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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

By MORRIS STEPHENSON -

At 11:17 a.m. last Wednesday, I pulled out of the Franklin Health and Rehab parking lot heading west to Ferrum with wife Hazel in the front seat. The trip marked the end of 43 days of her being in the hospital/rehab after suffering a stroke Aug. 30 at our house.

Her fire-engine red HHR Chevy was loaded with her personal possessions, including enough clothes to last at least a month, along with flowers, get well cards and notes, etc. A two-wheel walker was folded in the back seat. She had made so much progress that a wheel chair was not part of her/our future.

In fact, the facility's therapy department staff had ranked her at 92 percent of being back to living her normal every-day lifestyle. Only slight traces of vertigo remained as a result of the stroke. We were blessed.

Her arrival at the house was greeted by a rousing, loud and prolonged barking by "her dog" Victor, who'll soon be 3 years old. Wife Hazel said it sounded like he was saying "welcome home" in his repeated short barking sounds.

However he apparently knew things were not back to normal. He first noticed she was using a walker and was careful to always walk behind or beside of her when she was on the move. Not once did he take the lead.

It was only when she took a seat at the kitchen table did he gently place his front paws in her lap to place him high enough to smother her with "doggy kisses" along with a lot of sniffing and smelling.

Debra, wife Hazel's #1 daughter (in age), was there to provide additional assistance while I proceeded to unload the car. I never did totally complete the project before bed time. The unloading was simple but the "putting away" took much longer.

A hot bowl of tomato soup over broken pieces of bread was her choice for her first meal at home. The meal was topped off with one of those small apple pies, warmed up in the microwave. That night, she went to bed at 9 and despite repeated phone calls, she did not wake up until 10:45 a.m. Thursday. She said it was the best, soundest sleep she'd been able to get since the stroke.

That afternoon she was scheduled for a discharge follow-up appointment with our friend and long-time "doc" Steve Lewis at his Westlake office. The visit went well and he explained a simple do-at-home therapy for vertigo. He had to undergo the therapy some years ago and explained in minutes how to do the four simple steps.

When she gets rid of the slight vertigo problem, her confidence will return, he assured wife Hazel. Doc Steve encouraged her to do the therapy several times a day when she felt like it. He also encouraged her to eat more, do her exercises like she was taught in rehab and to walk often.

I took a short cut from Route 122 across to Route 220 where I entered the 40-lane at Plateau Plaza. We couldn't pass by Ruth's Place without stopping to eat some home-cooked food.

Victor was at the door eager to extend his welcome when we reached the house. Shortly thereafter, Peggy, wife Hazel's #4 daughter, came by to provide a helping hand. She stayed busy until her mother became tired and decided it was time for her to get another night of sound sleeping without interruptions.

The way I view it is she'll work hard on her vertigo exercise so she can once again comfortably take command of the red HHR. I expect that to happen sooner rather than later.

More on the English Couple - In August 2012, Gary and Lin Hopcroft sat in a London theater watching the movie "Lawless," based on Matt Bondurant's fictional novel about the three moonshine Bondurant brothers who lived in the Snow Creek area.

After seeing the movie, the couple, both 47, was fascinated by the moonshine film. They wanted to come to Franklin County and visit the actual area about which the book was written. The couple also wanted to talk with people who could tell them about the real moonshine heritage and tell them stories about the county back in the days of the late 1920s and early 30s.

Cary and Lin live in Billaryeay, Essex, about 20 minutes away from London. They wanted to meet and talk with former moonshiners and any enforcement officers who had the job of catching the elusive men on the other side of the law. So they did what most do and went to the internet to start gathering information.

The Holcrofts researched Franklin County to find what they needed to know for their planned upcoming visit. The internet revealed they could stay in Rocky Mount at the Claiborne House.

Last Sunday night, I received a call from Shellie Leete at the Claiborne House who told me about the Hopcrofts and said they would like to talk with me during breakfast Monday morning, if at all possible.

Then she related how the couple was interested in the county's moonshining history and wanted to hear anything and everything I could tell them. I gladly accepted the invitation.

In Monday's driving rain, I made a quick stop at the Dairy Queen after seeing Cecil Love's familiar blue and gray Ford pick-up sitting in its usual parking place. Cecil said he'd be happy to remain at DQ and talk with the couple.

Taking a couple of my moonshine books and enlarged pictures inside was accomplished with help from a huge umbrella. Shellie led me to the Hopcrofts seated at the big dining room table. For the next 1 or two hours, I talked about and answered their moonshine questions.

