Showing posts with label Heritage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Heritage. Show all posts

Friday, May 05, 2023

In Memory of My Adoptive Mother (published 5-5-2023; article #410)


This is the second of the “two very serious articles on family and heritage” that the humorous article of Saturday, 4/29/2023 mentioned. The first article today honored my mother-in-law.

I took the above photograph, on Tuesday, when I started writing this article. The painting hangs, proudly, in our dining room. I look at it several times every day. This article's initial conclusion will explain the story behind that painting.

Please pause a moment, before reading further, to read “My Mother's Birthday, 1/21/2021, at Age 91 (published 1-24-2021).” Please also read the December 2022 comments to that article. That article sets the background for this article.

This article is in memory of my second, or adoptive, mother, Ozella McTigue Scott. My adoptive sister and I both call her mother. The 1/24/2021 article, cited above, includes:

My Mother, Ozella Scott, is also the finest Christian example that I have ever known. (I can have two, my Mom and my Mother. They are equally the finest!)

Ozella McTigue Scott (1/21/1930 - 4/26/2023)

My wife and I had hoped that the Good Lord would wait, to call my Mother Home, until after we could visit this summer. Regrettably, “life, such as it has been,” hindrances, especially since 3/29/2016, had forestalled a much desired visit to our Missouri family.

The summer trip to Missouri is still planned. The next visit with my Mother will be everlasting.

Homeward Bound!

On Wednesday, April the 26th, my Mother was able to walk and jump like she did in her younger days. Her memory regained its brilliant clarity. She was perfect. Her hair didn't need to change from gray to black, since she never had gray hair. Of course, her Irish eyes didn't need to change. They continue to smile, as they always did, reflecting the sweet and everlasting soul behind them.

About 7:30 AM, on Wednesday, April the 26th, the Good Lord called Mother home. My adoptive sister called to let me know. The phone beeped once, instead of ringing, as usual. I thought that a smoke detector had beeped. I figured out that it was the home phone. When I called my sister back, to talk about our Mother's journey Home, I mentioned the beep. My sister said, “That was our Mother!” You know, our home phone always rings, as usual. That was the first time that it beeped. That beep, as my heart knows, must have been our Mother, signaling that she had flown upward, into her bright and everlasting Home.

The Arrangements

I remember the good folks at McMikle Funeral Home very well. Our Mother's obituary is on their website: Ozella McTigue Scott, of Charleston, Missouri, Obituary: January 21, 1930 - April 26, 2023 (on McMikle Funeral Home).

The memorial service was on Monday, May the 1st. The obituary mentions that I would be one of two ministers, officiating at the service.

My adoptive sister would like to have seen my wife and me, but she knew, graciously, that my “bionics” might not endure the approximate seven-hour drive. (She has her “bionics” also.) Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I wanted to make the drive. My “bionics” have endured only a few two-hour, one-way drives. Sitting too long returns muscles to their traumatized memories. Walking, hiking, and moving around keeps them more limber. Wisdom dictated another solution.

McMikle Funeral Home and the Appalachian Irishman - Podcasts home studio had the technology. The honor and privilege, for my part of our Mother's service, was delivered virtually, on Monday, May the 1st.

My Message

The day after our Mother went to her everlasting reward, I composed my message. I was alone, but I felt as if I were speaking live, during the actual service. I tried to speak the words that I had prepared, but emotion frequently overcame my script. Emotion poured from my heart and soul more than I'd expected.

My funeral message, honor, and tribute to our Mother is: Ozella McTigue Scott (1-21-1930 to 4-26-2023) Funeral Message, by Marion W. Ferrell (on 4-27-2023).

I listened to that message once only. Early in the recording, I'd misstated that our Mother was age 63. I'm glad that I corrected that, later, to age 93. I did not want to rerecord, to correct that error. Composing the message was difficult enough, the first time. I may listen to my message again, but some time needs to pass first. If I hear myself again too soon, then the emotion will come back too quickly.

Initial Conclusion

In initial closing, I'll explain the story behind the painting. I'd taken the photograph, below, on the same day as the above photograph. The image shows the upper left corner of the back of the painting.

Back in the late 1980's, I'd asked my adoptive Mother, Ozella Scott, and my adoptive Mama, Ollie McTigue (who went to Glory, on Sunday, July 14th, 1991) to sign the back. They did, graciously.

The painting hung in the kitchen and dining room, of the McTigue home. During the many occasions, when I enjoyed dining with the family at the noon meal, I admired the painting. I commented on the relaxing scene. A boy, girl, and their dog were going fishing, near a covered bridge.

