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.
About Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson is an artist, writer, and educator. She has won awards for her artwork and has been published in Rune and Riverspeak Literary Magazines, wolfmatters.org, Voices from the Attic, and the 100 LIves Anthology. Her first book, "Greek Lessons: A Cultural Odyssey", includes photos of several of her paintings. "Better Times", the painting that graces the cover of her book, won first place in the West Hills Art League annual exhibit and was juried into the Webster Arts "Relationships" national exhibit.
About Mark Saba
Mark Saba is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, including Ghost Tracks: Stories of Pittsburgh Past, which focuses on characters he knew while growing up there. Other works include poetry books Flowers in the Dark, Calling the Names, and Painting a Disappearing Canvas. His work has appeared widely in literary magazines around the U.S. and abroad. He is also a painter, and recently retired from Yale University as a medical illustrator and graphic designer. He attended The University of Pittsburgh’s pharmacy school before transferring to Wesleyan University (CT), where he majored in English and began to write. Subsequently he earned an M.A. from Hollins College (now University). Please see marksabawriter.com.