In the schoolyard in the 1920s. Mr. Burgin is third row, second from the left.
Willard Burgin makes his home on land originally cleared by his great-grandfather in the upper reaches of the Crooked Creek community, barely this side of the Buncombe County line. He’s just up the road from the old Mount Hebron Bible Institute where his parents met and where he briefly went to school himself. Nestled peacefully at the foot of the mountain, his home is a refuge from the rush of the modern world. We visited there for almost two hours, and only one car passed the entire time!
Mr. Burgin proudly displays his medals from WWII.
Mr. Burgin is a treasure-trove of memories and stories: from cutting wood for the tannery in Old Fort when he was a child, to seeking emergency assistance from the “snake doctor”, to searching the hillside behind his house so he could milk the family cow, to planting by the signs, to loading ammunition boats in Iceland during World War II.
Listen to our conversation with Willard Burgin here:
Blan Swofford and some of his buddies in the Phillipines during World War II. Blan is at top left, wearing the cap.
Linder “Blan” Swofford has recently returned to his family’s land in the North Cove community after decades of traveling the world and the country. He first left western North Carolina when he was drafted into the service during WWII. Here, he talks about going from the cool mountain environs to the sweltering tropics and lays out a scholarly WWII timeline in the process.
Listen to Blan Swofford here:
POST SCRIPT 11/23/10: Word has just come to me that Blan Swofford passed away on 11/1/10. He was a very gracious and kind gentleman, and I am very glad that I was able to record his story. I’ll never forget the fun tour he gave me of the area on his “four-wheeler” after we completed our interview. -Kim