Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer 2016 Update Last of the Appalachians?

Much going on at the old homestead. People have come to volunteer their time through a wonderful organization called the Appalachian Service Project and friends who have donated extra materials to help repair my house. It's been badly neglected and would be falling down if something isn't done. So far what has been done is amazing!!! Groups from all over the U.S. have helped.

If you want to support a group truly helping Appalachian people here is a link to their website.Appalachian Service Project. Now with the WV floods, more help will be needed than ever. While we are trying to figure out what to do to increase our economic development, it helps us to maintain homes we have.

I've been about useless in this endeavor. First, I screwed my foot up tripping into the hearth. This new development of Meniere's Disease, I keep forgetting I can't move or turn too fast. I have to let my ears catch up with my head or I stagger.

I keep telling people, those wild times I had in my twenties and thirties actually was a training ground for this.  I could walk straight, drunk, though if I moved too fast, or bent over, I fell then too.
Myself and bestie Sherri. I asked for a million dollars
She asked to, "get out of trouble". I think she made a drive through out of a restaurant.

Well it's that way now but constantly and none of the fun of drinking. What is up with that?  If I actually get drunk will it make it better? Too chicken to try it and with everything else going on...I do good to move. Woke up with the vertigo yesterday. THAT I HATE! I know how to treat it, so it's not as scary but another day lost on BS illnesses. Sigh...work with what ya got! It's a good day....I WOKE UP.

Enough of the illnesses I can't do a thing about but learn to live with them. There is this wonderful facebook page you should check out called the Appalachian Project, or TAP. A few days ago Shane one of the admin's posted this:

The Last of the Appalachians?

"We have discussed at length on TAP the fact that many traditional Appalachian practices have waned and some have almost completely disappeared. From canning our own food to observing certain deeply held superstitions and everything in between, a lot of our cultural traditions are clearly beginning to be lost on new generations. I have observed it in my own children who have little to no interest in learning the beliefs and skills of our forefathers.

My personal belief is that the world at large is becoming more homogenous in large part due the widespread use of the Internet. Information is literally at your fingertips and exchanges with folks from different areas of the country and world are quite common. My son has made friendships with people from Peru, New Zealand and the UK. They routinely discuss the geopolitical impact of Brexit and the upcoming US presidential election on world events. The closest I would have come to a similar experience would have been to put a message in a bottle, throw it in the Clinch River and hope it floated all the way to Ecuador.

I see all these rapid changes and then think how different my childhood was from my parents and how much their childhoods were different from their parents, and so on. Very few people truly want to be drastically different than their peers so some of this "Appalachian assimilation" is inevitable as people see how the mainstream of society live.

My question is what can, or even should, be done to preserve our culture? Change isn't necessarily a bad thing but I personally don't relish the thought of becoming the new Mohicans. - Shane

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments."

This is something I have pondered forever. We have changed. Just in our speech that has changed so much. I was demonstrating at an event once and I do what we call as "cross switching". When I'm with other Appalachians I revert back to our dialect in a BIG way. The way we speak among ourselves is much different many times than when we are in public. Especially if we are in any professional capacity. SAD but if you don't, people treat you like you are ignorant.

Last year a the Mercer County Heritage Festival demonstrating corn husk crafts,
I will be there again this year, hopefully. Lord be willin and the creeks don't rise,
When I'm in public I speak not so much with a twang or the sing song of our language. Many say they can't understand what I'm saying if I speak with the dialect. Feller came up and watched for a time heard me speak and made the comment, "So by your speech, you are not really an Appalachian? Did you learn all this from the Fox Fire books?"  He got a mouthful of Appalachian then. I told him, "How'd ye like to go snipe huntin' and I lose yer ass in these mountains?" Got my red up then. He ambled on to insult someone else.

I didn't learn my skills from the Fox Fire books. The Fox Fire books were one of the first to write down some about our culture, our skills and became popular. Here is what I posted in response to Shane and the Appalachian Project post:

"I'm sharing this one on my page Shane and with your permission on my blog too. As someone who is descended from a LONG line of Appalachians and still living here I question this all the time. I worked in the tourism industry and helped people with their genealogical research in Appalachia for 25 years. I demonstrate and STILL demonstrate some of the old skills.

I get pissed off when people put down the Fox Fire books. I didn't learn my skills in the Fox Fire books, I was taught like the kids that wrote it down....BUT IT'S written DOWN and preserved that way. I know people who are not from here that know more of our culture and skills than our own people do today. That's the sad part!!! Getting the younger generation proud of who they are, where they come from and interested in learning these things, that is the challenge.

In my county there was a high school history teacher, John Dodson, who 20 years ago, developed a program that the high school students went out and interviewed family members. Kind of like the Fox Fire tradition but with a twist. They put it all online and maintain the database, even today. It's called the Bland County History Archives. Wonderful project because they learn computer skills while preserving history and culture at the same time. Here is a link to their project. Bland County History Archives

The reason I started my blog was to share some of the little knowledge I still know before I'm gone. It is said, it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story. Appalachians should be sharing and writing down their own history. Appalachia is always changing but I think it is the sharing of our culture and our history that will keep it alive."

I'd love to hear your comments too.