Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – I’m Backwards

My life in appalachia - I'm Backwards

I’ve always been backwards-oh I’ve improved over the years, but even as an adult nearing middle age I’m still a backwards little girl inside.

The other day me and Chatter were headed down to the big garden when we saw a man we didn’t know walk out in the field to The Deer Hunter. I immediately grabbed hold of her arm and said “Wait a minute lets see who that man is.” After I took the photo of our shadows we squatted down at the top of the driveway to see what the man was going to do.

Why would a grown woman decide to not walk down to her own garden in broad daylight because she saw a man she didn’t know talking to her husband? Because she’s backward.

In Appalachia backwards means-shy, reserved, bashful, slightly strange, or all of the above!

I’ve already given you an example of how we would use the word to describe someone who’s shy like me-here’s another use of the word with the same meaning: “Why he wasn’t backwards at all he got right up there on stage and played his mandolin with the rest of us.”

How about you-ever been backwards?


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


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  • Reply
    sandy kueng
    May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    Dear Tipper – love reading your blogs, but as you can see it sometimes takes me a while to get to them (but deleting them before i read them just doesn’t set well). the thing i like about somebody being backwards – (and i agree with my uncle, it is just a trait of hill people) is if you call someone ‘backwards’ it is not meant as an insult – just stating a fact and it is accepted that way. thanks for your blogs! sandyk

  • Reply
    March 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Yep! Even a bit more nowadays as I don’t feel comfortable in groups of people I don’t know.
    But backwards in our family meant something a little different. Our dad said we were backwards because our nose ran and our feet smelled (instead of being the other way around. LOL)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    March 26, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hey Tipper!!
    I think that if you are protecting your children and are overly cautious than we mother’s will always be backwards!!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    March 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I guess I’m about as forward as one can get. When I went to first grade, all the other little kids were hanging on their mothers bawlin their eyes out. Me? Well, I broke my momma’s heart. Jumped out of the car, said, “See ya!” and ran right into the classroom. I’ve kinda always been that way. Sometimes I wish I could just slow down a little and I do think things through a little more than I used to, but heck, I’m pushin’ my middle years to their breaking point. I oughta be a little slower.

  • Reply
    susie swanson
    March 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Yep That’s typical for all of us to feel backwards but I don’t see you being shy..I sure was when I was little but I guess it was because we didn’t get out

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    March 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    I was somewhat backward as a kid, but about my ninth-grade year, I decided that if I was going to have to listen to everyone else’s baloney, then by-golly they were going to have to listen to mine. I was never as popular with teachers after that, as they don’t like kids that ask awkward questions.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 25, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Tipper—I don’t think anyone would ever accuse me of being backward, because I’m not. I’m outgoing, quite comfortable speaking in front of crowds, and pretty gregarious. That being said, I’m also a misanthrope in many ways. I’m perfectly content, even happy, when I’m miles from anyone else on a trout stream of in the turkey woods, and I can go for days without seeing another soul and be perfectly satisfied. More than once my wife has suggested that my tombstone should read “Jim Casada hated people.” That’s not really the case at all, but in a lot of situations I’ll take them in mighty small doses. Also, to the detriment of marital harmony, on such occasions I remind her I am to be cremated and my ashes scattered on favored trout streams in the Smokies. I might as well help deacidify the waters a bit when I’m gone, since most mountain trout streams have too much acid.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Oh my, yes, I was born backwards & am still backwards in many respects! It’s funny, though, I am married to the least backwards person I have ever known-I guess opposites do attract!

  • Reply
    Bobby C
    March 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Like Ethelene, we always said backards. I think that’s better than being “qwar”. 🙂

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    tipper i totally understand what you are saying and i am just like you.. but when i get to knowing someone i can yack with the best of them lol… i think its just being cautious i guess… of when we were taught not to talk to strangers and such… my husband because im left handed. says i cant do anything right.. hmmmmmmm likes to tease me too..
    looks like the suns been shining your way too.. with the nice shadow people shot you got.. i can imagine your huge photo books.. i would love that.. as its one of my favorite things in the world.. is looking at pictures..
    sending big ladybug hugs for you all.. and much love

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Count me in!! Too many social events I had to go to in the past have left me almost like a recluse. I don’t like leaving home.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    May dad said my mom’s people were backwards. When he was courting my mom and would go to her house all her siblings would run and hide then peek around the corner at him. They were not little kids either, in their teens and late teens. My wife has accused me of having some backwards traits as well. I prefer to think of it as being clannish that carried over from Scottish clan’s who preferred to stay together and was leary of other people outside the clan. I think it is a protective mechanism and certainly nothing to feel bad about. Some people are just naturally shy and others like me are just naturally leary until we feel comfortable around others. Great topic!!

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    We grew up pretty isolated–all of us were pretty “backard” . I try to talk to people waiting in lines, etc. so have overcome it. Substitute teaching case hardened me–think I could address congress now!!!!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    March 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Definitely backwards with people I don’t know, but as someone else mentioned, once I get to know you… look out!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Don’t worry about being a little
    backwards, that’s just a mountain
    trait of Appalachia. I look at it
    as just being cautious and a bit
    protective. And no one could come
    close to your ability and committment in sharing all these
    daily posts of our mountain people. Thank you…Ken

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    March 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Oh, yes, Tipper, that’s typical of us mountain folk around strangers. It’s our raising. You’ve heard the expression, “Plain as an old shoe,” that’s us mountain folk.
    Loved this posting. It brought back many memories growing up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    March 24, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I am especially backwards when I enter a room and I don’t see anyone I recognize or even know well enough to greet. It is an uncomfortable feeling for me.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I feel ye, Tipper—Ain’t everbody a little backerds now & then?

