5 Things Appalachia

5 Things

1. The Deer Hunter got to take a blacksmithing class at the John C. Campbell Folk  School and boy did he enjoy himself! He made hooks and fire pokers to get the hang of things and then he got to make what he wanted to: a knife, a fire starting striker, and a blanket pin.

2. I’ve always teased The Deer Hunter about how hard he is on clothing and footwear. I tell him he’d be a great test dummy for some company that makes shoes and clothes for the working man. Thankfully he’s also ingenious about getting every last bit of use out of the things he wears. Case in point: the sheet-rock screws that are holding the soles onto his boots.

3. Paul looking up an old Jim and Jesse song for us to learn on his smart phone made me smile.

Del McCoury and my nephew Ben

4. I’ve been a Del McCoury fan for the last 20 years. One time my nephew Ben ran into Mr. McCoury at a rental car place somewhere up north. When Ben sent us the photo above it tickled Pap to death-well actually it did me too. Last week Ben emailed me to say he Del McCoury would be playing just up the road in Hiwassee GA later this year and that we should get tickets to go. I’ve seen The Del McCoury Band before and they put on a great show. Ben’s email reminded me of 2 of my all time favorite Del McCoury songs: Mill Towns and Let An Old Racehorse Run. (click on the song titles to go listen to them)

5.  The tall yellow violets that grow wild in the woods surrounding my mountain holler always make me think of stately ladies watching over the forest to make sure all is well.


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  • Reply
    Beth Durham
    May 22, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    I’m a few days late reading but I just HAD to tell you how much I appreciated The Deer Hunter’s resourcefulness in mending his boots.
    My Daddy has a pair of boots wired together with electric fence wire – that, along with hay string and duct tape will keep a farm a’runnin’!
    I can’t wait to show him that picture.

  • Reply
    Maurice Padgett
    May 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Just for information about Del McCoury:
    The Del McCoury Band will be on stage Saturday, September 16, – 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM at the “Dailey & Vincent LandFest In The Mountains”. It will be a great show.
    This year’s music portion of the festival will be indoors, inside the 2900 seat venue, Anderson Music Hall. at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in the heart of the beautiful Georgia Mountains – Hiawassee, GA. The lineup is:
    5:00 PM – 5:45 PM OPEN MIC
    9:00 PM -10:30 PM DAILEY & VINCENT
    FRIDAY: SEP 15
    2:30 PM – 3:30 PM THE BAND OF KELLEYS
    5:00 PM – 6:00 PM DINNER
    7:45 – 9:15 DAILEY & VINCENT
    1:15 PM – 2:15 PM MONROE CROSSING
    5:00 PM – 6:00 PM DINNER
    6:00PM – 7:00 PM SIERRA HULL
    7:15 PM – 8:45 PM DAILEY & VINCENT
    9:00 PM – 10:30 PM DEL McCOURY BAND

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    The idea of making do was raised in me. Then later I read the book “Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, and I almost had nightmares about garbage piling up on the earth. Hopefully one can keep the best of both worlds where we have the advantage of both worlds with technology, but it only makes good common sense to make do in this world of disposables. My favorite way to make do is by taking advantage of what nature offers free such as sunshine for drying laundry and for growing our vegetables. There seems to be more Jack of all trades in Appalachia, because I just have so many male family and friends that can change out a faucet, track down an electrical problem, or do all sorts of repairs on home or vehicle.
    We should always be so proud of our heritage because it has served all very well. I just love the picture of the Deer Hunter’s boots. It looks exactly like what my Dad would have done. Even though my Dad could have well afforded a new truck, he always kept an old Ford truck he could work on himself without computer dependency. When he died that truck was still in excellent running shape as old as it was. Great post, and you even gave the lowly wild violet a tribute.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 16, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I didn’t miss the pun “hooks and fire pokers to get the hang of things”.
    The twisted square stock reminds me of something I saw on Hazel Creek. All that remained of an old kiln or something was some broken up concrete with rebar sticking out of it. A lot of it. It wasn’t rebar like we normally see, it was twisted. The twists weren’t as tight as the stuff the Deer Hunter made but were uniform. It was made that way. I would like to have some of it but I guess it is illegal to harvest it.

