By David Rogers. September 13, 2014. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Blowing Rock’s connection to author Jan Karon’s bestselling Mitford series of books was spotlighted on Saturday at the Meadowbrook Inn, at a special “tea” hosted by hizzoner Mayor J.B. Lawrence and wife Lynn, Blowing Rock’s “First Lady.”
Nearly 100 of Jan Karon’s International Fan Club, including guests from as far away as France and Norway, attended the “My Heart in Mitford Luncheon and Tea.” The luncheon featured selections of tea sandwiches, pastry & jams, and desserts from the Mitford Cookbook & Kitchen Reader, while Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence told stories — well, Lynn told stories. J.B. cracked joke after joke after joke!
“It is said that behind every great man there is a good woman. The corollary to that is, ‘Behind every great man there is a surprised mother-in-law.'”
About how he got into Town politics: “This one year they had a liar’s contest here in town and I won. So naturally I’ve been in politics ever since.”
“My wife can sing. If I sang, we wouldn’t have a parking problem in Town,” the Mayor deadpanned.
The Mayor wasn’t the only source of humor for the gathering.
“Uncle Billy” (played by local resident Bill Barr) made an appearance, replete with fish tie that didn’t come close to matching his red shirt and bib overalls. Emcee Mrs. Lawrence asked Uncle Billy whether he had heard about “Coot Hendrick’s” new job. Disbelieving, he replied, “Coot’s working? He hasn’t struck a lick at a snake in at least two decades.”
“Well, it’s true,” Mrs Lawrence affirmed, taking on the role of “Dora” in the Mitford series of books. “In fact, he has one hundred and seventy people under him.”
“What?” asked Uncle Billy, incredulously.
“Yep. He’s weed-eatin’ at the Town graveyard.”
Mrs. Lawrence sang a beautiful song, accompanied by Mrs. Doris Edwards on the piano, then she and the Mayor fielded several questions about life in Blowing Rock and where various Mitford landmarks are located.
On Sunday, Ms. Karon is scheduled to appear at a 10:00 am prayer breakfast at Chetola (Evergreen Room), then a 2:00 ceremony where she is scheduled to receive a “key to the city” from Mayor Lawrence.
Jan Karon’s new Mitford novel, “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good” focuses on the Episcopal priest, Father Tim’s return to Mitford with his wife. Putnam Publishing is the publisher.