Monthly Archives: November 2017

Cold Winter Shadow

When a cold winter shadow I cast on the ground And frost from the foothills is creeping all around I now and then glance down the road towards the town In a kind of a hope you’ll be coming on down It must have been November when I left you to the train I watched […]

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Hard work, fresh air, and plenty of food

Shortly after taking office in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans for creation of a “conservation army.” FDR at first saw the Civilian Conservation Corps primarily as a forestry organization — fighting fires, planting trees, thinning timber stands, stopping soil erosion and floods — but the field personnel of the State and Federal agencies involved […]

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Criminal Syndicalism comes to Harlan, KY

In November 1931, as chairman of the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, well known author Theodore Dreiser organized a special committee to infiltrate Kentucky’s Harlan coal mines to investigate allegations of crimes and abuses against striking miners. The self-appointed group of left-leaning writers (including Theodore Dreiser, Lewis Mumford, John Dos Passos, and […]

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The Santa Train pulls into town

In Appalachia Santa Claus comes the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since 1943, the Santa Special, more commonly known as the Santa Train, has traveled 110 miles through the mountains of eastern Kentucky, southwest Virginia and northeastern Tennessee to distribute loads of candy, toys and other goodies to eager bystanders, most of whom have made it a […]

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This strange music of the dulcimore appeals to the heart of the Mountaineer

Just as there is a vast gap between the poetry of art and the poetry of the folk, so is there a vast difference between the music of the Sourwood Mountain fiddler and the music of art.

This antique musician knows little about Wagner and the musical drama and the Italian melodists, and cares less. His music causes a feeling of ennui to steal over one, but he is giving his hearers something they can understand. His strains are the outbursts from the depths of a being that is sincere, and he fiddles and sings because he feels.

In the words of Svenstrupp, the great Danish authority on folksongs, the words of these canticles of love and woe “talk like a mother crooning to her babe, and have scarcely a kenning.” It is related that when the maidservant used to sing “Barbara Allen’s Cruelty” to little Oliver Goldsmith, he would shed tears; that the recital of “Chevy Chace” moved Sir Philip Sidney as nothing else could move him.

But the transition to a new and enlightened age is inevitable.

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