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Image 2 of Mountain eagle (Whitesburg, Ky.), June 17, 1971

Part of Mountain eagle (Whitesburg, Ky.)

THE MOUNTAIN 'The Hollow, " by WHITESBURG, EAGLE BUI Surface LETCHER COUNTY, THURSDAY, KENTUCKY JUNE 17. 1971 New York. $5.95) (Coward-McCan- n. FOR A TRUE PICTURE OF APPALACHIA, DON'T READ THIS FULL OF CONTEMPT, BOOK-I- T'S INCREDIBLY BAD tor the one primary purpose of feeding and clothing people and keeping them alive. The mountains were on trie bring of mass starvation in the days before the commodity food program, the jobless fathers' program be given the dignity of a book review. etc. The fact that mass tragedy was averted, that But the book apparently is being bought, read and people by the thousands were kept from starvation talked about, ana there is the danger that it may join (ana are still kept from starvation) is in itself a major that little shelf of "must" books abait the Appalachian achievement. And in those terms, $500, 000,000 isn't area that become more or less required reading for very much money. It figures out roughly to something college students and bureaucrats. Those go a long way under $10 a month for each resident over the five year toward determining the shape and scope of programs period. It could be argued that it is something cf a public and private that are planned for this area. miracle that so much has been accomplished with so The author, Bill Surface, was feature writer for the little money Louisville Courier-Journ- al some few years ago. We About all Surface's book does is to feed ammunition vaguely recall seeing on occasion. But we to the kinds of people who believe that any expendidon't recall that he reported to any significant degree ture of tax money is a waste. about mountain life while working for the Courier. But the book is a definite danger. There are a lot of Certainly, he never spent the time and get to know the people in and out of government, who argue Eastern mountains and the mountain people as did John Fetter Kentucky and the Appalachian area onstitute a drastic man, rredLmgart, John Ed Pearce, Kyle Vance. problem requiring a drastic solution. There are many David Hawpe-a- ll Courier people who could approach the twining, health etc. who argue that everyone should be forced out of the One of the most annoying aspects of the book is that business of writing a book abort Eastern Kentucky with hollows into "growth centers, " with the land all to the jacket compares it to Oscar Lewis' La Vida. Lewis' some real authority, as, indeed, Fetterman has done be converted into national forest, where it would be works are great because he brings to them a deep in a much better book, "Stinking Creek. " easier pickings for the coal industry. And there is the human feeling and understanding, an obvious love for Surface has written other books, one called "Inside school of thought that the typical mountain mother Internal Revenue Service, "and something called, "The the people of whom he writes. Surface, however, understood nothing of what he saw, is a hopeless idiot -- that her children should be taken Poisoned Ivy. " It appears obvious that he decided to from her and be placed in public institutions for and holds a deep contempt for mountain people that write another book, and picked Eastern Kentucky as shows through on just about every page. the subject on the general premise that a quick fast rearing. Currently the Appalachian Regional ComThe business of picturing the typical mountain father buck could be made. You have the feding that had mission seems to be pushing this theory, and is about as caring so little for his children that he encourages to finance something called the "Kentucky Infant and the market demanded, or the publisher preferred, tnem tj stay out of school is one example. For if there Preschool Program " which would take over most of the Surface would have written a book about "Quilt Mak is one universal motivating force, it is the determinatior mother's functions, in effect nationalizing the moun ing in Vermont, " or life among the Florida Indians or mountain climbing in China, and would have brought to on tne Dart of tne parents to see that their children go tain child. In other words, since mountain people have not his subject just as much skill and energy Any writer could go into any hollow in the mountains The Hollow quite simply, attempts to detail five "voluntarily" changed to the liking of many governana .find examples of parents who have made encrmous ment and other outsider types, change may well be days in the life of an Eastern Kentucky mountain famself sacrifices, skimping on food, dothing, denying such things as Surface's book forced upon ily living in a hollow. themselves any of life's money -- bought pleasures to justification. In itself, that's not a badi dea . But Surface went to save niclles and dimes to keep their children in one of the most remote hollows anywhere in Eastern Most mountain people who have read Surface's book are incensed by it, recognizing that it gives totally Kentucky for bis locale, and then picked a degenerate school and in countless instances, to help them get all the way through college, sometimes even through false pictures of the area and its culture. man, his wife, and their ten children as his subjects. graduate school. To so totally negate this heart felt Although not identified as such in the book, we Mabel Kiser of Millstone, who heads the Millstone have been told that compelling drive that motivates so many mountain Sewing Center and who writes for The Mountain Eagle Creek in Leslie parents is nothing short of libel. on occasion, grew up in Knott County in one of the County was the hollow. Now, there is nothing wrong, in writing a book Surface is equally sweeping and equally erroneous, most remote hollows and has lived most of her adult about in his generalizations to the effect that $500,000, 000 nor even about a couple with years up another hollow in Letcher County. Her natural 10 children. But if the author who bes so is honest in federal and state funds have been spent in the mouninterests and concern for people, her