An Appalachian sight in time – “A Mountain Pearl”

It is amazing how a sight, a sound or a smell can carry you in your mind’s eye to some distant place and time.

I came upon a patch of white daisies this week as I was walking along the back road in my hometown.
All of a sudden I was four years old again walking along the dirt footpath that led by my grandparent’s farmhouse. I bent over picking the very best flowers from the patch to create three bouquets, one each for my mom – Pearl, my Grandma Kitty and my Aunt Norma Jean.

The smells of Spring had settled into the valley below the Gravelly Spur, bees were buzzing from flower to flower gathering makin’s for their sweet honey that would later be drizzled on top of one of my grandmother’s hot cathead biscuits.

The garden was already turned awaiting the plantin’ of tomatoes, corn, green beans, squash and the like that would fill our plates with mealtime delight as the summer wore on and heat settled down on the valley.

Then the creek would serve as our refuge as we dangled our feet in the cold clear water pouring from the spring or even took a swim in the deepest spot. Or we would sit in the quiet of the swing with a cool breeze passing over our bodies clearing away the cares of the day.

I can almost reach out and touch it, it is so real, but alas, these daisies are not the same and though the creek still flows and the porch is still there, the three ladies who made that world go round are gone except in my mind’s eye and in the words that I write.

I recently completed a labor of love – a book entitled “A Mountain Pearl: Appalachian Reminiscing and Recipes” which takes the reader to the valley below the Gravelly Spur at different points over about a century. Through the years I have often shared stories of the valley in my column.

Most of the tales relate the wonderful stories inspired by my mother’s youth reflecting the valley during the Great Depression. I even share some of my memories of childhood there later in the book.
Award-winning Georgia artist Cathy Cooksey illustrates the stories with a variety of full color paintings and black and white drawings.
A portion of the proceeds from the book benefits the Share America Foundation (, a Georgia non-profit, that presents the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarships for musicians continuing the traditions of Appalachian music.

The 202-page softbound book also includes 39 authentic mountain recipes, most from my mother and grandmother’s favorites such as Pleasing Plum Pie, Carrot Cookies, or Valley Corn.
I also feature over 50 lighthearted country funnies depicted through some of my comedy characters such as Uncle Elige Doolittle and his twin boys Will Doolittle and Won’t Do-a-Lot.

If you enjoyed “Little House on the Prairie” or “The Walton’s” you will find something within this book that will bring you a smile.

“A Mountain Pearl” is available online at or via mail from Randall Franks, P.O. Box 42, Tunnel Hill, Ga. 30755 for $25 including postage.