Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mount Pisgah and the Rat - revisited

Coincidence is something I can’t explain away as sheer happenstance. I’m convinced there’s a bit of providence to what some call random chance. For instance, I went to my mailbox this week and saw that I’d received a shipment of vintage postcards. I’d been the successful bidder on a collection of 50 old postcards of North Carolina scenes, so I was eager to inspect what I'd won.

I opened the envelope and pulled out a thick stack of cards held together by a rubber band. On top of the stack were two cards in their own plastic sleeves. A big post-it note had my order number scribbled on it, and the 50 in "50 NC PCs" was crossed out, replaced by the number 52.

"Well, that’s mighty nice," I thought, "the seller included a couple of extra cards." Then I peeled off the post-it note and was amazed at what I saw.



It was an image of Mount Pisgah and the Rat, an especially gorgeous card published by the Asheville Post Card Company in 1912. There’s no way this dealer could have known about my recent excursion in a bright yellow 1941 Chrysler sedan to find that mythical Rat. But somehow, this card materialized in my mailbox. Coincidence, if you insist.

Incidentally, that 1941 Chrysler made it back down the Pisgah Motor Road to Candler in one piece. Sadly, it stalled out before I reached Canton. I left it stranded by the side of Highway 19. And I haven’t seen it since. Fortunately, I thought to hang onto that Kodak Brownie camera. So I sent off the roll of Plus-X Pan for processing and here’s a shot from the U. S. Fawn Rearing Plant near the Pink Beds in the Pisgah National Forest. It was feeding time for the fawns.


Remember this place?

This is the only plant in the United States that has for its primary purpose the rearing of fawns. People in this area are given permits to capture fawns, which the plant buys at $4 a head and raises on bottles. When they are six months old, they are shipped to other preserves. About 135 fawns are reared each year.

Things must have been different here in 1939. Were the mountains over-populated by deer?

Large and small game abound in the [Pisgah] forest. Trapped deer and fawns are shipped to other forests for restocking. Apparent in the forest are bear wallows and grubbings, also deer rubs, where the bucks polish their hardening antlers. The "browse line" effect of dense deer population is noticeable at places on trees and shrubs.


(From North Carolina, A Guide to the Old North State, Federal Writers' Project, 1939)

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