A Visit to MOTHER Readers Across the Country

Joel Bourne set out to visit longtime MOTHER readers all over the country. Here are some of their stories.

| October/November 1993

SINCE THE FIRST days of this magazine, when MOTHER was little more than a traveling billboard filled with practical information for those moving back to the land, its readers have always seemed more like an extended family than mere subscribers. Readers write articles, pass along tips, and voice their constructive criticism as the publication evolves. For many readers, the magazine has been a vital part of their lives for over 20 years. Who of us hasn't cruised through a garage sale and discovered gold in the form of a stack of old issues from the early 1970s?

So it wasn't too difficult to convince the magazine staff that a family reunion was long overdue. It would take the form of a cross-country motorcycle trip on a recycled 1972 Norton Commando—a trusty if temperamental British bike that I've been rebuilding for the last few years.

We invited readers who wanted to take part to write in, and we were overwhelmed by the response. Their stories spanned the range of MOTHER interests, from bartering to pole-barn construction, and I only regret that I couldn't visit everyone who wrote us. Many thanks to all those who extended an invitation and especially to the friends and families whose gracious hospitality and interesting stories made the long days on the road worthwhile.

On Memorial Day I rolled the Norton out of the barn as fat drops of rain began to pelt my family's farm in Eastern North Carolina. I jumped on the kick start, heard the low, throaty rumble that distinguishes these bikes, eased out the clutch, and started down the gravel path to the highway to begin this odyssey. My simple goal was a down-home country visit with a few of the people who make this magazine what it is.

This is really their story.

Homemade Music in Virginia

The road to Charlie and Barb Smith's house is one of those classic, one-lane, unmarked strips of asphalt that meanders past the tobacco and peanut fields of southern Virginia—almost an invitation to get lost. After wandering around in the vicinity for a while, I spot a small wooden sign directing me into the woods and down a tree-lined dirt path toward the Comet Lodge, a two-story wood-frame structure nestled beneath tall pines on the edge of Comet Creek.

Charlie and Barb step out onto the front porch to greet me and I am soon enveloped by their charm. They call their home a lodge, not to attract tourists but as an invitation to friends and relatives who have traveled here from as far away as England.

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