Flatridge is a community tucked away in the hills and valleys of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia. Today it bears little resemblance to the Flatridge I remember in the 1930’s and ’40’s. The community featured in the following articles may seem fictitious, out of someone’s imagination; or perhaps it may be visualized as a place that existed long ago and far away. But to those of us who lived there it is a place that is as real as today’s newspaper, because it is forever etched in our memories.
In Flatridge today, neat brick houses with green lawns stand beside paved roads. Late model cars are parked in carports at night and on weekends. The people who live there commute to jobs in Marion, Independence or Galax. In the not too distant past, farmhouses dotted the hills sporadically along winding dirt roads that were dusty in summer and muddy, with gullies formed by wagon wheels, in the winter. The necessary travel was done by horseback or more commonly, by walking. There were a few cars and if someone really needed to go to “town,” twenty or thirty miles away, there was usually someone who could be hired for the trip, always an all-day event.
Flatridge was a farming community then. The land was productive. Fields green with corn, golden with wheat or snow-white with buckwheat marked the hillsides. White-faced cattle grazed on the hills not cultivated for crops.
Today, the fields are used as pasture for Hereford, Black Angus or other thoroughbred cattle. Some fields are reserved for hay crops that are now harvested by modern machinery. The farming that is done is usually approached as a side activity by those who have found more lucrative ways of making a living.
The hub of Flatridge was the store and its warehouse owned by Mr. Jenkins. Close by was the post office and homes of the more well-to-do citizens. The store is much smaller now and the post office was closed many years ago. One-roomed schools and white frame churches once identified outlying sub-communities that were usually named for the church, such as Honey Grove, Central, Glenwood, Bald Rock. The schools are now gone, and most of the church buildings have been converted to other uses or are empty reminders of the way it once was.
There are some things that time has not completely changed, however, such as the steep green hills, the hardwood forests, the free flowing Middle Fox Creek, and the hazy blue horizon of mountains. These familiar landmarks are recognizable enough to make former residents feel at home when we venture back for a visit.
I began writing this collection of Flatridge stories in 1986. I wanted to preserve for my children and grandchildren some of my memories of a time far remote from the age in which they live. I want them to know what life was like before electricity, super highways with bumper-to-bumper traffic, jet planes, television, computers, space shuttles, and so on. I want them to learn from my experiences but most of all, want them and anyone else who reads the stories to be entertained by these accounts of yesteryear. There were good times and bad times, but it is the good times that identify us. May that be said of you, dear reader, as you formulate the memories of your life.
M. J. Morris
Note: The original web site was created in 2009 and was migrated to this platform in 2021, and the validated comments from that web site were migrated as well.
J. C. Morris