Posted by Dave Tabler | December 30, 2014

Cold and flu season’s here. These days a quick trip down to the local Walmart will arm the grippe sufferer with every pharmaceutical weapon imaginable. But in 1937 Sam Walton, age 19, was still 25 years away from opening his first Walmart store. Aspirin tablets had already been around since 1915, but there were still plenty of folks back in the hollers who relied on such traditional remedies as the following (don’t do ALL of these simultaneously!):

*Make a tea from the leaves of boneset. Drink the tea when it has cooled. It will make you sick if taken hot. Leaves of this plant may also be cured and saved for use in teas during winter.

*Make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger roots. Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water and drink. Add honey and whiskey if desired.

*Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.

*Take as much powdered quinine as will stay on the blade of a knife, add to water, and drink.

*Parch red pepper in front of a fire. Powder it, cook it in a tea, and add pur white corn liquor.

*Put goose-grease salve on chest.

*Drink lamb’s tongue and whiskey tea.

*Drink whiskey and honey mixed.

*Drink red pepper tea.

*Eat onions roasted in ashes (good for children.

*Eat a mixture of honey & vinegar.

*Make a tea by putting some pine top needles and boneset in boiling water. You can sweeten it with honey or syrup.

*Drink tea made from wintergreen fern.

*Make a combination tea from boneset leaves and horsemint leaves.

*Take a three-pound can of pine twigs and rabbit tobacco. Boil together and strain. Drink some every three hours, taking no more than one full juice glass within a 12-hour period.

*Drink some of the brine from kraut put up in churn jars. It makes you thirsty, and you’ll drink lots of water.

Source: The Foxfire Book, Anchor Books/Doubleday & Co., New York, 1968

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Blue Moon of Kentucky, keep on shining

Posted by Dave Tabler | December 29, 2014

Well, it’s almost a new year, and depending on your definition, there will either be one blue moon in it, or none. Using the Farmers’ Almanac definition of blue moon (meaning the third full moon in a season of four full moons), the next blue moon won’t occur till May 21, 2016. But if you consider a blue moon to be the 2nd full moon in the same month, then we’ve got one of those coming up July 31, 2015. Although we had a blue moon August 31, 2012, you can’t take the occurrence too much for granted: just under 3% of all full moons are blue moons. The next time New Year’s Eve falls on a blue moon is 2028.

Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,
Shine on the one that’s gone and proved untrue;
Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,
Shine on the one that’s gone and left me blue.

It was on a moonlight night, the stars were shining bright;
And they whispered from on high, your love had said goodbye.
Blue moon of Kentucky, keep on shining,
Shine on the one that’s gone and said goodbye.
—Bill Monroe, Blue moon of Kentucky (1947)

Monroe wrote the song he’s most known for right on the cusp of an expansion in public understanding of just what a blue moon is. In the 1940’s, astrologists and meteorologists started using the term to describe when the moon takes on a blue coloration. This happens when small atmospheric particles interfere with light, causing a bluish tint to the moon’s appearance from earth. The particles can come from things such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions. However, this only occurs “once in a blue moon.”

blue moonMore traditionally, a blue moon was referred to as the 4th full moon in a season. Each of the 4 seasons of the year has 3 months, and will usually have 3 full moons. Each of these 12 moons has a name like “Harvest Moon,” “Hunter’s Moon” and so on. When a season occurs that contains 4 full moons, the 4th becomes the blue moon.

Blue moon is different from the monthly or seasonal moon names as it isn’t restricted to a time of year. It is a movable feast that occurs because the moon and our calendar are not in sync and all the months but February are longer than the moon’s cycle.

So just how often is “once in a blue moon?” There are 1,200 calendar months in a century. In the same century, there are, on the average, 1,236.83 full moons. The difference is the average number of blue moons in a century: 36.83, or an average of one per 2.72 years.

Actually, about one year each 19 has two blue moons, because its shortest month, February, has no full moon at all; for the Eastern Time Zone, the complete list of such years from 1951 through 2050 is 1961, 1980, 1999, 2018, and 2037. Between these years, blue moons happen at intervals such as 2 years and 7, 8, 9, or 10 months.

There’s a pretty fair chance that the jilted lover of Monroe’s blue moon song was singing in October, August or July, historically the months with the most blue moons.

So was it the coloration of the moon that reminded the singer of how sad and blue they felt, was the singer comparing the inconstancy of a blue moon to the lover’s inconstancy, or both? Kentucky’s General Assembly offered no answer to this question when, in 1989, it passed KRS 2.100, designating the song “Blue moon of Kentucky” as the official state bluegrass song.




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Muralist Lola Poston and the Lincoln Theatre

Posted by Dave Tabler | December 26, 2014

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 stage in Marion, VA.

Billed as “the finest playhouse between Roanoke and Knoxville,” the theater opened on July 1 that year playing Close Harmony to a standing room only crowd. Lincoln Theatre served as the flagship of a chain of movie houses throughout SW Virginia. Today it’s one of only three remaining American movie houses built in Mayan Revival style.

painter Lola PostonLincoln Theatre’s interior resembles an ancient temple with exotic representations of mythological gods and creatures painted on the ceilings and walls. Poston’s murals live amidst this décor, housed in pyramid frames. Poston used cotton panels with water-based paints to depict scenes in early American and local history. She was paid $50 for each painting. The murals have been meticulously restored within the last decade; the theatre itself is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark.

