Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pink Plemmons' s Place

"Luck was next, another minuscule community, and Elizabeth smiled at the sign on a defunct grocery and feed store. Mr. Pink J. Plemmons's store might be shuttered but his name still endured, proudly blazoned in faded lettering on a sign that hung askew across the buildings facade. Till some antiques picker gets hold of it and sells it to a transplant to hang on their living room wall because it's 'quaint.'"
Well, I'm happy to see that the sign's still there and has been straightened up. I saw it four years ago when I was working on Old Wounds and was on my way over to Cherokee to do what passes for research.  

Luck's in an out of the way part of the county and I was surprised to get the following email a few days ago:

My wife and I have enjoyed your Elizabeth Goodweather books, all of which we've bought at the outdoor store in Hot Springs, NC.  I had gotten a great photo of the Pink Plemmons grocery in Luck, NC, and was blown away when I found it in one of your novels.  

Jim McBrayer was kind enough to let me use the picture of the store that he took back in June.

When Old Wounds first came out, I had a lovely email from a lady (was it Debbie?) who told me how as a child she had worked in her family's fields nearby and after work would be rewarded by money to go down to Pink Plemmons's store to buy a treat.  She, too, was tickled to see the mention of a familiar place.

But I still wonder where Pink got his name? Was it a nickname? (I picture him with light red hair and a sun-reddened face.) Or a family name, short for Pinkney... or Pinkham ... or ...

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Joan said...

How wonderful..Pink J Plemmons.. I am going to have to find your books Vicki..


Vicki -- what a coincidence that you got the email then the photo of the feeds and groceries store. I think the sign is a wonderful part of your rural heritage. I hope that folks leave it in place -- how can anyone enjoy it on someone's wall. -- barbara

Martin H. said...

"Till some antiques picker gets hold of it and sells it to a transplant to hang on their living room wall because it's 'quaint'."

Yes, what is that all about?

I'm forming a picture of Pink J. Plemmon, too. Great name.

Marilyn said...

I have just reading your website about your books, they sound wonderful. It's so good that Mr Pink J Plemmons sign is still hanging; what a fascinating name.

Brian Miller said...

i think it is cool when readers use real places like that and people can stumble upon them...its like another layer

Pat in east TN said...

When living in western NC, I used to pass that store many years ago on my way to parts of east TN. I remember that store and am glad to know the sign still hangs there.

There was such a store near our farm and growing up my boys greatest thrill was to go there after working tobacco or hay and getting a cold drink or ice cream. They still laugh around about their memories of those times.

Vicki Lane said...

Joan -- I don't know if NZ has Amazon but I know my books are on

Barbara - isn't it a great photo! It's by the same fella who sent the email.

What's really cool, Martin, is that a reader sent me a link to a Plemmons genealogy site, saying:

I, too, was curious about that name - Pink J. Plemmons. If you go to the attached URL and then click on the link for Bill Plemmons letter, you will find mention of a John Pink Plemmons. Could be the same guy. Seems Plemmons was a quite common name over in your neck of the woods.

Best, Bruce (Catalyst)

When you go there, the picture on the home page is a red-headed child, much as my imagined Pink Plemmons might have looked when young.

Marilyn -- As I told Joan, my books are on How I'd love to have readers in NZ!

Brian -- I use made up names for the settings that are close to home so no one fusses at me for putting a murder in their back yard. But I do love to reference real places. As you say, another layer...

Pat -My guys too have great (mostly) childhood memories of farm life. So do their cousins, thank goodness!

Now I'm off to help with Part II of the Great Chicken Massacree.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Vicki, how cool that Jim sent you the photo. It's so true that someday it will be hanging on someone's wall as an antique.

I've heard of Louisiana people being named "Pinkie," but I don't know the origin. Do you think in this case it was a nickname (perhaps that he got as a child) for Plemmon?

NCmountainwoman said...

That's so great. Pinkney used to be a very common first name where I grew up. And all the Pinkneys I knew were called "Pink." And they were all grownups. I never knew a child named Pink. One hardly ever hears it anymore.

I've never been to Luck but I'll have to find it one day when I'm out wandering.

Louise said...

I'm so excited. I have bad hands, and it can hurt to hold a book for any period of time. So, I just ordered a Kindle. Your books are on the top of my "must have" list.

