Tag Archives: appalachian culture

Ahh-CHOOOOO !

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 […]

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Chinese firecrackers provided plenty of Christmas joking

Clarence Nixon wrote of his father’s store in his book Possum Trot, “We stocked up with fruit in December, and I still think of Christmas when I smell oranges in the country.” The South was a land of deep sentimentality. Family ties were close, and the hard years following the war tended to knit them […]

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All I want for Christmas is a whimmy diddle

The whimmy diddle (sometimes called a Hooey Stick or Gee-Haw) is an Appalachian folk toy that has been around for centuries. It’s fashioned from two sticks of laurel or rhododendron into a rubbing stick and a slightly thicker notched stick. The whimmy diddle makes a characteristic sound when the one stick is rubbed back and […]

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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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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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