We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. You can start listening right away by clicking the podcast icon over on the left side of your screen. If you’d rather grab the show off itunes for later listening, click here.
We open today’s show with the rags to riches story of John R. Brinkley. His medical quackery was aimed squarely at elderly gentlemen who wanted to be “sweetly dangerous among the ladies again.” They happily paid Brinkley in excess of $12 million, guest blogger Gary Carden tells us. Carden’s autobiographical “Mason Jars in the Flood” received the AWA Book of the Year Award in 2001.
Next up, a short discussion of local beliefs about witchcraft, from a 1900 autobiography by one Thomas L. Preston of Saltville, VA. Preston notes the curious case of 2 young girls who saw a black cat coming down the chimney with a cap on its head. From that moment one was struck dumb and the other rendered incapable of walking. Until exactly one year later to the day, when the two girls traded afflictions.
Ever play with a Duncan yo-yo? You’re not alone. With more than 600 million sold, it is probably the most popular toy in history, and has been inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. We’ll share with you the story of Donald F. Duncan of Huntington, WV.
The United Mine Workers had organized 95 percent of the miners in Kentucky’s Harlan and Bell Counties by the beginning of 1941. The only non-union outpost was the Fork Ridge mine just across the Kentucky line in Tennessee, a short distance from Middlesboro. On April 15 things came to a head there, and it got ugly.
If you’re a baseball lover, we’ve got plenty of stats for you about pitcher Charles Louis (“Deacon”) Phillippi, of Rural Retreat VA. The Deacon’s claim to fame is that he won the first game of the first World Series in 1903 against Boston’s Cy Young.
Go to Harrisonburg, Virginia and you’ll find them in just about any of the numerous old, old Mennonite churches in the area. They’re “Old Folks Singings,” an event unique to that religious group in that region. And the songbook they use is The Harmonia Sacra. No other hymnal in the English language has had such a long lifespan of constant use in any Christian denomination. Listen in with us on how that came to be.
Finally we’ll wrap things up with a look at Bank Night at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown, WV. “Bank Night is a copyright scheme,” fumed Time magazine in 1937. “What it amounts to is a clever evasion of state & municipal lottery laws whereby, by registering his name at a theatre, a patron becomes eligible to win a substantial prize if he is present at the theatre on ‘Bank Night’— when the prize is awarded to the holder of a lucky ticket after a drawing on the theatre stage.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Clarence Ashley in a 1931 recording of ‘My Sweet Farm Girl.’
So, call your old blue-tick hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.