Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – A Far Piece

Are you familiar with using the word piece in reference to distance? As in “Atlanta’s a far piece from here” or “Just walk a little piece up the creek and you’ll find it’s much cooler.”

The other day we were standing around in the kitchen talking, my brother mentioned a man we’ve known since childhood. The man is a kind good hearted man. He had retired after working a public job for most of his life.

The men were doing most of the talking while I was cleaning up the kitchen from a day of canning. My ears were pricked when I heard Steve say the man we had known for so long had never traveled no farther than Asheville. No farther than 2 hours from the place he was born and raised and he’d still lived a good full life.

I didn’t know whether to feel sorry for him or to be jealous of him. I still don’t.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    Chuck Howell
    July 14, 2018 at 11:24 am

    When I joined the Marines I wanted three things; California,”Where they sleep out every night;” Jimmie Rogers song, to parachute jump, and to travel to the “far East” Pacific Islands. My family had moved from West Virginia to a small town in Southern Ohio when I was fourteen and I really wanted to see the world, or, grow up, in other words. I didn’t get to parachute jump but I did train in San Diego, eighteen years old, and visited the Pacific Islands made famous in WWII and John Wayne movies. I learned two important things. There is no place like Home and every spot on Gods Earth is unique. Be it Costal California or the Colorado Rocky mountains, Death Valley or The Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina or Wake Island, all different, all beautiful.

    I’ve been thinking about a country place
    The memory won’t be erased
    I’m in a West Virginia state of mind

    Momma fixin up Soup beans
    Patchin up my old Blue Jeans
    Coal Train movin slowly down the line

    Yes I’m in a Ramblin state of mind
    Big City just can’t hold my kind
    I’m gonna find the road that leads back home

    Somewhere South of Baltimore
    Lies the land I’m longing for
    West Virginia, you’ve been on my mind

    “Gone to Carolina in My Mind” said James Taylor. Yes you can go home again SEZ CHUCK or as someone said “Home is where the Heart is. I never really left my Mountain home in Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Stephen Suddarth
    July 14, 2018 at 9:50 am

    To each his/her own..It’s probably rare nowdays to meet somebody who hasn’t ever left their part of a state, but I feel sorry for somebody who never left New York City, that’d be a shame.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2011 at 10:13 am

    You know I use the word piece in this manner. And these people around here don’t understand. LOL
    The other day I said gulley washer to describe a hard rain and everyone looked at me with that look of question. It took them a bit to figure it out. Then they picked on me about it. Including my instructor. He even included the phrase in an email blast to our class. LOL
    I don’t know whether to feel sorry or jealous of that man either. I kinda lean both ways. LOL

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Years ago, GrandaPa Jones, of country music fame, recorded a song that included these words:
    “These hills have fed and clothed me through the years;
    These hills have laughed and wept with me through happiness and fears;
    These hills are where I long to stay until I am called away;
    These Hills are my home.”
    I no longer live in the “hills” but I think part of me will always yearn for them.
    Contentment in life is a rare commodity in these times. Congratulations to the man who surely was content to just be “home”.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    July 21, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Mitchell says “fur piece” & I say “fair piece”- my Alabama roots are showing again! As for never leaving home, I am definitely not jealous. When I was a young adult, I bounced from Chattanooga, to Houston, to Atlanta, & finally to my beloved mountains. If I hadn’t lived in those places, I could never fully appreciate what I have. Now that we are going to West Virginia every chance we get, I know enough to long for what I don’t.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    July 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Tipper: it’s a far piece, from Sedro Woolley Wa. to western n.c. but as my dad would say,just a hop skip and a jump. oh and 5 days of hard traveling. but come sept. it will be all worth it.k.o.h

