Five conversation goals | Mt. Airy News

2022-03-11 08:17:17 By : Mr. Martin Deng

You often hear that young people are our most valuable asset. This statement is premised on the fact that our youth have the highest potential for success since they have a vital resource on their side — time.

Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery (SCOSAR) has partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to find ways to capture and maximize our youth’s potential by preventing or delaying the onset of alcohol and substance use.

SCOSAR will be implementing SAMHSA’s underage drinking and substance use campaign geared towards parents of youth ages 9-15 years old. This campaign is called “Talk. They Hear You.” Its goal is to encourage parents to talk to their children, on a continuous basis, about the dangers of alcohol and substance use — before use begins.

The rates of alcohol and substance use by youth continues to be exceptionally high. Along with the high rate of use, the age of first use is declining.

According to the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than a quarter of the U.S. population that is too young to drink are doing so anyway. The percentage of people aged 18 to 25 who participated in binge drinking in the past month was 31.4%. This percentage was higher than for adults aged 26 or older at 22.9% and for adolescents aged 12 to 17 at 4.1% (SAMHSA, 2020). When our youth start drinking and experimenting with substance use before the age of 15, brain development, academic performance, and basic safety for themselves and others is negatively affected.

Although the challenge is great, adults should not believe that they are powerless to prevent alcohol and substance use in our youth. Parents have significant influence on their child’s decision as whether they start to use substances as children look to their parents as prime couriers of alcohol and substance use prevention messaging. Parents have a noble responsibility to become educated and receive all the assistance possible to initiate and continue the conversation with their children about underage drinking and substance use.

“Talk. They Hear You.” provides parents with the tools that build confidence to start conversations about alcohol and substance use with their children even before the teenage years. In doing so, this helps to construct a relationship between the parent and child in which the child is well-informed of how the parent feels about this risky behavior. It also can lead to the child realizing their parent is an authority on the subject which can result in the child consulting the parent with any questions they may have going forward. Having a close relationship with parents is a topmost protective factor in the world of underage drinking and substance use.

In the upcoming months, SCOSAR will continue to promote the “Talk. They Hear You.” program. SCOSAR will initiate training sessions with teachers and coaches at multiple schools, to be followed by in-person and on-line training offered to the community at large. There will be more information in future articles about the “Talk. They Hear You.” prevention campaign. Please take notice of the message when you begin to see the logo. Talk to your child. They really do hear you.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more about “Talk. They Hear You.”, please Start Here, by contacting Charlotte Reeves, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery Community Outreach Coordinator, at Visit our website at for more information about substance use disorder and the many resources in our county.

Charlotte Reeves is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Surry County Substance Abuse Recovery Office. She may be reached at 336-401-8218 or

Reader: Schools place activism above education

They say April showers bring May flowers, but I promise you there is a lot more work that goes into the process.

As warmer days become more frequent, some of us are thinking about outdoor planting, chores, and good ol’ summer fun. This was also true for many of our ancestors who worked the land in the gaps, hollows, and mountains of Surry and surrounding counties. To survive was to plan, a successful year was totally dependent on the readiness and preparedness of the farmer or planter. Traditionally, March is a little late to start getting ready for the forage and growing season, but better late than never.

Here among the lush evergreens and plentiful shrubs, an abundance of free food could and still can be found. Before diving further into the topic, it is important to note, never gather a plant unless you are 100% familiar with it. So many plants are deceptive and resemble tasty plants. Take for example the dandelion plant. While this plant is not native to North America it has been cultivated and used for its resources for centuries. The plant was brought to America by settlers and revered for its medicinal properties. Every part of the dandelion is good for you; the roots, leaves, and flowers. However, there is another plant called “catsear” that looks almost identical. One major way to tell them apart is to look at the stem; if it’s hollow inside, you are good to go. Dandelions fight high blood sugar, manage cholesterol, and reduce inflammation.

Many other plants, including dandelions, were harvested to make tinctures and tonics. Our ancestors knew how important it was to stay healthy during the planting and harvest season; with this in mind they would do everything in their power to stay fit including taking several tonics in the spring. Some common ones were sassafras or spicewood teas. Sassafras tea was consumed in the spring to “tone up the blood,” this native tree was considered a cure all, aiding in liver, stomach, and other ailments. Ramps, morels, meadow onion, nettles, and mustards were also gathered during the spring and summer season to add to or replace cultivated plants.

Warmer days also means bees. North Carolina and Virginia are home to more than 500 species of bees, mostly which are native. European honey bees were brought to North America sometime in the 17th century. Here in the hollow, bees were admired for their pollinating habits and some for their honey production; keeping honey bees close to crops and flowers was and is important to a planter’s success. Early spring is the time to feed hives that need extra food before the first pollen arrives. It is also time to make repairs to old boxes or beegums. Before bees were sold in boxes to beekeepers, our forefathers and mothers had to go hunting for bee trees or swarms. Late spring will see bees swarm to more favorable conditions. Many beekeepers search out these swarms to capture and give them a new home, keeping the history alive.

For what nature could not provide, homesteaders would buy from the vibrant pages of seed catalogs, local shops or pick from saved seeds collected from a previous harvest. In 1840 the first seed catalog was printed in America. These catalogs were distributed in January and February and offered a variety of heirloom and exotic seeds to farmers and gardeners. Careful planning and precision was put into crop placement and irrigation.

These are just a few of the preparations many of our ancestors took to get ready for the spring and summer seasons. I challenge you all to take up a spade or shovel and continue the hard, but highly rewarding work of our ancestors. I wish you all abundance and a happy spring.

March may produce lion and lamb days

March is now six days old and the whole month can produce some lion and lamb days and a few split personality days and also a few snows to make the month interesting. There is quit a bit of winter remaining in March. We need to recall that over the past years, there have been some hefty snowfalls in mid-March and even several back-to-back deep snows. The best thing of all about March snowfalls is that the cool weather vegetables already planted are tough enough to survive snow, freezes and cold temperatures.

March produces golden pathways and beds of jonquils that adorn sidewalks, pathways, into gardens and colorful beds in woodlands. They are one of the heralds of spring. There are many varieties of jonquils and they will display their colors throughout the month.

Jonquils are heirloom spring flowering bulbs and perennial. Some of the beautiful beds in the woodlands next to the Reynolda Gardens have been enjoyed every spring for generations. A trip through the countryside of Surry County depicts many old home places where ancient jonquil beds planted many years ago still make their appearance every spring in silent testimony to the occupants who planted them when the homeplaces were built by hand many years ago. An amazing jonquil display is one displaying its blooms on a vacant meadow where there is no homeplace but these golden jonquils are a memorial that a family once lived in this meadow and planted these beds of jonquils. We remember old graveyards where jonquils bloom to honor loved ones and family members. Who knows, the beautiful beds along Reynolda Road at Reynolda House in Winston-Salem may have been set out by the Richard Joshua Reynolds family themselves!

Hyacinths add fragrance and color

Jonquils produce their golden glow to month of March, but the fragrance, beauty, dainty flowers, and colors of the awakening hyacinths on a March morning on the front porch makes any morning brighter. They are pleasing to the eyes and the nostrils. At this glorious time of the year, their fragrance is like the essence of perfume that lingers on the winds of a March morning. Their colors of red, white, yellow, pink, lavender, purple and blue pastels are a welcome sight on a cool March morning. Their wide green leafy foliage also adds depth to their display of blooms. They seem to emit more fragrance in the morning when the sun shines bright beams down upon them.

A Saint Patrick’s Day angel pie

Saint Patrick’s Day is only one week away. You can make an angel pie for Saint Patrick’s Day with a graham cracker crust ready-made or a nine inch pre-baked pie shell. The ready made graham cracker crust is defiantly the best. You will the need pie shell of your choice, one cup of crushed pineapple, one fourth teaspoon salt, six tablespoons corn starch, three egg whites, half pint dairy whipping cream, (beaten until stiff, one small jar green maraschino cherries (chopped), and a half cup sugar. Combine crushed pineapple, half cup sugar, one forth teaspoon salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Blend cornstarch with half cup cold water and add to crushed pineapple mixture. Cook on medium heat until clear and glossy (stirring constantly). Set aside to cool. Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold the beaten egg whites into the crushed pineapple mixture. Spread the mixture into the pie shell or crust. Beat the other half pint dairy whipping cream until stiff, add three teaspoons of sugar and stir. Top the pie with the whipped cream and sprinkle the jar of drained, chopped, green maraschino cherries over top of whipped cream topping. Keep refrigerated before and after serving.

The garden soil is workable and conditions are ideal for sowing a row or bed of curly mustard greens. They are sweet and tender and yes, they are curly. You can also sow mixed greens which can be mixed in any ratio you desire. You can choose from kale, rape, broad leaf, tender green, leafy turnip and spinach. The hardware or seed shop will mix the seed for you or have them pre-mixed in one-ounce bags. Spring greens perform well and produce a harvest in 50 to 60 days and in spring, they have very few insect enemies this time of year. Sow seed in a three-inch deep furrow, cover seed with a layer of peat moss and add Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamping down with the hoe blade.

Across the highways and byways of Surry County and into the Virginia foothills and all the way to the Sandhills, the peach trees are displaying their dainty pastel pink blossoms. Their shade of pink is like no other. Even backyards and small orchards glow with shades of blushing pink. We hope this will be a bountiful, abundant year for peaches.

A bowl of Saint Patty’s sparkling punch

It is not too early to enjoy a bowl of sparking Saint Paddy’s punch or prepare a bowl for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. This is an easy recipe and very green too. You will need three packs of lime Kool-Aid, one can (46 ounce) of pineapple juice, one 46 ounce can of water, two cups sugar, one two liter bottle green apple Fanta, one two liter bottle pineapple Fanta, one two liter bottle of Mountain Dew, one three ounce can of limeade concentrate. Mix the 46 ounce can of pineapple juice, one 46 ounce can water, two packs lime Kool-Aid, two cups sugar and three ounce can limeade concentrate. Mix well until sugar and Kool-Aid are dissolved and mixed. For an ice ring, mix one pack lime Kool-Aid and two quarts water. Mix and pour into a tube cake pan and freeze overnight. Refrigerate the two liter drinks over night and also the punch base. To serve, add ice ring to punch bowl, add half punch base and half Fanta green apple and Mountain Dew. Add this ratio to replenish the bowl as needed.

A row of spring onions

Most hardwares and seed shops have spring onions in stock in colors of white, red and yellow. A pound of sets will sow a 40foot row or a four-by-eight foot bed. They will perform well in cool March soil and cold temperatures and their growth will not be hindered. Plant the sets in a furrow about four inches deep. Place sets about three inches apart, cover with a layer of peat moss and then apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up the soil on both sides of the furrow. Be sure to set the onions with the root side down. Apply Miracle-Gro liquid plant food mixed with water on the sets once a month.

Peat moss is magical ingredient of garden

Peat moss is totally organic and not only improves texture of soil, but it also absorbs and retains moisture and promotes growth and health of both soil and plants. It produces its magic touch on flowers as well as vegetables and bulbs in all seasons of the year. A few handfuls in potting medium for containers of annuals and perennials work to maintain moisture and texture. A 3.5 cubic foot bag of peat moss costs about $11 or $12. It pays to apply peat moss on every growing thing you plant or set out. When planting rose bushes, fill bottom of the hole where roses are planted with peat moss and also mix peat moss with the soil you cover the roses with. In the drought of summer, the peat moss will help roses retain moisture.

Keeping an eye on the Christmas cactus

The Christmas cactus have been spending winter in the sunny living room. They get sun there, but not full sun. They are kept away from direct sunlight because direct sunlight causes the cactus to develop reddish foliage which is a warning the cactus is receiving too much sun. A move across the room will solve the problem. In the middle of April, the cactus can be moved to the front porch to spend spring, summer and early autumn. March is the time to prepare them for their move outside. During this month, water lightly every ten days. Add extra potting medium if the cactus needs it. Add Flower-Tone organic plant food to the medium. If any foliage is discolored or unhealthy, pull it off. Wait until all frost danger is over before transferring to front porch.

“Wrong coat.” A polite man at the restaurant touched the man who was putting on an overcoat. “Excuse me,” he said. “But do you happen to be Mr. Johnston of Mount Airy?” “No, I’m not,” the man said abruptly. “Oh, well,” said the first man, “I am Mr. Johnston and that’s my coat your putting on!”

“Weep no more, my lady,” A woman in church was weeping as she said goodbye to her pastor of several years. “My dear lady,” said the pastor, “don’t get upset, they will send a much better pastor to replace me.” “That’s what they said the last time,” said the woman.

The almanac for the month of March 2022

Mardi Gras is celebrated Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Ash Wednesday will be Wednesday, March 2, 20222. There will be a new moon on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The moon reaches its first quarter on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Daylight savings time arrives at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2022. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 17, 2022. The moon will be full on Friday, March 18, 2022. The first day of spring will be on Monday, March 21, 2022. The name of the full moon of March is “Full Worm Moon”. The moon reaches its last quarter on Friday, March 25, 2022.

Research shows (SAMHSA, 2021) that one of the most important factors in healthy child development is a strong, open relationship with a parent. It is important to start talking to your children about alcohol and other drugs before they encounter them. Per SAMHSA (2021), parents can use these five goals when talking to kids about alcohol and other drugs:

1. Show you disapprove of underage drinking and other drug misuse.

More than 80% of young people ages 10-18 say their parents are the leading influence on their decision whether to drink. Send a clear and strong message that you disapprove of underage drinking and misuse of other drugs.

2. Show you care about your child’s health, wellness, and success.

Young people are more likely to listen when they know you’re on their side.

Reinforce why you don’t want your child to drink or use other drugs. The conversation will be more successful if you’re open and show concern for their health and safety.

3. Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs.

You want your child to make informed decisions about alcohol and drugs

with foundational information about their dangers. Establish yourself as a trustworthy source of information so they can come to you with any questions.

4. Show you’re paying attention and you’ll discourage risky behaviors.

Show you’re aware of what your child is up to, as young people are more likely to drink

or use drugs if they think no one will notice.

5. Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding underage drinking and drug use.

Even if you don’t think your child wants to try substance use, peer pressure is a

powerful thing. Having a plan to avoid alcohol and drug use can help children make better choices. Talk with your child about what they would do if faced with a decision about alcohol and drugs, such as texting a code word to a family member or practicing how they’ll say “no thanks.” Remember, keep it low-key. Don’t worry, you don’t have to get everything across in one talk. Plan to have many short talks. “Talk. They really do hear you.”

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more about “Talk. They Hear You,” start by contacting Charlotte Reeves, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery Community Outreach Coordinator, at Visit our website at for more information about substance use disorder and the many resources in our County.

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a periodic column in The Mount Airy News featuring commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

Mount Airy City Schools (MACS) is ahead of the curve in academic preparation. We accelerate children at every level. “Acceleration” means that we allow students to move faster through the traditional curriculum and work ahead. This is important because the state standards are just a baseline for how much can be and should be learned at each grade level.

BH Tharrington Primary has a nurturing program. This helps all children find their area of giftedness. We have individualized instruction for all children working at their pace and exposing many students to “above grade level” curriculum. An individual pathway makes sure all students are able to move at a pace that is comfortable for them.

The Academically and Intellectually Gifted program at JJ Jones Intermediate identifies students in third grade for a separate setting in fourth and fifth grades. This allows the students to move at a much faster pace than the standard curriculum and allows them to explore topics beyond their grade level. Our teacher can also compact the curriculum to help all students go at a pace that may include several grade levels. We have specialized equipment that allows fifth grade students who qualify to attend a middle school course virtually with a teacher from Mount Airy Middle School every day. While many schools across the nation have cut gifted programming, we have expanded it.

Our MicroSchool has helped students who need to move at an even faster pace and who may be two grade levels ahead. The MicroSchool allows students to be at home learning online for part of the week and enjoy a “place-based” learning experience once a week. This year they have come together for STEAM activities and experiments and many environmental excursions. We may have a first grade student learning second or third grade concepts and working with students from upper grade levels each week.

Another program, Dual Language Immersion (DLI) is so popular that it often has a waiting list. This program allows students to be fluent in Spanish and English, taking Spanish a majority of the day in K-second grade and 50% of the day in third through fifth. The DLI program has now extended to middle school where students will take advanced courses in Spanish and learn to apply their Spanish in many ways throughout the real world.

The middle school acceleration model encourages students who are ahead in mathematics to take advanced courses beginning in the sixth grade.

Once students have entered the eighth grade they have many options. If they are ready to take high school courses for credit, we offer our High School Accelerate where English I, Math 1, Earth and Environmental Science, Spanish I, and American History I are taken during their eighth grade. They take these high school courses face-to-face with experienced and highly qualified teachers. We even have students who have virtually joined our high school sophomore courses to make sure they are not held back but pushed forward.

Our North Carolina Association of Scholastic Activities challenges all students and helps them stretch their academic skills. Mount Airy Middle School has been able to win the statewide cup and place every year because of the amazing students we have and how well they compete across the state.

Our summer programs allow for all students to explore their passions. The summer programs are built around the theme of STEAM and match the summer program to students’ natural interests. The program in the summer is an extensive menu of free summer programs and activities from kindergarten through twelfth grade. We encourage you to watch for the menu of options coming soon.

The last piece of our acceleration puzzle is the high school academic program. The many pathways to success allow for all students to be involved in honors and college courses. Ninety percent of our students attend a two- or four-year university and taking care of their general courses in high school can save them thousands of dollars. The support system at Mount Airy High School allows students to take Advanced Placement courses for college credit while giving the students the support they need to be successful in those courses. The College and Career Promise Courses provide the opportunity for all children to take courses through Surry Community College. The credits they receive help them with college success.

The career and technical education courses also provide many certification programs and exciting internships with businesses right here in our county. Students can learn to fly a drone, become a pilot, become an entrepreneur, create 3D models, design websites, explore all health science careers, and learn to cook. All schools get the opportunity to travel and our strategic plan encourages us to return to traveling outside of the state and country. Many of these trips have included trips to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and China. We can’t wait for our students to begin to learn outside the walls of our school again.

Our families love our ability to “accelerate” their children. We get feedback each year on this program and try to cater to the needs of students. We know every child is gifted, we want to find how they are gifted and use their educational support to match their gifts. If you are interested in our program please visit:

For more information or if you want to become a Granite Bear please contact us and visit our website at :

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” – John Piper

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27

A lawyer comes up to Jesus with a question. His question is “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus, who regularly answers a question with another question, asks him “What is written in the Law?” To this the lawyer answers with our verse up above; the Luke 10:27 passage. Jesus tells him that he has answered correctly. It is this answer that I want us to look at in detail. What exactly does it mean?

It means, in general, that followers of Jesus, Christians, are people that love God with all of who they are. God is the sovereign ruler of the universe and there does not exist a square inch of reality that is not his; this includes every bit of you and me. The reality of Christianity, real Christianity, is loving God means giving him everything we are. And everything we are includes our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

To love God with our heart means to be passionately in love with God. Being someone who loves God does not simply mean you believe the right things, nor that your love is an action. Loving God is doing the right things and love is action, but loving God is more than those things. To love God is to feel love for God. God’s call for all Christians is to be in love with him. To be head over heels, puppy dog, boy just discovered girls aren’t icky, heart beating out of your chest, sweaty palms, emotional love.

To love God with our soul means to put the hope of our eternal self in his hands. For as long as people have walked this earth we have wondered about eternity and our place in it. So we have sought to find, and came up with, a way to ensure that eternity favors us. Some have put that hope in science and some in false religions and cults, but the truth is we all put that hope in something. The Bible calls Christians to put that hope in God: To trust not in our own ability to ensure our eternal reward, but to trust in the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross: That he lived perfectly and died for my sins and that even though I should die because of my sins I now get the eternal life that he deserves.

To love God with our strength is to love God with what we do. Once someone becomes a Christian they are given a new heart that seeks to please the one who loves us most, God. The call to love with our strength is the command to love with our hands and our feet; to let the new heart of Christ flow into our actions. Christ, in affirming the lawyer’s answer, is saying that to be one of his is to do what pleases him and what he has called us to. And not to do it because we have to or because it earns anything. But to do it because that’s what love does. Love seeks to please its lover.

To love God with our mind is to seek to know God more. When we love something, truly and deeply love something, we want to know all there is about it. New relationships often start with long conversations over the phone, or now through Snapchat I guess, because each person wants to know more and more and more about the person of their affection. People who love football spend hours looking at stats of their favorite players. Baseball junkies pour over baseball cards. None of this is mandatory. Instead, it flows from a heart that is in love. Love seeks to know and understand. To love is to seek to better know him and better understand him. He is found most directly in his Word.

This lawyer rightly says that to inherit eternal life one must love God with their heart, soul, strength, and mind. One must love God with all of who they are. Do you have eternal life?

At the alumni meeting of the J J Jones Alumni, held on Feb. 14, the normal order of business was dispensed with in order to provide adequate time for a round table discussion of the proposed sale of the former J J Jones High School; currently housing the YVEDDI, a nonprofit providing a variety of services for all county residents.

During the round table discussion, a statement was made relative to the L.H. Jones Auditorium, currently owned and operated by the J J Jones Alumni. The purpose of this letter is to set the record straight. The statement made alluded to there being serious problems in the auditorium. That statement was inaccurate. I want to assure the alumni and all supporters, that the L. H. Jones Auditorium is very well maintained; there are no issues that are not being addressed and there is no danger of the auditorium being taken from the alumni, due to some unmet requirement.

The alumni is proud of the fact that, though lean, our resources are sufficient to keep the bills paid. There has never been an inspection that we have not passed; our insurance is current, and we are in good standing with IRS.

Yes, we do have some maintenance issues as expected with a building more than 50 years old. As these arise, they are corrected in the order of priority, and affordability. Of course, there is not enough money in the bank to do everything we want and need to do, immediately. But, we have a strong determination and are confident that everything on the to do list will be accomplished. Fund raising is ongoing and critical. A large portion of our income is from donations to our alumni, over and above our membership dues. We are eternally grateful for our supporters.

In closing, I’d like to reach out to the people that may not realize we consider them one of our own, graduate or not, if you walked through the doors as a student, for any length of time; were the beneficiary of the love, concern for your wellbeing and your future, from the teachers and administrators; we need you, your talent, energy and creative minds. We want you, your children and grandchildren, to take interest and pride in the building and keep it operational for the benefit of the community, for years to come.

You’re invited to attend our alumni meetings, held monthly on the second Monday of each month from 2-3 p.m. at the L.H. Jones Auditorium. Come see for yourself, what the alumni has accomplished.

Charlie Shelton recently passed away at the age of 86, having lived his life building successful businesses and bringing great change in and around Surry County, alongside his brother Ed. Their family on both their mother’s and father’s sides had longstanding ties to this region, with their ancestors being some of the many early settlers who made their living off the land during the pioneer days.

James Madison “Matt” Shelton, the Shelton brothers’ grandfather, began life as a farmer, just like his father before him, but eventually found his calling as a master carpenter. It was this career change that brought the family into Mount Airy from its outskirts. The family purchased a few acres of land and a rickety old house, where Matt would put his carpentry skills to use, building upon the house to add rooms for his children. While living in this house, Matt’s son George Reid Shelton, known as Reid, attended Franklin School, located on Franklin Road in Mount Airy.

Charlie Lee Badgett was both a tobacco farmer and a blacksmith. He and his family lived and worked on their White Plains farm. The family had 11 children, including his third daughter, Bertha Lillian. From the Badgett family’s house, the Blue Ridge Mountains made up the skyline to the north, with Pilot Mountain being visible to the south. Badgett would grow his tobacco, toast it, before bringing it into Mount Airy where it would be sold for 25 cents for a pound.

Badgett’s farm thrived in the bustling tobacco industry surrounding Mount Airy. In the early 1890s, the town had as many as 21 tobacco factories. However, the factories were soon hit hard by the so-called “tobacco trust,” which monopolized the tobacco industry with James B Duke of Durham at its helm. By 1910, many of the former tobacco factories had been converted into textile mills, with Mount Airy making its foray into the industry of furniture manufacturing.

