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 the story of the Scottsboro Boys. On March 25, 1931, local authorities in Paint Rock, AL arrested nine black youths on a freight train after receiving word about a fight between blacks and whites on the train. They discovered two white women dressed in men’s overalls on the same train and subsequently charged the nine young men with rape. But something about the women’s testimonies in court didn’t add up.
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.
Cold and flu season’s almost over. These days a quick trip down to the local Walmart will arm the grippe sufferer with every pharmaceutical weapon imaginable. But it wasn’t always that way. In this piece we’ll look at 15 traditional remedies for the sniffles.
“Appalachian mountain music is a tradition that traces some of its most distinct roots back to East Tennessee,” says guest author Eric Dixon in an article from the ‘Appalachian Outlook series’ published last week in the University of Tennessee/Knoxville’s school newspaper. “Yet this old-time music isn’t something that our culture at large seems to hold in high esteem. The people of East Tennessee largely cast folk/Americana/bluegrass as a thing of the past. I find this notion disturbing and altogether unfair to the people of these Appalachian ranges.”
The Rabbit and the ‘Possum each wanted a wife; but no one would marry either one of them, writer Caroline Hawkins tells us in her 1916 telling of the Cherokee tale “Rabbit and the ‘Possum after a Wife.” Turns out Rabbit gets a wife alright, but he ends up playing a nasty trick on his buddy the Possum.
“Until the highlander is out of the field of missions, he cannot command the respect which we all wish for him; he can never build up a high type of rural civilizations,” said Olive D. Campbell, co-founder of the John C. Campbell Folk School, in a 1933 article in Mountain Life & Work. “May we not all look forward to the time when the city says, not ‘That is only a mountaineer’ but ‘He is a highlander!’?”
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the first Virginia laws prohibiting marijuana. By 1937, when “Drug Czar” Harry Anslinger, then Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, introduced the Marihuana [sic] Tax Act to Congress, lurid testimonies were being introduced that cannabis caused “murder, insanity and death.” But despite the national media hype, most states, including Virginia, passed anti-drug laws without much scientific study or debate and without attracting public attention.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Juneberry78s.com, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from the Bull Mountain Moonshiners in a 1927 recording of ‘Johnny Goodwin.’
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.