Golden: A Love Letter to Appalachia

53 thoughts on “Golden: A Love Letter to Appalachia”

  1. Your writings make me think of a song, “Killing Me Softly”. Isn’t it odd how one seems to find that their hardships in life have been shared by others as they age?
    “They were the best of times, they were the worst of times…”

    1. I just found you a few days ago,I’m blown away I feel like I’m right there feeling every emotion ,and hearing every word from my childhood and from Oklahoma but I know poor.

  2. A second cousin linked “Don’t tell’em about the lights” on facebook. I was so intrigued by your story and writing that I clicked to see your other blogs and this popped up. My name being Golden, I felt immediately that it was written for me and after reading still fill the same. I grew up in southeastern Ky in perhaps more dire circumstances than you describe. So, your writing brought back many memories. I remember being so hungry at times that I’d sneak a spoonful of soupbeans before they were done. When we first started getting commodities, I had never had cheese and didn’t particularly like it but soon learned to love it.

  3. I live in a rural community in Ontario, Canada. With 7 children in the family, we grew up poor on a farm but always had lots of love. As a pensioner and a widow, I still struggle with finances but I always remember my childhood and am still grateful for what I have. I still accept used clothing and try to help others as much as I can. Thank you, Anna, for bringing back so many precious memories and making me feel humble again as this has been a tough winter for me.

  4. I always love how you tell my life (to most degrees), so strange and awesome that we share memories. You make me feel proud, and humble, grateful ..and tearful. “THANK YOU” ..Becky Sue (Becca now) Born Lick Log WVa, at present Toledo, OH via the “hillbilly highway”.. I-71 N, many, many moons ago

  5. Thank you Anna. Me too. Even that 4th bowl of soup beans.

    Jean Good
    UVa’s College at Wise
    1 College Ave.
    Wise VA 24293

    276-328-0209 Voice
    276-376-1026 Fax

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
    ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

  6. Your writing is just simply brilliant. I can taste the soup beans and cornbread and the cheese and pickle sandwiches.
    Oh dear Anna please put all your writings together in a book. Or do that AND write a book. And please soon as we never know when our time will come.
    I would buy your book and insist that my friends do also.
    Thank you for your words.

  7. I saved this story to read on just the right day. Today is that day! It is the day when we are gifted with a crazy February thaw with a blue sky so high and clear I can’t even imagine its end! It’s a day to make me think all things are possible.
    Although silence can teach us a lot it is, as you say, not always golden. SO important to raise our voices – in story, song, prayer, awe, and protest! Let’s join our voices in wildness and wisdom, in golden light and black and white, realizing the common threads that hold us together whether we’re from Appalachia, the north woods of Michigan or the sands of coast or desert. Thank you, Anna! Life beckons.

  8. Such elegant prose, it just rolls.
    While not a mountain girl of any sort, unless you talk base of Greens, we heard the same thing! Eat what you’re given or go to bed. I think the message is universal:
    Shut up and put up.
    I’m not silent either! Happily


      1. That’s funny because I live way up on Vancouver island, Canada and I’m sure my husband has a hearing problem because I swear he doesn’t listen to a dam thing I say! 😉

  9. Such beauty in your writings, I do so enjoy . I tend to go back and read again on those days in my solitude , bringing forth my own memories . Your stories have so much life ,fill the heart and add imagine and wonder. Thank You…

  10. god how true was raised the same way in a coal camp RODA VA. LOVED THE CHEESE AND STILL LOVE SOUP BEANS CORNBREAD AND TATTERS

  11. I have never been so comfortable among words so descriptive of my own childhood. I was the oldest, so no hand me downs for me. We seemed to float ever so slightly above poverty with Mom and Dad working constantly to assure those soup beans on the table.
    I remember wearing an outfit in 7th grade my Mother had handmade. It was a mint green striped blouse with mint green checkered skirt. I became painfully aware it did not match, even though nowadays those may go well together We always had some new clothes at the beginning of the school year. We were fortunate as I look back and remember my sister and I able to wear the same size in high school.
    Many Summers were spent working very hard in huge gardens, and I would wash canning jars in a tub in the yard. We picked wild strawberries and wild salads, and oh how I miss those glorious days! Tell me more, as I hunger for stories of my mountains. The hard work and non processed food will probably add years to our lives. Thank you.

