If you are staying at home on Sunday morning because your church is temporarily closed down or you don’t attend a church at all, here is a great sermon for your listening pleasure. I say, “listening” because it is not a visual video, as many that I put on my blogs, but simply a recording.
This message is given by Thomas Whartenby, who was brought up as a Roman Catholic… has been the minister of Galax Presbyterian Church for forty plus years and is a Vietnam veteran. His wife, Mary Elizabeth, is the church organist and choir director. Their ministry is in a small community situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, USA.
I was privileged to include him in my book, Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge.
Why is it important to hear Dr. Whartenby’s message?
As a people and a nation, we are extremely self-centered. Yes, there are many caring people among us, but as a culture there is much to be improved. I can only speak for our country, but I would guess that it might be the “new normal” for most of the world. Of course, included in this, is the added pressure of isolating and how to take care of OURSELVES when there is such a need to reach out to others. We are warned nationally and locally about “distancing,” which only makes self-centeredness more prevalent. It is hard to know when to think of SELF as far as health is concerned and believe that we are doing it for others. The problem is that the “others” don’t know that our standoffish actions are for them.
As we look at history, much of “what’s in it for me” has come about with the industrial revolution, increase in technology, ability to hear and see through the media an emphasis on having more and more. Life has become a rush to acquire, get ahead, and forget about what is really important. Patience is a long-lost virtue.
We want things and service NOW...no waiting! Almost everything we do is “How does it effect ME?” In some cases, it is how can I get something for nothing? Our young people and children, unfortunately, are modeling these behaviors and attitudes.
The Holy Scripture has something to say about this problem. Dr. Whartenby, “Tom”, gives a fresh understanding of why we want self-gratification. He puts in modern terms thoughts that make sense to all of us.
It will be worth your time of 30 minutes to listen. I am including this link for those who believe that we all need a new look at what this title means….IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT US.
There is an interesting story about a sock company, Renfro Sock Corporation of Mt. Airy, N.C, that is just down the mountain from where we lived part-time in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. As we took the narrow road that snaked down the mountain from Virginia into North Carolina, we often noticed their building near one of our favorite “mom and pop’s” eating places. Renfro, it turns out, is now producing masks by the thousands!
Our hats are off to this company and others that are helping out people in need during this pandemic. As people cover their faces, the Coronavirus will be slowed down considerably.
“Renfro Corp., a sock manufacturer based in Mount Airy, North Carolina has produced a mask to help minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus. Around 60,000 masks will be provided at no cost to low-income residents through faith-based organizations in and around Winston-Salem.” (from
SHORT VIDEO ON RENFRO Turn up sound:
As seen in this video, Renfro’s emphasis on MADE IN AMERICA, is most important if we are to have the medicines and equipment needed without dependence upon other countries. We have the know-how, so let’s do it!
Boyer Writes is taking a deep breath from blogging/listening to continuous news coverage and will relax the next few days. Hopefully, you will do the same, but we would like to share one more thing with you before signing off.
Companies, like Renfro, are patriotic and family oriented. We found, while living in this area that patriotism is strong in the Blue Ridge. Renfro is reaching out to the community. People in America pull together.
Those who left the mountains to serve our country were patriots as well. It is our privilege to share with you a musical story from the mountains that may have been typical of many in the N.C. and VA areas in the Blue Ridge. (Home Free – Go Rest High On That Mountain – Vince Gill )
Boyer Writes honors all Veterans
THANK YOU for your service to our country!
While living part-time in Virginia, my husband and I were honored to interview a number of veterans of the Blue Ridge Mountain area. Many had never been interviewed about their service and were happy to finally tell their stories. This led to the writing of our book entitled Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge.
Their stories were amazing. We were honored to meet Sharon Plichta and her husband who served in Vietnam. Sharon was a military nurse who earned the Bronze Star for her bravery caring for the wounded under fire.
The veteran that I’d like to share with you from this book is Myron Cardward Harold of M.C., as he was called. He served in Korea with the U.S. Army’s 40th Division, 22nd Regiment. He was 21 years old as he fought across Heartbreak Ridge.
Here is a part of the chapter featuring this soldier of Valor in Korea:
Myron C. Harold, better known as “MC” has an amazing story of bravery when he served his country in the United States Army during the Korean War. He was a Staff Sergeant who almost lost both his legs. The fighting had been so terrible in the middle of winter on what is known as Heartbreak Ridge and they were walking and fighting at night through the mountains. His legs were beginning to freeze and he was picked up in a truck and taken to a field hospital at the Yalu River.
