CU Alumna Writes Love Story Based in McDowell County
Athens, W.Va. – Step back in time to the 1950s, when young women wore dresses and young men noticed. McDowell County was the backdrop for a love story presented in Lucinda’s Mountain written by Adda Leah Davis.
Davis, author of Lucinda’s Mountain, spent three years writing the love story. “The love of McDowell County was my inspiration,” stated Mrs. Davis. “The people there need to know that they have such a rich heritage,” she continued. “I was hoping that my books would bring that to mind.”
Mountain State Press describes Lucinda’s Mountain as follows: Lucinda Harmon struggles to break away from the sheltering bonds of family and from the mountain traditions to which McDowell County still clung to during the 1950s. Her goal was a bigger and broader world through the realm of education. In striving for her goal, she encounters resistance from family, religious strictures, and traditional roles for women. She also struggles with the love of two men, one who challenges her to risk the unknown, and another who overwhelms her with possessive love.”
Lucinda’s Mountain is the first of a trilogy the author plans to write. “I’m on chapter 26 of the second book,” she noted.
Davis invited Concord University President, Dr. Jerry Beasley, to write an introduction. “Dr. Beasley and I served on a committee for the Civilian Conservation Corp and I rode with him several times,” Mrs. Davis stated. “In our discussions I sensed a love of West Virginia and this area that I felt myself, and I thought that nobody could do a better job with the introduction. I hated to ask him because it was an imposition on my part but I really appreciated it.”
Beasley, in the introduction, noted in part: “Here is not only a love story but a song to a people and a place that have seeped down into the author’s soul and reappeared on these pages. While McDowell County, West Virginia, invites song and story, only a keen and careful observer, aware of the unspoken language that passes between people who have lived for generations in places like Panther and Estep Ridge, should dare attempt it.”
Dr. Beasley spoke of the honor he felt by being asked: “In the first place it was an opportunity to read it, and that was a special treat because it talked about the dreams and challenges of a young woman in McDowell County who fell in and out of love with a dashing outsider and then she married a local fellow. Lucinda [the book’s main character] also talked about the challenges of teaching in a one-room schoolhouse and how she was helped by some of the students and some of the parents. We often wonder what living is like in different places in West Virginia and it really gave me a feel for what McDowell County was like.”
Beasley, who is from Summers County, noted similarities between the two counties, “My elementary school principal who went on to become the superintendent of schools has written a history of the one room schoolhouses over there. It also gives you a feel for what people went through to teach in those schools.”
He then cited other books he read about small schools, commenting that, “Teachers were more than teachers, they were mothers, they were social workers, they were parents, they were preachers … they did it all!”
Are there similarities between the author and the main character in the book? Mrs. Davis noted that, as a teacher in a one room school, she was sometimes described as a “chain rattler.”
“I suspect that there is a bit of autobiography,” chuckled Dr. Beasley.
Davis did admit that she had taken “bits and pieces” from her own life to develop the character. “A lot of the things that happen to Lucinda did happen to me, but it is not my story it is Lucinda’s story. I was 16 years old . . . from Paynesville . . . and, never really had been ‘off the mountain’ so to speak, so going to Welch then was like going to Chicago now.”
“I started out in one room schools and taught in the last one room school in McDowell County, on Bakers Ridge on a fork of Panther Creek. I remember that I had 14 students, and I have the bell from that school. That’s a real treasure!” she exclaimed.
Adda Leah Davis an alumna of Concord was an elementary school teacher for 28 years. Her last eight years in the school system were spent as a school counselor in a junior high school. During this time she married and raised four children while earning a bachelor of science in education, a master’s degree in curriculum planning, and then, 55 hours above a master’s to be certified as a school counselor in grades K through 9.
Since leaving the school system Mrs. Davis has written for two newspapers, worked six years in economic development, been a playwright director and started an oral history theater. She has also written and published five books and has been published in three anthologies as well as numerous other publications.
The book may be purchased from Mountain State Press in Charleston and other book vendors or from the author directly. Her address is 204 Valley Road, Rosedale, Va. 24280, or, she may be contacted through her web site: www.goldenharvestcreations.com.
PHOTO: Adda Leah Davis, author of Lucinda’s Mountain, and Dr. Jerry Beasley with a copy of the book