  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    May 16, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Love those shoes!! Del McCroury just played here in Charleston, WV with Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck. Sure wish I could have afforded tickets.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 11:28 am

    The Deer Hunter said, “tell Ken I can help” and boy he did. A few years ago he drove his 4-wheel drive up to my house and then way up in the mountains, installing a Water Reservoir for me. I really appreciated that, cause my other friends never offered.
    His Mother (Miss Cindy) once told me she was a thinker and we’ve had nice conversations on how to do something, so The Deer Hunter gets it honestly. He’s a real friend!
    In the past, I’ve twisted iron with a torch, but never did any Blacksmitting. One time I was heat-treating some A-2 and forgot and left it in the heat-treating oven too long. Took all the magnetism out.ha …Ken

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 10:31 am

    I admired The Deerhunter’s artistic ability at the forge, it makes me wish I could still swing a hammer.
    Drywall screws in the shoes? There’s no limit to what them li’l buggers will hold together..

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    May 16, 2017 at 10:04 am

    My grandfather had his own blacksmith shop back in TN. I have watched something being made by a blacksmith when we were visiting Silver Dollar City in Branson many years ago before Branson became famous. I am sure the Deer Hunter enjoyed every minute of the learning experience. I enjoyed the music too.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    May 16, 2017 at 9:23 am

    I love all the pictures here this morning, you are quite the photographer with a great eye for interesting shots….
    The first time I saw a tall yellow violet, especially with the shape of its leaves, I went flying to find out more about it…I just knew I had found something rare. Maybe it was because it is one of the last violets to bloom here on my hollered hill! Tall and showing off in the leaf litter and moss unlike the more shy lavender violets. I love this Sweet violet!
    Whoops, reminds me of a Dinah Shore tune from my era… the lyrics were once cencored…it goes something like this…
    Sweet violets,
    Sweeter than the roses
    Covered all over from head to toe
    Covered all over with sweet violets..
    There once was a farmer who took a young miss,
    in back of the barn where he gave her a lecture,
    On horses and chickens and eggs,
    and told her that she had such beautiful,
    Manners that suited a girl of her charms
    A girl that he wanted to take in his
    Washing and ironing and if she did
    They could get married and raise lots of
    Sweet violets,
    Sweeter than the roses
    Covered all over from head to toe,
    Covered all over with sweet violets.
    There are more verses of course…ha
    Thanks Tipper, Sorry I took up blog space….some of your readers my age (76) might have remembered the tune!
    Also, I did not mean to start singing the tune in my mind (“Sweet Violets”)….now it will be stuck and going around in my head all day!
    Did you ever have that happen….?

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 8:30 am

    I like the drywall screw idea to hold work boots together – duct tape has to be reapplied so frequently. But then, duct tape works on ballerina slippers and toe shoes (and so many other things) as well! My daughter, “Renaissance Girl”, has used it on both! The “make-it-do” gene runs deep and true.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 16, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I’m with the Deer Hunter. I tend to keep and use things until I can’t even give them away. I just don’t like waste and as long as something can be fixed to keep working throwing it away is a waste to me. It vexes me that with imports and robotic manufacture things are not made to be repaired and stay serviceable. I think drywall screws are a good solution and boot makers should have thought of it themselves long ago. I used Gorilla glue but wish I had thought of the screws.
    That is some good looking iron work to. Sure doesn’t look like a beginner. But of course he is not a beginner at hand crafts.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 16, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Tipper–I reckon Matt could make most anything he really puts his mind to. I can only envy folks with such varied and practical knowledge. Daddy had it, maybe of necessity, but somehow I got left under the genetic washtub in this regard (Br’er Don, who is a trained engineer, definitely didn’t). Thankfully I’ve got a green thumb or otherwise I would be three-quarters useless.
    As for getting extra mileage out of his clodhoppers, Matt is just following the old Appalachian adage of making do with what you’ve got (and make it go a long way).
    Like you I’m a huge Del McCoury fan. Vincent Black Lightning is my favorite McCoury Band song but I really like Mountain Song and High on a Mountain. I’m just plain partial to mountains.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 16, 2017 at 5:40 am

    The Deer Hunter sure did enjoy that Blacksmithing Class at the Folk School. I’m hoping he’ll get to take an advanced class.
    I remember those boots held together with drywall screws. Did he finally retire them when he got the new boots? I have to agree with you, he should be a tester for the manufacturers, he sure knows how to put clothes to the ultimate test!

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