My Mountain Heroes 

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My Mountain Heroes, tells of my journey through Macon County, visiting the last of The Greatest Generation and writing their stories. As children, they learned of The Great Depression, from the radio, while listening to Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats. Many blamed the Depression on our nation’s thirty-first president Herbert Hoover, and the children never forgot that anger. Some found Hoover’s picture in the newspaper and poked holes it. They felt the pain, when they went without shoes until winter arrived. Several families, just put an old bag stuffed with some cotton, on their kid’s feet as they walked through the snow. Many used a stick from a black gum tree for toothpaste and never got clothing from the store. They saw mom, spend the day scrubbing clothes on the old rub board, until her fingers bleed. Young girls worked beside mom, their hands bleeding together. She washed them in lye soap in the old black wash pot. The water made the blood on their fingers disappear. After a day of washing clothes with her tired hands, she worked into the night, stitching a dress from the Pillsbury flour sack, she had saved. School was starting and her daughter needed a pretty dress for book learning. Young ladies often quit school to help their mama during hard times. They worked beside her from the time they could walk, washing clothes and stitching dresses. Young boys, were transformed to men and took dad’s place in the family. A paying job was rare, but dad might have got a job at the lumber Camp, working for Ritter in Rainbow Springs. Many young boys hitched a team of mules to the plow, and turned new ground in the spring, helped mom slaughter a hog or went to the woods with their brothers and cut crossties. The depression took much of their youth, and turned it into hard labor. Daily survival wore heavy on their young shoulders. Ironically, the end of The Great Depression was the beginning of World War II. Munitions plants and factories began humming, preparing for the U.S. for entry into World War II. The young boys and girls who had seen their youth stolen by the depression, were now men and women, married with children. Many wives waited on the inevitable and when their husbands walked from the post office with a letter from the government draft board, it was time. Many husbands kissed their wife good bye, and said, “I love you!” They patted her tummy and again said, “I love you,” to their unborn child. Some soldiers returned,but many never set foot on American soil again. The Great Depression and World War II, consumed the lives of, these people, but it was only the beginning. Several of my good friends, lost love ones to tragedy and experienced countless other challenges, yet there was joy and opportunity. As a member of Generation X born in 1973, my friends, saw the birth of many things that I take for granted. Electricity, Automobiles, good roads, computers, and the space age, were born while they watched. Somewhere along my journey, the fine people, I visited with on their porches, in their living rooms and kitchens became, My Mountain Heroes. To me they were, “the salt of the earth”. It didn’t take to long ashamed. I’d often complained about the cards life had dealt me, yet I really hadn't known hard times. When I met them, old age hadn’t been kind, yet they never seemed broken. They were a beautiful portrait, painted with faith, commitment, hard work and perseverance; a beautiful gift that I now treasure.It’s my hope that, My Mountain Heroes will bless you and through my labors, your children, and grandchildren will discover their Mountain Heroes!

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