Appalachia I Am From

Where I’m From

Today’s guest poem was written by Sheila Nelson.

Sitting on the Steps 2


Where I’m From written by Sheila Nelson

I am from cast iron
skillets and number 10 washtubs, from Hi-Ho crackers, JFG peanut butter and
Bessie’s unpasteurized, unhomogenized sweet milk.

I am from the hill in
the holler, from a tar-papered house that embraced a home.

I am from wild white
dogwoods, sweet pink mimosas, orange ditch lilies, and from the fleabane and
Queen Anne’s lace that lined the sides of a pig-trail road.

I am from a Friday night
supper of homemade hamburgers; Sanford and Son on a new color TV set. I am from Momma ‘n Daddy keeping their family

I am from Thanksgiving
Dinner served at noon. I am from letting the men fill their plates first. I am from Lawrence and Alyne, Parkers and

1 Sheila Nelson


I am from my
grandparent’s front porch. I am from
“come on in and pull up a cheer.”

I am from talkers and

I am from cracklin’ AM
radio and scratchy vinyl records. I am
from Mac Wiseman, the Browns singing The Three Bells, Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk
and Porter Waggoner.

I am from “don’t touch
the dog when it’s a’stormin’”. I am from “yuns put your bicycles in the cellar,
come on in the house and watch Billy Graham.“

I am from rarely saying grace,
but always giving thanks.

I am from cotton dresses
worn to school under a warm coat.

I am from the southern
end of Appalachia, from one whose lineage can be traced to the Mayflower, and
from one whose roots disappear into the soil of the early 1800s.

I am from “ain’t” and
“pillers”, from “yonder” and “yuns”. I am from East Tennessee twang.

I am from hik’ry switch
stripes on my legs. I am from
encouragement and selfless love. I am from parents who intended to raise me
right, no matter what it took.

I am from a Momma who
had a good example to follow, and did it right. I am from a Daddy who didn’t
have a good example to follow, but did it right anyway.

I am from the foot of an
old Appalachian mountain spur. I am from
a sunset that slides to the south of the mountaintop to let me know we’re
heading towards winter, and creeps north to give my spirit hope that winter
will end.

In the Yard


I am from land given to
my family as a death settlement in the last century. I am from people who held onto this land like
a bulldog. I am from daguerreotypes and tintypes, I am from black and
white, I am from color, stored in boxes
and albums and held in trust by three strong, sweet women.

I am from Appalachia,
beginning in New England and ending in Tennessee.


I hope you enjoyed Sheila’s poem and photos as much as I did! I identified with much in Sheila’s poem. Lines that stuck out for me: the one about rarely saying grace but always giving thanks; and the one about having hik’ry switch stripes on your legs.

We only said grace on special occasions-Thanksgiving and Christmas come to mind-but we were always thankful for what we had.


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    These poems bring back so many poignant memories. I’m very blessed they’re being so thoughtfully written and kindly shared.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Linda Shupe
    August 25, 2013 at 2:50 am

    I am from Baltimore, MD but my heart, soul, thoughts and everything else is from these hills. My father was from Hillsville, Va. and he instilled the mountains into my soul. Maybe before I die I will find a home in the hills. If not when I have finally passed from this life I will watch over you and yours throughout eternity because that is where I will forever be at peace. Bless you all. I wish I could be there now.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2013 at 12:44 am

    thank you for sharing these Tipper, it’s wonderful to hear about each person’s connections!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    Sheila-On my side of the mountain Bessie was called “Old Bossie” for the temperamental attitude she often adopted. I don’t know of the times that I followed her around hoping she would soon submit and relinquish her treasure of udder delight. I can remember many times though, that she received a shower of her own lactation because she kicked and contaminated her precious production with another, not so appetizing. All in all though, Bossie was more a member of the family than a scoundrel. She had her good days and her bad. On her good days she would run the bucket over with an epicurean delight never savored by a majority of the present population of this planet. Jersey Milk! Go Bossie! You Rule!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    I am really enjoying the ‘Where I am from’ poems. Those writing them are so creative and sharing. They are great!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    August 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    This just keeps getting better and better. I would love to have a compilation of all these wonderful, heartfelt poems to pass on to my kids and the ones to follow. Thanks Shelia for sharing and thank you Tipper for a wonderful subject!

