Appalachia I Am From

Where I’m From

Today’s guest poem was written by Ethelene Dyer Jones

Poetry by ethelene dyer jones


Where I’m From written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.

I am from cleanly-laundered
clothes blowing on the line, Octagon soap, and lye soap, stronger, for well-worn work clothes, double-scrubbed
and drying in the sun.

I am from Choestoe,
between mountains named the Blood and the Bald; from a house with a
front porch where summer visitors loll and swing; and from sugar pears
gathered for afternoon snack.

I am from hydrangea
bushes in full bloom, chinquapin roses
spotted pink and fuchsia and a garden growing
rhubarb, turnip greens, sweep peas and spring onions.

I am from going to
visit Grandma Sarah and hearing her wisdom, going to Grandpa Bud’s
house where lazy Susan table rolled our food around, from seeing the names
of Dyer, Souther, Collins Hunter engraved in mind and on tombstones at
the New Liberty and Choestoe cemeteries.

I am from saving
pennies and making-do, from hand-me downs and mended shoes, from hard work and
planting by the signs, from overcoming
ravages of the Great Depression and hoping times will get better.

I am from “remember,
when you go out into the world, where you’re from, for you have a name
and a place to uphold, a reputation to honor
and never dishonor, an ingrained goal to ‘be somebody!”.

I am from protracted
meeting beginning the second Sunday in July after “laying-by,” from baptizings of
converts in the cold waters of Nottely River at Morris Ford, from precept and
example, from learned Bible verses, from neighbors helping each other.

I’m from country lanes
and corn fields in the breeze, from hardy pioneer
families that left their mark in mountain settlements, from cornbread
fritters slathered in churned butter and sorghum syrup.

I am from the 1874
‘Apparatus for Navigating the Air’ invented by Micajah Clark Dyer, and from Dr. M. D.
Collins gone out from Choestoe to make a difference in Georgia’s education, from my own long line
of farmers, teachers and “make-do-with-what-you have” or ”better it” people.

I am from stalwart
stock whose word was their bond and a handshake meant
“I’ll do anything I can for you” to “Don’t fence me
in!”  “I want to be free!”

I’m from all of these,
and more, for I am not yet through Growing, Becoming,
Like them, I want to
reach out and up, and forward– to make a difference.

-Ethelene Dyer Jones  (Following suggested “Where I’m From”
Template by George Ella Lyon).


I hope you enjoyed Ethelene’s poem as much as I did! I especially liked the ending lines I’m from all of these, and more, for I am not yet through Growing, Becoming, Being.

I’m constantly busy with the present, and I often think of the past, but I sometimes forget the excitement and hope of the future.


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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    September 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    “I’m from all of these, and more, for I am not yet through Growing, Becoming, Being.
    Like them, I want to reach out and up, and forward – to make a difference.”
    That last sentence is so full of strength and power, and God willing (and the creek don’t rise), our days will get better and better as they go on.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 26, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    Ethelene enjoy your poem. your cus John Stonecypher

  • Reply
    Dennis Price
    August 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    What a great descriptive poem. Thanks for posting it.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    To Tipper and Readers of my “Where I’m From”: What can I say except a sincere “Thank you!” I’ve waited until later in the day to respond because I’ve read so far with deep appreciation and delight. Recently I passed out George Ella Lyon’s template for writing “Where I’m From,” and read my own poem to our Learning-in-Retirement Writers’ Group. One in the group commented, “I can’t write about where I’m from. I have nothing such as you in my upbringing.” I wanted to be kind, to take this dear, hesitant writer in my arms and say gently, “We’re all from somewhere. And we’re all individualistic and different. My memories of where I’m from are quite different from yours–as they should be. But all of us have forces that shaped us into what we are!” But I knew that particular student was not quite ready to see how whatever her background was, was indeed, worthy of writing about. Even though life was sometimes hard in our Appalachian way of life, there was a spirit of making the best of situations and not complaining, of enjoying each day, each year, and always seeking a ‘better way’ for those who came behind us. That’s where I’m from–and I hope my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can realize, too, that they are from “solid roots.” Thank you for reading; thank you for commenting.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    Beautiful message. Becoming is many things to each of us and a job that’s never done.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Wow! Ethelene sure gets to the heart
    of Appalachians. I knew if she ever
    wrote about where she came from,
    we’d be in for a Treat. Thanks
    Ethelene for giving us a glimpse of your life…Ken

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Another thought provoking and memory inspiring poem.
    Ethelene’s last line, “I am not yet through Growing, Becoming, Being.”, is so important; but I especially liked Tipper’s paraphrase of it: “I’m constantly busy with the present, and I often think of the past, but I sometimes forget the excitement and hope of the future.”
    Seems that “hope of the future” is what keeps us going and gives us our vitality.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Wow, what a wonderful poem Ethelene!

  • Reply
    Kerry in GA
    August 26, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Last night I was looking ahead at our Sunday school lesson for next week and it says “If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better.” How true that is.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Nicely written! This writing gave me a small picture of where you came from and your life. Thanks!

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 26, 2013 at 8:06 am

    What can I say? Well I can proudly say I am Ethelene’s cousin! Not that I have your incredible characteristics. However after “Fiddler” I am well aware of your fine talents and extraordinary and generous ways of sharing them! Yes your students were fortunate to have had you as their teacher.
    With the utmost devotion,
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    “Fiddler of the Mountains – Attuned to the Life and Times of Johnny Mull”
    Release date is SEPTEMBER 4th, 2013
    p.s. EDITOR: Ethelene Dyer Jones

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    August 26, 2013 at 8:06 am

    Thank you, you brought back memories of my mother and her friend washing outside in their wringer washer and scrub boards. I could smell the soap.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 26, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Yes, Tipper, I liked the end too. We are all still a work in progress still reaching higher and higher.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    August 26, 2013 at 7:22 am

    I know you’re from “good stock” if you’re a Stonecypher descendant.Enjoyed your poem!

  • Reply
    August 26, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Ethelene I had been waiting for your poem and it was all that I had expected. From Choestoe, Bald, and Blood Mountain… what places to have been from! I just know that every student that you had now boast of being taught by you.

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