Appalachia I Am From

I Am From Gravel Roads

Today’s guest poem was written by Wanda Robertson. Wanda is a blogger who writes at Faith, Folklore, and Friends.

 I’m From Gravel Roads written by Wanda Robertson

I am from pea shelling and pinching pennies; from Vick’s salve and Syrup of Black Draught.

I am from the Tennessee hills, with its lush creek bottoms and rocky ridges, where panthers screamed, thunder shook the house, and whippoorwills lulled us to sleep.

I am from corn fields and morning glories, black walnuts and hog killings, wood piles and canned vegetables, poke sallet and fresh promises.

I am from big people. I am from sharecroppers and quilters, from the scattered clans named Stricklin and Gean.

I am from the weary with calloused hands and burned necks.

I am from moonshiners and midwives, herbal healers and hell-fire preachers.

I am from Shall We Gather at the River and I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.

I’m from the South, from catfish and clotheslines and chasing chickens for dinner, from homemade ice cream and blackberry cobbler; from the cotton pickers, the recyclers, and the storytellers that crowd my mind.

I am from Eve, the Scots-Irish, the Germans, the slow-talking, the stubborn, and the lasting.
I hope you enjoyed Wanda’s poem as much as I did! While I related to much of Wanda’s poem-the line that stuck out for me was I am from corn fields and morning glories. The cornfield in late summer, dotted with a bazillion bright morning glories has never lost its magic for me. Everytime I go inside the green walls I feel as though I’m a child hiding one row over from Pap again.



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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 19, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Oh my goodness, I hadn’t thought of Syrup of Black Draught for years. It was also sometimes called Pine Tar Elyxir, was given to children with bad coughs, and I remember telling Mom I wouldn’t take it because it tasted like the cracks in the schoolyard. ROFLOL If I’m remembering correctly, she made me take it anyway. Yuck!
    What a memory! LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    I’m working on one of these, but it’s not easy because I keep getting nostalgic and lost in memories.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Loved Wandas poem…Only Castor oil instead of Black Daught…
    Cod Liver oil for us kids and Carters Little Liver Pills for Dad…Tight and stingy and free wheeling spendthrift on occasion!…LOL
    Morning glories that I loved and grandparents hated in the garden!
    Homemade Ice cream…sittin’ with folded newspaper on top til it set good…and a can of Hersheys syrup waiting to go on top, opened with one of those sharp old beer type can openers…stories of near miss ball lightning rolling down the hills above Marshall and bouncing around the house…Fried Chicken in an iron skillet, with chicken brown gravy only my Granny could make…
    Great memories that are simular…
    Thanks Tipper, and Wanda

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Wanda’s poem – like all the poems by others for the past few days- was fantastic. Good memories makes life so much more liveable; the bad ones aren’t worth keeping.
    Anybody remember NEHI strawberry, Crackerjacks and those valuable prizes in the boxes, Feen A Mints and how they were often mistaken for Beech-Nut Beechies gum?
    Well, remembering those old products from years ago is great but, the memories of good times with family and friends are are best. Thanks Wanda and everyone else for your poems.

  • Reply
    Brandi N.
    August 14, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    love love love

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    She left out watermelons, Fuller Brushes and Carter’s Little Liver Pills. Other than those she pretty much covered my childhood.
    Every line of these poems brings back long forgotten memories.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Another very evocative poem! Tipper, thank you for sharing such wonderful creations from your talented readers 🙂

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 14, 2013 at 11:45 am


  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    August 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Wanda, thank you for all the great memories. I love the contrast of us all.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

    It don’t get any better than this.
    Wanda Robertson’s poem really hits
    home, doesn’t it? I have experienced
    some of the things she talks about,
    and it brought back pleasant
    memories of a friendlier time.
    Thank you Wanda for a well written
    description of life in Appalachia.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 14, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I agree with Ed Ammons. The round bales would not have worked on my Granddad’s farm in Sylva. The hay would have wound up in the creek!

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Wanda, this was the beginning of an autobiography to be passed down to your family. I really enjoyed reading your history.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 9:13 am

    What visuals she gave me. Loved it!

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry
    August 14, 2013 at 9:00 am


  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Wanda, I loved your poem! It brought back memories of all the times I hid when Mom brought out the Syrup Of Black Draught. Our home was never without Vick’s Salve.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

    I love your poem Wanda, and the pictures too. You can feel the strength of your family in every line.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 14, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Where I come from we couldn’t have round hay bales like that. They would roll right off the mountainside. The square ones might slide a little bit but ginnly they would stay in place.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 14, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I love your poem as well, even though I am a 5th generation Floridian, my roots from both sides of my family are in the Appalachians. When I am there I am at home, so many of my family traditions and way of speaking comes from these roots.

  • Reply
    August 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Thanks so much Wanda for a poem that started the day on a wonderful note. I am amazed that so much in each of these poems is much like the world I knew and still enjoy. Your poem helped me recall a memory almost forgotten. At one time in this area instead of gravel they put “red dog” on driveways. Calloused hands and burned necks brings back wonderful memories of my Dad who was so familiar with hard work.

  • Reply
    Mama Crow
    August 14, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Thank you so much for this journey back to my childhood. My great aunt Lizzie made me streaked meat & biscuits, and I can almost smell them right now. Thank you caws it feels real goos, Mama Crow

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 14, 2013 at 7:27 am

    Thank you Wanda. I love your poem, I feel your poem. It is truth and it is real. I especially like your ending….. the slow talking, the stubborn, and the lasting.
    That’s us!

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