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 a Louisville Courier-Journal article in which Howard Hardaway introduces us to some backwoods characters from Clinton County, KY. Hardaway always thought of himself as both a journalist and a hiker in equal measure. “I’ve learned,” said the Louisville, KY native in a late life interview, “that the most interesting places are not right on the road. On the back roads, at the little country stores where the road crews gather for a quart of milk and a moon pie, that’s where you find some real historians.”
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.
North Carolina native Nina M. Greenlee crossed paths with one Frenchy Larue during her time working in Allied Headquarters with the Women’s Army Corps in Italy. “ About a year later , after I got out of service, I was leafing through the newspapers one night and I saw this little article about so long about ‘Al Capone’s Henchman Commits Suicide in Trieste [Italy]‘. And I read it, and it was Frenchy. He had been summoned to appear in court for some minor something or other offense, to appear in Italian court, and rather than face the court he committed suicide.”
Big Pharma had not yet perfected the widespread manufacture of synthetic drugs in 1932. Instead, the industry relied on western North Carolina, southwestern Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and eastern Tennessee to furnish 75% of the crude botanical drugs which North America supplied to the drug markets. We’ll take a look at the pickers who went back into the hollers to collect the golden seal, garget root, blood root and black cohosh the rest of the world sought out.
Halloween’s not too far off, so now might be a good time for a fresh hearing of the classic scary folktale of Tailypo. The Tailypo is a creature of the night, usually described as being the size of a dog. Depending upon the native culture of the storyteller, the Tailypo is said to have either yellow or red eyes. The Tailypo also has pointed ears and a long tail. In some versions of the folktale, the Tailypo is also said to have tufted ears similar to those of a bobcat. Whether he’s called Taileybones, Tailbones, or Tailypo, he’ll strike fear in your heart.
We’ll wrap things up with an oral history from Okey R. Stover of Upper Paint Creek, WV. Stover relates the story of one Joe Raines, who “made his boast that he lived in Cirtsville for 40 years, and had as much to eat and was as well dressed as anyone else, and had never done any useful work. Joe said the Lord had sent him here as a pest on the Maynors and Williames for their meanness. That is the only reason Joe ever gave for coming to Cirtsville.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Warren Wilson College Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music from Robin Warren on fiddle, Don Pedi on dulcimer and Tad Wright on guitar in a 1979 recording of Sean Ryan’s Polka.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corn-cob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.