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The Appalachia Issue

Man Of The Mountains

The first part of the house out here was made in the 30s. There was two families raised in that house. I had 11 brothers and sisters.


he first part of the house out here was made in the 30s. There was two families raised in that house. I had 11 brothers and sisters. I’m the seventh son. I had four sisters and they’re all gone but one. My bedroom was in the back part of the house. That part was on there when I was born, about 45 years ago. That’s all I can say about the house. I moved out into this little trailer, taking turns with my sister. I took it nights and she took it days. The house was falling in. I would sleep in the main house in the day and she would use it to cook in. Cooked on a little coal heater. I hate to say this now, I ain’t talking about nobody, but it was a potbelly stove. She’d cook beans and taters and bread. She’d bake bread down in the ash pan. She wasn’t all there. One of her kids died at three years old and that messed her up. At night I’d get in the trailer and cover up best I could. There was no heat. Mom was bad off. She got broke up and fell down through the family. A truck broke her up. It broke her right leg, I think. Or her left leg. I took care of my brother too. He got beat up real bad. He stayed in bed ten years and got passed on down the line. I get a check to take care of myself. I was in a wreck here. I got broke up. Broke my arm and four ribs. A coal truck run over me. It throwed me under a guardrail and into a telephone pole. I brought a lawsuit but I lost it. Nowadays I’m just up here and sometimes I help out my neighbors. I cut the weeds and clean up the yard. If I put in a day’s work, I’m stretched out for three or four days. I watch some videos too. I ain’t got no antenna. I used to be the devil. They judged me and said I was the devil. They didn’t like me. They said they seen the devil in me. I used to be pretty mean. There was an accident with my brother. I don’t want to talk about that. It was 30 years ago and I’m trying to forget. We just used our fists and nothing else but he’d take a shotgun, throw it up in your face and stuff. He was bit by a dog and he went mad. The dog went mad and he went mad. When he went mad, you couldn’t say anything to him. We’d try to restrain him and stuff. But we couldn’t. [Homer shot his brother to death in self-defense—Ed.] I put in my time for it. Eight months in the county jail. I had to plea-bargain. They were trying to give me the electric chair. I got two lawyers. One wasn’t worth a hoot. Then I got a colored man. I’m relation to coloreds—I ain’t race-bigoted. You can’t sleep in the county jail. They try to burn your toes off. They light toilet paper in between your toes, and they’ll hang you at night in your cell. But they don’t want to get me mean. My uncle, they run him out of the state. He shot a man in the face. Bloodhounds run him home but he wasn’t there. I ain’t that mean, but they don’t want to stir me up. I try to be peaceful and make peace with the Lord. They told lies on me. I used to drink homemade wine. I drank a little beer but now I don’t touch it. If I drank moonshine I wouldn’t be here very long. HOMER THOMPSON