Audios

Album Cover
Short Story: The Salter Path Book (un-narrated)
You may read the story for free !
Salter Path CD
Released: Apr 28, 2014
Label: Mark Fielding Darden
Track Listing
1 The Salter Path Book

Liner Notes

THE SALTER PATH BOOK

Will This Town Survive?
Songs from Salter Path, NC
Fielding and Friends
©1/1/2005


Introduction

My name is Mark Fielding Darden. Folks around here call me Fielding. When I was a boy, they called me Mark. Take your pick. I was born and raised along the banks of the Panama Canal from 1953 until 1976. As of this project, I am 52 years old, with two great kids and an amazing wife.

The little town I grew up in was called “La Boca” which means “The Mouth,” because it was situated at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal. I lived there as a boy, fishing, hunting in the jungles, going to school, working paper routes, and playing the drums and guitar until I left “the Zone” for college in 1971. Following graduation from NC State, I spent the next 20 years of my working in restaurants, writing songs, and playing in bands all across America, always hoping to “hit it big.” I never did, dang it, but I don’t regret any of it. Every trail leads to here, and who knows… 

As fate would have it, the first song I ever learned to play was about a group of castaways lost at sea, Gilligan’s Island. And the first song I ever wrote was written while sitting on the banks of the Panama Canal watching ships go by. The ocean has always played a big part in my life. As a very young boy, I spent many a day roaming the coast and fishing in my little 12 foot aluminum boat. It had a 6 horsepower Johnson outboard, and sometimes we’d find ourselves 5 miles out on the ocean. It had a mind of its own, that tiny box-called-a-boat. That’s what I told my mom, anyway.

As a teenager, I joined the Sea Scouts, which was a rag-tag group of kids if there ever was one. The U.S. Navy gave us an old P.T. boat with two 671 diesels. The Navy even paid for the fuel and paint. All we had to do was keep it running. We didn’t even have to wear uniforms. As long as someone on board had a boat license and there was one adult with us over eighteen, we could go 100 miles out to sea. And we did…. for days! The first shark I ever caught was a 12 ½ foot tiger shark. Another time, a huge manta ray hooked itself in our anchor and almost sank us on a reef. I could tell true fish stories for hours. Though these songs are about Salter Path, they reflect many of the days I spent growing up and rambling the banks of the Panama Canal.

That was a long time ago. Panama is gone for me now, but somehow Salter Path seems to have adopted me. Or maybe I adopted Salter Path out of loneliness. 

But let me clear about this: These songs are about the people of Salter Path. They are about their simple but hard past, their life now, and the future sell-out of the town that is bearing down on them like a hurricane off the coast. Will this town survive?

Though I don’t remember much about it, I first visited Salter Path some 30 years ago while in college. That would have been around 1975. I remember sometime later in the 80’s hearing of a huge revival that was sweeping the coast, emanating from the little Methodist church in Salter Path on Shore Drive. Story goes that the singing and playing was nationally acclaimed, not to mention all the folks that were getting saved. It was a big deal. And it was real. Then the preacher died in the pulpit one night, right in the middle of confronting “sin” in the choir. As Andy Griffith would say, “Don’t that beat all?”

Sometime around 1998, my wife and I were exploring the little paths here and there in the town when we came to a stop at the end of Shore Drive. This is the road along the sound where the church is located and where The Crab Shack, Willis’s Seafood, and Homer’s Point can be found today. I saw a “For Sale” sign nailed to a twisted oak. Peering beyond, I spied a dilapidated, pea-green doublewide, a pile of scallop shells and fish crates burning in the yard. What a smell! There was an old swing hanging from a misshapen oak, and oddly, the swing faced the road, not the sound. (I thought about that for a long time.  See “Here in Friendly Salter Path”.) I looked again at the lot, and suddenly saw a beautiful piece of land with an incredible view of the sound. We bought it that afternoon. 

Little did I know how that purchase would change my life. Looking back, I clearly see that the hand of Providence was at work. We cleaned up the land, moved the doublewide off, and brought in 50 loads of dirt, plants, landscaping, and a dock. Over the years, we also added a camper and then a shed, which is where most of this project was recorded. The rest of the work was engineered back in Oxford, NC, where we live most of the year.

As soon as we bought the land, we began to realize that all the neighbors were very friendly and personable. We especially noticed their thick, brogue accent, a holdover from the English heritage that had been isolated on the coastal islands. (They also use the word “to” instead of “at” on a regular basis.) And we immediately began to hear stories about everyone, some good, some sad, but all of them truly interesting. Over the years, we made friends with many of these fine people, including the kids that still live there and rule the roost. We also discovered a huge quantity of incredibly talented people that you will hear on this CD. And there are many more people with talent to be tapped!

We have decided to call this project “Will This Town Survive?” because the town is now poised at a crossroads in history.

Vast quantities of money are being offered to these humble squatters and descendants of squatters in an effort to get them to sell. Many cannot resist. Others see this as a way to cash out and live a quiet retirement elsewhere, away from the fear of storms and impending development. That’s how we ended up with our land. Don Smith, one of the original descendants, sold it to us then moved to the mainland. Chances are, all that money’s gone now. Hey, we might have to sell someday too. But I sure hope not.

In the next section of this book, I will explain some of the songs and how they came to be written. I didn’t start out with a concept to create a CD about the town. I simply started writing songs about what I was hearing and seeing. The entire village seemed to take us into their inner circle of loves and hates, and hurts and laughs. Later, I realized these songs were a real treasure that had somehow transcended me and needed to be shared. So many Americans can identify with the history of this town and these people. They may have different names, stories and accents, but America was made of the same salt that was used to build Salter Path. 

Almost all the songs are based on true events and real people, although “Romey Tye Frost,” one of the characters who floats through the stories, was created from several people in the town. Every song is filled with musicians and singers from Salter Path. I wrote, engineered, and produced all but one of the songs. Sunday 1895 was co-written with Mick Purdy, my good friend and piano buddy.

Most of the tracks were performed by people from Salter Path….. not counting the local birds and waves! I will use (SP) to denote those musicians from Salter Path, and (NSP) for those near Salter Path, such as Morehead City and other nearby towns.


Special Thanks and Credits

There are many people to thank, but I’d like to start with my wife. She has allowed me to buy the equipment, including a 16 x 42 foot modular building, and has let me spend countless hours away from her and the family without complaining. Although I do most of my work very late at night or early in the morning, my time with her and the kids is still less than it used to be. Thank you, Beth, for supporting and believing in me. Thank you for sacrificing your dreams for mine. I know that’s what you’ve done, and I’ll never forget it. God won’t either.

Thanks to my kids who never grow tired of listening to test versions of the songs, and to my daughter, Matti, who helped me write the words to The Women of Salter Path.”

