Friday, March 30, 2007

Mammy Yokum, Pappy Yokum, and Fearless Fosdick

In 1934 25-year-old cartoonist Al Capp took his hillbilly idea to United Features Syndicate (creating a lifelong public feud with Ham Fisher, whose popular boxing strip “Joe Palooka” he’d been ghosting) and "Li'l Abner was born. The comic strip starred Li'l Abner Yokum, the lazy, dumb, but good-natured and strong hillbilly who lived in Dogpatch with Mammy and Pappy Yokum. Whatever energy he had went into evading the marital goals of Daisy Mae, his well-endowed girlfriend, until Capp finally gave in to reader pressure and allowed the couple to marry. This was such big news that the happy couple made the cover of Life magazine.

Abner was carried at first by only eight newspapers, but his hapless Dogpatchers hit a nerve in Depression-era America. Within three short years it climbed to 253 newspapers, reaching over 15,000,000 readers. Before long he was in hundreds more, with a circulation exceeding 60,000,000 (the entire US population then was about 180 million.)

Connecticut born & raised, Al Capp had traveled the mountains of West Virginia as a child, and drew from those experiences to speckle his wild narratives with unforgettable characters - among them heartless capitalist General Bullmoose; human jinx Joe Bfstplk, who was followed by his own bleak rain cloud; Evil Eye Fleegle whose double whammies could melt skyscrapers; cave-dwelling buddiesLonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe who concocted Kickapoo Joy Juice, the ultimate moonshine; Mammy Yokum, the sweet old lady who could outbox men twice her size; fumbling detective Fearless Fosdick, whose bullet-riddled body resembled Swiss cheese; and the gorgeous but odorous Moonbeam McSwine who preferred the company of pigs to men. And when readers thought there was no sadder and poorer place than Dogpatch, Capp would take his readers to frostbitten and poverty stricken Lower Slobovia.

Besides entertaining millions, Capp permanently affected the popular culture. In 1937 he introduced the annual Sadie Hawkins Day race into his strip. It quickly inspired real life girl-asks-boy dances across America and Sadie Hawkins Day became a national institution.


Originally blogged at Appalachian History

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Musings From the Recently Otherwise Disposed

I fear that I have been absent for sometime. Apologies all around - I've been leading Maryville College (Tennessee) students around New York and dealing with the death of a great man, a legend among those familiar with Emory & Henry College - Arthur Lloyd "Big A.L." Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell was like a grandfather to my peers and me in my old fraternity (including several of this blog's contributors), not to mention half the rest of Emory. We miss you, sir.


Okay, that said, I wanted to share some things I have read, or been sent, or have stumbled upon since my last post . . . you know, spread the love. Consider, if you will:

White's Mill in Abingdon, Virginia
(Image from History of Washington County, Virginia Mills)

Mills of Washington County - Washington County, Virginia is one of the older populated counties of Appalachia west of the Blue Ridge line and as such it has a reputation for being Williamsburg-esque, not unlike Rockbridge County, Virginia or Berkeley County, West Virginia, you know, an inland county that attracts East Coast archaeologists. Well, on the advice of an e-mail from Ms. Kalli Lucas, I have a new site to share with you that hits on the history and architecture of the county - History of Washington County Mills. The site is a young one, but it is well worth a look, if for no other reason than it has the makings of a tour, you know, you have a free Saturday, you have a car, a map, two RC Colas, and a bagful of Funyuns, and well, bam, great day.

KTB's Header - It's Downtown Knoxvilletastic

Knoxville Tennessee Blog - We here at the ol' HS were alerted to the magic of KTB by one of their writers, Mr. Brian Zalk, and, well, their about section tells the story better than I could. For your approval:

Welcome to a Knoxville Tennessee Blog. The blog you are currently viewing is maintained by several Tennessee natives, as a hobby, with the intent of providing you with information that you may find helpful about Knoxville and the surrounding areas.

You are also likely find a variety of topics posted on this blog related to technology, sports, or (insert topic here). Topics that may come up from time to time which are related to Knoxville might include land planning, zoning, and community organizations, revitalization of areas, traffic reports (Smart-Fix Forty), government agendas, real estate, local job information and of course, U.T. sports.

Additionally, we developed the Interative Map (IMap) which can be used to quickly locate local hot spots provided by the community. If you would like to see a new place pinned on the map feel free to leave a comment or use the contact form to notify us. Also feel free to contact us anytime with suggestions for the blog or topics you would like to see posted.

