(Ray refers here to a number of stories from Depression Baby. The links in the transcript below will take you to the related episode of the podcast, etc.)

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Big thanks to everybody who came out, including Lucy, Derrick, Jeannie, Johnny Wayne and Nancie Bradford, Dick and Nancy Juge, Mary Todd and Jason, Christina, Charlene, Billy, Melba Rose, Danny Paul, Leah, Brenda, Theresa, Hunter, Norma, Marie, Mary Ann, Adelaide, Jerry and Tommy.

Thanks so much to Carolyn at Book Mart for the hospitality, and to everyone at The Claiborne for their help. Thanks to Mary Todd (and Jason), our Sidewalk Outreach Crew.

You can also view the video below:

Complete Transcript (from video…audio condensed slightly for podcast)

Carolyn Abadie (Manager, Book Mart): Okay, everybody. We’ve got Ray Rogers here, and we’re excited to host him today. And he’s got quite a story.

So we want to figure out how he got started in all of this.

Ray B. Rogers: Okay, I’ll tell you, and I pledge to tell the truth this time.

Actually, I started writing this book about 10 years ago or more. But I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was writing these little stories for my family.

I come from a large extended family. My grandparents, my grandfather and grandmother Rogers, had fourteen children. And there were thirty-five first cousins in that family.

Granddad Rogers’ Farm

Granddad Rogers' Farm

Granddad Rogers’ farm in Upper Crabtree.

But anyway, I went down to Crabtree Creek, that’s where the farm was, and I spent the summer. I was 10 years old when I went down, and I was the official water boy.

Of course, I had three uncles still at home. I had my grandfather and a hired hand, and that means five workers in the field that had to be hydrated every day.

And so, there wasn’t bottled water to take out there, there wasn’t ice water because they had no electricity to freeze the ice. So I went to the springhouse with a large bucket with the dipper in it. So I got the cool water in the bucket and headed for the field, tried to get there before it warmed up too much.

Everybody drank out of the same dipper. Back in those days, that was all right. Today, people would be freaked out about that, I guess.

The Lick Log

But anyway, my time that summer was a real adventure. I got to go places with my grandfather.

One day he said, “Ray let’s go salt the cattle.“ I didn’t know what he meant by that, but I – he put a big sack of salt up in front of the saddle on the horse, and I got on behind and held him around the waist. And off to the mountain place we went. He took his cattle up there to – for the summer, because there was a lot of lush grass on that mountain.

And so, when we got to the bottom of the mountain, there was this huge log there that was longer than this row of chairs here. And it was kind of slick, and so on. And it was made that way by the cattle.

And so, he called the cattle, and you could hear them coming through the brush up on the mountain. And they knew exactly why my grandfather was there.

They – animals crave salt, need salt. And so they came down, and we poured the salt on the top of the log. And they licked the salt off. And that’s the reason they called it a lick log. And I know most of you haven’t heard of a lick log.


blackberry bushAfter that, Another time we went to that same mountain place, to pick blackberries. And a lot of mountain people, that was a big thing. They preserved a lot of blackberries, they made blackberry cobblers.

And of course that was my grandfather‘s favorite dish: blackberry cobbler. And he passed it down. It must be in the genes, in the DNA. So blackberry cobbler is a favorite of mine as well. {Ed. Note: This is one of my favorite podcast episodes. Just click on the link to listen.]

Electricity and Ice Cream

Before the second summer came, you know, they had no electricity, no indoor plumbing. It was like a step back into the previous century. Life had not changed that much. But when they got electricity, before my second summer there, life changed.

They got a – electricity to most of the farmers was a cord hanging in the center of the room with a chain to pull.

And grandmother had not had a refrigerator before. And there was no place to put the refrigerator in the kitchen because it wasn’t designed correctly, so we had to put the refrigerator in the dining room. And back then they tried to make the refrigerator look like a piece of furniture, and it had curved legs.

And of course to a ten-year-old boy, electricity meant grandmother could make me ice cream in the ice trays.

They sold an ice cream powder. There were three flavors: chocolate vanilla and strawberry.

And she could put the cream, which we had plenty of, and stir the powder into it. And stir it a couple of times while it was freezing. And the ten-year-old boy got some ice cream.

See, we didn’t have a car to go to town, and and we didn’t go to town very much, but I always got ice cream when I went to town, but it—that didn’t happen very often.

So it was a real adventure.

And of course if I’d known I was going to write a book about it, I would have paid better attention.

Grafting Apple Trees

But I did learn a lot. I learned from a grandfather how to graft one apple tree onto another.