  12. So many good memories to remember from your post. Grew up in a different area west in TN, but my mother was raised in the twenties – thirties on a sharecropper’s plot and so our food followed the same pattern of home gardens & some commodities or recipes derived from her mother. Have a friend who let it slip that she didn’t like white chili because she didn’t like white beans. Knew she grew up in a home a bit above mine although we do have other things in common. Miss my Mama’s white beans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, crowder peas… all field crops. Wilted salad greens, cornbread with butter & in milk with green onions, potatoes every way possible. My mother could take the cheapest cut of roast & feed a king with it, not to mention the ‘left-overs’ soup after the first two meals off that chunk of meat. I am sure I would be living longer in the future if I had kept eating that way. Most of my hand-me-downs came from the two upper scale cousins, so my mother could alter anything [I was smallest & shortest], but she was never much for sewing. Thank you again for taking me back in time to simpler and better life.

  13. Thank you, Anna. I read everything you write, but this is the one I’ve been waiting for. In all of the uncertainty and anxiety of our current circumstances, this is comforting and reassuring. I needed this. Yes, it is a gift.

  14. Reblogged this on Searching for the Baldridge Tree and commented:
    Anna’s gift is that she somehow writes stories about your life. Even if you don’t know what “government cheese” is, she taps into your memories and you recognize yourself in her tales.
    This one is something quite special. If you look deeply, past the beauty of her imagery, you will discover universal meaning that speaks to any place or time — but most especially to your here and your now.

  15. I grew up on those mountains and they call me every day. If I didn’t have responsibilities here, I would go. Thank you Anna for bringing the mountains to my memory.

  16. Another memory brought back to the front of my mind, I grew up in the mountains of Appalachia and although my father worked for the state of West Virginia as a conservation officer there in the southern part of the state we never had all that we desired or wanted, money was the xtremely tight back in those early years ( early 50’s ), we did wear hand me downs and in the summer most often bought from second hand stores, WE had a huge garden and kept cows, chickens and maybe a pig every once in a while.
    In that my dad worked for the state he and the other officers were charged with transporting commodities back into those coal camps where they were passed out, one thing that saved our family was the fact that any left over ( which usually wasn’t very much ) was given to the officers, we got big cans of peanut butter, chopped ham, beans,rice,powdered milk and above all was that huge block of cheese and some other stuff, and like you we never BUT NEVER threw anything away or told our parents that we didn’t want or like a particular food, WE ATE what ever was put before us and gave thanks for it because mom and dad always us “be thankful for there’s others in worse shape than you ” !!

  17. Oh Anna, you write so beautifully of the mountains that I love with all my heart. I grew up wearing hand me downs and eating soup beans. My mother made the most delicious cornbread. She would forage for greens in the spring too. I would give anything to eat those meals again. Thanks Nancy

  18. Thank you Anna! I really needed to read this. This Winter is taking more out of me than most, with my best friend of 14 years dying unexpectedly. I miss my furry black friend called Jack, and I long for warm sun and pussycat cuddles.

  19. Thank you Anna! I really needed to read this. This Winter is taking more out of me than most, with my best friend of 14 years dying unexpectedly. I miss my furry black friend called Jack, and I long for warm sun and pussycat cuddles.

  20. Beautiful….you brought back so many memories of days in a three room elementary school. My family was fortunate enough to not be poor, but many of my sweet friends were. My parents knew hardship growing up and taught us to always be kind….we were and I’m so glad we listened. I learned a lot from friends who didn’t have much….the true value of things and what’s important in life. I never once thought about saying anything negative about their clothes or their home. I miss those childhood days…

  21. Beautiful words flow like poetry. I’m out in these mountains alone with my animals and I am definitely ready for some yellow. I’m going into the wintertime stage of my life and tired of looking at the black and white outside. I am ready for spring again!

  22. Beautiful! Please, please, please write a book or record your writing on cd’s!! I love your memories, wisdom and granny magic. I can taste the wild greens, soup beans, cornbread, wilted lettuce and salt pork. I can see and share your yellow outfit for I had one as well. And I could never fill up the hollow space in my stomach no matter how many beans and taters we had.

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