Appalachia COVID-19 Granny

Watching Westerns with Granny

western on TV

Back in June I left my full time position with John C. Campbell Folk School to focus on my passion of celebrating the wonderful culture and heritage of Appalachia. My mind was full to the brim with things I wanted to do. It still is.

I have by no means accomplished all the ideas in the short time I’ve been self-employed, but I have been able to check one of the items off my mental list—spend more time with Granny.

I’ve been spending one day a week with her, doing whatever she wants to do.

We’ve strung beans, worked in the yard, cleaned in the house, went to the store, and watched a whole lot of westerns on tv.

Granny’s tv pretty much stays on the western channel or the inspiration channel where she can watch various western series throughout the day.

She loves Wagon Train, The Virginian, Gun Smoke, Death Valley Days, Cheyenne, Bonanza, Big Valley, and more. Her favorites are Wagon Train, The Virginian, and Death Valley Days.

I love them all, but especially enjoy The Virginian.

No matter the show, once I set down on Granny’s couch and begin to watch I become mesmerized.

I’m not really a big tv watcher but there’s something about those old western shows that pull me in and compel me to become involved in whatever incident that’s going on.

Of course the shows are make believe, made to entertain folks like Granny and me. Yet there’s something so simple about them that they comfort me. No complex story line to keep you guessing, just a single problem that’s always fixed by the end of the show.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I left my full time position to focus on working for myself and to highlight the people of Appalachia, but there was one other issue that helped me make that leap.

The crazy year of COVID showed me the most important things are right in front of me: my faith, my family, my garden, the high ridge above the house, Stamey Creek as it flows through Wilson holler and heads on to Brasstown and beyond, the music we make together, the chickens in the backyard, the worn trails that lead up the creek where my ancestors walked before me and the daily tasks that I do to support my family and friends.

Being forced to slow down and notice anew the things that bring me great overflowing joy made me yearn to experience them all on a daily basis forever, not just for the respite of working from home while the Folk School was closed.

I haven’t regretted my decision to become self-employed doing the things I love for one mili-second. I have relished being able to focus on celebrating Appalachia in a more meaningful way, but most of all I have savored every last second of doing for my family whether that’s cooking a good supper, putting up food, or watching westerns with Granny.


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  • Reply
    Kat Swanson
    August 10, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    We and Daddy loved HAVE GUN WILL.TRAVEL. WE all.ran to watch that fire burning across the screen when Bonanza came on in COLOR! I personally was in love with Hoss…in fact I married a man that sorta looks like Hoss…and he even says…ah shucks ! Next month we will be married 49 years.
    I heard once that America fell in love with westerns after WW two….because the world thought of us as cowboys that road in and saved the world.
    And Tipper, when I stopped being a traveling storyteller….I told folks I was just gonna sit on my my rocking chair and CONSIDER…..consider all the possibilities of every day.
    I wish you many days to do just that.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    On I am so very happy for you! Your blog is such a part of my life now…you are all like family to me. I thank the Lord for you &The Blind Pig. By the way, I made the Appalachian Chess cake & it was a hit at my house. It truly was the easiest cake ever. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    August 10, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    I am so happy you are doing what you really want to do. Your readers are benefiting from your new found time also. Thank you for what you do.

    I do not watch network tv hardly at all. I watch westerns, Alfred Hitchcock, Green Acres, Perry Mason, Highway Patrol, rodeo and NASCAR . There are a lot of good things on tv you just have to find it.

    I am old enough to remember when we did not have a television! I remember the day we got a television, it seemed wonderful. Some of the shows I watched are still on cable channels.

  • Reply
    Jenny Young
    August 10, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Those are my favorite shows too…I’m always happy to have a free day to let them play in the background if I can’t sit down & watch. I thought Death Valley Days were stories based on history? I’m sure they’re embellished. And I love the ones narrated by Ronald Reagan.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Hope your enjoying your time. Talking about Westerns, that’s all my husband and I watch. When the TV is on that’s what we have it on. I love em all. I love Gunsmoke , Wagon Train, and I don’t know if you watch this one but we love Wells Fargo. I will have to show this post Tipper to my husband. He will love it.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    August 10, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    Yes home is where the heart is.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 11:44 am

    I’m glad you’re getting to spend precious time with her.