When he arrived at a medic station, the soles of his shoes were worn out and flapping. By this time, both legs had frozen. The surgeons said, “We must take these legs off now. It can’t wait. We must do it now.” MC was prepared to face whatever he had to in order to live.
He says he does not remember getting to the medics. Now they were about to remove his legs and send him back to the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they had large fruit orchards that his father had started years before.
The surgeon that day in Korea wanted to help MC stand on his legs one more time before performing the operation. When he did, MC recalls with tears in his eyes, “It felt like a shot had gone all through my body.” Immediately the surgeon recognized that the blood had started flowing throughout MC’s legs. Removing the legs would not be necessary. “That was my miracle,” MC said with tears in his eyes.
After returning from Korea, MC and his son grew many acres of apples in the Blue Ridge. Today, as an elderly man, he is a resident at the V.A. hospital in Virginia. He had survived to tell his story of God’s miracle in a land far away.
Other veterans of the Blue Ridge interviewed served in Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. They stand proud with all their comrades in arms who have faithfully served.
- Rob Redus ( In submarines…Vietnam)
- Dr. Tom Whartenby (Vietnam)
- Clinton Moles (World War II)
- Leonard Marshall (Survived the sinking of the USS Gambier by the Japanese)
- Troy Davis (World War II and recently passed away in Spain)
- Elmo McAlexander as an Army Medic during the Cold War
- Frank and Sharan Plichta (Vietnam)
- Paul Childress (World War II under Patton and guarded Dachau prisoner)
- Tommy Ellis (Served in the Marines and regularly is in an Honor Guard for those veterans who pass away.) Roy McAlexander also has served hundreds of the fallen at funerals.
To those who may be interested in the many stories of honor and courage in Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge Click here
Video below: God Bless the USA
My growing up home place was in the Brushy Mountains outside Wilkesboro and N. Wilkesboro, N.C. Keep this city name in mind for there is a treat at the end of this blog.
After high school, I left with my parents to live in Florida. I never expected that I would one day go back to the mountains. Since Fall is my favorite season and unfortunately, in Florida, we only get a few brown leaves in mid-winter, we have to be in the mountains to enjoy that season. Don’t misunderstand for I’m not complaining about the beautiful green, citrus fruit, or warm weather in Florida. It’s still a great place even with the frequent hurricanes.
Riding just a little further up the mountain to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, my husband and I felt it was a wonderful place to enjoy at least for a few months of the year. Winter is a little too cold for us “flat-landers”, as we are sometimes called. The time we stayed on after the Fall to see the first snow, we bundled up like we were in Alaska to take our dog, Gracie, out for her final evening bathroom break. She would stand and stare into the woods, sensing the deer were close by. Their eyes would sometimes shine in the dark…and the wind biting at our noses sent us racing back inside the house.
Nevertheless, I think that the “country girl” was still in me. Coming back to Virginia and North Carolina, it was evident that I had a great affinity for the way of life and the people of these mountains.
Why do I say this? I only know that the people have a warm disposition and a sense of humor that I have not found to such a degree anywhere else around the world. I have been fortunate enough to visit or teach in places like Mongolia, Guatemala, Ukraine, Switzerland, France, and Japan. Still, these hills and the valleys, where a person can look deep into a ravine, keep calling me back. Fourteen cousins and my Uncle John still call the VA-N.C. mountains and foothills their home…so it’s probably a genetic “family thing” as well.
The Blue Ridge has it all…steep mountain cliffs and valleys, rolling hills filled with vegetable crops and orchards of delicious fruit.
The bear, deer, rabbits, and other “critters” also make it their place of residence. The humming- birds fly to the sweet-smelling sugar water put out in the gardens and the rabbits help themselves to whatever… wherever. Speaking of bear, one came up to our front porch to push over and have her fill at our feeder. No longer do we provide such a delicacy.
From my window, I can hear the cows, donkeys and lambs in the fields. At night the stars are clear and brilliant. When the moon is full, the coyotes roam about making their distinctive sound while looking for something to bring back to their little ones in the den.
The Spring along the Blue Ridge Parkway is filled with wild-flowers and the white and pink rhododendron bushes line the road. Small barns, churches, and family graves stand as a testament to those who have lived here in generations past. Some mountain people with roots back to the Civil War, still proudly fly their Confederate flags and dare anyone to tell them that they can’t. They also just as strongly hold to their “guns and their religion.” They are a proud people, that I have found, will come to one’s help at anytime or any hour.
