Thinking about the Cataloochee Reunion brings back many childhood memories of cousins’ visits corresponding with the reunion, time spent on my grandparent’s farm in Iron Duff preparing for the reunion and the excitement of the day itself.
My grandmother was Nora Woody Davis, daughter of “Uncle” Steve Woody and Mary Palmer.
As the day approached my grandma seemed to take on an urgency around food preparation. I remember happily going to the smokehouse with granddaddy to get ham.
It was one of my favorite places because I could always find a kitten there to dress up in doll clothes. And I will never forget the chickens that flopped around in the yard after having their heads chopped off.
We girls had to help pluck feathers while trying to get past the smell. It didn’t stop me from later enjoying a drumstick.
The day of the reunion excitement was in the air as our cars left very early traveling into the valley on a very narrow and winding road. One of my flat land cousins had to suck on a lemon to keep from getting carsick — it didn’t work!
As we arrived in front of the church as that is where the road was then, I would spot the permanent wooden table that seemed to go on forever and would soon be covered with bright cloths in preparation for the “eating on the grounds.”
However, before the food we children had to play quietly and not go too close to the open windows as we might disturb the church service. It seemed to go on forever.
I remember many smiling adult faces and being fascinated by my grandmother’s brothers and sisters colorful personalities. Also I wondered why there was so much conversation about cemeteries.
Impatiently, we children had only one thing in mind and that was getting into the creek which ran in front of the church and, of course, we were explicitly warned against it since we had on our good clothes.
Later in the day after the big reunion we didn’t have to be asked twice to load up because we knew we were getting ready for the excitement of fording the creeks in our car as we headed to the Woody house.
One of my younger brothers always cried thinking we were going to sink. The Woody house visit now requires a hike using foot logs over rushing waters. Upon arriving, the adults sat around or wandered around the family homeplace.
For the cousins, the house didn’t seem to hold much interest; however, the springhouse was totally compelling. I can still remember the cool air and sweet, earthy smell when stepping inside. We children were finally rewarded with playing in the creek after changing clothes, of course.
The best meal of the day for me was eating leftovers in front of the house. We then headed back over the mountain to get out of the valley before dark.
Now, as an adult, I still enjoy the gathering on reunion day to share stories and preserve memories of our special Cataloochee Valley.