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 a look at ginseng’s place in Appalachia. Ginseng’s hold on our consciousness has been strong for a long long time. Its root is famed as being a cure for almost every sort of ill, and an antidote for every poison. Right now is the heart of plant’s harvesting season. The berry clusters have ripened. The leaves are yellowing. The roots are ready. But stay awhile. The best hunting is still to come, after the first hard frost.
We’ll pause in between things to catch up on a Calendar of Events in the region this week, with special attention paid to events that emphasize heritage and local color.
Halloween’s around the corner. What better time for a haint tale from east Tennessee? Jim Blevins, a school teacher in Clarktown, was no stranger to supernatural occurrences, so when strange things started happening in his cabin, he prepared for the worst. He got a surprise that was as embarrassing to him as it is amusing to us.
Eddie Crock and Joe Fisher, who owned establishments across the street from one another in Fulda, OH, spent a lot of time in each other’s place of business, visiting with each other and the customers. They got to having a morning eye opener each day until it got to be a must. This went on for years without missing a morning. They made a pledge with each other, that if one died the other would bring an eye opener and visit the grave. Joe died first, and Eddie made good on the promise, but with a twist.
Alabama is “updating its historical presence in the U.S. Capitol, swapping out a statue of a former congressman for a new bronze likeness of Helen Keller,” the AP reports. The Keller statue, unveiled October 7, 2009, is the first in the National Statuary Hall Collection depicting a person with a disability and the only one of a child. Showing Keller as a 7-year-old girl, it replaces one of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, a former Confederate officer, educator, ambassador and preacher who advocated for free universal education.
This year is the 229th anniversary of the Battle of King’s Mountain, a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Large thanks for the American victory in that engagement go to the Overmountain Men, whose patriotism had not been stimulated by any tax-gatherer — they had never seen one ; nor by any tax on tea — save the root of the sassafras, they drank none ; nor by any stamp duty — they knew no more of a stamp than they did of the King’s signet ring. They rushed to the rescue of their country as a boy would fly to his mother, on a shriek of distress.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the annual Plum Nelly Clothesline Art Show. Up until the early 1970s, if you found yourself surrounded by Lookout Mountain’s crisp autumn air, steaming apple cider and hot gingerbread, handmade dolls, working craftspeople and sawdust trails through the woods punctuated by the pottery of Charles Counts and the woodblock prints of Fannie Mennen, you had probably landed smack in the middle of it.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Ernest Phipps in a 1935 recording of “Don’t Grieve After Me.”
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.