Someone may ask why I am writing about the Fall when it’s Spring and Summer is just around the corner? Perhaps I’m giving an invitation to make your plans now to see this glorious place. Not so long from now, the leaves will flutter about and turn to a deep orange and red. The pumpkins will lay over acres and acres of the hillsides turning the farms into a special hue of gold. The tractors will slowly make their way from the fields to the barns. Sometimes those same tractors take family or friends on flatbeds to enjoy the countryside. Visitors from far and wide stop and take in the breath-taking views of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
It’s also the Fall that brings the people to these mountains.
Maybe my next book will be for all these visitors who come this way … to give them heads up and a little advice to what it’s like to visit or live in the mountains. I’m thinking it will be titled, “What Everyone Needs to Know Before Visiting or Planning to Live in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
This might be a part of this new book.
“Don’t come thinking that you’ll be treated like in New York City…or Paris…or somewhere. You’ll have to slow down, enjoy English laced with a warm, Southern drawl, and be greeted just like you are family. When you go to a small, family-run restaurant, walk right in, greet the people sitting there with “Hey there. How’s everybody? Got anything good to eat in here?” (Not “Hi There”…for it’s N.Y City sounding to their ears..and remember this is “Rebel” territory.)
They’ll know you aren’t from the Blue Ridge, but they’ll be friendly- like and greet you with some jolly response. Don’t worry if someone comes over to your table and asks your name or finds out what brought you to these parts. When you finish eating, look around, wave and tell everyone, “Goodbye…see you next time!” They’ll appreciate it.
When you drive back to where you are staying and a truck rounds the corner giving you a “one finger wave,” (NOT the middle)… just wave back. They aren’t flagging you down…but saying “Hello.”
Want to know more? Be looking for my book title sometime in the near future on the internet. As I close this blog, I think I will let the Kruger Brothers sing what it’s like to be in “Carolina in the Fall”….and I would also add… Virginia. Hope to see “Y’all” up this way someday.
VIDEO (Turn up sound)
Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia are small towns with people who will never forget those brave men and women who left their farms and home places to fight for our country and freedom in the world. Throughout the rolling countryside and along the blue colored ridges of the mountains… filled with cattle, fields, and beautiful wildflowers, one will find small family graves with an American flag. This will always indicate that the person buried there served in an American war.
On this Memorial Day, the young Military Science students and the older men and women of this Blue Ridge area remember the Fallen of all wars and pray prayers for the many POW-MIA’s who are still missing. (Slide show below)
As my husband and I joined in this day of Remembrance, I’m in the midst of writing a new book about American military veterans, entitled Men and Women of Valor in the Blue Ridge, which should be on Amazon by July, 2018.
My interviews with those who went to serve during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been eye-opening. These are people of great courage and fortitude. Millions did not return, but for those here in the Blue Ridge, these men forged new lives and continued to make our FREE America an even better place.
One chapter in my book will feature the Childress family in the Blue Ridge who had four men in the military at once during World War II. Paul (upper right picture and with wife and baby) served in Patton’s Command in France.
The women of the Blue Ridge served as well, including Francis Childress, a cousin to Paul. Other chapters will take notice of a female military nurse who was awarded the Bronze Star. The Bronze Star Medal is a decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for either heroic achievement, valor, heroic service, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
As I read memoirs and listened, I learned that fighting on Heart Break Ridge in Korea with legs frozen, slipping out of camp at night in France during World War II to find food for hungry soldiers, spending weeks in the confines of a submarine, fighting off boredom and jungle heat in Vietnam or losing limbs in Afghanistan or Iraq were difficult and in most cases horrible experiences. It was their part of life that they were willing to share with me and I am grateful because I will never look at a veteran again in the same way.
This is why I write this blog to encourage you to take an hour or so on Memorial Day from your interest in sports events, picnics or other activities to give our military the honor they so deserve. Your freedom today is what they did to keep us free. It is important that our children and grandchildren are taught history and the meaning of our national Memorial Day. I was amazed to see that since the last Memorial Day ceremony of 2017, in the small town of Galax, VA. that 90+ people had died who were veterans in this part of the Blue Ridge. We are rapidly losing those who fought in World War II and their stories should be told.
To those whose lives and deaths were the ultimate sacrifice….there is not enough thanks in heaven or earth to give to you…but we will try.
