The Nitty Gritty
Thanks to an aunt, I have many of my granddaddy’s “Then and Now” columns from 50-60 years ago. I’ve occasionally condensed and used one of his columns in this space. On April 15, 1948, my granddaddy, B.C. Anderson, wrote:
“In those remembered days, about which I try to write, we had our family feuds and, although they never reached the intensity and violence traditionally experienced in other parts of the country, they did very materially affect community life and offer enough threat to command local public interest… I guess folks will never cease trying to direct the lives and affairs of their neighbors, and to some extent it may have some virtue, but mostly, it is misdirected and disturbing. There were no aristocrats in our community, but there were some families who lived better than others and consequently considered themselves more prominent in the leadership of affairs… There were so few other things to manage in those days, until everybody had time to try and get the youngsters married to the right guy, or gal… When one of the more prominent youngsters began to blossom out into the hitching age — one and all began to form opinions about whom they should marry.
Several years earlier, a certain man who was a loud talker and rode big horses had come from a far place and married into one of our most prominent families. Although he had not improved its standing any, he was awfully jealous that none of his children be as foolish as his wife had been and mate up with some sorry or unknown person… No one knew just how much of his big talk was bluff, but at least one man got so exasper- continued from page
ated with him that he threatened to skin his hide if he meddled in his affairs one more time. The bad man did not accept the challenge, but the incident started a community feud that had some backers on both sides… While the feud was steaming and brewing, the children were growing up and before anyone realized it, some of them had reached marriageable age. The oldest girl of the bad man’s family was considered one of the finest girls in the community. The oldest child of the other man in the feud was a boy and, although he was one of the finest young men in the community, no one had ever considered him as a husband for the bad man’s girl… The feud had worked up so much feeling that it was generally known that the main participants were carrying guns. One morning, about an hour before day, somebody hailed at our gate and when daddy went to the door we heard a rumbling out there that reminded us of the approaching eruption of an earthquake. Upon arising and getting closer, we discovered that it was the bad man on a big black horse with a double barrel shotgun across his lap. We later saw a pistol in his pocket and he was blistering the earth with curses at that young man whom he said had stolen his daughter from his house during the night.
What we did not know was that the bad man’s wife favored the marriage and had been helping the young people see each other. Later that morning, the bad man was told that the couple had been seen several miles away going toward Reidsville — where he was sure to find them. He immediately saddled a fresh horse and started off to overtake them, slay the young man and bring his daughter back. When the girl’s mother felt sure that they were rid of him — the preacher came over and the mother brought the pair from their hiding place and they were married in the presence of a few neighbors who had gathered to see a possible killing take place… When the bad man got back, the girl and the young man met him and quietly informed him that they were properly married and hoped to get along with him. The young man told him that he had never been afraid of him and if it took a good thrashing to satisfy him — he was ready to give it to him. He also told him that he didn’t want to hear any more of his loud talk and that if he did he would take it out of his hide. When his bluff was called, the bad man could not measure up.
That pair did well and reared a fine family in the community, but the feud never died until the bad man died. All feuding is senseless and generally turns out about like that one did.….