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My sisters last year they know about two weeks of school on account of the roads no school bus made this year will be this time that people know loaded. Many Baptist Leyland because of the roads in 57 years the roads have not improved. Well explain these two statements in just a few moments. I'm brick column executive producer of this program series and I've been asked to marry the story of an experience we wish to share with you because I was there when it took place and I don't know why this is this made you never see it in your working life and well your time you may get away they say. Well I hope he had to have you have a regime pay FTC had near when you don't write much you don't need the hills of West Virginia rise stark and bare from Charleston in the east north to
Ohio and Pennsylvania south to the northern part of the Carolinas west to Kentucky. The land is called apple each year. There was a beautiful hiking trail running through these hills. But the seekers for freedom the descendants of the Scots Irish and English Presbyterians who settled here from the early seventeen hundreds on. The trail is for tourists. There are roads deep in mud. Tourists talk of Tuscany it will leave you with the land they hear people talk of the rape of the land and the desperate need for paved roads roads leading to jobs education independence from the fierce climatic conditions medical care roads leading to freedom. The tourist speed by the hollow was with the people they have speed by on the six lane superhighways leading from the factory to factory. The hill people dream of the once Greenland talk of how it was seized by mining companies and the land grabbers and promoters. Remember the men who sweet talk the illiterate one sold at a signing as X and gave him some cash money.
Then came the next morning and told from the earth its cold and gas covered his farmland with coal slag strip the hills of timber and virgin forest and allowed the combined refuse to slide down upon his homes and pollute historians whenever that kid I guess being of going to school lying on leave here and I hear a wall down here to school a move somewhere else where you are in need of regions. But I am always going to be impossible to get out of here whenever they want to let me just tell me and I mean bricks or some people just can't get over here. Oh right a good name. I want to complain. Magine that 12 yr mo. Maybe Think again. Yeah probably not early this year. Conference was convened in Ripley West Virginia 30 miles from Charleston and dead center in the other America poverty. The conference brought together
100 young people from twenty nine colleges. These were mostly students from Appalachian colleges students oriented by birth a dwelling place to some knowledge of the problems found here. Federal state and local officials concerned with the problems of the poor and of Appalachian. Told them about the history of the area about the sociological dynamics of the problem. About the meaning of living the way life was lived here in the midst of the most affluent society the world has ever known. They stopped talking and turned the young people loose appealed and hollered down quick and branch into urban and rural slum land to see for themselves. For two days the students lived with the people you're about to hear. For two days they participated in this carefully designed educational experiment. In this first program of our series a series produced for the Johnson Foundation of Racine Wisconsin one of the sponsors of the conference. There are no actors only people. There was no script when they started out
where the students went. We linked with tape recorders and microphones. What they saw and felt talked about and worried over. We saw and felt and worried about as well. We call this series the sounds of poverty. This program the people speak. Listen with us. Now this is another thing that in this day and age you know I did so. The country still we pay 30 times as much if those days the choice of the kids make it back with the Board of Education they built this bill out there make that all the children listen this area changes direction the freaking annoying mom goes that way to school. This fall I. Think. Yeah. The Appalachian Trail runs high and the tourists climb up and
walk at the mouth of. The hill people know what the land once was and since they own what little is left and have no place else to go they stay on it. Young men leave in droves never to return. The strip mining the speed with their mountains of slag. There were people clinging to their wooden tarpaper shacks in the hollers that once rich bottom land. And dream of what might have been. Where do you go in this Atomic Era when you can't read or write. When your sons and daughters have left taking their energy and stamina with them. When you own only the shack you were born in when the superhighways leading from automated plant to mechanized factory it passed you by. You sit and wait out life after man come thirty five years old unless he's a genius and some men don't want you. Yes I want to talk Les was concerned manual labor it's out. And once you're not an engineer. Or if you don't have a good education and
know something. You just can't get a job. And it's almost at my mansion a gold mine. If you're not an experienced coal miner or whatever they haven't worked it in fire like runnable you cut machine load machine run the motor. And and some knowledge of coal mining. They don't want you. There is some lists come to this land one settled by those we proudly called a pioneer has an odor of poverty. A miasma that rises like the malodorous mists that creep up the hills to Tampa's drive from Charleston's factories down below. No one wants to be poor. But the people want to be on the land. Alamdar they want and all is rapidly disappearing from around and under them. Grinding poverty is dismal. Yes difficult yes hopeless in this other America which we speak. This area where according to local legend the first shot of America's Revolutionary War was fired a new American Revolution is