To the gravely wounded warriors who have come home and forged new lives, we give you honor. We have contacted this brave warrior for an interview that will shed light on all those who have suffered so much.
Thank you to all veterans…men and women. We give tribute to all the wives and families that were left behind to faithfully live and wait for their loved ones to return home.
VIDEO Turn up sound (Credit “American Soldier” by Toby Keith)
It is my delight to announce my new book, Spencer’s Mill. This last Spring and Summer I began writing this fictional story of the people in the Blue Ridge Mountains who endured the closing of mills both in Virginia and North Carolina. Spencer’s Mill made baby booties and employed many people in the Blue Ridge.
The story is one of suspense and drama, but the setting is of real places along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The people that I interviewed were delightful and interesting in their memories of what it was like to have the mills move away to far away places like Honduras for cheaper labor. They endured the trials and found new ways to survive in the mountains. These are strong people and the characters in the story reflect their culture and values.
I hope you will enjoy my new book. SPENCER’S MILL is the 3rd in a series on the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon
TAKE A LOOK AT THE PAPERBACK and KINDLE VERSION
The Blue Ridge Mountains, steeped in history and hard working people, is a special place. It is our privilege to live here part of the year and in doing so, we have seen the beauties of the land and its people. My recent book, Old Timers of the Blue Ridge and More, is a collection of stories behind generations of families who have worked the land and farmed the fields. The fog rolls in over the mountains from North Carolina into Virginia. It is a silent mist that cools the summers and brings the breeze that is felt daily.
Below is a video that I have produced with many of the photographs that I have taken of these wonderful mountains in the years that we have been here. I hope the sights and peaceful sounds will fill your day with God’s love and joy.
Even now, in early August, the fields are ready for a summer harvest and the corn is growing high. The peach juice drips down the chin with every bite. The aroma of peach pie baking in the oven is in the air.
The migrant workers, along with the farm owners, work late into the night to harvest and package the produce, moving it on to our groceries far down the mountain. The rumble of the tractors and the rhythm of the trucks pass our house as they move on to the Painter warehouse, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, to be processed.
Take the winding road down the mountain until you find acres and acres of apples, peaches and more at the Harold Orchards in Ararat, Virginia. They have been farming this orchard for generations. H.C. told me that without the workers who come in from Mexico, his business would go under. Many of these workers come year after year to bring in the harvest.
It is our privilege to honor these hard-working farmers who produce the crops of corn, cabbage, broccoli, apples, peaches and much more. Without them or the workers they hire, our grocery stores would be dependent on foreign providers.
Thank you, Gentlemen. You are the best!
VIDEO: BLUE RIDGE: Photographed and produced by N.W. Boyer (All rights reserved).
Turn on sound.
credits: music “On Golden Pond”
Ever think to photograph some neat, formation of the simplest of things? Ask someone to guess what it is…and then share with them that it is only the foam in the bottom of your blueberry shake. To their surprise, an abstract is born…and it was fun creating it as I did with my morning drink. Our imagination can create many things, but only God and His wonderful nature can create the beauty shown below. It’s summer and the flowers are showing what they have waited all winter to display…their beauty and elegance.
Today I share with you my photographs taken of flowers from the deck of my home and one of God’s creatures that strolled through my yard. She looked very surprised to see me, but quickly went on her way.
As I looked out over the flowers, the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina and Virginia stay true their name… for they are a true -blue ridge.
Look around you today. See all the wonderful things God has made and rejoice.
VIDEO Turn on sound
Many of us have seen Shark Tank, the program where investors interview a person who believes that they have invented something great for the market and the economy. Perhaps this particular program, that I’m sharing with my readers today, will not only share a great idea for all tree farmers but the heart of one man who cares about the hard working people of the world. He wants to produce and afford his product…but also wants the farmer to be able to afford it.
(Below: Florida Orange Trees, Apple Trees, Pecan Trees)
When my husband and I were at our house in VA during the Fall and harvest season, we were greatly impressed with the long…long…hours that the farmers and their workers spent all day and late into the night getting their products to market. Their trucks, laden down with cabbage, pumpkins, broccoli, apples, and much more rolled endlessly down the road. Time was at an essence. If they had survived the weather, they now had to be certain the crops did not rot in the fields. Many of these people went back generations in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. Farming is what they know and that hard work has its rewards. Farmers are also concerned about droughts, pests, hurricanes and freezes. Their bottom line is greatly effected by all of these as well as their expense for fertilizers, power, equipment and water to grow their trees and plants.
