Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Handle It

My life in appalachia Light - Handle It

Handle it.

Did you ever watch Carter Country? I believe that was the show with the Mayor who was always saying “handle it handle it” to his employees.

Our brains are wondrous things indeed. I started thinking about the chubby mayor saying “handle it handle it” and ended up thinking about how we humans handle it or don’t handle it.

Truth be told sometimes I wish I didn’t have to handle it-you know when you’re busted from a hard day of work and really don’t want to get up from your soft spot of rest and go do whatever it is somebody needs you to do?

But I do get up and I do go handle it.

Earlier this week I was talking with an old friend from high school. Although we were thick as thieves in those days, we go years without seeing or talking to each other now. We were talking about one thing and another when somehow we started talking about people’s work ethic-about how we hated to call in sick because it put the rest of the folks in a bind. She said she thought a good work ethic came from how you were raised.

Being raised to “handle it” goes right along with certain traits that are commonly attributed to Appalachians-such as self-reliance, independence, and pride.

In Appalachian Values, Loyal Jones, writes:

Independence, self-reliance and pride were perhaps the most obvious characteristics of mountain people. Our forbearers were independent, else they would have not have gone to such trouble and danger to get away from encroachments on their freedom. Independence and self-reliance were traits to be admired on the frontier. People banded together to help one another in communities, but the person who did not or could not look after himself and his family was pitied.

There is no comparison between the days when the first white folks settled in Appalachia and the modern world we live in today. But it somehow lightens my heart to know there are still folks who were taught how to ‘handle it’ living here-and that we’re now raising children who’ll be able to handle it too.


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


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  • Reply
    vicki lane
    December 2, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I think everyone is better off when folks’ first thought is to ‘handle it.’ That said, there are certainly times when any of us may need help and when we find we can’t handle it, the smart thing to do is to ask for help. But that’s only after trying in your own.

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    December 1, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I tried this once and had a few pages and as I to post it just vanished.
    I think most all of people of the mountains are pretty good at “Handle It”
    You handle it or did without. I think we older people knew what that means.
    Thanks Tipper, never thought about this before.
    Peggy L.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 1, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    My dad was a handle it kind of man. If it had to be done then no use belly aching about it, just do it. I hope that I have followed his steps in that respect. I can’t imagine depending on someone else to do something for me if I am perfectly able to do it myself. An old man once told me a quote that I think of often,” love many, trust few and always paddle your own canoe”. I think those are pretty good words to live by.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Tipper–Lonnie, bless his heart, is far more optimistic than I am. I frankly think that the single biggest thing wrong with our country today is an unwillingness of too many folks to “handle it.” Or, to put it another way, I think the staunch work ethic which was once a defining American characteristic is in abject decline. It is probably less so in the high country than in the cities, but it’s there too. The self-sufficiency Ed so rightly praises seems to me a vanishing characteristic.
    There’s too much “make do with what the government gives” as opposed to “make do (with pride) with what you’ve got.”
    I hope I’m wrong and that Lonnie is exactly right, but I’m pretty well traveled both in terms of years and geographically speaking. I also saw thousands of college-age students in classrooms over a period of three decades. What I see and have seen leaves me as pessimistic as Lonnie is optimistic.
    The mindset, experience, and willingness to work of folks here is one thing; that of the public at large quite another. I was raised, like most of you, with a deep understanding, conveyed by word and by example, that work was pretty well sacred (historians call it the “Protestant ethic”). I don’t see that in today’s world.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 11:57 am

    “Handle it, Roy, handle it”. Yes,
    I remember that “better” world I
    grew up in too, when the can wasn’t kicked on down the road!
    A couple nights ago I watched my
    favorite movie “Pride and Prejudice” with Greer Garson.
    A warm family movie centered on
    self-reliance, independence, and
    love of family…Ken

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Have never known no other way except handle it. Can’t always depend on others,since so many times they’ll let you down. Don’t think all folks mean to not help it’s just that things sometimes happen to stop them.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

