Learn about the individuals from northern Appalachia
Working diligently to keep WCoNA alive!
What Northern Appalachia means to PJ:
My paternal grandfather, who was not born in this country, took his first job at 14, dynamiting sandstone boulders in the construction of what we call here in the Alleghenies a high tension line. He worked later in a tannery, soaking cattle hides in vats of a caustic liquor of lime, chicken manure, and crushed hemlock bark. He gained and lost a lot of jobs until he finished with a demolition company, tearing away rail lines and razing old factories. He saw industry and mines and hand-to-mouth farms come and go. During the depression he’d boxed for bets in barns, and before that, played semi-pro football and got himself into many street fights because of things people called people who looked like him, and he smoked two packs a day and lived to 82 and I remember watching him snatch honey bees out of the air and squeeze them to death between his fingers and snuff his Winstons the same way, and he did these things because that’s what you did, not for some Hemingway Code, which he knew nothing about. This physically powerful man was incredibly tender to his wife and sons. He never missed a vote or a Sunday mass and fought fires to save peoples’ lives and homes. But those hands, mangled and missing the nails of several fingers and the tips of others, they wrought the raw material and dismantled the factories that from this place fueled parts of America that care nothing for our little mountain towns and black forests, or our stories, nothing but what they can take. That grandfather, not to mention another of his ilk, and their wives, are to me, northern Appalachia.