I’d like to take up a little space in The Macon County News to let me tell the people in Macon County how much they mean to me. They have made me feel like a real “local lady” since I moved to the mountains. I had to learn one new expression that I had never heard before moving to Franklin. That expression was “you uns.” And I quickly learned to love “you uns!”
I moved to Franklin in August of 1979 as a divorcee and mother of two sons to teach kindergarten at East Franklin School. It took me a year to even get an interview in the Macon County School system mainly because I was not a “local.” When I first started applying for a teaching position here in Franklin, Dr. Joe Hill was the superintendent. He was certainly not a “local” and he didn’t stay in Franklin long. He even told me that I would have a much better chance of getting a teaching position if I went ahead and married the “local man,” Sam McClure, that I was courting at the time.
My first year as a teacher at East Franklin School was quite an experience mainly because I was not a “local.” There was some resentment because the kindergarten position was filled by an outsider, but call it luck or fate, I had two great teachers, Edith Plemons and Jessie Sutton who took me under their wings and made me feel welcomed. Another person who made me feel accepted was the cafeteria manager, Joyce Setser. Joyce and the cafeteria ladies fed me well and were so nice to me. Those people surely helped me, “the outsider,” make it through the first year; and my wonderful principal, Pat Pattillo, was always so supportive.
After a few months at East Franklin, the teachers seemed to realize that even though I was not a “local,” I was a pretty good “old egg.” My children were happy living in the mountains and quickly made friends with lots of kids. We were all very happy and on Nov. 5, 1979, I married that “local man,” Sam McClure, and decided that I would do everything I could to be accepted as close to being a “local” as possible.
It took me a little over a year to become active in the community and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and working with the people in Macon County. I was a team mother for little league football, baseball and basketball. Eventually, I was the president of the Franklin Amateur Swim Team and helped to organize the American Youth Soccer Organization. What fun I had being active in Franklin.
Our family joined the Franklin First United Methodist Church; and I taught Sunday School for three years, was youth director for two years and have done Moments for Children for over 18 years. Now let me remind you ... I’m not “local,” but I was having a ball getting involved in all sorts of local activities.
Time passed, and by the time my sons were in junior high and high school, I was even more active in the community and in sports. I helped with some of the biggest fundraisers for the Franklin High School Boosters Club, for the band and for my church by putting on musicals, womanless weddings and all sorts of variety shows to raise money for worthy causes. I was called the “fun fundraising lady” because I had so much fun organizing shows such as Entertainment Tonight, a fundraiser held at the beautiful Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts two years in a row. That money went to missions for the Franklin First United Methodist Church. I also put together a show called Best of the Best which was also held at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. The money from this fundraiser went to the Rathbun Center in Asheville, N. C.
The last fundraiser I did for the Franklin High School Boosters Club was on Dec. 10, 1993. While this show was going on, I was in the hospital at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte having my heart transplant. That night, enough money was raised to buy the varsity cheerleaders as well as the J.V. cheerleaders brand new uniforms. Yes Sir Ree, Bobtail Cat ... by now I was feeling as “local” as “local” could be. WHY???
Because while I was in the hospital, I received cards, calls, flowers and many prayers went up for me as I recuperated from receiving a 21-year-old male heart. One day I received 99 cards, and I was so thankful to know that so many people were so caring and concerned about me. Was I born and bred in the briar patch up here in Macon County? No, I was not. I’m an eastern North Carolinian that talks funny, but I truly feel like I’m a “local!” I love living in Macon County and especially in Franklin. The people here have been wonderful to me; and I feel like one of the “luckiest locals” to have made as many super friends as I have made since I moved here 32 years ago. “You’uns” have been so good to me all these years. Thanks for making me feel like a “local yocal!”
Patti McClure — Franklin, N.C.