“We’ve got cornbread!”

In the early 1950s Cornelia and Wayne Hyatt began hosting a weekly gathering of friends and community members, in their living room, to play traditional Old Time and Mountain music. As the gathering grew it moved to their garage, which Wayne converted into the Oprahouse, and a fine potluck was added. A film maker friend, Rod Murphy, and I attended many of those summer nights, frequently with our young daughters, who would play, and sometimes dance with the ladies. My daughter Helen learned to clog from them, and clogged competitively through high school. I like to think that the generous spirit and deep tradition of the music and company of those evenings became an important part of who she is. The Oprahouse is gone now, along with the house. Mrs. Hyatt went to her reward a few years ago, and the mountain folk I came to know and appreciate so much have receded to a significant degree around Asheville now. Rank Strangers is a CD we made, produced by Harvest Records of Asheville, of recordings from the Oprahouse, and includes a booklet of stories and photos.

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