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 right side of your screen. If you’d rather grab the show off itunes for later listening, click here:
We open today’s show with an excerpt from the 1913 book “Our Southern Highlands” in which Horace Kephart interviews an anonymous North Carolina moonshiner about the trade. “There is one thing that I’m as ignorant about as any novel-reader of them all,” Kephart says to his interviewee. “You know my habits; I like to explore–I never take a guide–and when I come to a place that’s particularly wild and primitive, that’s just the place I want to peer into. Suppose that, one of these days when I’m out hunting, or looking for rare plants, I should stumble upon a moonshine still in full operation–what would happen? What would they do?”
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.
Next, listen in on this 2005 interview with Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt of the University of Texas/Austin as she discusses the politics of certain Appalachian foods. “In the South, biscuits and cornbread have a lot to say about food as a path to morality,” Engelhardt says. “Hidden in the choice between cornbread and biscuits is an entire cultural history.”
“The colored people could get in the hospital if they had the money to pay,” says Dr. Mary Frances (Polly) Shuford in a 1975 oral history she granted to the Southern Highlands Research Center. Dr. Shuford, a white resident of Asheville, NC, opened the Shuford Colored Clinic in 1940, where the black residents of Asheville could receive needed medical care. Four years later, when her operating funds for the clinic were exhausted, Dr. Shuford appealed to the Buncombe County Medical Society. With the help of fiery editorials by newspaper editor Charles Webb, she then spearheaded the establishment of the Colored Hospital.
In 1943, a group of Kingsport, TN businessmen wanted to do something special for their neighbors in Southwest Virginia to thank them for their patronage. Flem Dobyns of Dobyns-Taylor Hardware Store and Bill Waddell of the Kingsport Times-News came up with the idea of having a special Christmas themed Clinchfield Railroad train head out of Kingsport, on up through Southwest Virginia, to the coalfields of Eastern Kentucky. In Pikeville, KY the train would pick up Santa Claus, then circle back to Kingsport, distributing candy and gifts to needy families along the way.
We’ll wrap things up with a rembrance of holidays past from Curtis R. Pfaff, born 1921 in Allais, KY. “Thanksgiving and Christmas were our favorite days. The turkey and ham dinners were the best foods I ever knew. The turkey would be purchased live and dressed out the day before.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Library of Appalachia, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Jake Krack and friends in a 2006 recording of the classic fiddle tune ‘Hell Broke Loose in Georgia.’
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.