wore in her with his reader, he will make it clear that he is writtains since 1965. and the expenditure-wa- s a total waste, church, aud.her work in trying to provide clothing that all programs are failures. ing about one of the most remote and isolated couit-i- es forth.se who need it has brought her inconstant conYou can reach that kind oi conclusion only if you are tact with people at heads of hollows throughout much in the United States, a hollow that is unique for its long isolation. He will not claim, as dies Surface, ingnorant of the reason for the programs or the oondi-tinof the area. That he is writing about a "typical mountain hollow". that existed in the mountains in the early 1960s. "I never knew a mountain family like that," comment The fundamental fact is that most of the money has Truth is, Surface, while pretending to write about a ed Mrs. Kiser about Surface's book. Neither did we. Typical Hollow, is doing the exact opposite, Hell-fgone into programs under a great variety of names Sartin as it exists today may resemble mountain life TOM GISH as it existed some 50 years ago, but it has little relevance to what is average or typical cf the Eastern Kentucky today. His description of isn't even accurate. He pictures it as being covered wi th litter and filth from one end to the other. To the contrary, in wandering about in Eastern Kentucky in recent years I have always enjoyed a trip up because of its cleanliness, its absence of clutter, its neat orderly yards, gardens and homes, the purity d the stream, the total beauty. But that may be quibbling on my part. There are after all numerous creeks and hollows throughout the mountains that are littered with junk cars and trash. The m ire serious, and in fact the really terrible part of the book, has U do with the mountain family Surface describes as beingfypical of the nearly one million people who still live in the maintains. Coy, his typical mountain man, is described as a man who "has never held a job tor more than four consecutive months since marrying June and moving out of his parents' house in late 1953. " He is too lazy to repair a broken step on his porch, he gets by by making a once-- a month trip into the county seat to tor food stamps. He encourages his ten children to stay away from school, e.c. All In all, he has degenerated into some kind of creature who looks forward to nothing except bedding his wife down in their feather ted at night. Surface would have us believe that Coy is Just like all other mountain men; that his ten children will grow up to be just like him-an- d that by implication all public or private efforts to change him, or to improve the conditions that affect hiin or his family, have failed and presumably always will fail, not because the programs may be wrong or misdirected, but tecause Coy is somekind of animal of intelligence. ' FLYING MACHINE J. O. Mohn and Roy Crawford insoect their There are io many things wrongwith this as the pic1930 model plane at the Whitesburo Munir ture of a "typical" mountain family that a daailed was made by a firm which went out" of busing TpropeHer afterWorld War refutation would just about require that another book made of laminated Sitca Spruce. Mohn flew the plane Sundav II. Th be written . So I'll just try to touch on some of the and landings. It spent the week at the airport. (Photo by Laurar T Emerson)'. more obvious points. In tie first place, the ten children family is rapidly disappearing from the mountains. Althougn families still maybe somewhat larger than nationalaverages, a generally higher educational level, coupled with THE MOUNTAIN EAGLE is pubbirth control clinics administered by state and local lished every Thursday at 120 W. health departments, efforts of private physicians, Main Street, Whitesburg, LetCaudill wont out as Judge. the Frontier Nursing Service etc., iave had a decided cher County, Kentucky, 41858. We have some great scenery Impact. The family, although not unheard Thomas E. Giih is the editor on Linefork if it was developed To the Editor: of, is increasingly a rarity in the mountains and cannot and publisher. Second-cla- ss The caves have brought lots )f ' be considered as typical ot anything. postage paid at Whitesburg, Ky. people from different places (And perhaps it is a minor point, but Surface Well the primary election is Subscription rates, $5 a year in and states. indicates Coy's family never was able to get adeover and we didn t get anyKentucky, $7 a year outside We also have some great quate medical attention from any source. The plain thing done to the roads. Kentucky. Single copies, 15 wealth on this Pine Mountain truth is that any family living on in The Ditch Lines haven't cents each. This is Number 6 Leslie County the past few decades would have been (continued on page 6) been cleaned out since James of Volume mutt confess that I really don't want to review this book, " The Hollow" for the simple reason that It is such an incredibly bad book I don't believe it should I receiving the outstanding medical services provided by the Frontier Nursing Service, if the family wanted FNS help.) In the second place, the mountain man who has worked no more than a four month period since 1935 is a rarity. Most men stay with their jobs until something better comes along. Absenteeism is not a problem in the mountains to the extent it is nationally for employers. Control Data at Campton, American Standard Plumbing and Heating at Paintsville and other firms previously acquinted with the high qual ity of mountain labor have been singing their praise. Then too, it is a relatively rare mountain man who has not been able to find work since 19 53 who has remain ed in this area. Census figures for the past two decades show quite clearly that most mountain men who couldn't find work here simply moved away, going north to Ohio, Michigan, etc. By and large, the ones who remained did so for valid reasons, age, lack of ng Hell-fer-Sar- tin Hell-fer-Sart- in, ns er Hell-fer-Sar- Hell-fer-Sar- tin -- sub-hum- an --- ririv Z'ZiiF'ZZZS. Letters to the editor Promises 10-ch- Hell-fer-Sart- in 64.

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