Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fontana 1959-1960

"Great memories of [the Hortons] vacationing with the Uibles. A special time." --Cris
Fontana NC - postcard packet picture c1955
August of 1959 and 1960 – and possibly 1958 or 1961 – found the Uibles and Hortons enjoying the wonders of the Smoky Mountains at Fontana Village, North Carolina, where former dam-worker housing and buildings of the 1940s had been converted to a tourist destination.
Fontana vacation - Wilmington News-Journal clipping, August 14, 1959
Mr and Mrs. William Horton and children, Joseph, Marianna [sic], Cris and Robert, of Lake Worth, Fla., and Mr and Mrs. Harold Uible and children, Catherine, Roberta, Serena and John, of New Vienna met at a lovely vacation spot at Fontana, N.C., the first of last week for a ten day outing.  They both returned to New Vienna, the Uibles' home, and the Hortons to visit for a few days with Mrs. Horton's parents, Mr. and Mrs. C.J. Uible, before returning to Lake Worth.
Horseback Riding at Fontana Village, 1960. Uibles and Hortons.

In 1959 the Hortons stayed in Robbinsville, a nearby mill town, not far as the crow flies, but by curvy road with carsick children much further than the 20+ miles shown on the map.  Robbinsville had the advantage of cheaper accommodations and fewer crowds.  Not many tourists, nor all of the Hortons, relished staying in a boarding house with the bathroom down the hall, and a mill whistle that blasted every morning at 6am.

The Uibles stayed in Fontana Village in a cottage with a porch but I remember staying at the Boarding House at least one night,  it was an experience as well as a good example of Uncle Bill's conservative nature.
Fontana NC info from postcard packet c1955

Joe, as the oldest of the children, remembers:  "Our father put us up in Robbinsville next to a paper mill. The smell from the factory was awful. In the mornings, the bed and breakfast would have lavish food on the table which we ate plenty of.  However, the drive over to Fontana Village was through the mountains and thereby traversing many curves. Us kids, would get sick - car sick - and thus give up our large breakfasts before we arrived at the village! I do remember the fun of art classes where we would make ceramics. I also have memories of getting really sick at the village (that particular year we stayed on the property of Fontana Village] really bad fever etc. and I spent most of the vacation in bed! We also spent many hours in a car discovering the TVA dams that were in the region."

Serena, at age 4, would have been the oldest of the preschool crowd in 1959 followed by Rob and John who would have been toddlers.
Fontana NC postcard from HH to M/M CJ Uible August 5, 1959
Weds. A.M. [August 5, 1959]
Here we are.  The Hortons over and all fine.  Rained all day.  Bk. [Breakfast] at Ripley and lunch near Corbin and supper here at 7 P.M.  Lots of curves.  The kids are full of energy.  --Harold
Marianne's memories:  "We went to Fontana three years. The Hortons stayed in Robbinsville at a boarding house that served family style meals. On each floor there was a large bathroom at the end of the long hallway. One of the three years we stayed in Fontana next to the Uibles. It was glorious!! Joe, Cris and I would get mighty car sick coming across those hills to Fontana everyday. Either Dad was "Cheap" or he just didn't have the money to put us up in Fontana.  Ha. On a few occasions, I would stay with you overnight which I was glad for considering how sick I got every morning. Anyway, Dad loved this place in Robbinsville. The rest of us including Mom hated the place."  Marianne also remembers making a tin plate in the arts and crafts program.

HH adds that Bill Horton was "conservative."  He also was an early riser, so probably thought the morning whistle blast would help get the rest of the family out of bed so they wouldn't "waste" their vacation time.  When the Uibles rented a pontoon boat, Bill thought that was risky and expensive, so he probably stayed ashore and tried not to worry about his wife and children enjoying themselves boating.

Cris has a good memory, since he would have been 8-10 years old.  "The strongest memory I have of Fontana as a kid, was I never understood why our family had to stay in Robbinsville twenty some miles from Fontana Village while the Uibles got to stay on site at Fontana? We had to travel daily to Fontana on those “curvy” roads which was not enjoyable, because someone in the family was always car sick “throwing up” the morning’s breakfast. I hope Dad got a good deal on the accommodations!! I remember we stayed on a second floor that had only one bath room at the end of a long hall for the whole floor! I don’t remember how we handled that – maybe I tried to block it out of my memory as a kid. The food was great though as I remember. It was served family style – a lot of it. Didn’t know how people could eat so much as a kid."

Cris continues:  "My special memories of Fontana were the horseback rides. I seemed to always get a slow horse though. I remember square dancing and crafts making a belt out of leather strap which I still have and can actually still wear (added a couple of holes for the belt loops though).  Great memories of vacationing with the Uibles. A special time."
Fontana NC postcard from HH to M/M CJ Uible August 1960
Thurs. [August 5, 1960]
All are getting along fine.  Hortons are 1 cottage up and children have big time together.  Sorry to hear about Dr. F.  Enjoy especially the square dancers.  Miss our garden.  Sulphur works fine.  --Harold
Several things to ponder on this card.  First of all the good news that the Hortons got to actually stay in Fontana in 1960 instead of making that sickening trek to and from Robbinsville.  "Dr. F." would be Dr. Fullerton, New Vienna physician at that time.  Possibly the bad news might be about his diagnosis prior to his laryngectomy which was about 1961.  The sulphur?  I have no idea.

And what do I remember about Fontana that no one else has mentioned already?  The library!  Yes there was a small lending library where I remember browsing and being frustrated by the limit they placed on how many books could be checked out.  Were they trying to stunt my education?  No, probably just trying to make sure every vacationing child who wanted a book could borrow one.  I did not take it kindly at the time as there was no crowd of other children lined up to borrow the books they were preventing me from checking out.

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Items from Uible photo album