January 26, 2003

About the Neighbors

Loyal Jones, retired director of the Appalachian Center at Berea College, proposes that there are some core values shared by Appalachian people historically that remain important in their lives today. I suppose I would have to count myself among those he includes here, having lived a lifetime within the bounds of the Appalachian Mountains, from their southernmost tip in Birmingham, to the Smokies of North Carolina, and now in the Blue Ridge of Virginia.

He lists these Appalachian values as...

  • Individualism, self-reliance and Pride

  • Neighborliness and Hospitality

  • Family Solidarity

  • Personalism (relating well to other people)

  • Religion

  • Love of Place

  • Sense of Beauty

  • Sense of Humour

  • Patriotism

Reading this yesterday, I was reminded of Sharon McCrumb's story of rugged individualism and self-reliance among mountain people. Seems especially fittin' here during this southern blizzard.

If you were on the East Coast in 1960, you may remember that it was a terrible winter. In North Carolina in particular, the March weather was fierce. That month it snowed every Monday. That's much more snow than North Carolina usually gets. With this steady fall, the snow did not melt. It just kept piling up and piling up. The North Carolina transportation department did not have the resources to deal with a snowfall of this magnitude. The accumulation was so great that back in the western mountains of the state, the roads, especially unpaved rural back roads, never got cleared and soon became impassible. People who lived in cabins way back in the coves couldn't get out. Because many of them were elderly, the Red Cross was called in to try to get help to these elderly citizens trapped back there, deep in the mountains.

Two Red Cross workers had heard about an old woman--in her eighties-- who lived in a cabin way back in the hills, and they volunteered to take a jeep to bring help to her. The two volunteers drove up the ice-bound road as far as they could, abandoned the jeep when the road became impassable, got out snow shoes, wrestled them on, and helped each other tramp through the waist-deep snow until, finally, they saw the little curl of chimney smoke up on the ridge that told them they'd found her. They managed to hike to the cabin on the top of the hill, stomped up on the porch, and rapped on the door. Finally the old lady opened it.

The rescuers announced proudly."We're from the Red Cross."

"Oh honey," she replied. "It has been such a hard winter, I don't think I can help you this year."

Posted by fred1st at January 26, 2003 06:28 AM | TrackBack

Sounds lovely.

Posted by: Da Goddess at January 26, 2003 06:47 AM

Great story!

Posted by: sainteros at January 26, 2003 01:14 PM


Posted by: Scott Chaffin at January 26, 2003 01:56 PM

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