- [S27] The Daily Times, http://www.thedailytimes.com/, (Blount County, Tennessee), 6 Nov 2011.
Out of the mist: Maryville native puts Smoky Mountain memories into print
By Melanie Tucker | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Janice Potter Valentine didn’t have to ponder very long over selecting the backdrop for her first children’s book. Having grown up at the back door of the Smoky Mountains, this retired registered nurse and now first-time author wanted to share memories of her own growing-up days that still radiate both inside and out.
Her book is entitled “Misty Mountain,” and was published by Friesen Press in Canada. It’s currently available at Friesen’s website and also (http://amazon.com) Valentine said it will be an enjoyable read for elementary students and especially as a reading tool for teachers who want to introduce children to the ways of mountain life.
This author was born and raised in Maryville, and resides in the Prospect Community where the mountains are never far from view. She and husband Donald raised two sons and a daughter. They now get to revel in the delight of four grandsons, Derek, Dustin and Kyle Valentine and Cody Valentine.
Write what you know
“Misty Mountain,” explained Valentine, is an autobiography of sorts. She writes it with the excited innocence of a 7-year-old who gets to visit relatives in nearby Butterfly Gap. The day is spent with Uncle Bob and Aunt Bess. It’s a day that includes exploring Monster Swamp, a chance encounter with a rare white skunk, the discovery of a hidden cave, snake tales and the best chicken and apple pie you will ever eat.
This project took Valentine five years to complete, from being just an idea in her head until holding the result in her hand.
“When I was little, the mountains — Cades Cove and the Smoky Mountains — were so ingrained in my family,” Valentine explained. “We visited at least once a week. We worked really hard so daddy would take us to the mountains. It was really our only source of recreation.”
Valentine is the oldest of six children born to Cecil and Ruth Everett Potter. She said both her mother and grandmother, Molly Lawhon Everett, were exceptional storytellers. It seems this children’s book has been inside Valentine since the days she sat listening to these matriarchs spin tales of their own.
Getting busy in retirement
“I always had the idea that I wanted to write a book,” this author said. “But I never could have done this while I was still working.”
She worked as a nurse for Maryville City Schools and retired in 2002 from Foothills Elementary. She took care of the health needs of many special needs children. When she was able to walk away, she did, with many ideas on how to spend her new-found freedom.
Valentine spent a year just writing the story for “Misty Mountain. It’s got plenty of color photos included, which the author took herself. Writing from her own memory, the book takes readers on an adventure that starts with this 7-year-old’s anticipation of what she will encounter on the visit to Butterfly Gap and the action-packed adventure that ends with the trip back down the mountain.
A snake, a skunk and a salamander find their places within its pages. There are also beautiful landscape photos and descriptions that place readers smack dab in the middle of an East Tennessee spring.
Misty, smoky, cloudy
It was also pretty easy for Valentine to come up with the title for her book. She remembers looking at the mountains as a small girl and asking why they looked cloudy. That’s mist, the adults answered back. Then why isn’t it called Misty Mountain, she wanted to know.
After the experience, Valentine said she knows what it’s like to be obsessed with a project. “It’s a compulsion once you get started,” she said. “It was always on my mind.”
These mountains have kept Valentine quite contented throughout her life. She’s never lived anywhere else and doesn’t feel she’s missed anything. Her sons, Kevin (wife Kristy) and Randy (wife Sherry) live nearby and so does daughter Traci (husband Darrel Lauderdale). Valentine and her husband were married at Prospect Baptist Church, where they still attend. Her children were all baptized there.
It has been satisfying to finally see her hard work turn into something that will entertain future generations and document part of her past. There were periods of hurry up and wait. She admits she got a little antsy as the weeks and months went by.
Who knows if Valentine has another story she wants to tell. Maybe not after hearing her describe the process.
“It was like birthing another baby,” she said, laughing.
- [S58] Marriage Certificate.
Name: Robert Cecil Potter
Event Date: 19 Aug 1939
Event Place: Blount, Tennessee
Estimated Birth Year:
Father's Titles & Terms:
Mother's Titles & Terms:
Spouse: Ruth Everett
Spouse's Titles & Terms:
Spouse's Estimated Birth Year:
Spouse's Father's Titles & Terms:
Spouse's Mother's Titles & Terms:
Reference Number: Bk 29 p 177 no 177
Film Number: 2074003
Digital Folder Number: 4646472
Image Number: 68