Again, this one is a young'un, but it is put together incredibly well and I foresee it going apelicious. I say link'm up and keep watching - the Interactive Map, in particular, is worth a look-see and it shows signs of being a great introductory guide, in correlation with the blog, to Knoxvegas - - - keep growing your site, folks, and we'll keep watching.

Hoskins Library on the the Campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville -
Home to the Special Collections and Host of the Appalachian Removals and Relocations Lecture
(Image from the UTK Special Collections page)
Appalachian Removals and Relocations - The Special Collections Lecture Series at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is sponsoring an intriguing series on, well, Let me just quote the site for you:
Appalachia is a region of great transformations and intersections. Humans have fought over its natural resources, land, and legacy for centuries. Removals and relocations across this vast territory resulted in regional diversity, cultural isolation, and conflicting identities. As a result, the image of Appalachia and its inhabitants is ever-changing.

Appalachian removals and relocations, both forced and voluntary, are most apparent in the 19th and 20th centuries. The hand of the federal government brought change to Appalachia in the 1830s with forced removal of the Cherokees. Homesteaders then occupied the emptied lands and turned the region's fertile bottomland into productive farms or staked claims on mountainsides and in the valleys of East Tennessee. The high dams of TVA and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park displaced the descendants of those first settlers a century later. Cheap land, opportunity, and dreams for a perfect society also led many immigrant groups to East Tennessee, with the British settlement of Rugby being perhaps the best example of this 19th century utopian influence upon the Appalachian character.

This exhibit explores the theme of Appalachian removals and relocations, using original material held by the Special Collections Library. It anchors the spring 2007 Special Collections Lecture Series and supports the University of Tennessee's Appalachian Semester. The exhibit will be open from March to October 2007, Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 5:30 pm.

Fascinating, eh? And for those of us who either don't live in K-town or don't have time in our schedules to hit the series live, the UTK Library will be podcasting the lectures as well. A must see (or hear) for history buffs.

The Jedi Jawa (Photo taken in Charleston at the Capital complex)

West Virginia Bloggers Message Board - Are you a blogger from West Virginia or a fan of West Virginia Blogging? Well, the Jedi Jawa is, and by god, he (do Jawa have genders? - - - or souls?) isn't a ashamed of it. And, in addition to running a plethora (er, okay, three) of blogs, he has a pretty darn comprehensive list of WV Blogs (hope you don't mind J-J if we add several of those to our link lists in the near future). My guess is that this Ohioian headed to Charleston, WV came across several of these folks came across several of them on a site the samurai-like sand denizen recommended to us, the West Virginia Bloggers Message Board.

Well, there is something to chew on . . . . enjoy.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Looking for help

I am looking for someone knowledgeable in moss in lichen growth and sustainability, especially artificial control of lichen environments. I hope to find someone specific to moss structures of the mid-Appalachian region.

Bluegrass Journey

One of the things about art is you give people an excuse to take some time to be quiet and pay attention to something, and maybe under the guise of enjoyment think about the important things in life” Tony Rice

The documentary “Bluegrass Journey” covers the who, how, and why of many contemporary bluegrass styles and the roots these styles branch from. I cannot describe this better than the synopsis on the Bluegrass Journey website so I am just going to copy their words.

This passionate and affecting performance documentary celebrates the virtuoso artistry and joyous community of contemporary bluegrass music. Musically depicting many of the traditional roots and some of the more far-reaching branches of the genre, BLUEGRASS JOURNEY employs verite footage, thoughtful interviews, and vividly captured extended performances to weave a seamless tapestry that transports and enraptures the devoted fan and newcomer alike. Featuring some of the most celebrated practitioners of this traditional-sounding but still evolving musical form, the film presents a sonically rich and visually stunning portrait that often leaves viewers suppressing applause and cheers after each number. Musical performances by such bluegrass luminaries as the Del McCoury Band, Peter Rowan, Tim O'Brien, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Rhonda Vincent, Nickel Creek, and many others, create an indelible impression that leaves no doubt about why this timeless music has exploded in popularity in recent years. Exhilarating, joyous and rich, intelligent and timely, BLUEGRASS JOURNEY will leave you wanting to hear more. (86 minutes, USA, 2003)


Jerry Douglas & Friends
The Del McCoury Band
Bob Paisley & The Southern Grass
Buddy Merriam & Back Roads
Dry Branch Fire Squad
The Peter Rowan Texas Trio
Tim O'Brien & Darrell Scott
Tim O'Brien & The Crossing
Mandolin Workshop
Bluegrass Youth All-Stars
Nickel Creek
Old Crow Medicine Show
Bull Harman & Bull's Eye
Bob Perilla’s Big Hillbilly Bluegrass
The Kr├╝ger Brothers
Don Rigsby & Friends
Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
Lonesome River Band
John Carlini & Friends
Tim O'Brien & Friends

Bluegrass Journey Videos on You Tube

Tony Rice plays Shenandoah

Nickel Creek

Tony Rice Peter Rowan

A little "gee" and a little "ha"

It's a lost art now days, but not so long ago folks in these parts plowed their gardens and mowed off their fields with some real horsepower, or mule power in most cases. In the Spring of the year I would fully expect to be walking behind my papaw as he was "geeing" and "hawing" his way around the huge acre garden that we had.

