Saturday, May 8, 2010

How do we know it’s us without our past?

Excerpt from an address by Dr. O. Norman Simpkins, Chairman of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Marshall University, given at the Huntington Galleries Mountain Heritage Week, June 19-24, 1972:

Appalachians get their easy going way of life from the Scotch Irish. An Appalachian can sit on his porch and rock all day without getting an ulcer over it.

Most Americans have to be up and about doing something all the time.

A personality characteristic of Appalachian people that tends to get them into trouble in the big cities and sometimes in our consolidated school systems, is their ‘open faced’ outlook on life and their acceptance of strangers once they get over their initial suspicions. They’re too ready to accept them as ‘home folks.’ They haven’t learned to build up a front to protect their ego.

The smaller a kid is, the more likely he is to do this. He’ll tell things on himself, or say things that will give you insight into his behavior that will damage his ego, and he’s not aware of this because he hasn’t built up, as urban people have, this front of protection.

Now the reason from this is they come from an area where they know practically everybody; they don’t meet many strangers and everybody knows you. Some you can’t build up a front if everybody knows your innermost thoughts. After they go to the city it takes time for them to develop this. Some of the older ones never develop this. That’s one reason why they’re not satisfied in Detroit and Cleveland and so on.

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