Hundreds of acres of Calhoun backwoods was home
to the Craddocks, living simply, traveling little
Bessie's Joker Ridge house was once the center of her world on
the dusty road, after first living in the Bee Creek wilderness
The Craddocks trudged up the Joker Hill to attend the
now closed Bryner Chapel Church, established in 1898
Life is old there,
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze
Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong ... - John Denver
By Bob Weaver
I thought about the Joker Ridge and Bee Creek Craddock's, as I re-read Art Garfunkel's quote about people he had met walking across America.
"Almost the entire world is trying to mind their own business and stay out of trouble and find their way to heaven in their own way," Garfunkel said.
The Craddocks are all gone now, but I often stop in front of their humble abodes on the Joker Ridge, one of my favorite ridge-running places.
The Craddocks belonged to their place.
They were backwoods people, never grasping the obsession of conspicuous consumption.
Bessie, who never married, was a very short woman who was always glad about a visit. A long-time snuff rubber, she would generally give me a hug or kiss. I always embraced the affection.
Averil would prop himself on a woodpile by the hours, to dispense his quiet wisdom to visitors, more often than not, baffled by the problems of the day, saying, "None of that makes any sense to me."
I would try and help him understand things by telling him to "Follow the Money," saying that big issues may sound really principled, but under the woodpile (pointing to his woodpile), it's most often about the money, including war.
"Why did they kill all those guys (a half million) in Vietnam?" he asked.
"It was something about dominoes," I responded.
He didn't seem to get it, which was maybe a good thing.
I miss Bessie, her brother Averil and sister Pauline, and the other members of the clan from earlier days. Roy went off to soldier during World War II and rarely spoke about it after his return.
Some remember their ritual of going to Grantsville on Saturday starting in the Great Depression, in the early days making the long walk to town, and in later years having someone take them in a car.
During the 1950's, after doing their shopping, they would stand on the street and socialize, but when TV first came to the area, they spent time looking at a TV in the window of the Grantsville Appliance with its outside speaker.
As years went by, they seemed to be little affected by the expansion and chatter of mass media, compulsively reporting on the troublesome world.
They were still connected to their tiny place on earth, keeping it simple, and to each other.
SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Pauline Has Said Goodbye To Joker
SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - "My World Ended At The Farthest Hill," Home A Place To Return
DEEP IN THE CALHOUN WOODS - Remembering The Craddocks