I remember one long ear mule named "Ruth," that would pull the plow and rail-sled all over the farm. One sad summer, old Ruth passed on and papaw bartered up for a huge Clydesdale horse. Fittingly, he named it "Clyde."

Clyde never complained and never seemed to break a sweat. It was almost comical to see my 98 pound papaw holding back on the reigns and yelling out commands loud enough to echo off of the surrounding stand of Oak trees. "Gee, haw, geediyap, whoaaa, git-round-yaar," I would often imitate his commands and pretend that I was leading the big Clydesdale.

One wonderful and terrible day, papaw gave in to my pleading and allowed me to drive the rail-sled down the hill to the barn. "Don't go in that pond," was the last thing I remember him saying as I led Clyde straight into the pond, pulling me and papaw along behind him on the sled. That was the last time I got to drive Clyde, but that was OK, I was content to sit back and enjoy the ride!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Elihu Jasper Sutherland: Judge, Gentleman and Scholar

Elihu Jasper Sutherland

During my growing up years in Wise County Virginia, the coffee table in our living room always displayed a book entitled Meet Virginia's Baby: A Pictoral History of Dickenson County. It was a pretty book, and very interesting. And the book's editor, Judge Elihu Jasper Sutherland of Clintwood, was the grandfather of my two very best friends who lived just down the street. He died when we were all quite young, but the memory of him, and the legacy he left, still lives on in his family and his community. Because we actually knew someone connected with the book's publication, even as a young child I sensed that the book was something to be cherished, and I often looked through the pages between the dark green covers with a sense of awe and wonder. Judge Sutherland was deeply revered by all who knew him, and he knew a lot of people. We lived about 30 or so miles from his home town of Clintwood but I imagine that just about everyone in town recognized his name and many knew him personally.

According to the Sutherland Books website, Meet Virginia's Baby is "A warm, human interest account in words and pictures of the hardy pioneers and their offspring who hewed out this 'Diamond in the Wilderness' from the rough ridges and bottom lands. . . " Although the book deals with Dickenson County, I would imagine that it captures the spirit of the hardy pioneers who settled countless other places in Appalachia as well. In addition to being a historian, writer and editor of books, Judge Sutherland was also a highly respected attorney. As reported by the Wise County Historical Society, he served as Commonwealth's Attorney for Dickenson County from 1924-1928, and later became one of the first "trial justices" appointed in Virginia. (A designation later changed to "county judge").

He published other books (see link to Sutherland Books website above), including Some Sandy Basin Characters which according to the website describes among other things the life of one "Baron de Tubeuf of Sugar Hill" who lived in a house above St. Paul that my mother always referred to as "The Old Count's House". I knew the inhabitant of the abandoned house was supposedly from France, but I never knew he was a Baron, nor that he was "de Tubeuf". Now I'm dying to learn more about this person, long dead when I arrived in this world. The old house was set up on the hill right above the bridge which separated Wise from Russell County as one left St. Paul headed toward Castlewood. Once when I was a teenager some parents took us up there to look around, and I remember that there was an old concert grand piano in the house that was falling apart. Imagine that, right between Wise and Russell counties! I'd always heard that his family had to flee invading Indians and that some people in the household survived by swimming the Clinch River and finding safety in town. I don't know if that was true or not (the story I always heard might be apocryphal) but until I did a bit of research for this column, I never knew Judge Sutherland had published a book about the "Old Count". Sounds like Some Sandy Basin Characters would be an interesting read.

There's a hiking and biking trail up there on Sugar Hill now, due in large part to the efforts of a local attorney named Frank Kilgore, who is sort of a one man Nature Conservancy and community activist. Click here for some information about the Sugar Hill Loop Trail.

I can never think about Judge Sutherland without remembering his lovely wife Hetty, who was a true renaissance woman filled with seemingly endless energy and creativity. She always welcomed me into her home with warmth and love and I will always remember her lovely house (named "Sunset Hill") set on the hill above Clintwood where she lived and gardened and sat reading amongst the huge oak trees. I keep in touch with her granddaughters every few years, and learned that she passed away within the last couple of years after living beyond the age of 100. I'll always fondly remember popping corn (the small purple kind on the cob) in her fireplace on the occasional happy Saturday night when I would be invited to visit her with her granddaughters.