Thanks to all the musicians and singers who are listed below. I am continually stunned at the talent that has come together to make this project what it is. And most of it came from a little town on the coast of North Carolina called Salter Path. This is a town with one road running through it, with sandy paths leading to singlewides and old frame homes tucked under the oaks. Fishing boats lie in many of the yards. Shore Drive is a short, sandy road leading to several homes along the sound, including ours. It was from this one little 800 foot path that most of the talent from this town was born.  The town is only about a quarter mile long with the ocean on one side and the sound on the other. The ocean and sound are just 600 feet apart. Most every yard is neat and everyone works a real job somewhere. There is little or no welfare in Salter Path.

Bill McDonald: I will mention many people, but one person who must be singled out as one of the main reasons this CD was made possible is Bill McDonald. Bill is from Morehead City and grew up on Emerald Isle. (Morehead is across the sound on the mainland, and Emerald Isle is at one end of the island with Atlantic Beach on the other. Salter Path is in the middle.) It was Bill who originally told me what equipment to buy so that I could record these songs. And it was Bill who showed me how to use the equipment. He also came to Salter Path during several of the recording sessions and helped me squeeze out the tracks from the local musicians in “the shed.” He gave me recording advice and taught me tricks of the trade along the way. One night near the end of this project, my computer crashed and all the tracks were not only in jeopardy, but seemingly corrupted and gone. Bill drove all the way to my house that night (2 hours away) and worked until 2 AM until he had figured out the problem and restored the tracks. Then he drove home, arriving at 4 AM, to get ready for his 7 AM recording session with one of his clients, all the while being on call with his real job. Bill has been a great friend and inspiration. Thank you, Bill McDonald.

Dwayne Salter: Dwayne has played piano since he was 3 years old. I will tell you more about him later below. But for now, just let it be said that this guy can honky-tonk with the best of the best. And he can play gospel with anointing. Ain’t no one he can’t sit down and play with. Looking at his fingers, you’d never guess it. Cuts, grease, scars, nobbly, not pretty. But… man can they tinkle them ivories! And Dwayne is such an open book. It’s all right there, at least for me. He’ll tell you everything if you’ll just care. I have only known Dwayne about 6 months as of this writing and recording, but I feel like we grew up together. He does too.

Mark Pittman: A naturally awesome guitar player. He also grew up on Shore Drive in Salter Path. He plays straight out of his heart and fingers. No ego, all humility. Very quiet, polite man, bangs nails for a living. He can play fast and he can play slow. He can play electric and he can flat pick. Every time I hear him play, he just floors me. He’s a natural talent who loves music. He’s one of those players who simply hears it in his heart and lets it flow out of his fingers. Dwayne Salter originally started him playing back-up guitar in bar bands when Mark was about 13 years old. One night the lead player failed to show and Dwayne told Mark to take over. The lead player lost his job that night. I can’t wait to record more songs with this super-fine guitar player. You should see how all the kids in the town idolize him, yet pride never shows on his face or in his personality. He’s the real deal. Mr. Polite with Doc Watson/ Chet Atkins fingers.

Dale Nelson: One of Mark’s best friends these days is a fellow called Dale Nelson. Dale only began playing and singing a few years ago, but he sure has done well for such a short time. Dale plays bass and sings lead with Mark in their band along Bogue Banks. Dale’s got a great voice and a friendly disposition. I’m talking about good ol’ boys here. Check out Dale’s singing and playing on “Will This Town Survive?”

Charles Smith: Charles is also from Shore Drive in Salter Path and is a terrific bass player and singer. Charles, Dwayne, and Mark all started in the little Methodist Church in Salter Path. Dwayne still plays at that church, and Charles plays at the other church in Salter Path, called the Crystal Coast Worship Center. All these boys can sit down to all new music and hit it off just right on the first take. Charles is easy to work with and can put down tracks one after the other without flaw. He’s also a super-friendly, non-assuming fellow. He came to visit us in Oxford to record, where we ate big rib-eyes, chicken, and Bogue Sound scallops on the grill for days.

Ryan Baysden: Ryan has about the smoothest, southern country voice I’ve ever heard in person. A native of Salter Path and a very handsome fellow, I can see him actually going places in Nashville some day. I just heard that he was accepted on “American Idol” and is going to Hollywood to compete!! He and his mother, Taffy, are a perfect duo for lead and harmony voices. Listen to the great job he did on Sunday 1895. Ryan and his dad built my dock, or what’s left it after the hurricane came through.

Taffy Baysden:  Taffy sings alto every Sunday in her church, The Crystal Coast Worship Center, in Salter Path. No wonder it was so easy for her to put down a harmony track over her son, Ryan. Chances are, if you can hear a lower harmony on any of the songs, it’s Taffy singing.

Amy Millhouser: I first heard Amy sing at an outdoor birthday party on, (can you guess?) Shore Drive in Salter Path. She came out of the huge crowd of kids around midnight at the band’s request (Mark and the boys) and belted out Janis Joplin’s Me and Bobby McGee. I just stood there stunned. How many more surprises was I going to find in this town? Here it was midnight, kids and mosquitoes everywhere, and this 5 foot girl walks up and sings like a seasoned professional. When I wrote The Women of Salter Path, I immediately thought of her to sing it. And what a job she did. 

Clyde Maddox: Clyde and his dobro came to me by way of Bill McDonald who has recorded with Clyde for years. Clyde is a true Nashville pro who now resides back in his old home state of North Carolina, Kinston to be exact. Besides recording here and there on the side, he also plays pedal steel full-time with Super Grit Cowboy Band. Thank you, Clyde, for some of the prettiest, inspired dobro playing I have ever heard.

Vickie Lewis: Vickie and Amy are cousins and share four generations of living women in Salter Path. Vickie is responsible for gathering most of the old pictures of the town that you will see in the book.

Ted Willis: Ted is also from Shore Drive in Salter Path and currently teaches music in a nearby town on the mainland. His mother, Faye (Smith) Barnett was in the choir the night Reverend Reynolds died. Her story is told in several locations throughout the songs, but for privacy sake, I won’t say where or what. Ted is very talented but didn’t get to play much because he was with students on an overseas musical trip during most of the recording. 

Milton Gore: Milton is an old friend who has played and recorded with me since college days. He played a unique lead on Romey Tye Frost as well as the bass on that song. Thanks, buddy.

Kristen Kester: Kristen is also an old friend and adds so much to every song she touches. Her high soprano can be heard on many of the songs. In some cases, I swear it sounds like angels are joining her. Kristen is also a lot of fun to record with because she can handle rewinding, multi-tracking and other fast-moving studio work with ease. And she comes up with some great ideas too

Clifton Preddy: Clifton Preddy is a Granville Count, NC, boy who is well-known all across the state. A fine Christian man, Clifton is modest and kind in the sharing of his talents with me. He’s another fellow that Bill McDonald introduced me to. Thanks, Clifton. I owe you.

Mick Purdy: Mick plays piano with me in our little praise and worship team here in Oxford, NC. Mick came to me with the basic melody of Sunday 1895 and a few lyrics. I took that and went back in time to create the rest of the song. I also added the hook, “And His light shines easy on my soul.” Mick is in the United States Air Force and will be leaving soon for Iraq. Remember to pray for all of our soldiers, including my friend, Mick. 