If he was out visiting another fellow farmer or something and saw a good apple tree, he’d break a twig off of it and take it back home and graft it onto his apple—one of his apple trees.

He had a pretty substantial orchard. But it’s not very often that you see apple trees with three or four—or two—at least two or three different kind of apples on the same tree.

But I learned how to do that.

The Picture On The Wall

The Picture On The Wall-FDR-Franklin Delano RooseveltAnd back to the electricity thing. I wrote about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his bringing electricity to the farmers all over this country.

And they appreciated this. And they put his picture on the wall. Every farmhouse had—in Crabtree Creek—had a picture on the wall, and that’s the name of the story in this book, The Picture On The Wall.

And Bradford has put up an audio version of my story, and he even has President Roosevelt saying, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” You remember that?

And I hope that was a good imitation. If not, I apologize.

About The Book

But there’s about forty-six stories here in this book. And I’ve continued to write stories. I’ve written over a hundred additional short stories about my life, and they’re all true stories.

And they’re entertaining, I hope. There’s some humor in the book.

My druggist back in Conyers told me one night she was lying in bed reading, and her husband says, “Well, what are you laughing at?” And she said, “I’m laughing at the things in this book.”


And a minute later she was laughing again, so she repeated it.

So if any of you read the book, I hope you enjoy it and get a little humor out of it. And we’re going to have another book coming out pretty soon.

How the Book Came About

And the gentleman here to my right—Bradford my son—is actually responsible for this book, ’cause he put up a blog site for me.

And I was putting the stories on the blog site so my extended family, which were scattered all over the United States, could know something about the roots.

And I’m the oldest member of the—surviving member of the Rogers clan from Crabtree. And I came to realize that I had to write this down or this would be lost forever. And I’ve really enjoyed doing it.

And of course some of my relatives and some of my customers were reading the blog site, and they were encouraging me to publish. I never would have got around to it unless Bradford had not taken the bull by the horns, and published—got the book published for me.

Bradford owns Worldsongs [Media], which publishes music. But he made an exception and published a book.

Hanging Dog

Johnny Wayne Bradford-Hanging Dog Hat _MG_7208

Johnny Wayne with “Hanging Dog” hat.

And so he’s helping me get another one on the road. And I think I’ve told some of you about what we might call the next book. And I’m looking at my brother-in-law over there, and he’s got a cap that says “Hanging Dog” on it.

So everybody wants to know where—Where’s Hanging Dog? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s just a mile down the road from Frog Level. And don’t laugh at that one, that’s a…


Interesting Place Names

But actually Frog Level is a part of Waynesville. And it’s down on the—next to the creek, where the frogs are. So they call it Frog Level.

There are a lot of creative names in the mountains. There’s one name called Bowlegged Valley.

Well, the way that this little community was named is that the builder who happened to be a great uncle of mine, great uncle Charlie…

(Great uncle “Little Charlie.” I had a Big Charlie and a Little Charlie.)

Well anyway, he built most of the houses at Bowlegged Valley. And he was bowlegged. So that’s the way the community got its name.

And there are other names like Rabbit Skin. Bearwallow. And I could go on and on.

And the ancestral home for my mother was Iron Duff. Well, it was named after a gentleman—a Scottish gentleman—who was well respected in the community. And his name was actually Aaron MacDuff.

Well, in the language of a mountaineer—and he was trying to talk to a flatlander from Raleigh who came up to establish the post office there—and what he said, it was like, “Airn …Duff.”

And he just kind of went over the Macduff. And so the community was named Iron (I-R-O-N) Duff (D-U-F-F) instead of Aaron Macduff. And that was put over the post office, and they never got around to changing it, so…

So much for unusual names.

Audience Questions

RBR: Does anyone have any questions about what I’m…?

CA: I’d like to know how far you lived from town.

RBR: How far I lived from town?

Well, when I lived at Hanging Dog, that’s about a mile to town. And when I was working my way through college I had to work—walk—two miles to Hazelwood, which is a suburb now included in Waynesville.

I made a deal with the gentleman who ran the Summer—Ralph’s market—Ralph Summerall. And I told him I needed to earn enough money to go to college, and I’d work for him for a year and a summer.

And so he guaranteed me a wage that was enough to put me through a year of—two years of college at Mars Hill. But I stayed at home and I didn’t have a car.

I walked two miles in the morning to Ralph Summer’s store to work there, and

I walked back in the evening. I actually walked up the railroad track. I got pretty good on walking the rails, but…

Does anyone else have a question?