In 1926, Reid Shelton had just finished up his barber training in Charlotte, and soon had his own chair in a barber shop in Winston-Salem.

When Reid Shelton was 19 years old, he crossed paths with a girl he had briefly attended Franklin School with, Bertha Badgett. Speaking years later of the school, Reid recounted ”That’s where I picked her out but she doesn’t remember me.” Now young adults, they began dating and were married, surrounded by their family on the property of Charlie Badgett’s tobacco farm on Oct. 23, 1926.

The newlyweds lived in Winston-Salem for a time, before returning home to Surry County and to Franklin Street, right across the road from the school where their paths first crossed. Their first son, Charles Madison Shelton, named in honor of both of his grandparents, was born in the early hours of May 12, 1935. Charlie’s younger brother Edward was welcomed into the family not long after.

When Charlie was around 10 years old, his paternal father came to live with the family. The younger Shelton adored his grandfather, and learned the manufacturing skills that Charlie would later utilize to rise to success later in life, by following his grandfather to the factories where he worked. Growing up, Charlie would also work for his maternal grandfather on his tobacco farm.

As he grew, Charlie was constantly finding ways to make an honest profit, from collecting soda bottles that earned him a penny each in deposits, to building and selling lawn furniture with the scraps he got from the factory where his grandfather worked. Taking after grandfather Badgett, by the time he was 16, he had begun planting tobacco.

The Shelton brothers founded various successful construction businesses and established a thriving vineyard that was instrumental in the designation of the Yadkin Valley as a viticultural region, the first in North Carolina. To support the growing industry, they also supported Surry Community College in establishing what is now known as the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology.

They were also instrumental in the creation of the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, with the museum’s original first floor gallery, established through a major grant from the Shelton Foundation and dedicated in honor of the Shelton’s grandfathers.

Together with his brother Ed, Charlie would continue to tap into the spirit of innovativeness and industrialism that his ancestors drew upon to survive in the early days of settlement in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Katherine “Kat” Jackson is a part-time employee at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she now lives in Winston-Salem. She can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.

Winter’s shortest month almost over

The shortest month of winter is not far from being over. There is still a lot of winter remaining. Even with the arrival of spring in late March, the possibility of snow, ice, freezing rain and cold days will be with us for quite a while. Don’t let cold weather hinder you from sowing seeds of mustard greens, spring onion sets, broccoli, cabbage, Alaska green peas, lettuce, radish and carrots. As long as winter soil is not frozen it can be worked and cool weather vegetables can be sown and planted.

Staying ahead of the wild onions

Cold temperatures cause wild onions to sprout on the lawn. They have deep roots and it is difficult to destroy their bulbs. You can help solve the problem without disturbing the lawn by using the weed trimmer to cut the onions to ground level every ten days. This will stunt their growth and improve the appearance of the lawn. The mower will help but will not cut onions down to ground level.

Still time to feed the dormant lawn

As February ends, there is still time to feed the lawn for healthy and greener grass this spring. Do not use any 10-10-10 fertilizer but apply a specially designed lawn food that will feed over an extended period of the growing season. Apply on a day when snow or rain is in the forecast for the week. Clean the spreader with fresh water when task is finished to prevent rust.

Repairing bare spots on the lawn

As February leaves us, it is an opportune time to repair bare spots on the lawn and sow new grass seed to improve the appearance of the lawn by reseeding and feeding bare spots. Dig around bare spots to loosen soil, apply lime and fertilizer and seed. Rake in the seed and apply a layer of hay on the spots. Water once a week when no rain falls.

Jonquils brighten the winter landscape

The golden blooms of jonquils, daffodils and narcissus glow in the late winter sun and brighten up the cold porch at the close of February. They are a beautiful sight that announces that spring is on the way. Combined with the fragrance of colorful hyacinths in colors of white, pink, purple and lavender, yellow, and red, we enjoy the color, aroma and also the brightness of spring.

Graceful buzzards fly on a winter day

When we were kids, we called these birds of prey “country airplanes.” They are defiantly not the most beautiful of birds, but they are certainly most graceful when in flight on a clear winter afternoon. They glide through the air and ride the currents of the wind, soaring higher and higher with seemingly no effort, searching for a meal or road kill as they sore.

Starting a row or bed of mixed greens

March is only two days away and the garden plot soil is workable enough to sow a row or bed of mixed greens or mustard greens for an early spring harvest. They will grow quickly in the soil of winter and produce a harvest in about 50 to 60 days. The hardware or seed shop will mix the greens or sell them to you already premixed. You can choose from rape, kale, curly mustard, tender green, Florida broad leaf, spinach, and leafy turnip. Dig a shallow furrow and sow the tiny seed and cover with a layer of peat moss and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of peat moss. Hill up soil on each side of furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When greens develop two leaves, apply an application of Plant-Tone and hill up the Plant-Tone on both sides of the row.

Setting out a row or bed of spring onion sets

As February comes to end, a row or bed of spring onion sets can be set out in the cold winter soil and they will thrive in late winter. You can choose from white, yellow or red bulbs. A pound costs less than $3. Plant sets in a furrow about four or five inches deep and place sets about four or five inches apart with the root side down. Apply a layer of peat moss and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good contact with the soil. They should sprout in about 20 days. Side dress with Plant-Tone once a month and hill up soil on both sides of the row.

Stocking up on plant foods for garden plot

You will notice we mentioned “food” not fertilizer. Gardens need more food (organic) than they do fertilizer (chemical). Chemical fertilizers are only shots in the arm, gardens need organic material. As cold weather is still the norm, most hardwares, garden shops, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace Hardware are well stocked with supplies and organic plant foods such as Holly-Tone evergreen and azalea organic food, Flower-Tone organic flower food, Plant-Tone organic vegetable food, Garden-Tone organic plant and herb food, Tomato-Tone organic tomato food, Rose-Tone organic rose food. Miracle-Gro liquid plant food, Alaska fish emulsion in quart bottles, Dr. Earth natural plant, vegetable and tomato foods. These foods are easy to apply and a little goes a long way because it is not filled with hard pellets, but finely textured plant food that quickly absorbs into the soil and provides quick response and results. The Holly-Tone products are available in four- and ten-pound bags.

Making a broccoli and rice casserole

There are a lot of broccoli casseroles and this one is good because it has a lot of flavorful ingredients. You will need an eight-ounce bag of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, one stick light margarine, two cups Success minute rice, one envelope Recipe Secrets onion soup mix, one very large head of broccoli or a twenty ounce box of chopped frozen broccoli, two eggs. Cook rice according to the directions on box, boil broccoli until tender but not over cooked, melt margarine and set aside. Combine broccoli and rice and mix together. Add mushroom soup, shredded cheese, onion soup mix and two eggs. Mix all ingredients well. Spray a large casserole dish with Pam baking spray. Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for half hour or until firm and golden brown on top.

Still plenty of snow opportunity remains

As we end February, the opportunity for snow is still promising. As we are on the doorstep of March, always remember that huge back-to-back snowfalls have occurred during March in past years with several dumping more than ten inches. We would certainly love to see several snows before the winter ends. Snow would be a great benefit to the dormant lawn and give a boost to the garden plot, add nutrients to the soil and build up excitement for the kids and grand kids as they await a snow day.

Signs of spring at the end of February

The cold month of February is almost at an end and the month of spring’s arrival will soon be here. Some signs are appearing including bees visiting Carolina Jasmines, buds forming on dogwood trees, jonquils and hyacinths ready to bloom, some trees already have tiny leaf buds forming, frogs are croaking down at the creek and days are getting longer by a minute per evening.

Ordering from the 2022 seed catalogs

As we approach March, it’s a great time to place your order for the seeds from the seed catalogs. Several important things to remember about ordering catalog seeds are: 1) Don’t purchase seed varities you can purchase locally. 2) Remember that most seed packets only contain 30 seeds or less. 3) Some seeds originate from other countries. 4) You have to pay shipping, handling fees and state taxes. 5) Most catalog seed costs more for less seeds. 6) Order only proven seed varieties that you have tried before and seed varieties you can’t buy locally.

-Hair-raising sermon. This pastor was well known for his long-winded sermons. One Sunday morning, he noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his sermon. The man returned just before the service concluded. After the service, the pastor asked the man where he had gone. The man said he went to get a haircut. “But, why didn’t you get it before the service?” said the pastor. “Because I didn’t need it then,” the man explained.

-Self paying windows. A window salesman phoned one of his customers and said, “I’m calling because our company replaced all the windows in your home with triple glazed, weather tight windows more than a year ago, and you still haven’t sent a single payment.” The homeowner replied, “but you said they would pay for themselves in twelve months.”

-A horse of a different color. You can lead a horse to water and most folks can, but if you can get a horse to float on his back, then you are on to something.

Several years ago, University of Pennsylvania officials caved to the cancel culture crowd by swiftly sanctioning the unauthorized removal of an iconic portrait of William Shakespeare by students who replaced it with a photograph of a black lesbian poet. At the time, Penn administrators poo-pooed the student miscreants’ behavior by noting that Shakespeare was going to be ousted anyway “in order to represent a more diverse range of writers.” So much for the classics.

Several days ago, University of Pennsylvania officials quickly acquiesced to an NCAA policy revision that permitted a trans female swimmer to compete against biological female swimmers in the ivy League Women’s Swimming & Diving Championship games. As a result, Penn trans swimmer Lia Thomas (who had competed in prior years as a male) won three events and set five records – easily besting biological women teammates and competitors. So much for women’s sports.

Penn’s consistent cowardly submission to the nation’s cancel-culture bullies mirrors that of most universities and major corporations – whose fear of being labeled racist, homophobic or transphobic transcends their ability to do the right thing. In their decision to help advance the ruination of women’s sports, Penn officials ignored the truth and sound reasoning included in a letter sent to them on behalf of 16 of Lia Thomas’s teammates who chose to remain anonymous. In that letter, the young women athletes said, “We fully support Lia Thomas in her decision to affirm her gender identity and to transition from a man to a woman. Lia has every right to live her life authentically. However, we also recognize that the biology of sex is a separate issue from someone’s gender identity. Biologically, Lia holds an unfair advantage over competition in the women’s category, as evidenced by her rankings from #462 as a male to #1 as a female.”

The letter was delivered to Penn officials by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a 1984 Olympic swimming gold medalist and well-respected advocate for women’s sports. Ms. Hogshead-Makar emphasized that anonymity was necessary for the teammates because they had been warned they would be “removed from the team” or “never get a job offer” if they spoke out against Thomas’s inclusion in the women’s competition.

How very sad it is when even the most elite academic institutions in the country are afraid of facing the truth. It’s really quite simple: males (including hormonally altered ones) are not females; so they should not be competing in women’s sports. Even Caitlyn Jenner, Olympic Gold Medal winner prior to her own transition, noted the unfairness of trans females competing in women’s sports. “We cannot have biological boys competing against women,” said Jenner.

Hopefully, universities, corporations, and the nation as a whole will once again begin to display more common sense than cowardice. Until then, and as long as Biden and his administration continue to prioritize weakness and wokeness as our national goals, America and the world can expect to experience much more global turmoil than the recent Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

It’s just a shot away.

It’s just a shot away.”

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and the ensuing and needless slaughter of thousands of soldiers and civilians, seems all but inevitable now.

“So, what do I care?” some of us may be asking ourselves. “It’s not our fight.”

I get it. Maybe you don’t follow a lot of news from overseas, or the machinations of global politics. You’re not alone. Most Americans don’t.

It’s not as if we don’t have enough to worry about here at home — a deadly pandemic, accelerating inflation, a rise in hate crimes, the right-wing war on women, the existential threat of climate change, and, not to mention, our daily struggle just to pay the bills, raise our kids, and keep food on the table.

So, why should we care if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders 150,000 troops to invade a much weaker neighbor that poses absolutely no threat to Russia or anyone else for that matter?

We should care because, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., an attack on democracy anywhere is an attack on democracy everywhere.

Even if we don’t send American troops to fight and die in Ukraine — President Biden has pledged he won’t — a fight to preserve Ukraine’s democracy is our fight, too.

Not that Ukraine is exactly a model for democracies around the world. The country has problems, like the outsized power of its oligarchs and rampant corruption.

Then again, we don’t have a lot to crow about these days, either. The fascist attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and the continuing push by Republicans to restrict voting rights, if nothing else, have proven how vulnerable our cherished system of government actually is.

Consider that one-third of Americans, without evidence, still believe President Biden stole the 202o election from former President Donald Trump. And tens of millions of the former president’s followers probably wouldn’t complain a whole helluva lot if he or one of his political clones were to break any number of election laws to return Republicans to power.

Nevertheless, I remain convinced that a strong majority of Americans still value the basic freedoms that most of us have come to enjoy and exercise, especially since the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts more than 50 years ago.

You don’t have to be an expert on the Bill of Rights to recognize and appreciate our most basic freedoms, all of which find their roots in the First Amendment.

It’s because of the First Amendment that we have a right to freedom of speech and a free press; a right to practice our chosen religion or not practice a religion at all; and the right to “peaceably assemble” and criticize our government leaders when we think they’re doing something wrong, like violating our rights.

Putin, of course, hates democracy, and especially American democracy, because he hates sharing power at home or anywhere on the planet for that matter. And he hates any claims to rights like free speech or assembly or religion or a right to bear arms or equal justice, because they all challenge the absolute power of dictators — like Putin, and his bestie-partner in anti-democratic crime, President Xi Jinping of China, who’s busy these days crushing democracy in Hong Kong. But that’s another story.

The fact is that invading Ukraine wouldn’t make Russia richer. It wouldn’t grow Russia’s military might. And it wouldn’t even come close to returning Russia to the purported grandeur of communist-era Soviet Union.

So, why bother to invade?

Never underestimate the capacity, whether for good or evil, of a single human being’s thirst for the kind of power that changes the course of history.

Putin is a morally bankrupt evil genius, and he can’t stand that Russia may never return to its glory days (certainly not in his lifetime), or that his legacy will pale in comparison to history’s true giants.

Ultimately, Putin is a small and vindictive man, not unlike his favorite American puppet, Trump, who would love nothing more to return to his perch in the White House and rule, like Putin, unchallenged for the rest of his life.

The irony is that even as Biden and our NATO allies threaten to unleash massive economic sanctions against Russia if Putin follows through on its unspoken but very real threat to crush Ukraine’s young democracy, Trump loyalists are plotting to take over ours.

It’s telling, but unsurprising, that Trump has said nothing at all about the imminent threat that Putin could order his troops to invade Ukraine at any moment.

That’s the thing about puppets: they only talk when the puppet master pulls their strings.

So, what do we care if Putin invades Ukraine?

The better question: What if we don’t?

This is in reference to the Their View article by Rob Schofield (Yes to books, science, diversity — and discomfort) in the Feb. 18 edition concerning public school book banning.

I beg to differ with Mr. Schofield’s assertion, “The truth is that CRT is not taught in K-12 Schools…”; rather, it most certainly is being taught as attested to by the recent resignation of NC education board member (as reported Feb. 9, Mount Airy News article) over that very issue. Please check the facts, Mr. Schofield.

Furthermore, the issue of sexual-preference identity has gone too far by having books in Pre-K through eighth grade public schools which graphically depict oral/anal sex methods used by alphabet soup (LGBTQ) adherents. This is not warranted for pre-pubescent children or minors. Those who choose (not coerced into) this lifestyle and are able to handle such crass, graphic depictions can certainly go to their public library or order books of this nature online. They have no place in our public schools.

“Fear of change…’the other’…’discomfort’… can serve as powerful roadblocks to societal progress” as envisioned by Mr. Schofield, and the Marxist/Socialists (progressive democrats) as well. The complete removal of these roadblocks can only lead to societal Sodom and Gomorrah where there is moral degeneration and ultimate destruction – not by Putin, China, North Korea, or Iran, but by God himself.

“Flowers are the music of the ground

From earth’s lips spoken without a sound.”

Flowers — they follow months of cold, snow, and unsocial weather. The long days are blessed with a rainbow of colors ushering in the growing season. Flowers bring joy without saying anything at all, or so we think.

Receiving a bouquet of flowers is a statement. This gift could mean: thanks, love, friendship, or sorrow, and if you understand the language of flowers, otherwise known as floriography, it could say lots more.

For centuries flowers have been admired for their uniqueness, beauty, and resilience. Giving bouquets of flowers became popular in the Victorian era. Communicating one’s true feelings verbally was frowned upon; it was not in good taste to actually shout your feelings from a mountain top. Subtle tributes and promises were made in compliance with societal rules. In response to these rules, a series of hidden meanings were attributed to everyday items, such as flowers.

For as long as history has been written down, special characteristics have been added to flowers. Superstitions, omens, and longing are just some of the few meanings added to various flowers. We all can recognize that red roses represent love, or that daisies represent innocence, but during the 19th century complex feelings and meanings were expressed by carefully curated flower arrangements.

This language of flowers is based on mythology, religion, literature, and folklore that is not bound to one set of rules. Depending on your regional understanding of their meaning, each town or country could and would interpret arrangements differently.

In 1819, Le langage des fleurs by Charlotte de la Tour was published as the first book where people gave meaning to specific flowers and plants. Several other editions followed and spread through the Victorian world. Small bouquets sometimes called “Tussie-Mussies” were given to families, friends, and loved ones conveying private messages. Whole conversations could be had simply with flowers. Meetings could be planned, or disagreements cemented.

These Victorian traditions and beliefs made their way to states and continued to grow by including many of the new native plants. Have you received a bouquet or “tussie-mussie’ of flowers recently? Here are some of the more common flowers and their meanings.

Carnations mean pride and beauty.

Magnolias represent love of nature.

Honeysuckle bodes generosity and devoted affections.

An arrangement of heliotrope, lavender, and rose could mean “I turn to thee to confess my love.”

Next time you choose an arrangement of flowers be careful, you could be saying so much more.

“Flowers are the alphabet of angels, whereby they write on the hills and fields mysterious truths.” -John Stowell Adams (Flora’s Album)

Emily Morgan is the guest services manager at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. She and her family live in Westfield. She can be reached at or by calling 336-786-4478 x229

Saint Matthew’s Day

Wednesday, Feb. 23, is known as Saint Matthew’s Day. On his special day, an important event occurs that is a harbinger of spring. It is said that on this day, the sap in the mighty oaks and the maples begin to rise up the trunks and into the limbs on a journey of life for another season of growth. As we speak of the journey of life, we also see it in the garden spikes of hyacinths, jonquils and daffodils as they start on their spring journey of life. The American violets are displaying their heart shaped foliage. In the dead of winter, we can see the hints of new life all around us.

Debunking the “First Snowfall” urban legend

There is an old urban legend that says you should not eat any of the year’s first snowfall. We definitely do not accept this legend simply because the first snowfall is no different than all the other snowfalls of the season. My mother who lived in northeastern North Carolina was the world’s greatest snow lover. Even though that legend was around in her day, it did not hinder her from making snow cream from the first snowfall to the last snowfall of winter. She would find where the snow had blown into drifts, dig down a few inches and scoop up the fresh clean snow and make a batch of snow cream. The first snowfall had no ill effects upon her and her four sons. She lived to be over 90 years old. We miss you mom and we keep the snow cream tradition alive each year by making snow cream from the first snowfall to the last snowfall. When we make snow cream and scoop up the fluffy white snow, you become very much alive in the windmill of our mind.

The plants of cabbage and broccoli can now be set out in the late winter garden. Most hardwares, seed shops, Walmart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement and most nurseries have plenty of plants and varities to choose from. They come in six and nine packs. Check the plants and select plants that have blue-green stems that are straight. Don’t buy plants with dried stems or those that have legged out of their containers. Set plants about two feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss under each plant and apply Plant-Tone organic vegetable food in the furrow. About two weeks later, side dress the plants with another application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and pull soil up around the Plant-Tone. Feed cole family plants once a month with Plant-Tone.

Wild onions on late winter lawns

With lawns dormant, tan and drab, the wild onions popping through are really a horrific sight as we move toward the last days of February. They will be with us until warm weather arrives. The only plus that they have is the fact that they are green. You can make them easier on the eyes by using a weed trimmer and trim them down to the ground. This will not get rid of them, but it will stunt their growth. You can trim them in the barren moon sign of Leo the Lion if you follow the almanac. It may not get rid of them, but it will slow them down. Believe it or not, mowing the grass on barren moon signs does keep grass from growing as fast as it does when you mow on a watery, fertile sign such as Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. If you trim wild onions in the barren sign of Leo, it may not help, but it certainly will not hurt anything either. Even if it’s mind over matter, your going to mow and trim anyway, aren’t you? If it works, great, if not, what have you lost?

Frogs signal the coming of spring

The frogs down by the creek bank are leaving the hollow logs and making a bit of noise at February twilight time. They seem to sense that the season of spring will soon be here. Their croaks are a welcome sound and we are sure they will get louder and longer as spring draws nearer. Just the sound of frogs croaking makes winter seem hopeful and pleasant. They are a sign and a herald of the up and coming spring.

Hyacinths: One of springs early blooms

The fragrant hyacinths in dainty colors of red, white, pink, lavender, yellow and blue are now spiking and preparing to bloom. No other flower in late winter has an aroma as sweet as that of the hyacinth. They will continue to bloom for several weeks.

A lettuce bed for early harvest

A lettuce bed or row is a great way to start the garden season and a quick harvest in about 45 to 50 days. Lettuce is a quick growing winter and early spring cool weather vegetable. you can choose from so many varities that are available in packets for about $2 or less. You can sow lettuce now and it will not hinder the planting of seeds of warm weather vegetables later in spring.

Making 2022 a colorful four o’clock year

The seeds of four o’clocks are now available in hardwares, supermarkets and garden centers in seed racks. They come in packets of assorted colors and cost around $2 a packet. They come in red, yellow, white, pink and wine. They thrive in all types of soil and feature bright green foliage that really makes their blooms more colorful. They will bloom from mid-May all the way until the first frost. Burpee Seed features the speckled varities and Park Seed has the two-tone marbled four o’clocks. Several packets will produce a summer of beauty, greenery and color that will last all the way until the first frost.

English green peas are an unusual cool weather vegetable that produces its whole harvest in two weeks. They thrive in cold soil and require no plant food or fertilizer, In fact, they add nitrogen to the soil and produce a harvest in around 60 days which will allow you time to succeed them with warm weather crops. You can choose from varities of Wando, Alaska, Green Arrow and one pound will sow a 50-foot row. Even a winter snow will not hinder their growth. Sow seed in a furrow about four inches deep and lightly scatter seed in the furrow. Cover seed with a layer of peat moss and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade for good soil contact. As the peas grow, continue to hill up soil on both sides of the row.

Baked chicken breast and chips bake

This is a great meal on a cold day. It is easy to prepare and a meal in a dish. You will need one four-pack of Tyson chicken breast (boiled until tender and debone and cut into chunks), two cups finely chopped celery, one cup mayonnaise, half cup chopped pecans, one envelope of Lipton onion soup mix, two tablespoons lemon juice, half teaspoon salt, one cup finely shredded mild cheddar cheese, two cups crushed potato chips, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon paprika. combine the boiled chicken chunks, celery, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, paprika. Spoon lightly into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Sprinkle top of casserole with shredded cheese and top with crushed potato chips. Bake at 425 degrees until firm and bubbly golden brown.

Cold, frosty, crisp, and gray

These words describe the winter garden in late February. Another word describes the winter garden, and that is “alive.” The collards have a blue gray tint to them after being nipped many times by frost, covered by ice and snows but still ready to harvest. Onion sets are dark green as they spike from cold ground. The soil does not freeze that much in winter and a coat of leaves protects them. Broccoli and turnips are still dark green and a contrast to the gray of the woodlands and the tan of the dormant lawn. Anything with a hint of green in it in the dead of winter is precious to behold.

Watering pansies, perennials, winter flowers

In winter perennials, pansies and flowers of the season need a drink of water, but not as much in warm weather. Use precaution when watering in winter. Use a sprinkling can to provide only a minimum of water. Too much water will cause medium in the containers to freeze. Water just enough to dampen soil.