The loving and kind spirits of my Mama and Mother gave me that painting! I had tried to decline, but their caring insistence would not accept “no” as an answer. The painting hung, in honor, in the dining room, of our homes, first in Charleston and then in Dexter, Missouri. It was stored safely, during our five years in Russia (1994 - 1999). Lord willing, the painting will be our gift, one day, to a loving and caring niece. After this article is published, I plan to print and attach a copy to the back of the painting – to explain the history.

Final Conclusion

Hey, Sis! You and I had another good conversation by phone earlier today. Happy birthday today! No, I won't write how old you are, but you are my older sister! I'm your baby brother! Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I look forward, Lord willing, to visiting our Missouri family next month. Just keep the light on for us!

Your life continues to honor our Mother and our Mama. Their loving spirits live on in you. I know that you are passing along that same spirit to your children and grandchildren.

Dear Lord, as my written prayer, thank you for blessing me with my Mom and my Mother -- the finest Christian examples that I have ever known. We, the family who are still here, await the time, when we join the unbroken and everlasting Circle. In the name of Christ, our Savior, amen.

Memories of My Mother-in-Law (published 5-5-2023; article #409)


The article of Saturday, 4/29/2023, mentioned the forthcoming “two very serious articles on family and heritage.” This is the first article.

Yes, by the way, I know that yesterday was “may the fourth be with you” day. I've also made the lame Star Wars jokes. On May the fourth, 2016, I came home, after 36 days in two hospitals. (My 5/8/2022 article has more details.) As an important “by the way,” I wonder, seriously, how many folks spent extra time in prayer yesterday, on National Day of Prayer.

I only published three articles in 2008. Life, such as it was, fifteen years ago, preempted and relegated my writings to the background.

In June of 2008, family vacationed near Grandfather Mountain State Park, in North Carolina. The above photograph is one of thirty-seven that I'd taken, during that get away. Pictured above are Paw Gordon (my father-in-law), Maw Gordon (my mother-in-law), Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, her two sisters, and our niece. All seven of us stayed in one cabin. I'd taken the above photograph, on our final vacation day.

We enjoyed good family time. The swinging bridge, at Grandfather Mountain, was enjoyable. My wife and I hiked Grandfather Mountain. My wife, her youngest sister, our niece, and I drove the approximate two-hours, one way, to Chimney Rock, for an enjoyable hike. The weather was sunny and mild on every day of our family vacation.

Searching my website finds several articles that mention my mother-in-law. No one article is dedicated to her. This article corrects that oversight.

Phyllis Ann House Gordon (4/10/1941 - 4/30/2017)

Maw Gordon, as I called her affectionately, is Phyllis Ann House Gordon. Her 76 years on this earth remain a blessing to countless individuals.

I met the future Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and her family, in the summer of 1984. Maw Gordon and I took a liking to each other immediately. (Of course, my other future in-laws and I did as well.) Maw Gordon didn't need much time to figure out my sense of humor! I'll share a few memories of my mother-in-law.


After I'd asked and obtained Paw Gordon's permission, the future Mrs. Appalachian Irishman said “yes,” when I dropped to one knee and proposed. We were at the old Amis Mill dam, near Rogersville, Tennessee. That was in late April, 1985. My mother-in-law's father (Hugh Lee House, 6/14/1916 - 4/6/1985) had passed recently. Maw Gordon cried, once she knew that I'd proposed to her oldest daughter. As I understand, Maw cried in sorrow and joy – sorrow in that her father had just passed and joy in that her oldest daughter was engaged.

When the future Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I were married, before the ceremony, Maw caught me out of the corner of her eye. My future wife was in a nearby room, getting gussied up. Maw thought that I was too close to that closed door, where her eldest daughter was! She gave me a stern look and said, “Don't come any closer. Belinda's in their getting ready!” I assured Maw that I hadn't planned to go into that room, and I backed away, very quickly!

Maw Gordon and I, along with other family, enjoyed talking about our memories of Hawkins County. She shared many a story of her life, back in her younger days. Stories often involved Burum Road, Guntown, Bear Hollow (or Holler), ebbing and flowing springs (or ebb 'n flowin' sprangs), the old school house near the springs, and such locations.

Maw developed a curvature of the spine that worsened with age. She was born with a club foot. Those “whatevers” didn't slow her down, until later in life. I recall how Maw walked -- maybe a mile or less, one way, up and down side roads -- to work at a nursing home, when my in-laws lived in Etowah, Tennessee.