Lola Poston was born on November 12, 1896, in a log cabin in the Walker’s Creek section of Smyth County, VA. She was the oldest of the ten children of Charles Marion Poston and Ida Lodema Hammons. Charles Poston was half-Irish and half-Shawnnee, and his wife was full-blooded Shawnee.

At age 5, Lola painted a self-portrait by looking at herself in a mirror. As she grew up, she began selling her paintings on the streets of Marion. Recognizing her extreme talent, Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Lincoln, Sr. sent her to study art in Chicago. She didn’t stay long at the school. Soon she began drawing illustrations for greeting card companies, then worked for a design company in New York City.

She met her first husband, Charles E. Harriman, and World War I broke out during their European honeymoon. They escaped to England and returned to the United States.

Lincoln Theatre mural by Lola PostonShe became something of a bohemian, traveling with Harriman across America in a ‘house car’ designed to be pulled behind an automobile.

After her first marriage came to an end, she married J. Ellis Dickerson, who operated a car dealership and real estate business from their basement. They resided in Grayson County, VA, home of Mount Rogers, the highest peak in the state.

She became friends with nationally renowned writer and part-time local resident Sherwood Anderson. She retired to Florida in her later years and taught arts and crafts, raised Dachshunds, and managed a flower shop.


sources: www.thelincoln.org/index.php?act=viewDoc&docId=20
Marion and Hungry Mother State Park, by Kenneth William Heath, Arcadia Publishing, 2004
Smyth County Revisited, by Kimberly Barr Byrd, Debbie J. Williams, Debra J Williams, Arcadia Publishing, 2007


Lola+Poston Lincoln+Theatre Marion+VA appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

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Merry Christmas!

Posted by Dave Tabler | December 25, 2014


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And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strain

Posted by Dave Tabler | December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! I want to take a minute and thank all my readers for stopping by and having a look around here at the site throughout this past year.

William J. McCoy, Jr. and his second Christmas tree, 1908 / The Knox County Two Centuries Photograph Collection / Calvin M. McClung Historical Collection / Knox County Public Library / Image 200-073-189

Your comments and appreciation really make the task of writing so much easier.

Also, I want to acknowledge all the talented and generous people who’ve contributed so much of themselves to Appalachian History this year: John Allison, Judith Bainbridge, Scott Ballard, Melissa Barker, Win Bassett, Gordon Belt, Patrick Brannon, John Norris Brown, Kent Masterson Brown, Barbara J. Butler, Judy P. Byers, Gary Carden, Bill Carlisle, Lee Carpenter, Ray Castro, Lisa Chastain, Anne E. Chesky-Smith, Cathy Cassady Corbin, Kevin Cordi, Jennifer Cox, Michael Crisp, C. Richard Dean, Lawrence M. Denton, Matthew T. Dickerson, Lisa King Dolloff, Hilda Downer, Rebecca Duke, Beth Durham, Stephanie Worley Firley, Joanne Fish, Brianne Fleming, Thom Fogarty, Jeff Forrester, Edna Fugate, Tricia Fulks, Anne G’Fellers-Mason, Trey Gaines, Jeff Gill, Katie O. Gobbi, Crystal Good, Marcus Gray, Amy Greene, Gary Greene, Cora L. Hairston, Tim Hall, Beth Harrington, Hilary Harrison, Jean Haskell, Bob Heafner, Bette Lou Higgins, Katie Hoffman, Lucy Beam Hoffman, Timothy W. Hooker, Janice Cole Hopkins, Betty Hornbeck, Robert Inman, John Jeter, Michael Jones, William Jones, Lori Jones, Emily Kale, Rebekah Karelis, Danielle Keeton-Olsen, Brandon Ray Kirk, Jeff Kirwan, Amy Kostine, Sharon Schuler Kreps, Craig Lam, Kayleigh Last, Adam MacPharlain, Gina Mahalek, Megan Malone, Elizabeth Manning, Robert F. Maslowski, Tim McAbee, Michael McGreevey, Trevor McKenzie, Suzannah Smith Miles, Deborah Montanti, Andrew Moynehan, Chelsea Moynehan, Jeanne Mozier, John Nolan, David L. O’Hara, Ted Olson, Jamie Osborn, James Overton, Elizabeth Paulhus, A.J. Peoples, Audy Perry, Cat Pleska, Taylor M. Polites, Chris Preperato, Rita Quillen, Jim Rada, Raina Regan, Ron Roach, Emily C. Roush, Michael Ruth, Joshua Salmans, Elizabeth Saulsbury, Sheree Scarborough, Carter Taylor Seaton, Jody Shaw, Kyle Sherard, David Sibray, Nancy Loveday Smith, Wally Smith, Heather South, Kelley St. Germain, Lauren C. Steele, Wilma Steele, Mark A. Stevens, Sky Sutton, Andrew Talkov, Stephanie Kadel Taras, Rhondda Robinson Thomas, Shannon Colaianni Tinnell, June Totten, Cheryl Truman, John VanArsdall, Carolyn Warnock, Kent Whitaker, Christopher Emil Williams, John Wilson, Steven Wilson, Robert Winans, Renea Winchester, Jonathan Winskie, Bob Withers, Sara Wood, Wayne Worth, and Sherry Joines Wyatt.

This site is so much richer for their help.

I promise I’ll get back to work posting more tasty things for you to read just as soon as I get done unwrapping a few of these pretty boxes over in the corner.

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