How One Story Unfolds Into Another
It’s a balmy day in Tinyville, NC and I am out and about, hunting down local historians on a moment’s notice to try and pull together a write-up about the Blevins Building downtown. My dear friends have just finished 15 months of renovations on the building and will have the grand opening for the new space and their expanded gallery this weekend.
I met with the secretary of the Historical Society of Mitchell County on Monday morning and, while she knew very little herself, she did know what direction to point me in for which information.
Today, I set out to meet the owner of Miller Oil, just across the creek and one block off town center in Tinyville. He was pleased to have my company and sat me down beside his desk to tell me what he remembered of the building and the Blevins family, way back in the 1920’s. He remembered the boys the most, as he called them, two brothers named Taylor and Ed who originally constructed the building as it was first used as a warehouse to store surplus grain in. But when it came to the finer details – questions about the Wilson family (who some said helped build it, others said “No”), or questions about the order in which different businesses filled the space, he was at a loss.
Until a spark traced the edges of his smile and he said, “Now hold on a minute here, I’m gonna get you on the phone with Woodrow Buck.” Mr. Miller had his hand on the receiver and the number halfway dialed.
“Woodrow Buck is the oldest man alive that I know in Mitchell County,” said Mr. Miller.
He dialed the number, then hollered loud and clear through the line: “Now Woodrow, I got a lady down here searching for some evidence on the old Blevins Building…” and on and on.
Woodrow, it turns out, held the key to the story no one in this dry county might like to tell. Long story short – there was a period of two days back in the early 1930’s when it was legal for the store to sell alcohol and it did. This is no small matter for a county that has been dry since 1936.
After I hung up with Woodrow, Mr. Miller handed me photocopies had made of two old photographs which included the Blevins Building in its original form. After many thanks, I turned to leave and he hollered after me: “Now where to do you live?”
“Up Fork Mountain,” I said.
“Up Fork Mountain on XX Road.”
“Oh. Uh-huh. Right by the creek there?”
“No, right at the top. The very, very top. The last house at the end of the road.”
“Oh, you live with them colored folks up there, do you?” he said, quite formerly, quite respectfully, yet utterly old fashioned.
“No sir, further up. Half a mile further past that house, on up the gravel near the old logging road.”
“I see,” he said.
“There’s a house up there, I swear! And I’m in it!”
He smiled, shook my hand, and winked at me. “You come back real soon then, ya hear?”