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    August 10, 2021 at 10:16 am

    For me, it’s “The Lone Ranger”. Every episode has a moral message, articulated by Clayton Moore, as the Ranger. These “Words of Wisdom” resonant so much with our situation today. Search YouTube for all the episodes, in HiDef, with later ones in color. I remember watching this classic series in the early 50’s in Charlotte, every Saturday morning.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 10, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Beautiful! I definitely agree with your list of important things: “my faith, my family, my garden, the high ridge above the house, Stamey Creek as it flows through Wilson holler and heads on to Brasstown and beyond, the music we make together, the chickens in the backyard, the worn trails that lead up the creek where my ancestors walked before me and the daily tasks that I do to support my family and friends.”

  • Reply
    Ray Presley
    August 10, 2021 at 9:40 am

    Well, Tipper. Without knowing you all that well, I’d still say that your decision to leave full-time employment with the JCCFS has been a net gain for your family, granny, and your even larger family out here in the ether. Of course, when we leave a place where we’ve laid down so many memories and accomplishments, we also leave a mark or trail that leads right back to us. Your work there will be enjoyed by those whose lives you affected either directly or indirectly. Thanks for all you have done in the past and for the rich joys that you will still bring to others. And your two daughters, who have also spent a good bit of time at the folk school, are a living testament to the many things you have accomplished, especially in helping them with their music, art and crafts. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 9:16 am

    Tipper, I’m so thankful you were able to leave your job to be home more and do the things that mean most to you. I think after we lose one parent and realize how fragile the life is of our last parent, it really changes our perspective on things. After my Daddy died, Mom became even more precious to me than she was before – I mean, she always was, but our bond became even deeper. Zach and I used to go see her every, single day after Kevin went to work, and there came a point where I just realized that doing what she wanted to do when we were together was so important. She loved to ride in the car, and even though she couldn’t get out and walk very well, she would just want to ride with us wherever we went. It just meant the world to her, so that is what we did. I have never regretted it, and I long to spend just one hour with her now. People just don’t realize how precious their parents really are. They rush through their busy lives and cast them aside, then one day wake up to find they are gone, and they missed out on SO much, never to be retrieved. You definitely made the wise decision – I know you don’t need me to tell you that, LOL! But, it just blesses me to know you are doing what you are doing. God bless every single moment to be extra-special for you.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 9:13 am

    Watching westerns on TV reminds me of a time years ago when I saw my first television show called Bonanza at my aunt and uncles’ house. At a time when Bewitched, Lost In Space and The Adams Family had everyone’s attention, I preferred to watch the westerns. The Bonanza theme song still plays in my head. Keep enjoying the best shows ever made with Granny!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    August 10, 2021 at 9:10 am

    I totally support your decision to seek self as opposed to the outside world. The way I see it, the outside world at Vanderbilt Medical Center and the US Military can find some nurses as I bowed out due to the computer which took over every aspect of patient care and left the patient high and dry. I can’t go for that nor will I ever. I’m a BIG western show watcher mainly in winter and rainy days. My favorite is Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Wanted Dead or Alive. I watch a lot of Grit which is westerns too. There’s a movie with Sharon Stone and she’s a gun fighter and it’s fabulous. I could watch it every month. Anyway, love, faith, family, the garden, good friends and good food not to mention a Fiddlers Convention or two make for dandy Appalachian days! I’d like to add if it looks and smells like b.s. it usually is. That’s my take on the big clamp down of our rights while some folks get to parade themselves (contagious and all) right on in!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 8:49 am

    Tipper, I am glad you are enjoying your retirement. My mother in law, Granny Brooks to her family, loved to watch the westerns too with Gun Smoke being her favorite. I encourage everyone to retire as soon as you can. My wife and I got to enjoy 6 months of her retirement before she died. It was such a joy to be able to be together each day. Now each day is more of a burden than a joy.

