Where has all the snow gone? Joel recounts some childhood memories of snow days and regrets that he didn't get to shoot winter footage for the show!
My family and I just got back from a week long vacation at Disney World in Orlando. And yes, I’m still tired! But a few strange things occurred while we were on our trip, some good and some not so good.
I’ll start with the not so good. I can’t tell you how many folks, both employees at the parks, gas station attendants and just people on the street couldn’t understand my accent. It’s like I was talking Latin! “Salve puella! Puella est en cena!” (I took 4 years of Latin in college and that’s the only sentence I still remember.) But seriously, my accent isn’t that thick. Most of you have heard me talk either in person or on the show and while I definitely show my roots when I speak, it’s not as thick as sawmill gravy. I think this shows a real bias towards our part of the world with how people react to our speech. I’ll give you an example; not once but twice we had workers openly laugh over the intercoms at fast-food restaurants when we were ordering. Sure, it could have been a coincidence, but it sure was odd. And I don’t want to give the impression that every person had a dumbfounded look every time I opened my mouth to talk, but it was enough to be noticeable and worrisome.
Now for the good! When I travel, I always seem to pack lots of University of Kentucky shirts and hats. I’m a big UK fan, so I have several shirts that I regularly wear. Several times on our trip, when I was wearing one of these shirts, we were approached by folks with a “Go Cats!” or a “Go Big Blue” and to a person, these folks were from Eastern Kentucky. One was even a classmate of my old college roommate! I guess Walt was right, it is a small world after all! We got to meet some very nice Kentuckians and Mountain folk while away in Florida which made our trip even better.
So, with Santa’s big ride just a few days away, we at Our Mountains want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! We are just a few short months away from our new season and we’re already working hard to bring you the best music, food and stories we can find from this region! 2016 was a great year for our family and Our Mountains. Here’s hoping 2017 is gust was wonderful!
I really wanted to get this post out yesterday for Halloween, but I was out of town working during the day yesterday. My friend Frank and I took a large, inflatable movie screen and projection equipment to a school for an event they were hosting and help them show movies to all of their students throughout the day.
And last night, I, along with my fellow bank employees, gave out over 1,000 bags of candy and almost as many bags of popcorn to trick-or-treaters here in Hyden. Town was filled with zombies, princesses, ogres and ninjas. My favorite costume as a man dressed as a "One Night Stand!" He was hilarious!
But I wanted to get this post out for Halloween because it includes my take on an old Appalachian "Haint" tale. And usually once November rolls around, folks are sick of ghosts and ghouls. But since my Papaw is featured prominently in this, I'm going to share it anyway.
A few years ago, just before Tracie and I got married, I participated in an online film festival where you wrote, shot and edited a short film is 72 hours. I usually don't make fiction films, as documentary and news is where I'm more comfortable and passionate. But this sounded fun and I had an idea that I'd wanted to do for a while, so I thought, "Why not?". I wrote a rough script, cast all family to be in it and shot it as quickly as I could. I knew that to pull off what I wanted, there would need to be a couple special effects shots and some makeup, so that would be interesting to pull off.
While filming, we were set up in front of the bank where I now work. I was standing in the alleyway holding a large knife with bright lights shining in the middle of the sidewalk. This is not something that happens every day in Hyden, KY, so when blue lights started flashing during one of my takes, it was a little strange. But once I heard one of the police officers holler, "Is that you, Joel? Oh, Ok!" and then drive off, we got back to committing fake murder in the street. That's one of the many benefits of filming in a small town!
The story takes place in flashback and is told from an elderly narrator. I thought my grandfather, who is not a trained actor, would LOVE to do this and I was right. He took to acting like a duck to water. Working with Papaw, along with my wife, my mother, my sister and a cousin, made this film a true family affair. We had a lot of fun filming, even though we didn't have nearly enough time to get it "perfect," it was still a blast to shoot.
There is a tradition of "She done me wrong" stories in Appalachian culture and I went with that concept as a starting off point for this short. This isn't one that I've shared a lot over the years as there are some technical stuff in there that drives me nuts. But my Papaw loves it and if nothing else, it is a family memory that we can always share. I hope you enjoy this modern take on an Appalachian campfire tale. This is "Goodnight, Sweetie"
Octavia Sexton is an amazing storyteller we have featured on the show. This time of year always gets me thinking about Haint tales and no one is better at spinning these yarns than Ms. Octavia!
Is there a better time to live in the hills of Appalachia than Autumn? Not only do we get to see the beautiful painting of nature as the leaves change, but we also get great things like mountain football, harvest fruits and vegetables and my personal favorite, Halloween!
Fall has always been my favorite season and Halloween my favorite holiday, even more so than Christmas, even as a child. Growing up in Hyden, one of the best events we would attend was the annual Ghost Walk that the UK Extension Office would put together. Community volunteers would come together to host a Fall carnival featuring face painting, games and other treats for the local kids and the event concluded with the ever popular Ghost Walk, a guided tour of Hyden with several stops featuring local storytellers spinning spooky yarns set in and around our little town. To a kid like me who was obsessed with horror movies and ghouls and goblins of any shape and size, it was wonderful!
Unfortunately, they stopped having the Ghost Walk a few years ago, but we have started a new Halloween tradition here in Leslie County, a Zombie Parade. Last year, we started what we hope will become an annual Halloween tradition of inviting all of the Undead to lumber down Main St. here in Hyden, KY for a Zombie Parade. We immediately follow that up with a free, family friendly Halloween film. I can't say it will be as iconic as I remember the Ghost Walk being, but folks seemed to enjoy themselves last year. So if you're like me and you love Autumn in the Appalachian Mountains or Halloween in the Hills, come and join us for a free, family friendly (maybe a little bit spooky) night of fun.
I just spent the better part of a week in West Palm Beach, Florida with my extended family as part of the Kentucky Bankers Association's 125th Convention. The KBA, as you may know, has been a loyal supporter of Our Mountains since we began, and I was able to provide a video for them to show to the bankers in attendance featuring photos from their archives. For the music, we featured Rhonda playing the dulcimer and our old friends from Alice Lloyd, the Voices of Appalachia Choir, singing My Old Kentucky Home. It was great to share a little about what we do with the leading bankers in the Commonwealth; plus a week in Palm Beach wasn't to bad either. But driving back into East Kentucky on I-75 last night, I was so excited to be home. The leaves aren't quite starting to change, but I noted that at 7:30 last night, the sun was well behind the mountains. Stopping for gas outside of Mr. Vernon, the air was still hot, but the slightest hint of a fall breeze was there to let you know that Summer may in fact be over. It hit me that I had truly missed being in Our Mountains.
It is easy to take for granted how fortunate we are to live in the mountains of East Kentucky. We always seem to focus on the negatives about living here, but in many ways it is a paradise! While in Florida, my sister and I were checking out at a grocery store and the young man bagging our stuff asked where we were from because we clearly don't have the South Florida accents. When we said "Kentucky" his first question was "Is Appalachia as beautiful as it seems?" This man has lived across the country and told me that Appalachia seems like the most beautiful place. And he is right. I was mere steps from what has to be the most breathtaking view on the Atlantic Coast at West Palm Beach, Florida and it doesn't hold a candle to these mountains in the fall.
So this got me thinking, "What is the most beautiful place in Our Mountains?" I'd love to film some of them for the show and let people see the beauty of our region. Let us know where to find the most amazing views and we'll take our cameras there to capture them! Comment here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!