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. Just click below to start listening:
We open today’s show with a look at 19th century customs surrounding death & dying. Prior to the funeral industry’s rise and its use of embalming, a practice that gained legitimacy during the War Between the States, the interior of a corpse was generally not accessible to prying eyes, hands, or medical equipment. Instead, the deceased was prepared – laid out – and remained in the home until burial.
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.
During the early decades of the 20th century, hundreds of short-line railroad existed across the nation, and most all were regarded by the local people as their railroad. There was something appealing about the character of a little railroad that was trying to compete with the big lines, and usually the short line’s tiny locomotives and makeshift equipment had a certain flavor to them that set them apart from the uniform look of the big railroad lines. West Virginia’s KGJ&E was no exception.
Our next segment features a 1998 oral history from Irene Cook of Sandy Mush, NC, who shares her thoughts on quiltmaking, at both the private and the public levels. “There is a quilt in the community center that we made back whenever they were thinking of using this community for a nuclear waste dump. Done as a protest. We just came up with the idea, and everybody done something, you know, about the community.”
Major crime remained very rare in Noble County, Ohio, says Roger Pickenpaugh in his History of Noble County 1887-1987, and the occasional exceptions made big news. One of the county’s more baffling murder cases began on November 5, 1905, when the family of William Leisure returned to their Carlisle home from Sunday church services and found Leisure sitting fatally wounded in his chair with two bullet wounds to the head. Rumors of illicit romance soon surfaced.
The wood frog is an amazing amphibian which freezes solid over the winter, only to thaw back to life the next spring. How can this be? Three adaptations—1) supercooling; 2) producing and transporting glucose; and 3) drawing water from the organs—permit wood frogs to survive winter as totally frozen, rock-hard bodies. In the spring, its heart beat resumes within an hour after thawing and resurrection is complete in a few hours.
We’ll wrap things up with an inside peek at the It’s Wheeling Steel radio show. On January 2, 1938, this live radio program at the Capitol Theater in Wheeling, WV premiered coast-to-coast on the Mutual Network. The show was broadcast nationwide until 1944 every Sunday afternoon on WWVA and NBC’s Blue Network.
And, thanks to the good folks at the Blue Ridge Institute Archives, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian harmonica music by Bill Padneau in a 1970 recording of Casey Jones.
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.