Ain’ta gonna Need This House No Longer


It has been years since I visited a home health physical therapy patient in this house I pass on one of my alternate routes into Floyd.

On my first visit, a tiny black woman came to the door, her small dog yipping nervously beside her, jumping against her legs.

“You must be Mabel Lawson” I said, glancing at the chart in my clipboard to confirm the address.

“Harumphhh” she snorted. “Mabel Lawson–I don’t know ’bout that. They took a gall bladder. The took most of a stomach and all them other innards in there. Ain’t much a’ Mabel left. But I guess I’m what’s left of ‘er. ”

She has since passed on and her house abandoned. I wonder what happened to her little dog that came to accept me after half a dozen visits. And now her house suffers decrepitude, taking on the aspect of its former owner.

They ain’t much left uvvit.

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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. Interesting story, Fred. It’s amazing how I could recall every word of that song although who knows when I last heard it sung. Good one.

  2. From a big city dweller’s point of view, that house looks mighty good. It looks like relatively little money would be necessary to make it a cozy home in beautiful surroundings. Call me a dreamer.

  3. I remember watching Rosemary Clooney perform “The Ole House” on “Your Hit Parade” in glorious black and white in 1955 in what was then our apartment above Hoback’s Furniture and Appliance Store in Floyd. Lord, it makes me feel as old as the house.