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 a 1962 interview with Sanders Russell, harness race champion. Just prior to this interview, at age 62 and recovering from a broken leg, the North Alabama native won the famed Hambletonian. “Bi Shively won the Hambletonian when he was 73, you know. I quite frankly am looking forward to next season and a string of them after that.” Sanders Russell lived to be 82 years old.
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, we’ll take a look at the ancient method of bending trees to mark woodland trails used by the Cherokee in Southern Appalachia. In marking a trail, after bending and fastening the young trees, a Cherokee would usually carve upon them his individual or clan insignia. Not every tree along the route of travel was bent, it being advisable to do so only at intervals. Natives were thus able to follow a pre-established trail by continuing in the direction indicated from one bent tree to the next.
Store-bought Christmas tree ornaments don’t carry nearly the same emotional weight as ornaments that we’ve been given as a gift. “This truly bright spot in Mamma’s life now brightened far more than the corner of her little home with the low ceiling and the unlevel floor,” says West Virginian Foster Mullenax in a Christmas tree-decorating vignette from a 1980 family memoir. “This was what home should be for her children and her man. As she opened the shoebox, the eager kids were almost uncontrollable with excitement over the dazzling tree ornaments for their very own tree.”
We’ll wrap things up with a Jack Tale for Christmas. Jack gets a shotgun under the tree on Christmas day, and to hear him tell it, on his first time out with his new prize possession bags 24 largemouth bass, 1 large grey squirrel, 2 fat rabbits, 1 very large slightly damaged deer, and a 2000 lb. prize bull. And he wouldn’t pull your leg on that, would he?
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Kelly Harrell in a 1925 recording of ‘I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago.’
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.