This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Posts tagged ‘The Stokes News’

The Old Paths: It’s Snowing in Pinnacle!

**This was originally published on Thursday, July 14, 2011, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column may be updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

southerners-and-snowIt’s snowing in Pinnacle. Those were magic words when I attended South Stokes High School. Even now I get a childlike, anticipatory feeling when I think about that phrase. Funny how some things become so etched in your psyche that years later they can still unconsciously elicit a certain response from you—like passing through the Mall and smelling a particular cologne which makes you suddenly remember your 11th grade summer romance and the boy who wore that scent. Or hearing a certain song on the radio that transports you back to junior high days when that song was in vogue.

“It’s snowing in Pinnacle” does that to me—brings back a feeling of being at South Stokes High School, laboring through the post-holiday January doldrums, seeing the school year stretch endlessly on with no break in sight—Easter vacation merely a dim mirage on the monotonous horizon.

Then suddenly the bell rings, you head for the lockers and someone whispers as you pass by, “It’s snowing in Pinnacle.” The involuntary response is immediate—a rush of adrenaline, increased heart rate, goofy smile to the lips, a new spring in the step. You want to dive into the collective pool of eager anticipation, so as you undo your combination lock, you turn to the member of your homeroom just next to you. “Did you hear it’s snowing in Pinnacle?”

Pretty soon the buzz is swarming through the crowded halls. You go to your next class, and the poor befuddled teacher wonders where the sudden hyperactivity came from. Everyone is joking and laughing, just waiting for the intercom to click on and the principal to say that school will soon be letting out. It was a given—snow in Pinnacle, early dismissal.

snow-school-cancellation-ncSometimes people started the “snow in Pinnacle” rumor just to be funny, which wasn’t funny at all. Don’t mess with a bunch of bored high school students who have just completed two glorious weeks of Christmas vacation at home—sleeping late, watching TV and snacking on holiday goodies. Don’t tell them it’s snowing in Pinnacle unless you know for sure that winter weather is definitely in the area. You know what happened to the boy who cried wolf.

I distinctly remember the letdown on the occasions when we realized, “It’s not snowing in Pinnacle after all. You won’t be able to get out of that biology test in fourth period. You are stuck here for the long haul.”

But more often than not, the “snow in Pinnacle” rumor was true, and it was only a matter of time before the county office made that longed-for decision to close the schools for the rest of the day. As the Scarecrow says in The Wizard of Oz, “What joy, what rapture!”

You see, when snow was sighted in the northwest portion of Stokes County—namely Pinnacle—it didn’t matter if it was 70 degrees in Pine Hall or sunny in Walnut Cove. The powers that be had to make a decision based on the safety of each and every student, so the well-being of the Pinnacle students had to be considered even if the weather was clear in Germanton. There were times I went home early with nary a flake of snow where I lived in the far southeast corner of Stokes. I envied those lucky Pinnacle people who were probably sledding down their driveways, but I was still glad to be out of school nonetheless.

(When I write a column like this, I imagine the wrath of school officials who will say that I am encouraging children to dislike school. On the contrary, I personally loved school—so much so that I went on to teach it. But come on, people, admit it. Early dismissal for a weather-related purpose, as long as everyone stays safe on the roads, is an exciting thing for kids. Bear with me, and pretend you are 10 years old again!)


For years, I’ve randomly gone up to fellow South Stokes alumni, especially in the heat of summer, and said, “It’s snowing in Pinnacle.” Almost always I get a laugh and a comment that they, too, remember those magical words.

I’ve wondered for a long time just how far back this “snow in Pinnacle” thing goes. So, this past summer, I decided to take matters into my own hands by conducting an informal poll at Lion’s Park in Walnut Cove. I found people as far back as Class of ’72 who remembered the comment. I located some as young as Class of ’95 who chuckled along with me in remembrance. This distinctly South Stokes phenomenon spans many years.

I wonder if the North Stokes people had a similar phenomenon. And do the West Stokes folks have any such tradition? Is “It’s snowing in Pinnacle” still a relevant statement in the county schools today? When winter weather creeps in from Surry County to Pinnacle, I figure we still have to close all of the county schools, regardless of tropical weather in Sandy Ridge.

And so to all of you current Stokes County students, may your snow days be just enough to give you a needed break every now and then (but not so many as to tack on extra days in June), may your travels home after weather-related early dismissals be safe, and may you always feel those butterflies in your stomach the way I did when I heard the whisper, “It’s snowing in Pinnacle.”


