Day Six:

We started today by heading up the mountain on Dayton Mt. Hwy. to Walden’s Ridge.  Downtown Dayton was small and filled with a few cafes and some quirky shops.  The mountain began right on the outskirts of town.

About halfway up the mountain, the van quit.  John got out and checked things.  We were a little low on oil, so we coasted down the mountain to the next gas station.  John filled the oil tank, and the van started back up – not an oil problem.  Who knows what now?

We had no idea what we would find on the ridge.  I had some house numbers, but no road names.  Upon reaching the top it was obvious we wouldn’t be finding the house where Arizona lived with her husband.  We went up a road bearing their last name, a popular name in the area.  I took a picture of a house #294, which was on the road and looked older.

294

I have no idea if this was the vicinity where they lived or not.  The ridge is a large residential area and was when Arizona lived there from what I have learned.  It is amazing what can exist on a mountaintop.

Many moved to the ridge for health reasons for it was rumored that the air and water there was pure.  Arizona’s youngest brother was brought to the ridge for tuberculosis treatment.  Mostly, we saw small cattle farms.  The ridge was the picture of country.  It was a slow moving place.  Arizona’s husband didn’t farm, but worked for the Dayton Coal and Iron Company.  I read later that most of the farmer’s on the ridge grew strawberries.  Dayton has an annual Strawberry Festival.

After looking through the graves of two cemeteries, and watching Deladis sniff all the new plastic and silk Memorial Day flowers on them, I decided my best choice would be to see what the town library had in its special collections.  In the library, I found Arizona with her husband in the 1910 census and some basic historic information for the period.  Most of the information was on the coal and iron industry.  I didn’t find much at all on Walden’s Ridge.  No one I asked could provided me with more information than I was able to find.  The ridge is going to be elusive.

Ivy gave John a run for his money while I researched.  She climbed on top of a table while he tried to read to Deladis.  Ivy cried when he tried to corral her.  I had to end my looking before I was really ready, but not before I found a corn meal/peanut butter biscuit recipe from WWI days – wheat free!

We decided the girls needed rest and a chance to play, so we went back to the hotel to eat.  A train travels by the hotel several times day and night – a throwback to the coal and iron days.  Since the meal at Ruby Tuesday we’re eating out of the cooler for all of our meals.  More than likely the rest of the week.

This evening, we took the girls to a cute little park and they played until their hair was wet with sweat and their faces were blood red.  It is still in the 90s temperature wise.  I’m starting to feel guilty myself for only being able to formally exercise twice since we left.  Now, I’m short on patience and exhausted.  I think I have enough to work with for the novel.  I have the names of a few people here who might can help me fill in the gaps later – one is a man from the town historical society.

On the way to the park, the van quit again.  Tomorrow we are leaving for Mt. Airy, NC and stopping in Gatlinburg, TN to take the girls to the Ripley’s Aquarium.  That’s a five hour trip, so the stop in Gatlinburg will be good.  I hope we make it.  This will be the last night with a shower, indoor toilet, and bed until Sunday.

The trip is winding down.  There is always that loss of the rush of anticipation.  Arizona left the ridge with the coal and iron bust that happened here around 1913.  They moved to Kentucky to find work in the mines for her husband.  Completion of a journey that made her never feel settled.  I remember the letter Mamaw shared with me.  A farm in Ohio was on her mind.

I hope the changing gears is refreshing with no more van trouble.  I want the girls to see the Aquarium.

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