ARCHIVE: River Stories
Saving Historic Mountain Island Lake

There is unrest among the neighbors of Mountain Island Lake. Newcomers want to halt efforts to increase regulation and fees related to recreation on the lake, while old-timers — many of whose families were living on its shores long before the Catawba River was dammed, in 1924, to create the lake — want to preserve what remains of the lake’s natural beauty and resources.

And while the debate goes on, hardly anyone is discussing the central role the river has played in history, and the impact those events have had on the nation, the state and the region.

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of essays on the history of Mountain Island Lake region going back to the original settlers of the region. The essays are intended to provide context about the lake’s past as we debate its future, which at the moment appears to be perilous.

First, for those not familiar with the current crisis, here is some background information:

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Some LA Moments Make Me Long for the Comfort of the Catawba’s Rolling Waters

So what have I done currently or in some past life to be the center of chaos? I tried to be honest. I have decided that if your doctor is extremely busy following the fifteen minute rule. He would not be a good choice to mention any previous problems with drugs other than to make sure always confirm at each meeting that you are allergic to penicillin.

Other than that, when you are dealing with an extremely large renowned medical institution that is staffed with over-worked professionals who occupy the top of the triangle of their specialty, it is best to stay under the radar. To them, it seems, patients are objects and should perform accordingly.

Get whatever is wrong with you fixed; stay focused on that and that only, with the exception of drug allergies. Remain faceless. I think that we are all so unaware of faces, which in cases such as these do not confuse them. They are too busy to listen and when they do they become confused and they place a mask on you.

They will fix your spine, but they do not want to know who you are. If you broke this holy rule; they paint a mask upon your name. It is like the warnings on drug advertisements … to become the top of a pyramid could it be possible that the best of the best react by becoming misanthropic.

I broke the rule and let me tell you, there is a difference. I have the scars. It begins when I open my mouth. Today, I got slapped in the face…speaking email wise. I know why I fed Molly, she is as out of place as I am. I think of how fond Mark Twain was of San Francisco when these events occur. Like the red-squirrel Molly. I am very far from home.

When one of these days occurs in Los Angeles, you have to question your intelligence. And this type of stuff happens out here. You have to at any moment be prepared to “roll, roll,” as if you have to escape a fire. Trust me, Angelinos are different. But compared the New Yorkers I have met, Angelinos are angels. Out here, if a professional is renowned and most of them are speak as if you are meeting with the Pope. They do not expect to know your first names… unless you are in trouble which I usually am. I swear it starts because I talk funny. They hear each day at least forty-six languages, but they will recall a southern accent. You have been warned.

I am learning how to roll with the punches. I am getting citified. I now know to immediately take an offensive stand and to focus.

Oh, good, God, I hope they don’t hurt me. But I will not scare.

In these LA moments, I think of my great-great-great-great-great grandmother who refused to leave the banks of the Catawba River and would not go one step further west.

On these days when I miss water and good sense, I think of home. I think of the comfort of the Catawba’s rolling waters. I tell myself river stories.