Yodel and Snuff

Many women resided at Laurelton over the decades of its operation, but to my knowledge, there was only one yodeler who chewed snuff and had a southern twang.  M. S. was a middle-aged lady who loved her "dear little mama", as she called her.  Her Mama took the bus from West Virginia every spring and took M. home for the summer, repeating the bus trip again in the fall.   M. always said that she could not wait to get home and "lay in the crick".  As both M. and her Mama aged, the trips got harder.  

One year my husband (who also worked at Laurelton) and I were meeting his California family in Kentucky for a visit just about the time Mrs. S. was to come for M.  I suggested to him that we could save her the trip and take M. to her home on our way through West Virginia.  He actually agreed.

It was a mucky rainy day and we could not put the car windows down.  It wasn't too long until we could smell snuff.  Jim gave me a "look" and I reminded him that we may be in for some "behaviors'" if we did not allow the snuff.  The closer we got to West Virginia, the yodeling started and got louder the closer we got to the town of Pine Bank (no larger than the town of Laurelton). 

We stopped at the general store, complete with a pot belly stove and men sitting around it smoking corn cob pipes.  I asked if they knew where Mary S. lived, and one man said, "Which one?". I told him what our mission was and he directed us to the right Mary S.  - down some really rutted, twisty dirt roads, and a wooden bridge over M.'s "crick".  There was a little Appalachian shack with a  wood stove.

"Dear little Mam" was full of gratitude and love. Her son was also there and he saw that my husband was enthralled with the hunting guns, pelts, and stuffed animals around the room.  Pine Bank and the S home were even more like the prototype than I had expected.  We left everyone happy and continued on our way to Kentucky.

When we returned to work a couple of days later, my husband had a chat with the Assistant Superintendent, telling him that he understood that Judy had permission for us to do this as volunteers, but with all of the above, he felt he should be paid. He was.  I never asked for pay.

By Judy P.