If you'd like to know more about the fascinating lives of Judge Elihu and Hetty Sutherland, there's an interesting article about them by the Wise County Historical Society here. The information about Hetty describes her as "sturdy pioneer stock" who was born in a log cabin near the Pound River at Camp Creek. The world sure did change a lot during her lifetime.

Elihu and Hetty Sutherland made an important and lasting contribution to preserving the history of Far Southwest Virginia and to documenting the mysterious and inspiring pioneer spirit.

Friday, March 23, 2007

America’s very own Montagues and Capulets

The Hatfields and McCoys. America’s very own Montagues and Capulets. Symbols etched in America’s mind for Appalachian lawlessness, vigilantism, and ruthless violence. Note that the most famous feuds all clustered in the closing years of the 19th century: Hatfield-McCoy (1880–1887), Martin-Tolliver (1874–1887), French-Eversole (1885–1894), and Hargis-Callahan-Cockrell (1899–1903). By the Depression era they were the stuff of schoolbooks. How did such bitter disputes arise, often even over the most trivial things?

The generation born immediately before and during the War Between the States had lots of scores to settle. Being the only state cleaved from another state at that war’s end, West Virginia suffered double trauma. As in other border states, friends set against friends, family against family, and one part of a neighborhood against the other over the Union/Confederacy divide. Animosity continued afterward on the issue of whether to seek statehood or not. In 1913, West Virginia was the only state to send relatively the same number of Union and Confederate veterans to the Battle of Gettysburg 50th year reunion, a potent symbol of this division.

In “Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900,” Altina L. Waller explains what legend does not: namely, that both Hatfields and McCoys devotedly sought legal redress, ultimately through the Supreme Court of the United States. But justice was never done.
Waller describes how passions were actually intensified by the intrusion of the state. The Hatfields and McCoys were tangled by marriage and many other common interests. They were separated only by the Tug River, which happened to serve as the state line, further complicating the legal logistics. When news of the feud began to circulate, the governor of Kentucky worried that the coal- and timber-rich mountains of his state would soon be seen as unsafe by outside investors.

He sent an extradition request to the governor of West Virginia for the "troublemaker Hatfields," hired a special deputy, and offered rewards for their capture. Private detectives and bounty hunters flooded the region, ironically provoking more violence, which in turn led to more negative publicity.

The Civil War generation was in its ‘80s by the 1930s, so even though the actual feuds themselves had died down, the bitter stories were still being handed down from grandparent to grandchild. Is it any wonder revenuers and other government officials continued to be viewed with such suspicion?

“Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900,” Altina L. Waller University of North Carolina Press.

Originally blogged at Appalachian History

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

May I have your attention please:

Some of us here in Knoxville associated with Hillbilly Savants have lately been working on a very special project. Two young ladies, Sarah Surak and Hannah Lowe as a part of Team in Training, have been raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of their friend Michelle Pfeffer, who lost her battle with Leukemia last year.

To that end, this Thursday March 29 we are hosting a benefit concert at Manhattan's Bistro and Bar in Knoxville's Old City. Local band Grandpa's Stash will perform. Grandpa's Stash is a relatively new addition to Knoxville's thriving music scene. Along with its straight-ahead rock and roll set-up, the band also features a trombone that adds a different but welcome dimension to its hard-hitting rock sound. Check them out here. Admission is $5.00.

In addition to the show, between sets we will be raffling off various items, gift certificates and artwork that local businesses and artists have donated. You'll even have a chance to win a $300 travel voucher from STA Travel.

Things will get started around 9:00, so bring a friend and enjoy a great show, all the while helping out a worthy cause. If you can't come out to the show, please consider making a donation here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nature's Details.

A hike in the Cumberlands of Tennessee on an early spring day offered glimpses of beauty in the little details found outdoors. (A description of the hike and some wider views can be found on yesterday's post at my other site.)

Hillbilly Fever

Even here in Richmond this little blog of ours is making an impact. The other night amongst wonderful new friends I felt like I was among “kin.” This time instead of sitting around a fire or on a rocking porch I sat in a fan house and listen to people pop open boxes, pull out instruments, and start playing old time music. Every pluck of a banjo, a bass, and holler of the voice gave me even more pride in my heritage with a beaming joy for what we are doing here at Hillbilly Savants. As I stood there I could not get the vision out of my head when I once sat on the back of my father’s tractor with my grandmother planting row tobacco. I was only about eight when I first started helping out and sitting of the back of the tractor with my grandmother following my hands, showing me how to plant the crop correctly, proved to be a starting point in my understanding of that country community. Sadly, I had to leave before the party really started jumping but in my short visit I realized that there is definitely a Hillbilly community growing and I am proud to be included. Thank you all for a wonderful time and I hope to speak with each and every one of you again.

