Editor’s note: The following is a chapter from the manuscript titled “Ole Mean Carrie Buck,” written by Thomas Buxton of Columbia, S.C. The manuscript is based on interviews with his mother, Carrie Miller Buxton, about her life in Blowing Rock in the middle of the 20th century.

The children were OK, but we had hardly got the furniture arranged in my new apartment when I received the very sad news that I might lose my lifelong bosom friend, Ethel.

Ann called from Blowing Rock to tell me that she had cancer. What a jolt to me! When I went to the mountains the following week, I tried unsuccessfully to visit with Ethel, but was able to talk to her by phone and followed that up with cards and a letter.

A couple of weeks after that, I received the following letter from that old Holshouser girl, her frame of mind upbeat, as always.

August. 19, 1980

Dear Carrie,

How very nice to hear from you after such a long time. It’s hard to realize how swiftly time speeds along. It comes as a sudden surprise and jolt when we find ourselves classified as senior citizens, elderly, retired citizens, etc. These titles apply to others, but somehow never to us!! I think of you so often, but always young, vivacious and peppy. This business of being sick is so new and frustrating to me, but it is wonderful to have the kids close by. I appreciate them as never before. They help keep my morale soaring. We don’t try to avoid the facts. Being open and frank really helps us cope with the situation much better.

I walk with Blanche occasionally via telephone. She is a very wonderful person and I am always amazed at her alertness and her clear active mind, and the way she keeps informed about “world issues” is astonishing. We see eye to eye on many things but somehow we can’t seem to come up with a solution for all the world’s problems!

Sorry I missed you when you were up in these parts. Do enjoy your retirement. Give all the kids my love. They seem like my own. And thanks a million for the lovely cards.

Just must tell you how wonderful Helen (Buxton) has been to me. She is the greatest — typical of our dear Buxtons. She has really been great therapy for me.

Love,

Ethel

That’s the last I heard from Ethel. She passed away a short while later. I can see us now, as clearly as if it were yesterday, climbing into the trundle bed at her house as snugly as sardines in a can, mounting up our “horses” and riding up to Main Street to watch the Vance girls come riding into town, and years later, sitting around her big kitchen table making her famous Christmas cookies, which even then I couldn’t replicate.

Those precious memories of how inseparable we Buxtons and Burnses were and the many wonderful things we two families did as one will always been cherished.

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