Brasstown! Hail to thy verdant hills and dales, hail to thy possums and their tales.
Brasstown has always had magic about it. It was one of the places pretty near my home in Murphy (7 miles) where I always said I was a-goin’ to someday, whenever I could drive. When I was little, I always enjoyed it when my parents took me to the Folk School for the reading of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and I loved the music! Other places, like the filling station next door to my house–had fiddles and banjoes, and I liked that fine, but the Folk School had accordions. I must have been a weird kid. I liked accordions.
When I got my driver’s license I drove all around town and then yearned for something more. In those days there weren’t many road signs and if you didn’t know how to get where you wanted to go, you had to ask somebody. So I went next door to Cline Hicks’ filling station. I said “Cline, I want to go to Brasstown. What’s the best way?”
“You a-drivin’ or a-walkin’?”
“I’m a-drivin’,” I said.
“Yeah, that’s the best way.”
Somehow, no thanks to Cline, I made it to Brasstown, and I’ve never regretted it.
It is the most happening place anywhere, in a quiet way. Today, there was a great aroma of fresh bread baking, while dulcimers played overhead and birdwatchers passed respectfully through the woods outside. There are lives changed and hopes realized at every session of our school, all year, every year. People start careers and find soul-mates, realize life-long dreams and check off bucket-list items, every week of the year. The amount of stress releaved, flow achieved and creativity unleashed is a powerful force for the positive. I am convinced that rays emanating from Brasstown strike down negativity and stomp on it.
Writing you a letter like this, I think of Olive Campbell, who sat at this desk in the 1930s and wrote an appeal to the Folk School’s friends. It was tough times. It was hard to even ask for donations, but Olive did it.
“The economic emergency brings exceptional social and educational needs which challenge our every power,” Olive Campbell wrote. “What you give us will not go simply to the tiding over of a temporary situation. It will, it is true, help us over a difficult period, but when that period is past, the effort will not be lost.”
The effort, which resulted in the Folk School being here for us today, was not lost.
The hard-pressed people of the Great Depression gave to keep the Folk School going. This unique institution has survived for these 87 years, through the kindness of its friends. That’s us, my dears. We need to realize that the Folk School will keep agoin’ only with our help.
Olive ended “So the John C. Campbell Folk School, facing conditions as they are, works for the future. It is an educational venture which, constantly adjusting itself to new conditions and opportunities, never loses sight of its main purpose, which is to help individuals, and through them the section in which they live, to a fuller and richer life.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Keep the Folk School a-goin’. It’s more important than ever.
Love from Brasstown,