Bryson City Seasons — The Summons (Part 2)

This blog is from the forty-fourth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Seasons, which is the sequel to Bryson City TalesI hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.


Also, I’m delighted to say, Barb left town before Pete Lawson’s coverage of the Fireman’s Day in the weekly Smoky Mountain Times, which came out on Thursdays. His coverage of the day was excellent, with one glaring and conspicuous flaw—his poor choice to place a picture of one Miss Waltina Larina Bustmoore in the paper!

I knew I could not put this awful “triumph” into my past—at least not yet. But I did have the consolation of knowing that Barb wasn’t there to collect copies of the article and its pictures to mail to family across the nation. Maybe, I mistakenly thought, we can keep the news of this so-called marvelous event confined to the general vicinity of the southern Smoky Mountains!

So I found myself deserted by my family and my partner to endure the seemingly endless ridicule of physicians, hospital staff, our office staff, and my patients. The most insufferable comments flowed from Louise and Vernel, who’d incessantly ask for my makeup and hair-styling suggestions—and then laugh hysterically as I muttered and mumbled in consternation. I wondered if my life would ever return to normal!

The only good news I received that week was that my good friend and mentor during my internship, Dr. John Hartman, and his wife, Cleta, would be coming through the area that weekend and had called to express their interest in visiting Bryson City for a night. My hope was that they’d at least be able to come and go without being exposed to the local gossip tabloid—as I now called the Smoky Mountain Times.

The Hartmans arrived in town late Friday afternoon while I was seeing patients. Dean took them over to the house and showed them the guest room. After they had gotten settled, they came over to the office to take a look around. Although there were only two of us practicing in the office, it was designed to easily expand to hold additional staff and physicians—although we weren’t sure if that might ever happen.

After they toured the office, I took them on a very brief tour of the hospital. Fortunately, Louise was off that night, and equally for- tunately, the hospital was busy enough that none of the staff had any time to mention the events of the week. The Hartmans seemed impressed by the scope of staff and services available at our small, forty-bed hospital. I realized how proud I was of our small facility.

When it came time for supper, I knew that a visit to the Hemlock Inn or the Fryemont Inn would invariably produce comments about the Fireman’s Day activities. I thought about escaping to the Jarrett House in a neighboring community or to Mabel’s Table at the Holiday Inn in nearby Cherokee, but it seemed too much trouble, especially given the fact that the some- what more decorous and much smaller Frye-Randolph House was available.

Since the Frye-Randolph House was normally fully occupied by tourists, the chance of a “safe” visit and private conversation were vastly increased. I called Bill Adams, the proprietor, and he indicated he would gladly provide a private table for me and my guests.

The house was located just below the Fryemont Inn and could easily be accessed without being seen at the inn.

I parked the car at the house, and we walked up to the gracious manor where we were to dine. What was then known as the Frye-Randolph House was initially a small Victorian lodge built in 1895 by Captain Amos Frye.The captain later expanded it to an L-shaped plan, complete with lovely gables and a stone-pillared porch.

Captain Frye and his wife, Lillian, lived in the house while the captain’s palatial Fryemont Inn was being constructed just up the hill. After the captain’s death, Lillian, by then the first practicing female attorney in western North Carolina, continued to practice law and run the inn until her death in 1957.

We sat outside in the courtyard until the dinner bell was rung and then were escorted into the beautifully kept home. Only the tourist brochures on one wall distracted from what appeared to be a very comfortable and luxurious private home.

We were shown into a private dining room where linens covered the table and candles glowed warmly. Our five-course meal was highlighted by light, friendly conversation. Bill and Ruth, the proprietors, were in and out of the room and were, as was their habit, always present when needed and absent when not.

After dinner, Ruth escorted us to the sitting room. A small fire was burning in the fireplace, which, given the coolness of the evening, was warming and comfortable. Our conversation turned to the future.

“Walt,” John began, “I’m finishing my commitment in the Navy next year. Cleta and I are beginning to consider practice options.”

I nodded and took a sip of my after-dinner coffee.