“Dry sermon.” The visiting pastor at a country church asked one of the area farmers if he could use his barn to get away to where it was quiet and study his Sunday message. After several hours of study, the pastor left the barn for a walk. When he came back, he discovered the cow had eaten his sermon notes. The next day, the farmer complained to the pastor that his cow had gone dry.

“Less time, more pain.” Larry was having trouble with a toothache and decided to visit the dentist. “What do you charge to extract a tooth,” Larry asked. “One hundred and fifty dollars.” the dentist quoted. “One hundred and fifty dollars for two minutes of work?” complained Larry. “Well,” replied the dentist, “If you wish, I could extract it very slowly.”

“A hammy situation!” Where was deviled ham first mentioned in the bible? When the evil spirits entered the swine!

Editor’s Note: This column, by Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland, is a State of the City address, giving the mayor’s view of where the city is, what accomplishments the city has seen over the past year, and what may be coming to Mount Airy. Mayors of both Pilot Mountain and Dobson, as well as the chairman of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, have all been invited to submit similar columns.

We have been all dealing with the unprecedented era of Covid and the issues of the pandemic. Our hope is that as we go forward we can again experience in full the joys of living in our great city. With that said, I want to review the past year and the bright future of the City of Mount Airy.

Our four vision committees met and presented recommendations for items that would enhance our city. Most of these recommendations are currently in the planning phase and we expect several good projects going forward. We are working on economic development plans for our two industrial parks. We want to be in position to capture some of the support businesses associated with the announcement of the Toyota Mega Site near Greensboro.

The city board entered into an agreement with Sun House partners to begin the process of building a signature hotel in the downtown. In partnership with the county the city is poised to reap the benefit of this project. Much work is going on behind the scenes and it looks like after the required approval of federal agencies that construction will begin sometime late summer. Much of the preparatory work is going forward and we expect a completion by the spring of 2024.

Our Public Safety Departments are the model others strive for. In the Police Department we are seeing results in our “Second Chance Program” that has achieved a 92% success rate for juvenile offenders. In addition, we have collected 514 pounds of medications in our “giveback program.” The Fire Department is about to receive a new pumper fire truck that will replace an aging truck of almost 30 years of service. They also received equipment that will better serve extraction of those involved in car accidents.

One of the biggest changes was the arrival of our new automated garbage trucks. Although we had a few issues in the rollout, we have been working on better service at lower cost. The trucks have a saving of more than $150,000 a year but even more importantly are much safer for our city workers. Public works also paved the streets in the Pinecreek area as part of our sectional paving in our annual budget. In water and sewer projects, replacing the aging Maple/Merritt section of lines was the first step of annual programs to update infrastructure.

Recreation, a key component of quality of life in our community, continued to excel through trying times. The department, with a grant of $175,000 from the 21st Century Mini Grant, helped sixth through ninth graders with innovative summer recreation and educational programs. It concluded with a trip to Atlantic Beach which provided memories for students and chaperones alike. We also received grants from the state that will extend the Greenway another 1.3 miles.

The city also continued its excellence in safety with the 25th consecutive Carolina Star Award which recognizes programs that meet or exceed state standards. The city also received its 27th consecutive award in Finance, receiving the Certificate of Achievement for Financial reporting which is a credit to our Finance Department. The Board of Commissioners adopted a new capital spending program that will put us track to stay current with facilities and equipment so that we can provide great service at a great value. We ended the year on a strong financial note which allowed us to make investments in the areas that improve the quality of living in our community. These investments have also been good for business as we have seen increased growth in the private sector that has outpaced most other cities in the nation. A continued scrutiny of spending and efficiencies will pay huge benefit to future residents.

The city is looking forward by starting a Downtown Business Master Plan. Currently interviews and surveys are being taken and our hope is to have a plan that will keep us a vibrant community that people want to invest and live in. Changes were made in the Zoning Ordinance to address housing and ease of use. We have hired a new city manager who we feel will lead us to continue being the place that many want to visit and live.

On behalf of the dedicated city employees who every day give us their best and the city board of whom I serve I thank you. We strive for the best customer service possible. It has been an honor serving as mayor among those who really believe in the goodness of our people and the precious land we have been given to call home. Going forward our future is bright.

There are dilapidated buildings all over town and most of us would like them gone, but that’s not practical. It’s beyond suspicious that Koozies, Mittmans, and the Red Building have been targeted while so many others are ignored. (See Mount Airy News, Feb. 18 ). Sure looks like the old disgraced and supposedly disbanded Redevelopment Committee (RDC) still at work behind the scenes. This letter is not to defend dilapidated buildings, but to show the misleading way it’s being done.

The danger of starting a condemnation process was clearly laid out by Commissioner Jon Cawley at the Feb. 17 meeting. Right now, should anyone be injured around those buildings, the liability is on the owners. Once the city starts the process which was approved at that meeting, the city becomes liable for any injury claimed.

Citizens were told at the meeting that the city could delay as long as they wanted before the huge expense of demolition. Don’t fall for that. The RDC’s favorite trick is the old “sky is falling ” scare card, recently used just a year or two ago for $300,000 to $400,000 to demo part of Spencers they wanted gone. They’ve used it often before and are using it now to condemn these properties. They’ll then claim they can’t delay the demo as they promised because of city liability danger. The same scare was tried years ago to try to take the buildings. It didn’t work , the buildings remain, and no injuries

My prediction: The 90-day warning to owners runs out and the city uses scare tactics to justify the demos. The expense becomes a lien on the property and the city forecloses. That means an auction and the city buys the properties. It’s like the hated eminent domain but just more sneaky. Then it’ll be for sale to “private developers.” Just like Spencers, any developers will demand all kinds of spending by the city, starting with property being given to developers for little or nothing, huge city spending on infrastructure, luxury paving/lighting/landscaping, parking lots, etc. It’s not hard to predict because that’s exactly how Spencers has worked and this will be no different.

The truth of the downtown gang wanting to take those three buildings is an old story dating back to 2014. It started when we bought Spencers and our board appointed a committee known as RDC to oversee development. The public was assured it would be done only by private investors, but that was never going to happen. RDC quickly showed they had plans for far more than Spencers and also showed they would not go by the rules set by the board.

Even back then they planned to take over the properties now mentioned. RDC’s use of eminent domain was even hinted. That attracted attention from a legal non-profit in Washington, D.C. that opposes improper uses of eminent domain. They visited here and there was a real possibility of them bringing lawsuits if the RDC kept going. The board then wisely disbanded the RDC.

That should have ended it but RDC simply went behind the scenes. RDC supporters have been pushing the original RDC plan ever since and that’s been eight years and millions of taxpayer dollars ago. A lot of what RDC wanted has already been done (at great expense) but lots more remains like the “mini-park” soon to be built, the acquisition of the three buildings listed above, and much more to come; all of which will demand large amounts of taxpayer money.

Saint Valentine’s Day is tomorrow

The day of hearts, flowers, candy and gift cards is just a matter of hours away. The sweet day will be celebrated tomorrow. Most stores and shops are still very well stocked and florists still have plenty of floral offerings although there may be a short supply of roses, but there are some still available if you search around. If you wait until the last minute, you can get a Valentine money card and slip some money in it or purchase a gift certificate from a favorite restaurant.

This is a colorful salad for Valentine’s Day that is simple to make as well as unusual. You will need one box (three ounces) strawberry jello, one cup water and (juice from pineapple), one can crushed pineapple, (drain and reserve juice), one cup boiling water, two cups strawberries (mashed), two small containers of strawberry yogurt. Combine strawberry jello, one cup boiling water, one cup cold water and reserved pineapple juice. Let stand until it starts to thicken. Add two cups mashed strawberries, strawberry yogurt and crushed pineapple. Stir, put in a bowl, refrigerate for three hours. top with dollops of Cool Whip.

For a sparkling bowl of punch on Valentine’s Day for a party or gathering, mix two bottles of strawberry Fanta, two cans red Hawaiian Punch, two bottles of Sprite, two teaspoons of strawberry flavoring. Make an ice ring of one two litter bottle of strawberry Fanta and one can of red Hawaiian Punch and pour into a tube pan and freeze overnight.

Siberian kale is winter’s best

The cold of February only makes Siberian kale sweeter and it can even be harvested with a layer of snow on it. Siberian kale can be chopped up finely and mixed with ranch dressing for an unusual salad. Unlike collards, curly mustard and other greens, Siberian kale has a certain sweetness a cut above other greens of winter. A covering of crushed leaves or grass clippings between the rows of kale prolongs the harvest well into winter and will make harvesting cleaner.

Mid-February time to prune fruit trees

In mid-February, grapevines and fruit trees are dormant which makes vines and limbs or branches bare and clearly visible and easier to see what needs to be pruned and trimmed. This will help the trees and vines bare more fruit and also make the harvest of fruits easier. Another plus is the trees and vines will look much better. Cut back limbs that rub against each other and limbs that grow too high to make the fruit out of reach for harvest. Cut back limbs at the very bottom so you can get under them to mow and rake. Usually there are a few pleasant days in February, so pick one of these days and trim and prune the trees.

Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees

After pruning fruit trees and grapevines, add a finishing touch to the task by spraying them with a cast of dormant oil spray. This spray will coat trunks, limbs, branches, and vines with oil that protects the trees and vines against infestations of insects, borers and worms. This spray comes in bottles and is mixed with water according to directions on the bottle. Pick a sunny day with no wind to apply the spray. Cover trunk and limbs from bottom to top. Apply when no rain is in the forecast for several days. A good coat will cause limbs to look slick and shiny.

Starting a row or bed of lettuce

Lettuce is a tough winter vegetable that will produce a quick harvest in about 45 to 50 days and it will survive in cold weather and winter soil. You can purchase lettuce in packets for less than $2. There are many varities of lettuce that include, Iceberg, Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids, Buttercrunch, Red Sails, Salad Bowl and Oak Leaf. You can sow seed in a small bed or a short row and a small area will produce a lot of lettuce. Sprinkle the seed lightly in a furrow about two or three inches deep, cover with a layer of peat moss and apply Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. Feed with Miracle-Gro vegetable food after seeds sprout.

Winter’s back will soon be broken

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the back of Old Man Winter will be broken as we reach the halfway point of winter. There is still plenty of cold bite and icy breath, but on the calendar we are halfway through. Even with winter being at the halfway point, February is still the month of hard freezes and ice in the mud holes, as well as a few snow days to get everyone excited.

Seeing honeybees in winter is rare

Winter may be half over and most bees are balled up in hives or hollow trees keeping warm. This does not mean they are hibernating. On a rare day in February when the sun shines and warms above the freezing mark, some bees may venture out of the hive or hollow to activate their wings and scout around a bit. We have a fragrant Carolina Jasmine at the edge of the garden plot with bright yellow sweet smelling blooms and in February sometimes we see them around the jasmine blooms. We don’t think they venture too far from their hives during winter, but cabin fever could cause them to scout around quit a bit. A small bit of weather lore says that if you see bees buzzing about in mid February, it is also possible to experience cold wind as well as rain. Later they could zoom back and bring some snow to make things interesting! After all, half of winter remains.

Perennial flowers and cold weather vegetables enjoy the arrival of winter snowfalls, as well as kids and a lot of adults. We have a list of reasons why everyone should love snow, and the list is long: 1) snow is fluffy, white and beautiful, covers up all that is ugly and beautifies that which is already pretty. 2) Kids love snow and just the mention of snow excites them and they look forward to it. 3) Snow kills wintering insects, eggs and larvae, diseases and fungus. 4) Snow covers the lawn and garden in a blanket of white and adds nutrients to the soil. 5) Snow covers pots, containers, and perennials and makes them look like snow cones. 6) Snow is the main ingredient of Carolina snow cream. 7) Snow insulates pots and containers of perennials and protects them from winter extremes with a blanket of snowy white insulation. 8) Snow also boots business and the economy by creating a sudden craving for bread, milk, eggs, potato chips, dips, cold cuts, junk food, cereal and cookies. 9) We can not prove it, but we have reason to believe that winter snows subtly promote a response for seed and items for the upcoming garden season. 10) Snow makes the sun look brighter and the landscape look like tiny and sparkling diamonds. 11) An atmosphere with snowflakes is much easier to breath.

The sun is red like a pumpkinhead!

“The sun is red like a pumpkinhead, and it shines so your nose wont freeze.” This is from the Dean Martin song, “A Marshmallow World.” A red sunrise or sunset in winter with a snow on the ground is always a beautiful sight. Every day in the winter when the sun sets, we are gaining an extra minute of daylight. The sunshine melts snow even on a cloudy day, not because of heat, but from ultraviolet radiation. Yes, even in the marshmallow world of winter, the sun does its job.

Watering plants in sunny living room

The Christmas cactus, snake plant, asparagus and panda ferns thrive in the sunny living room all winter long. With a small drink of water each week and some Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month, they are very much alive. The ferns need to be trimmed every two weeks to promote new growth.

“Horseplay.” “Doctor, you’ve got to help my husband,” said the wife, “He thinks he is a race horse. He wants to live in a stable, he walks on all fours and eats hay.” The doctor said, “I’m sure I can help him, but it will cost a lot of money.” The wife said, “Money is no object, he’s already won two races!”

“Wrong seat.” A drunk driver phoned the highway patrol to report that someone had broken into his car and stole the dashboard, steering wheel, the brake, gas pedal and emergency brake. The highway patrol was puzzled and they sent an officer to the scene. Before the officer arrived, the drunk called back a second time, and said “Never mind, I got in the back seat by mistake.”

Full Snow Moon is Wednesday

A snow white full moon will rise in the eastern sky on Wednesday evening in a bare tree-lined horizon and possibly living up to its name of Full Snow Moon. It may even be adorned by a halo with stars inside of it. The night should be cold making for a silvery glow of moonlight.

This is in reference to the article, “NC education board member leaves, citing social studies row” in the Feb. 9 edition of The Mount Airy News.

On several occasions, letters have been written concerning the officially, state-sponsored indoctrination of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the NC public schools; particularly within the social studies curriculum. Links to publications to that effect were even provided; for example, .

Parents were further enjoined in those previous letters to the editor to “see for themselves” and to thereafter express their displeasure at their tax dollars being spent indoctrination our youth that:

Their country is systemically racist,

The “correct” color is paramount, contrary to Dr. Martin Luther King’s concept that all people should be judged not “by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (,

“Equity” (banal outcome) is more critical than equality of access to succeed in one’s endeavors to achieve life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Obviously since activism is more important than education within North Carolina public schools, even a State Board of Education member – Todd Chasteen – has seen the light. The question is, will you, the parent, grandparent, or other relative of a child also see the light and Speak Up at school board meetings?

You often hear that young people are our most valuable asset. This statement is premised on the fact that our youth have the highest potential for success since they have a vital resource on their side — time.

Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery (SCOSAR) has partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to find ways to capture and maximize our youth’s potential by preventing or delaying the onset of alcohol and substance use.

SCOSAR will be implementing SAMHSA’s underage drinking and substance use campaign geared towards parents of youth ages 9-15 years old. This campaign is called “Talk. They Hear You.” Its goal is to encourage parents to talk to their children, on a continuous basis, about the dangers of alcohol and substance use — before use begins.

The rates of alcohol and substance use by youth continues to be exceptionally high. Along with the high rate of use, the age of first use is declining.

According to the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than a quarter of the U.S. population that is too young to drink are doing so anyway. The percentage of people aged 18 to 25 who participated in binge drinking in the past month was 31.4%. This percentage was higher than for adults aged 26 or older at 22.9% and for adolescents aged 12 to 17 at 4.1% (SAMHSA, 2020). When our youth start drinking and experimenting with substance use before the age of 15, brain development, academic performance, and basic safety for themselves and others is negatively affected.

Although the challenge is great, adults should not believe that they are powerless to prevent alcohol and substance use in our youth. Parents have significant influence on their child’s decision as whether they start to use substances as children look to their parents as prime couriers of alcohol and substance use prevention messaging. Parents have a noble responsibility to become educated and receive all the assistance possible to initiate and continue the conversation with their children about underage drinking and substance use.

“Talk. They Hear You.” provides parents with the tools that build confidence to start conversations about alcohol and substance use with their children even before the teenage years. In doing so, this helps to construct a relationship between the parent and child in which the child is well-informed of how the parent feels about this risky behavior. It also can lead to the child realizing their parent is an authority on the subject which can result in the child consulting the parent with any questions they may have going forward. Having a close relationship with parents is a topmost protective factor in the world of underage drinking and substance use.

In the upcoming months, SCOSAR will continue to promote the “Talk. They Hear You.” program. SCOSAR will initiate training sessions with teachers and coaches at multiple schools, to be followed by in-person and on-line training offered to the community at large. There will be more information in future articles about the “Talk. They Hear You.” prevention campaign. Please take notice of the message when you begin to see the logo. Talk to your child. They really do hear you.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more about “Talk. They Hear You.”, please Start Here, by contacting Charlotte Reeves, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery Community Outreach Coordinator, at Visit our website at for more information about substance use disorder and the many resources in our county.

In the spring of 1944, World War Two raged worldwide, and a 10-year-old boy saw a fire on Bull Mountain in Patrick County, Virginia, on March 15, 1944. This was Clarence Hall’s first recollection of this historical event that would become his mission. Like others involved in preserving history, this mission began at an early age with a pivotal event.

Earlier that day, eleven young men left on a point-to-point navigational mission from an airbase near Charleston, South Carolina, on a four-hour mission to Mount Airy, to Madison at 5,500 feet, to Florence, South Carolina, at 4,500 feet and then back to Charleston, South Carolina. The crew left Charleston at 7:52 p.m. in a B-24E Liberator airplane #42-7417 with a full load of fuel, enough for nine hours of flying.

The plane flew over Elkin, Pilot Gilbert Felts’s hometown, at 9 p.m., flashing lights to signal his family. Hall believed the plane got lost on the Mount Airy to Madison section of the mission, came down in altitude to search for the Dan River and mistakenly found the Mayo River. The plane flew over Patrick Springs and then turned west towards Bull Mountain, not realizing the height of the peak. The pilot saw the mountain and tried to pull the aircraft up, needing only 30 feet higher to clear the mountain. This was the same mountain that the Hendrick’s NASCAR team members crashed into in 2004, killing ten people.

The B-24E Liberator Bomber crashed at 10 p.m. on Bull Mountain, killing 11 young men on the night navigational mission. The co-pilot was Lt. John R. Gipson of Logansport, Indiana. The flight instructor was Lt. Aubrey E. Brown of Dallas, Texas. The bombardier was Lt. Wayne R. Alber of Manchester, Michigan. The navigator was Flight Officer Howard A. Jennett of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The assistant radio operator was Sgt. Neale M. Narramore of Elmdale, Kansas. The assistant engineer was Corporal Joseph L. Fountain of Warren, Maine. The engineer was Corporal Charlie B. Herring of Oxford. The gunner was Corporal Charles D. Libbey of Waukesha, Wisconsin. The radio operator was Corporal Carl E. Pierce of Knoxville, Tennessee. The gunner was Private First Class James J. Tiffner of Alkol, West Virginia.

Clarence Hall researched for years, which included interviewing residents and a Freedom of Information Act request of the official report of the crash. Hall authored an article on the crash for Volume One of the Patrick County Heritage Book and set up an enormous collection of materials relating to the crash displayed in the Patrick County Historical Museum. He contacted all the families except for Flight Officer Howard Jennett and Lt. Aubrey E. Brown. In 1994, Clarence and Marshall Hall placed a propeller blade from the crash, donated by Lloyd Goad, on Bull Mountain. Twenty-one veterans of Patrick County gave money to place a marker on the grounds of the Patrick County Courthouse on October 16, 1994.

In May 2004, members of the Patrick County Genealogical Society, including this author, accompanied Clarence Hall to the crash site and witnessed the impact craters from the engines still visible and places on the mountain that foliage will not grow to this day due to the fire and melted aluminum in the ground.

That day we held a moment of silence for these young men, members of a generation that saved the world from fascism. We also took a moment to thank Clarence Hall for preserving this part of Patrick County’s History as he placed a marker on the mountain and in front of the Patrick County Courthouse to honor the men who died. Clarence, a great banjo player, passed away last year after teaching auto mechanics at Patrick County High School. It you want to learn more about this historical event, check out the book Fire on Bull Mountain by Tom Perry, available in the gift shop at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.

Voter suppression is devised to control the vote of minorities in the South. You can rest assured of that whether it is Republicans or Democrats when they yell “state’s rights.”

A minority group’s rights will cause a loss to exercise a right promised to every American. State’s rights means oppression. State’s right means keep those minorities under control.

Winter’s shortest month

We are already six days into winter’s shortest month and also what could be winter’s coldest month and that would make the month seem longer. We need a few hefty snowfalls during February to decrease the insects that are wintering over and also the weed seed and harmful organisms and fungal diseases that harbor in the soil. We need a February cold snap to tune up the garden plot and nothing will perform that like a snow covering the soil. Snow is heavy and when it melts it penetrates deeply into the soil. A February cold snap will promote a ground freeze which will also benefit the garden as well as the dormant lawn.

Thunder in winter can be snow sign

My Northampton County grandma always said that thunder in the month of February was a sure sign of snow in a few days. Winter thunder is different than spring and summer thunder that usually precedes an approaching thunderstorm or thundershowers. Thunder in winter is not a harbinger of a thunderstorm, but it thunders because of warm air aloft and colder air at the surface. My grandma was partially right when she would predict snow in a few days. Usually in winter, when it thunders, it will only thunder two or three times. Grandma would count the number of times it thundered and based her prediction on the number of times it thundered would be the number of days before we would see snow. She was right many times and wrong sometimes, sounds like today’s weather forecasters!

Checking out the wintering bulbs

As we move into February, the bulbs of spring flowers such as daffodil, jonquil, narcissus, crocus, hyacinth and tulips should be producing green spikes and tips popping from the winter soil. In winter, they are always a welcome sight. Once you see signs of life, apply a handful of bone meal or bulb booster around the green spikes.

Getting close to Valentines Day

Saint Valentines Day is only eight days away. You still have plenty of time to shop for that special Valentine for the wife, sweetheart, children or grandchildren. You can purchase gift cards from favorite shops and stores as well as restaurants. Flowers are always popular on Valentines Day and you can also buy floral arrangements such as azaleas and other flowers in pots or containers. The special Valentine cards with money inserts also make a gift that will please anyone on your list. Anything you do to remember your Valentine will be special.

In winter, your vehicle’s windshields take a lot of punishment with salt and slush from ice and snow removal equipment and passing traffic. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled with fluid that contains de-ice solution once every week. Spray the windshield with window wash and wipe it clean. Clean the wiper blades from grime and salts from the road. Allow your vehicle’s defroster to do its job and it will prevent ice from forming during your drive time and cause wiper blades to last longer. Always keep a roll of paper towels in the vehicle along with a can of de-icer.

Planting something red on Valentines Day

The first seed to be sown in the 2022 garden plot should be a packet or two of red radish. They are available at seed stores, hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace Hardware. One of the qualities of radish is that you can expect a harvest in about 45 to 50 days after sowing the seed. They are not popular with many gardeners because there is not much you can do with them at the dinner table except place them in a salad bowl. A packet of radish will go a long way and you can choose from many varities such as Cherry Belle, Rover, Cherry Bomb, Cherriette, Easter Egg and Crimson Giant. When you sow radish, sow sparingly and cover with a layer of peat moss and feed with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food.

Winter grand tour of lawn and garden

The winter lawn is brown, tan and dormant and the garden plot is in slow mode or “nap” time. This paves the way for a scavenger hunt of the garden and lawn for limbs, sticks, rocks, and missiles that the lawnmower or tiller will run over. Use a bucket and pick up these objects before the lawn and garden season begin.

Lawn mower and tiller tune up time

While the lawn is dormant and the garden is in nap mode, the season of tuning and repairing the mowers, tiller, weed trimmers and blowers or vacuum’s is here. Don’t wait until the mowing season gets in full swing to get small engines tuned and prepared for mowing and tilling. Here in the off season, most repair shops will pick up equipment, service it and return it to you for a small delivery charge. Get them to check battery, tires and belts as they service your equipment.