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 11:44 am

    Oh yes…I’ve been a bit backwards, especially as a girl. I’ve outgrown it some, but still hang back until I feel comfortable. For example…go visit a new Church, and I’ve got to stand at the back and survey everything before we go sit down!! Gotta cover my bases. Our kids are the same way, and although it’s not a bad trait, it really holds them back. I hope they at least partially outgrow it some day!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 24, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Now a days it seems to be that “backwards” has a negative connatation..of stupid, not very bright or slow to learn…
    Not, as we know to be, shy, timid or wary…
    I believe it was typical of mountain people to be wary, shy, timid, cautious of things and strangers around them…I knew one personally that was very “coy” in fact several of them..They were not backwards as some thought. I think it is a protective measure, an inborn trait..LOL Listening to every word, taking everything in until they felt they could trust the person(s)or what was happening around them to be safe.
    Like my cat, just taking his time, soft steps, observing every little thing, watching not so close. Then when he feels secure he has the heart and playful spunk of a kitten…
    but, don’t dismiss his timidness shyness, wariness or apparent backwardness if need be he is
    as ferocious as a protect himself or (as in my past female cats) her kittens…
    Tipper, I think you are just a true mountain woman with an inborn trait to protect yourself and your children…
    Thanks for a great post…

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

    I am definitely backwards. I prefer to keep to myself and, as someone mentioned earlier, I have to force myself to meet new people. I’ve tried to change, but it’s hard.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I was a really backwards child and I am a bit better as an adult since all of my jobs have been dealing directly with the public. However, in a non-work social type setting, I revert very quickly back to that backwards little girl!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 9:54 am

    It has been so long since I have heard “backward” that I had completely forgotten it. Thank you for bringing back a flash of memories. Yes, we are a family of backward people.

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    March 24, 2012 at 9:48 am

    All the time Tipper. See I don’t like large crowds so i tend to either not go or I find a corner to hide in. To many people I don’t know I guess.

  • Reply
    Darlene LaRoche
    March 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

    As a child I was backwards, always uncomfortable around people I didn’t know…I have outgrown that trait as an adult.

  • Reply
    Special Ed
    March 24, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Wutsa shadow? They looks like plane shaders to me?

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 9:20 am

    My sister was holding my brother’s toddler at a funeral home when someone tried to get the baby to come to them. The baby turned and buried his face in her shoulder. She said, “I have never seen a more backward child.” My brother heard her say that and was furious. He still talks about it today, some twenty years later. While my sister and I learnt to speak kreckly, my brother never did.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I can be rather backwards at times and, other times I can be rather outgoing. It just depends on the situation. For instance, have you ever been some place and suddenly get the nagging gut feeling that there is this hilarious private joke being played out nobody has let you in on it? LOL. Now usually this is not the case but it could happen. well who knows but it can cause a fellow to be a little backards!
    I can’t imagine you being backwards Tipper; not the Angel of Brasstown!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Oh me too, I must have been born backwards. As an adult I have to force myself to greet new people and have a hard time starting a conversation. But let one get started then look out!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I do not believe I was born with even a speck of being backwards— AS a child and as an adult I would be looked at like your example of the mandolin player just doing about whatever I did please—and about that person in your yard I would have been too nosy to not go check that situation out—-

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I musta been born backards. I’ve been that way all my life. I’m soon to be 62 and it ain’t gettin no better. At work I have to deal with visitors a lot. If I don’t know they are coming I’ll do fine. If I do know, I’ll worry about it ’til they arrive. Or devise a plan to pass them off to somebody else.
    It’s not that I’m skeered of people it just that…..well you know the feeling.

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    March 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Backwards? No! A real “hoot” yes. :o) The Blind Pig girls always make me smile…or laugh.
    I think mostly my recollection of the use of the word is “a little strange”.

  • Reply
    Carol Killian
    March 24, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Oh! Yes…when I was little,I would hide behind Mother’s
    “coattails”(?)when we went to the store. Now I seldom meet a stranger.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 24, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Tipper, I can identify with your being “backwards,” for I, too, was a shy mountain girl. Only over in Choestoe where many of us had that shy quality, we pronounced it a little differently: We’d say: “She (or he’s) backards.” I guess it took growing up hearing the term to know that it meant shy, retiring, reluctant to be the center of attention. Sometimes “backards” wasn’t even a complimentary term, but meant not very polished, one who did not react well in the company of others. It could be mistaken for not being very “bright” and with social graces. I don’t know why, but somewhere along the way, I think the quality of being “backwards” or “backards” left me behind. I’m amazed at how “not backwards” I have become! Probably too much so for my own good! But I still admire that sense of reticence characteristic of many of our dear mountain folk!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I’m a bit backwards myself, though I prefer to think of it as reserved – there’s nothing wrong with being cautious! Couple that with my difficulty remembering new faces and names, and I’ve been accused of having my “nose in the air” (do you use that expression for a snob?)though nothing could be farther than the truth.
    So, who was the man in your garden???

  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Yes, most of my life. But now that I am middle aged I have realized that I am no longer backward.
    Well unless you want me to speak in front of a room full of people. Then I am definitely backward. I don’t handle public speaking well. Wish I did though.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    March 24, 2012 at 5:58 am

    O yea, funny you bring this up, my wife ran across this site that tells what kinda animal personality you are by answering a few questions, I came out to be a porcupine, they are loners and don’t like to be messed with, not into congregating, it is very weird because some of the characteristics of the porcupine I actually can relate, hers came out to be a bat, We’ve been married for 30 years and I have always told her she was a bat, because she only started feeling good after dark, me when the sun goes down I start going down. Here is the link to the site you can take it yourself and test your friends and family, you will be surprised at how close it comes to your personality, also helps you understand others as well..

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