Tag Archives: history of appalachia

How Dino Crocetti of Steubenville became pop singer Dean Martin

As a child Dino loved to sing popular Italian folk songs and ballads around the house and at family gatherings. He took singing lessons in Steubenville from the mayor’s wife, Corrine Applegate. But perhaps he found his greatest teacher in a movie theater in his hometown. “When a Bing Crosby movie ever came to Steubenville, I would stay there all day and watch. And that’s where I learned to sing, ’cause it’s true, I don’t read a note. I learned from Crosby, and so did Sinatra, and Perry Como. We all started imitatin’ him. He was the teacher for us all.”

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If I couldn’t talk I’d bust

“Yes, I am working on a part time job as cook, but you don’t need to ask what I’m doing the rest of the time. What don’t I do? I get up early and sometimes wash out clothes or clean house. You’d be surprised at the dirt these roomers bring in; they never think of […]

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Decoration Day

An important tradition symbolic of the vital place of family in Appalachian life is Decoration Day, usually held on a Sunday in June. Families gather at rural churches and cemeteries to honor the memory of deceased family members. A few days earlier, neighbors and kin gather to mow the cemetery grass, clean the graves, and […]

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The shack out back

Tennesseans called it the “la-la.” Elsewhere known as the john, the shanty, the shack, the throne, the shed, the relief office—it was the humble outhouse. The little buildings “out back” were as important as any building built before indoor plumbing. This was the building you located as soon as possible when you came to visit, […]

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A (future) noted West Virginian befriends Charles Dickens

The year he turned 44 years old, in 1864, Joseph Hubert Diss Debar was appointed WV commissioner of immigration by Governor Boreman; during his tenure he produced the only handbook for immigrants to be published in the state, printed in English, German and Swedish. He was Doddridge County’s first representative to the newly created West […]

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