Monthly Archives: November 2017

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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Muralist Lola Poston and the Lincoln Theatre

Her paintings were shown at the 1939 World’s Fair, and she helped decorate the White House during the Roosevelt Administration. But the artistic highlight of Lola Poston’s painting career was surely the six 15×20 ft. murals she created in 1929 for the auditorium of the newly built Lincoln Theatre, a talking picture palace and vaudeville […]

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Strap that Alabama fan on my back!

Future champion college basketball coach Sonny Smith was born November 15, 1936 in Roan Mountain, TN, the son of a mill worker and a cafeteria employee at the local schools. His hometown, he said years later, wasn’t the end of the world—but that you could see it from there. He said there were so many […]

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They pulled the candy and laughed and frolicked

You kin talk about y’r op’ras, y’r germans an’ all sich Y’r afternoon r’ceptions an’ them pleasures o’ the rich You kin feast upon y’r choc’lates an’ y’r creams an’ ices full But none of ‘em is ekal to a good old candy pull. For ther’ isn’t any perfume like the ‘lasses on the fire […]

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