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 WV evangelist John William Harris’s account of his first time at a summer revival in 1897. Revival organizers had warned attendees to be alert to horse thieves on the grounds. Sure enough a group of them descended on Harris’ horse and buggy. Hiding in a cluster of nearby bushes, the young, slightly built man managed to project a menacing voice at the gang, which scared them off and surprised Harris no end.
Byron Herbert Reece never did graduate from Young Harris College in North Georgia because he refused to take mathematics or French. That didn’t hinder him from going on to a successful writing career that included 4 volumes of poetry and 2 novels. But the same dark shadow that haunted his parents haunted him, and he chose to end his life at the age of 41.
Actress Tallulah Bankhead was no stranger to politics. As you’ll hear in this next piece, she says “There were Alabama Bankheads in one or another of the houses of Congress for sixty consecutive years.” She uses her considerably barbed wit to skewer candidate Thomas E Dewey in a 1948 political rally speech for Harry Truman.
Until Earl Shaffer actually did it, experts believed that a hike of the entire Appalachian Trail in one continuous trip was impossible. On July 10, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened “Earl Shaffer and the Appalachian Trail,” an exhibition that focuses on the fulfillment of Shaffer’s childhood goal of hiking the Trail. We’ll give you a quick preview of the exhibit, which runs through October 30.
The Wheeling, WV native was the most celebrated American soprano of the 1940s and 1950s. But one of Eleanor Steber’s most important contributions to the world of opera was to commission and bring to life a 16-minute song that luxuriates in the calm of an earlier America, a contented, rocking-chair America. Composer Samuel Barber adapted the text for “Knoxville: Summer of 1915” from the introduction to A Death In The Family, James Agee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography.
We’ll wrap things up with the love story of a young couple in Scott County, VA at the turn of the 20th century. It seems the girl’s father wasn’t in favor of this romance. More than once the young man came to her home in order to ask her father for her hand in marriage. The old man always spied him coming from a distance and managed to make himself unavailable. The course of true love never did run smooth.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Jimmy Smith in a 1926 recording of ‘Mountain Blues.’
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.