CA: How’d you meet your beautiful wife?

RBR: I was going to say in a bar, but I’m afraid she’d slap me down. Well… How did I meet you? I think it was in the bar. I’ll try to make up a story about that.

Well, a friend of mine introduced us. That’s how I met her.

CA: And how long have you been married? And I’ll quit asking questions and taking over.

RBR: Thirty-one years, thirty-one good years. May the Twenty-Ninth of 2019 will be thirty-two.

Well, I’ll throw in something else. I’ll be ninety years old on my next birthday, and…but I ain’t done yet!

I’m still writing and I hope to publish at least three more books. Bradford is getting to work on it, and gonna put one together pretty soon that I have most of the material there.

But he might tell me, like what he told me one day when I brought a story to him, and he read it through, and he said, “Dad, I think you’d better take this home and work on it a little bit more.”

Now how about that?

Well, he was—had—I have an audio version of the book. But he was real patient in—in teaching me to be a narrator. Is that what I am now?

He told me I was a writer and made me believe it. And then he told me I was an author and made it believe it. Now I’m a narrator but I don’t hardly believe it.

Ray B. Rogers in the studio

Narrating the audiobook.

But actually I’ve read—read that book, and you can hear the old man from the mountains talking to you and telling you these stories just like I’m sitting in the living room with you.

But Bradford had to teach me how to not read like—make it sound like I’m reading. He wanted to make it sound like a conversation. And some sentences he would make me do four, five or six times to get it right. He’d say, “Dad try it this way.”

And so all the whole thing worked out and thanks to Bradford’s patience…

Anybody else have any questions about it from the old man from the mountains? Or can he go back and be a hermit?

Unknown Male: What’s some of your hobbies you had back in those days, if you had some…hobbies? Just…things to do?

RBR: Well, early on I had a hobby of fishing, I went trout fishing up in the mountains. And we had a house on Lake Lanier. And I liked to go up there just to get away from my office a little bit. I didn’t care much if I caught a fish or not.

I’d go into a cove somewhere, throw out the anchor and catch a few fish, it didn’t matter. I even had a friend that—he came down to the dock every time I came up in that cove. And my friend jumped in the water and he would swim out to the boat. And of course I had to pull the bait in to keep from hooking him.

It was actually a Labrador. So he would check me out and swim back to the shore. But every time I pulled into that cove he would come down there and check me out. And I had other hobbies. Gardening and tending flowers. I like…I like to raise plants.

And I even built a wall. One of the walls at what I call the deck house—we have six decks and a dock, so that’s the way got its name…

…and I lost my trend of thought. You’ll have to edit that.

But—oh, I was telling about building the wall. I was over seventy years old, and I told Derrick my stepson that I was going to build that wall, I couldn’t get a contractor to do it the way I wanted it.

And he says, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I said, “No, I’m gonna build that wall.” It’s about forty feet long and about three or four feet tall. And so I built that wall myself.

So anybody else have any questions?

Unknown Male: Did you do a lot of hunting?

RBR: A lot of hunting? No, I never was a hunter. I don’t…

Actually, my brother-in-law who’s standing over there, Johnny Wayne Bradford, took me coon hunting one night.

And so there was four or five guys, there were several dogs, and only one little coon.

And I always pulled for the underdog. And when I when I told Johnny Wayne that I was pulling for the coon, he never took me coon hunting again.

So that…I never had that as a hobby.

I did have another hobby collecting antique tools, and they’re in a trunk back at the deck house. But I have a lot of really nice antique tools, all of them which are usable. They’re not broken pieces.

Anybody else have a question? Well I guess I’ve worn you all out so…

Bradford Rogers: Speaking of the audio though, the—you can get the audiobook if you—if you’re into that—free, and a free month of Audible. It’s the—like, the main thing. We would have it here, but it’s digital, so…

But there’s the address here. And also his podcast, which has the stories kind of distilled with some music and effects, also at his site RayBRogers.com. And you can’t miss the Audible thing there.

So, if—case you’re interested, we got plenty of those things. I think you’ll like the podcasts. There’s one out today, there’s—be one out next week that some of y’all may feature in—we’ll see—but that’s coming—that’s weekly.

And it’s—it’s all at the same place, RayBRogers.com, so—as is his writing, some of which is not in the book, some is.

So there you go…

RBR: Se will put out another book fairly soon, and we may call it Up From Hanging Dog.

So…anyone anyone who was born in a three-room Shack at Hanging Dog there’s only one way to go, and that’s up. So we may call it Up From Hanging Dog.

[End Of Transcript]

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