Making a muffin pan of corn puffs

Corn puffs are something wonderful for a cold February evening to warm up the family. For this recipe, you will need two cups of creamed corn, two cups cracker crumbs, broken up (Or ran through the blender in “grate” mode), two large eggs, one cup milk or sour cream, one stick light margarine (melted), three teaspoons sugar, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon paprika. Beat eggs until stiff, add remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into muffin pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake at 300 degrees until firm (about 45 to 50 minutes).

Valentine color at the birdbath

Red is the main color at the season of Valentines. At the bird feeder and bath, that gets our attention in the form of colorful cardinals. The male is bright red and the female has only hints of bright red. They are both being “Valentines” at the feeder when the male feeds the female. We would like to declare cardinals the official birds of Valentines Day! They are already featured on many Valentines.

Opportune time to fertilize lawns

As February moves along, food and fertilizer can be applied to the dormant lawn. While lawns are dormant, this is the opportune time to apply both lime (calcium carbonate) and lawn food. There is a great possibility of some February snow that could cover the winter lawn after lawn food and lime are applied and this will soak the lime and fertilizer deep into the soil and into the roots instead of washing it away. Never use 10-10-10 fertilizer on lawns, but use specially formulated lawn food that is designed to feed lawns over a extended time period. If you use a spreader, clean the inside of spreader with fresh water after applying lawn food to prevent rust. Dry with a towel and spray with a coat of oil spray such as WD-40.

Making a Valentine cherry salad

This is a very easy salad to prepare on the days leading toward Valentines Day. You will need two three-ounce boxes cherry jello, one cup boiling water, one can Comstock cherry pie filling, one can (large) crushed pineapple, one can fruit cocktail (reserve juice), half cup chopped pecans. Dissolve jello in boiling hot water and let cool. Add other ingredients and mix well. Add some fruit cocktail liquid if salad seems to dry.

“A kids prayer,” A pastor asked one little boy in his church if he said his prayers every night. “Yes sir,” the little boy replied. “And do you always say them in the morning too?” the pastor asked. “Why, no sir,” the boy replied. “I ain’t scared in the daytime.”

“Happy hunting.” On Wednesday night, the deer hunting season ended. During the service that evening, the pastor asked the men of the church who had bagged a deer. Not a single man raised a hand. The pastor was puzzled and said, “I don’t get it. Last week many of you said you would not be at church because of hunting season. I had the whole congregation pray for your deer.” One hunter said, “Well, pastor it worked. All the deer are still safe.”

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a periodic column in The Mount Airy News featuring commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

Mount Airy City Schools is a unique, family-centered, school district focused on growing every child. The district has increased its market share more than 5% in the past couple of years and continues to attract families. We know that teaching children to “Lead, Innovate, and Serve” is the way to a successful future regardless of the career path students choose. Our programs and environment are built on helping students set goals and attain those goals learning lessons along the way. Mount Airy City Schools is known for innovation around the state. Innovation is solving a problem in a new and better way to produce a stronger outcome. Our schools exemplify the motto to “Lead, Innovate, and Serve.”

The state oversees accountability and growth measures for public schools and recently released Education Value-Added Assessment System growth measures for all districts. If a school grows by 1.0 then the school is considered meeting its growth measure and growing each child as predicted. If a school grows students 2.0 or greater this is equivalent to two years of growth or exceeding growth. MACS had tremendous growth last year. Students did a fantastic job when coming to school during a pandemic. All schools met or exceeded growth with many academic points showing significant growth. For example, all mathematics growth was above 2.9 and sixth-grade math reached 7.62 with Math III at 7.66. The remarkable part is that students and staff were able to exceed growth in the middle of a disrupted year.

Technology is another area in which we excel. We have technology devices for every child and in many cases two. Students utilize Chromebooks, iPads, and MacBooks while instructional staff members enjoy MacBooks and iPads. Regarding the recent rollout of iPads, one BHT mom noted, “These iPads are so great! It definitely helps to be able to read the books in Seesaw more easily compared to my phone.”

We have four inviting lunch rooms with many hot choices daily. We have more than 27 different athletic teams and offer a large catalog of academic competition teams such as Robotics, Science Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, and Future Health Professionals (HOSA). We also feature a broad arts menu including visual arts, performing arts, chorus, band, and more. Attending MACS is like attending a private school in a public school setting. We have lessons every day in areas such as language, global studies, voice, instrumental, and more that many people pay great amounts to be able to enjoy.

Don’t take our word for it listen to quotes from parents:

Regarding the most recent remote learning day, one BHT parent stated, “I truly enjoyed yesterday’s remote learning day with my son. It was adorable and fun! First grade teachers did a marvelous job engaging students!”

A citizen noting the awesomeness of our board typed, “MACS has the BEST school board anywhere. Kind individuals who are devoted to what is best for the students!”

A recent MAHS graduate claimed on social media, “MACS is the place to be!”

Our elementary schools focus on innovations by equipping their teachers with Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics strategies and Leader in Me lessons. Tharrington Primary (BHT) has an amazing staff and the number one reason families choose us. Every day students enjoy engaging lessons, special area classes, and even workforce development focused on creating innovators, problem-solvers, and students who are fluent in two languages. Our dual language immersion (DLI) program has students at BHT learning Spanish throughout the day and outperforming peers across the state.

This elementary focus continues at Jones Intermediate and builds on DLI, STEAM, and Leader in Me. Art, music, Spanish for all, and other specials also continue while clubs are introduced to students. The fabulous teachers and staff at Jones work hard and are determined to grow every child. We have a gifted program that focuses on the academic giftedness of students and is a big reason families transition to Jones.

A recent Jones service event left a parent saying, “You cannot convince me that there is a better school system or better police department!” as police officers drove through to be served hot chocolate by our elementary students for a good cause.

Anyone interested in our DLI program can learn more by visiting or BHT’s website and clicking Students & Families. All of our rising kindergarten dates and times are found Now is the time to be registering for kindergarten, taking tours, asking questions, and attending events to get your child excited about going to school in the fall.

Our secondary approach is just as strong with Mount Airy Middle School (MAMS) and Mount Airy High School (MAHS) being in the top of the state academically. MAMS is in the top 25% of the state and MAHS is in the top 10% of the state. It’s important that the secondary schools are performing strongly as students are getting ready to go to a two-year or four-year college or enter the workforce. The skills of communication, teamwork, problem-solving, innovation, and entrepreneurship are part of our STEAM framework. We have over 100 students involved in workforce placement internships this year throughout our dedicated business community. The academic and athletic programs are second to none and help develop well-rounded students. Ninety percent of our students go on to college and many of those go into careers in the arts, engineering, health care, and trades. We have new programs in construction, drones, and science aviation as well as traditional careers such as health sciences, programming, graphic design, and carpentry.

A parent of a child who transferred from a local charter to MACS noted, “My daughter enrolled at MAMS last year in 8th grade and had a very positive experience.”

One community member commented on MAHS Club Day post online that, “MACS continues to amaze me, how they set examples for creativity in our schools.” Regarding a CTE course in graphic design, a grandparent commented “It’s great to see how schoolwork does have real world applications!!”

Our partnership with homeschool families is one of the strongest in the state. We attract homeschoolers to partner with us each year because we know our community’s students need the best support for success as well. This year we have put a K-8 STEAM Micro-school in place. It has doubled in enrollment and is a great opportunity for families who want to be hands-on in their child’s education. The micro-school is led by some of our strongest educators and they meet online with children each day while creating weekly experiences for them to interact with each other. These students come together to cook, plant gardens, learn to swim, and experience STEAM hands-on. This is a great way to have a hybrid learning experience for children.

One homeschool family noted, “This has been the best move we could have ever made for our child and her education!”

One MACS Micro-School parent noted, “We have enjoyed being involved in our kids’ learning while still having the support of their teachers.”

Is your family interested in the MACS Micro-School? Visit or locate this information on our website under Students & Families. Homeschoolers can learn more about our growing partnership by visiting

For families wishing to better understand what MACS has to offer them and for current families wishing to see what is found at the next school, visit There you will find a brochure highlighting many opportunities found in our system. Anyone wishing to schedule a tour can visit

Be a step ahead by having your enrollment forms ready to go. Visit to see the forms and what is needed. Contact any staff member or administrator by visiting

Have more questions? We have FAQs for you. Just visit or our website and click Students & Families.

It’s never too late to become a Granite Bear.

“There are few places in America more beloved than the Blue Ridge, rising like an ancient Great Wall across a third of the breadth of the nation. It has the burnished beauty of a country long lived in, of doorsills worn thin, of deep cook footpaths beneath the poplars.” – Opening words to Richard C, Davids’, The Man Who Moved a Mountain.

The Blue Ridge is a wondrous place, some would say the hills and valleys are plucked right out of a book. With numerous stories and songs to sing; some of hope and joy, others of loss and pain. The story and legacy of Bob Childress might seem like a tall tale at times, but his prevailing attitude, faith, and love has made him a Blue Ridge legend and hero.

Rev. “Bob” Robert Childress was brought into this world by another mountain legend, Aunt Orlean Puckett on Jan. 19, 1890. Bob was born to Babe and Lum Childress within “The Hollow,” located just above the North Carolina border. He was born into the poorest of the poor, as a child being hungry was commonplace in the hollow, at least in his family. With multiple brothers and sisters, winters were long, while fall spoils were greedily received.

Food wasn’t the only thing scarce in the hollow. Churches were few and far between and schools were practically nonexistent. When Bob was 6, a teacher was sent from Guilford College to start a school and Sunday school in the Hollow. Bob vowed to attend every meeting and he did. He even received an attendance award — a pair of red suspenders. After eight years of school, his beloved teacher, Miss Sally Marshburn, married, leaving The Hollow and heading closer to her home in North Carolina. Bob was devastated, and rarely attended school afterward.

His young life was plagued by drinking, fighting, and debauchery. If he wasn’t picking fights with others, they were picking fights with him. He was troubled with many trials and different jobs. He worked with lumber, and as a blacksmith at one time. He was on a continuous path of drunkenness and pain until he met his first wife, Pearl, and that’s when he started to turn his life around. Bob even joined up with a posse tasked with finding the fleeing members of the Allen family after the trial in Hillsville. He moved his family to West Virginia in search of work in the coal mines and continued his journey for self-discovery.

Pearl passed quietly in 1918 after the family returned home to The Hollow, leaving Bob with two children and lost hope.

Bob had been searching all his life for a purpose, and with the loss of his wife and the security of his two children to worry about he started getting straight, even more so than after his marriage. He would take the kids to church each week and his blacksmithing business prospered. The church became his crutch to lean on, with the need to help others growing inside him.

Married again in 1919 to Lelia Montgomery, Bob started on a path that would lead to many new and exciting things for him and his family. The years to follow would find Bob finishing seminary school to become a minister, cultivating a persona of faith and good works, and the creation of seven unique and amazing churches still recognizable today.

Couldn’t make it on the rough mountain roads to church? Bob would come pick you up.

Did you need help chopping wood? All you needed to do was call the Reverend.

He made church and religion accessible to the hollow and beyond. Some of his hardest work was done on and around Buffalo Mountain. Buffalo was known for its hard men and women. Killing, lying, and shame crept over the mountain like a terrible storm, never to leave. Some would say that Bob helped calm the storm.

Bob’s legacy continues to live on in the seven churches he created and the many people whose lives he touched. It you want to learn more about the Rev. Childress check out The Man Who Moved A Mountain, written by Richard C. Davids, or take a trip to one of the churches he built.

– Indian Valley Presbyterian Church, the only Bob Childress church not to be faced with natural rocks.

Emily Morgan is the Guest Services Manager at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. She and her family live in Westfield. She can be reached at or by calling 336-786-4478 x229.

Winter’s longest month almost over

The swan song of January is almost here. Winter’s longest month will come to an end tomorrow. As we approach the February, some of winter’s coldest days may be ahead, but February is a month with only 28 days. When February arrives, we will have only 49 days until spring. That may seem like a long time in winter, but spring will be here before you know it. We celebrated Saint Hilary’s Day on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and it is said to be winter’s coldest day, but with February just outside the door we could be in for more cold weather than Saint Hilary could dish out. Hopefully, we can have a hefty snow or two in February.

Winter snow has a ton of benefits

Winter snow will blanket the garden plot, sweeten the Siberian kale, enrich the soil with nutrients, build up the water table, and enlarge the turnips. It soaks into the winter lawn, kills wintering insects, weed seeds, eggs and larva and harmful organisms in the soil, beautifies the landscape and excites kids. “Some are cold and a few are frozen,” but those who like snow are special and chosen. Snow makes it easy to inhale and exhale. It opens the nostrils and lungs and perks up the immune system, generates a sense of excitement, and brings an atmosphere of calm and excitement to a restless world. A winter snow will melt the heart and bring excitement to the soul. There is a certain amount of excitement in a forecast that says snow is on the way.

Looking forward, expecting a snow day

Whether you love snow or not, its something you have to deal with so why not deal with it before it occurs? Several items you will need ahead of time for a snow day to be easier to cope with are windshield washer fluid, a durable ice scraper and brush, several cans of de-icer, a snow shovel, a bag of ice melt, a small whisk broom, bread for sandwiches, some quick snacks and junk food items, evaporated milk for hot chocolate, a gallon of milk to make snow cream, plenty of sandwich material and frozen pizzas. No snow day is a success without these items.

Keeping snow and ice out of birdbaths

With ice and snow in the birdbath and other sources of water covered with snow, birds have a difficult time finding water. There is water on the streets but with snow removal, it has salt in it, and that may be hazardous to their health. On snowy or icy days or freezing mornings, empty ice or snow from birdbaths and refill with fresh water. Repeat later in the day.

Keeping an old fashioned oil lamp handy

Technology in the 21st century is good, but when it fails, an old fashioned quality oil lamp filled with lamp oil is a practical item to have in reserve when power goes out. They are handy when batteries are low and the heat goes off. Many hardwares feature quality oil lamps, with spare wicks, burners and lamp oils. A good lamp costs around $9 or $10. Instead of kerosene oil they feature lamp oil in different scents that burn clean. They are certainly a great investment for any season of the year. Webster Brothers Ace Hardware in Walkertown has a great selection of oil lamps, brass spare burners, wicks and an inventory of scented oils. Always use oil lamps on a solid surface and away from the reach of children. Always be present in the room where an oil lamp is lit.

A year of colorful four o’clocks

Plan for plenty of color in the year of summer 2022 flower garden with plenty of four o’clock bushes. Four o’clock bushes provide flowers in colors of red, white, pink, rose, wine, and yellow. They produce plenty of lush green foliage and will bloom from late May until early October. You can purchase them in packets from Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods and hardwares. The speckled and marbled varieties can be ordered from Park Seed and Burpee catalogs. They thrive in all types of soil. My Northampton County grandma had beds of them growing in the acid soil of her front yard. Four o’clocks will also thrive on the edges and corners of your garden plot for plenty of foliage and color. Buy seed now and store in cool dry place.

At the end of January, the Christmas cactus looks healthy in the sunny living room. As winter moves along, the cactus produces runners that need to be trimmed to promote new growth. They need a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food mixed with proper amount of water once a month and to dampen them with water every seven to ten days. You can also feed cactus with Flower-Tone organic flower food every 10 days. If the foliage looks reddish in color, this is a signal from the cactus that it is receiving too much sun. Just move it further away from the sunny window and this should take care of that situation quickly.

Watching panda and asparagus ferns

As the asparagus and panda ferns spend winter in the living room, they too, develop runners that need to be trimmed back to promote growth and these runners need to be checked every week and trimmed so they will produce more foliage. Water once a week but only dampen the medium, do not over water. Use Miracle-Gro liquid plant food with proper amount of water. You can also use a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. Check both the Christmas cactus and ferns by sticking your index finger in the medium to check for moisture content. Lightly water when needed.

Robins bouncing around on lawn

Plenty of healthy robins visit the lawn and birdbaths every day. When the ground is not frozen, they seem to find plenty of grubs and insects. They are not shivering and are spry in their movements. The robins may not be building nests or laying eggs and we believe they stay in hollow trees and logs, in woodpiles, or under outbuildings, sheds, and in attics eaves of houses or in and under barns. The ground doesn’t freeze that much in winter and our winters are quite temperate and the robins we see don’t seem to be suffering any ill effects from the cold. Maybe they can make a dent in the Japanese beetle population by eating their grubs! We wish them the very best.

Enjoying the perennials of winter

Perennials are one of the year-round blessings of the world of flowers. They put on a special show of life in all four seasons of the year with little upkeep. In winter, they don’t need much water and are tough enough to withstand ice freezes, frost, snow and sleet and freezes. On the porch and deck are the coral bells, diantus, bugle weed, sea thrift, creeping phlox, periwinkle, dusty miller, American violets, bee balm, hen and chicks and pink thrift. They all stay green and a few of them produce flowers in winter. All are great investments in foliage, color and beauty all year long. They perform well when you plant only one per container and allow them plenty of room to spread out.

Making brown sugar maple pies

For these two pies you will need one box (pound) light brown sugar, three tablespoons plain flour, three large eggs, half cup melted light margarine, one cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon maple flavoring, one cup chopped pecans, two unbaked pie crusts. Mix brown sugar and flour, add eggs and beat well, add melted margarine and beat until light, add milk, vanilla and maple flavoring. Pour into two unbaked pie crusts. Bake at 325 degrees until slightly firm and set. You can add chopped pecans to the pie mixture or spread on top of pie. We prefer them in the pie.

Wednesday, Feb. 2 will be Groundhog Day or Candlemas as it is known in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and most of New England. Whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, we still have at least six more weeks of winter and maybe more even into the month of April. A bit of Groundhog Day weather lore says “If Candlemas is stormy, it will carry Old Man Winter on its back.” We believe this is “groundhog wash” because we have too many calendar days of winter remaining!

-“Wabbit wabbit.” If carrots are so good for the eyes, how come we see so many dead rabbits on the interstate?

-Fat for the thought. The older you get the harder it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat have become very good friends.

-Dieting is going some length to change your width!

This is in reference to “Their View” article titled “Roe v. Wade protections still important” in the Jan. 23, 2022 edition of The Mount Airy News.

While the landmark Supreme Court decision concerning abortion was necessary 49 years ago, it was based on the science of fetal gestation known at that time and social reproductive issues of that time. Since then, it has become quite apparent that counseling and medical, procedural, abortion protocols have not kept pace with scientific discoveries during the span of fetal gestation.

Counseling has primarily been the mainstay of Planned Parenthood which was established by Margaret Sanger, a known associate of supremacist groups and eugenics ( Incidentally, most of their facilities were/are placed within walking distance of minority communities.

With the removal of all moral aspects of abortion within our current societal “norm,” abortions have become the de facto “birth control pill” du jour as a result of instant gratification and deleterious sexual interactions.

Scientifically, one can argue that life begins at conception ( and ) or one can socially argue that life is based on “personhood” – body part, acorn or egg simile, and captive arguments ( .

The fine line between scientific and social arguments, now being addressed by states and the Supreme Court, is at what point does it become “murder” to abort a fetus?

I grew up in Mount Airy my whole life. One of the most famous things around, and stories I’ve heard my whole life, were about “The Strip.”

If you’re not familiar with it, its the road down Lebanon Street. Back around the 70s, every teen and young adult would drive their car up and down the road hence the name, “The Strip.” Before it could get to new generations, the city put a stop to it.

I believe it should make a comeback. I believe it would be an amazing opportunity for the new generation to make new friends, and to hear the stories from the people who used to drive it up and down. Not only would it make an attraction spot for new age people, it would help restaurants like Porky’s and others get more business.

It’s a great idea for teens in the 1980s-1990s who didn’t get to experience it, and for the new crowd of this generation to have something fun to do, and experience something their parents got to in their youth.

I am writing you to say this about Jones School sale: Why not just give it to the group of community action leaders that want it? I was raised in Mount Airy from 58-86 then moved to Newberry, South Carolina. I still read the Mount Airy News and my family is still present in Mount Airy.

Recently, the same situation happened here in Newberry. Gallman School, the old Black school, has been replaced and now we have another new state of the art school.

The city, county, and school board graciously donated it to the local community African-American group that wants it to restore and use it for various program needs. It will have a great value for the community by adding this building and playgrounds to continue to use for their needs for years to come.

I think the community needs to do this. The programs will help kids and adults alike in many ways. It will also help to right many wrongs that our previous generations have done to our African-American friends and neighbors.

This is in reference to “Reader questions voting bill” in the Jan. 23 opinion page.

Currently there are multiple resolutions and bills working their way through the 117th Congressional (2021-2022) process. Bear in mind, only a Joint Resolution (J.R.) affects the Constitution; whereas, Resolutions and Bills become Law.

a. H. R. 105 introduced by Rep. Gibbs (R-OH) is in House Judiciary Committee which referred the resolution to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. This resolution reaffirms that voting is a fundamental right of all eligible United States citizens and recognizing that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens;

b. H. R. 866 introduced by Rep. Davis (R-IL) is in House Judiciary. This resolution recognizes that allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens;

c. H.R. 4959 aka “Right to Vote Act” introduced by Rep. Jones (D-NY) is in House Judiciary. This bill concerns federal elections. The bill prohibits federal, state, and local governments from substantially impairing the ability to vote in federal elections unless the government action furthers an important and particularized governmental interest. This bill, in my opinion, essentially revokes state’s rights to establish voting processes for federal elections.

d. S. 2615 aka “Right to Vote Act” introduced by Sen. Ossoff (D-GA) has been read twice and referred to the rules and Administration Committee. This bill mirrors the specifications and has the same deleterious effect on state’s rights as of H.R. 4959.

e. H.R. 640 “Expanding Access to Early Voting Act of 2021” introduced by Rep. Brown (D-MD) has been referred to House Committee on House Administration. This resolution: expands early in-person voting, requires each state during federal elections 15 days early voting, requires polling places accessible by public transportation, establishes a Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards for early voting, and states must process and scan ballots during early voting period at least 14 days prior to election day (cannot tabulate ballots before polls close on election day). Again, state’s rights to establish election processes are superseded by the federal government.

f. H.R. 4 “John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021” introduced by Rep. Sewell (D-AL) has passed the House (9/14/21) and was received in the Senate where it has had two roll call votes. In essence, this bill is an outright removal of state right’s to determine voting processes and establishes the Department of Justice as the enforcement arm for voting processes within the United States.

The Resolutions/Bills enumerated above, except for H.R. 105 and 866, are multiple avenues by which the Marxist/socialist (aka democratic) party is attempting to establish one party rule within the United States, in my opinion.

“I thought that was the sweetest music that had ever been in this world, that old fiddle.”– Albert Hash

Music surrounds us in our daily lives whether on the radio, in commercials, at church, social gatherings, or around the house. The Blue Ridge Mountains have a rich and diverse history of music, and due to the isolated nature of some towns, music traditions were able to be passed down through the generations without much variance. Due to this, most famous musicians from the area often have humble musical roots. One little county has given a lot to the preservation and longevity of old-time and bluegrass music and it’s just a hop and a skip through the holler.

Covering approximately 427 miles in northwestern North Carolina is mountainous Ashe County. Through time, it has been part of Anson, Rowan, Surry, Wilkes, and the State of Franklin until it became its own county in 1799. There are three incorporated towns, 19 townships, and 18 unincorporated towns in its borders. Rich in natural resources, the county has boasted various industries over time.

Lansing was incorporated in 1928 and sits on less than half a square mile of land. Out of this town came Ola Belle Reed. Born Ola Wave Campbell in 1916, Ola Belle Reed came from a family of 13 children in Lansing. Both sides of her family were musically versed; her grandfather was a Primitive Baptist preacher who could fiddle, her father could play fiddle, banjo, guitar, and organ, and her grandmother and mother taught her the traditional ballads of the area. Ola learned to play clawhammer banjo and accompanied it with her singing.

