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The Appalachia Issue

Family Plot

I'm the oldest caretaker of this graveyard. It isn't that big. The first person got put in here a long time ago. Luther Thompson. He's a great-great-uncle of my family. My step-pap was his brother. That's the second grave yonder next to Luther. That...
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Κείμενο Homer Thompson
1.11.06

PHOTOS BY PATRICK O'DELL

’m the oldest caretaker of this graveyard. It isn’t that big. The first person got put in here a long time ago. Luther Thompson. He’s a great-great-uncle of my family. My step-pap was his brother. That’s the second grave yonder next to Luther. That was his brother. Here’s my daddy’s grave. My mom’s next to him too. My dad ain’t been dead ten years yet. I think he took a heart attack. He died twice. He was on a respirator. I was close to him but not to her. My dad was friendly, a good and decent person. He used to work for the railroad and the mines and everything. My mom lost a lot of blood when she passed on. My dad was brokenhearted after my mom died. They was close. He’d been married over 50-some years. They had their little disagreements. I never been married. I’m fixing to, maybe. I’m going with a woman. She lives way up in Virginia. She comes out here. I’m not really for sure how I met her—it was in the storehouse or the church. Been six years now. First grave I ever came to up here was right yonder. We dug them ourselves. You dig four and a half feet down, then you measure up 18 inches from the bottom. Then you come in and dig about three inches into the sides all around 18 inches up. Then you lay boards down in there. The boards go in over the box. Then the dirt goes on there. I’ve cut many a one. HOMER THOMPSON

Photos by Jerry Hsu

Homer Thompson’s family graveyard is up at the end of the holler he grew up in.

People are still getting buried up there today.