In the ’60s, when coal wasn’t selling, people moved out of the mountains to Detroit to build cars, and they kind of liked Michigan because they already knew how to drink poisoned water.
Now there is a virtual flood of hillbillies going to Scott County to work for the Japanese, something which would mortify our grandparents, if they weren’t already mortified.
So for the benefit of native Scott countians and Fayette countians who want to learn how to get along with their new neighbors from the mountains, here are some helpful tips to help you get to know them.
If somebody new moves into the neighborhood, you can tell if they are mountain people when they immediately put a couple cars up on blocks in front of the house.
If you want to make a mountain native mad, just go to their house and decline to eat what they will try to feed you and, be sure, they will give you their last morsel of food.
In fact they will embarrass you constantly by trying to give you anything they have that you seem to like. Except maybe the dog. They will trade dogs with you, but you are better off not trading anything with them, as they are the world’s best traders.
If they go to your church, be ready for them to go outside and smoke right during the sermon, and don’t expect them to dress up for church. If one of them dies, you will have to have preaching two nights plus the funeral, but the preacher will rarely, if ever, mention the name of the dead person.
There was a funeral up here recently of a woman who got kicked to death by a mule. I told her son-in-law that there was an amazing number of people there to mourn his mother-in-law, but he explained to me that they were there to try and buy the mule.
They love to go to court. They will move their fence over or will take warrants for each other for anything, but by the time the matter comes up in court will want it dropped. But once a week they will go to town and see a doctor and then a lawyer. They have a reputation for violence, but don’t worry. They only kill friends and family.
They let their parents raise the children a lot. Up here everybody lives 20 feet from their mother and you know how much better children like grandparents than parents. The rest get put with old people by social workers. If you want to adopt a child in the mountains you see a social worker who will find you one for a small fee.
Let’s talk food. They make heavenly biscuits. Their favorite food is either a boiled hot dog with slaw, or chicken and dumplings. They drink only soda pop with their meals, three times a day and a few in between. They will try and raise their own food in the backyard. Watch for chickens and pigs.
If you see 200 chickens near barrels, tied to pegs in the ground, these are “show” chickens and certainly aren’t used to fight.
Music-wise, it is either Ralph Stanley or Larry Sparks, no Newgrass, but unprogressive grass. Neither Prince nor David Bowie will be missed.
Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at firstname.lastname@example.org.