Mack Williams: Brochure trips

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 27, 2017

Back in my Granite Quarry School days, early September meant some in-class, off-the-cuff public speaking: “Where we vacationed this past Summer.” Through it, we learned about each other’s “favorite things” ( Maria von Trapp terminology).

As “visual aid,” it helped having the visited road attraction’s official brochure, much easier than having the family car driven into the classroom to display its bumper sticker (stealthily placed by attraction staff while the family was preoccupied with fun).

Our family vacationed mainly in mountain “sites” (“sights” works too). I can mentally picture the brochures for Tweetsie, Grandfather Mountain and Ghost Town, not difficult, since one pictures a steam engine, one has a picture of a mountain (hanging bridge, bagpipers, and Mildred the bear with twin cubs), and an Old West town suitable for main street shootout.

Racked “roadside attraction” brochures were placed (and still are) at the attractions’ entrances (where the admission was paid). In addition to those we actually visited, I always picked up at least an inch thickness of brochures devoted to places we would likely never go, including beaches and lighthouses (since we were “mountain (or ‘foothill’) folk”). The brochure for the Gettysburg Cyclorama was interesting, but we never made it there either.

In the back seat of our old Studebaker, I shuffled through my travel brochures in much the same manner as I shuffled through my baseball cards.

I liked rocks, so a whole city of them,”Rock City” (specifically,”See Rock City”), sounded fascinating (but we never got to there either).

My favorite brochures left the overall impression of “mountains, falls, caverns, and ‘chimney-form’ rocks.” Many geological sights had tomes written about them, with their brochures being their “Cliff’s Notes.”

I didn’t go to Linville Caverns until years later, but thanks to its brochure I knew to look for its “sightless fish” (a gaze neither met nor returned).

To this day, I have a strange impression of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On its brochure’s cover, people riding a chair lift were always pictured, somehow making me think this is their only mode of transportation. So, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, people take the chairlift to the grocery store, post office, school and church, And when the time comes for that “gravest” of trips, the coffin is strapped between two chairlift chairs to be carried to its final destination on the side of some beautiful mountain slope.

You might also say my “Land of the sky” impression of Gatlinburg resembles that “Land of the sea” impression given by the movie “Waterworld” (1995).

While on the subject of “water,” there once was a brochure for a business in Boone specializing in “white-water” rafting trips. Its cover included the smiling faces of “Bill” and “Hillary.” This is not meant to spark discussion, being only an unbiased stating about the brochure’s cover (but it was quite clever of the proprietors).

Some years ago, my own little family and I always noticed a brochure advertising Ashe County Cheese, stating: “See Cheese Made,” but we never made it there to “see cheese made.”

My daughter Rachel recently brought me a bunch of brochures (and a copy of the “Mountain Times”) from her mountain trip, and my son Jeremy brought a bunch of brochures from his Florida trip (“Train up a child in the way he should go…”). Rachel said the particular narrowing in Linville caverns, once referred to as “Fat man’s squeeze,” is called that no more (actually, not called anything). I guess such phrasing succumbed to the “PC world” (but having been on a number of diets, I understand).

Rachel didn’t encounter any “See Cheese Made” brochures on this trip, but due to the spreading of that cheese (no pun intended) in stores throughout the mountains and foothills, she located, purchased, and brought me some of the cheese, itself.

So, concerning that particular once-”brochured” mountain dairy product, I never did make it up to Ashe County to “See Cheese Made,” but I have recently “seen cheese eaten,” and at intimately close range.

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