Sunday, July 24, 2005

Hollering and Whistling in North Carolina

Hollering and whistling are required skills in rural North Carolina and they date-back for centuries.

At the end of the last Ice Age, the retreating glaciers left hundreds of small grooved valleys that the English settlers dubbed “Hollows”. Before the age of the telegraph, important news was spread for hundreds of miles by “Hollerin” the news to your neighbor in the next hollow.

Famous Hollers

The most famous Holler in North Carolina is “Booger Hollar” (a.k.a. “Dark Mountain”), where the Booger family had lived for centuries and is said to be haunted with the spirits of dead Boogers:

"The oldtimers call it the Dark Mountain, or Booger Hollar. Anyway, there are some places here that you avoid by instinct. Not fear really, they just kind of repell you around them."

Please don’t confuse Booger Hollar with the equally famous “Booger Mountain”, where the Boogers grow Christmas trees. Everyone is familiar with the Booger’s slogan “Have a Booger Mountain Christmas”.

Seriously, Booger Mountain is a multi-million dollar business, and many North Carolina natives resent the mass-marketing of Booger Mountain Christmas trees. I love the signs the competitors use, reminding us “Don’t pick a Booger”:

We have over a dozen workers spread-out over more than 60 acres (about twice the size of Ellis Island, in New York Harbor), and being able to holler can save you a 20-minute walk. (Our horse trainers don’t carry cell phones because an unexpected ring might spook our high-strung Arabian horses).

Whistlin’ Heaven

Just 10 miles up the road is Louisburg North Carolina, home of the famous “International Whistling Convention”. They even did a movie about it titled “Pucker Up: The Fine Art of Whistling”. Each year, celebrity whistlers come-in from all over the world, turning sleepy Louisburg into a paparazzi haven. They even have a “whistle” soda:

Andy Griffith chose the a-capella whistling theme song for his hit show “Andy of Mayberry” to honor the ancient whistlers of North Carolina, and every year they have a reunion at Mt. Airy (the “real” Mayberry”):

Here is the official International Whistler Convention web site. It’s loads of fun, second only to “Mule Days”, where we borrow Henry the Mule and ride into a town that does not allow cars or horses, only mules and hairy Asses.