Josh McLamb: Josh also comes to me by way of Bill McDonald. Playing stand-up bass, he really nails it on the bluegrass tunes. But he does his finest work on Bogue Isle Belle which is full of hard chord changes and modulations. Remember that stand-up basses do not have frets. You have to really know what you’re doing to play one of those. Thank you, Josh. I appreciate your work on this project.

Of course, I must thank God for giving me the talent to write stories and melodies, and for giving me a persistent nature that never stops planning, creating, thinking, and doing. I am not at peace without a project. Actually, I need two or three at a time to really get relaxed.

Once, in the past, I was being given a blood pressure test for insurance purposes. It was early in the morning and the nurse told me to relax and be still. After she took the reading she looked worried and said it was very high. Knowing me fairly well, she then told me to get up and go for a quick walk. She said I was to think about everything I had to do that day and then come back slightly winded. I did so, after which she took my blood pressure again. It was perfect. I was born to be busy. Thank you, Lord, for who you made me to be. Thank you for saving me from myself. Thank you for these songs. May they bless many people and honor you for generations to come. 


The Songs and The Stories

As stated several times already, many of the singers and musicians are either from Salter Path or locations nearby. Not only did I want to authenticate the project with real people from the town, these players are about the best I could have ever found anyway! Those from Salter Path will show (SP). Those nearby will show (NSP).


The Salter’s Story

Dwayne Salter (SP): piano, story-teller
Birds and waves (SP): birds and waves

The first song on the CD is called The Salter’s Story and it is the brief history of the town and its people. Dwayne Salter tells us the story as he plays his piano. Here are the words:

The Salter’s Story

My name is Dwayne Salter. My daddy played piano and so did his daddy, and so do I. These songs are about our home, Salter Path, a small fishing village off the coast of North Carolina on a twenty-mile stripe of sand known as Bogue Isle.

We migrated here in the 1800’s, many from another village north, called Diamond that had been blown away by storms. The families were of English descent, mostly Willis, Guthrie, Pittman, Frost, Smith, Lewis and Salter blood.

There was once a path from the sound to the sea where  we used to carry feesh. It passed by Riley Salter’s house so it was called Salter Path. There were no roads until the mid 1900’s. All we had was boats. 

We ate feesh and anything we could catch, even robins and yellow hammers. And they ate good. Cattle roamed free in the winter months, swimming back across the sound to the mainland every spring.

When ships floundered offshore, supplies from heaven would wash up, including timber to build homes and sometimes food. Granddaddy once found a piano on the beach in a big crate, but that’s another story.

We married, raised children and died here, building our homes wherever we wanted. We didn’t have deeds back then.

Our story is really the tale of every little town in America that’s fast disappearing. The charm of those days has passed. The innocence is gone. America’s not the same.

But for now, come play with us. Let these stories soak into you like the sun, strolling down the beach.

Most of the music you’ll hear was performed by people from Salter Path. We hope these songs and stories will add a little Salt to your Path. Thanks for listening.

Fielding Darden
© 2004 Salter Path, NC  

Dwayne Salter has played piano in Salter Path since he was old enough to reach the piano with his daddy. Eventually, Dwayne would play piano and his father would play organ in the church.

Dwayne is a friendly, outgoing fellow with a ready smile and rough hands, full of cuts and grease from his real job as manager of the tire department at Wal-Mart in Morehead City, NC. You would never guess those hands could play the piano like they do. But after 10 minutes of conversation, it becomes clear his destiny was piano. For years, people have come from miles away to hear Dwayne play. To this day, he plays every Sunday in the Salter Path Methodist Church on Shore Drive. Dwayne has become a good friend of mine and is working on a collection of hymns in my studio. Perhaps you would like one? Call or email us for information! 

Dwayne’s a mighty nice fellow, but like all of us his past is checkered, or so he tells me. He was there the night Reverend Foster Reynolds died in the pulpit. Dwayne tells me he was a little worried about what the preacher was going to say next, if you know what I mean….

On another note, Dwayne’s grandfather, Joshua Salter, really did find a piano in a big crate on the beach. It was buried way down in the sand and he kicked it while bringing in nets at night during mullet season. He couldn’t tell how big it was or what it was so he got an axe and started into it. Every time he hit the box, it would ring out across the beach into the dark night. As he toiled, the eerie ringing would taunt him and he would curse it, saying, “Ring, damn you, ring!” Unfortunately, Joshua didn’t realize what was in the crate until after the waves had crashed into it and destroyed it. Turned out to be a huge, grand piano from Europe, thrown overboard by a freighter in a storm, trying to lighten its load.

One last note about The Salter’s Story. In the year 1900, a census was taken and it shows that 22 families were living in Salter Path at the time. Everyone in Salter Path simply squatted on the land. Today’s date is September 2005. As recently as just 25 years ago, the town folk only had to spy a parcel of land they liked and they could start building on it. I bought my land from a man who never had a deed until the county “granted” him one so they could collect taxes from him. Same with everyone else in Salter Path before 1979.


Strollin’ Down a Sunny Stretch of Beach

Fielding Darden: acoustic rhythm guitar, lead and harmony vocals, whistle
Dwayne Salter (SP): piano
Josh McLamb: stand-up bass
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals

The next song on the CD is called Strollin’ Down a Sunny Stretch of Beach. This is a whimsical tune about a young man who wishes his gal was with him, just a’strollin’ down the beach.  The melody for this song came from my days playing drums in musicals as a boy in Panama. One of the musicals was called “Ode to Irving Berlin.” Irving Berlin was one of the best lyricists and songwriters of the 20th century, influencing even the Beatles. He wrote many songs, including Easter Parade, White Christmas, Blue Skies, and Dancing Cheek to Cheek. The words for Strollin’ came from both Panama and my life in Salter Path. Here are they are:

Strollin’ Down a Sunny Stretch of Beach
   
Can you feel the sand between your toes?
Can you smell the sea?
Can you hear the waves a’ rolling in?
Strollin’ down a sunny stretch of beach

Do you love to splash along the shore?
Clouds just out of reach
Won’t you come and play with me today?
Strollin’ down a sunny stretch of beach
                                      
I miss your hand in mine, I miss your kiss
I long to have you hold me tight, but it’s you I really miss

I like to drag my toes along the sand
With you I long to be
Sea gulls singin’ out a song of love
Strollin’ down a sunny stretch of beach

Will you hold my hand and walk awhile?
Take a stroll with me?
Won’t you come and play away the day
Strollin’ down a sunny stretch of beach

Fielding Darden
© 9/19/04 Blue Creek Valley Farm, NC


Don’t You Want to Go to Glory

Fielding Darden: acoustic rhythm guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Taffy Baysden (SP): alto harmony vocals
Ryan Baysden (SP): harmony vocals
Josh McLamb: stand-up bass
Mark Pittman (SP): lead guitar
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro
Bill McDonald (NSP): banjo
Clifton Preddy: fiddle   

The next song on the CD is called “Don’t You Want to go to Glory?” This song is about the actual night Reverend Reynolds fell dead in the pulpit of the Salter Path Methodist Church just as he was about to expose sin in the choir, or so they say. That happened in 1989. Two different people, including someone in the choir who was part of the story, and the widow of the preacher himself, told me this story so I’m stickin’ to it.

