They Don’t Cotton To Takin’ Pitchers of the Barn


It’s Day 24 of our little trek, and I’m in Douglasville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, staying with my niece and her family. Libby’s getting another dose of country living, with her southern canine cousins, both females. There were a few raised hackles at first, reminded me of the woman who pulled up behind me at the Hope Mills General Store, in appropriately named, Hope Mills, VA. By the time that brief stopover was through, I was hoping to get out of there alive. Okay, I’m exaggerating – a bit.

Hope Mills Country Store

Hope Mills Country Store, the owner was nice; the gal in the pickup, not so much.

I’d stopped for gas and a bathroom break and the view from the fillin’ station was magnificent. I hopped back out of the car to snap (although we don’t “snap” photos anymore) and I’m standing there, minding my own business, my back to the single gas pump when this pickup rumbled to a stop behind me and cuts the engine. I had pulled out of the way of the pump. I look over my shoulder briefly, but go about my business, when I hear this woman’s voice, in a Dixie Carter kind of drawl.

“Folks around here don’t like people takin’ pitchers of their barns.”

Barn Picture

The scene of the crime.

I turn to see a leathery-tanned blonde woman leaning out of the cab of the pickup, smoking a cigarette, which makes me nervous anyhow, being around gas pumps and all. Her male companion was filling up the truck. He looked at me hard.

“Say what?” I offer up in a friendly, non-confrontational way, as I pivot, every so slightly, focusing my camera phone away from the barn, aiming now at the panoramic view to my right…at three o’clock.

Country Scene

The subsequent scene of the crime. Just imagine how pretty this tree is in November.

When I turned around, she was still staring at me, menacingly.

I ask, “I’m sorry, is this your place?”

“Nope.”  That’s it, nothing more.

“I’m from Missouri, traveling across the country with my dog. This was just such a beautiful spot. I’ve been taking pictures of stuff I see along the road.” I was thinking if I said something nice it might win her over.

“Yeah, it’s r-e-e-e-l nice here. And people don’t like other people coming around takin’ pitchers.”

“Well, okay then. Thanks a lot.” The only stupid-ass thing I didn’t say was “have a nice day!” Like WTF would I be telling her to have a nice day for? And what in the hell was I thanking her for? For being a jerk? I got in the car, with their eyes burning a hole through my license plate, and drove on down the highway, with that narrowly-missed-being-hit-by-a-bus shudder. You know what I mean? Only in this case, it was more like,  narrowly-missed-being-shot-in-the-ass.

I’m shaking it off as I try to get back into the pastoral calm of a two-lane highway, in the Appalachian Mountains, which would have happened a lot faster, if not for the locals in Suburbans or F110 pickups who were riding my ass the entire way, and I promise you I was not driving slow. They drive like maniacs on these roads because they know them like the backs of their leathered hands. I pull over a couple of times to get the hell out of the way and travel up gravel roads, again, the threat of buckshot in my butt ever present but the views SO worth it…

Hay Bales in Field

Cinnamon rolls on the hillside. Well, really, it’s grass.

This was the first time Libby had gotten this close to a cow.

Cows along VA 340

Cows along VA 340.

And the calm is starting settle in around my head, the way fog hugs the hills, and I am simply happy. I am out in the middle of nowhere, in Rappahannock County, Virginia, close to the Shenandoah River, parked on a gravel road, the bugs buzzing in the tall grass, probably even a snake or two about, with my faithful mutt, who doesn’t question a single thing I do, admiring the view and mostly, just breathing in all the summery fragrance of the sweet earth at that precise spot on the globe.

It is a cleansing breath. And I’ll tell you this, my friend, there wasn’t a single, solitary gnarly old chicken bone in this whole damn pasture.

Revival Meeting - Elkton CA

I saw the sign in Elkton, VA too.

We had nobody waiting for us, my daughter (part of my crack logistics team) had called ahead to Waynesboro and had found us a room, so I was just enjoying the bumper crop of sunset views, when I rolled into Elkton, VA, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the flip side to the tent revival I’d seen in Brooklyn.

I couldn’t BELIEVE IT! I drove down the hill, parked in the grassy lot and sat out on the roof of my car and absorbed all the abundant benevolence I could ingest, compared to the hair-raising malevolence from just an hour before. And yes, I got video, from a distance, not wanting to invade their spiritual space, the drummer gave me a friendly wave with his drum sticks.


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I was thinking that gal at the gas station might want to drop by there….

before she drops in, here. I’m just sayin…


Nice view.

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Just love all your adventures. Love the music coming out of the tent.

  2. Say it again, sister … say it again. Marvelous.

  3. Kit Hudson says:

    Keep them there Pitchers a-comin’ ya-all!

  4. Two revival happenings? You might want to stop in on the next one! Great story, wonderful pictures and that great Whatley humor.

  5. Don’t pay no nevermind to them there back hills warriors. Bill said when he encountered a similar situation he replied in a very southern drawl that he was driving a rental car. :)

  6. Alysa S. says:

    People can be so kind, but they can also be odd and mean. I wonder what might have happened to this woman or this couple – or their town – to make them so anti-pictures (pitchers). You may not have had snappy comeback to offer, but I think you handled it perfectly; friendly and non-confrontational always win the day in my book – and, you’re right, they usually keep you from getting shot in situations like that. The photos really are lovely and were worth taking. Good luck and hope you continue to stay out of trouble. When people act uptight, remember “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”: “That’s his movie, man.”

  7. As a Jewish girl from Mississippi, I have not attended any revivals — so thank you for sharing. What a wonderful little video! I loved it and am so happy that I could hear the singing. As for snapping photos of barns, that is something I love to do, too — so next time, I will glance over my shoulder for your “friend”… Glad that road is behind you and that new adventures lie ahead.

  8. idahospud44 says:

    I enjoyed this trip with you! The photos were excellent and captured the area. Your one interacting is interesting in many weird ways. What is the problem with taking pitchers, as they say?

  9. That’s why we northerners need to keep a pack of marlboros in the glove box. when you get out of the car to pump gas south of the mason dixon line, just roll them up in your sleeve. Then those good ol’ boys and gals will leave you alone.

    By the way, I heard you on KWMU, and it was great. I was so surprised. Just turned it on and there you were.

  10. jill beckmann says:

    i love your closing thoughts! i’m just saying…..

  11. Hey y’all,

    I wouldn’t want to leave you with the impression that I don’t love the south — I actually do. And it’s weird, considering I’m a native Californian, but don’t really remember much about, then spent half my “formative” years in Ft Worth, Texas and the other half in Albuquerque, New Mexico. But having lived now in CA, TX, NM, FL, VA, NC and Missouri, I have to tell you that I LOVE North Carolina and New Mexico with equal passion. More on NC tonight –once I pull into Jackson. Hotter than a pepper sprout.

  12. says:

    Just be careful and don’t underestimate folks that get the nerve to be so vocal like the nervy chick in the pick up;the defensiveness can stem from worry about being exposed. There is always a reason for behavior. If it is defensive it can usually be connected to illegal activities of one sort or another, going on. They all cover for each other.
    This is not limited to the south; one can drive 200 miles south of STL and find basically some of the same behaviors and attitudes.

    Thank you for your site. It is great. Stay safe.

  13. HALLELUJAH! Keep them pitchers comin! What beautiful sights..and sounds..enjoying your stories, as always!!

  14. L-o-v-e it!!!! Great post, Jeane.