Due to the Great Depression, the family moved to Pennsylvania and then Maryland in 1934 for employment. In Maryland, the family formed The North Carolina Ridge Runners, a band that played live radio broadcasts as well as for social gatherings and dance among the Appalachian transplants in the area.

Ola was known for playing and singing traditional songs and hymns but was also an accomplished original song writer. She wrote and recorded, “High on a Mountain,” “My Epitaph,” and “I’ve Endured.” In 1972, she played for the Smithsonian Folk Festival held in Washington D.C and recorded 75 songs for the Library of Congress. In 1986, she was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor in folk and traditional arts. In 1987, she suffered a stroke and was unable to play music anymore. She passed in 2002.

Although not born in Lansing, Albert Hash spent a bit over a decade in the city. Born in Whitetop Mountain, Virginia, in 1917, Albert learned to fiddle from Corbitt Stamper, his uncle George Finley, and was influenced by GB Grayson. His wife Ethel Spencer’s family was musically gifted as well; his father-in-law Bud Spencer was a dancer while his brother-in-law Thornton Spencer played fiddle. Their distant relatives were Ola Belle Reed and Dean Sturgill.

An extremely gifted player, Albert was better known for building and repairing instruments. He mostly built fiddles, but also made mandolins, banjos, dulcimers, and only one guitar, which is now in the possession of Wayne Henderson, who Albert mentored and was good friends with.

A firm believer in teaching and sharing knowledge and traditions, Albert formed the Whitetop Mountain Band in the 1940s and in 1982 he started the music program at Mount Rogers School, now known as the Albert Hash Memorial Band. In 1976, Albert recorded an album of fiddle tunes with Thornton, Thornton’s wife Emily, and Flurry Dowe under the band name The Whitetop Mountain Boys. Of note, the producer of the album was Kyle Creed. Albert passed in 1983, but his daughter Audrey Hash Ham carried on his work mentoring young luthiers in the craft as well as playing and teaching music.

Ashe County hosts many music events and festivals throughout the year. The Ola Belle Reed Festival is held in Lansing in August and the Ashe County Fiddlers Convention is held in Jefferson in July; both draw musicians and onlookers from around the country to participate and listen. The Old Helton School Hog Stomp is held every Thursday in Sturgills. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s a social gathering full of music, dancing, and of course a jam session. Another local favorite is the Phipps General Store Jam, located outside of Lansing and held on Fridays. The town of Todd offers multiple music events such as the Todd New River Festival, Jam Sessions at the Todd General Store, Todd Concert Series, and dances at the Todd Mercantile.

The interconnectedness of music, family, and traditions is a wonderful sight to behold, whether reading about it, listening to oral interview recordings, or listening to the music itself. This was a an extremely short overview of the subject, as books, documentaries, and films have been made about the people and music mentioned here, but I hope I did it justice.

Fragrance of spring in middle of winter

The Carolina Jasmine is the perennial that produces in all four seasons of the year. It is a combo of hedge, ornamental, floral, fragrance, and color from the dead of winter to the Dog Day heat of summer. It has fragrance from bright yellow flowers in late January and bonus blooms all during the year. The foliage is green in all seasons. The Jasmine can be trimmed and shaped in all seasons and tolerates all kinds of weather extremes. You can purchase them at nurseries and they come in two- and three-gallon containers. We have one on the edge of the garden that is 15 years old. They are definitely an investment in beauty, foliage, and fragrance especially in the season of winter. Their fragrance in winter is sweeter than honeysuckles of spring.

Waking up the sleeping lawnmower

The riding mower, push mower, tillers, leaf blowers, and weed trimmers and vacuums need to be started and run for a few minutes every week during the winter. Do not drain gas from this equipment but keep filled so you can start them and warm them up once a week. Keep plenty of two cycle fuel mixed for engine protection and easy starting. Start mowers and allow them to run for several minutes until the engine warms up. It is also beneficial to disengage the blade on the riding mower and drive it around the lawn several times to circulate fluids and moving parts. If you have a riding mower, you may want to invest in a canvas cover for extra cold weather protection. You can purchase them at Lowe’s or Home Depot for around $20.

Frozen sod good for winter garden

Frozen garden soil is not that bad of a thing for the garden plot because it will kill morning glory seeds, weed seed, wintering insects and other fungal diseases that hinder growth of productive plants in the spring garden. Most cold weather vegetables are covered with a blanket of leaves or mulch and will endure the blast of winter sleet, ice, snow, and north winds.

A cool thing to do on a winter afternoon

It is a good thing to stay active during winter. Whether it is spending an hour or so on the front porch with a cup of coffee or a Mountain Dew or watching the crows and squirrels or birds at the feeders and birdbath, or picking Siberian kale from the winter garden, harvesting a few turnips or shopping for a few Valentines for kids, grandkids, and special people or a sweet wife. A cold afternoon is a great time to check out the garden shops that are coming to life in hardwares, nurseries, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walmart. You can purchase vegetable and flower seed by the packet and store them for the spring garden. You can also purchase four-pound bags of Garden-Tone, Plant-Tone, Flower-Tone, Tomato-Tone, and Rose-Tone organic plant foods. Saint Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away, so you can purchase gifts of stuffed animals, gift cards, flowers, money cards, candies, restaurant and fast food cards. Make the most of it and get exercise at the same time.

A half hour of extra daylight

Since the first of winter in December, we have now gained an extra half hour of daylight. We can say this is a sign of spring and the birds are the first to take advantage of the extra daylight. They seem to be a little more active at the feeders and crows are making more noise.

Pansies are colorful on the winter porch

The pansies in January are an extra bonus of winter flowers, colors, and foliage. Cold temperatures do not bother them very much, they just bloom and bear it. Their bright colors of purple, white, lavender, yellow, pink, and bronze brighten up the days of winter.

The mother of a cold winter storm

On a mild January day when the sky is blue and the temperature reaches 53, buckle your seat belt because a winter storm may be brewing. It is often said that a fair January day can be the mixing bowl for a brewing winter storm. This could well be true because in just a few hours a winter storm can blow in from the Gulf or Mexico or the North wind can blow in a cold and icy blast.

A bowl of Carolina strawberry snow cream

As the North wind blows, when will it blow in a heft snow? We don’t know, but it could be any day. Get things in order to make a bowl of Carolina strawberry snow cream to enjoy when the kids come in from sledding and making a snowman. To prepare this snow cream recipe, thaw a quart of frozen Carolina strawberries and mash them up or run through the blender in “grate” mode and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat three large eggs, add one and a half cups sugar, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, two cans evaporated milk, two cups milk, the thawed, grated strawberries. Beat the eggs and add sugar and beat until creamy, add milk and all other ingredients and mix well and set aside. Find a clean, undisturbed spot of snow in the yard with no footprints anywhere, scrape off the top layer and scoop up a pan full of fluffy white snow. Keep adding the harvested snow to the large bowl of snow cream mixture until it reaches the consistency of ice cream. You can freeze what remains. Eat slowly because snow cream is very cold, but great! Memories are made of snow cream. My mother was a snow lover and it did not take much snowfall for her to make a batch of snow cream. Her very favorite spot to harvest snow for snow cream was the top of the coal pile in the backyard. She always made vanilla snow cream.

Rose bushes in the cold dead winter

Roses are very much alive in the dead of winter. As we move farther into winter, the rose bushes can use a little tender loving care. A fresh layer of crushed leaves for protection from winter extremes and a small drink of liquid Miracle-Gro rose food to give them a boost. Large canes and spent blooms as well as rose hips should be removed. If an ice event comes, take the broom and sweep and knock the ice from the rose bushes. If we have a heavy snow, sweep it off before it weighs down the bushes. As we move toward February, add a handful of Rose-Tone organic rose food to the bushes and then recover with crushed leaves.

Valentines Day only three weeks away

The day of hearts, flowers, and candy is only three weeks away. All the florists are decked out with roses, containers, and potted flowers. The big box stores are well-stocked with candies, potted plants, gift cards, money cards, jewelry, perfume, and other gifts. Restaurants also offer gift certificates that make great gift. If you run out of Valentines gift ideas, a plastic gift card for a certain amount will always be a practical gift.

Preparing for a heavy January snowfall

January has reached past the halfway point and we are looking forward to a huge January snowfall that covers the garden plot and cool weather vegetables, the lawn, the woodlands and countryside with a blanket of white. Nothing cleanses the air and beautifies the landscape like a January snow.

-“Stir Crazy.” Brad: “Remember you suggested I send that pretty girl at work some flowers and ask her over for a home cooked meal?” Chad: “Yes, I do remember that.” Brad: “Well, I did and I was totally shocked. She insisted on washing the dishes.” Chad: “And whats wrong with that?” Brad: “We had not started eating yet.”

-“Wrong cure!” Doctor (to mother): “I will need to see little Jonnie again in a month. But, you, mom, also need help. You are far too upset and worried about your son. Here are some tranquilizers, take them each day until I see you next month.” Mother: “Well, alright, if you really think I need them.” Doctor (one month later): “So, how is Jonnie doing?” Mother: “Who cares!”

-“True clue.” A rumor without a leg to stand on will usually find some other way to spread.

-In the garden. A gardener learns more from a bad harvest than a good one.

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a feature of The Mount Airy News, presenting commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

In previous publications, I have stated what a promising time the beginning of a new year is and that still reigns true. I love the fresh start the new year brings – the newness but also the perspective that comes with planning goals and using reflections from past lessons as we dream big for the year ahead. Some use this as a time to set resolutions or goals, and some use this as a time to reflect on the past before moving forward.

As I reflect, I am beyond amazed by what our school system was able to accomplish this past year. We welcomed students back to our campuses. We were able to define a new normal and worked together to provide ample opportunities for students and staff. We worked hard and are still working hard as we turn our sights to 2022.

Looking forward, one word has come to mind as I envision the upcoming year: Intentional. What does it mean to be intentional? Being intentional means crafting a clear purpose and setting goals to create the life you want. With intentionality, you appreciate more and express gratitude for the things that matter most in your life. When you are intentional, you set better goals and work hard to be the best version of yourself you can be. Intentionality is one of the most impactful ways to nurture others and discover more in ourselves as each of us learns, grows, develops, and succeeds.

This year, I plan to be intentional with my goals and commitments to our school system. I plan to continue putting students at the forefront of what we do while continuing to foster a culture of leadership for our employees. I plan to further align decisions with our mission of designing dreams, and growing leaders.

Curt Kampmeier once said, “If you’re going to grow, you have to be intentional.” With this in mind, I believe that we can intentionally cultivate the growth of our students and each other. The more intentional we are with our choices, the more we can flourish and thrive in this season of change.

Roll up, roll up! Whether you prefer to watch trapeze artists or aerobats, jugglers or magicians, or whether you are deathly afraid of clowns, there is something for everyone when the circus comes to town.

From the late 19th century onwards, circuses typically toured for months at a time, across the United States and some parts of Canada, with their own train cars and usually stopping only for a night or two in towns along the way. For much of the first half of the 20th century, a circus would stop by almost every year or so.

The circus was not just a background event when it came to town. In August 1929, when John Robinson’s circus came to Mount Airy for two shows in one day, it effectively closed down the town for the day. The Mount Airy granite quarry closed for the day, and factories gave their employees the afternoon off to see the event. John Robinson’s circus arrived in around 40 train cars, having left Greensboro the evening before. Pulling into Mount Airy at 4:30 a.m., a number of the circus’s 180 horses and a herd of elephants hauled and pushed their wagons through the streets of Mount Airy with such efficiency that the circus was at the fairgrounds and ready to be set up by 8 a.m. the same morning, ready to fill the main tent’s 8,000 seats.

The stoppage of Mount Airy’s industry would have been a sight for the Yadkin Valley News reporter who in 1892, wrote of their joy that Miles Orton’s circus bypassed Mount Airy on its tour, stating that “‘Circuses afford amusement for a day, but they demoralize business for awhile.. take a great deal of more money out of the country than such people are entitled to.”

Perhaps the most famous circus in history, dubbed “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus performed in Winston-Salem in October 1921. The circus had recently had a two-month stay at Madison Square Garden in New York City, performing twice a day to packed audiences. Coming along with the circus was a wide menagerie of animals, including elephants, camels, trained seals, bears, monkeys, dogs, and even pigeons.

The same company returned to Winston-Salem in October of 1927, this time with a “White Elephant” in tow. The elephant, named Pawah, was advertised as the only one of its kind to be found in more than 300 years, and the only genuine white elephant that had been brought to America. The sight of Pawah would have been astonishing to those who came along to the spectacle, who would never have seen an elephant before, let alone a very pale and rare white elephant.

An example of the precariousness of live performances occurred in April 1896, when the Sparks and Cole Circus rolled into Mount Airy. Arriving via railway, admission to the show was only 25 cents, which is less than $9 in today’s money. The highlight of the show was to be the feat of French “aeronaut” William DeBoe. DeBoe was set to fly into the sky in his airship — an aircraft similar to a hot air balloon — named Carolina, before jumping out and descending to the ground on his parachute. In an anticlimax, the parachute was not working, and the daredevil instead had to come back down upon his airship. Nevertheless it did not put a damper on the entertainment, with reports the next day calling it “the best 25 cents show ever exhibited here.”

Three to four thousand people came into town on the day to attend, a huge increase from the thousand or so people who lived in Mount Airy at the time. The success led the same company to return to Mount Airy the following April. This time, the circus featured more than 30 different acts, including various trained animals and a group of acrobats. DeBoe was also present and again performed his feat. There is no record of his attempt this time, which hopefully can be taken as good news.

From Sept. 14 to Sept. 19, 1925, the Eastern Star Circus and Bazaar came to Mount Airy, giving the people of the town the chance to prove whether they had the potential to run away with the circus. A special event held on the evening of Sept. 18 by the circus encouraged the audience to become the performers. The citizens of Mount Airy were encouraged to test their abilities and perform their own routines, in front of some 3,000 spectators. Several prizes were to be given out, with the winners being decided by the applause of the audience.

Many of the famous circuses of years gone by have now taken down their tents for the final time, due to various concerns and the changing interests of modern audiences.

Yet, we hold onto the nostalgia of these grand affairs, and they will be forever a reminder of the joy of laughter.

Katherine “Kat” Jackson is a part-time employee at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Originally from Australia she now lives in Winston-Salem. She can be reached at the museum at 336-786-4478.

We saw a few robins on the lawn the week before Christmas and they looked active and healthy as they bounced around the lawn looking for insects and making a stop at the birdbath. We believe our winters are mild enough and they have adapted to our temperatures. Even though they don’t seem to be abundant, there are still plenty of them around to let us know they are tough and healthy. They have plenty of protection from the cold and find warmth in hollow logs, under outbuildings, inside sheds, under houses or bush piles. Some may still fly south, but more and more are seen here every winter. The robins that do fly south seem to return long before cold weather is over. We are glad to see them around in winter and they are a welcome addition to winter mornings.

As we move farther into January, the garden plot needs precipitation in the form of snow. Rain is great, but snow is heavy and soaks deep into the sod of the lawn and garden plot and adds nitrogen and trace nutrients to the soil. Snow acts as a blanket for the garden and causes the ground to freeze thus killing wintering insects, their eggs and larvae plus slowing down noxious weed populations. Deep down in their sweet hearts, the kids are desperate for a sledding, snowman type of snow to give a break from school and some snow activity and fun.

Season of hearts, flowers, and love

The season of Saint Valentine’s Day is only several weeks away. Many shops, stores, flower and garden shops are already decked out in colors of red, white, pink, and lavender. Walmart, Food Lion, and Lowe’s Home Improvement have large and colorful displays of Valentine floral arrangements, flowers, seeds, plant foods and potted plants, Walmart has gift cards of all kinds, and cards designed to insert money in, candies, heart boxes of candy, and potted flowers. Local florist have beautiful flowers with Valentine themes and they can now take your order for delivery on Valentines Day. Gift cards from favorite shops or restaurants or fast food restaurants make nice gifts. Whatever the gift you choose, remember to wrap it in special Valentine wrap to make the gift more meaningful and thoughtful.

Plenty of color at the winter feeders

The birds of winter are still active at the feeders all during the day. The red of the cardinals and the white and gray of the chickadees, along with the brown of the sparrows and the occasional appearance of a few blue jays are common sights. At different times of the day, the varities of birds change. All have one thing in common — they visit the feeder for a quick and easy meal.

Ice in the birdbath on cold days

Ice forms in the birdbath during winter nights. As the sun warms the temperatures, dump the ice and refill with fresh water and repeat this every day to give birds a source of water near the feeders.

Even though it is mid-January and freezing temperatures are the norm, hardware’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, Walmart, and seed and garden shops and nurseries now have racks of colorful flower and vegetable seeds on display for the growing season. Buy a few packets each week and place them in a box for storage and add packets to the box each week. Store in a cool dry place. Keep a list of the flower and vegetable seed varities that you purchase.

Changing your furnace’s filter once a month during winter not only makes the air you breath in the home cleaner, but also helps your home to be more dust free and makes your heating system operate more efficiently. Check the size of the filter your furnace requires and keep a few on hand. Use black permanent marker to write the size of the filter on the filter door.

Adding a blanket to spring flower bulbs

As we move past the middle of January, give the spring flowering bulbs of jonquil, hyacinth, narcissus, daffodils, and crocus a blanket of crushed leaves for extra protection from winter freezes. Sprinkle handfuls of bone meal or bulb booster before applying the leaves to boost the bulbs along a bit because in mid-February, they will be spiking out of the cold winter soil.

A sign of the heart showing up in the garden

Glossy green leaves in the shape of hearts are showing up behind the garden plot and in several containers on the deck. They are a natural Valentine which are actually the leaves of the American violets that thrive as we move toward the month of February. Anything that is green in winter is a welcome and encouraging sight. We have several clumps of American violets in pots on the deck that are five or six years old and every year the leaves come back and produce plenty of beautiful violets. As the violets make their leafy appearance, fill a container with potting medium and transplant a clump of the American violets in the medium for a show of heart shaped greenery and violets during spring.

Trimming panda and asparagus fern

The panda and asparagus ferns are spending winter in the living room. As they enjoy their sunny location, they develop long runners as they seek more sun. As these runners grow, keep them trimmed back with scissors or clippers usually every ten days. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food or Miracle-Gro liquid plant food and lightly water every ten days. If they seem to be receiving too much sun, remove them farther from the windows. To check whether they need water, stick your index finger into the soil to determine if medium is still moist or needs water.

Controlling weeds in the winter garden

There are many weeds that thrive in winter including chickweed, nut grass, Bermuda grass and wild onions. They can be easily controlled by pulling them up by their roots and tossing them out of the garden. Anytime of the year that you see a weed is the time to get rid of it before it gets a head start.

A fair January day: Mother of a storm!

There can be some fair and pleasant days in the month of January, but it is good to look at them with caution. A bit of winter weather lore says that if there is a fair day with blue sky and a temperature of 55 degrees, beware because this can be the mother of a winter storm. All it takes is a shift in the wind to the north to change the course of a weather pattern. In January, we can look for sudden changes in the weather.

The cold and frosty garden

January days are cold, but a few are raw and frozen and the garden plot reflects it. The Siberian kale has a few ice crystals on it and the turnips feel like they come out of the deep freeze. The word that best describes the garden is “frosty.” The garden sod makes a crunchy sound when walking on it, but it is not all that bad because with a hard freeze, you know plenty of moisture is in the soil and this means that the freeze will have an effect on insects and weed seed and noxious fungus in the soil. There is a certain amount of beauty in a frosty garden.

Making a hash brown potato casserole

A hot potato casserole is great in the cold of winter especially when made with hash browns. For the casserole, you will need two pounds of frozen hash brown potatoes, one stick light margarine, one teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, two cups finely grated sharp cheddar cheese, half cup chopped onions, two cups sour cream, two cups crushed corn flakes, one half cup melted margarine. Thaw potato’s and mix all ingredients except corn flakes and melted margarine. Pour casserole ingredients into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. top with crushed corn flakes and one fourth cup melted margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

“Wrong kingdom!” During the Bible class, the lesson centered on the situation of King Herod offering up to half his kingdom to see the daughter of Herodius dance. The teacher said to the students, “Now, what if you had this problem, and you made the offer of anything she wanted, and the girl came to you saying, the head of John the Baptist, and you don’t want to give her the head of John the Baptist. What would you do?” One of the student replied, “I’d tell her that the head of John the Baptist was not in the half of the kingdom I was offering her!”

Full Wolf Moon occurs tomorrow

The full moon of January will be tomorrow night, as it rises in the eastern sky shining through the bare limbs of the mighty oaks. It will look silver and bright as it shines down on a cold clear sky (hopefully) or it could shine on the crest of a new fallen snow.

You often hear that young people are our most valuable asset. This statement is premised on the fact that our youth have the highest potential for success since they have a vital resource on their side — time.

Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery (SCOSAR) has partnered with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to find ways to capture and maximize our youth’s potential by preventing or delaying the onset of alcohol and substance use. SCOSAR will be implementing SAMHSA’s underage drinking and substance use campaign geared towards parents of youth ages 9-15 years old. This campaign is called “Talk. They Hear You.” Its goal is to encourage parents to talk to their children, on a continuous basis, about the dangers of alcohol and substance use — before use begins.

The rates of alcohol and substance use by youth continues to be exceptionally high. Along with the high rate of use, the age of first use is declining.

According to the SAMHSA National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than a quarter of the U.S. population that is too young to drink are doing so anyway. The percentage of people aged 18 to 25 who participated in binge drinking in the past month was 31.4%. This percentage was higher than for adults aged 26 or older at 22.9% and for adolescents aged 12 to 17 at 4.1% (SAMHSA, 2020). When our youth start drinking and experimenting with substance use before the age of 15, brain development, academic performance, and basic safety for themselves and others is negatively affected.

Although the challenge is great, adults should not believe that they are powerless to prevent alcohol and substance use in our youth. Parents have significant influence on their child’s decision as whether they start to use substances as children look to their parents as prime couriers of alcohol and substance use prevention messaging. Parents have a noble responsibility to become educated and receive all the assistance possible to initiate and continue the conversation with their children about underage drinking and substance use.

“Talk. They Hear You.” provides parents with the tools that build confidence to start conversations about alcohol and substance use with their children even before the teenage years. In doing so, this helps to construct a relationship between the parent and child in which the child is well-informed of how the parent feels about this risky behavior. It also can lead to the child realizing their parent is an authority on the subject which can result in the child consulting the parent with any questions they may have going forward. Having a close relationship with parents is a topmost protective factor in the world of underage drinking and substance use.

In the upcoming months, SCOSAR will continue to promote the “Talk. They Hear You.” program. SCOSAR will initiate training sessions with teachers and coaches at multiple schools, to be followed by in-person and on-line training offered to the community at large. There will be more information in future articles about the “Talk. They Hear You.” prevention campaign. Please take notice of the message when you begin to see the logo. Talk to your child. They really do hear you.

If you, or someone you know, would benefit from learning more about “Talk. They Hear You.”, please Start Here, by contacting Charlotte Reeves, Surry County Office of Substance Abuse Recovery Community Outreach Coordinator, at Visit our website at for more information about substance use disorder and the many resources in our county.

On a soft April evening in 1904, Florence Alma Prevette entered the parlor in her mother’s Wilkes County home. It was filled with family and friends as Mendelsohn’s “Wedding March” played on the piano. The flickering light of candles and gas lamps would have danced on the creamy silk crepe de chine gown as she and her sister Viola approached the nervous groom.

“The bride was beautifully attired in white crepe de chine,” wrote the correspondent for the North Wilkesboro Hustler. “She is one of Wilkes’ fairest daughters while the groom (Bradshaw Partridge) holds a responsible position with the Southern Railway. Both have a host of friends and were the recipients of many handsome and valuable presents.”

The young couple lived most of their lives in Mount Airy where, after leaving the railroad, Partridge sold New York Life insurance. They raised seven children here, one of whom donated the beautiful gown to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History where it now holds a place of honor in the Victorian gallery.

Named for Great Britain’s Queen Victoria, the era lasted longer than Her Majesty who reigned from 1837 until her death in 1901. The Victorian Era, especially in the United States, is generally considered to extend to 1910.