    If your family heritage is to handle it, you will too. There may be breaks in paying attention, but you always come back to it. I feel sorry for those folks who are always looking to someone else to handle every little problem…they miss a good part of living…knowing you can handle it.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    December 1, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Not gettin’ a “handle on it”, is like givin’ up…and most folks from the mountains just don’t give up…If one “can’t handle it” then you have to get a better handle and “get a good grip on it”..
    Like a an axe, a shovel or that pile of wash…just “get a good grip” and you can “handle it”!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…I’m still sleepy this morning, so I think I’ll “handle it” later since I don’t answer to anyone but myself..which is sometimes the worst boss!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    December 1, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Lordy, Lordy! Tipper I done decided that I need information about the history (with pictures) of fiddle making in the mountains of western NC. I went to the ORPublic Library last night and could not find diddle dee squat! I JUST CAN’T HANDLE IT! Can you hep me? Please hep me to get information about the different kinds of fiddles folk made in times passed? May bee you could axed your Pa, please?
    Sincerely, Eva Nell

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    That was one of my Daddy’s favorite phrases. Only it was always from the perspective of, “I’ll handle it!” He was a man that people went to for family trouble, city trouble, church trouble or legal trouble and he carried those burdens well through his faith in the Father. It was hard growing up and hearing him say, “If you truly care about your client all the rest will fall into place” while people told lawyer jokes and seemed to carry so much derision for his profession. I remember a man that worked late and had sleepless nights eating antacids before a big case that would determine the fate of some family’s future. It does not seem to matter if your work makes more or less money, when it comes to respect, if it deals with dirty coal, dirty garbage or ‘handling’ people’s dirty troubles and dirty fights, but it can make a humble and wise man and a strong one too! Funny how no one ever seems to notice that attorneys rarely sue their fellow man.

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

    I think your friend is right about the good work ethic being part of how we were raised. My ex-husband used to say if he had ten more people as dedicated to their employer as I was, he would start a business. It’s so sad how today’s youth is becoming dependent and lazy. When my grandson needs money, he will not ask me for it but will ask if I have any work for him to do. That goes to show how he was raised.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    December 1, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Interesting thoughts! I never looked at doing what I have to do this way, or doing it because no one else would be ‘handling it!’ You’re right, though. My job before retirement was that way. So, I guess I’ll just ‘handle it’ as I clean the house today; no one else has volunteered. Happy ‘handling it’ Day to all!

  • Reply
    December 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

    That is exactly what I love about living here…the independence, self-reliance and pride that is so obvious in everyone who lives in these parts…at the same time, everyone truly cares about their neighbors and would bend over backwards (not sure what the Appalachian term for that would be) to help each other. Love living here!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    December 1, 2012 at 8:31 am

    A friend told me recently that in his area, various parks and other locations where volunteers are welcomed are finding themselves offering employment to some of their older volunteers. The reason is because of a work ethic gap. The organization observes that these older volunteers show up when they say they will be there, call in when they can’t and basically, “handle it” whenever a situation comes up. They have employees that do not exhibit that dedication and dependability.
    A lesson for everyone, regardless of age.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 1, 2012 at 8:23 am

    My thoughts exactly. I cringe when I interview someone for a position and hear I can only work these hours and I will need 2 weeks off next week. Not an isolated event either. I raised my children to ‘handle’ it and I was raised the same way.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    December 1, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Self-sufficiency is the word I’ve been looking for. It was a word my 7th grade educated Daddy used and a word that described him. Mommy probably thought he was just using his big words again , but the word fits her just as well if not better.
    Gorges is right, there’s more than a few good apples, it’s the barrel that’s fallen apart.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    December 1, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I like that Tipper. I feel pretty comfortable passing the responsibilities of the world off to the next generation. They can handle it.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 1, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Yes, we are a fiercely independent people.
    That is a beautiful hand with long strong fingers. A hand that paints pictures, makes figurines, types at lightening speed, Plaits hair, makes wonderful biscuits, touches two children and a husband with love, gathers eggs, plants the garden, peels apples, shucks corn…..I could go on and on. The hand of a ‘handler’ for sure. The hand that takes care of business, whether the rest of the body feels like it or not, because that’s what we do.

  • Reply
    Benny Watt Terry
    December 1, 2012 at 7:16 am

    I’m glad I’ve had to “han’le it”, that is something we are going to have to do more and more in the coming weeks, months, and even years. Our Nation is in trouble and folks who can “han’le it” are needed NOW! Let us pray for our family, friends, those who work hard to protect us, and God to Bless America, AGAIN!

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    December 1, 2012 at 5:01 am

    You’re right; there’s still a few good apples in the barrel.

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