It was a night of singing, mostly, and the choir was in place with Dwayne at the piano. The singing was almost over when the Reverend got up to speak. He spoke for a while, rambling a bit, working his way to the point. Then he oddly stopped and stated, “Folks, I feel closer to God right now than I’ve ever felt before. Don’t you want to go to Glory?” He then fell backwards, pulling the pulpit over on himself, dead as a doornail.

(Another preacher, named John Henry Willis, died in the same pulpit some 60 years earlier. His last words were, “Well, I’ve done all I can do.”)

I don’t feel called whatsoever to become a preacher in Salter Path.

When the Reverend collapsed, of course everyone went hysterical and the night was never forgotten. They buried the poor man but life did not return to normal in the congregation. The choir split right after and so did the church. To this day, there is a sorrow and wonder over the whole thing. The song makes the story a little lighter than it actually was, but his widow approved of it when I played it for her so it stands as it is. Mrs. Reynolds still lives on Shore Drive next to Dwayne’s mother.

Don’t You Want to Go to Glory?

There’s a town down on the ocean, Salter Path is the name
Where church folks sing like robins and preachin’ is acclaimed
There’s a tale about a Reverend who befell an awesome fate
It started in the choir, but it ended in the grave

Story goes that there was sinning, hanky panky in the choir
When the Reverend went to tell it, he got too close to the fire
He said, “Folks, there’s something screwy goin’ on in this place,
And the Lord is gonna change it, gonna throw it in your face!”

Don’t you want to go to Glory? Don’t you want to meet my friend?
Don’t you want to walk with Jesus? Don’t you want to be with him?

His final words were, “I’ve never felt this close to God,
Don’t you want to go to Glory?” then he fell dead on the spot
The church split right after and the choir went on its way
But late at night if you listen, you can hear that preacher say:

Don’t you want to go to Glory? Don’t you want to meet my friend?
Don’t you want to walk with Jesus? Don’t you want to be with him?
Yes, I want to go to Glory, and I want to see the light,
And I want to go to Heaven, but I don’t want to go tonight!
Lord, please don’t make me go tonight!

Fielding Darden
© 2003 Salter Path, NC


I Wanna Go Feeshin’

Fielding Darden: acoustic rhythm guitar, harmonica
Mark Pittman (SP): lead guitar
Ryan Baysden (SP): lead vocal
Taffy Baysden (SP): harmony vocal
Charles Smith (SP): bass guitar

The setting for this song was around 1960, about the time Viet Nam was in full swing and the country was waking up from its post WW-II nap. Life on the Outer Banks was insulated. They heard the news and understood the times, but things were still in a slow-motion mode, waiting on the tides of time.

The kid in this song goes fishing with his daddy, who was an Old Salt from before outboard motors were invented. Back then, Ma and Pa made their own fishing nets. Their hands were so scarred and fishy from cleaning “feesh” that they would sometimes get “feesh-sick” and have to lay out for a week or more to get over it.

There’s something about a kid and fishing. There’s something even deeper about a kid and his dad fishing. An unspoken peace comes from being out on the water with your father. Dad is spending special time with you that you’ll never forget. Every kid wants to return to this place in his dreams.

My dad was a big, jungle deer hunter and thought fishing was boring. That was until someone introduced Venezuelan bass into the freshwaters of the Panama Canal. These voracious feeders quickly took over every inch of the Canal, which until recently, was the largest manmade lake in the world. You could catch 20 of these lunkers before breakfast, with a huge fight on every fish. They were everywhere. After several years of bringing home large quantities of fish, I finally convinced my dad to ditch his hunting buddies one Saturday and go fishing with me. We went up the Canal to some of the bays and bayous which are completely surrounded by jungle, and caught dozens of huge bass.

As the day was ending, my father made one last cast towards the shoreline. (You’ll see why it was the “last cast” shortly.) He accidentally hooked some bushes overhanging the water’s edge. True to form, he snatched at the line hoping to free it from the foliage. About that time we both saw a huge wasp nest hit the water at the end of his line. When I surfaced from the lake, I could not see my father anywhere and became momentarily worried. But then I saw his hand holding his wallet just out of the water as he lay submerged beneath the surface in safety. (That’s my only fishing story about my dad, so I had to tell it.)

Fishing was indeed a hard life back in the early days of Salter Path. Every good Salter Path father back in those days would have encouraged his kids to find a safer and better life. But the heart of a boy never quits beating. And every Salter Pather I’ve known still loves to catch and eat feesh………. especially Nathan Smith.

Scalloping: Nathan Smith and Tony Frost taught me how to gather scallops along the flats in the sound. There’s a trick to everything, you know. First you get some good water shoes. Otherwise you’ll cut your feet on something, usually sooner than later. There are tons of old un-fired, rusty mortars all around the islands from previous military maneuvers. The very first time I ever jumped off the boat, I kicked one and did three stitches worth of damage. Anyway, get some good gloves, too. And you’ll need a scallop knife and a net-bag to carry them. A good set of binoculars and a bikini-clad look-out is pretty important too. Seems the best time to find scallops is also when the Scallop-Cop doesn’t want you to find them. So you kinda gotta sneak out there, you know…

So here’s what you do: You find the sea beds out in the sound that look nice and healthy. You anchor your boat out in the water where it can’t get grounded and you jump in (with water shoes). Take your time walking through the sea-weed and pay attention to what you are stepping on. The water should be from knee to thigh high. As you walk, sweep your feet from side to side, feeling for something that feels like the top half of a golf ball. If you are in a good spot, this won’t take long. Hold it down with your foot and then reach down and grab it.

A scallop is shaped like the classic seashell you see on the “Shell” gas sign. One side of the shell is white from lying in the sand. The other side is green from facing up into the seaweed. When you pick them out of the seaweed and sand, they will usually be “snapping” their two shells together in an attempt to squirt themselves away. The muscle that connects the two shells does the snapping is the part you are after. Although they don’t have teeth, the shells can definitely pinch you and draw blood if you’re not careful. But it doesn’t take long to master the art of holding them without getting hurt. They’re not like crabs that can actually reach out and get you.

You put them in your bag and move on, stepping lightly here and there as you go. You have to keep an eye out for stingrays (or skates, as they are also called), because they are out there hunting the scallops too. But they usually see you way before you see them and quickly move away.

After you have the scallop in your hand, you may want to simply insert the knife into the shell while he’s flapping and scrape the blade against the dirty shell to cut the muscle from that shell. Then rip that shell off and take a look. The guts of the critter are wrapped around the white scallop meat. Gingerly take your knife and remove these from around the white meat. What you’ll have left in your hand is the clean shell with a beautiful chunk of white, clean meat still attached to the shell.