American society saw a tremendous economic expansion with what is called the Second Industrial Revolution. Advances in steel and chemical production fueled other industries such as railroad, electric generation, and manufacturing machinery for everything from textiles to bicycles. Surry County benefitted from these advances as existing businesses incorporated the progress to enhance their facilities and new entrepreneurs saw untapped natural resources.

The arrival of the railway in Mount Airy and Pilot Mountain in 1888 and Elkin in 1890 made personal travel and transportation of goods significantly easier. County population exploded nearly 67% between 1880 and 1900 to 25,515 as people came looking for opportunities.

Chatham Mills in Elkin expanded and doubled production. Members of the Sparger family lead business in the northeastern section of the county in many areas including nationally recognized orchards and a booming tobacco manufacturing.

“Our people do a cash business,” said G. W. Sparger, Esq., of Mount Airy, who was in Raleigh recently. “There is very little of the credit business in Surry. Our farmers are not in debt, they buy and sell for cash and are absolutely independent. Merchants who do a business of $100,000 have little need of a bookkeeper as their business is almost wholly for cash.” That bespeaks a prosperous section.” So reported The Raleigh State Chronicle in October 1891.

Industrialists and merchants built beautiful homes at a surprising pace. Many still stand across the region such as the magnificent Queen Anne-style Alexander Martin Smith home in Elkin with its delicate gingerbreading and the James Hadley home on West Pine in Mount Airy.

Others, like the great brick homes of Jesse Franklin Moore (corner of Franklin and South Main streets) and Jesse Prather (corner of Rawley and North Main) have been lost to development as the communities continued to grow.

Congregations were able to build new church homes in that time as well, sometimes it was the first building dedicated to housing worship services as many congregations met in homes, barns, or open fields in earlier days.

The Westfield Friends Meeting House was built in 1885; The Pilot Mountain Primitive Baptist Church, 1896; Elkin’s Galloway Memorial Episcopal Church, 1897; and Mount Airy’s Main Street granite churches – Trinity Episcopal, Friends, First Baptist, Presbyterian, and Holy Angels – were built between 1896 and 1921.

There is no doubt that some faired better than others and poverty and inequity were still present across the county, but the Victorian Era was definitely one of growth and change for Surry. And it was noticed.

The Wilmington Messenger wrote in October 1891, “A great deal has been said about Mount Airy of late. Its growth, its trade, its business energy, its possibilities well merit attention. It is doubtful whether there is a place in NC to day (sic) that bids fair to have such a growth for the next two years as Mount Airy. Its trade is getting to be astonishingly great.”

But, perhaps the words reported in November 1897 by the Greensboro Telegram were even better. A businessman from Greensboro had visited Mount Airy and Surry County and shared his thoughts after a rough and sometimes hair-raising train ride but clearly enjoyable visit.

“At Mt. Airy, a feeling of wonder … a feeling of thankfulness that you are up side up …But for good food, pure air, healthy water, clever people, stirring people, working people, prosperous people, crooked streets, hilly streets and a general good time, go to Mt. Airy and take your chances for getting back.”

Green is the year round color in the winter garden

In the coldest part of the year, it is always great to have something green, alive and producing in the dead of winter. A pansy with dark green foliage and purple and yellow faces, dusty miller or coral bells as floral displays or Siberian kale, turnips, mustard greens, collards, onion sets and broccoli. The winter garden does not have to be drab and gray. With the aid of a bed of crushed leaves as a winter blanket, the greens of winter can prosper as well as produce a harvest in the cold, harsh, winter.

January is the month of hard freezes

On January mornings there can be a plenty of ice covering the mud holes as winter really gets down to serious business. A freeze that comes during January does the winter garden a favor because the frozen sod will kill wintering insects and their eggs as well as seeds of weeds and fungus in the soil. Cool weather vegetables will thrive because they are now hardened off to the cold spells of the icy breath of winter.

A cover for ornamental cabbage and kale

As we move into winter’s first full month, which is also winter’s longest month, pay a bit of attention to the containers of ornamental cabbage and kale. On cold winter nights, keep several towels handy and the cabbage and the kale containers close together so you can spread a towel over them for freeze protection. One towel should cover two containers. Whenever you water them, do not over water because this invites a freeze. When temperatures rise above freezing each morning, remove the towels and fold them up for the next evening.

A message from the mighty oaks

The mighty oaks have only a sparse amount of leaves remaining on them as we reach the second week of January. My Northampton County grandma always said that when oak leaves hung on to their limbs, “They were just hanging around waiting for a heavy snowfall to bring them down.” We may soon be receiving that first big snow and it will certainly be great news for kids of all ages. It will be great news for the garden plot because some weather lore says that when snow bends the limbs of the mighty oaks, we can expect bountiful crops in summer. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Exercise on winter front porch

Don’t just keep a towel to protect the winter annuals on the front porch, but keep a warm blanket and toboggan also close by in the house so you can exercise your body on a cold morning on the front porch and enjoy the warmth of the winter sun as you sip a cup of hot coffee and remove towels from the winter annuals. The winter sun and the north wind will harden your immune system and toughen your body up to adjust to the cold temperatures as well as make you feel better as you begin the day. If winter mornings are a bit cold, you may want to keep a pair of warm gloves close by.

Putting together a no crust apple pie

No dessert in the cold of winter is as good as an apple pie hot from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. This is a simple recipe that has no crust, but plenty of flavor. You will need two beaten eggs, one cup of sugar, five tablespoons of plain flour, one a half teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, half cup of golden raisins, two cups diced apples, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon apple pie spices, one stick light margarine. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and set aside. Mix sugar and beaten eggs together and add to the flour mixture. Add all other ingredients except margarine and mix well. Pour into a nine inch pie dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Dots with pats of margarine. Bake at 325 degrees until firm. Serve with whipping cream.

A crisp sound and the look of diamonds

As January blows in its winter winds, from the north or south, we look forward to seeing a fluffy white snowfall and feasting our eyes and ears on the snow of a cold winter’s eve and allowing it to “Speak” to us. There is a majesty, purity, and magic in a snowfall. On a cold evening of winter, the snow makes a crispy, crackling sound as the temperature drops and the street lights and bright moonlight shine down on the new fallen snow. It reflects on crystals and makes them shine like tiny diamonds. A gentle breeze blows making the world outside feel a tiny bit like a Klondike bar!

Keeping water in the birdbath

Birds are active all winter and they drink water in the winter also. We can make it easier for them to find water by emptying ice from the birdbaths and refilling with fresh water as the temperature rises above freezing each day. Repeat this activity and keep a close eye on the activity of the birds at the bath. Keep food in the feeders and refill as needed.

Watering winter plants and annuals

The annuals and perennials on the front porch and deck need water in the winter but not as much. Place your index finger in the medium in the containers and when they feel dry, water until they are damp, but not soaking with water. Watering too much will cause the medium to freeze and become harmful to the plants. A little water in winter goes a long way.

Enjoy good hot coffee on the winter porch

We are not referring to instant coffee, but freshly perked coffee that is hot, black, and strong that will wake and perk you up while basking on the winter porch. A great cup of coffee begins with a very clean stainless steel peculator with a proven brand of coffee, and fresh cold water, not poured in but measured by the cup with one full teaspoon of coffee for each cup of water. Sprinkle the coffee with salt to enhance flavor. Brew coffee until you can see it brown through the glass on the peculator, steam will be pouring through the spout with that aroma only perked coffee can produce. When drinking coffee, only hot is good. We remember a tough drill sergeant in Army basic training who said there were three things he hated in this order, and they were cold coffee, wet toilet paper, and trainees. He was tougher than a railroad spike, a good soldier and leader of men. He was tough, but always there for you.

It may not seem like it this early in the winter, but things are getting brighter each day, in fact by one minute brighter each evening. We have gained a quarter of an hour of daylight since winter began in late December. Birds of winter seem to have noticed it and they seem to be a bit more active at birdbaths and feeders.

Robins bouncing around in January

Robins seem to be with us all year and many of them appear all during the winter. We do believe most of them stay in our area and all that we see look well nourished, have plenty of bounce and color and definitely are not shivering. There are enough warm, sunny days and surely they are scratching up enough food. There are enough barns, sheds, outdoor buildings, eaves of houses, hollow logs, areas under buildings and even in piles of hay for them to find shelter, protection, and warmth, certainly there are enough insects wintering over to sustain them in the winter. We hope they live long and prosper because in winter, they are a welcome reminder and harbinger of spring.

Protecting the American Bee Balm

The American Bee Balm is wintering on the back of the front porch away from the cold winter wind. It has been trimmed so we can protect it with a cover on freezing nights. We have a layer of crushed leaves around the bottom of the container and feed it with a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. On sunny days, we remove the cover and let it receive some sun. A small drink of water is all it needs. With only a small amount of winter protection, it will survive.

Pesky chickweed thrives during winter

Many weeds and grasses go dormant in winter, but chickweed survives all winter especially around the edges of the house and near where rosebushes grow. The biggest plus about chickweed is that it has shallow roots and can be easily pulled up and thrown out of the area.

“One for three.” Employee: “I’ve been here for 11 years doing three men’s work for one man’s pay. Now, I want a raise.” Boss: “Well, I can’t give you a raise, but if you tell me who the other two men are, I’ll fire them.”

Different types of sermons: Rocking horse sermon — back and fourth, back and fourth, but going no where. Mockingbird sermon — repetition, nothing new. Smorgasbord sermon — a little bit of everything, but nothing solid. Jericho sermon — March around the subject seven times.

Lunch is served. Cook: “Can I bring you lunch, sir?” Captain: “No, just throw it overboard and save time.”

Long winded. Jan: “My pastor is so great, he can talk on any subject for an hour.” Fran: “That’s nothing, my pastor can talk for a whole hour without a subject.”

During the Christmas season many people become nostalgic, remembering Christmases past, especially the happy ones spent with family and friends or an unusual one. This is true especially for those of us who are in our senior years. Since our energy levels are lower, we spend more time sitting, remembering those happy times of years gone by.

Recently, during one of my nostalgic “remembering sessions” I held during the most recent Christmas season, the Christmas of 1951, 70 years ago, came to mind.

In the summer of 1949, an army reserve unit, the 426 Field Artillery Battalion, was organized with units in Mount Airy and Winston-Salem. “A” Battery and the Medical Detachment were located in Mount Airy with the rest of the units located in Winston-Salem.

When the Korean War began in June 1950, the 426 was immediately activated and ordered to report to Fort Bragg in September. There were 78 men from Mount Airy/Surry County who were activated and ordered to report to Fort Bragg. Some of those men soon were released for various reasons and returned home.

The 426 remained at Fort Bragg until the summer of 1951, when it was deployed to Dolan Barracks, Schwabisch Hall, Germany.

The men from Mount Airy/Surry County served in important positions throughout the battalion, especially “A” Battery. A vast majority were veterans of World War II; most had families with children back home in Mount Airy.

As Christmas of 1951 approached, the question arose as to how we could best celebrate the Christmas season 3,000 miles from home and families. There was a general consensus that we should do something special which would exemplify the true spirit of Christmas giving.

After a period of discussion by the men, we decided to give a Christmas party for the young children in an orphanage located near our army base. There were approximately 50 children who were residents of this orphanage. Most of the parents of those children were killed during the battles of World War II. We wanted to give this Christmas party with our own money without the involvement of the military command. Led by the senior NCO’S from Mount Airy/Surry County, we took a collection and several hundred dollars were donated.

The plan was to bring the children onto our army base, feed them a meal of traditional Christmas foods, have Santa Claus pay a visit and give each child a gift and a treat of candy and fruit. The army mess hall was decorated with a Christmas tree, Christmas lights, and other Christmas greenery and decorations such as would have been done at home. Never had an army mess hall been so elegantly decorated for Christmas.

The children were brought onto the base a few days before Christmas so that the men could have their own celebration on Christmas Day. A soldier would serve as a host for each child (my guest was a little 5 year old who did not understand English; neither did I understand German but the spirit of Christmas overcame language barriers).

The plan worked perfectly; the children were visibly excited even among a group of strange men in army uniforms and in an army mess hall. The men were equally excited with the spirit of Christmas and the opportunity to make a group of children happy. They enjoyed a touch of Christmas similar to that which would have been celebrated back home in Mount Airy. The children enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party and treasured their meal, the gifts and treats.

These men from Mount Airy/Surry County provided Christmas cheer for children 3,000 miles from home, children who, probably, would have had little to celebrate in a country destroyed by the ravages of World War II. There had been little recovery in Germany since the end of the war. Destruction was to be seen everywhere; millions of the German military and civilians were killed during the war including many of the parents of the children we served. The German economy had not recovered and a vast majority of the population were being fed by American relief efforts under the provisions of the Marshall Plan.

What was done by men from Mount Airy/Surry County for some German orphans at Christmas 1951 is typical of what American servicemen do wherever they go, whether it be Germany, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Japan.

The Mount Airy/Surry County men known to be in Schwabisch Hall on Christmas 1951 and who supported the Christmas program for the orphan children included the following: FSGT Zack Blackmon, PFC Frank Haynes, MSGT Thurmond Miller, SFC Joe Bill Neal, SFC Jack Leach, SGT Calvin Welborn, SFC Robert Holder, FSGT Austin Perdue, SFC Jack Robertson, SFC James Callahan, MSGT George Carroway, SFC Harold Sells , SGT Cecil Chandler, SGT Russell Inscore, SGT Aubrey Wall, SGT Dennis Chilton, SGT Charles Allred, SFC Howard Beeson, SGT Harry King, CPL Paul Welborn, SGT Kent Gibson, SGT George Worth, PFC Buford Harvey, SFC Robert Riggs, SFC Harold Moxley, SGT John Browne. (If I have missed someone, please forgive).

All of these men, except Robert Riggs and I, have since passed on to their eternal reward. No doubt this act of kindness shown to a group of orphan children is a part of their written record. Their children and grandchildren can take pride in what their fathers and grandfathers did to make Christmas a happy occasion for some orphan children 70 years ago. They followed the example set by the Master Teacher when He said “Let the little children come to me and don’t prevent them. For such is the Kingdom of Heaven. And he put his hands on their heads and blessed them” (Matthew 19:4).

I end this nostalgic trip down memory lane on a personal note: John Browne and I rode the train south to Goeppingen, Germany, home base of the 28th Infantry Division, to spend Christmas Day with my cousin, Grover Holder. Once there we met other men from Mount Airy including Bass Shelton, whose home was located on Franklin Street. Fred Murphy, who, along with his brothers, had a country music program on WPAQ Radio in the late 1940’s.

John Browne, upon returning home, was in the office supply business for many years. He served for nine years on the Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education and for 22 years as a Mount Airy City commissioner. Grover Holder became a Baptist pastor serving churches in North Carolina and Virginia for over 50 years. Fred Murphy, upon returning home, continued his country music career. I served as teacher/administrator for 36 years in the Mount Airy City Schools and Surry Community College.

Christmas 1951 could have been a lonely, depressing day but the true American spirit of helping one’s neighbor brought joy and a spirit of celebration, both to a group of orphan children and to a group of men, 3,000 miles from home. The true spirit of Christmas giving can be found and practiced wherever one finds himself on that special day.

Editor’s Note: Reader Diary is an occasional feature in The Mount Airy News, featuring recollections and stories from local residents.

People who will not get the COVID-19 shot should keep to themselves and not expect their friends, relatives and coworkers to socialize with them. It puts everyone in danger for the awful virus raging the world.

I had the virus in 2020, it is very rough and scary. Since then I’ve had two original shots and the third booster. I still wear a mask when out of my home, trying to protect the general public as well as myself.

This vaccine is no more dangerous than any shot we’ve all had at some time in our lifetime.

Please protect the frontline workers, your loved ones and yourself. God gave us the knowledge to do better than his people are doing. The Bible says that our bodies are a temple and to treat it well. Science helps us do that.

“A disturbing snapshot of an angry America. evil.” That’s how the obscure news website Inter Reviewed describes us.

Famous newsman Ted Koppel’s ballyhooed visit last June to Granite City in search of Mayberry reverberates still. Of late, it’s taken a nasty turn.

The Washington Post newspaper is trying to kick up a storm with a year-end review last week of the controversial CBS TV news report “Mayberry Comes To Life,” complete with reflections now from Koppel, inspiration and longtime anchor of the old, groundbreaking Nightline late-night TV news program.

“People either loved it or hated it,” Koppel told the Post of his report on Mount Airy.

The Post did not go so far as to call us here in the hometown area evil. The newspaper merely called us “an unsettling snapshot.” So what’s so “unsettling” about us?

Let’s go back to the CBS TV program “Sunday Morning.” Its 13-minute news report that aired Sept. 19 began innocuously enough. “The good old days?” gushed program host Jane Pauley about “The Andy Griffith Show,” widely viewed as a reflection of Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy. “When life was simpler, more neighborly, civilized,” Pauley said.

Next, Koppel strolled South Main Street with the chamber president, across from the Mayberry Courthouse and Jail and Wally’s Service Station tourist sites where the Mayberry squad-car tours are based. The two explained the economics of promoting Mount Airy tourism by drawing on the Mayberry mystique. Koppel chuckled at sounding the siren in a replica squad car.

Then Griffith show actress Betty Lynn, before she died in October, was shown signing autographs for Andy Griffith Museum visitors. At Mayberry Courthouse an adoring little boy from Ohio watches the show four hours a day, his mother gushed for Koppel. Snappy Lunch patrons from Louisiana said they came all this way for a pork chop sandwich.

So far so good. The story had the elements of what the Post called “a seeming puff piece,” newspaper lingo for a feel-good, happy story, a counter to all of the gloom and doom that so often comes from newspapers.

But at 4:35 into the report things began to swing raw. Politics, as Koppel would call it, began to suck the air out of the puff piece.

“A godless society” today stands in stark contrast to the higher moral values displayed in the 1960s Griffith show, an unnamed patron in line at Snappy Lunch told Koppel.

The TV show then took off on that theme.

Next, an African American family described segregation times. They had to take their restaurant food (restaurant unnamed) outside, they told Koppel. “Blacks knew where they belonged,” one told Koppel.

A U.S. flag with a picture of Donald Trump and the caption “Making America Great Again!” was shown waving in the wind.

The climax came on a trolley car tour. Not shown are the highlights of Mount Airy, the pleasant neighborhoods, the energized schools, the fine hospital or the industrious workers. Koppel asked riders – including a Barney Fife impersonator along with one-time Surry County commissioner Gary York – riders who were interested in seeing the town, about the 2020 election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol a year ago instead.

“I know you came here to have a good time,” Koppel told the group from the front of the rolling trolley, TV camera with red light by his side, “and not to talk politics.” Koppel then proceeded to talk politics.

The response? Unsettling? Disturbing? Angry? Evil? You may see for yourself at on the internet.

Don’t have the time for that? OK, let me answer: Not one bit. The people in Mount Airy spoke frankly, calmly, politely and honestly about the politics when asked.

“We don’t even watch the news on TV anymore,” one unnamed rider ironically told Koppel. “We don’t feel like that we are being told the truth. … We’re trying to be swayed in a direction that we know is not the right direction.”

In the most touching moment in the report, another rider told Koppel: “I just hope when this airs, it won’t show Southerners as a bunch of dumb idiots. … We have a lot of love in our hearts. We love our country. We love our fellow man.”

Koppel told the Post “that truly never was the intent.”

But some are making his report into just that. Listed as the No. 1 most-read article on the Washington Post website, the story carried a Post online headline: “They believe in Mayberry but suggest Jan. 6 was staged.”

Koppel denied to the Post that his report was a “hit job” on Mount Airy. But he conceded that “some residents in Mount Airy and viewers in Southern states took issue.”

What did all of that have to do with a TV retrospective of the Griffith show? Nothing. But then the CBS report never really was about the Griffith show, Mayberry or Mount Airy. That’s what should be so unsettling and disturbing.

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road. For more information on Stephen, visit

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a periodic column in The Mount Airy News featuring commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

Mount Airy City Schools has an amazing Board of Education. The members go above and beyond to volunteer their time in support of the superintendent and school district as well as listen to the direction of the community. This team of professionals attends two board meetings a month, many school events throughout the year, and statewide training sessions. The role of the board is:

● To provide vision and direction for the school system.

● To create policies in accordance with state law to establish standards, accountability, and evaluation of essential operations of the school district.

● To prepare the budget for presentation to the county commissioners.

● To hire, support, and evaluate the Superintendent.

● To perform judicial functions by conducting hearings as appropriate.

● To advocate for the school district, staff, and especially the students in all interactions with other governmental entities and the public.

Our Board of Education does this for no extra pay and volunteers much of their time and energy. They allow the staff to oversee day-to-day operations within the district and make sure the superintendent and leadership team are supported. They are present and involved in the community and keep an ear to the heartbeat of the community. We know that they are champions for children in their role, they support families, and they have the best interest of the school district in their hearts and their actions.

Our board chairman is Tim Matthews and he is a local pharmacist. Tim has served on the board for 25 years and his three children who are all Mount Airy graduates. Tim’s wife Sandy retired from working in Mount Airy City Schools as an exceptional children’s teacher. Tim responds when asked about serving on the board, “the opportunity to serve, seeing a plan come together, and impacting future leaders” is a great way to enhance how Mount Airy City Schools continues to grow and lead. He loves that Mount Airy City Schools is “willing to innovate, take a risk, and always puts the interests of students ahead of other concerns.”

Ben Cooke is the vice chairman and is a local business owner. He is married to Lone and graduated from Mount Airy City Schools. Ben states that “making a difference in the lives of our students, however small it may be” motivates him to be a board member. He also says that he loves the “small community and family atmosphere” of our district as well as “knowing that our teachers love being in our school system.” Ben is always involved in activities throughout the district and his three children all attended and are attending Mount Airy City Schools.

Wendy Carriker, Jayme Brant, Thomas Horton, Randy Moore, and Kyle Leonard are members of the board of education. Together they serve and lead from their seat on the board by supporting the future of the Mount Airy City Schools district. The team of staff and board working together to make decisions is for the benefit of families in the Mount Airy Community. Wendy Carriker served as the board chair for 14 years. She is married to Chip Carriker and has two daughters who graduated from Mount Airy City Schools. She is an entrepreneur with her own business and she is often seen involved in our Blue Bear Cafe and Blue Bear Bus programs. She helps students understand how to begin their own business and have success serving others. “The fact that we are a small school system and that we are a family. I love that our staff and students truly care about each other and want the best for each other,” states Wendy.

A Mount Airy graduate and a district sales manager, Jayme Brant serves on the board. She is married to Tim, they have two daughters and their oldest daughter was recently named MVP of the State 1A Dual Team Finals in Tennis. “Belief that teaching is the hardest profession there is, but one of the most important” motivates her to be a board member as she understands “we have to continue to support teachers.” Thomas Horton is married to Kristi Horton, one of Mount Airy City Schools nurses, and has four children who have attended and are currently attending Mount Airy City Schools. He is an enterprise engineer and wants to serve the community in his capacity on the school board. Thomas says his love for public service was instilled in him, “because my parents set an early example in life.”

When asked what motivates him to be a board member, Randy Moore states, “to continue my service for our children and community, making a difference.” He is married to Rita and has four children and five grandchildren. He retired from the army and was appointed to the board in 2020. You may see him around town at events with his military style vehicles. Kyle Leonard was appointed to the board in 2018 and is married to Mary Alice. They have three children who attend or will be attending Mount Airy City Schools. Kyle is a wealth advisor and serves in the local community. Kyle said, “One thing I love about Mount Airy City Schools is the close knit family culture we have. Being a small school district, we are able to innovate and provide a great educational experience for all our students.”

Collectively, our board helps set the direction of the district through their strategic plan. Over the years many initiatives have been led by the board working closely with the staff such as the building of the Community Central Office which has become a hub of community outreach in recent years. They have helped begin the first dual language program that has attracted many families and is a great workforce development effort with our graduates being fluent in two languages.