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Never heard it said, “Far piece.” Here, we say, “Fur piece” which means the same thing. I guess “far” got turned into “fur” here at one point or another.
    It was quite funny to see one of my old bosses, a recent officer discharged from the Army, who I told, “It’s a right fur piece down the road” when he asked how far a certain restaurant was from the shop where we worked.
    He stopped, turned around and said, “What!?!” So I repeated myself. He said, “What are you talking about?” So…in my closest-to-Northern-accent that I could muster, I said “It means it’s a long way away.” Then I laughed like crazy at his look. He said, “All I could think you were saying was talking about a fur coat or something.”
    Danged Yankees. (And by the way, I can say that. I was born and raised in PA, about as far up north near the lake as you can get without getting your feet real wet, but that was long ago. I’m a true Southerner by choice now. Don’t believe it? If you tasted my fried chicken you would.)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    We say far (fur) piece, but we also have a rocky patch that’s hard to plow that we call the rocky piece. Been all around, still the mountains call me back home. My Papaw always said, “Let’s git goin’, so we can git back.”

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    July 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    ahh tipper ruth b has the right thoughts… i too feel like i was born with a gypsy soul.. and hear the places calling to me.. my mom said it comes from my grandmother who was born in romania, and was surely a gypsy. i have always wished i had known her as an adult so i could have talked to her about the places and things she has seen.
    but to be truthful.. i have been to many places and states.. but being in my own home is my favorite… i am a homebody .. and love family and friends close by.this internet is wonderful because we can travel and never leave home.. and meet wonderful people.. such as yourself tipper.. i feel that you have become part of my family because i so look forward to hearing your posts…and hearing what you are doing .
    sending big hugs and cooling winds to all who are suffering from this heat wave. ughh… cant wait for fall and the colorful leaves and cooler weather.
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I knew a man who at the age of 50 got a job working on what we call the dustcarts but what are probably called garbage trucks in your part of the world. We asked him what he thought of his new job “Marvellous” was his reply “we been all over the world, out as far as Burwell” Burwell was all of 16 miles from the place he’d lived all his life.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I have done quite a bit of traveling, been in all but 4 of the states of the US and 4 continents, and lived most of my life more than 600 miles from my Smokies. What I think those experiences have done for me is to increase my appreciation for home. When I lived there I didn’t know what I had. After a bunch of years away, I have more of an appreciation for what I have missed.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    The “proper” pronunciation around here was(is) “furr” piece–goes back to the Scottish burr, I b’lieve.
    WWII expanded many hillbilly travel horizons, as did jobs up north after the war. Then Korea & Viet Nam came along to broaden our horizons

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    July 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    “You’re a rambling man,
    You ain’t never gonna change,
    Got a gypsy soul to blame,
    And you were born for leavin’.”
    The first time I heard this in a song by the Zac Brown Band, I thought they were talking about me. I have traveled around the world and am looking forward to the next trip.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    July 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hmm, not sure either, but mostly jealous.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    July 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Well Tipper, you got lots of ‘travel bugs’ and lots of ‘stay at home’ folks on your site! I rekun I am BOTH! I love chasing the deer out of my gardens – even this morning a deer was snoozing just under my bedroom window! Then it won’t be long before I start pulling weeds til it gets too hot! It doesn’t take much weed pulling til I start dreaming of the September trip I am ‘secretly’ planning to Paris, the Pyrenees and on into Barcelonia, Spain. I just don’t know if I will ADD BARCELONIA to my list of beautiful places I have visited – but MAYBE I WILL!
    Eva Nell, the dreamer!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I enjoyed Lonnie’s story of life as it relates to my own parents.
    They went on quick trips to other
    states from time to time, but were
    not satisfied till they got back
    home. Now that I’m a grandpa and
    my daughters have families of their own, I find pleasure and
    contentment in the simple things.
    Life is good!…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Tipper–I’ve been privileged to travel a lot in my life. I’ve caught trout in South Africa and New Zealand, killed chamois in the Austrian alps and hunted deer from the Kenai to Anticosti Island. I’ve hunted and/or fished in every Canadian province. I’ve taken turkeys on the North Island of New Zealand and downed ducks in Mexico. Right now my list of states in which I’ve killed gobblers is approaching forty.
    On top of that I’ve lived roughly five years of my life in England in bits and pieces back when I was in the university professin’ business and had research grants, sabbaticals, post-doctoral fellowships, and the like. In other words, I’ve been a fur piece and I’ve done it a bunch of times.
    Let me assure you that for a son of the Smokies all that travel pales by comparison with a day somewhere back of beyond in the Park or off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and I wouldn’t swap days spent on mountain trout streams with nothing but blue skies, sparkling water, and the goodness of nature as company for all the glitter of the international scene.
    I’m pretty sure my Grandpa Joe never got farther from Clay County (where he was born) and Swain County (where he spent almost all his adulthood) than Asheville. Even that time in Asheville was occasioned by medical needs, not desire. He never saw another state and in no way felt deprived. I’m sure he never saw a $100 bill, he never drove a vehicle, he hever had a bank account, and he had precious little in the way of material possessions. Yet he was happy with his simple, unadorned, and uncomplicated life.
    You don’t need to travel a fur piece to find happiness, and if there is anywhere lovlier than the Smokies, I haven’t been there. New Zealand does come close, as does the Yellowstone area in high summer with alpine flowers blooming at 10,000 feet. Like John Parris though, I’ll take “My Mountains, My People.”
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Dale Anderson
    July 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    In response to a question as to “how how far down the road is it” my Dad used to say “oh, a couple of wagon greasings more or less”.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    July 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I never have been too fur a piece from home. When it gets night time, I like to be in my house in my own bed. So as long as I can get where I’m going and back in one day, I am ok! (and thats right pitiful if you come to think of it!)

