Thursday, May 2All That Matters

A drive through an average West Virginia holler

A drive through an average West Virginia holler

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  • DaveyDamage1990

    God this brings me back. In the early 2000s my church did missions work with an organization in northern Kentucky, around Floyd county, and we spent all of our time in hollers like these. I grew up in Connecticut and it was just a totally different world. A lot of houses had roof leaks, were slat built (you could stick your fingers in the gaps and reach outside), and almost always had mold problems. Pet waste (the dogs on the roads mentioned were sometimes strays, sometimes pets) was a common problem. They all burn their garbage.

    We got to meet the lawyer who spearheaded the legacy of broad form deeds that almost all of these houses have. These coal towns are 90% unchanged from how they were 100, 125 years ago.

    The people living here are from two cuts. Half of them want nothing to do with anyone they don’t know (safe to assume we were obvious outsiders), and half were just the kindest folks who would wave and conversate with anyone. If you are from New England or the west coast especially, to say this is a different world is an understatement. Nothing is done quickly, and there is very much an “us” and “them” mentality in regards to the rest of the country.

    While I can live my life, unaware that people live in my country like this, all these folks have to do is turn on the TV or (if it’s available, many of these hollers don’t have cell service nevermind internet) go on the internet to know that they speak differently, oftentimes behave differently, and *live* differently from much of the USA. They don’t want your pity, and the people we worked with were often embarrassed, sometimes resentful, but usually overcome with gratitude for the help they received from us.

    These are people, living a human experience just like you and me. It might be vastly different, even though we are part of the same country, but most of them live their lives in these hollers and until very recently had little insight of the world outside of them. Someone who lives somewhere like in this video might hunt for a lot of their food, burn wood or coal for heat, and live off of the charity of his neighbors or selling what goods/skills he has for $50 for a once a month trip to Walmart, an hour away, or more likely the store ‘at the mouth of the holler’ for beer and smokes/chew.

    And then you drive down the next holler and you see a mansion built for $180,000 for a retiree or as a hunting “cabin” that would cost $2 million elsewhere. The disparity is just jarring, still. I could ramble on, just so many summers I spent in this region and so many memories and thoughts on it all

  • Malaix

    It does show some perspective on why some of these red states are so red. Everything about these people’s existence seems based off the coal mine that was prosperous in “the good old days” and now its kind of a decaying carcass of what it used it be.

    Sure the homes are quaint but this place looks like it was utterly dependent on that mine so what is the future here?

  • 32374086

    I guarantee people will start moving to places like this when they realize how dirt cheap the property is and how absolutely beautiful it is.

    If they had fast internet (they don’t) then it would already be happening.

    WVA, SW VA, and Eastern KY are some of the most beautiful places in the US, in my opinion. People are going to gentrify the fuck out of it in the coming years, after they decide that the cities are too goddamn expensive.

  • ikeosaurus

    What’s the etymology of “holler?” Is it an appalachified “hollow?” Because the town is in the bottom of a canyon with a creek running down it?

  • Spankyzerker

    Actually its not because of that, back in the old days before telephones, people would actually holler important information down the valley, and because it was both sides mountains it traveled far. Then a person would return a holler back to them.

    Lots of the dialect you hear directly related to such activities, they needed simpler ways to communicate back and forth.

  • daebro

    I have a lot of respect for West Virginia after learning that at the start the Civil War they broke off from Virginia to join the Union. Fun fact: they were going to call it Kanawha before settling on West Virginia.

    >The name honored a Native American tribe and a major state river of the same name. When the constitution for the proposed state was finalized in 1862, however, the name had changed to the more generic West Virginia.

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