Now you can either cut it off the shell and eat it, or drop it in a clean location for later. It is not slimy, but very easy on the mouth to bite. Not gross at all. And the flavor of a raw scallop right out of the bay is deliciously buttery and salty. Very good. I usually take them back to the shore, where I clean them as above and then freeze a couple dozen at a time in sound water. Later, I plop them on the grill back home with a little butter, garlic and lemon juice and let them stew up in the shell until the shell turns slightly brown, with the meat still connected to the shell. Then we serve them as hour ‘dourves for special occasions, to be taken finally from the shell with a little spoon. Of course you can go ahead and remove them prior to cooking and then sauté them in a pan with butter. Either way, they are the best little scutters you ever plopped in your mouth!

I Wanna Go Feeshin’

I remember the first time Daddy took me fishin’
We went offshore about a mile from our home
We put our lines out somewhere in the Gulf Stream
And caught fish all day till we had to dodge a storm

Daddy made his living out on the ocean
But that night he held me in his lap and said, son
I want you to get an education
 I don’t want you to be a fisherman

And I looked at him and I said, Daddy…
I wanna go back to the boat, I wanna go fishin’
I wanna go back to the place that feels like home
(1) I tell you what I wish, I wanna catch some fish
(2) I wanna be a kid again, I wanna go fishin’
(3) I wanna sit in Daddy’s lap, I wanna hear those waves slap
I wanna go back to the boat, I wanna go home
I wanna go back, back to the boat, I wanna go home

Sure enough, Daddy had his way and sent me packin’
Off to the mainland, headed off to school
The war started in my first semester
They handed me a gun, and taught me to shoot

I did my time, don’t wanna talk about it
The years slipped by and my life did too
Daddy worked his hands to the nubbin
I guess he thought his wish came true
But one night I called him, and I said, Daddy…

Fielding Darden
© 4/5/2005 Salter Path, NC


Welcome Aboard

Fielding Darden: rhythm acoustic guitar
Ryan Baysden (SP): lead vocal
Taffy Baysden (SP): alto harmony
Charles Smith (SP): bass
Dwayne Salter (SP): piano, strings
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro

This melody for this song came upon me while driving down the road one dark night, headed home. I was just passing the “chicken yard” on Highway 96 near Oxford, NC, when the melody popped into my head. I went straight home and began singing. (If I don’t “capture” the song quickly, I will lose it every time.) The song reflects the life of a lonely fisherman… out on the ocean, usually at night, trouble in every wave, alone in a tiny boat, scared. But we have a Friend who will help us navigate through this storm of life, if we will only ask him. I can identify with that tiny boat.

Welcome Aboard

It’s a hard life a’fishin’, it’s lonely out on the sea
If your ship is tossed and you’re feelin’ lost
Then you’re just like me

It’s lonely out on the ocean, it’s cold and dark and blue
But there’s a man who understands
He’s a Fisherman too

Welcome aboard, welcome aboard, My Friend
For the storm of life is too much for me
Welcome aboard, Captain

It’s lonely out on the ocean, workin’ out on the deep
Where the wind is strong and the journey long
And the boat is so tiny

Yes it’s lonely out on the water, it’ll take you to your knees
But I hold the hand of The Man
Who measured out the seas

Welcome aboard, welcome aboard, My Friend
For the storm of life is too much for me
Welcome aboard, Captain

Fielding Darden
© 3/2004 Salter Path, NC


Ding Dang Dong:

Fielding Darden: rhythm acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Josh McLamb: stand-up bass
Ryan Baysden (SP): harmony vocals
Taffy Baysden (SP): harmony vocals
Mark Pittman (SP): lead acoustic guitar
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro
Clifton Preddy: fiddle

This is a fun little song about life in Salter Path, probably 50 years ago or more. There really were “feesh” houses along the sound. In one case, they had a trolley to convey the fish from the ocean to the sound for cleaning and packing.

Homer’s Point kind of symbolizes Salter Path. It was one of the first fish houses on the shore and, until Ophelia recently blew it away, the back half of the building still had the concrete floor, work tables, and chutes where they cleaned fish and scallops.

As the scallops were cleaned, the shells and guts would be dropped down the chutes under the building where a small bulldozer and backhoe would push and carry them to the shoreline nearby. As the years passed, this refuse actually created a point of land to the rear of Homer’s Store. Gravel was brought in over the tops of the shells and it is now a marina. My lot at the end of Shore Drive was created the same way. Dig down four feet and you’ll hit impenetrable layers of shells.

There is actually a fish house still standing out in the sound on what’s left of an island. It is built way up on stilts. They would clean scallops out there so that the leftovers could simply be dropped into the sound to be eaten and swept away naturally. 

Although cleaning fish and scallops is largely done elsewhere now, every year there is a season where the locals jam the little fish houses and make extra money for a few weeks. Everything kinda stinks around town during that time because they still just push the mess out to the shoreline and leave it. Sometimes they burn it. Then the whole town kinda smells like burnt fish guts. But everyone gets used to it. That’s Salter Path. 

Anyway, the young man in this story was like all the other men of that day: Eager to fall in love and start a family. Working full time as soon as he could row a boat or use a knife without cutting himself. The song tells the story better than I can, so I’ll just let it!

Ding Dang Dong

Started out life as a little bitty boy, ain’t no surprise in that
Daddy worked day and night for the man, momma raised us to do right

              (Chorus)                              

I’ll be  ding, I’ll be dang, I’ll be ding, dang, dong
Gotta be workin’ for the dollar
I’ll be ding, I’ll be dang, I’ll be ding, dang, dong   
Gotta be workin’ for the man

Turned thirteen and got me a job, workin’ down at the feesh house
Pickin’ them scallops and shellin’ them shrimp, all the live-long day

            (Chorus)

Turned sixteen and found me a gal, dark hair and fiery
Had three kids by twenty-one and life was in my hands

            (Chorus)

My wife ran off with the feesh camp man, and left me with the younguns
That was twenty years ago, and I’m still cleaning feesh

Fielding Darden
© 3/19/2004 Blue Creek Valley Farm, NC

           
Let the Rain Come Down

Fielding Darden: lead and harmony vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar
Charles Smith (SP): bass guitar, harmony vocal
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals
Mick Purdy: piano, strings
Clifton Preddy: fiddle

“Let the Rain Come Down” is a song about allowing God’s peace to wash over you, even in the midst of a storm. In fact, it actually embraces hardship as a purification and learning process. The song has an old-time feel to it as it hesitates near the last line in each verse.