going on. As the hill people begin to organize to seek self identity and their rights from the powers that are and do not care. It stems in part from the fact that for the first time in decades you are returning to apple each year. Returning to bring their energy and vitality to bear on problem solving. And to help the poorest of the poor organize to help themselves. They say well we get to next week and you could keep it all week but we may never get to it. They keep on putting him off. They probably should just buy me anything I want just after the election they want to speak to you when they come and pat you on the day before the election saying I will do this and will do that going for a lot of them sign you good people almost shy Bush asking China but alumni I mean a man a man no more. When Earlier we said there was no script to this program we meant just that the assignment was
to record what happened to record and later present to you what was said and done. We found a preoccupation as the people spoke with roads. To our city bred ears. This made little or no sense. LEMON is even the four wheel drive vehicle we had borrowed for the trip strained in the slip in our attempt to visit some of the communities in which we were recording. We began just began to understand. We thought their sense of isolation sensed the alienation from political power that is the lot of the hill people. They talked of exploitation. And we saw people who like the antiquated machinery of the unsafe mines which some of them still work. Or just plumb wore out. We saw a land that had been used by mining and chemical companies left barren. And felt the fear of the people fielding the slag heaps would one day fall upon their homes and hit some children. We felt the anger generated against those who use the land and the people and left.
We realize that although the first shot of the American Revolution may have been fired in the area in which we were working. No major battles were ever fought because even then the roads were impassable. We felt the fear of power and powerlessness. We shared the pride of the local community organizers who were just beginning to get the message through. The message that the numbers there is strength. We share the exaltation. There is no lesser word that can be accurately used. Of the students who came to help and learned how needed they were and how fulfilled their lives could be by helping these proud and warm people to help themselves. To find out what the people say about poverty about life in the hills about themselves and about getting started on the road back to the mainstream of American life. We traveled east from Charleston the superhighway turns to two lanes near Clendenon with its large modern looking high school
and we drive past increasingly battered looking homes and stores and factories to where the paved road ends. Even our experienced driver finds it difficult to maneuver the losing run so now my brain. It rained two days ago so the car moves slowly. That's how much I have frozen creek parallels the road meanders across it every few hundred yards there are no bridges. The car wades through bumper deep in water. We drive in the creek bed for almost a quarter mile and emerge in mud without brakes so that uses. The homes we pass or set back from the road about a hundred feet can be reached only by foot bridge a narrow plank spanning the creek that separates the road from where the people live. One slip means a fall into the freezing water and probably isn't broken but only a few of the bridges both the luxury of a garden. We're driving now or a left fork to the other would you both find Leatherwood on
the map but by car and with some luck we can proceed about 5 miles past eleven he did Holmes pass Shaq's meaning with Agent like and passed a two room wooden schoolhouse pasties to the foot of a small mountain where our road so called it narrows to a path between trees and jungle like underbrush. Up the mountainside. Here between a handful of weather common stocks of the rusting remains of an ancient automobile gives Henderson Hayes and his wife for 57 years they welcomed us. We put up chairs to their populate Kosovo altogether Iceman about 20 or Samuel in the coal mine. I worked for a dollar a day just made no complaint I was glad to get it because I needed it. Henderson he's a 77 years old. His two room wooden shack is the product of his own labor as all the roads and foot bridges of the immediate vicinity. There is no electricity no telephone no plumbing no sewage no delivery of mail to tell you to understand why objects didn't have the money to
pay and I didn't get my room get one Marine you know sort of go eat poorly paved. Ranter and then yeah you know the land and there's Go shed. Yeah don't move now for hot and land is what I want to do good get out a lot of malt but I'd put too much money on a fife and I had cleaned up mom down our own milk among below never thang and I didn't see lad. Actually I moved and I had a shadow out as well. Hands tell you know what I mean. I don't often not all that about a movie and show I didn't feel like moments. I straightened up my album demanded better and they would make sham to steal votes I feel now but I don't know man am I to home my money was handed off and then you have to add in just killing your own and
you know this is Hayes was hospitalized recently and though she requires constant care because of her condition her husband cannot spend the necessary time tending his few crops. But despite these hardships the haters have not lost their sense of humor and I even tried to get Yam the homie you rock. Now now what you have big money no I know I had so much burden that Jack couldn't just you down and fix it I would myself which I have put in football has now made all of this row. Lol we had fully healed him out of the rig which took me about three years to finish the act show cars could pass all that. I have made a much road use just so I say as I think that's going to be when I was young I temped wish rode up after a militant for several years after that. I'm 77 years old I don't feel like going out and tell me you know what I'm like I used to