John continued. “This seems like such a lovely little town. Any chance we might be able to settle here?”

I thought for a moment before replying. John was a wonderful friend. We had become very close during my internship year at Duke University Medical Center when he was a senior resident.

“John,” I responded, “practicing medicine with you would be a dream come true—especially since you, Rick, and I were such good friends at Duke.” I paused, as there was a check in my spirit, and then continued. “But I’m not sure there’s room for another physician here. This town has about a thousand residents, and our referral area has about 25,000 folks. But there are two surgeons here who both practice general medicine and another five GPs if you include Rick and me. I’d absolutely love for you to come here, but I’d be somewhat concerned about whether our practice would be busy enough for all of us.”

“When you came here, weren’t you told that some of the older physicians were planning to retire? Any retirements in the future here?”

I smiled. “You’re right about our being told there were physicians who wanted to retire. But it doesn’t appear to be true. And to tell you the truth, I don’t see any in the foreseeable future.”

John nodded. “Any chance you’d ever leave here?”

I smiled. “I haven’t given it a thought. Why?”

“Another option we’re considering is joining a couple of my Navy colleagues. They’re FPs who are finishing their commitment about the same time I am. We all work together in the Family Medicine residency program at the Pensacola Navy Station. They are really good doctors, and we’re looking at working together in a small town in central Florida.”

“Where?” I asked, suddenly curious.

“Oh, it’s just a small town. I doubt you’ve ever heard of it.”

“Try me.”

“It’s a small town near Disney World called Kissimmee.”

I laughed out loud.

“What’s so funny?” Cleta asked.

“You won’t believe this, but a couple from Kissimmee came into my office just this week. And they tried to encourage me to move my practice to Florida.”

“Would you?” she asked.

“Cleta,” I responded, “I think Barb and I would be so happy to practice with you guys. But central Florida would be the lastplace in the world we’d want to set up a practice!”

She smiled at me. “Walt, you should never say never. The area is gorgeous and has big lakes surrounded by majestic oak trees covered with Spanish moss. The people are wonderful, and the pace is slow. They also have good schools and churches.”

Cleta sounded just like Boots Autrey. And I did not consider it a mere coincidence that two people had mentioned the same town in the same week.

Was I being summoned to another path— another place?



  1. Dead Man Standing (Part 1) (Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. Eyes Wide Open (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. Auspicious Accidents (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. Answered Prayers (Part 1), (Part 2), (Part 3), (Part 4)
  5. Rotary Luncheon
  6. Death by Emotion (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  7. The Invitation (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Barbecue and Bacon (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. A Touchy Subject
  10. Family Time (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. Chicken Pops(Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Swain County Football (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Hospital Politics (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. The Bobcat Attacks (Part 1)(Part 2)
  15. Dungeons and Apples
  16. A Tale of Two Surgeons (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  17. Tanned Feets (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  18. Wise Counsel (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. An Anniversary to Remember (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Mrs. Black Fox (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. The Littlest Cherokee (Part 1)(Part 2)
  22. Christmas Firsts (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. The Silver Torpedo
  24. Another New Year’s Catch
  25. Turned Tables
  26. Doctor Dad (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  27. The Phone Tap (Part 1), (Part 2)
  28. Labor Pains (Part 1), (Part 2)
  29. Staph and Staff (Part 1), (Part 2)
  30. The Ribbon Cutting
  31. Mountain Breakfast
  32. Walkingstick (Part 1), (Part 2)
  33. One Big Fish
  34. Memorial Day (Part 1); (Part 2)
  35. The Parade of the Century (Part 1)
  36. Lost Boy (Part 1); (Part 2)
  37. Facing the Music
  38. Flesh-Eating Bacteria (Part 1); (Part 2)
  39. The Best Medicine
  40. The Blessing
  41. The Runaways
  42. Great Scott
  43. Miss Flame (Part 1), (Part 2)
  44. The Summons (Part 1), (Part 2)


  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1)(Part 2)
  29. The Home Birth (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  30. The Showdown (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  31. The Initiation (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  32. Home at Last (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)  

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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