Let the Rain Come Down

Let the rain come down, fall all around
Let the rain come wash my soul
Let the rain come down, fall all around
Let the rain come wash my soul
Wash my soul, my weary soul
Let the rain come falling down
Let the rain come down, fall all around
Let the rain come wash my soul

Let the lighting flash, fall all around
Let the lightning strike my soul
Let the lighting flash, fall all around
Let the lightning strike my soul
Light a fire, a holy fire
Hear the mighty thunder roll
Let the lighting flash, fall all around
Let the lightning strike my soul

Let the waves crash down, fall all around
Let the waves come wash my soul
Let the waves crash down, fall all around
Let the waves come wash my soul
Let the waves crash, the storm clouds blow
Let the waves come rolling in
Let the waves crash down, fall all around
Let the waves come wash my soul

Fielding Darden
© 4/2004 Blue Creek Valley Farm, NC

I wrote Rain on a twilight afternoon while looking out my window, across a 3 mile view of valleys and mountains. A wild storm had just begun to beat against our house. The whole family was sitting in apprehension as the lightning and wind blew into us. The windows were bowing in with pressure. It was a huge, scary storm and we were living in a single wide on the top of a hill at the time. Suddenly my little girl began to sing a quiet, homemade melody, “Let the rain come down….” That’s all I heard her sing and I knew a song was born. As I began to play, we forgot all about the storm.

I can only imagine what life must have been like in the 1800’s when hurricanes and nor’easters came blasting ashore in Salter Path. The trees are all short and rugged, mostly oaks, some a hundred years old, twisted into pretzel shapes and all leaning the same direction. If not for the dunes and oaks that sheltered the town, there would be no Salter Path today. As if the hurricanes were (are) not enough, at least a dozen times a year, brutal nor’easters come pounding across the sound, often causing more damage than the hurricanes, and always freezing cold. The sound has actually frozen all the way across, some 3 miles wide, at least five times in the last century. As Romey Tye would say, “You could walk slam acrost it during those times.”

Having owned land in Salter Path for a while now, I can tell you that the weather can change in a matter of moments. I have seen many a sunny day become 4 foot waves in the sound faster than I could secure my boat, with lightning everywhere. When the barbeque grill that you were just cooking on goes blowing across the yard in front of you, your perspective changes quickly. You buy bigger ropes, tie more knots, and eat fast. 

Imagine living in rickety little houses made of shipwreck-wood found on the beach. The year is 1895. No electricity, no warnings. Storms surprising you like monster goblins in the night. No one to help you but your friends and family when the damage is done. You’re out in the middle of nowhere, on an island in the hurricane highway. It was indeed a hard life, but one that made the whole town grow closer. That was and still is Salter Path. They argue between themselves, but you’d best not be a part of it. On the other hand, there is a peace the townsfolk have that comes from a Safer Harbor elsewhere.

9:00 PM, September 14, 2005: At the very moment of this writing, Hurricane Ophelia is pounding the sound side of Salter Path, with flooding and winds doing horrific damage. I just received word that parts of Willis’s Seafood House and Homer’s Point is gone, washed away. Some folks have taken shelter in Tony Frost’s home, sheltered in the middle of the isle between dunes and big trees. High tide is coinciding with the storm, so damage will be maximized. Everyone stayed in town because they don’t expect it to be a bad hurricane. 

Note: It has now been 24 hours since I wrote the above. I have found out that the entire town’s sound front was destroyed. Our dock is gone and the 18 foot boat I had was pounded into pieces and is no more. In fact, all the docks on the sound were destroyed, as were most of the boats. The water was 4 to 6 feet high, flooding most of the homes along the sound, and the debris from the damage was blown all across the town. They say the winds blew at 75 to 95 miles per hour for over 20 hours. Metal and concrete seawalls were blown up into the yards and the sand behind them sucked out to sea. Yards are no more. A wall of debris 10 feet high, 10 feet wide, and 200 feet long was pushed up into my yard and down my hedges. Mattresses, boat parts, ripped up wood, menus, chairs, you name it. The old-timers say that this is the worst storm to hit Salter Path they have ever seen or heard about. Look at the pictures in this book for more details. 


Here in Friendly Salter Path

Fielding Darden: Acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro
Dwayne Salter (SP): piano, strings
Charles Smith (SP): bass

This song is about several people, most of them still alive and well. Ted Willis was the inspiration for this song, however, and still puts his boat out everyday. He has hundreds of crab pots throughout the sound that he checks on daily. In the last few years, due to the slow down of his catch, he has also begun a small landscaping business. Every afternoon, the boys gather at “Ted’s shed” to discuss world-changing events. There is never any drinking going on and no one has ever said a cuss word. And I’m a big fat liar. 

Most of the men who depend on fishing for a living really do treat their boats like wives, making sure everything is just right. And most of the men in Salter Path are very good to their wives too. Some are very good to other’s wives…but we won’t go there.

Another man in this song is Don Smith, the man we bought our land from. When we bought it, there was a swing hanging from an oak in the yard. Don said the swing had been there for a couple of decades. It was made with big lumber and weighed a lot. We were perplexed, however, because it faced the driveway into the property and not the lovely sunset and sound. When I asked him why he had the swing facing that way, he said it was because he’d had his fill of the water by the end of the day, and all he wanted to see was who was going to come a’visiting.

We painted the swing and added new bolts here and there to strengthen it. When we went down there recently to see what damage the hurricane had done, the first thing I noticed was that the swing had been beat to pieces against the oak, and only rope and armrests remained.

The last part of this song kind of sums up the heritage that made up the community. There are other names now, like Baysden, Fiorini, and Barefoot, but these listed in the song were among the first.   

Here in Friendly Salter Path

I’m a simple fisherman
I put my boat out everyday
I check my crab pots and box my catch
I hail from friendly Salter Path

I’m a good man, I work hard
Got a good boat and woman true
I treat her just like a wife
And I’m good to my Salter Path woman too

Papa feeshed, Mama washed
Raised a family ‘tween the dunes
Sheltered from the storms of wrath
Here in friendly Salter Path

Got a swing, hangs to the shed
Spies the road, not the sound
I’m looking friends, I’m not lookin’ feesh
When that Salter Path sun goes down

I’m a Willis, and I’m a Smith
I got some Guthrie in my bones
They say there’s Frost and there’s Pittman too
But I’m a Salter through and through

Fielding Darden
© 8/6/2004 Salter Path, NC


Will This Town Survive?

Fielding Darden: acoustic guitar, harmonica
Mark Pittman: lead electric guitars
Dale Nelson: bass guitar, lead and harmony vocals

As I stated earlier, Homer’s Point somewhat symbolizes Salter Path. Every little town has a “hang-out” that the kids just seem to find and haunt. In Salter Path, that’s Homer’s Point. It’s just off Shore Drive in the middle of the town. When the night grows long and all the kids are too lit to drive, they somehow make their way to the point, where they can look for miles up and down the sound and count stars until the sun comes up. Because Bogue Isle runs east to west, you can see both the sunset and the sunrise from the point. The kids gather here and party, party, party. It’s their safe zone.

We bought our land from Don Smith, who sold it to survive. Mark Pittman, who plays guitar on this CD, sold his little home for enough money to move to the mainland and buy a nice home for his family. Dwayne Salter lives on the mainland now. So does Amy (Lewis) Millhouser and Charles Smith. Faye (Smith) Barnett and her husband Jim are selling their home next to my lot to do the same. And the trend continues. Tony Frost says he’ll stay until he gets what he wants for his. But Nathan Frost says he’ll never leave. If someone lays down a million dollars for his little doublewide that isn’t on the water, what will he do?