just say I'm a in my. And people say oh you're not old you're not go horse I'm not old but if they don't want to see the plant and they are like I added they'd feel ill. We asked Mr. Hayes if he has protested the conditions under which they live. Now I'll call it I didn't. Then Good God man and then you're good because you know I'm just a little fatter. Go go grandpa I think I haven't got no education no foul. Whatever I don't make out to write my name and no woman your name a national by oh of course I don't figure all I've cut and tamarind Southend and all shall keep my own Call way I'm working my mind and all I've had I lied to how Iraq died away I have to become a man. But question education you and John I would be you know it wouldn't be a notation he made. We travel south now through more mud and water into our path and agricultural and mining
communities. Here we talk with one former coal miner about how things came to be the way they are. We can't play what he said for you. The noise of the pit head where we spoke with him is definitely a noise that drowned out all sense and sensibility. The noise that this man and men like you live with continually is one of the unspoken hazards of coal mining. At 16 he was taken out of school to go to work since his family desperately needed the money his labor in the mines would bring. It was this is perhaps even more significant important to his father that he worked at the same job and carry on his father's role. When he entered military service he left the hollow in which he'd been born for the first time in his life. He worked the mines when he came back until as he said 19 and 62. By which time he was so crippled for the grueling labor that he couldn't pass a physical to work on the union line. From there down the hill to the small town union mines that at that time dotted the countryside. Here a man was paid if not by the hour or day or week
but by the coal he brought out. If you spent a day fixing the antiquated machinery he was given to work with so he could bring out coal. He got no pay since he had brought out no coal. You take the city people. If they get a good education. I say they're equal with us but they have a better chance and get a job than we would. Because we laid back and you see it has a hollers in the city people a man rail who are close where they can get the job. But the time we get their jobs all gone we'll have a chance to get them. I'll count West Virginia was once a thriving community. But as the mines were worked out when the railroads discontinued service all cut became in growing even poverty. It's the hope of every man rich or poor that his children will live a life more comfortable in his own. You know cop where you stop at a two room schoolhouse the children are at recess. Does the community center need making good guys. Do you think you could paint it on
your own if you if you could see Dallas meet someone growing up to help you. How old are you. What is your daddy do. You don't have and. What is your daddy do for me you don't want to know something wrong with us Les. If you could tell people one thing about Alcott What would you say that I am. If you could say something about about Alcott What would you say to that. We speak with a schoolteacher. She tells us of the difficulties the children have getting to school in winter. A little girl who would hide a sandwich from her free lunch and bring it home to her widowed mother who gave her food to her children. In West Virginia schoolchildren must buy or rent textbooks and many can afford to do neither. The teacher tells us that homework is practically never assigned because most of her students have no place at home to
do it. And they receive little encouragement from their parents. She tells us. Reality. Now I'm just. Going to. And there are other voices. They don't wear no recreation no bar for yells next and I've been a part of you ever try to get any kind of a sense here. Well we was going to travel. More fail but we never did get it. One way and we just I don't know we didn't have no help so we didn't get it back or not make bottomed out I rode the haps and of a ballplayer but we never did get NO NO HE operating way. But there are degrees of carburetor. So. Really at this very room was created for a number of years. My kids never realized that Liverpool only have the outside home they. Know who. THE MAN. They. Have. Worked you know we're doing very good time we've got this house should be. Full of all of the kids. I've done that I have
a house so have one what we have always. Start asking a lot of Katie lives we had said we're going here and I work with here who have supported mostly men of no side deal is about don't let me go. Oh mostly what they need up in here is bridges. Go ahead bridges up there they put a school bus route up there. That's what they need motion. I have two sisters and a brother. Going to school. And. Last winter mostly had to walk out out of this holler about. Oh it's about two miles. Or they have to walk out. It's pretty rough. Spittle and it's real cold. Stuff raised have an awful lot of stuff that needs to be done and I demand to push We have tried my health for a period of years and to give something them this community that we now face. Oh we tried your five bucks up here. We tied
to. Postulate a near night and this is very warm right now in the 16 years in March. That we don't have anything to show for the year except taxes. Back on the heels well I need water systems that as we do we don't have. Oh Lord today you're different and different times my son and you get from one to the community and maybe have to try to get sidewalks up here for the school children grew up they got to walk in the mud or else go home redneck tense summer arrives. Oh many poor people who live there were poor. Believe they are a good thing. You know. Him and you know he get better when. There are women. And these men were oh they're not paying his behavior to somebody you. Know they get sick poor and if.
