Thursday, May 05, 2016

I Grew up on the Appalachian Trail . . . Sort Of


The Appalachian Trail crosses the main street of the town where I grew up. As a child living a rather sheltered life, that geographic knowledge was a bit confusing to me. I confused the Appalachian Trail with the cultural region known as Appalachia. The Appalachian Trail winds from Georgia to Maine. However, the cultural region known as Appalachia ends at the southern tier of New York State.

Thanks to my limited access to information in the pre-internet age, whenever I read or heard the word Appalachia, I pictured Ma and Pa Kettle stereotypes living in shacks that lacked the comfort of indoor plumbing. Their favorite pastimes seemed to be engaging in violent family feuds and/or churning out barrels of moonshine and dodging revenuers.

Of course, I now realize that the majority of people living in Appalachia do not live like the Beverly Hillbillies lived before Jeb struck it rich.

However, as a ten-year old in the Early Jurassic Period, I was confused because I figured if our town was part of the Appalachian Trail, it surely must be part of Appalachia. And my perception of the Appalachia lifestyle did not describe the lifestyle of the residents of our town.

Everyone I knew had indoor plumbing. Family feuds were fought with words and sometimes settled in court, but they never were settled with violence. And no one in town had ever made moonshine.
Well, actually, not since the end of prohibition.

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