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Travel expands the mind. I have been fortunate to wander a bit in this world and would not trade the experiences, sights and sounds for anything. For all our differences, I’ve come to realize that most folks everywhere just get up in the morning, go to work to love/support their families and treasure their neighbors.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I have heard it expressed as “a fur piece”.
    I have always been a homebody; I get uneasy even thinking about having to leave home. 🙁

  • Reply
    Wayne Newton
    July 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Tipper, In my working years, I traveled to and lived in several places and continents.
    Somehow I always wound up back in these mountains.
    Back in the early 1980’s, I was here for a while, and was working at Wilco Farms Dairy. In my next book, I have a couple of stories from my experiences there.
    The folks who worked at the farm were an interesting bunch. One in particular, really opened my eyes to the mindset of some of the mountain folk.
    He often asked about a place or country I had visited, expressing surprise that I had been that far.
    We were talking about deer hunting one day; him telling of the biggest one he had shot, how big it was, etc., and I casually mentioned the state record buck was killed in South Georgia; Worth County. When I told him that, he asked where it was located.
    I said, “It’s a far piece.”
    “You mean it’s further than Atlanta?”
    “Oh, it’s mor’en 250 miles below Atlanta.”
    “I went to South Georgia, to Atlanta one time on my Senior Class Trip,” he said. “That’s as far as I’ve ever been.”
    I stood in amazement at that, but then I started to listen, as other folks told of their travels. Many of the older folks had never been out of Union County.
    Since Zell Miller brought good roads and parkways to these hills, “A far piece”, has a whole other meaning that just 25 years ago.
    Sometimes, I yearn for those times.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I have always been happy at home. While I have done some traveling, and it was enjoyable, it wasn’t any more of a thrill than going back home! I think it’s a personality trait, some are homebodys, some have the wanderlust.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 21, 2011 at 10:31 am

    ” A fer piece” for me was when we had to take our son to San Diago Lung Center for a rare surgery…
    I had only flown once…and it was a very short trip…
    I definitly had Hodophobia, at least to flying that time..(a fear of traveling)…now if we could have gone by would have been easier for me…
    I hope your friend doesn’t have a fear of travel…that would be sad…
    Sometimes just being home is more secure…and one can dream about far away places…like the song says:
    They call me a dreamer, well maybe I am
    But I know that I’m burnin’ to see
    Those far away places with the strange-soundin’ names
    Callin’, callin’ me
    (I pray for the day when I’ll find a way
    Those far away places to see)
    Those far away places with the strange-soundin’ names
    Callin’, callin’ me
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I hjave heard the term, but never used it…I don;t think. We live in the middle of Californiaa and in 2.5 – 3.5 hours, you can be in the mountains, or the sea or San Francisco or Disneyland. It always amazed me that many people I knew had never ventured to see any of them. As I have grown, I am realizing that meybe they just have to desire. Interesting, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I also used to travel quite a bit, but now choose to stay home and enjoy the little piece of land I own.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    July 21, 2011 at 10:09 am

