Appalachia Overheard



“We were out roaming the woods like boys did back then. We came down off the ridge into the road and rounded the curve. There he set with a shotgun cocked and loaded aiming right at his oldest boy. I didn’t know whether to run or scream. My buddy said “Hey now shouldn’t you put that gun down? Things couldn’t be that bad.” Old man replied “I reckon I brought him into this world and I reckon I can take him out if I want too.” We just sort of slid on by and got on down the road as fast as we could.”

“Did he kill him?”

“Not that time.”


Overheard: snippets of conversation I overhear in Southern Appalachia

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  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2014 at 12:07 am

    I spelled Zahra Baker’s name wrong in my previous comment but google still finds it either way!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2014 at 12:00 am

    I forgot! The Zarah Baker case was in the Hickory Daily Record today too. If you don’t already know about her, just google her name to get the jist of the story. Horrible things happened to children “back then” and horrible things are happening to them right now.
    A playground in Hickory had been created in Zarah’s memory with funds raised in the community and just yesterday a handicapped accessible treehouse, dedicated to her was added. Imagine a treehouse where children in wheelchairs and on crutches can play.
    Twenty-one years ago I saw a child in a dangerous situation and did something about it. It was July 25th and his babysitter was keeping him in a car in a parking lot. He was 5 months old, weighed 22 lbs and only knew how to eat. Now he is 21 years old and my son. It cost me a small fortune but I did what I had to do. I don’t want any praise if I did what was right nor criticism if I was wrong. God will be my judge.
    If everyone would do something more that just call the cops or Social Services when they see a child being mistreated, the world would be a much better place. I am getting too old to take in any more strays but if the same situation arose, I guess I’d have to try to do it all over again.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 20, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Just today the Morganton News Herald reported on a 2010 murder case in which a man had killed his stepfather during a fight. The stepfather had allegedly thrown a snowglobe at him and he picked up a gun and killed him. The case was dismissed because the state crime lab had lost the defense’s primary piece evidence, the snow globe. I didn’t make this up. The shooting took place about 1/2 mile from my house.
    You know, names change and places change, but human nature doesn’t ever change. There is nothing we can do but to try to teach our children better and pray!

  • Reply
    August 20, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Not to far from where we live a few years back, a Father killed his Son, I actually went to School with the Son,, About a month ago some of the same family the Husband killed his wife left her laying in the front yard someone passing by seen her, called the Law and several days went by because there was no witnesses, but most everyone had a good idea, his daughter came to check on him and he had shot himself.. Luke 12:53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. I see a lot of this going on…

  • Reply
    Joyce Heishman
    August 20, 2014 at 12:19 am

    Back then there was a blind eye turned toward child abuse. At least in todays world there are those who care enough to try to stop it. I don’t care how bad a child has been, pointing a gun at him is not the act of a parent that loves that child. It is an act of a person that is evil.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t know what to say about that
    but I do want to say something of
    truth. Tomorrow the 20, one of my
    school teachers will be 110 years
    old, still going pretty strong.
    Miss Jean Christy, never married
    and a wonderful person. She’s in
    the old folks home here in Andrews.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    “like boys did back then” indicates this happened a long time ago.
    The word “set” confuses me.
    The statement “We just sort of slid on by and got on down the road as fast as we could,” indicates that this was a public thoroughfare more or less. Assuming set should have been sat, the old man was in a seated position. Possibly on the ground. More likely in a vehicle of some sort. It is highly unlikely that they had “pulled up a cheer” right there in the middle of the road.
    The narrator could have visually ascertained that the shotgun was cocked but could not determined whether it was loaded without a closer inspection of the firearm. To ask to look more carefully at the weapon, at this point, would have been foolhardy to say the least. To assume the gun was loaded was prudent at this juncture. If asked to testify to it as fact, the response should have been “I didn’t know and wuddin about to ask!”
    Back in those days and back in those mountains most times calling the police was not an option. Back then 9-1-1 was 11 and the nearest telephone might be in the sheriff’s office. If you ran upon an emergency situation, you handled it the best way you could. Sounds like those boys handled it exactly the way I would have.
    I am going to assume that the old man was just trying to scare some sense into the boy but ended up scaring something else out of the whole bunch.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 19, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    What day is your birthday this month?
    I overheard in Appalachia that it is coming up this month!
    Hope I didn’t miss it, and if I did I want to wish you a very Happy Birthday Tipper even if I am sending a belated birthday wish!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    “Severe and Cruel Threats” – – those I’m familiar with. Apparently they were “the way things were”, with many of the followed through on, for many generations in one branch of the family. Sometimes it was a way of demonstrating control; nothing had to be “done” to “earn” the action.
    I think my generation and those following have changed that – more creative, more appropriate: when my oldest granddaughter hit a particularly stubborn streak about taking care of her things my son started removing one thing/piece of furniture at a time from her room and putting them in the garage. This went on until her room was completely bare – – it stayed that way for at least two weeks with her being allowed a blanket for the cooler late fall evenings. Eventually she earned everything back but that was a tough few months. As she is maturing into her teen years we are finally seeing that mulish “my way” stubbornness turn into sound resolve for useful projects and caring causes. She will be a force to reckoned with as an adult.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    August 19, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Back then, times were harsher for sure. Still my heart hurts for the boy and his hard hearted father. When I think of the cruelty toward children in our world today, I realize evil has persisted throughout time.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 19, 2014 at 11:19 am

    If that scene happened in the last few years, it would have scared me to death. Not only was the person “half-cocked” his gun was “fully cocked”! Meaning he was in a mind to kill somethin’. I would have got outta there myownself, too, a yellin’, “I didn’t see nothin’ and I don’t wanna see nothin'”!
    Stories was told that my Daddy’s Daddy was hard-handed and threatin’ on his five boys. Don’t know that he ever took a gun to one, but my Dad said he had a “leather strop”!
    Hard work in the ‘baccer fields made them want to take a little night time to just have fun. They over did it, I hear, at times. Slippin’ out of the house at night after their Daddy went to bed, and one night got caught slippin’ back into the house after carousin’ around in Mars Hill. All “hello-bill” broke loose, he said, and they had to work twice as hard the next day without a good nights sleep! LOL
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Guess that hard hand raisen’ did some good…all went to college and turned out to be purty good family men. None wanted to farm ‘baccer etc. for a total livin’. They mostly wanted a easier life!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2014 at 10:16 am

    Just a floating scrap of somebody’s cryptic joke, I would guess.

  • Reply
    Pat Shumway
    August 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Overheard in Marble, NC
    “He was a good friend, from what I knowed of him.”
    I didn’t know how to take this! If the speaker didn’t know him well enough to be sure, how could he consider him a good friend?

  • Reply
    August 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Hum! This sounds like a discipline lesson or desperation. Maybe the father was teaching the child a lesson;maybe the gun wasn’t loaded. Maybe the man wanted to kill the rattle snake at the child’s feet. If no threatening critter, call the police. Wow! This is scary in today’s day and age!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2014 at 8:07 am

    So do you know what happen later on????

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 19, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Have you not heard in Appalachia: “I’l make a believer outta him (or her) yet!” Threats were severe and cruel at times, but I didn’t ever hear of the erring one being kilt. Maybe such drastic threats were part of the hard life, the nitty-gritty of growing up in “them thar hills!”
    No, I never did see or know a scene like the one described by Tipper in today’s post. But who knows but what it might have happened? Our ancestors in these hills raised some pretty good kids!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 19, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Wow! I don’t know what to say about that. Sounds so harsh. What could make a man contemplate shooting his own child?

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