Before the coming of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the residents of Cades Cove, Tennessee dwelled in relative isolation, thanks to the ring of mountains surrounding the tiny Appalachian town. Because of their remoteness, families in the Cove developed a strong set of beliefs that were a heady combination of religion and superstition. Some of these beliefs included:
If you dream of muddy water, you’ll have a bad week.
If you tell your dreams before breakfast, they’ll come true.
If you drop a comb, step on it and it will ward off bad luck.
Don’t cut a baby’s fingernails before one year old or that baby will steal.
To remove freckles, go to a wheat field first thing in the morning and wash your face in the dew on the wheat.
Burning sassafras wood indoors means the certain death of a family member.
Looking in a mirror at night is bad luck.
Combing your hair in the dark? Also back luck.
To sneeze on a Sunday means money is headed your way.
When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park enveloped Cades Cove in the 1930’s, the isolation came to an abrupt halt. The Civilian Conservation Corps built better roads into the Cove, and they even went so far as to remove some of the modern structures that had found their way into the area in keeping with the “pioneer” atmosphere.
Residents were forced to leave their land or lease it back from the government for $1.00 an acre. Those who stayed had tourists tromping through their yards on a very regular basis; Cades Cove quickly became the most-visited section of the park. It remains the most-frequented to this day, hosting over 2 million visitors annually.
Thankfully, park officials recognized the need to preserve as much of the area’s unique culture as possible, so throughout the 1940s and 50s, many items and stories were collected and archived in the library at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Everything from clothing and cookware to schoolbooks and church hymnals can be discovered there. (The library is open by appointment only.)
Autumn in Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different was a quirky, fun character to write, largely because she saw the world as a place hinging on luck. Autumn, as did her friends and family, believed that part of her destiny was determined by her ability to interpret the signs that we are all sent, every day.