Apple Valley Thanksgiving
Apple Valley Thanksgiving used to be such a huge event with folks visiting each other back and forth nearly the whole month of November. Now it was slowing down a little as folks grew older and young folks had not quite gotten into the habit of taking over the traditions, cooking, baking and all.
Apple Valley had not changed since the days of Carter Bascom the wood carver. During the week it was
fairly quiet with just local folks milling around the town, going about their normal business. Come Friday
afternoon it was crowded with tourists. Many of those folks took up rooms at the Apple Valley Inn and
stayed the weekend.
It was the wood carvings Carter made that first brought in visitors from other towns around the mountain
area. Eventually word spread and within a few years Apple Valley was famous, not just for the wood
carvings, but the town itself. From May through September the craft fairs were popular. Local folk art was
sought after by tourists from across the country. The popularity of the wood carvings brought people in,
the fresh mountain air encouaged them to come back every year.
Billy Jack remembered the days when Grandpa Abe and his cronies sat on the porch in front of the General
Store. The store was still there, still busy as ever, but most of the old cronies were gone now. Their chairs
were still there and a new group of younger men now occupied them. The new group of cronies spent most
their time talking about the old cronies of days gone by. They were sons and grandsons of the original group.
Abe still came into the store every day, but did not work as hard. He was nigh on to eighty years now. He
was just as much an icon of Apple Valley as the store and wood carvings were and folks missed him
sorely if he was not around. Mostly he sat by the old wood burner and told stories to whoever wanted to
listen. His son, Davy Lee, had taken over running the store.
It was Abe who encouraged Billy Jack to keep up on the wood carving. From the time he was five years old,
Billy Jack was never without his little jack knife. The first thing he ever carved was a bear. It still sits in a
place of honor in Abe’s display case with all the other collectibles from Carter and Billy Jack. Carter had
left his carving tools to Abe who gifted them to Billy Jack when he turned twelve.
When Billy Jack and his sweetheart, Amy Lynn, married they moved into the old homestead house with
his grandparents, Abe and Emma Mae. When Billy Jack took Abe into town every day Amy Lynn kept busy
at the homestead learning how to cook from Emma Mae, who was famous for her desserts. Emma Mae’s
cherished and secret recipes were handed down to Amy Lynn. Their apple pies and dumplings were in all
the bakeries in town.
Now, it so happens that one day Davy Lee and Billy Jack decided to build another smaller house on the
old homestead. Davy Lee and his wife, Becky, had their home built not far from the main house when
they were newlyweds, but at that time Abe and Emma Mae were still young and energetic enough to live
by themselves. All this new building kind of bothered Abe and Emma Mae – not because they didn’t want a
new building on the homestead, but they did not want Billy Jack and Amy Lynn to move out of the main
house. They were getting on in their years and so enjoyed having the young couple with them, especially at
supper and the evenings. They would sorely miss the joy of family when the young ones moved out. And
Amy Lynn was with child. To have little feet running all over the big old house was something the older
ones looked forward to. Now they would be alone.
In fact, ol’ Abe was getting a bit cantankerous about the whole thing. Some days he would not even speak to
his son and grandson, so upset he was over the thought of him and Emma Mae rattling around in the big
old house by themselves. Heck! They couldn’t even climb the stairs anymore and would have to close up the
whole second floor. And to pour salt on his wounds, Davy Lee and Billy Jack did not consult Abe on how to
plan the new house. Billy Jack tried every evening to explain to Abe that he wanted to design the new
house himself, to show that he could do it. “Huh! I built this house and helped Davy Lee build his! What
makes you think you’re better at building a home than me!” Billy Jack would say, “Now, Grandpa, I told
you it is not because I don’t think you are good at building a home. I just want it to be a surprise when
you see how well I can do it.” That was usually the end of the conversation and there it stood every night,
with Abe stomping off to his bedroom afore the sun went down.
After several days of these squabbles, Davy Lee and Billy Jack decided to speed things up on the new house.
They gathered every free man they could, friends from all over the valley and within two weeks had the
house finished. “Now you see!”, Abe yelled. “Finishing up a house in less than a month already tells me it
ain’t worth living in! And you won’t let me go in and inspect it for ya!”
“Give me two more days, Grandpa, and we’ll have you and Grandma come in and inspect it.” Now Emma
Mae was getting into the squabbles because Amy Lynn spent most the day over at the new house fixing it up
The day finally came when Davy Lee and Billy Jack stood before Abe. “Pa, Billy Jack and Amy Lynn are
ready to show you the new house.” Abe, pretending to still be mad, put on his heavy wool jacket and said,
“Come on, Emma Mae! Bundle up, it’s gettin’ cold out there. Let’s honor the young folks with our presence
in their flimsy house!” Emma Mae was a gentle soul and never held grudges. She let Becky and Amy Lynn
help her get bundled up. Off they all trotted to the new house, with Abe grumbling all the way.
When Billy Jack opened the front door and grandly welcomed his grandparents inside, Abe was
flabbergasted! He and Emma Mae stood there staring at a long open room with two long tables, each about
twenty feet long, sitting in the middle. Not a word could the old couple say they were so shocked. With a
big smile on his face Billy Jack pulled them into a huge kitchen which had four new fangled stoves and six
refrigerators. At one end was a pantry lined with shelves stocked with staples and a large work table in the
With hands on hips Abe walked back out to the large room and walked all around. “There ain’t no second
floor and no bedrooms! And why such big tables? If you are planning to have a whole passle of kids I can
understand the tables and kitchen, but where the hell are they going to sleep?” Billy Jack said, “In your house,
Grandpa.” Abe just stared at him with a puzzled look as Emma Mae cuddled up to him, looking
bewildered. “Grandpa, Grandma,” Billy Jack took their hands. “This is your community gathering house.”
As Abe and Emma Mae looked at each other there was a loud knock on the door. Davy Lee opened it and
folks started pouring in. Each woman carried food to the tables as the men began grabbing Abe and
Emma Mae’s hands, congratulating them on such a fine idea. “Us old folks are finding it harder to get into
town and around the valley visiting and potlucking here and there. This is a grand idea. Thanks, Abe!”
It was the best potluck ever held in Apple Valley. Come Thanksgiving Day the gathering was so large that
Abe decided to extend the large room another twenty feet next spring. It was the most joyous and largest
Apple Valley Thanksgiving ever.
© 2016 Phyllis Doyle Burns