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 discussion of shivarees, spin the bottle, and post office. Before most people had dates, they walked home from church together or sat up together with dead neighbors. They met at candy-pullings and corn-huskings. Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist Carson Brewer explores the finer points of these and other grand old courtship rituals in this 1978 column.
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.
In celebration of the heroes of the Underground Railroad, Ohio Memory and the Ohio Historical Society are providing free digital access to the internationally-acclaimed Wilbur H. Siebert Collection during this year’s Black History Month. The narrative you’re about to hear today, by escaped slave Asbury Parker, is from the collection.
Lent will be here next Wednesday, and that means that many residents of Helvetia, WV will be foregoing hosenblatt meat pastries deep-fried in lard for awhile. On February 9 folks there had ample opportunity to consume that delicacy, along with donuts and rosettes, at the annual Fasnacht celebration. The Swiss settlers of Helvetia combined the Catholic celebration of Lent with the Protestant Winterfest of Zurich, when Old Man Winter is burned in effigy to hasten the advent of spring, to produce this annual February revel.
Lots of boxes of chocolate covered cherries will be changing hands this week for Valentine’s Day. Chances are you or your loved one have sampled Brock Candy’s version of this delightful French concoction at some point in your life. By the time of his death in 1950, William E. Brock had built his family-run Chattanooga company into the South’s largest candy maker.
We’ll wrap things up with a look at what it was it like in Moore Hollow, KY after the mines got started. Journalist Lois Kleffman’s article in the Jackson County Sun discusses boom times in the 1930s, shanty towns, mine deaths, and scrip, with a keen eye for the offbeat detail. Odis Isaacs, for example, relates to her that little Johnny Johnston would “spit your eye full of tobacco juice, and he smoked cigars when he was five or six years old.”
And, thanks to the good folks at the Internet Archive, we’ll be able to enjoy some authentic Appalachian music by Frank Hutchinson in a 1929 recording of K.C. Blues.
So, call your old Plott hound up on the porch, fire up your corncob pipe, and settle in for a dose of Appalachian History.