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    August 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you Sheila! Your description of your Mother and Daddy is a great one. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Well Shelia, your thoughts were just like home in so many ways. BUT at our table someone ALWAYS said a prayer before beginning a meal. If any of the eleven children took a bite before hearing the ‘AMEN’ they got a stern look or even a dismissal from the eating table.
    Keep up that Appalachian tradition. It is the best in the whole wide world!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Sheila’s poem is wonderful! Sounds
    just like a neighbor I grew up with.
    The part about orange day lilies
    and white dogwoods also lined the
    country trail to my boyhood home.
    And Grace wasn’t said too often at
    our table either, but we were
    Thankful. There was always so much
    talkin’ at suppertime, it was hard
    for a littlin’ to get a word in.

  • Reply
    Sue from Ky.
    August 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

    All I can say is,”Ditto,ditto,ditto!”
    So many have voiced my same feelings. So many words that struck home with me, although I was raised in Kentucky. We all have so many similarities in our upbringing.It’s so sad to know the shape the world has gotten in over the last 100 years, when so many of our generation had such hard working parents and had such a wonderful upbringing.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Paula-thank you! It’s readers like you who MAKE the Blind Pig great : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    August 21, 2013 at 10:54 am

    I am enjoying these “I Am From” poems. Thanks so much for your great blog Tipper!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

    PS ….Tipper,
    That one in the livingroom, is the procrasting pre-teen working on a project, that is due the next day 8:00 AM class!
    How many parents have gone thru a late night hour with their kids on that one? Grabbing a bite between the books! Be honest now!
    thanks again!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 21, 2013 at 10:22 am

    and Shelia, I loved this one. “I am from rarely saying grace, but always giving thanks”! How many can truely admit to that one! I do believe that a believer says in their heart “thanks” eventhough they don’t always hear the spoken word. We are scattered around, some in the living room. One on the way to a ball game. Another not in from work and a Mother dishing out food and wondering when they will be able to sit down to supper…maybe by Thanksgiving!
    Thanks Tipper and Shelia…and thanks Tipper for letting folks share what is in their heart!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Although not from Appalachia, the poems resonate with me too – family ties, spirituality if not religiosity, a kinship with nature; working hard, making do, doing without. As I listen to my Manhatten/New Jersey son-in-law and my Bronx via Houston daughter-in-law share their family adventures and experiences, they too could write very similar yet very different I Am From poems. It brings home how much people’s lives are alike no matter how different the living has been.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 21, 2013 at 9:27 am

    It is amazing how many similarities are in the “Where I’m From” series. Each is different, yet a thread of truth for all runs through them, like a stream originating far up in our beloved Appalachian Mountains and meandering downward to water the bottomlands where it becomes a river.
    Our “raising” is like that stream, steadfast and true, with pure water withal. And therefore we can find familiar strains and relate to each of the “Where I’m From” and see how one complements another’s. Thanks for posting.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 8:45 am

    “I am from a Momma who had a good example to follow, and did it right. I am from a Daddy who didn’t have a good example to follow, but did it right anyway.” = this brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful!

  • Reply
    Susie Swanson
    August 21, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I am from all of the above also. Thank you so much Sheila for the beautiful poem and for taking us all back to our memories. Many thanks to you Tipper for posting.

  • Reply
    Susan Cook
    August 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for sharing your I’m from Sheila. So enjoyable.
    And thanks Tipper for publishing the “I’m from” series, make a good book if you had enough.

  • Reply
    August 21, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I just love your poem, Sheila Nelson. I don’t know why all these poems seem relevant to my own life, but they do. So touching was the ” I am from rarely saying grace, but always giving thanks.” We believed and were thankful deep within our heart, but grace rarely said. How many have been caught with a mouthful only to hear a visiting relative say, “Who wants to say grace?” Oops!
    Tipper has outdone herself by encouraging folks to describe the wonderful Appalachia they are from. Sure couldn’t write like this if you were from Manhattan.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 21, 2013 at 7:20 am

    I liked this one too, Tipper. I especially liked ” a tar paper house that embraced a home” and “I am from a Momma who had a good example to follow, and did it right. I am from a Daddy who didn’t have a good example to follow, but did it right anyway.”
    I love the strength of Appalachian families. Thanks so much Sheila!

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