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 look at the wood frog, an amazing amphibian which freezes solid over the winter, only to thaw back to life the next spring. How can this be? Three adaptations—1) supercooling; 2) producing and transporting glucose; and 3) drawing water from the organs—permit wood frogs to survive winter as totally frozen, rock-hard bodies. In the spring, its heart beat resumes within an hour after thawing and resurrection is complete in a few hours.
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, writer Muriel Earley Sheppard comments on what happens when the mountain girl marries in this excerpt from “Cabins in the Laurel.” In 1928 Sheppard moved with her mining engineer husband to North Carolina’s Toe River Valley. She began visiting her neighbors and forming friendships in remote coves and rocky clearings, and in 1935 published this account of life in the mountains.
“If given the opportunity to meet anyone from the American past, some may be attracted to the likes of Presidents George Washington or Abraham Lincoln,” says guest author Joshua Salmans of Greenville, SC in this next article. “Though I do not deny the extravagant appeal of being present as Washington crossed the Delaware River or Lincoln recited the Gettysburg Address, my desire to meet my great-great grandfather Harry “Pop” Kramer overshadows all others from history.” Kramer plied an unusual trade, and Salmans fills us in on its details.
Valentine’s Day came our way recently, and that seems as good a reason as any to take a look at the career of bluegrass singer Mac Wiseman, nicknamed “The Voice with a Heart.” Famed for his clear and mellow tenor voice, Wiseman has recorded with many great bluegrass bands, including those of Molly O’Day, Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, and the Osborne Brothers; his command of traditional material made him much in demand by bluegrass and folk fans alike.
We’ll wrap things up with an oral history from Italian immigrant Joseph Scopa, who was born in 1919 and came to Lynch, KY in 1938 to work in the mines. “They’d recruit the Italian fellas because most of them was rock masons. They was rock masons, see, and all these big companies like Lynch [The Benham and Lynch Company], they had ’bout five or six hundred Italians. They all a cuttin’ rocks and buildin’ these hotels and motels all off the bathhouse. They all would work on that part, and they’s real Italians, that’s how it was done, except a few that went in the mines.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Digital Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Oscar Ford in a 1930 recording of ‘Farmer’s Dream.’
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.