We all know Louise Howe Bailey, award winning historian and author, the Queen of Flat Rock, Henderson County’s own Dame of Dignity. What some of us might not know is that in her youth, the board of trustees of her ultra-conservative college told her she’d disgraced herself and all of Southern womanhood by merely suggesting that they have a dance for the Junior/Senior banquet.
The other day, I met up with Mrs. Bailey at her home and was beside myself with admiration. Here stood a lady who has her own archives at Blue Ridge Community College. Her fine-boned likeness is stitched into the quilt of honor in the Flat Rock Village Hall. I remarked about how nice she looked. “Well, I had to dress up a little,” she said, eyes a-twinkle. “I had dinner today with people I didn’t know.”
Then somehow or another we got on the subject of her sister, “the one who found her cat asleep in a frying pan on the stove.” Louise is good for a giggle, but she’s had her share of heartache in her years, having lost most of her family, including one of her sons. “You just have to keep going,” she said when asked how to cope with life’s inevitabilities. “Did I tell you about the redwing blackbird I saw at my feeder the other day?” We looked at the swarm of hummingbirds around the menagerie of red feeders on her front porch. “Do you know that one of those hummingbirds returns every year, for some mysterious reason, precisely on April 12?”