They support administrators, teachers, and staff by building in step increases in salary, bonuses, along with a family and staff-friendly calendar. The amazing arts programs, Career Technical Education, and grant-funded innovative programs are a hallmark of Mount Airy City Schools and the board has provided the conditions and support for these to flourish. Families in the Mount Airy Community are in good hands with these board members. Many families have been attracted and retained due to the amazing programs and staff here in the district. Leadership from a strong board focused on children shows up in our community with one of the best districts in the state.

The Mount Airy City Schools Board of Education members are champions for children. They have led during the most difficult era of modern day education and should be commended for bringing students back safely and continuing to support their growth and development. If you see these folks around town be sure and thank them for their service. If you would like to be part of this community of excellence and leadership visit . There is additional information about the board under the Board of Education tab on our website.

Road signs surround us in our daily lives as we drive hither and yon, giving valuable information as we pass by. However, a specific set of signs often go overlooked by motorists — historical markers.

A while back, I wrote an article about Hardin Taliaferro and mentioned the marker dedicated in his memory on Highway 89. It is one of eight in Surry County, the others are: Jesse Franklin, Eng and Chang Bunker, Pilot Mountain, Tabitha A. Holton, Surry Muster Field, and two for Stoneman’s Raid.

The North Carolina General Assembly created the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program in 1935. The operation of the program is a cooperative effort among state agencies and the advisory committee which is comprised of ten college or university faculty members who are experts in aspects of state history. The goal of the markers is to instill an interest in the state’s history. There are more than 1,600 markers throughout the state today.

Surry countians have fought in every war America has been involved in, and the American Revolution is no exception. In Elkin on NC 268 east of Big Elkin Creek is a marker that reads: “Surry Muster Field Patriot militia, led by Major Joseph Winston, gathered in this vicinity, Sept. 1780, marched to victory at Kings Mtn.” The trail they marched is commemorated as the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. It was created in 1980 by the National Park Service as a 330-mile trail that stretches across Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina and commemorates the path taken by Patriots to the decisive battle at Kings Mountain. The Overmountain Victory Trail Association is a nonprofit that was created to support the Historic Trail in order “to preserve, protect, and interpret the route to the Battle of Kings Mountain.”

Located on Highway 89 in the Lowgap community, is the marker for Jesse Franklin. During his political career he sought to do the best for his county and state, and for this he was highly respected. There are vague descriptions of his appearance, and he never allowed a portrait to be painted of himself. For his service during the American Revolution, he was buried at Guilford Courthouse. The marker reads: “Jesse Franklin Governor 1820-21; state & U.S. Senator and representative; officer in Revolution. His home stood 1/4 mile south.”

Pilot Mountain has been guiding people to their destinations for centuries. It was privately owned from 1857-1968 as a tourist destination and in 1976 it became a National Natural Landmark. The marker reads: “Pilot Mountain Landmark for Indians and pioneer settlers. Elevation 2,420 feet. State Park since 1968. Stands 3 miles west.”

At the intersection of Main Street and Kapp Street in Dobson stands the only marker in the county dedicated to a woman. Tabitha A. Holton was born near Jamestown, North Carolina. She was sworn in as an attorney in Greensboro but moved with her brother to Dobson to practice in Surry County in 1880. In 2019, her 1878 law license was given to the North Carolina Supreme Court to be displayed in the History Room there. The marker reads: “Tabitha A. Holton 1854-1886 First woman licensed to practice law in North Carolina, 1878. Lived thirty yards northwest.”

In the White Plains community was the homeplace of the world-famous conjoined twins, Chang and Eng. They met and married local women, the Yates sisters, and had 21 children between them. Each brother had his own house and they would split their time between both homes. They attended and are buried at White Plains Baptist Church on old US 601. The marker reads: “Eng and Chang Bunker 1811-1874. Conjoined twins born in Siam. Toured widely in the U.S. before settling nearby to farm, 1839. Grave is 100 yards W.”

While no major battles of the Civil War were fought in Surry County, it did not mean the county was unaffected. During the latter part of the war, from March until mid-April, General Stoneman led a force of Union troops from Tennessee to western North Carolina on what is known as Stoneman’s Raid. Its purpose was to deal a blow to Confederate morale and expedite the end of the war.

Surry County didn’t experience major damages or devastation, with the most common items being taken were food, clothing, and horses. Sometimes, news of the approaching cavalry would reach local residents, who would in turn hide their valuables and livestock. Hostilities were high between locals and the troops, giving rise to many stories that have been passed down through time.

There are two markers to Stoneman’s Raid in the county, one in Mount Airy on Rockford Street near the public library and one in Dobson at the old Courthouse. The Mount Airy marker reads: “Stoneman’s Raid On a raid through western North Carolina Gen. Stoneman’s U.S. cavalry passed through Mount Airy, April 2-3, 1865.” The Dobson marker reads: “Stoneman’s Raid On a raid through western North Carolina Gen. Stoneman’s U.S. cavalry passed through Dobson, April 2, 1865.”

These markers serve as a quick snapshot of the local people and events that influenced state and national history. So, go out for a drive and find these markers and connect with the county’s history. Keep in mind, additional markers can be applied for and dedicated in the future!

Justyn Kissam is the director of learning at Kaleideum in Winston-Salem.

Time for a halo around the moon

The air aloft is getting cold enough to form tiny ice crystals which are the elements for forming a halo around the full or near full moon. It is a beautiful sight especially during the season of Christmas. My mother and grandma in Northampton County would count the stars in the halo. The visible stars in the halo would determine the number of days before we would see a snow according to my grandma. On the other hand, my mother says in these visible stars the number of inches of snow we could expect. Both their predictions come to pass many times simply because when the air aloft forms crystals of ice which form the halo, it is also cold enough to produce snowfall. That is why sometimes it doesn’t have to be very cold to snow, but upper level temperatures can bring us snow.

Will January be a snow month?

As the New Year gets ready to begin will it bring us much snow? The possibility is great that the month could produce quite a few snows. January snow can be a benefit to the garden plot by freezing the sod, killing off the weed seed and wiping out insect pests, eggs, and larva. Snow can also add nitrogen to the soil as well as other trace nutrients. Snow will sweeten the turnip and the Siberian kale. Snow will beautify the winter landscape and make it look like a marshmallow world. Last, but certainly not least, it would make a lot of kids and grandkids very happy!

The green of anything is pretty in the winter

Even with the possibility of snowfall in January, there is plenty of green in winter’s garden that snow will not bother. Siberian kale can be harvested with a layer of snow on it as well as mustard, turnips, and broccoli. The benefits of cool weather vegetables is having a green garden full of life in the dead of winter.

A special late Christmas gift that still giving

This gift was opened on Dec. 21 and still being given each day in the form of an extra minute of daylight. We will continue to receive an extra minute each day until June 21. The difference may not be noticed until we reach Valentines Day.

Day of Epiphany will be Jan. 6

This day is known not only as the Epiphany, but Twelfth Night, Old Christmas, and the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is the day King of King’s, Jesus, the Newborn Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles, the Magi Kings from the East. It is the day the light of the world is revealed to them after a long journey from the East. Their quest ended, not in Jerusalem or the palace of Herod, but at a house in Bethlehem. They arrived and worshipped the King of King’s and presented gifts unto him.

At Rodanthe, off the outer banks of North Carolina, Epiphany or Old Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 6 every year with an oyster roast, special music celebrations, and a visit from “Old Buck,” a legendary bull to highlight the event and bring gifts. This would be an interesting place to visit. You would not have to worry about a hurricane in early January, but you would have to worry about being on the lookout for “Old Buck.”

After December blooms, Christmas cactus needs a break

The Christmas cactus had plenty of blooms from Thanksgiving and well into the month of December. It is now time to pull off all spent blooms and feed them either with Flower-Tone organic flower food or a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food once a month. Check moisture by sticking your index finger into the soil. If soil is not moist, use a sprinkle can and apply water but do not over water it. Check every eight to ten days for moisture. Check the foliage as the cactus winters over inside the home. If the foliage looks red, it is a signal that the cactus is getting too much sun. You can solve this problem by moving the cactus in the room to a less sunny location.

The front porch is place to be

The sun shines bright on the front porch in winter. In fact, the sun always shines bright, but people seem to avoid it in winter. They seem to forget it is a source of vitamin C that is free. The front porch in winter is a great place to start the day and breathe fresh air into the nostrils and strengthen your immune system, and move the germs out. A cup of coffee on the front porch tastes better and warms you from head to toe. Keep a blanket handy if the North wind is blowing, but don’t let the wind hinder you from getting the benefits of the sun in winter. Plants and vegetables need to be hardened off to bear up under cold extremes and so do we. Start your winter day by enjoying the sounds, color, and sights of winter and be aware of all the hidden beauty that winter affords. Winter air is easier to breathe with less pollutants, and another plus is no flies, gnats, or insects buzzing around.

Keeping snow shovel and de-ice ready

Several items need to be kept nearby on the porch or carport during the cold of winter and they are a can of de-icer, a snow scrapper (in the car and on the porch), a pair of gloves, a can of WD-40 oil spray, to oil the snow shovel. The oil spray prevents the snow from sticking to the shovel, a snow shovel , of course, and a toboggan to keep your ears warm, and last but not least, a gallon of windshield washer with de-icer solution in it. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled every week.

Weeds are around during winter

Weeds do not take a break because its winter. We always say that when you see one in the garden plot, pull it up no matter what season of year it is. In winter, chickweed, Bermuda grass, wild onions, and other weeds continue to grow. Check your garden often and pull these noxious weeds up by the roots.

Feeding the birds of the wintertime

When the ground is frozen or snow is on the ground, keep the bird feeders filled. Birds will visit feeders and you will make their job of finding food a lot easier. They will also find that your home is a bird friendly place and they will continue to return. When water in birdbaths freeze during winter, empty the ice from the baths and refill when temperatures rises above freezing.

Cranking lawn and garden equipment

Check the lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, and tillers each week in winter. Start them up and allow them to run for a minute or two. Keep fuel in them all winter so they are ready to start. We use mowers in winter to break leaves and the weed eater to trim wild onions so we want them to operate when we attempt to start them. A riding mower needs to run until it warms up. It would not hurt to drive it around the lawn a few times to keep parts running smoothly. Keep a can of fuel handy all winter and don’t allow machinery to run out of fuel in the winter. Keep plenty of fuel for two cycle engines ready also.

Pansies in the winter are things of beauty

Pansies are the winter hardy flower that adds greenery and color to the winter landscape. Their foliage stays green all winter and makes their blooms of yellow, white, purple, pink, and tan really stand out. Don’t water them too much in winter you don’t want medium in the containers to freeze. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food or pansy booster.

A pot of salmon stew warms winter

Salmon stew or chowder is great and will warm you up on a cold evening. It will only take a few minutes to prepare and it only has several ingredients. You will need one can of Double Q Alaska salmon, one stick and a half light margarine, one can of evaporated milk, three cups of milk, one teaspoon of Old Bay seafood seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste), two or three teaspoons of corn starch in a glass of water. Place the salmon and liquid in a four quart pot and mash up the salmon, add margarine and allow to melt on medium heat. Add the evaporated milk and three cups of milk. Bring to a boil on medium low heat. Add salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Mix three teaspoons corn starch in a glass or cup of cold water and stir until dissolved. While salmon mixture is slowly boiling, add corn starch mixture a little at a time until chowder is thick as you desire. Serve with crackers or oysters.

“Half and half.” The lady was trying hard to get on the bus, and she snapped at the man in the back of her, “If you were half a man, you would help me get on this bus.” The man answered, “If you were half the lady, you would not need any help!”

“Newscasts.” Husband to his wife: “Should we watch the six o’ clock news and get indigestion or the ten o’ clock news and get insomnia?”

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a feature of The Mount Airy News, presenting commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

There is no doubt that we are all very fortunate to call Surry County our home. I count myself doubly blessed to have the opportunity to raise my two children here and live alongside a team of highly skilled educators and professionals. Aside from its beautiful landscape and location, I think that one of the best things about Surry County is the abundance of ways that people in our community give back. Whether it be through volunteering time or money, the residents of Surry County always pull together to provide extra to those in need.

Specifically, volunteers in our school system have been able to make an impact in the lives of students in Surry County during the pandemic. This past year, volunteer opportunities were limited because of COVID-19 protocols that caused the district to limit those coming in and out of our schools daily.

This school year, volunteers have been welcomed back into schools in a limited capacity to assist with many new, exciting opportunities, one being our USDA Fresh Foods and Vegetable Grant. Because of the combined work of our dedicated school nutrition staff and these volunteers, students at ten elementary schools have been able to receive healthy snack options during the school day. The Rotary Club of Mount Airy has also partnered with our school system to provide volunteers to read to students at Flat Rock Elementary. These one-on-one reading sessions help students read aloud and further promote the joy of reading at a young age.

Volunteers have also been critical in the fundraising efforts of the Give A Kid a Christmas Foundation. I am grateful to those who give so freely to our students and dedicate a portion of their time to shopping and packing boxes of food for those in need. This group has made Christmas special for our students for the past 30 years with their tireless work and dedication.

This month, we celebrate International Volunteer Day. During this day, we not only celebrate volunteerism in all its facets – but we also pay special tribute to the hard work of volunteers in making a difference locally, nationally, and globally. Whether an individual helps in the classroom, in the cafeteria, or in the community, their work doesn’t go unnoticed. Each and every one of these gifted volunteers has the ability to shape the lives of students. They may not understand the difference they make by offering their time and talents, but this crucial work deserves to be celebrated. As the season of giving continues, be sure to thank a volunteer in your life.

I read with great interest the article on Betty Lynn’s estate auction (Betty Lynn’s estate being auctioned, Dec. 22 Mount Airy news). Having shared a meal or two with Betty Lynn at Ridgecrest, while my parents were also residing there, I cannot agree more with Mark Rodgers’ assessment that “…if you spent time with her (Betty Lynn) she made you feel like you were her best friend for life.”

Betty Lynn indeed was a star, but she made you feel like you were also a star and treasured friend. My family members miss Betty so much, but we all are left with the great memories of the time we were able to spend with this wonderful, gracious and kind lady during her lifetime.

“To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without roots.” – Chinese Proverb

Here in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and atop its lofty hills we, as the mountains caretakers, value history. Each generation is steeped in the tradition, tragedy, hard work, and love that was taken to create a life within its shadows. Each holler, hill, stream, and rock formation echo with the lives lived before us by our ancestors and theirs. Remembering this history is of the utmost importance. The Rock Castle Community is one of those important places.

Somewhere between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Bull Mountain lies the remnants of a once thriving community.

The Rock Castle creek, Bear/Bare rocks, and abundance of virgin forests thrived for many years prior to being given the name Rock Castle. This area which was fed by the Smith River served as a hunting and foraging ground to Native American groups, such as the Tutelo tribes and potentially the Sauras from our very own Surry County.

Artifacts are found occasionally that mark the area with Native American activity. Some say the large and unique clear quartz rocks that were found along the creek were viewed as sacred to many Native tribes, being preserved for ritual needs.

It would be these very rocks that gave the community its name. The crystals looked like the castles of the old country, giving fond memories to incoming settlers. Many settlers traveled to the Blue Ridge via the Great Wagon Road; others came from eastern ports.

The creek and once fertile lands had much to offer to weary and wondering travelers. The spring offered fresh drinking and cooking water, the hardwoods yielded to become cabins and barns. The American Chestnut trees offered sturdy wood as well, but more importantly the much-coveted chestnuts.

Michael Ryan wrote in his book, Life in Rock Castle, Virginia, that chestnuts around the 1800s comprised about 40% of the forest in Rock Castle. Once ripe, the fallen chestnuts would cover the forest floor. Children would wake up early to gather up the nuts to eat and barter with. The forest’s wild razorback hogs would gorge themselves on the chestnuts in the fall, soon to be gathered and shorted to sustain the community. Each house would mark hogs by making a specific slit in their ear.

The community and its more than 35 families grew, built, foraged, or traded to get what they needed to sustain life. These self-sufficient people worked hard from dawn till dusk carving out a life from the mountain. Many families planted apple orchards along the steep cliffs, using sleds with chains to drag the fresh produce to the top. The DeHart family founded the DeHart Distillery in Patrick County, Virginia, in 1889. This allowed for the abundance of apples to be turned into brandy. It was also common for families in Rock Castle to have their own corn whiskey stills.

The small section of the Blue Ridge once boasted more than five mills, several general stores and eventually one home with electric lighting powered by an overshot waterwheel and generator. Children helped trap live game, fish, and gather chestnuts. The six-month school year, planned around the farm season, took place in a one room schoolhouse, established in 1880, with no support from the county or state. With the advent of radio, automobiles and more, Rock Castle would continue to thrive for a short period of time.

The disintegration of the community had many factors. The 1916 Virginia Prohibition Bill and the later nationwide prohibition halted “public” selling of brandy and whiskey. A short time after the “Endothis parasitica,” or Chestnut Blight claimed the area’s biggest resource, decimating the American Chestnut to extinction. When the Great Depression hit, the small rural community of Rock Castle was already critically injured. Young folk began leaving their farms in search of work, looking for renewed hope in other communities.

In 1933, President Roosevelt promised to change everything with The New Deal. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) and CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) had many sites in Virginia, one of those was located inside Rock Castle. That same year a park-to-park road highway was approved, and the Blue Ridge Parkway began. Land within Rock Castle was purchased, with some happy neighbors and some not so much.

Today many descendants from Rock Castle are happy to see their ancestral homeland preserved and protected. The old pathway is now an accessible hike that follows much of the old roadbed were you might see chimneys, foundations, and an old moonshine car, if you know where to look.

Emily Morgan is the guest services manager at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. She and her family live in Westfield. She can be reached at or by calling 336-786-4478 x229

Enjoying the scent of Christmas candles

The scent and glow of candles in a dark room during Christmas is unforgettable. Candles have always been a part of the Christmas season and the subject matter of many Christmas cards. We remember seeing a fireplace mantel with six full white votive candles burning brightly in a darkened living room. The candles were adorned with boughs of holly with red berries. It was a beautiful sight and worthy of being on a Christmas card. Votive candles are worth what they cost because they burn slowly and brightly night after night for a long period of time. Many votive candles have scents such as bayberry, peppermint, wintergreen, pine, Douglas Fir, eggnog, cinnamon, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cedar, and spearmint. For a mantel of Christmas memories, take limbs of Douglas or Frazier Fir and spread across the mantel and place seven red or white tall votive candles across the mantel and adorn with gold or silver ornaments. When the candles are lit the light scent and heat of the candles combined with the aroma of the fir trims will quickly bring the spirit of Christmas past and present into the room.

Making a Christmas calico salad

This is a cool salad with the colors of Christmas that is simple and easy to prepare. You will need one package of 16 ounce baby lima beans, one 15 ounce can of Le sueer tiny green peas, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos (drained), two cups cooked sea shell pasta, half cup sour cream, one half cup mayonnaise, one fourth cup ranch dressing, one cup cherry tomatoes (cut in halves), half teaspoon pepper, and half teaspoon salt. Prepare lima beans according to package directions (and drain), cook pasta shells until tender (drain), drain green peas, drain pimentos. Add all vegetables except tomatoes to the sea shell pasta and mix well. Add salt, pepper, sour cream, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing. Slice tomatoes in half and add to the mix. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours.

The longest night of the year will occur Tuesday as we welcome the first night of winter. Many children will disagree about this being the longest night of the year. To them, Christmas Eve will be the longest night of the year! All nights after Dec. 21, will become a minute shorter each evening and the days will become a minute longer each day, and this will continue until June 21.

That cone-shaped dark chocolate mound filled with icy cream filling are mostly available only at Christmas season and this is why they are so traditional, like chocolate covered cherries. We always have the thought that they are so rich in sweetness and flavor that they are too unhealthy to consume all year! The best are sold at country stores and specialty candy shops simply because they are soft and creamy and they melt in your mouth and bring back plenty of Christmas memories. They were a special part of Christmas at our house and my father would buy a pound or two at the local hardware. Daddy thought they were so special, he kept them apart from the other treats that were also Christmas traditions. You can find them in historic downtown Mount Airy.

Making a festive Christmas salad

To make this Christmas colorful salad, you will need one large can crushed pineapple, one can whole cranberry sauce, two three ounce boxes raspberry Jello, small pack maraschino cherries, one small jar green maraschino cherries, one can mixed fruit or fruit cocktail. Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve the juice (for mixing with the Jello). Add enough water to the juice to make three cups liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the Jello and mix, stir in the cranberry sauce. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate for two hours. Stir in pineapple, pecans, cherries (drained), and mixed fruit (drained). Pour into a tube pan and refrigerate until very firm.

At Christmastime, it is great to enjoy a taste of the candy from Christmas past. At Virginia Carolina Produce on U.S. 52 across the state line, you can find a huge wonderland of old fashion confections displayed in wooden kegs. You can scoop these goodies out of the kegs into paper bags. You can also purchase them in plastic bags already priced.

The search for the candy of your childhood ends here on these aisles as scores of candy varities of generations past parade before your eyes like visions of sugar plums to whet your memory. They feature coconut bon bons, coconut macaroons, rainbow ribbon bars, orange slices, candy corn, creme pumpkins, spice and fruit gum drops, tootsie rolls in every flavor, root beer barrels, circus marshmallow peanuts in orange, pink, white and yellow, kits, B.B. Bats, peanut brittle, tootsie pops, Bit-O-Honey, caramel creams, chocolate covered raisins and peanuts, stick candy in every flavor you can name including lemon, peppermint, horehound, wintergreen, spearmint, all kinds of fruit flavors. They have several varities of assorted Christmas hard candies including ribbon mix, filled centers, and they have the round hard mix with trees, stars, Santa’s, holly, and other Christmas art in the center. They will fix a basket and place some of these special treats in it for you custom made to order.

In search of a candle lighter and snuffer

Surely the Baldwin sisters in the “Walton’s Christmas Homecoming” television series opener would have used a candle lighter and snuffer to light such a large spruce in their parlor on Christmas Eve on that Christmas in the early 20th century. These snuffers are rare and were mostly used to light and snuff chandeliers and yes, also to light candles on Christmas trees only on Christmas Eve. Most of them were made in the late 1800s and still around in early 20th century homes. What a great find it would be to discover one of them in an old attic or barn or antique shop? It would certainly be a curious heirloom to use near or on the Christmas tree for an attention getting decoration, or as a giant ornament.

Wind up toys were hot items during Christmas in the 1950s. Two popular models made by Marx were the Honeymoon Express and the Marx climbing tank. The Honeymoon Express was colorful and unusual because it was circular with a train circling the track and an airplane flying around the train in a colorful background of scenery. Not many are found today because they were made to be played with. They became victims of being wound too tight by kids or just wore out from wear. We remember having one of them at Christmas, and most likely, we wore it out.

The Marx climbing tank was popular and featured rubber tracks and guns on each side that produced small sparks that were produced by spinning flints. We would place books on the floor and let the tanks run over them and add more books until the tank would finally turn over. What a tough toy this was. Not many are seen in antique toy shops because these tanks were meant to be played with.

The ugliest of all the Christmas trees

It was defiantly not Charlie Brown’s scraggly tree, but one from Jesse Allen’s Christmas tree lot in the northeastern North Carolina city of Roanoke Rapids in the mid 1950s. The Christmas trees of choice back then were red heart cedars and there were plenty of them that grew along the Roanoke River. Jesse Allen was a local peddler and a jack of all trades. At Christmas, his trade turned to selling Christmas trees he harvested from along the Roanoke River. He set up a lot beside the local Esso service station, and he did a booming business. Jesse had a huge drawing card which was a large cedar that he had sprayed hot pink. It drew people in to gawk and stare at the tree and they bought plenty of trees, but the pink panther had no takers. All during the week before Christmas, after delivering newspapers, we rode by and all the trees had been sold except the hot pink tree, it had served the purpose Jesse had in mind all along and that was selling the rest of his trees! What a great calling card that unusual tree turned out to be.