Will This Town Survive?

They say when Diamond ended, they moved to this place
Half a dozen blood lines, not knowing what they’d face
But now the sands of time have put gold in the race

    Will this town survive?
    Will they sell just to stay alive?
    Will the blood line see 2105?
    Will this town survive?
    Will this town survive?

And as the years went by, they worked hard to make this home
Facing wind and weather together, riding out the storms
But now the money calls and time seems to be running out

    (Chorus)

It’s been a hundred years since the heritage began
Since the Northern Bird made gold out of the sand
But if the town feeds the bird, the town will soon be gone

    (Chorus)

A hundred years from now, will Homer’s Point still stand?
Or will it be a condo owned by Arabians?
Will the kids still gather and let the good times roll?

Fielding Darden
© 2003 Salter Path, NC


Romey Tye Frost

Fielding Darden: acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Milton Gore: lead electric guitar, bass guitar
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals
Ted Willis (SP): organ, strings

In 2002, I was out looking at some land with Tony Frost who manages/co-owns Homer’s Seafood with Homer’s family. Tony married Anna, one of Homer’s daughters. Anna was also the inspiration for several of the songs. She’s the one with the “emerald eyes, dark hair, and fiery.”

Tony is one of the leaders in the town and a terrific guy. Their boats are named after Homer’s three daughters: The Frieda Marie, The Anna Marie, and the Alice Marie. He took me to a huge sandy knoll that was being developed on the east side of Salter Path, looking back across the bay towards Homer’s Point. Tony said that when he was a boy, he and his cousins would wiggle through the briars, oaks, and thistles to this hilltop in search of yellow-hammers. He explained that they would tie a long stick high up in a tree. The stick had a cross beam they could swing into place with a rope. Then they would sit under it and wait.

The yellow-hammer, which is a member of the woodpecker family, also called the yellow-shafted flicker, would light in the tallest place they could find to rest during their migration path southward. The boys would simply shoot them with twenty-twos as they would light along the way. They tasted like dove, Tony said. We walked a few feet farther and amazingly, there was a long pole still tied to an old oak tree. The cross beam was long gone, but the pole was still intact. Tony looked at me and smiled. It was still there, 40 years later. Tony would have smiled anyway; he’d just farted.

All kidding aside, (the pole really was there), let me tell you about Romey Tye Frost. Romey was created from several of the people I have met in the town. There’s to this day a Tye Frost and a Romey Willis in the town. In the next song, Bogue Isle Belle, Romey’s daughter gets married. Romey also gets born again in Sunday 1895. In this song, he tells the story of his life.

There was a certain spiritualism and alone-ness amongst the people during the early days on the Banks. The Civil War came and went and they never took sides nor fought. Their accent is still virtually British because of their long isolation on the banks. They did eat robins, loons, yellow-hammer woodpeckers, and more. Staying alive was hard to do, especially out there. They did build their homes from shipwrecked wood and warm their homes with driftwood. They did build wherever they wanted, never owning anything by deed. They did row all the way to Beaufort and back in one day. They did thank the ocean for sending flotsam to their shores. And the oaks, wind, sand, and rain really were like old friends to them. And they were thankful to God for what they had…and still are to this day.

Romey Tye Frost

My name is Romey Tye Frost
I was born to the Isle of Bogue Banks
I’m eighty years old and I’ve seen it all
And I still don’t know who to thank

I’ve eaten robin and loon
My yellow-hammer pole’s still tied by the shank
I feeshed all my life and outlived two wives
And I still don’t know who to thank

    So I’ll thank the sound and the sea
    I’ll thank the crooked oak tree
    I’ll thank the wind, the salt and the sand
    And I’ll thank the Lord for this land

I was here when there weren’t no road
No bridge from Morehead to lighten our load
We sailed with the wind to Beaufort and then
We rowed and we rowed our boats home

Was a time when cattle roamed free
And in Spring, swam back to Broad Creek
When rice and timber washed up on the bank
We never knew who to thank

Fielding Darden
© 4/2003 Oxford, NC


Bogue Isle Belle

Fielding Darden: acoustic guitar, lead and harmony vocals
Charles Smith (SP): bass guitar
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro

This is one of my favorite songs on the CD. The melody is built around far more chords than a typical song but doesn’t sound complicated. Then it modulates ! I also like the rhyming pattern through the song as well as the childlike love that develops between the song’s two characters. And the boy is so taken with his bride, his queen. That’s how it should be !

Bogue Isle Belle

When first I saw her, Romey Tye’s daughter was she
Flashing green eyes, she saw my surprise and I knew my destiny

Though I was just a boy, she was my secret joy, my dream
Days I would roam just to pass by her home, hoping to see those eyes of green

Sure as the tide, she became my bride, my queen
We’d go a strolling, both hands a holding, our hearts exploring the dream

No man, nor beast, Northeaster from hell
Could keep me away from my Bogue Isle Belle
No man, nor beast, Northeaster from hell
Could keep me away from my Bogue Isle Belle

One day a fury blew up in a hurry to dark skies
We found her boat and it was afloat, and all my hope just died

Now many years have come and gone, and I’m still here singing this song
On windy nights I hear her cry, and I can still see those emerald eyes

Fielding Darden
9/9/2003 Oxford, NC


Sunday 1895

Fielding Darden: acoustic rhythm guitar, harmony vocals
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals
Ryan Baysden (SP): lead and harmony vocals
Charles Smith (SP): bass guitar
Dwayne Salter (SP): piano
Mick Purdy: strings
Taffy Baysden (SP): alto harmony
Clyde Maddox (NSP): dobro
Mark Pittman (SP): lead guitar

There is no escaping the fact that traditional Christian faith has played a large part in the lives of these people. In the early days, preachers would come ashore and preach for a spell and then leave again when the weather began to sour. One preacher, named Alfred Bavis, was actually brave enough to stay for a while. He squatted on one of the little isles in Bogue Sound offshore from Bell Cove. Bell Cove was a little settlement just west of Salter Path that was eventually abandoned. Mr. Bavis lived on the island for a number of years, building a small shack and paddling ashore whenever he decided it was time to talk to people.

Sunday back then was an all-day occasion. The day would really begin on Saturday night, when the cooking started. Pies of all kinds could be smelled cooking from house to house as a Saturday evening began. Besides the usual yard bird (chicken) the villagers ate possum, coons, loons, free roaming pigs, ospreys, ducks, robins, and yellow-hammer woodpeckers. They also ate every kind of seafood they could find, and there was plenty to find.

The church service always had singing and playing, for that was the heart of Salter Path and still is. There was usually an invitation to get saved that took three or four verses of “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Softly and Tenderly”.

Of course the preacher was trying to catch the same old “fish” every Sunday, so that drove some of the crustier men to “the shed”. The shed has moved over the years, but it’s the out-building where the men gather when they aren’t working, so as to have a drink and talk about feeshin’ and wimmens. The present shed of this writing is in Ted Willis’s yard near Faye’s Beauty Shop where you can catch up on all the news you need to know in less than an hour. Of course they tell their wives it takes 2 hours. They’ve never charged me for a drink and always have something friendly to say.

