#77: Thomas Wolfe

Yesterday had the potential to be just another boring rainy day. But we had plans. And while we considered letting the rain ruin those plans, we didn’t. I figure we’re not the kind of people to let a little water get in the way. And besides, rain can make things more fun, right? 🙂

Chris is reading Look Homeward, Angel for his Appalachian literature class. It was a perfect reason for us to do something we’d mentioned a few times: visit the boarding house in Asheville where Thomas Wolfe grew up.

old-kentucky-homeSo Harvin, Ticcoa, Chris, and I headed to Asheville yesterday afternoon in the foggy, dreary rain. We first went to “Old Kentucky Home,” the boarding house run by Wolfe’s mother.

Things I learned:

1. Wolfe had a terribly dysfunctional family–evidently, the kind that makes for good literature. I kinda want to read Look Homeward, Angel now after seeing the place and hearing some of the stories. Maybe this summer, when I’m not overwhelmed with other 20th-century American fiction to read.

2. Women are more morally upright than men. We never contemplate stealing things from a museum. And we never reach across exhibit displays and set the alarm off (even if we think about it). 🙂

3. Author home tour guides are generally very good. Our tour guide at the Wolfe Memorial, Patrick, was very professional and informative. He didn’t give us the quirky little stories that Nannie at The Wren’s Nest did, but that’s fine. He gave us a very good picture of Wolfe and his life at the boarding house and how that life influenced his literature.

After we left the boarding house, we headed out in search of Riverside Cemetery, where Wolfe is buried. The place is wolfe-gravemassive and wonderful! Things I learned there:

1. I was right–cemeteries are more fun in the rain. I got wet and slipped in the mud a few times, but the rain makes it more mysterious (in my opinion). Sure, maybe it wasn’t 80 degrees and sunny, but it was still tons of fun. [Note: This isn’t a photo from yesterday–it’s a lot gloomier in the rain.]

2. I’d like to be buried in a cool crypt when I die. One where innocent youth can climb on the roof, and the door can be left unlocked so they can explore. I mean, why else would anyone want to break into a crypt?

3. Make sure your friends know that O. Henry is a pen name. Sorry, Harvin. We spent a long time prowling a large section of the cemetery, only to discover that Harvin had been standing right near it, but because the stone said “William Sydney Porter,” Harvin didn’t realize it was the right one. But we finally found it. I sat on his grave. It was neat.

4. Gophers are scared of cars and people. They like to live in cemeteries and run into holes in the ground when they see a car speeding toward them.

5. There was a governor of NC named Zebulon Vance. Harvin thinks he looks like a cross-breed of a human and Chewbacca. And the name Zebulon? I can’t decide if I think it’s awesome or just weird.

So we finally left Asheville after that and went toward what we thought was Hendersonville. Things I learned during the rest of the trip:

1. Don’t trust Google maps. Always pull out my trusty N.C. map (or whatever state I happen to be in at the time) and double-check. It doesn’t take an hour to get to Hendersonville from Asheville. Chimney Rock is not on the way. But you know what? It was still fun. It’s a great drive through the mountains. And we listened to the entire Manchester Orchestra album while we drove, so that was awesome, too.

2. Thai food and sushi at a restaurant on Main Street in Hendersonville was a great idea! They had a Boston roll (avocado and shrimp)! But convincing Coa to try sushi wasn’t the best idea. While I’m thrilled Coa was adventurous enough (and trusted us enough) to try sushi for the first time, I’m very sad that Jess got mad because we were able to convince Coa to do something she could never do. I’m sorry, Leisters. Let’s have a re-do, shall we?

3. I need a GPS. Or a chauffeur. I’m directionally hopeless, but I’m glad you guys still let me drive often. When will we learn? 😀

Another adventure marked off the list. Another afternoon with great friends. Life is pretty great.

5 thoughts on “#77: Thomas Wolfe

  1. Katherine says:

    Sounds like a fun trip! I have “visiting Hendersonville” on my list of things to do when I come back to the States for a visit. where did you have Thai food?

    • Haley says:

      I don’t actually remember the name of the restaurant, but it was right on Main St. in Hendersonville…one block over from the fun bear statue. 🙂

      Are you coming back for a visit anytime soon?

  2. Ticcoa says:

    The restaurant’s name was Champa.

    Ah, that was such a great day; the rain made it even better. Hooray for nerdy English-related adventures!

  3. Harvin says:

    A] Gah, Champa was soooo good. Had a nice ambiance as well.

    B] Yeah yeah, pen name, schmen-name. We got to do a lot of fun exploring thanks to my lack of knowledge. Gah, I really am the Xander of this group.

    C] I might get a GPS for Christmas, which means you would be getting one, too.

    D] The ride through the mountains was one of my favorite parts.

    E] Zebulon TOTALLY looked like a Chewbacca descendant!!

    F] As soon as I saw that pic, I thought, “NO WAY is that a pic from our visit!” Speaking of which, I’ve never seen the photos.

  4. Harvin says:

    Oh, and for memory’s take, you forgot:

    –The rides there and back listening to Coldplay and Muse.

    –My talent for getting us out of Asheville (that was me, right?).

    –You must remind me to design a sun room like the one at the boarding house. My yurt will be incomplete without it!

    –The dream interpretations. =D

    –Our attempts to find an open crypt. That only happens in Buffy, I guess, but we should keep trying. =)

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