Suz said...

this was fun to read
the saving of an old icon
from a town
and Pink...I love it

Michele said...

The summer here in Alberta has been cold and wet, with very few sunny hot days, and here we go into fall and then winter without our summer 'fix'. My summer was saved by your books, which I was led to by your blog. I love Elizabeth and the setting. I have never been to NC and I wondered if the places you named were actual places. It's nice to read about those that are. I am going to preorder Miss Birdie's book on, since there are no indie booksellers left anywhere locally, as well as the rest of your books, since it was the library's copies I read. I must have them in my own library for future revisiting. And I look forward to visiting NC in the near future - there have been so many references to it in my life in the past six months through various sources, when honestly, it wasn't on my radar before that. I looked in my atlas last night to see how far from the coast you are, considering the strenght of Earl, and am happy to see that you appear to be safe from hurricanes.

Deanna said...

I remember that well in your book because I thought "I'd be just one of those pickers because I'd love a sign like that". I do hope nobody removes it from the store.

They were tearing down a bank dating back to the 1800's in a little town where my MIL lived. Hubby wandered over and asked what they were going to do with the bank door - the incredibly stout and heavy bank door. The answer was the dump. Hubby brought that door home and it currently resides in our garage until a home can be found for it.

I often wonder where a person gets a nick name and usually if you meet the person face to face, the answer is very obvious.

Have a wonderful day!

jennyfreckles said...

It's a wonderful name - I can see why you used it. Luck is a nice name for a community too.

Vicki Lane said...

Hey Sam -- I don't know anything about Pink J. Plemmons -- the sign just caught my eye. In Louisiana, I'd be tempted to guess Pinkie was a nickname for a light-complected African America. (I think there was a book of this name way back.)

I'm guessing it might originally have been derived from Pinkney, NCmountainwoman.

Yay, Louise! I suspect there's a Kindle in my future -- much as I love 'real' books.

Thanks, Suz. I was so happy to see it was still there!

Oh, Michele! How nice of you to say that! I'm delighted to think that my Elizabeth is making a friend in Alberta. The place I'm writing about is very real -- though I changed the names of places nearest to me. Marshall County and Ransom are, in real life, Madison County and Marshall.

Deanna -- Oh, yes, if I saw that sign for sale at a flea market, I'd be sorely tempted. (In an antique store I'm sure it would be too expensive.) But I prefer it where it is.

Luck is just next door to Trust, Jennyfreckles.

Friko said...

It must be wonderful when one's own book brings such a lovely response.

dana said...

I am fascinated by steps in front of old doors. I was looking at your photo and did not notice the sign as much as the step. Can you think of anything grander than to visualize all the shoes (and bare feet) that crossed that threshold in its day?

When I was re-doing the 60 year old hardwood floors, I insisted on keeping the ones at the back door where a wheel barrow had once gouged grooves in them, being wheeled back and forth across the threshold.

I never knew anyone else who felt the same until I was in the woods behind my sister's house. I had walked the hills and came upon an old shed with a concrete looked familiar, if not a little out of place.

I later found out it was the headstone from my great grandmother's grave. She had been buried on that same hill, the gravestone and grave were displaced during a huge hill slide.

But its new home made wonderful use of it.

Martin H. said...

Thanks for the link, Vicki. How fascinating, to read about the Plemmons. And that child, just as you imagined.

Bethany said...

Vicki...Pinkney "Pink" James Plemmons was my great-grandfather (Nathan Tobias Plemmons)'s brother. They came from a large family in Spring Creek, Madison County. "Uncle Pink" passed away in 1975.

Vicki Lane said...

Bethany! Thank you so much for the comment! So it WAS Pinkney...

Bethany said...

You're welcome, Vicki! Glad to find someone who's writing books set in our mountains...I love this place I call home! :-)

Anonymous said...

I don't know Bethany, but Pink J. Plemmons was my great-grandfather, and he was a wonderful man. His father named the town Luck, and he was the first postmaster in town. They worked hard, and were some of the greatest people that ever lived. It's amazing to hear folklore out on the internet that may not even be truth, but I am proud that his store still stands.

Vicki Lane said...

Hello, Anonymous -- you and Bethany must be some sort of cousins then.