Anyway, one Sunday, Romey Tye Frost found himself sitting in a pew, actually listening. The music was particularly good that morning and he slipped a quarter into the plate as the children came around. The year was 1895. The preacher had not arrived yet, seems his boat was facing a lot of wind that morning coming across the sound. Romey could hear the wind whirling the sand against the side of the new church building as he meditated on the stained-glass window to his left. He was thinking how ironic it was that the window had little to offer without the stain. How that was kind of like man, his character being formed by his mistakes and hard times.

Then the preacher arrived and the service was assured. He preached on loving one another and how Christ showed us that love by taking our place on the Cross. The preacher reminded the congregation that one of the last things Jesus told his disciples was that, “No greater love has any man than that he lay down his life for his brother.” And then Jesus did just that.

Somehow, this got to old Romey. After years of listening without hearing, he suddenly realized what God had done for him that day on the Cross. Eighty years old or not, when the invitation was given, Romey Tye Frost raised his hand and said yes to Jesus for the first time in his life. Every eye was closed and every head bowed, so no one even noticed, but God did.

Later that day the wind died down and several families went to the sandy knoll that used to be at the end of Shore Drive, overlooking a wide marsh and the sound to the west. (They didn’t know it then, but that knoll turned out to be an Indian burial mound!)

There, they spread out the blankets and picnic baskets and filled their tummies with good ol’ Salter Path fixins. They ate turnip salad, shrimp, fried mullet, fried chicken, greens, okra, ‘maters, cornbread, ‘tater salad, stuffed eggs, pies, and cakes, washed it all down with sugar-sweet tea. As the children played in the grass and along the sound, Romey reflected on what he’d done that morning. He knew it was a major moment in his life and his time on earth was never the same after that. He died a short time later at the ripe old age of 81 years. 

Sunday 1895

It’s a Sunday morning, folks are comin’ in
It’s been a long hard week, it’s time to rest again
It’s a Sunday morning, smiles are hard to find
But as the day unfolds, we’ll find a peace of mind  

It’s a Sunday morning, the light shines through the stain
The glass reflects the life, remindin’ of the pain
It’s a Sunday morning, the preacher’s running late
The choir sings a melody, the children pass the plate
   
They say life is a struggle, it’s a battle we must win
Our only hope is in him, and his light shines easy on my soul

It’s a Sunday morning, gave the invitation twice
Romey Tye raised his hand, and took the Gift of Life
It’s a Sunday morning, everyone was there
But as we stepped outside, the wind gave us a scare

They say life is a struggle, it’s a battle we must win
Our only hope is in him, and his light shines easy on my soul

It’s a Sunday evening, the families have come and gone
The children played for hours, we had dinner on the lawn
It’s a Sunday evening, tomorrow’s comin’ fast
I put my hope in Calvary and I tell my smile to last

They say life is a struggle, it’s a battle we must win
Our only hope is in him, and his light shines easy on my soul

Fielding Darden and Mick Purdy
© 8/8/2003 Oxford, NC


The Women of Salter Path

Fielding Darden: acoustic guitar
Kristen Kester: soprano harmony vocals
Amy Millhouser (SP): lead vocal
Charles Smith (SP): bass guitar
Dwayne Salter (SP): piano, strings
Taffy Baysden (SP): alto harmony

You know you’re doing something right when you play a song for someone and they cry. Especially when they are men. This song still makes me wet-eyed and I wrote it! I must give Amy Millhouser the credit she is due, however. That young lady, no more than 5 feet tall, put wings to this song with an incredible, deeply emotional delivery. What a voice she has. Thank you, Amy, for sending us over the edge.

It was a June evening in Salter Path 2005. My dock was still there and my pontoon boat was still in once piece. The wind was cool and tame. The sunset had just exploded for the last time and the sun had slipped over the horizon. My glass of wine was working well. I was done with the 12 songs I was going to record. I was waiting on Mark and Dale to arrive to record Will This Town Survive? when suddenly a melody just popped into my head.

Moments later, the phrase “I’m the woman from Salter Path” came to me as I was humming it. I saw a woman singing it, with others joining her as the song progressed. In my vision, I saw more and more women coming out onto the street to join the others in voice. They were marching up Shore Drive singing like there was no tomorrow, literally! It was an incredible idea!

I had to take a shower so I figured I’d write it down when I was done. Big mistake. While taking a shower, the Fiorini boys (the twins) next door put on the “Allman Brothers 2000 Best Hits” and my neat little song was gone.

I was very frustrated. I can’t read music, so even when I do write a song, it’s really not secure until it’s recorded because there is no melody line written down anywhere but in my head. The only assurance, short of recording it, is to write down the words and chords and play it enough times so that I can’t forget it (nor can my family who is worn out with it by that time).

Anyway, the night came and went and Survive made it onto the recording machine just fine. The boys left and I got my guitar out and got real quiet and still. I actually prayed that God would give me the melody back again. What do you think he did? 

As you read the words to this song, remember that all of the lyrics in this case are true. Mrs. Foster really did lose her husband while a’preaching. And one young man from Salter Path really did just come along, as if floating in a basket in the sound. He’s playing on this CD. My friend, who I can’t name here, did lose her man to her very best friend. And as much as that hurt her, she will attend their funeral in love if they die first. Salter Path is an amazing place full of amazing people, both men and women. Not only giving but forgiving. Hard but loving. So talented but unknown.

As time passes and the town continues to change… like the dunes that are blowing away, one grain of sand at a time… the townsfolk all look back and remember their mothers. For it was the mothers who held them while Papa was feeshin.’ It was Mama who delivered the babies and made the town a home. It was Mama who carried them to church when Papa was still at the shed.

I placed this song last because it sums up the town. It carries us from the beginning of the town’s history to its end in 5 minutes. And it has that “anthem” feeling to it that brings us to a close.

The Women of Salter Path

I have lived in a shack made of shipwrecks, I have warmed my home with driftwood
I have lived on this shore a hundred years, I’m the women of Salter Path

I have lost a husband while a preachin’, I have found a son to the sound
I have lost my man to my very best friend, but I’ll be there when they lay them down

Hallelujah, I’ve been through a, a hard and tryin’ life
I’ve raised your sons and your daughters too, I’m the women of Salter Path

I have seen the families a marryin’, I have pulled our children from the womb
I have carried the mail, I’ve mended the sail, I’m the women of Salter Path

When the life of this isle has left us, and the children have gone with the tide
When the legend dies and the legacy is gone, we will still be women of pride

Hallelujah, we’ve been through a, a hard and tryin’ life
We’ve raised your sons and your daughters too, we’re the women of Salter Path

There are times when we fight with each other, there are times when we love to hate
But this is our little town and strangers better not be found, having anything mean to say

Mark Fielding Darden and Matti Elizabeth Darden
Salter Path © 6/2005