Writer understands ‘Mountain Pride’
Kudos to Dylan Lightfoot!
Finally, someone who can see the difference between the real thing and the spin. Needless to say, as someone who spent the first 45 years of my life in Ashe County, I was absolutely livid when I saw the Faux News Network video regarding “Mountain Pride.”
Those idiots would not know “Mountain Pride” if it knocked them on their sanctimonious behinds.
I grew up in Ashe County. I was a product of that “Mountain Pride.” There was a time in Ashe County when we had something to be proud of. People could buy houses, farm, or own just a little bit of land. My grandfather farmed tobacco, farmed for our food, and tobacco. He grew his own corn for his cattle and chickens, and cut his own grass for haystacks in which to feed his animals in winter. People raised their own beef, their own hogs, they had large gardens and preserved everything they could to eat.
I have sat on my grandmother’s front porch many a day helping to shell peas, peel peaches, seed cherries, peel apples, string beans – even stringing them up for leather britches, all learning at the same time how to do those things for myself.
In the winter time I have sat around her table while she balled sausage or helped stuff beef in a can to be put up for later. I’ve helped her churn butter from her own cows, gather eggs from the chickens, carried in stove wood, both for heating and for cooking purposes.
We were never hungry and we were always willing to share.
We understood that thing called “Mountain Pride.” People seem to forget that back in those days we also had Hanes Manufacturing, Peerless Hosiery, Sprague Electric, and Phoenix Chair Factory (later Thomasville) and later were fortunate enough to add Southern Devices (two plants), Gates, Greensboro Manufacturing, and Penry Manufacturing (on NC/VA border). That did not even include those of us such as myself who worked at Anvil Brand in Independence, Va., Mr. Casuals in Troutdale, Va., Lowe’s and Holly Farms in North Wilkesboro, and in Boone.
While many families lived off the land, they either had children or wives that worked at these factories to help support the family. These days the majority of workers have to go out of the county to find jobs if they can, yet their tax assessments are ridiculous. People can no longer afford to buy homes, land, or to grab a couple of acres to just have a truck garden or raise a few chickens. The days when beans and tobacco were staple crops in Ashe County are long gone, as are the teenagers who got spending money for helping pick the beans and work in the tobacco fields, planting, suckering, cutting, and then grading and stacking on baskets.
The people who know about “mountain pride” are the ones who have stayed there throughout the years, inheriting what they have from their families before them or scraping by on their own. Those who could, and those who had no inclination to stay there went elsewhere to make their fortunes, as Mr. Lee McMillian should well know.
I would be really interested in just how many saw mills Mr. Lewis owns, and why it is so difficult for him to get enough workers to work it. Could it be poor wages or possibly some other reason he can’t keep workers…he really did not need to make it sound like no one in Ashe County would work anymore.
He should realize more than anyone that the wealth in Ashe County is in its native folks. I’m betting many of the people in Ashe County who have lost their jobs due to businesses pulling out would be happy to have a job if they could provide for their families on sawmill wages.
There once was promise in Ashe County. Now, there is not even hope. So, what are the people there supposed to do?
When a county will not provide industry for people to have jobs to go to, how do they expect them to feed their families without some type of assistance. They certainly should not go on national TV and make it appear that Ashe County is now a bunch of deadbeats. That was a total insult to everyone there who has seen their jobs walk out of the county taking their hope for a better future and for those of their children with them.
Instead of berating these people, they should be doing whatever needs to be done to bring industry into the county to keep the county strong. Without money people cannot shop. When they cannot shop, there goes the economy.
There really is way more to Ashe County than turning it into a tourist trap and insinuating that those who have worked to make Ashe County strong are just a bunch of people who are too lazy to work.
Maybe the USDA was merely trying to let the people in Ashe County know that there was help available. Why would anyone be against something that would help people who cannot help themselves? The shame does not lie within the “Food Stamp Program” itself or the ones who will need to use it, but the shame lies with those who do not want to see anyone benefit at their expense. We are talking about people who have paid into the system for years and years. Why is it wrong for them to collect a bit from it?
The real shame, however, lies with those who would prefer seeing Ashe County people do without as opposed to seeing them have good jobs, schools, good roads, and being independent. There is no shame in needing help. The shame is when people think everyone is out to take something away from them.
The real shame is that all those who can afford to, don’t keep the food pantries and other organizations supplied with what they need to provide to those who need help. They prefer worrying that one of their precious dollars will be spent on something to benefit someone other than themselves or better yet that someone may get something for nothing. I think they have confused “Mountain Pride” with “Mountain Greed.”
That little bit of fake reality on Fox News may have made a few folks in the county feel like they were accomplishing something by going on a public news program and belittling their friends and neighbors, but they have done nothing to feed or clothe hungry children.
I saddens me to see my fellow Ashe Countians portrayed in such a untrue and disparaging way by a group of people who don’t even know the meaning of “Mountain Pride.” If they had had any pride, they would not have sold out their communities.
I’m sure the good people in Ashe County neither need nor desire zealots who know absolutely nothing about their small communities broadcasting about what they do or do not need.
As Mr. Lightfoot brought out, perhaps it is time for people in Ashe County to do some thinking on their own and look back at times past and remember just which party really cares where their bread is buttered.
If they take a serious look at what the Republican party has done for the people in this country and what the county commissioners have allowed to happen to their once proud little county – all in the name of “family values and Christian duty,” not to even mention what the state legislature is doing in North Carolina — they may once again find that “Mountain Pride” is something worth fighting for and vote a Democratic ticket.
Elizabeth Blevins Cooper
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