Pictured above are Frances Hawkins Crain (left) and Fred E. Crain. This photo was made in the 1940s.
(This story, “The Bear,” took place in 1946 and was told in 2015 by Fred E. Crain to Larry Steve Crain, his nephew.)
Fred E. Crain and Frances Hawkins Crain, who married in November 1945, took a trip to the mountains with some of Fred’s relatives. All these folk lived in the Sandy Flat and Mountain View areas of Greenville County, S.C. They drove to Gatlinburg, Tenn.
“Our trip was either in the spring or fall of 1946,” Fred says.
The group included Fred and Frances and his mother and father, Lillian and Carl Crain, in Fred’s car. Lillian’s brother, Hovey Parker, brought his wife, Genelia, and their only child, Marian (now Marian Lister, age 85 in 2015), in their car. Lillian’s sister, Lucille Langley, rode with her husband, King Langley, in their car with their only child, Sarah Jean (now Sarah Jean Talley, age 85 in 2015).
Newfound Gap is on the line between N.C. and Tennessee, Fred says.
“Newfound Gap (el. 5048 ft./1539 m.) is a mountain pass located near the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of the southern Appalachian Mountains in the U.S. …Situated along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the state line crosses the gap,” according to “Wikipedia.”
“Cherokee is on this side,” Fred notes, referring to the South Carolina side. “It’s 16 miles to the top from Cherokee and 16 miles on to Gatlinburg. It’s 16 miles to the top, each way.”
They stopped at Newfound Gap but drove another eight or nine miles, toward Gatlinburg, to a picnic area. The party was “in short sleeves,” according to Fred, and planned to eat at outdoor tables.
“I drove a 1940 Chevrolet, 4-door, black,” Fred says. “King Langley was driving a green 1935 Ford. It was polished. King worked at Southern Bleachery. He had his hair parted in the middle and was always neat. He called Lucille ‘Lude.’”
They all enjoyed a picnic meal and were talking as they continued sitting at tables.
“King saw a bear coming down a hill, toward us,” Fred says. “We all ran and got in our cars and watched as that black bear ate from our tables. When he finished, he made his way back up the hill. We all got out and cleaned up the picnic remains.”