Braving the rain again, we left with Shellie in tow and the couple talked with Cecil for more than an hour along with former ABC agent Ken Dudley. Gary and Lin were totally engrossed with Cecil's moonshine stories and especially the family history and heritage.

Next was a trip to meet and talk with Roddy Moore at Ferrum College's Blue Ridge Institute. "He was great to and the institute is fascinating. There's a lot of history stored in that place."

After lunch, Gary and Lin had the opportunity to meet and talk with Jack Powell, retired ABC officer and author of five "Dying Art" books about his experiences. During

that time George Martin, a native and historian of the Snow Creek area, stopped by to the couple's delight.

Tuesday, the two spent the day with Barbara Chauncey, who works with the county's tourism department, doing a mountain life tour of the Endicott/Ferrum areas. During the trip, she tells of the family life and culture in those areas during the height of the moonshine era.

Barbara is a native of the Endicott section and is the niece of the late Deputy Sheriff Jeff Richards, who was ambushed and gunned down near the Antioch church on Callaway Road prior to the start of Franklin County' Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935.

Wednesday morning they were back at DQ talking to Cecil. While there Barbara Chauncey stopped by to give the visitors a gift. This was also my chance to learn more about the visitors.

Gary is an asbestos removal expert while his wife has two jobs, working in a coffee house and providing health care for her father. He has two girls and a boy, while she has two boys and a girl, all in their 20s.

Of course, I didn't get to spend much time with the couple, but I did learn they later spent the afternoon in the Snow Creek area. They called on their return to Rocky Mount to thank me for my assistance and to announce they had enjoyed the visit so much they planned to return in December.

My mind flashed back to an earlier conversation with Cecil. He told them about a well-constructed, remodeled old house they could buy at a reasonable price in the Fork Mountain area. I have no idea where that discussion will lead.

Both Gary and Lin repeatedly told me how much they had enjoyed the visit. Both said they did not understand why the movie had not followed the story line of Bondurant's book. "The real story is much better than having an agent come into the county from Chicago," she said.

Lin also said she planned to e-mail Bondurant and express her same views to him.

"After seeing the movie, we decided we wanted to come here and talk with the real people who were characters in the movie," Gary said. "The movie doesn't do justice to the real people of Franklin County," he added. "The true story is much better than the film itself," his wife added.

The Hopcrofts left early Thursday morning for their return flight to England. I would love to be a "fly on the wall," as they say, and hear the stories Gary and Lin have to tell about their visit to Franklin County.

As I so often say, Franklin County is not all about the moonshine, but rather its heritage, which of course includes the profession and how it was a way of life.

Great DVD - Richard Prillaman, who lives in Martinsville, is a man I've been planning to visit for several years now and something always comes up to keep me from making that trip.

I've known him for several years and have heard about his huge warehouse just off Route 220 South going into Martinsville for many more years. Richard, who for years owned all the Save convenience stores in the area, has his warehouse full of early 1930 and 1940 model Ford vehicles. And each, I'm told, is like new.

Last week, I received a package in the mail from Richard containing a DVD he had made entitled "Fairystone Memories." The DVD was amazing. It contained old 8 mm footage of Prillaman talking to a well-known Ford mechanic along with a former Bassett police officer who chased the notorious moonshine hauler "Pee Wee" Martin, along with others.

He is shown with part of his collection of old antique cars. The DVD also features his long-time secretary Fay Lawrence Morley, who also likes to write. I deeply appreciated his gift and would advise anyone who loves old cars, especially of that vintage, to stop by his office/warehouse and be sure to get a copy of the DVD. It is definitely a part of the era's history.

My unknown faithful reader has "struck" again. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the News-Post and was told I had a "gift" someone had left there for me.

A pretty little gift bag contained two gifts, wrapped in blue paper complete with blue bows. One was a great DVD about hummingbirds while the second was a book entitled "I Will See You in Heaven." While I've just started reading it, the book was penned by a Friar Jack Wintz and is about people being reunited after death with pets and other creatures.

The note card was inside the bag, written in a neat, now familiar handwriting. I have no clue who it is that's been periodically dropping off these nice gifts from time to time. This much I know. It is a woman and she has a beautiful handwriting.

Hummers Gone - I saw my last hummingbird early Tuesday morning, Oct.8. I assume the little female filled her belly and headed south. She kept her head down eating for what seemed like two minutes and then she was gone. I'm already looking forward to next April 15 when they return.

 
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