, and spitting some tobacco juice at the roadside weeds.

“Where in HAIL y’ been Whid !!!???” hollered Slagle.

“Dam-A-Mighty, man!” sang back Whid. “Cantcha see ??? I been a-comin’ BiGod !!!”

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