Mabry’s Then and Now

Ed Mabry's Grave near Meadows of Dan, photo 2004 by Fred First

I can’t remember the trail that led me to it, but browsing across it brought back a number of pleasant memories from 2004. The piece I happened upon in the Blue Ridge Country Magazine online was about the Mabry’s  who operated the mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia, the couple after which the most visited attraction along  the four hundred miles of Parkway was named.

I contributed a sidebar to this piece, including the color images and some text included with this web archival version. I had a good time hanging out in MOD and happening upon Ben Harris, who, when he warmed up, was a pleasure to chat with and a treasure of information. He died not too long after that summer, I think I heard.

I shot the cemetery and other images for that assignment with Doug Thompson’s Nikon he generously loaned me because my D70 had not arrived on time. I collaborated with Elizabeth Hunter on the piece.

I got to know Elizabeth as a result of my first-ever writer’s workshop at Radford University in the summer of 2003. The workshop leader for the week was mentor and former prof and friend of Elizabeth (my good friend Jack Higgs, prof Emeritus from ETSU), and he encouraged me to attend a “nature writing workshop” Elizabeth was conducting at J C Campbell. Funny how things work out.

And while you’re at Blue Ridge Country, also see Rick VanNoy’s Guest column in the March-April edition that expresses a sentiment quite familiar to Fragments readers and those who have read What We Hold In Our Hands: a Slow Road Reader, and perhaps also to a lesser degree, Slow Road Home. The subject is nature deficit disorder and its antidote.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I thought I’d already trotted out the Shameless Commerce link to that piece at BRCM. Just realized a couple of days ago that I never used it for the news columns either, so I get a pass, already have a column ready-made!