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 oral history from Joseph Scopa, an Italian immigrant who joined thousands of others and headed to Kentucky’s Black Mountain between the World Wars to mine coal. “I started workin’ the mine when I was 19 years old,” he says. “And United States Steel, they got a d.v. job in the mine before even I come to this country, and I work for United States Steel for 30-some years.”
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 a showy plant aptly nicknamed ‘Queen of the Meadow.’ If butterflies are about this week, you can be sure you will find them on the heads of the sweet Joe Pye weed. This perennial herb, found in moist woods and fields throughout Appalachia, is at its height of bloom right now through September. The plant’s formal name is the first clue that we’re dealing with far more than just another pretty flower. It’s named after a New England American Indian named Joe Pye, who was said to have cured typhus with it.
Today’s profile of the Was-Cott / Tazewell Manufacturing Company originally appeared on the Tazewell-Orange.com site, run by Joseph T. Lee III. “This site is my contribution to the preservation of the local history of Southwest Virginia and the Tri-Cities area,” Lee says. “I’ve researched a mostly overlooked industry that affects our lives every day—the soda bottling industry, which I was surprised to find was quite prevalent in the Southwest Virginia area.”
“One day when I was past 3 years old,” says Joseph Mills Sapp (1893-1989) of Knoxville, OH, “I was still sucking my bottle and I remember getting up at nights and filling my bottle. Well, this day Father and Mother took me and went to see Grandpa and Grandma Sapp and Uncle Anson, then when I went to suck my bottle of milk, Uncle made fun of me, so I took my bottle and hid behind the room door and he still teased me, so I crawled under the bed and finished it and after that I drank my milk from a tin pint cup, like they used in those days at farm sales for coffee and a free sack lunch.”
We’ll wrap things up with a 1979 oral history with Asheville architect Tony Lord. Lord left his mark on many public and private buildings in Asheville, including the Pack Memorial Library and the D. Hiden Ramsey Library on the campus of UNC Asheville. He was also influential in the greening of downtown Asheville, planting and protecting trees. He was one of the founding members of the architectural group Six Associates. For many years he was a member of the Board of Directors of the public library.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Walter Miller in a 1993 recording of Mary of the Moors.
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.