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Manly Wade Wellman - John the Balladeer SSC

BOOK: Manly Wade Wellman - John the Balladeer SSC
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John the
Balladeer

 

Manly Wade
Wellman

 
          
 

 
          
 

 
 
          
 

 

 
          
 

 
          
 

 
          
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 
          
 

 
          
"O Ugly Bird!" copyright © 1951 by
Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
December 1951.

 
          
"The Desrick on Yandro" copyright
© 1952 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science
Fiction,
June 1952.

 
          
"Vandy, Vandy" copyright © 1953 by
Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
March 1953.

 
          
"One Other" copyright © 1953 by
Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
August 1953.

 
          
"Call Me From the Valley" (later
refilled, "Dumb Supper") copyright © 1954 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The
Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
March
1954.

 
          
"The Little Black Train" copyright
© 1954 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science
Fiction,
August 1954.

 
          
"Shiver in the Pines" copyright ©
1954 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science
Fiction,
February 1955.

 
          
"Walk Like a Mountain" copyright ©
1955 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science
Fiction,
June 1955.

 
          
"On the Hills and Everywhere"
copyright © 1955 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction,
January 1956.

 
          
"Old Devlins Was A-Waiting"
copyright © 1956 by Fantasy House, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction,
February 1957.

 
          
"Nine Yards of Other Cloth"
copyright © 1958 by Mercury Press, Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction,
November 1958.

 
          
"Wonder As I Wander: Some Footprints on
John's Trail Through Magic Mountains" copyright © 1962 by Mercury Press,
Inc. for
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
March 1962.

 
          
"Farther Down the Trail"
(containing "John's My Name," "Why They're Named That," "None
Wiser for the Trip," and "Nary Spell") copyright © 1963 by Manly
Wade Wellman for
Who Fears the Devil?.

 
          
"Trill Coster's Burden" copyright
© 1979 by Stuart David Schifffor
Whispers II.

 
          
"The Spring" copyright © 1979 by
Charles L Grant for
Shadows 2.

 
          
"Owls Hoot in the Daytime"
copyright © 1980 by Manly Wade Wellman for
Dark Forces.

 
          
"Can These Bones Live?" copyright
© 1981 by Manly Wade Wellman for
Sorcerer's Apprentice,
Summer 1981.

 
          
"Nobody Ever Goes There" copyright
©1981 by Manly Wade Wellman for
Weird Tales #3.

 
          
"Where Did She Wander?" copyright
©1987 by Stuart David Schifffor
Whispers

 
Foreword
 
 

 
          
 

 
Manly in the Mountains
 
 
 

 
          
 

 
          
Music
brought Manly to the
North Carolina
mountains.

 
          
Folk
music—the old songs, real songs—had been an interest of Manly's since the 1920s
when he tramped the Ozarks with Vance Randolph, the famed folklorist. He was
drawn by the folk festival that he found when he moved with his family to
Chapel Hill in 1951; became a friend of the organizer, Asheville native Bascom
Lamar Lunsford; and traveled with Lunsford to meet "the best banjo player
in the country."

 
          
That
was Obray Ramsey of
Madison
County
, high in the Smokies where they divide
North Carolina
from
Tennessee
. It was the start of a life-long
friendship, and the genesis as well of this book: the tales of John the
Balladeer, hiking the hills of
North Carolina
with his silver-strung guitar.

 
          
Manly
and his wife Frances visited the mountains regularly, staying in the Ramseys'
house when they were alone and in a tourist cabin farther down on the French
Broad River if they had their son or another friend with them. By the early
'60s they had a little cabin of their own, next to the Ramseys and built in
fits and starts over the years by them and their friends.

 
          
It
wasn't fancy, but it was a place to sleep and eat; and a place to have friends
in to pick and sing and pass around a bottle of liquor, tax-paid or otherwise.
That was where they were when my wife and I visited the mountains with them and
with Karl Wagner
in
the Fall of 1971.

 
          
The
Ramseys' house is close by the road, Highway 25-70, which parallels the course
of the
French
Broad
River
snaking through hard rock. The mountains
lowered down behind the house, and the river dropped away sharply on the other
side of the road.

 
          
One
statistic will suffice to indicate the ruggedness of the terrain. There were
seven attorneys in practice in
Madison
County
when 25-70 was the direct route from
Asheville
to
Knoxville
. Shortly after Interstate 40 was completed,
cutting off the business that had resulted from auto accidents on 25-70, six
of the lawyers left.

 
          
The
seventh was the District Attorney.

 
          
Manly's
cabin was a little farther back from the road and a little higher up the
mountain he called Yandro. The water system was elegant in its simplicity, a
pipe that trailed miles from a high, clear spring to a faucet mounted four feet
up above a floor drain in the cabin. There was a pressure-relief vent and
settling pond partway down the mountainside. The vent could become blocked with
debris, especially if the water hadn't been run for a time. The way you learned
that it was plugged was—

 
          
"Let
me fix you a drink, Dutch," Manly said to Karl as we settled into the
cabin. He poured bourbon into a plastic cup, held it under the spigot, and just
started to open the tap.

 
          
The
water, with over a thousand feet of head, blew the cup out of his hand to
shatter on the drain beneath.

 
          
Nobody
said anything for a moment.

 
          
We
stumbled up the mountainside in the dark—there was a moon, but the pines and
the valley's steep walls blocked most of its light as they did the sun in
daytime. Manly went partway, but when Obray guided Karl and me off the
road-cut, he decided he'd wait. Wisely: he was 68 even then, though that was
hard to remember when you saw him.

 
          
He
had fresh drinks waiting for those as used it when we got back —and fresh
laughter as he always did, this time because Karl had slipped off the catwalk
into one of Obray's trout ponds as we neared the cabin.

 
          
Manly
was in his element that evening, watching the incredible fingerings of Obray
and a neighbor while lamplight gleamed from the gilded metalwork of the banjo
and guitar; pouring drinks; singing "Will the Circle be Unbroken"
and "Birmingham Jail" and "Vandy, Vandy." . . .

 
          
Which
brings up a last point about Manly and the mountains. I said he called the
mountain Yandro, but I don't know you'd find that name on a map. Manly blended
past reality with new creations in his life as well as his writing. Many of the
songs he sang and quoted in this volume are very old; he once claimed to have
written "Vandy, Vandy" himself.

 
          
And
that may be part of the magic of these stories. They were written by a man who
knew and loved the folkways he described so well that he became a part of them,
weaving in his own strands and keeping the fabric alive instead of leaving it
to be displayed behind the sterile glass of a museum.

 
          
May
you read them with a delight as great as that of the man who wrote them.

 
          
Dave Drake
Chapel
Hill
,
North
Carolina

 
 
          
 

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