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Renewing Friendships at Buckhorn Inn

     The Buckhorn Inn was begun as America’ Great Depression was ending and as ominous war clouds gathered over Europe.    Two young men, who were born at the turn of the twentieth century, one in Alabama, and the other in Virginia, would be drawn together in World War II. One was my father, Ewal Erman Garrett and the other was Clyde Gorum of Mobile. In 2001 when my husband and I began research on our book, Twenty-ninth Infantry The Blue and Gray Division of WWII, Clyde contacted me by telephone. He said he was with my father the night he was killed, December 3, 1944, and a flood of emotions flowed through me. Clyde expained both were in the 116th Infantry Regiment and that they were “foxhole buddies.” Thus began a very close and long term relationship with Clyde, and his wife Mary, who had retired from their landscape and nursery business in Shreveport, LA.

     My husband retired from the National Park Service and his last assignment was at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Since both Clyde and Mary were interested in  plants, we mentioned the annual wildflower pilgrimage held by the park and encouraged them to attend with us. They agreed. Since we had once stayed at the Buckhorn during the wildflower pilgrimage the inn was a natural place for lodging. We stayed in the wonderfully appointed “Webb Mountain House.” It was perfect for us, with bedrooms separated by the open combination kitchen/living room. The huge living room window spanned the wall and provided a view that made us feel a part of the glorious mixed hardwood forest we were viewing. Much of our time was spend visiting which we now often reminiscence about. Our conversation at times was interrupted with the antics of squirrels and our trying to identify the frequent birds landing on nearby branches. It was so relaxing we could have stayed forever. Being in the landscape and nursery business, Clyde and Mary continued to marvel at how beautiful our surroundings were and identified for us the many plants used by Buckhorn Inn in landscaping. The Catawba Rhododendron beside the house was in early bloom and every time we went out Mary would photograph them. We all slept well and always looked forward to the delicious gourmet breakfast provided by the Buckhorn. It was one of the highlights of the trip for both Clyde and my husband Gene. The relationship between Clyde and his last days with my father was shared against the peace and serenity of the beautiful Buckhorn Inn. The staff, as always, was wonderfully accommodating. It is a place where our relationship with our friends was strengthened and now is even more memorable with this special tie to the Buckhorn Inn which we will always cherish. We come back to the Buckhorn every chance we get to renew memories and relax.  Joyce Garrett Cox