“A quick subject.” At the annual company Christmas banquet, there were several long-winded speakers who covered every subject except the kitchen sink. When yet another speaker arose, everyone was bored stiff, the speaker said, “It seems to me everything has already been talked about. But if somebody will tell me what to talk about I will be grateful.” From the back of the room, a voice shouted, “Talk about a minute.”

Merry Christmas to our readers!

We would like to wish our readers of the Garden Plot in the Sunday Mount Airy News Lifestyle section a wonderful Christmas filled with the blessings and gifts of love, joy, and peace. Thanks for reading the column every week and we hope your days of Christmas will be merry and bright and your families be richly blessed.

Mount Airy has been known for many things — a big, gleaming rock, beautiful yet simple well-made furniture, quality bright leaf tobacco, the Happiest Girl In The Whole USA, and, of course, a folksy sheriff that didn’t carry a gun.

And, for most of a century, it has been known for its socks.

Whether it was for your toddler, a bobby-soxer, hiker, farmer, or M-16 rifle, Mount Airy has been turning out socks for 100 years.

The most unusual sock on that list, of course, is the M-16 rifle sock. Robert Merritt, grandson of the founder of Renfro Hosiery Mill and president of the company in 1991, he designed the rifle covers in response to requests from troops in the first Gulf War for nylons.

What they needed was a way to keep the ubiquitous sand out of their rifles and Merritt thought he could do better than a pair of pantyhose. Renfro produced the socks and competitor Kentucky Derby Hosiery dyed, finished, packaged, and shipped them.

Most of the socks produced in Mount Airy have been more traditional styles.

Renfro Corp. makes one out of every five socks sold in America. Merritt’s grandfather, William Edward Merritt Jr. founded the company on Willow Street in 1921. The company has been headquartered here ever since. It has recently been purchased by a New York firm.

Their sprawling plants employed hundreds locally producing socks for Fruit of the Loom, Carhartt, Dr. Scholls Merrell, Hot Sox and K.Bell.

That first plant was joined by as many as 13 other companies at one time, with the local business owners joined by companies drawn to the lower costs and large pool of skilled workers in this area.

But no matter where you start, the story of sock manufacturing in Mount Airy seems to lead back to Tollie Barber but it’s not exactly clear why.

Surry County has never been a metropolitan area but there has been a strong network of business-minded people who’ve created a series of industries that may seem unlikely for a county that sits so far from larger cities. Chatham Mills in Elkin, Spencer’s Infantware, Mount Airy Furniture Company and others have been nationally and, sometimes, internationally known brands.

Barber, with a degree in textile manufacturing, joined W.E. Merritt Jr. and his brother Oscar, W.G. Sydnor and W.W. Burke, all men active in the business and civic life of the county, to establish Renfro Hosiery Mill on Willow Street in part of the old Sparger Tobacco complex. They began with $200,000 in capital, just north of $3 million in today’s money.

By 1933 Barber and others at Renfro had begun two other sock mills, Argonne and Piedmont, each specializing in different products from children’s socks to misses’ anklets, to men’s boot socks. The effects of the Great Depression took their toll, though and Renfro absorbed those mills in order to keep the company financially viable.

In 1937 the company had $1 million in sales. The next year they lost $22,000 according to reporting in the Charlotte Observer at the time. It was the last year the company showed a loss until the 1979 flood that destroyed more than $2 million in stock according to the Wall Street Journal.

Despite the economic challenges, growth of hosiery production in Mount Airy didn’t stop and neither did Barber. In 1938 he built Barber Hosiery Mill atop the hill near the intersection of Hamburg and South Main streets.

The Mount Airy News reported it was “the eighth textile and knitting plant to be started in the city.” With 100 machines it employed 300 workers.

Lynne and Surry hosiery mills were built in 1941. Barber was, again, involved in operations with Surry, recruited as an advisor to the Surry mill. Though construction slowed during World War II, Barber was involved with local politics, banking, and the formation of the Mount Airy Base Ball Association.

Once the war ended and all those GIs headed home the Baby Boom that followed fueled an economic boom. Members of the powerful Carter family and JW Prather, all successful in business, bought the Blizzard Freight Terminal on South Street and built Carter Hosiery Mills in 1946.

The Moss-Foy Textile Company set up on Newsome Street that same year to do skein dyeing and winding for the hosiery mills. Construction and expansion took off with Renfro adding 50,000 square feet to its Willow Street plant and Granit Hosiery Mill consolidating their several locations under one roof by moving into the larger Renfro #2 plant at the corner of South Main and Worth streets.

Amos and Smith Hosiery in Pilot Mountain, Oakdale, Brown Wooten Mills, Adams-Millis, Blue-Chip, Kentucky Derby, and Nester were added.

As the global market opened, companies moved production, packaging, and shipping to off-shore facilities beginning in the 1990s. Little production remains in the county aside from Nester but the history and all that was accomplished is a point of pride for many in the region.

And if you happen to have one of those M-16 rifle socks in a drawer someplace, the museum would give it place of pride.

Kate Rauhauser-Smith is a local freelance writer, researcher, and genealogist.

The old fashioned varities of hard pieces of Christmas candies has been around since the days of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. These flavors of Christmases of long ago are still around. Flavors of peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, horehound, grape, apple, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, lime, cherry, orange, and pineapple. Hard mixes in the forms of Christmas trees, Santa’s, candles, gingerbread houses, and ribbon shapes. Hard mixes of all kinds and flavors can be found at many candy stores, supermarkets, country stores, produce markets, and in historic Mount Airy along Main Street. At many old fashioned stores, you can scoop it up out of wooden kegs and place it in bags by the pound.

Making your own Christmas ornaments can be fun and you can make many Christmas memories with your children and grandchildren. To prepare this dough recipe, you will need three cups plain flour, one-and-a-fourth cups cold water, three fourth cup of salt, and one teaspoon of powdered alum. In a large bowl, combine the salt, flour, and powdered alum and mix well. Add water and stir until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a lightly covered wax paper lined surface sprinkled with flour for 5 minutes until smooth. If dough is too stiff, sprinkle with water, or if it is too moist, sprinkle with flour. Form shapes of Christmas trees, Santa’s, snowmen, candles, stars, candy canes, and gingerbread houses with cookie cutters or by hand. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and paint with acrylic paints. Extra dough can be stored in covered plastic containers. Use a nail to punch holes in the top of the ornaments for ornament hooks before baking. You can roll the dough into sticks and make candy canes for your old fashioned tree.

Making Christmas eggnog piggy pudding

Rice pudding is a whole lot like Old English “piggy pudding” (also known as figgy pudding) in English literature. Eggnog adds the Old English flavor to the recipe. It is an easy recipe to make at Christmas time. In a medium bowl, mix one pack of Minute or Success cooked rice, two large eggs and one cup of sugar, half teaspoon of nutmeg, one cup of eggnog (regular or low fat), one teaspoon vanilla, one cup golden raisins, two tablespoons plain flour, half teaspoon cinnamon. Mix all the ingredients and pour into a 13X9X2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden brown (usually around an hour and maybe a bit more). You can substitute quartered red and green candied cherries instead of golden raisins for a Christmasy look. It is great served hot with ice cream but even better served cold.

Making some red peppermint julip

This is an interesting pepper-upper on a winter evening. Run a small bag of Starlight peppermints through the blender in grate mode and sit aside. Mix two packs of watermelon Kool-Aid, two cups of sugar, four cups of water, one teaspoon peppermint extract, one two liter bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale. Mix all together and pour in the grated Starlight mints.

Plenty of Christmas green in the garden plot

Part of our garden plot never goes to sleep in winter because green is our favorite color and we love something green and growing all winter long. Green in the winter garden is highlighted by the Carolina Jasmine, mustard greens, Siberian kale, collards, purple top turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and onion sets. It is always fun in every season to see something green in the garden.

Country stores and special places

The spirit of Christmas past and some of the present is alive at the country store or at some extraordinary stores near you. It is there you can experience the sights, scenes, and smells of Christmas that will take you back in time. There is Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem that features country ham. slabs of bacon, W.G. White old fashioned country ham, assorted candies, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, hoop cheese, and many Christmas traditional goodies. A little further up the hill at 516 North Trade street is Mast General Store where they feature old fashioned items, candies, special treats, toys, gadgets, dolls and other special items. In Kernersville, there is Musten and Crutchfield Market. They feature homemade pimento cheese, chicken salad, bottles of old fashioned soft drinks and fresh meats and vegetables. They are at 245 North Main Street. Across the state line in Cana, Virginia, there is Carolina Virginia Produce with wood floors and huge isles filled with wooden keys of old fashioned candies especially at Christmas. You can buy already mixed and weigh out candies in plastic bags or select your own varities from wooden keys. They also have jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, pickled eggs, assorted meats, vegetables and fruits by the bushel or pound. They have fruitcakes and hard to find items such as old fashioned dark chocolate drops, orange slices, ribbon hard Christmas candy, coconut macaroons, spice and fruit gum drops, and stick candy in all flavors as well as coconut ribbon candy and coconut bon bons. Historic Mount Airy has several blocks of wonderful specialty filled all year round and especially at Christmas time when Main Street is decked out in lighted snowflakes. You can visit the ice cream shops, old hardware’s, great dinning places, and enjoy a pork chop biscuit at Snappy Lunch. Many variety stores and specialty shops line Main Street. You can find hoop cheese, country ham, Jelly Bellies in all flavors, dill pickles from jar and many other extra special items that will pave the way to an interesting day of shopping and fun as well as dinning. Take the family on an old fashioned shopping adventure this Christmas season.

Buying a Christmas cactus as a gift

Give someone special a gift of Christmas cactus so they can enjoy it all during the Christmas season as well as for many Christmases to come. You can now purchase Christmas cactus in full bloom at Home Depot, Lowe’s Foods, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Food Lion, and most nurseries. Buy a large bag of Miracle-Gro cactus potting medium and a large container and re-pot the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Rewrap the container in bright Christmas foil before giving it to someone special so they can enjoy the flowers.

The mystery and charm of mistletoe

One of the mysteries of the elusive mistletoe is just the fact that it exists. It is as charming today as it was to the ancients for centuries. It is also a mystery how it can propagate itself against such great odds even in this 21st century when many acres of oak and hickory trees are being bulldozed for real estate and business development. It is also a mystery how it evolved into a decoration at Christmastime.

Mistletoe is unique with its olive green thick leaves and semi-transparent white berries that are so dainty with their tiny seed in them. Mistletoe is a parasite that mooches off hickories, oaks, and other hardwoods to sustain itself. Mistletoe reproduces itself when birds peck or bury the tiny seed into the limbs and branches very high up in the trees. It is amazing that mistletoe always thrives at the tops of these mighty hardwoods protected by God from storms and humans.

The mistletoe revels itself to us in late autumn and early winter when leaves fall and reveal huge clumps of elusive mistletoe in the tops of these mighty oaks and hickories. This brings us to another mystery in the very fact that we didn’t break our neck trying to retrieve it as kids back in the 1950s when almost every oak had a clump of mistletoe tempting us because a kiss awaited if we could chase the girls at school and dangle the mistletoe over their head.

I now believe those sweet fourth grade girls realized the risk involved in retrieving that mistletoe and the rarity of seeing mistletoe or maybe mistletoe charmed them like it did the ancients over the centuries and maybe, just maybe, they really wanted a Christmas kiss! Every December, we look for elusive mistletoe in the mighty oaks in the forest and woodlands of Surry County and it still exists in the tops of oaks and hickories, but now out of our reach because we are old enough to not fool around in the tops of mighty oaks, but we are not to old to kiss under a sprig of mistletoe!

Time to dream about a white Christmas

As we move farther into December and winter is a little more than a week away, is there any possibility we could have some snow before Christmas? In 2017, we had a huge amount of snow the second week of December. It does not have to be cold to snow, or freezing, or not even very cold if conditions are favorable aloft. At Christmas, what better time for the dream of a white Christmas to come true.

“Voices of reason.” When I see a Christmas cookie, I hear two voices in my head. One voice says, “You need to eat that cookie.” The other voice says, “You heard him, eat that cookie!”

“Pie crazy.” Diner: “Is this pumpkin pie or eggnog pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, not really.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make?”

Editor’s Note: Community Comment is a periodic column in The Mount Airy News featuring commentary from community leaders in Mount Airy and Surry County.

The Mount Airy City Schools (MACS) school district has been successful over the years and continues to be a leader in education. Last year, we were the only school district to return to school five days a week beginning in August and this year we continue to lead the way with our first semester connecting 52 Career and Technical Education interns, 38 NextGen paid interns (20 hours a week), and new pathways that lead to promising careers.

We have a new construction program, a drone program, technology classes, engineering classes, health science classes, entrepreneurship classes, and many other avenues for students to find their gifts, talents, and abilities. We have used the lessons from our elementary program Leader in Me over the years to lead like champions.

Leader in Me has been in place for over a decade in our elementary programs and is based on Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The habits create successful leaders and we use them every day with children and in our own decision-making. We teach our children – Habit 1: Be Proactive. This teaches one to take responsibility for one’s own reaction to one’s own experiences. We know when the pandemic hit that we needed to react quickly, turn around technology, get it to students within days so learning could continue uninterrupted and prepare meals and hotspots for delivery out to homes. This habit encourages children to respond positively and improve the situation. Our response was a good lesson for them to follow.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind is important for children. This life habit encourages students to envision what you would like to become so you can work toward that goal. Many of our students want to go into the health field, technology field, education, accounting/banking, and many other careers. They can begin using Xello in middle school to map out the classes and pathways that best align to their natural abilities and interests. Counselors and teachers give them advice to help what they envision to become a reality.

MACS needed to begin with the end in mind this year by prioritizing keeping every child in school. We have been able to participate in Test-to-Stay this year that prevents any COVID exposure in schools from automatically sending children home. If we were in a masked environment we could keep kids in school by rapid testing them instead of quarantining them if they were asymptomatic. The goal of keeping students in school helped us make great decisions resulting in very few students on remote learning.

Students might need help in prioritizing their tasks. They need to think about whether a task is urgent and important such as getting up and getting ready in order to get on the bus on time. Or they may be thinking through whether the homework assignment due tomorrow or the larger project due on Friday is most important and how to manage their time to get both done.

This is outlined in the advice around Habit 3: Put First Things. Our school district sees that urgent and important are the strategies we use to keep all students safe. We also know that making sure all children have social-emotional support, get fed each day, have their physical needs cared for, and people who will mentor them must occur before children will be able to learn. Our school works hard to make sure all of these needs are met and families get the support they need to raise children.

The next three habits from Leader in Me outline an interdependence on others. One of the biggest lessons we can teach students is how to love their neighbor, negotiate a better solution, listen to people who have a different opinion, and take care of each other.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win is a mature way of having conversations, solving problems, and building a brighter future. We know that there is always a negotiation in schools between parents, politicians, and people within the school system. We are really thankful that the General Assembly and the Governor have used this habit with the current budget. The budget begins to value teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, administrators, and all staff with increased pay as well as bonuses for some of the groups. This habit of win-win allows everyone to be able to come to agreement and move forward even if everyone doesn’t get everything they asked for in the process.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood is a great habit that we all need to adopt. If we are careful to really try to understand what others are trying to say this will help us to be able to help them. We can all move forward together. We are thankful that our community has suspended some of the disruptive behaviors we have seen in other communities concerning schools. We have worked together to keep students safe, come back to school together, hold athletics and activities, and decide on next steps to return to normal. Seeking first to understand and be collaborative is a great lesson for our children to see through us and our behaviors.

Habit 6: Synergize is illustrated every day in MACS. Our children are put in teams to accomplish goals. Our elementary teachers put students in teams to accomplish goals through project-based learning and inquiry-based activities. Our middle school and high school have athletic teams, academic competition teams, and clubs. MACS uses staff teams to show leadership every day through school-based teams, leadership teams, and administrative teams.

The last habit may be the most important right now. Sharpen your saw by taking care of yourself, creating healthy life habits, and sustaining joy and fruitful lives. This is important for our children and ourselves. We hope that everyone uses Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw during this holiday season to take some time for ourselves by doing things that you enjoy doing.Thanks for all the support for educators that you continue to give as we teach and practice the habits in Leader in Me. If you would like to be a part of our tradition of excellence and help build future leaders visit us at

Can December begin the snow season?

December could be the month when we see some measurable snowfall. In the past, we have seen some fairly decent amount of snowfall in December and also a few white Christmases. It is always great to be prepared for snow, no matter when it arrives. Keep the snow shovel ready. Keep a bottle of WD-40 oil spray handy to spray the snow shovel with and prevent snow from sticking to the shovel. Spray the shovel a few times as you shovel the snow. Your arms will thank you and we are sure your heart will.

Lighting a Moravian star in season of Advent

The season of Advent is here and time to prepare for Jesus first coming and his birth in Bethlehem. It is the season to light up the Moravian star and let it shine all night to light the way for the Christ child and welcome him into our homes and hearts. You can purchase Moravian stars at Gullians book stores and at Moravian book stores. They come boxed and are easy to assemble.

Pearl Harbor: “A day of infamy,” 1941

Tuesday, Dec. 7 will be Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On a Sunday morning, 80 years ago at around 8 a.m., the Empire of Japan staged a surprise and unprovoked attack on the U.S. navel base at Pearl Harbor. It was a horrific attack that triggered the United States into World War Two. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation that evening and referred the event as “A day of infamy.” That same night, he urged Congress to declare war between the U.S. and the Empire of Japan. Two fateful days should never be forgotten in America and they are Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Patriots Day, Sept. 11. “Remember Pearl Harbor?” “We shall never forget.”

Looking for natural Christmas decor

As December begins, there is an abundance of the most unusual places such as roadsides, woodlands, and probably as close as your own backyard or lawn to find natural Christmas decorations. Honey suckles stay green all winter and blend well with Advent wreathes along with sprigs of red heart cedar. We can almost be sure the early Moravian’s would have used these greens in their Advent wreaths as well as short leaf pine sprigs. Nandena and dogwood berries also make colorful decor. Pine cones and pine boughs make great mantel decor, and wreaths for candle displays. Pine cones also provide Christmas accents. Popcorn kernels can be strung with a needle and thread and used on mantels, window sills, table center pieces and coffee tables. When popping corn, use plain kernels that are purchased in one pound bags, not microwavable popcorn. It works better, is whiter, and has zero seasoning. Holly is still around even though you may have to search harder to find it. Natural decor and ornaments you gather produce an atmosphere of Christmas past, but also bring us the aromas of past Christmases. The smells at grandma’s house were always smells of cedar pine mixed with country ham and chicken dressing.

The fresh cut aroma of Douglas Fir

Nothing brings the smell of Christmas to the home like the scent of fresh cut Douglas Fir and candles burning on the mantel. You may not have a seven foot Douglas Fir to create this atmosphere, but the Christmas tree lots have plenty of trimmings from Douglas Firs. They will be glad to give you some of these cuttings, but please be sure to pay them well because the folks work long, hard, cold, freezing hours in ice, wet, snow, sleet, biting wind and weather. Tell them that you appreciate their labors during this season. Many work for free as fundraisers for churches and other charities and organizations.

Christmas parties, gatherings, dinners, gift wrappings, reunions, banquets, boxes, as well as bottles, cans, and cartons. All these items are what many families place in their trash containers that makes its way to the landfills. All these items could be broken down, cleaned and placed in recycling bins. More than half the trash we generate could be recycled and kept from landfills with only a little concern and effort. Recycling is easy and you can recycle all cardboard boxes (broken down), glass containers, plastic soft drink bottles, soft drink cans, plastic milk cartons, metal cans, newspapers and plastic bags. To prevent a mess, clean all cans, remove all labels, remove lids from metal cans, place inside the cans and bend shut. Think twice before throwing something in the trash can that can be recycled.

Fruitcakes often get a bad reputation and give many people a bad fruitcake experience simply because that what they tasted was not a real fruitcake, but a concoction of citron peelings and a few dried raisins and prunes, very few nuts and a crumbly dry mixture with no moisture and stickiness to hold it together — probably cost $6! This is no fruitcake because it simply has no substance, this is a bad experience fruitcake because its ingredients are not really fruits. You get what you pay for and a great fruitcake with plenty of nuts and fruits costs much more than $6. What does a real fruitcake consist of? First of all, it has quality ingredients such as pineapple chunks, red and green half maraschino cherries, plump moist golden raisins, chunks of walnuts and pecans, and only enough flour, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, rum, brandy, vanilla, orange, and lemon flavoring to hold the cake together. A real fruitcake will be sticky with flavor, but will also have the quality of moisture from the ingredients. Judge a real fruitcake by the merits of the fruits, nuts, and unique ingredients that hold the cake together. Nothing is like the real deal and a real fruitcake is a work of art, and a joy at Christmas time, a real Christmas memory of a lifetime. Accept no imitations of substitutes, invest in a genuine, real, fruitcake. Create a Christmas memory of good taste, not a horrible fruitcake experience!

Cherries are a great product for making a Christmasy desert and this is a simple recipe to kick off the month of Christmas. For this recipe, you will need one 16-ounce can of Oregon (this is the brand name) and there are red cherries (with juice), two sticks light margarine, half stick light margarine, two large beaten eggs, two and a half cups plain flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, one cup milk, one teaspoon corn starch, half cup of water, one cup sugar, and one half cup sugar. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the can of red cherries and reserve the juice. Set both aside. In a large bowl, cream the two sticks of light margarine with one cup of sugar, add the two beaten eggs, and set aside. In another bowl, mix together two and a half cups flour, one fourth teaspoon salt, and four teaspoons of baking powder. Add one cup of milk to the flour mixture. Stir and mix the margarine, sugar, egg mixture into the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into a 13X9X2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with baking spray. Cover with foil and bake for one hour until firm. To make the cherry sauce, combine the cherry juice, half cup sugar, half cup water, half stick light margarine and one tablespoon corn starch. Heat mixture over medium heat until margarine melts and sauce thickens. If sauce needs to be thicker, add more cornstarch with cold water and thicken to consistency you desire. Pour over the cooled cake and spread the cherries over top of the cake. Serve with Cool Whip, Dream Whip, or dairy whipping cream.

Christmas tree lots greening up

Since the week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas trees have been sprouting on vacant lots of loads of trees are arriving each day. They come in all shapes, sizes, and heights. You can choose from Scotch Pine, White Pine, Frazier Fir, Douglas Fir, and Spruce. Here is what to look for in searching for the perfect tree: (1) The tree must smell and look fresh. (2) Test the tree by bending a few limbs; they should spring back. (3) Bounce the tree to see if needles stay on the tree, if any needles fall out, don’t buy that tree. (4) Buy the tree a day before you intend to decorate it. (5) Make sure the tree is full with no bare spots. (6) Prepare the tree before bringing it into the home by getting a worker at the lot to cut two inches off the bottom if they haven’t already done so. Place trunk in a tub of water for 24 hours before preparing it for the home. (7) Place tree in the support stand that allows you to water the tree. (8) A watered tree will last for 30 days in the home. (9) Never leave tree lights on inside the home when you leave.

The father gathered all his children together and said, “Kids, when George Washington knocked down the cherry tree, he told his father honestly that he did it. Now answer me honestly, who knocked down the outhouse?” Finally, the youngest son admitted to knocking it over. After this, he was well disciplined by his father. “It’s not fair,” said the youngest son, “George Washington did not get punished when he told the truth.” “Son,” replied the father, “George Washington’s father was not in the cherry tree when George knocked the tree down.”

“A cheerful giver.” On the way out of the church service 6 year old Jan told the pastor, “When I grow up I’m going to give you some money.” The preacher said, “Well thank you, but why do you want to give me your money?” Jan said, “Because my father said you are one of the poorest preachers we have ever had.”

The new moon of December occurred on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4. Pearl Harbor Day is Tuesday, Dec. The moon reaches its first quarter Friday, Dec. 10. There will be a full moon on the night of Saturday, Dec. 18. The moon will be named “Full Cold Mood.” Winter begins on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Christmas Eve is on Friday, Dec. 24. Christmas Day is Saturday, Dec. 25. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, Dec. 26. New Years Eve is on Friday, Dec. 31.

© 2018 The Mount Airy News