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 look at the commissioning of three Depression era public murals in northern Alabama. One artist, New York based Harwood Steiger, made a trip to Fort Payne and found the postmaster most helpful as he prepared his sketches. The postmaster, in fact, told Steiger that he was pleased to be getting a mural, although he had never heard of one before, and he drove Steiger out into the country to see waterfalls.
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 poet, playwright and novelist Olive Tilford Dargan, widely considered to be one of the best authors ever to come out of the Appalachian South. Dargan, who was born in 1869 in Litchfield, KY, focused on women and working class issues of the region. Few have surpassed her in description of mountain beauty or in her sympathy for the less fortunate. She was especially interested in fighting the stereotypes of mountain people and culture that were propagated in local color writings.
“What changes have come about in sixty years?” asks newspaperman F. B. Lawton in a 1934 article in Ohio’s Ironton Sunday Tribune. “Sixty years have passed since the writer answered an advertisement in the columns of The Tribune’s honored predecessor, The Ironton Register, resulting in his employment as a boy in the Register office. That was on February 6, 1874.”
Susan Shepherd took over the MM Shepherd Store in Hendersonville, NC, in 1929. “During the years of the Great Depression,” says Hendersonville newspaper columnist Louise Bailey, “there were times Mrs. Shepherd didn’t collect enough money in the course of a day to bother locking it in the cash register overnight, and certainly not in the store’s huge metal safe. Instead, she secreted it underneath a pile of merchandise. In many cases she was obliged to give credit, and bills were never sent, for she knew the people would pay when and in what manner they could.”
We’ll wrap things up with an examination of time off in a WV company town. When we think of coal company towns, often the first things that come to mind are the company store and company built houses. The Sandlick Sportsman’s Club in McDowell County, WV shows a different facet of the company town. Constructed in 1938, the building served as a recreational retreat for company employees of U.S. Coal and Coke Company, then the nation’s leading coal producer.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Blue Ridge Institute Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by the Wheat Valley Bluegrass Band in a 1984 recording of Old Joe Clark.
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.