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Briscoe and Kate

Updated: Jan 20, 2020

I’d like to take this time to observe this beautiful photo. A photo of my great, great grandparents, Briscoe and Kate, who were members of the Huntdale community in western North Carolina. Here in this photo, taken many years ago, we see them sitting side by side on the porch of their tiny home that sat by the railroad tracks and facing the Toe river. There’s Briscoe, wearing his Pointer overalls and button up shirt. An outfit he had worn for decades. His mesh cap rested upon his knee, the cap he wore over his flattop haircut. He wore glasses and the chain to his pocket watch was draped across the bib of his overalls, adding the finishing touches to his daily and never changing attire. Sitting in his white wooden rocker on the front porch of his tiny house. Sitting. Rocking. Watching the trains pass by, no more than 10 yards from his seat. He liked listening to the river that rolled by, no more than 50 yards from the tracks. When sitting, he would occasionally rest his feet against the porch rails. The same rails that had once belonged to the hotel that stood many years ago and about a mile away from this tiny house. The hotel often hosted men and women traveling by train across the state and the station near the hotel accommodated people coming and going, to and from, the small community of Huntdale, N.C.

Beside Briscoe sits his companion. His wife, Kate. Kate was from the church of the Brethren which was why she wore a scarf or a doily around her head. Her scarf she wore in the picture was a symbol that her day was filled with cooking and cleaning. She wears a polyester dress and pantyhose. Her arms are crossed and so are her legs, showing that she was in a state of relaxation. And though not shown, she more than likely had a pinch of snuff or beechnut gum in her jaw and in the pocket of her dress. She's smiling. Not a soft smile, but a smile so large it hides her eyes and her whole face lights up with joy and gaiety, in every sense of the true meaning of the word.

Together sit partners. Husband and wife. Maybe they weren't as romantic as we imagine or hope to be when we're their age. But, committed to each other in every possible way, just the way it should be. Together sit parents and grandparents. Man and Woman. Though no great discoveries they made, no disease they cured and no history book they made, but in my life and in the lives of all who knew them, legends they will always be.

Hannah Hensley

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When we would visit Papaw Briscoe would give us a couple pennies to lay on the tracks for a train to run over. I wish I still I had one.


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