You think we could better our round community behind him some vague people could give me an A now and it probably would be more people in here and you know if we had read speak to get in now. Well I had to move well here back several years ago on account of the road got so bad and I began a phrase in the letter and tell you couldn't get over it you just couldn't get through. And the guy worked it out a lot of that to go whether there were the roads are impassable or not. And sometimes you have to walk in and get to the best way you can where you cannot keep a jar up to that ice that's that's extremely hard on the expectation when you break through that way you've got to get out some way or another and it's awfully hard on an automobile driving through it. The only thing that I have ever known the best way to run the Greater up over. Just as it did Overton. Just as badly as a nation in need and also drains are very much in need of water
will back up or sometime when it will be along the road you just can't get through it. Been blocked several times in a row their own account of lice Freydon and you just made a breakthrough you can get served in you can just let me try to get a. MAN WITH YOU SAY SORRY. I didn't. You know there are. Times when you think your cell phone is a. Great big guy. We're on our own you know. Where are you supposed to. Put salt on the heels of. This Dicky you know. That. We are. Here. You're right this time. Downey Jr.
director. Was Down here I know this time the sign over the windows must be on the beach mine now so I know they are known as the doorkeeper. When I wanted to hear more arguing or was. Leaving the business if your bills are paid and your cousin with no pay. Well I've got some of them that pay in whole life for a dime. I'm standing here not making any money while I'm taking the property from the good customers to carry the ones that don't pay every month. Well how does love the storekeeper run out. Well. That's a question it's hard to answer. Just go. Just got. I guess when you threw the most in the dark and. When. I try to manage and manage it. I am sometimes
I have to get these customers down. But I have never refused to let one that never feel buoyant banes of my eggs and bacon. Substantial food but I have had to cut them down a lot of their. Stuff that they don't actually need. I think. There. Is help. If you are the one. That they can get it will. Not be. There. Forever. You have to make them. Wifey the shareware world order. Him in. Everything. We do. Well I think Raymer Hill section rather the road down here where they promised I believe it was. I'm not sure just how forward seeing a live of that amount three tents or something like that today was supposed to put 3 inches of blacktop
on the road. And they only put looks like about a quarter of a nature made NH across the road I'm in the top 10 and it's already given away now and I don't let alone I believe it was so long in the fall and it's already gone bad now. How many years did you complain to get what you got. Well I guess as long as we've ever lived here I'm in a store that can John we went into Charleston to the state road commission and everything and dried and we even had made many and everyone else around here working on that. Road if our the roads around here trying to get them to do something about it. Now of course when I did promise to row by they come through and. Put about a half a ensuring blacktop on it was from my story interest and I think they should have. Skipped ahead a little bit I left there a little bit there on the ship. We don't get it we just don't get a sex satisfaction at all they were promised not so don't do anything they don't do anything about it.
Sounds of poverty
The people speak, part one
Producing Organization
Johnson Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, presents interviews with residents of the rural Appalachian region about the lives they lead.
Series Description
A documentary series featuring interviews with rural Appalachia residents by one hundred students from twenty-nine colleges, meeting at Action for Appalachian Youth Conference at Ripley, West Virginia. The series is hosted by Bert Cowlin.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Producing Organization: Johnson Foundation
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.18-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:15
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Chicago: “Sounds of poverty; The people speak, part one,” 1967-10-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “Sounds of poverty; The people speak, part one.” 1967-10-23. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: Sounds of poverty; The people speak, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from