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America Appalachia summer The Aging Process weather winter writing

Hollers, half-pints, cuttin tobacco, and the drive-in at Summersville

Folks south of here, specifically family and friends in Greensburg, Kentucky, have experienced a really nice white Christmas this year. I left there in 1988 and if memory serves, the winter of ’88 wasn’t known for its whiteness. As a matter of fact, it’s kind of unusual for Kentucky to have much snow during any particular winter. But when it does come a “good snow,” Green County is paralyzed. Schools and businesses close when the first flake is detected. (I’m not sure how it’s detected locally, I think the nearest radar info comes in from Louisville or Lexington.)

Snow in Summersville, Kentucky (Photo by Linda Smith)

I remember, and I’m sure my brother Chuck remembers, a time one winter when after a good snow hit, he and I decided it was time for a respite away from “Tucker Holler.” Back then I was drivin a 1973 Chevy Impala, four-door, and we knew it’d probably not make it up the hill through all the snow if we didn’t leave pretty quick. There was a straight section of gravel road, just before an “S” curve, and just before the road started uphill, that allowed us to get up speed. We made it around the S-curve and up the first incline. A second uphill section of gravel road, a little steeper because it wasn’t curved, stopped us. But only for a little while.

Once we slipped and spun our way up and around the S-curve, there was another short section of relatively flat road that we again used for gathering speed. However, with all the snow, it wasn’t possible to make much headway with enough speed to top the hill and reach the cattle crossing gate that led out to the black-top road. We stalled halfway up that last hill, got out of the car and assessed the situation. Stuck. But not for long. We shoveled out a lengthy section of snow from behind the rear wheels, took off our coats and stuffed them under the tires, and made another attempt – it worked. Freedom!

Tucker Hollow

Tucker Hollow, or Holler, was quite a place. I visited the old homestead back in 08, that’s when I snapped that photo of the barn. If you look closely you can see a glimmer of white siding behind those cedar trees. The house had a tin roof, a leaky one, and one room upstairs that we thought was haunted, but I never saw anything strange happen in there.  I wonder if anyone else did? It’s strange isn’t it, how stories like that get started?

And then there’s stories of cuttin tobacco in the heat of summer, for a little spendin money, maybe for the drive-in show at Summersville, or a road trip to Big Johns for a half-pint. All of these, and more, are memories from the past that will always remain in the present.

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America Appalachia Haiti Poverty

Poverty – America’s unspoken natural disaster

Map showing poverty stricken areas of Appalachia
Appalachian poverty

There’s a large population of folks in eastern Kentucky living in poverty and grief. People living in other regions of Appalachia are suffering just as much. A friend of mine experienced such conditions in that area of eastern Kentucky when he was a boy. Luckily, and with God’s grace, he was able to pull himself out of the muck and mire of want and need to become a happy, productive, God-fearing man with a family, a nice home, and a generous and kind heart.

Recently he and I were talking about the earthquake in Haiti and the millions and millions of dollars in aid ($21 million from text messages??) being put into the relief efforts. It was during this conversation that he mentioned the Appalachian region and he and I both wondered why there’s so much pain and suffering in our own country that seems to continuously be overlooked.

I don’t doubt for one second the sincerity of all the folks who’re making donations for the Haitian people, this is a showing of our nations’ caring attitude. It’s noble and good that we should help those in need. It’s right and proper to give to those who have lost everything, God tells us to do good unto others.

I just wish more could be done for the poor here in our own country. If you garden, how about planting an extra row of potatoes or tomatoes this year for your local food pantry. That’s what I’ll be doing.

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