If you were asked to name the poorest, most uneducated, laziest people and backward area in the USA, most likely you would answer, Appalachia.
If I was asked to name the most God fearing, most trusting, hardest working, kindest people in America, I would absolutely answer Appalachia.
Why, are the answers so opposite? I was born and raised here in southern Appalachia. I went to school here. I left here. The day after graduating from high school, I moved to one of the great northern cities. I found a job and a husband. We moved to suburbia, had our family. Is this the American dream?
My husband lost his job after seventeen years of employment. We then needed to make some changes. We looked at our options, We could move to the Midwest farming town, where my husband grew up or back to Appalachia. We chose to come home.
In the late 1950’s (when I left) times were very hard. There were no jobs except in the coal mines. We left here in droves, seeking a better life .Most of us found that, but there was always the thought of coming home to our beautiful mountains.
In those tough years the big politician’s from the east coast discovered Appalachia. They then came by droves to “help” us. We were promised the good life and given free food, health care, clothing, and housing. They were elected (of course) and so the story goes on. But not every one believed this to be a good thing. but’ you rarely hear any of the good things of this area. Now you shall.
The nationally shown T V programs love to show distorted views of this area. The poverty does exist, as in all regions of this country. If only they would include a little of the good that is happening here.
I will tell you of my own family. We are not and were not unique. There are more of these good people than there is of the ones chosen to represent this area. My parents lived in Appalachia. They were not educated and lived a very poor life style while raising a family of eight children. The first child was born in 1923, the last one in 1941.They were devout Christians and believed if you didn’t work you did not eat. My dad scrimped and saved to buy a small hillside farm. From this farm we were all fed, clothed and educated. We were taught by our parents to love, God first, country, family and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Most of us did not have the opportunity for an education beyond the one room school, which taught through the eighth grade. Those of us who did go to on to graduate from high school walked three miles to catch the bus, then it were a seven mile ride to the school.
There are now well over a hundred and fifty descendants. Of those family members, we have, 12 school teachers, 3 nurses, 3 dentists, 3 drs 1 career military man,1 nuclear physicist. 1 collage professor and 1 college administrator, Many, many of these descendants are going to work every day in the mines, shops and Wal Mart. No one is “on the draw”. Many are still in collage and little ones are still coming on.
Our area is having a hard time finding jobs for the people, but we are trying and not many have to leave here to find a better job. After all, where would we go?
Please come visit us. You will find a beautiful area, not one being destroyed by mountain top removal, but one that now has beautiful schools, airports, culture centers and southern hospitally.