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Little Wooden Birds

September 3, 2012


A dense green hooded country road leads you into Gatlinburg, Tennessee. 100 year old buildings with hand carved wooden bears and hand sewn quilts hang out front and invite you into this century old arts and crafts haven in the middle of the Great Smokey Mountains. And then you arrive; the traffic lights, the traffic, the lines of roaring Harleys spewing stinky fumes, all things Dukes of Hazzard including the chance to meet Deputy Cletus Hogg, the parade of obesity clogging the sidewalks always chewing on some fried crap or drinking liquified sugar. The dinner choices, Hard Rock Cafe or one of 6 Pancake and Waffle Houses. Yes I was being judgmental and yes, I was in shock.

I’d come for a week to do a class at a venerable Arts & Crafts Center that had been established in 1912, crafts classes going back to 1945. It was an oasis I dared not leave for the 5 days of classes.

But I’d arrived a day early so decided to drive The Arts and Crafts Trail. So many stores, so many pots and weavings and glass blown vases.

I stopped at one that sold hand carved wooden birds. At the entrance sat an old lady and her husband. The shelves got emptier and emptier as I headed to the back of the store and then I noticed the walls, covered with newspaper articles about Ronald Reagan, Nixon, and mostly both Bushes. Keep your mouth shut I thought as I said “You really like those Republican Presidents, huh?”
“Well of course we do, better than what we got now.” And then it began.

She was 85 and he was 90-something, now too blind to carve his birds so they were selling off everything and closing shop. But he’d been in WWII, next over from the Battle of the Bulge! He said “This country went Communist when the ACLU started up”. Me…Gulp.  “Do you like your Social Security”? “Course I do”. Well then I guess you like Socialism” (sputter, sputter, non sequitur)

From there we slid right on into abortion. She: “They kill babies”. Me: “What about those 80 or so years that kid lives knowing his mother didn’t want him”? Silence..maybe she heard me!

Me: “I’ll give you $50 to sit down with me and watch MSNBC tonight” (and I would have).

They: Looking unperturbed and silent. She: “They lie; Fox News is the only one who tells the truth.” Me: “Gotta go”.

I pat his shoulder and say thank you for your service, and left there wondering, do they live in the bubble or do I?

  1. great writing, though this slice of americana is a tough reminder that fundamentalist thinking isn’t penetrable , with either facts, reason, or emotional pleas. it is what it is, and it’s not a bubble, just a sad reality.

  2. barryfriends permalink


    On Sun, Sep 2, 2012 at 7:18 PM, littletheatre1

  3. Jessica Ledwith permalink

    Carol, just saw this, the first blog of yours I’ve read, it so reminded me of where I have lived now for the last 23 years! At first when we moved here I was so naive and expressed how I felt about everything, next thing I know, all of our new friends(white ones) received phone calls from KKK (we didn’t have a phone then), “don’t have anything to do with them(us), or your kids will get hurt”. No white person came over here for almost two years after that! So I pretty much shut up now, the stakes are high! You write so well and a beautiful picture!

    • Thank you for reading Jessica. Yeah, it’s easy to have a big mouth when you’re living in a safe blue place. Did you know the only place that voted more for Obama this second time was San Francisco. Now that’s good company. I hate to think you have to live in a place where you can’t speak your mind. I’m pretty sure i was born a leftie cause they’re few and far between in my family.

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