We post a new episode of Appalachian History weekly podcast every Sunday. Check us out on the Stitcher network, available on mobile phones, in-car dashboards and tablets worldwide. Share the show with friends via automatic Facebook Timeline integration and with one-click Twitter, Facebook and email icons. Just click the icon below to start listening:
We open today’s show with a 1938 examination of the world of the blacksmith, by Kentucky professor Dr. Gordon Wilson. “As the horse is becoming less and less important,” he observes, “the blacksmith shop, so intimately connected with horses, is becoming rare. There was still, a generation ago, something of the mediaeval wonder at the blacksmith’s art; not everyone could weld iron or do the many skillful things that the blacksmith found a part of the day’s work.”
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.
“Stories of the feud-ridden, ignorance-shrouded people of the mountains of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia have been published far and near and throughout the land the common belief is that every cove harbors a moonshine still, and every home has its feuds,” says JW Morland in a 1925 article from Lincoln Memorial University’s newsletter Mountain Herald. “In defense of what he believes to be an erroneous impression concerning the people in the mountains of the South one of the workers of the University, himself from the mountains of Georgia, speaks up.”
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.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at the 1930s furor over 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 Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian harmonica music by John Lozier in a 1971 recording of Slippin’ Around.
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.