Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ellery Brown, playing his fiddle, Morgan County, WVA, March 1974

My first morning in West Virginia, just south of Morgantown, the proprietor of a small store on the back road I was walking along told me about Ellery. She gave me direction to his house that was on the side of a mountain without a road to it; just an old path. Ellery was famous she said. Ellery had just received a letter from President Nixon congratulating him for living to be 100 years old. Ellery was all of 101 and an astonishing person. A former University professor, an accomplished writer and musician, he lived with his dog in a 200 year old house made of split hickory logs that his great grandfather built. He lived with admirable frugality. I spent two days and nights with him. We walked a lot, both in the woods and along old roads, and we sat on his front porch in the spring sun. We talked constantly. He had a lot to say so I did a fair amount of listening. In the evenings he read me his poetry and went to bed as shortly after the sun set. He was a lovely, rare human being.

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