Now, I am happy to share with you Arcadia, Florida farmer, Johnny Georges’ request for help from the Shark Tank investors to share his water conservation invention, the Tree T-Pee. (and his new partner from Shark Tank, John Paul DeJoria)
Johnny is especially interested in this to be available to the farmers who grow trees of every kind. This is an emotional request that clearly shows his love for the environment, hard-working people and his Father who taught him “Nobody owes you nothing. Life is what you make it.”
Turn on your sound.
My writing has taken me into a new series called, The Blue Ridge Mountains. It is a collection of books that celebrate the life and work of the people who live in and around the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia and North Carolina. In researching my stories of the books, it has been my privilege to interview a number of people whose roots go back generations. Many small, family grave plots can be seen in the hills. Some have a small flag or stone that reads that the person was a Civil War member of the Confederacy dating back into the 1800’s. They are proud of their history and do not think of their confederate flag as a symbol of racism or bigotry, but of the bravery of the men who fought against those who had invaded their land and homes.
Hearing their stories has brought to mind how tied the people are to their mountains and their history. The “Yankee” troops that marched through these valleys and hills during the Civil War, marched on afterward to return to their northern states.
The people of the South pulled themselves up to endure rebuilding and hardship, becoming a strong part of “one nation under God”. Slavery was no more. The long road to equality began far after the ships arrived with its human cargo from Africa.
As an retired educator, I know the emphasis that I put on history in the classroom, but it has almost become, in recent years, politically incorrect to talk about slavery…even the Emancipation Proclamation which freed them. It appears that the climate of the country is to bury our heads about the past. Remembering it no more must be the road to the future. I think that this way of thinking is wrong for we should learn from our past. In all fairness, the nation must have believed that they had passed racial tensions and elected an African American President twice to follow in the footsteps of Presidents like Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. When we see violence in our streets and children who can’t walk to school in our large cities without the fear of being shot, one wonders if we have learned anything from the strife of the past.
We have a fabric in America that is woven from many different threads and backgrounds. Most school children today probably do not know that there are descendants of Thomas Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence, who meet each year to celebrate who they are and to tell their stories. Many are highly educated because education was placed as a priority. (See video at end)
Who exactly was Thomas Jefferson? He certainly was a man of great contradictions. A graduate in law from the College of William and Mary, he at times defended slaves seeking freedom, but owned a large number of slaves himself. He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress…drafting the law for religious freedom…served as a governor and became the U.S. Minister to France…served as Secretary of State under President George Washington. He penned “all men are created equal.” and had a strong belief in states rights.
Jefferson also became the 3rd President of the United States. There were many issues to deal with, as there are today, for this nation. Jefferson’s were concerning trade and pirates. He doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase. Not only was there controversy with slavery, but he began the removal of Indian tribes to the newly organized Louisiana Territory….but signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves. (Yes, a difficult, but talented man to understand in the midst of a growing, new nation. ) Jefferson’s talents were in mathematics, surveying, horticulture and mechanics.
He was a Christian well versed in linguistics and spoke several languages.”Baptized in his youth, Jefferson became a governing member of his local Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, VA. Influenced by Deist authors during his college years Jefferson abandoned “orthodox” Christianity. In 1803 he asserted, ‘I am Christian, in the only sense in which Jesus wished any one to be.’ Jefferson later defined being a Christian as one who followed the simple teachings of Jesus.”
He was the founder of the University of Virginia after leaving public office.
(Story behind picture of Lucy Cottrell was the daughter of Dorothea (Dolly) Cottrell, a house servant at Monticello who, after 1826, became the property of George Blaetterman, a professor at the University of Virginia. About 1850 Dolly and Lucy Cottrell went to Maysville, Kentucky, with the professor’s widow, who freed them five years later. In this daguerreotype Lucy Cottrell is holding Charlotte, daughter of Blaetterman’s foster son.)
Jefferson must have taken it literally that all of his hundreds of slaves belonged to him to do with as he liked. After the death of his wife in 1782, he had a relationship with Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children. This may have been the beginning of those who now have Jefferson as part of their heritage. Nevertheless, despite the events in his life that makes him controversial, he is consistently ranked as one of the countries “Greatest Presidents”. Presidents are often making decisions to foster their own legacy. History will play out whether the time in office points to greatness or the lack thereof.
Video. Turn on sound and enlarge for best viewing.