John Shearer: Curtis Coulter Continues Documenting Sale Creek With New Book

Wednesday, April 27, 2022 - by John Shearer
Curtis N. Coulter
Curtis N. Coulter

With the recent purchase of the large McDonald Farm by Hamilton County government, the virtues of Sale Creek will be touted in the future by officials, if some of the land ends up being converted into an industrial park as discussed.

 

And the historic farm buildings and natural areas that are preserved for recreation and special events will also likely be praised.

 

But Curtis N.

Coulter has long been interested in promoting the entire and still-rural North Hamilton County community through researched stories about its history and as a lifelong resident who simply appreciates it.

 

The retired Hamilton County Schools teacher has already written about a half dozen books related to the community and its history, and now he has put together another one titled, “This Is the Way I Heard It.”

 

The author describes the book as a collection of Sale Creek stories and even tall tales regarding Sale Creek. Most of them he has heard, but a small number of them involve him, or at least he is one of the characters or observers. 

 

“It’s a fun book,” said Mr. Coulter, who considers himself a better storyteller as a writer than as a talker. “I kind of stretch things a little bit for enjoyment’s sake.”

 

Mr. Coulter said the idea for the current book came when he started posting some of these tales on Facebook, and he received such positive feedback that he realized he needed to compile them into a book.

 

“Our country has been through two years of lockdowns, quarantines, and people staying in fear as well as being isolated and scared,” he said. “Therefore, I wanted to put together a book that would make people laugh and enjoy some of the country humor that I have accumulated over a lifetime.”

 

Most are funny and humorous, such as one about a woman getting baptized in an outfit that ended up becoming inflatable, and another about a wasp’s nest that caused havoc during a church service. But a few are of a more serious nature, including two dog stories and a tribute to a former teacher. 

 

And one chapter is downright scary. That involves the tales of Pitty Pat Hollow, the name given the area of Shipley Hollow Road stretching from Daugherty Ferry Road to Providence Road a mile or so off U.S. 27 in Sale Creek.

 

Dating back to the 1800s, people have claimed to hear a “pit-a-pat” sound – or the noise of some creature making a light but rapid noise with feet – while they are traveling down that secluded road at night. One legend even stated that a woman of yesteryear was traveling in a buggy with her baby, and the creature came up and spooked the horse, causing the carriage to overturn. The creature then left with the baby, who was never seen again.

 

With others, the simple presence of the sound has been the big scare.

 

While that story might make a reader look over his or her shoulder while having the book open, others might make a peruser look up with laughter. He tells of one woman getting ready to be baptized at a creek, and her outfit immediately began ballooning while taking in water, making her look like she had a giant innertube with her.

 

When the minister got her situated where he could lay her back into the water, the trapped air under her dress finally, as Mr. Coulter wrote, “broached the surface like a submarine blowing ballast.” He later added, “The escaping air sounded like cow flatulence.”

 

Needless to say, the formerly serious congregation could not keep from laughing so hard they produced tears.

 

Another story tells of some preacher’s rebellious kids putting coal soot on their father’s handkerchief before a Sunday service, knowing he was going to be wiping his brow a few times while getting worked up preaching the sermon.

 

Another light-hearted story involves some poetic license he takes in discussing some ospreys that summered near his home and have to deal with the hassles of the well-meaning power company.

 

“There are about four pairs of them, and I’ve kind of expanded on them, and I talk to the ospreys and they send me greetings from Peru during the wintertime and they get into fights,” he said.

 

He also pays tribute to someone who soars in a figurative sense due to the respect she had – former English teacher Miss Annabel Aslinger. In his chapter on her, he says she was very tough but made all her Sale Creek pupils better students and people.

 

“Annabel was tough and she did not take prisoners,” Mr. Coulter writes of the woman who retired from Sale Creek High in 1966. “No excuses for failure to complete assignments were accepted.”

 

Mr. Coulter graduated from Sale Creek High in 1967 and has been a lifelong resident, and that has motivated his interest in the community and in documenting over the years such aspects as its military veterans and its brief time in the spotlight as a peach capital.

 

“I live in an area where my grandfather farmed in the early part of the century,” said Mr. Coulter, who was interviewed while selling books and giving tours of the former home of newspaper publisher Roy McDonald during the special McDonald Farm public gathering on April 16. “My family has been here since 1819.”

 

And while he knows development might eventually come to this area, especially with the sale of the McDonald Farm, he also likes how it is still mostly pastoral.

 

As a result, the noise in part still comes from tall country tales being passed around and enjoyed, and not from any heavy suburban traffic.

 

* * *

 

Those wanting to order or know more information about this book or Mr. Coulter’s others can go to www.coulterpublications.com.

 

* * *

 

Jcshearer2@comcast.net


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The East Tennessee Historical Society’s annual Awards of Excellence were presented at the organization’s Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, June 7, at the Museum of East Tennessee History in Knoxville. ... (click for more)

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