Appalachia: Dear Santa


Dear Santa,

I have been a very good boy this year, if you don’t count much of October and several days in July. Thank you for the goodies you brought me last year, and for fulfilling nearly every request on my list. I understand that certain things are beyond your control, and as far as actress Kat Dennings is concerned, I realize there’s a fine line between “gifting” and “kidnapping.” Continue reading

Herding Turkeys in Hancock County, Tennessee


We don’t think much nowadays about how turkeys get from farm to market to oven. But
from around 1884 to 1920, in rural, mountainous Hancock County, Tennessee, it was quite an
undertaking. We don’t think much nowadays about how turkeys get from farm to market to oven. But
from around 1884 to 1920, in rural, mountainous Hancock County, Tennessee, it was quite an
undertaking. Continue reading

Appalachia: Redneck, White Tablecloth


Not too long ago in my adopted hometown of Roanoke, what had been one of the fanciest and most expensive restaurants in town for over 30 years closed its doors. The Library featured the sort of stiff, fussy Continental dining that catered to “new money;” the Star City’s old money still preferred the timeless peanut soup and spoon bread of the Hotel Roanoke’s Regency Room. Gone was the table-side preparation of Steak Diane, the ritzy Lobster Thermidor, and the sense of class they imbued upon the mink-clad matrons and other assorted American dreamers for whom formal dining was itself a mark of success.

Continue reading