  • Reply
    Wanda Robertson
    August 10, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Congratulations on your retirement. I’m loving all your videos and posts. Thank you for sharing yourself and your family with us.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 10, 2021 at 8:14 am

    I had to smile at your list of westerns. Those are the ones my wife watches, plus Paladin, Wanted Dead or Alive and The Riflrman. I think something you and many of your readers are relating with is that those were the days when parents didn’t have to investigate what their kids were seeing. Shows still had solid moral values. Those shows reveal a different America. I lost interest in TV after about 1970 and never have gotten it back.

    We all know the saying about a silver lining in the cloud. COVID has not been an unmitigated tribulation. It has had its silver streaks mixed in the dark. Before its over it may prove to have been the saving of America cause Lord knows we need it.

  • Reply
    Cynthia B.
    August 10, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Your thoughts always generate more thoughts and I look forward to your posts. Sounds like you are in perfect alignment and a true blessing to so many. I second your sentiments about really important things in life. They’re right around us usually. Sir David Attenborough did a touching 45 min documentary The Year The Earth Changed. It’s worth watching. So happy you all managed to find balance, I pray for the souls we lost in this mess, and pray harder for those of us left, that we too, will use God given grace and principles to navigate this storm and make the right choices going forward. Lessons are all around us, every day. May God Bless

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 10, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Those older shows sure are treasures they usually embody the kind of solid values we don’t see much of anymore! I’ve watched one or two of them with Granny too.
    Tip, I was so happy when you left employment to go out on your own. You have so much more to do in this world that traditional employment interfered with. I say…You go girl!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 7:42 am

    I don’t understand why I want to cry when I read this. It’s beautiful and I totally understand what you’re saying. About “back in the day”. I wasn’t born here in Appalachia but it’s home to me and always will be. When we moved here it was pretry much about the land. You know, the scenery. But I know now, it’s really about the loving, generous, people and your culture and traditions. Thank you so much for what you share. You have no idea how much it means.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    August 10, 2021 at 7:40 am

    My husband was a big western fan too. I think the draw is simpliciyy something often lacking in modern life. Also the outcome is always good wins anf evil is banishrd, it is how we all hope it yp be

  • Reply
    Denise R
    August 10, 2021 at 7:36 am

    You made a great decision! Time with family and friends is important, God opened the doors to your new venture and He will continue to lead the way. God bless!!!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2021 at 7:34 am

    Loved it sounds like me

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 10, 2021 at 7:24 am

    Tipper–You don’t say it in a precise fashion, but what you have discovered is that there’s nothing quite like being your own boss. Mistakes and triumphs are yours and yours alone. There’s a quiet satisfaction in self-achievement and working for yourself and those you love. Also, you are walking squarely along the path, one sign posted by fierce and cherished independence, traveled by our forebears. I can identify with all of this because the day I took early retirement to write full time was a landmark in my life I’ve never regretted. I’m pretty sure you’ll be like me–there will always be plenty to do, new projects to pursue, different ideas to turn into reality, and, so to speak, new dishes to cook.

    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Julie-Appalachian-Blue Ridge Cooking and Shenandoah Valley Living
    August 10, 2021 at 6:11 am

    I’d say you made a pretty wise decision, Mrs. Tipper, with your employment. Hasn’t that virus put alot of things into perspective? Things that seemed to be put on the back burner, not purposely but because life gets in the way sometimes, it’s amazing how the little things are now the big things. So many of us have gotten back to the basics of life, and I love that!

  • Reply
    Sue W.
    August 10, 2021 at 5:59 am

    Sounds like retirement is agreeing with you!

    • Reply
      Donald Wells
      August 10, 2021 at 2:34 pm

      I’m so tickled for You Tipper, on your retirement from a public job, and all the good things you are getting to enjoy now. Glad Watching Westerners with Granny is right there at the top of your list.(I Love Granny Too)It’s nice to see someone that has their priorities in order,with what’s really important in life.

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