Maw Gordon insisted on certain traditions. For example, her three daughters and I -- even though we were adults, with some age on us -- got Christmas stockings, with our names on them, each year. The stockings contain fruit, nuts, candy, and such. Every Christmas, I'd complain that I was way too old for a Christmas stocking! Maw just laughed. Hog jowl and black-eyed peas were essential on New Year's Day.

Well, Maw, that was your northeast Tennessee Appalachian raisin'. Your daughters keep the tradition alive. I got another Christmas stocking last December. Yes, Maw, I heard you laughing!

Maw Gordon never met a stranger. She was a talker. She was also a doer and a helper. She never said, to someone in need, “Call me if you need anything.” Nope. Maw just figured out the need and showed up to help. The doing and helping were usually done through her family, when Maw got to where she couldn't get around as well. Family was glad to help Maw help others. That's a lesson for folks, who say half-heartedly, “Call if you need anything.” Don't just say. Do!

My in-laws had moved from Etowah to east Knox County, before Mrs. Appalachian Irishman and I returned from Russia (on 9/30/1999). We were and still are living in Knox County also. Maw was glad to have us close, instead of half a world away.

I remember a day, back in the early 2000's, when I took Maw, in my ol' 1995 Nissan pickup, to a routine medical appointment. (The location was the same that I'd visited on 1/27/2023, for my upcoming “roto-rooter.” See my 2/15/2023 article, for that “fun.”) After her appointment, Maw wanted to go to a garden center, to buy a big tree, to plant in their yard. That tree, in a big bucket, barely fit in the truck bed! Paw Gordon and I planted that tree. The tree is still standing, and it has grown quite a bit. Maw Gordon planted many spiritual trees that are still growing. She was a good wife to Paw, a wonderful mother to three girls, Nana to her granddaughter, and my mother-in-law. Maw was sister, aunt, cousin, sister in Christ, friend, and neighbor to many folks.

I'll close this segment on a funny story. My wife and I moved into our newly-constructed house, on 6/6/2003. We still have the few cedar trees, in the back yard, that came with the land. We did not want to plant trees -- anywhere! For years, Maw kept “suggesting” that we plant a few trees in the yard. She had exact types of trees and yard locations in mind. I kept replying that we didn't want to plant trees. During one particular visit, Maw “suggested” the tree plantings again. (Note: family often “jumped” when Maw “suggested” something that she wanted to see done.) I looked Maw squarely in the eyes and, with a slight grin, said, “No. We will not and never will plant any trees on our property.” Maw figured out that I was adamant enough! Maw knew that we could both be stubborn! I out stubborned Maw, finally!

Passing on Home

Maw's stubborn determination kept her going, when others, of weaker disposition, would have given up. In time, her curvature of the spine required a back brace, which she wore only when she had to. Eventually, Maw had to use a wheelchair, as in the above photograph. Mrs. Appalachian Irishman bathed her mother once a week. That expression of love to her mother continued several years.

On 3/29/2016, I almost died, as the 8/26/2016 article mentions. Back then, I wondered and asked God why didn't I just die. (The early recovery was like various degrees of torture.) A year, a month, and one day later, however, I realized why I didn't die.

On 4/30/2017 (397 days after 3/29/2016), Maw could walk or run just like she always could. She could stand upright. Her club foot became a normal foot. She had no recurring congestion. If fact, Maw was completely well, finally, after having endured decades of physical suffering, with great strength and determination.

On that Sunday, 4/30/2017, about 1:15 AM, Maw went Home to be with the Lord. Last Sunday, 4/30/2023, marked the sixth year of Maw's everlasting joy and comfort. (Of course, everlasting life doesn't have the passing of time, as temporal life here does.) Last Sunday, family gathered at the Gordon home. We talked. We laughed. We celebrated the birthday of my youngest sister-in-law, who'd attained age <deleted somehow my that sister-in-law>, on the 24th. We remembered Maw, who was present in spirit.


The kind, caring, and godly spirit of my mother-in-law, Phyllis Ann House Gordon (4/10/1941 – 4/30/2017), continues in her three daughters, her granddaughter, many family and friends, and me. She was and is a fine Christian, saved everlastingly by God's amazing grace. The Son, who shined through her life, is reflected and continues to shine in many.

Maw demonstrated her faith in action, by her many acts of kindness and caring. Maw planted many godly trees that are still standing and growing.

Dear Lord, thank you for blessing me with such a fine mother-in-law. I couldn't have had a better one. This, my written prayer, is in Christ's name. Amen.

Wait! What did I just hear?

Okay, Maw, I heard you! I may plant a tree, for your birthday, next year.