The Old Paths: The Godly Roots of Walnut Cove

(This was originally published in The Stokes News on May 3, 2007 in my regular column, “The Old Paths.” Some slight editing has been done in this version.)

Bethabara--in 1753

January 2006 was a momentous month in my home. We went all modern and hooked up to the Internet. I’ve heard it argued that the Internet is an evil thing and should never be allowed in one’s house. The same was said about television when it burst onto the scene. I figure something similar was voiced when radio became popular. Progress always evokes a reactionary response from many folks. In fact, as I began to write this column, a relative of mine dropped by and said TV was the biggest evil to ever hit this country!

You know what? They may be right. Progress is usually accompanied, sadly enough, by many evils. I actually admire people who choose not to have a TV, but I don’t think I am a rampant sinner because I do. I discovered that my TV set has a little button on it that says “Power.” When risque sitcoms, soap operas and nightly dramas come on, I hit “Power off.” But I’ll confess that I keep the power flowing when the news or a ballgame is on. And I must admit that this newest modern evil, a.k.a. Internet, has made historical research exponentially easier!

So late one January ’06 night, I sat down at the computer to research William A. Lash Sr., whom some say was the founder of my hometown of Walnut Cove. After a few hours of dead-end roads, I gave up in frustration. I had learned very little that I hadn’t already read in Stokes County history books, which told me he had immigrated to our fair town from Bethania.

In my aggravation, I decided I deserved some fun after all this eyestrain. Forget Lash; I wanted to read about the Moravians. I was fascinated with them now that my daughter was at Salem College, originally a Moravian institution of higher learning.

Before long, I was glued to my computer screen, close to tears (yes, I’m a sentimental sort!) as I read of the original Moravian settlers who braved the elements to carve out a “village of the Lord” that they named “Bethabara.” Settle down, grab a hankie and listen to an abbreviated version of the story:

In 1752 (purchase finalized in August 1753), Lord Granville of England deeded the Moravians 100,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness for an initial payment of 500 pounds. They named this largely unexplored land “Wachovia.” The elders in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, prayerfully chose 12 Godly, unmarried men with varying skill sets to travel to this new property. Three others would assist in the journey but return to Bethlehem afterward.

They departed on October 8, 1753, with six horses and a loaded wagon. As they traveled through Pennsylvania and Maryland, the weather was stiflingly hot. Crossing the Susquehanna, Potomac, James and Roanoke Rivers was sometimes death-defying. Bridges broke under them, horses got sick, food became scarce.

One momentous day, these weary pilgrims sighted Pilot Mountain in North Carolina. Hope sprang anew as they sang hymns and exhorted each other with Scripture along the way. They followed the Mayo River to its juncture with the Dan River near present-day Mayodan. By this time, snow lay on the ground, and the Dan was swollen. After a few days’ layover, they were able to cross, and so made their way to what would one day be the town of Walnut Cove. Probably near the R.J. Reynolds facility at Brook Cove, they crossed what they called the “Down Forck Creek” and soon came to the border of Wachovia (just past the present-day town of Germanton)–the property they felt God had granted to them.

On the evening of Saturday, November 17, 1753, these 15 Moravian men reached their destination–a deserted cabin with no floor and a leaky roof at the site of what is now Historic Bethabara Village. The first thing they did was kneel to offer thanks unto their God. With wolves howling all around, the closely-knit band of pioneers shared a simple lovefeast and held a church service with joyful singing and prayers of thanksgiving; they had reached their promised land.

By this time, my eyes were misty as I thought about these singleminded men of God who uncomplainingly sacrificed so much to build a better society for their people. At the end of the article, the names of these 15 chosen men were listed. As I scrolled down the list, I stopped at “Jacob Loesch.” His name leapt out at me as something quickened in the pit of my stomach. Suddenly I knew. THIS WAS IT!

With a few more minutes of research, I proved my instinctive hypothesis: Through a name change for easier spelling, “Loesch” had become “Lash.” This incredible man, Jacob Lash, who was also the warden/minister of the Moravian brethren, later bought land on the Town Fork Creek in what is now Walnut Cove. He was the grandfather of the man I had originally been researching, William A. Lash Sr. Here I was 253 years later, about to burst with pride that the roots of my little town reached all the way back to such a Christian man. I thanked God for modern conveniences such as the worldwide web and went to bed, having found my Lash connection without even looking for it!

Bethabara church

The church in Historic Bethabara Village in Winston-Salem, NC.

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