    How about a right smart piece? You know some people are quite content to stay close to home and some have what I call wonderlust.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 21, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I’ve traveled a little but am not possessed of a wanderlust as some folks seem to be.
    I have friends who just are not happy unless they are going somewhere or planning to go somewhere.
    When I was a little girl my mother called her little home body because I didn’t want to go a lot.
    There is a world of things out there to explore but there is a whole world inside each of us to explore if we just will!
    I guess we each just have to find our own place.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I don’t know if I feel sorry for him, but we were counting the other day, and my 10-year-old girl has officially been in 15 states, plus Canada. My count is 28. I don’t get to travel as much as I would like, but I am very happy for what I’ve been able to see.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:58 am

    I guess it depends on whether he is happy with this situation.
    I use the term “a-ways” when describing travel distance. Walk down the path a-ways and turn south to find the deer blind. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:44 am

    We use “piece” for distance all of the time.
    I am not sure about never going far from home either. It’s good and bad I guess. With as globalized as we now are, I am still mixed but it seems important to know what is going on elsewhere as it will surely impact us all locally. Maybe it’s better not to know. Hmm…..

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Wow, almost unheard of these days that someone hasn’t traveled any farther than that!
    Yes, I hear ‘a far piece’–but mostly from older folks and not as much as I heard it when I was a child. The old ways of talking are slowly dying out:(

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    July 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Sometime in the mid-eighties my Mother’s youngest brother called me up one day and asked if I could take off work the next day and take him to Asheville. I told him I could and asked if he had to go to the hospital. He said no that he and his wife had never been out there and just wanted to go see Asheville. He was in his 60’s then. He arrived at my house the next morning about 9 and insisted we drive his car. It was a 1966 Malibu and I was a little reluctant, but I drove and we went on. We got to Asheville about lunch time and I asked if they wanted to get something to eat. He said no his wife had fixed some stuff for us to eat. I drove through downtown and out Tunnel Road and found a picnic table. He opened the trunk and she had a trunk-full of food; including fried chicken, iced tea, and a big pan of banana pudding! We finished eating and I asked if they wanted to go over to the mall. He said “No, I guess we better be getting on back home.” So we came back! He’s dead now and I am sure that is the longest trip he ever took. He was as fine a person as I’ve ever known-and he seemed to be completely satisfied with his life. There is something to be said for that.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Charline-my guess would be he had no desire to go-and most likely he had no need to go either.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Tipper, I hear where you are coming from…But, had I followed the man’s example, I would never have stumbled on the Blue Ridge Mountains, or the Smokies.
    I wouldn’t have seen the sun set into the Pacific on the Hwy 1 or watched rise fro the Atlantic from Miami Beach. I wouldn’t have walked a high ridge in the Colorado Rockies after a blizzard or watched a rainstorm move across the Arizona desert.
    I think I have talked my way into feeling sorry for him now…

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

    I wonder why. I mean, I wonder if he was so content that he had no desire to leave what was familiar? Or, if he was curious about other places, but hesitated for some reason?

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    I understand your feelings about traveling. When I was young I wanted to “see the world”, now I enjoy just being able to stay at home.

  • Reply
    July 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I think I’d feel sorry for him because I love to travel. I love home but I also enjoy seeing the rest of the world too!

  • Reply
    Rose C.
    July 21, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I feel sorry for those who never get to see all the beauty the USA has to offer. If you threw a dart at a map of the US you would find something wonderful to see and do. From God’s beautiful art work, small towns with charm, to our history in making this country great lots to see and do! More then one life time!

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