70 years– that’s how long Lester and Marietta Crayton have been married. They are both in their nineties and live at home in the Oakley community in Asheville, surrounded by a neighborhood that used to be Lester’s family’s farmland. As houses have been built on what used to be corn, wheat, and hay fields, their stories keep alive their incredible history and partnership.
Lester’s father and mother met working for Vanderbilt at the Biltmore Estate and had his family farm in Oakley where his father grew celery for market, selling to grocery stores and the A&P. Marietta grew up in Madison County on Merry Mountain, where she grew tobacco to raise money to go to the girls’ teaching college in Asheville. During college at The Normal, she paid her way by working in the cafeteria.
One of those fateful years, their life together began: Lester asked a friend to arrange a date for him, with a girl at Asheville Normal– or what they referred to as “the Angel Farm”– and he knew after one blind date that he would ask her to marry him.
Their story continued through a service in WWII, after which Lester came home and became a preacher.
Bill Best is director of the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Kentucky. Best saves seeds grown and cherished by Appalachian families, helping to preserve mountain culture and biodiversity. He
The Appalachian Food Storybank seeks to acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage food stories in order to preserve diverse local traditions, natural resources, heirloom varieties and breeds.