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March 17, 2005
Well, just about all of them burst into tears when they walk into the door and see the place, says the director, because it looks pretty much the same as it did back when they were in school here.

They'd be older ladies now, of course; the Valle Crucis School closed in 1942, so the very youngest of them is eighty. Maybe I slept in her bed last night, a tall, narrow bed of heavy maple, built so well all those years ago that it didn't even creak when I got in. I slept so soundly and so well in my narrow bed, the two other beds in my room empty, the girls who had slept in them gone away to college, gone away to husbands, gone away to children and work, gone away to heaven.

Legerwood, N.C.
Feb. 1, 1937
Dear Mrs. Hopkins,

The boys have asked me to write to invite the girls of your
school to a dance next Saturday night, February 6.

We are prepared to keep them over night.

Please let us know at your earliest convenience whether or not
they can come, how many there will be, and what time they will

Sincerely yours,

Jonathan Lyerly

They kept scrapbooks: drawings the girls made of birds and of local plants, photographs of the animals they kept here: cows, pigs, a mare and her foal, a happy dog running in the snow. I wish you were mine! a girl has written by his picture. Essays in French and Latin, poems they wrote:


Early in the morning some swift-moving
Weaves her strands of thread, perfect in
Her work is glorified by the sun
shining thrugh clustered drops of dew.
Does she know her work is splendid?
Or know the intricacies of her pattern?
Margaret Perry

The girls did much of the housework and even helped with some of the farm work. Their herd of twelve cows provided all the milk for the school, and the surplus was sold. Valle Crucis raised apples and sold them. They raised sorghum and made molasses.

Lacy McCord stands straight, her hands at her sides. She is off to a dance; she wears a long dress and a little smile. Then it is spring, and she sits alone in the garden on a bench built for two, posing for a picture with her hands folded in her lap; she does not look at the camera, but off to the side. Later, she poses alone again, seated on the ground and leaning on one hand, her eyes downcast, her beautiful hair falling loose in the fashionable pincurled waves of the day. At graduation she is serious in her cap and gown,standing in the garden with two other serious girls. And then she is smiling, all of them smiling. We are parting now, but we will be friends forever. I will always remember you.

Ten years after graduation, Lacy poses with friends from school at one of their homes. They are young mothers now, snatching a weekend away for a quick reunion. And fifty years later they are together again in Virginia: Lacy looks straight at the camera this time, and smiles more broadly than I have ever seen her smile.

But of course, I don't know Lacy very well.


Valle Crucis Conference Center in the mountains of Western North Caolina, where Lacy and her friends went to school, is beautiful, and anyone can visit. You can see it at
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