Friday, April 14, 2023

House Mountain Hike #180, 4-13-2023: In Honor of Papaw Ferrell (published 4-14-2023; article #403)


Greetings to fellow hikers! Well, greetings to each reader, even if you don't hike. “The mountains are calling, and I must go” -- John Muir, in 1873 (as the article of 3/31/2023 elaborates).

House Mountain was calling me again, on Thursday, 4/13/2023. I had to go – especially when that hike #180 marked Papaw Marion Ferrell's birthday, in 1880.

Will you hike with me? Let's go! This article describes the hike, with four photographs included. It also honors Papaw Ferrell. The embedded podcast, with still photograph image, expresses my “hiking theology.” The conclusion inspires us all to turn right and go straight up! I hope that you enjoy hiking along with this Appalachian Irishman!

The Hike Up, to the West Bluff

The weather was mostly sunny, at first, and warm. The temperature rose from the lower 70s Fahrenheit, at the start, to the upper 70s, by the end. Clouds rolled in, during the hike, to become mostly cloudy. Yes, it was too warm. The poison plants, especially poison oak, were often and easily seen. Not much mud was in the usual trail locations. Clearing a few spider webs was routine. Flies, gnats, and a few waspers said howdy at times, but not too often. At least one hawk flew around, while on the west bluff. He didn't want to be in the video, unfortunately. Several butterflies fluttered around. A few squirrels and several birds said howdy. As usual, snake holes were noticeable, but no snakes were out. I've never picked up a tick on “My Mountain.”

We started our hike, when I touching the usual post, at 12:52 PM. We chose the west trail, instead of the east trail, as we did on 3/31/2023. Thankfully, we only met one person hiking down as we hiked up. She was polite, and had a friendly dog with her. Once we passed the five lower switchbacks and stepped across the little mountain stream, as usual, we started up the six upper switchbacks. Whew! That brought out the sweat! We had reached the fairly level trail, below the ridgeline, in good time.

Despite the warm weather, we should have reached the west bluff, in about 32 or so minutes. Why did it take us an hour and four minutes! Aside from pausing, to drink water from our canteens, as we hiked up those six upper switchbacks, we were not slowed by being out of breath. We're still in great hiking shape!

Yes, as you recall, I took the photograph, above, at 1:44 PM, after we'd already turned left and gone down, instead of turning right and continuing up. The view looks west, at a fork on the trail below the ridgeline. We were still heading west. Despite many hikes before, I led us the wrong way. I apologized! That left “trail” is a cutout that uneducated hikers had made, years ago. Cutout trail hikers still go that way, unfortunately. I don't know how or if they make it.

We had to scoot on our backsides to ease our way down. Then, the angle up was too steep for us. The dirt around the rocks was too loose. We could have figured it out, but we decided, as we swallowed our pride, to go back to the fork and to turn right and go up, as we should have.

So, we dusted off our old blue jeans and our pride, and we continued up the right way! I'll never turn left, at that fork again! We wasted too much time, on that wrong path!

Finally, at 1:56 PM, we reached the west bluff! As you recall, I took the above photograph, at 1:59 PM. The view looks southwest, with Knoxville far off in the distance. The green sprouts, in the lower left of the image, indicate that the tree, where I used to hang my cap, canteen, and outer layer, is growing back. It looks like strong wind had split the top off the original tree. The roots, however, are strong, so the tree will regrow. Isn't that a lot like life?

We had the west bluff to ourselves. I'll get to my podcast, with a still image, on the bluff and to the last two photographs of our hike back down. First, however, I want to offer tribute to the memory of Papaw Ferrell.

Papaw Ferrell (4/13/1880 - 11/21/1970)

Yesterday, while preparing this article, I searched this website by “Papaw Ferrell.” I found several articles that honor him or that mention him. The following is a list of seven articles that I selected.

Well Machine & Water Truck Legacy (published 6-26-2010)

November 21st Chronological Historical Notes: 1970 (Papaw), 2015 (Molly), 2016 (Truck), 2020 (House Mt. #174) – published on 11/22/2020

Late Tribute to Papaw Ferrell, in “Life, Such As It Is,” Context (published 4/19/2021)

6-13-2021, Sunday: Generational Honor – Granny Ferrell & Age 15 Niece

Ferrell's Well Drilling 3-8-1958, Weigel's 12-21-2013 Remembered 12-21-2021, Christmas 12-25-2021, and 'Light at the End of the Tunnel,' the Backdrop (published 12-26-2021)

The True Light Quartet – Uncle Paul's Legacy (published 9-7-2022; article #355)

Thanksgiving 2022, Granny & Papaw Ferrell's Marriage License - 1908, Mom's Birthday - 1932 (published 11-30-2022; article #374)

Having re-read those articles yesterday, I would not change a word. In life, Papaw hiked a few wrong trails, but he took the right trail and went up. House Mountain hike #180, on the anniversary of his birth, in 1880, was my hiking tribute to him.