Keep plowing boys and girls.

by George Vaughn
covered by Little Jimmy Dickens

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Support Big Stone Gap

A celebration in Big Stone Gap. Federal Building on right.

Big Stone Gap, Va
(courtesy Wise County Historical Society)

Production decisions are currently being made for the filming of the movie Big Stone Gap, based on the novel by Adriana Trigiani. Big Stone Gap is a great read, as is her entire series, and it really captures the small town essence of Appalachia (the region, not to be confused with the neighboring town of the same name).

One would think that a story about a quaint town in Southwest Virginia would logically lend to the movie being filmed in that very location. "Big Stone", or "The Gap", as we natives of Wise County refer to it, is truly a special town and would make a great backdrop to any film, but especially this one. But there's a good chance this movie depicting small town life in Appalachia in the 1970's and 80's will be shot in South Carolina.

Trigiani will be directing the film and, if she had her way, would be making it in Big Stone in a heartbeat. The film's Los Angeles producers are looking for greener (read $$) pastures, thus the consideration of South Carolina, which is currently offering financial incentives to expand the state as a filmmaking location. So far, it is not clear if Virginia will ante up to South Carolina's incentives.

Not only would the decision to film in Big Stone Gap make the best sense, it also has economic ramifications. The town has been anticipating the economic benefits of the movie being shot on location, as well as the tourist draw. Tourism has been highly promoted by key decision makers as a future economy for the region, and what better chance to reinforce that vision than by filming this homegrown Appalachian story?

Luckily, a final decision has not been made. There's a strong grassroots effort to still bring the film to it namesake location. The website Film Big Stone Gap in the Gap, is spearheading the effort to have the film shot where it should be; in Appalachia, in Southwest Virginia, in Wise County, in Big Stone Gap!

Give them a visit and lend your support to this great Appalachian town.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"I wish I were a single girl again"

When I was a single girl, I went dressed very fine,
Now I am married and have a drunken man to mind.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

When I was a single girl I done as I pleased;
Now I am a married girl with a drunken man to please.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

He goes down to town and stays all day
Drinking and gambling and wasting time away.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

And when he comes home it's a curse and damn,
Wishing I were dead and he had another dram.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

Spring to go to, and cows to milk and feed,
And the four little children a-crying after me.
Oh, I wish I were a single girl again.

Collected by Harvey H. Fuson
"Ballads of the Kentucky Highlands"
London, 1931, p 118

Orginally blogged at Appalachian History

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

State Facts, Anyone?

My girlfriend, Casey, wrote up an exhaustive list of official U.S. state facts on her blog this morning. There are some amazing and funny listings to be had.

I'm posting her entry here,
even though it's not Appalachia-specific, as I think the trivia fans among us will all discover something new.



I just heard the exciting news and knew I had to share it with everyone. Yes, the time we've all waited for has come: New Mexico has declared the bolo tie as its state tie!

What? You've never heard of having a state tie before? Well apparently, it's not a new thing. Arizona claimed the bolo as its state neck wear in 1973.

I searched but could not find Tennessee's state tie, nor any state's other than the 2 southwest bolo pushers. I did find out that our state fine art is porcelain painting. I wish it had been glass blowing - that's more awesome. Our state fruit is the tomato. The official state Jamboree and crafts fair is the Smithville Fiddlers' Crafts Fair and Jamboree. I'm not sure if you have to have both crafts fair and jamboree in your name to qualify, but I have yet to see evidence against it.

Here are a few more rattled-off in quick fashion:

  • State Theatre: Tennessee Theatre
  • State Slogan: "Tennessee: America at its Best"
  • Bicentennial Rap Song: " A Tennessee Bicentennial Rap" (You can't make this stuff up)
  • State Language: English
  • Public School Song: "My Tennessee"

Ah, good stuff. Makes you proud to live where we do. I feel I've learned so much, I want to learn more facts about other state symbols (watch out, I'm going to all the states!) like:

