Learning a Place
text credit – Johanna Logan Cooper

When we first moved to Stumpy Point, Mr. Golden told us, “It takes time to learn a person, ” and we understood what he meant. We also knew that it would take time to ‘learn a place’, and it was our desire to learn Stumpy Point. Our neighbors and friends came forth to be our teachers. By their willingness to share their stories and to include us in the life of the village, we began our lessons.

They gave us a glimpse back in time. They told us stories of the village before there were roads…when everything and everyone had come by boat…even the new schoolteacher. The arrival, 65 years ago, of the young woman from the mountains is an event clearly remembered by all who were there. Wearing blue shoes, a blue suit and hat, Miss Grace stepped from the boat, went straight to the schoolhouse and into the hearts of her students. She knows about life being a long journey.

We visited the old school house and were told of the memories that it held. The potbellied stoves whose fires once warmed many a cold hand, now stand in dusty retirement. In the auditorium, one can almost hear the echoes of long ago programs…children reciting and singing for proud audiences. There was a time when everybody in the village came to the schoolhouse to share their Thanksgiving dinners and to express their gratitude. Not far from the schoolhouse stands the white church that for many years was the only one in the village. In so many ways, it touched everyone’s life. There they were baptised, taught, confirmed, married and when the time came, they would be buried in the church cemetery up the road while the church’s tolling bell counted out the years.

We learned that there was a time when seven small stores were located in the village…five of which had soda fountains. Three were dry good stores ‘where yardage for sewing and shoes for men’ could be found.

Boats that brought supplies to the stores also brought peddlers from the city selling their wares. They wore large packs filled with merchandise as they traveled on foot up and down the road. Lodging with a village family would be available to them…50 cents a night and 25 cents a meal.

We were invited to sit at many a kitchen table to share in freshly caught fish, shrimp, soft shell crabs, and hot biscuits with preserved figs. While we ate, we listened, and we came to a better understanding of what it means to be dependent upon the sea for a living. It is hard work and at times, filled with disappointment and danger. We learned of other hardships encountered and overcome. When storms came in across the water, the village stubbornly withstood the winds and tides. What was not able to stand up to the assault, was rebuilt. Life went on.

We experienced homecomings, dinners on the ground, celebrations of birthdays and golden anniversaries. We shared the joy at weddings and the grief of funerals. We heard stories about the bears that come into the village and knock over garbage cans and eat apples from the trees in the yards. And then came the day we added our own story of the bear that stole ice cream from our back porch freezer.

Of course, there were those who left to pursue life in new places and in new ways…a desire to ‘sail other seas’. Just as there were many reasons for leaving, there were reasons for some to return. In so doing, they knew they would find their place to belong..they had come home.

From these life events, the songs of this album came into being. They have become the threads that weave our story of Stumpy Point. It is a celebration and an honoring of a small village and its people located on the coast of North Carolina…somewhere between yesterday and today.

Original songs from Stumpy Point, NC… engaging and varied styles, commanding orchestrations and poetic lyrics… guitar, bass, vocal, piano, fiddle, flute, percussion and gospel choir.

Tracks:

  • Fisherman’s Daughter
  • Ballad of the Bear
  • The Grandparents’ Song
  • Love Is the Reason
  • Fifty Years
  • Margie Rae
  • There’s a Place We Can Meet
  • What Can a Child Do?
  • Happy Birthday, Linda
  • Young Girl
  • Always a Place to Belong
  • Long Journey

Songs inspired by Stumpy Point, a small fishing village located on the coast of North Carolina…

… somewhere between yesterday and today…