Friday, February 13, 2009

Appalachia

This is a post about a way of life.

I was born and raised on a farm in the Appalachian Mountains.
I went squirrel, turkey and deer hunting with my dad & uncles. As a young girl I watched as my grandmother and mother canned squirrel and vegetables. I learned to sew, knit and crochet when I was very young. My mom sewed our clothing when handmade clothing was not in style. We weren't poor, we were frugal. We speak with an Appalachian twang and yes I admit to saying crick instead of creek:).

I was teased as a child for being of Native American heritage and for living on a farm. Two strikes against me. Add in homemade clothing and that was a third strike. But we were taught to hold our head up high and be proud. We did.

My dad worked a hard life delivering milk and working on the farm. He left for work at 2-3 am and worked until ?? We never knew when dad would be home for dinner. He even worked on Christmas Day in the wee hours of the morning so he could be home in time to watch us open gifts on Christmas morning. Milk was home delivered back then and that meant holidays too.
My parents worked to provide a decent home life and encouraged us to get an education. They taught us

strong work ethics and good moral values.
There is a program coming on tonite, The Children of the Mountains. It is a program about Appalachia folk and it is a must see.

My husband is one of those hard working Appalachia folk. He was in masonry for 15 yrs and then went to a delivery truck driving for a soft drink company and then an ice cream company. Jobs have always been scarce around here yet our roots are in the mountains.
Just like my dad, my DH lugged heavy cases of product in and out of stores working 12-16 hour days. He was salary paid. Sadly the heavy work load took it's toll on his body. He suffered a severly fractured back at work a few years ago. Due to the extent of his injury he is no longer permitted to drive a delivery truck. He was told by the insurance company that he has no skills. Quite a blow to a hard working man trying to provide for his family.
My husband's boss is a decent man and he created an office position for him. Appalachia folk stand by one another.

My DH told our kids not to follow in his footsteps but to get a good education and get out of the area to find a good paying job. He gave up so much to make certain that our kids have a better life and he is so very proud of them.

Upon hearing what my husband did for a living when he fractured his back and was heading into surgery, the surgeon looked at my husband, patted him on his shoulder and said, "I have a great respect for men like you. The kind of job that you do takes it's toll on the body. Men like yourself pay the ultimate price for the work that you do and yet receive so little in return." These are words my husband will never forget.
Appalachia living is a tough life and the hard working people who live here work long hours for very low wages.
Please say a silent thank you to the hard working folk of this great country. They are the ones who will turn this country's economy around and if anyone else takes credit they're only pursuing a vote in a future election.

I am proud to be from the Appalachian Mountains.

11 comments:

Grace said...

What a wonderful tribute, I can't wait to share it with my husband, he would truly appreciate it since he also works that hard, and knows the physical toll his body takes. Have a wonderful holiday weekend

Channon said...

What a great post. The measure of a person is not in the smoothness of skin, nor in a bank account balance. I have long said that it's a crying shame that our country is teaching our youth that they are above manual labor. Perhaps we brought this "correction" of economics and priorities on ourselves, as a keeping up with the Joneses nation.

Anita said...

What a lovely post! I grew up on a farm too, ours was tobacco/veggies & cows. And my mom made our clothes when we were little too. :)
And I have the utmost respect for our Native Americans. What a beautiful, couragous, strong heritage you come from!

monnibo said...

Thank you for sharing your history with us. I am in awe of your honesty and hearing what the doctor said to your husband truly made me smile.

Bubblesknits said...

Wonderful post. :-)

Diane said...

That show was definately a must see for everyone. Mountain people do support each other as best as they can. Most people who discusses proverty in america have no clue on what the cycle is. To watch someone actually walk 2 hrs to go to a class to get her ged and then have to walk 2 hrs back home shows the determination to make a better life. There are a lot of issues to address but there are also strong willed god fearing people willing to do whatever they can.

Firefly Nights said...

Enjoyed your comments on Appalachia. I watched the TV special and unfortunataely I thought it focused on too many negatives. We learned too much about prescription drug problems and not enough about the beauty of the region and the success stories about people who struggled to do better and work hard like your family. There are some great people who live there.

But, some of the folks they did feature who are currently trying to make a better life for themselves did prompt a big response according to what I saw on TV yesterday. The football player, for example, has been offered three full scholarships that cover all of his expenses and people are doing things for some of the other folks featured. Too bad only a few are affected by the show's outcome. It's only directly touching a few lives there.

The best thing about the special is that it focused attention on the region once again and reminded people that we have parts of our own country that could use a little help. It's hard to have sympathy for people losing a million dollar home when you see people barely making ends meet in a drafty trailer. Whatever happened to all of those programs from the 60s and 70s that should have helped the region? Did they all fall by the wayside?

I hope they do another special that focuses on more positives about the region and that might offer some suggestions of how to help the people there who want to work hard and help themselves to a better life.

Re: Native Americans. It's something to be proud of. We stole their land and ignored some of their very positive beliefs and traditions. Never could understand why society focuses so much on what later generations owe black people and overlooks what we owe to the Native Americans. We could learn a lot from their history and customs.

kathy said...

Is there a need for knit hats, socks, etc where you are?

gypsyknits said...

Kathy

Yes there is always a need for hats, mittens and scarves. Contact me at my email address. gypsyknits(at)hotmail(dot)come

Thank you.

Buddy said...

> Whatever happened to all of
> those programs from the 60s
> and 70s that should have
> helped the region? Did they
> all fall by the wayside?

De-funded over the years by Republicans (aided by conservative Democrats). Fortunately the wealthy and corporations got their tax cuts. Can't wait for all the jobs to trickle down here in southwest Virginia...

gypsyknits said...

Buddy-Perhaps it would be better for you to contact the one you're quoting. Apparently you are unaware of my state's political affiliation.
The Dems have had control of my state for most decades. As of today the demo-gubner and his cohorts have de-funded even more in our region therefore creating more unemployment.
So let's put the blame where it belongs.....in the dems greedy little pockets.