  • Alabama has a state soil: Bama Soil Series, a state spirit, a state horseshoe tournament, bible and barbecue championship.
  • Alaska is boring.*
  • Arkansas has a Purple Martin Capital of both the Northwest and Southeast.
  • Calico is the state silver rush ghost town, and Bodie is the state gold rush ghost town of California.
  • Colorado has the most awesome state fossil: The STEGOSAURUS! It has also declared "Rocky Mountain High" one of its state songs, giving John Denver the record for state songs written at 2.
  • Connecticut has its own state hero: Nathan Hale, and Heroine: Prudence Crandall.
  • Who has their own star? Delaware. The Delaware Diamond located in Ursa Major.
  • Florida's State pie is the delicious Key Lime Pie. Its state Litter Control Symbol is the delicious Keep Florida Beautiful, Incorporated, service mark.
  • Georgia has both a state pork and beef barbecue championship cook-off. It also has a state peanut monument and is listed as the poultry capital of the world. Oh, and don't forget the state 'possom (and that's how it was listed).
  • Hawaii has individual colors and flowers for each of its islands.
  • The Peregrine Falcon is the state raptor of Idaho.
  • The awesome Tully Monster is the state fossil of Illinois (take that Colorado) and its state snack food is popcorn.
  • Indiana, Iowa, and Kansas also earned a big yawn.*
  • Thank you, exciting Kentucky!! They have a state Bourbon Festival and a state tug-of-war championship. Now that's a good time!
  • Need more fun? Try Louisiana's state Uncle Earl's Hot Dog Trials!
  • Maine's state drink is Moxie. What is Moxie?
  • The Astrodon Johnstoni is state dinosaur of Maryland.
  • The Hadrosaurus is the state dinosaur of New Jersey.
  • Massachusetts spreads its deliciousness with the state dessert: Boston Cream Pie, state cookie: Chocolate Chip, state donut: Boston Cream and state muffin: the corn muffin. It also has a state explorer rock. Think it's Plymouth Rock? Think again. It's Dighton rock.
  • Did you notice boring states come in packs. This pack is Michigan and Minnesota.*
  • Mississippi's state toy is the teddy bear.
  • On May 3rd you can celebrate Missouri Day, eat the state grape: Norton/Cynthiana Grape, and play the state instrument: the fiddle.
  • Montana has the Cowboy Hall of Fame.
  • Nebraska has the state Historic Baseball Capital in St. Paul and the regular Baseball Capital in Wakefield. Enjoy them both while sipping on the state soft drink: Kool-aid.
  • Another head-scratcher is Nevada's state artifact: the Tule duck decoy. I think you can pick up one at your local hunting store.
  • New Hampshire state law defines the term "New Hampshire Native." It then goes on to say no one who in good faith proclaims themselves to be a New Hampshire native pursuant shall be charged with perjury.
  • New York? Surprisingly boring.*
  • North Carolina, on the other hand, has its own state carnivorous plant: the Venus Flytrap. There's nothing more interesting than a meat-eating plant.
  • North Dakota is boring. Is anyone surprised?*
  • "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys is the State Rock Song of Ohio. Rock!
  • The state meal of Oklahoma is fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas. The state cartoon Character is Gusty. The state pin is the "OK" Pin.
  • The Father of Oregon is Dr. John McLoughlin. The Mother of Oregon is Tabitha Moffet Brown. I will not judge Oregon for its parents being unmarried.
  • Pennsylvania…yawn.*
  • Rhode Island's state beverage is Coffee Milk. Apparently it's like chocolate milk but with sweet coffee syrup instead of chocolate. They also have an official state yacht: the 12 meter "Courageous".
  • The snack food of South Carolina is boiled peanuts. Let me just say bleech!!
  • South Dakota's state dessert is Kuchen. It's made with shortening, sugar, butter, vanilla eggs, flour, cream, and a layer of your chosen fruit. I saw a lot of peaches.
  • Texas has always been crazy and doesn't fail us now. The state vehicle is a chuckwagon. State cooking implement is the cast iron dutch oven. Dish is chili, snack is tortilla chips and salsa. They cancelled their state pastries in 2005.
  • Don't worry, I'm almost done.
  • Cooking pot of Utah: the dutch oven. It think I see a fight with Texas coming.
  • The state flavor of Vermont is Maple. Well, that makes sense.
  • I think Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming figured the were at they last of the list and people would be bored by now, because they gave me nothing good.*

* Boring just means there are no interesting state symbols - not that your state is boring. Though I used to go to Kansas in the summer, and let me tell you….

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The RiffRaff Arts Collective

The Road Upstairs at the RiffRaff Arts
Collective in Princeton, West Virginia

(Image from the Collective's website)
Princeton, West Virginia is just up the road from my home town of Bluefield. It is a county seat, named after Princeton, New Jersey (where our county's namesake, General Hugh Mercer, died during the Revolutionary War) and a bunch of my friends and I almost kinda' sorta' didn't but almost did get in a fight there, in the parking lot of the Taco Bell. You know. During the '90s. In the "high school."


