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Being a Joines
A Life in the Brushy Mountains

John E. "Frail" JoinesJohn E. "Frail" Joines was a master tale teller from Wilkes County, North Carolina, on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. His hunting tales, stories from World War II, and religious narratives mirror changes that have swept away the mountain folk community in a single generation and show the character and values with which his family met these circumstances.

Directed by Tom Davenport and produced by Davenport Films and the Curriculum in Folklore at UNC, Chapel Hill with Daniel Patterson and Allen Tullos. (55 minutes, color)

"They wanted to know how I got so many scars, when I come out of the Army, and I told them that being a Joines got me the scars. I told them going through the war was just like going to a Sunday-school picnic."
– Frail Joines


"I laughed so hard at times, then nearly wept at other times as this noble man's life was presented without any glossy coating."
– Reggie Burleson

"A wonderfully insightful human document and fine piece of Americana."
– William Sloan, Museum of Modern Art

"Something I myself would have been proud to do." – Bill Moyers

"A powerful document artistically dealing with folk culture...one of the best ever produced."
Journal of American Folklore

"Grandpa and the Mill Rock"

"My grandpa prided hisself on being strong, you know, and he had an old mill rock that weighed about six or seven hundred pound. And ever' Christmas he'd get him a gallon of brandy, and he'd take him a drink or two of that brandy and he'd go out there and get that mill rock. He'd get it and stick it up over his head like that, you know, and lay it back down. Well, this winter'd been extra cold, been a lot of rain and cold weather and the ground had froze pretty bad, you know. And so Christmas come, he got him a gallon of brandy, and went in and took a few drinks, went out there and got ahold of his millrock and he couldn't move it. He goes back in and he sets there a little bit and drinks two or three more drinks, and he tried again and he couldn't move it. Went back and set down and was setting there looking so bad, and my grandmother passed and she said, "Honey, what's the matter with you?" said, "You look bad," said, "Are you sick?" He said, "I'm not sick, but," says, "you know I'm a-getting old and getting old fast." He said, "Last year that rock wasn't even heavy and," and he said, "I can't even wiggle it this time." He said, "I'm breaking fast." And said he took about three more drinks of brandy and went out there, and he got down on his knees, and he give a heave or two on that rock and shook it and stuck it up over his head--and he had nine acres of topsoil froze to it."
—Frail Joines

There is a 44 page "Background, Transcription, and Commentary" for this video written by Joyce Joines Newman, Daniel W. Patterson, Allen Tullos, and Tom Davenport. It may be ordered under "Study Guides" on the Ordering Information page.