Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes Cataloochee

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Old Dresses

The pressley girls undone in sorrow
Once we made the decision to hike back to the Little Cataloochee Baptist Church for the girls to sing-I started thinking about how I wanted them to look. Not that they’re not adorable in their cut offs and racing shirts-but from the first time Ola Belle Reed whispered in my ear I had a vision, a story in my head.

Girls would have worn dresses in the 20s and 30s. I’m positive the dresses we packed back in the mountains with us aren’t from then, but they are old. The one Chatter wore (she’s playing the guitar) was given to her by a fellow contra dancer. It was obviously handmade years ago, but we don’t know who made it. The one Chitter is wearing is a polyester number made by Granny in the early 70s. Somewhere there’s a miniature version of it. Granny was into making matching outfits for her and me to wear.

Granny finds symbolism in everything and I mean EVERY THING. When I was growing up her symbolism got on my last nerve. I mean who would notice a certain flower had 5 petals and there were 5 of us? But as I’ve gotten older I find myself doing the same thing.

Since the JCCFS plays a huge roll in our lives-it seemed perfect to take along a piece of it in the form of a dress. And for certain it was moving to know Chitter wore a dress Granny sewed when she was younger than I am now.

The process of videoing the girls in the old church was chug full of interesting tidbits-and symbolism from start to finish. Even the fact that we got the video in one take still amazes me. Typically their singing is interrupted by either cutting up, arguing, or both!

I’ve made you wait long enough…tomorrow the video.


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



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  • Reply
    B f
    June 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    i agree with Ken , i like the old ways way better ,dresses for church and no to shorts which are being worn here in some churches ,i think some respect should be taught at home , and if not there then where? we werent ever allowed to dress in an inapproite way even at home but things have gotten so out of hand its hard to believe we live in the same world . well-well

  • Reply
    August 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I find myself symbolizing things, too. And it gets on everyone’s nerves, too. But “one day” they’ll understand.
    And I love the idea of the old dresses. How nice to have one that granny made. I lost the ones that my mom made when our house burnt in the 70’s.

  • Reply
    Dee from Tennessee
    August 7, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Well worth the wait….thanks for sharing. I am an ol’ timey person — I just now a fleeting thought after just watching the video — wondering how many souls got saved in that lil country church? Gives me goose bumps….Your gals are so so talented – but then they “get it honest.”

  • Reply
    Elizabeth K
    August 6, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    The girls look very pretty and I look forward to the video!

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    August 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Love the picture-the lighting is spectacular! Can’t wait to see the video-

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    The girls looked nice in the dresses. They are very pretty girls regardless of what they wear. Reminds me of some dresses I had in my younger days. Looking forward to more of the church event.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I’m so excited!!!! There is something absolutely magical about the way all the parts necessary to make this video happen were brought together!
    There were some pretty remarkable people involved!!
    It is fitting that you have a Sunday unveiling!
    I’ll be here bright and early with Ken!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Uncle Al- YES its the same Cataloochee!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    You say you were amazed the girls got it right the first time. Tipper surely, you must have noticed down through the years that whether it is a horse race or whatever thoroughbreds always perform better.
    Still can’t tell those girls apart.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Can’t wait to see the video. You simply have no idea what kindred spirits we are. If my husband read your posts he would swear I wrote them! I think he grows weary of my connection to the past.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    the girls look beautiful as always, can’t wait to see the video. wish i could have seen the taping

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    August 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    What an inspirational picture of the girls. Would make a great album cover (maybe someday), right? I’m anxiously awaiting the video as well. Counldn’t agree more with Jim and Don. Oh and a question for you. Is this the same Cataloochee where there is a campground and you can see Elk? Just wonderin

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I love old dresses too. Actually, I think I gave that dress to Chatter. She wears it much better than me.
    As for the symbolism, I have heard it described as being in “the flow”. I think it’s a symptom of being present & grateful.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Nice to see girls wearing dresses; but then I’m guilty of not wearing one unless I have to.
    When my girls were growing up in the 70s I sewed lots of dresses for them from polyester. It was the fabric of the time; couldn’t wear it out, it wouldn’t fade, and didn’t have to be ironed. But — it was hot to wear, I seem to remember.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 11:41 am

    my mom took a picture of my sister and i wearing calico and doily dresses that she found at a second hand store and sent it to her grandmother who was from Eastern Kentucky because she knew she would love those dresses! It’s a beautiful picture. Your girls look beautiful!

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    August 6, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Tipper: BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful moment. You can’t mention home made dresses unless my mind goes back to my tenth birthday GIFT from my mama. I sat by her side at that SINGER sewing machine from the beginning to the end, watching my mama cut out the material and sew away until she had made my VERY FIRST DRESS OF MY OWN! It was out of feedsack material – but at least it was my VERY OWN DRESS! All my life all my dresses had been hand-me-downs from my FIVE SISTERS! Now I can’t see anymore for the tears!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 6, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Tipper–Fine stuff, and I think most everyone who lives close to the good earth pays a great deal of attention to symbolism and spiritualism. It’s difficult to be close to nature and do otherwise.
    As for “singing interrupted by cutting up, arguing, or both”–you left out talking, and let me assure anyone who hasn’t met the two delightful young ladies with the singularly apt monikers of Chitter and Chatter, they can flat-out talk. The finest fluttermill running at top level couldn’t hold a candle to their loquacity.
    Mind you, I’m not knocking them, because they are cute as a bowl of speckled butter beans and instantly likeable. However, I bet there’s been a school teacher or two over the years who has commented on wagging tongues and rolling eyes:).
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    barbara gantt
    August 6, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I love old things including dresses. I have a dress that was worn by my greatgrandma. Now my grandma was born in 1900 so it has to be over 100 years old. Too small for any of my girls but I hang on it. Just a bit of family history. We have ugly polyester quilts that my Aunt made in the 70’s. They are so warm. Cant wait til tomorrow to see the video, Barbara

  • Reply
    Sherry McGregor
    August 6, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Absolutely wonderful!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Using your Granny’s handmade dresses is a wonderful way to pass down tradition, I really can wait to see the video

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Just a couple of comments, Tipper.
    First, symbolism makes 4 dimensional life and time an 8-D experience. I expect that you’re now thankful to Granny for passing her passion along, whether you wanted it back when or not.
    Second, I was, and I expect our fellow travelers Lonnie and Susan were as well, almost as surprised as you and The Deerhunter at how those energetic girls focused on the singing. It was almost like flipping a switch. We can vouch for the fact that it was a one recording and done deal, which I take it is quite unusual in this sort of thing.
    By the way, that focus switch got flipped back to its original position almost as soon as they were done 😉

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I love old dresses and your girls are doing right by wearing them for the video. They look gorgeous.
    I also find symbolism in things, not quite as much as your Granny but I do. I like to think they are little messages from above.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Your girls look beautiful in those
    old timey looking dresses. Guess
    I’ll be gettin’ up early tomorrow
    to see and hear this video. One of
    the things that gets my goose is the way girls and women dress for
    church today. My daughters were
    never allowed to wear pants in church, its just the way I was
    taught. Thanks in advance for all
    the sacrifices all of you made to
    bring this video to life for us.
    Don Casada and Susan deserve a lot of recognition for having the
    foresight to bring this special
    event from a little country church in Cataloochee…Ken

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