Anyway, Princeton is now the home of something special that I wanted to share with you - the RiffRaff Arts Collective. What is, you're asking, the RiffRaff Arts Collective? Well, it is a collective of artists of all genre - performance, musical, literary, visual, the whole nine yards. You know, I could go on and on, but why don't I just through up an excerpt from the About Us page. Ahem:
The RiffRaff Arts Collective, located at 865-869 Mercer St. in downtown Princeton, West Virginia, is a massive space where the collective vision of a few highly driven artists is realized. Within the 12,000 sq. ft. building exists "The Room Upstairs," a brand new performance venue and classroom space on the 3rd floor, an art gallery and the offices of LLyniuM entertainment and Through My Eyes Photography & Design on the 1st floor and 5 newly renovated artist studio/office spaces on the 2nd floor. Core artists Robert Blankenship and Lori McKinney find their home in this multipurpose creative zone, producing new works, doing business, hosting performances and working with local artists like Dina Brown, Rich Miller, Cori Pennell and Jeff Mills on cooperative projects. Mills, Miller, Brown, Pennell, Dale Edwards and Ellis Wilborn helped the construction faze go smoothly. The bulk of the renovations of this century-old building have been done by the artists, led by Blankenship, since March 2006. Now, as the new year starts rolling, the full scale of this colossal project is ready to be realized. The gallery storefront on the first floor is scheduled for its GRAND OPENING March 23, and will house the fine art of Blankenship along with others like Miller, Mills, Brown and Pennell, displaying paintings, photography, jewelry, original clothing designs, furniture, woodwork and other original art. Blankenship's arsenal of works includes photography, paintings, and other functional art. His business Through My Eyes Photography & Design offers graphic design including logos, websites, posters, CD covers, shirts for bands, brochures and much more. TME also offers interior design and custom photography. Dina Brown's pottery business and painting studio now inhabit the first office space on the second floor. Local artist Maggie Meehan finds a home studio in the space next door. The other three office spaces remain open; ideas for occupants have been a yoga center, which could house classes in the beautiful ballroom upstairs, healing arts professionals, and of course, artists of any medium. There is an application process; one can call the RiffRaff for details. The Room Upstairs provides a home for LLyniuM entertainment, Blankenship and McKinney's production company, which has been producing events in the region for over three years now. The Room Upstairs is a newly restored ballroom with refinished wood floors, pressed tin ceilings, a stage, and comfortable couches and chairs for guests. LLyniuM entertainment will now have a home venue in which to host its programs. On October 23, they presented their first program in the Room Upstairs: Raquy and the Cavemen, from Brooklyn, NY -via- Israel and it was a smashing success. Monday 11/6 marked the first Monday night OPEN STAGE night to a great audience with some top quality musicians. This event continues every Monday night from 7-11pm. This evening includes music, dance, poetry, and any other type of performance art. There is a cover charge of $3, $2 for performers. Complimentary food, coffee and soda are served each week. Upcoming events will include original stage productions, music and dance performances and classes.
Impressive for a little town in southern West Virginia, eh? Good work RRAC (or is it RAC?) . . . I'll be stopping by soon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More on Pork

Image from The Contrary Goddess - check it out.

As an addendum to Vaughn's delicious comments on Abingdonian pork, I felt obliged to share a blog entry I found not three minutes after I read his own, on the blog of a long-time friend of ours, the Contrary Goddess. It is on pork curing (in this specific instance, sugar-curing), and it is a heck of a read - I'm reminded of Anthony Bordain's stories from Portugal, in particular. Regardless, on with the deliciousness.

Barbecue: Parks Mill

What is more Appalachian than Barbecue?

This past weekend Eric, Jason, and I ventured over to historic Parks Mill in Abingdon, VA for a hefty sample of vittles and root beer. The eighteenth-century water-powered gristmill now stands as a barbecue restaurant, general store, bed and breakfast, and garage. One could possibly pick up a delicious supper, get an oil change, purchase a rocking chair with some ice cream and local honey from the general store, then spend the night along side Fifteen Mile Creek. The experience proved to be worth every bite. In 1780 Oliver Alexander opened Parks Mill as a stone ground mill to produce corn grain along with oat and wheat flower. The North Carolina style barbecue is smoked daily and served right up to you on a platter or a bun. Addition sides are slaw, baked beans, or potato salad. The restaurant even has choices for ambiance ranging from the quaint country store wooden tables, to porch rocking, to picnic style benches beside the creek. All locations come with a sweet sample of either vinegar or tomato base barbecue sauce.

My Score for Parks Mill

Barbecue 4 out of 5 Stars
Sauce 3 out of 5 Stars
Sides 3 out of 5 Stars
Location 5 out of 5 Stars
Atmosphere 5 out of 5 Stars

Check out the seasonal music

Parks Mill
21405 Parks Mill Road
Abingdon, VA 24211
(276) 628-9191

Weekend Six: Electronic Goodness

Ladies and Germs - I've got some sites for you. That's right. I said ladies and germs. Like Steve Martin used to. Which means I must be giddy. And I am.

One of my favorite artists, DJ Spooky, as covered by the good folks
at the Media Arts Project - check'm out.
1 - The Media Arts Project: Simply put, this site, that seems to be on the cusp of bringing together the combined potential of artists of every conceivable genre from throughout western North Carolina, rocks me. Check it out - there is a blog, sure, but the links and the Media Arts Directory, well, "homminah."

WVUMorgantown's PRT - Read more at Progressive Engineer. Chief.

2. "Still in a Class of Its Own" at Progressive Engineer: Before I get to the meat, I want to throw a plug to this really interesting publication outta' Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. I quote:
Progressive Engineer is an online magazine and information source covering all disciplines of engineering in the continental U.S. The magazine features profiles of engineers and companies and stories on projects that detail the accomplishments of engineers from a human perspective in an easy-to-read style while fostering sustainability in engineering. It also has a job board and directories of engineering firms, sustainability-related firms, engineering organizations, engineering schools , and professional engineer licensing boards. Think of it as a one-stop shop for today's engineer.
Alright, now throw them some traffic.

On to the meat. West Virginia, specifically the good city of Morgantown, I just recently found out, has a people-mover. That's right, just like Tomorrowland. Where does Progressive Engineer come in? Here.

Kingsport, Tennessee Southeast Long Island : the Holston River
1700's and More Recently, a la Discover Kingsport, which your
brain demands you visit immediately
3. Discover Kingsport: I don't know how we've missed this one so far, but we did. The city once sacred to the Cherokee and now one of the centers of Appalachian industry is reviewed extensively and intensively here (like agriculture in inner Papua New Guinea). Great pics, great historical briefs, superb links, tremendous cross-references between the now and the then - with all the costs and benefits the concept infers. Two thumbs up and a solid pat on the back to the folks at DK.

Just one of William Gedney's masterfully composed works,
courtesy the libraries at Duke University. Our sincere thanks.
4. William Gedney: Photographs & Writings: Kentucky: Images from rural Kentucky - beautiful, archetypical without being stereotypical - that's all I can say. I know a bit back I first found this it was linked on a blog, but I have to admit - I can't remember which one. If you see this and know it was yours, please let me know and I'll immediately revise the blog entry and drop you a link. Lo siento.

Delicious, salty, and made in the hillz. You crave Route 11.

5. Route 11 Chips: We here at HS have obsessed over our blessed Route 11 for ages - well, months, but there it is. And all this time we had no idea that the folks in Middletown, Glorious-Commonwealth-of-Virginny, were producing a similarly-themed delicious, crunchy series of tuber-based treats. Order lots for your next party.

Also - theme music.

Bill Landry, one of Appalachia's greatest living
spokesmen - see his work over at WBIR.

6. The Heartland Series at WBIR: Finally, a site that requires little to no description to those folks who live in that swath of land between the Tri-Cities and Chattavegas - WBIR's Heartland Series, hosted by the unflappable Bill Landry. Check out the site ASAP - there are shorts on marshmellowy equivalent of manna from heaven, Moon Pies, the explorations of Henry Timberlake, and of course the White Pine Rabbit Supper (salivation).

Misty Mountain Hop

Views from the fire tower on top of Mt Cammerer after a ferocious thunderstorm.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Barns of our past, still in the present

Like old dinosaurs lurking in the background, these dilapidated buildings of our ancestors sit in various states of disarray throughout all of Appalachia.

Some still being used, small repairs visible, keeping out the rain.

My grandfather would question any man's worthiness that didn't own a barn.

Many a country boy and girl has spent a good portion of their childhood inside these clapboard fortresses.

Cows, horses, pigs, and even us Hillbillies found shelter and comfort in their confines.

If these old buildings could talk, what a tale they would tell!

All of the above pictures were taken by me and were all within a 5 mile radius of my house in Corryton, TN. Click on this link to see all of the barns that I photographed today.