Hiking Theology” Podcast, on the West Bluff

The podcast that I videoed, at the west bluff, has better volume than my 3/31/2023 podcast from the upper middle bluff.

The YouTube podcast of my video is House Mountain Hike 180, 4-13-2023: In Honor of Papaw Ferrell (published 4-14-2023; episode 7). As I recall, you liked my “hiking theology.”

The above is a still photographic image from my podcast. That's my “Life is Crap” cap. When did I get so gray-bearded. Do I see a few wrinkles? We either wear out or rust out. I'll wear out, thank you very much!

The Hike Back Down

Our time on the west bluff was enjoyable, as usual. I'm glad that we had it to ourselves this time! So, let's hike back down the same west trail and out, shall we?

The above photograph, taken at 2:28 PM, is on the same trail below the ridgeline. It looks east this time. We were heading back the way that we'd come up. The image is where the fork starts, going east. When we were heading west and up, we'd taken the wrong fork. We took the higher fork, this time, on our way back down! I learned my lesson.

Near the “defiant tree” (as I call it), we met and spoke briefly with two groups of hikers. The first was two ladies, about my age or a little older. They said that they had chosen to wear out, not rust out, also! The second was two young men, who were amazed that this was my 180th hike on “My Mountain,” to honor my paternal grandfather, born in 1880.

Once we started hiking down the six upper switchbacks, we met the final group on our way down and out. A young lady and her dog were ahead of the younger man and the older lady, but they were in the same group. When the younger man paused, to speak with me briefly, the older lady, perhaps his mother, kept going, determined not to allow conversation to stop her. Their native language is Spanish, but their English was excellent – better than many native English speakers. The young man and I exchanged names. I hope that I meet them again on the trail.

We passed the lower five switchbacks, stepped across the little creek, crossed the wooden bridge, and negotiated the usual rocky and muddy spot. I touched the same post as when we'd started. The time was 3:15 PM. A day with two hours and twenty-three minutes in the woods is better than not having been there! I wish that I'd left another T-shirt in my 2016 Frontier. My hiking T-shirt was almost wet enough to wring out the sweat.

The above photograph, taken at 3:16 PM, looks southeast, toward the parking lot. Can you see my old truck, farthest to the back? Six other vehicles were parked, at our arrival. Seven others were parked, at our departure. Weekday hikes are less crowded than weekend hikes!

Oh, by the way, what did you think about the middle-aged man, whom we had passed, while driving in? He was peddling an electric-assisted bicycle! He peddled into the parking lot, just as we were about to start hiking. His bicycle is his exercise routine.


As I've stated and written several times, “hiking theology” works! That wrong left turn down, as we hiked up and across the ridgeline, seemed right, initially. “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12, NIV).

We should have, while standing at the fork, seen the original path. “This is what the LORD says: 'Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls'” (Jeremiah 6:16, NIV).

My eyes were not focused to guide our feet correctly. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalms 119:105, NIV).

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus said:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14, NIV)

Near the end of his life, when the people renewed the covenant with the Lord, Joshua stated:

. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15, NIV)

Thanks for hiking along with me, even if only by reading this article. I trust that you are choosing the right path that leads up!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Response to 'Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots' (published 4-12-2023; article #402)

7/10/2015 photograph, by Zack Spear on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License.


Greetings, to each international, national, regional, and local reader -- especially to you, dear reader. My hope, in the Lord, is that you are well. By the Gregorian calendar, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday (Easter) have passed. Иисус воскрес! Воистину, Он воскрес! My brother, next in age to me, attained age 60, on Resurrection Sunday. We enjoyed a good phone conversation. His family and he are doing well enough, thankfully.

On Monday, family remembered my mother-in-law, Phyllis Ann House Gordon (4/10/1941 - 4/30/2017). Mrs. Appalachian Irishman, my father-in-law, her sister, and I disassembled my sister-in-law's bathroom sink faucet. The new faucet assembly required new water line, which we didn't have. That “work in progress” completed today. My mother-in-law would have enjoyed the “fun” on her birthday. The effort, to help my sister-in-law, honored my mother-in-law, whom I look forward to seeing again, where she is now, with the Lord.

This twenty-fourth article, on Appalachia - Upper East TN, is my response to the article of 2/16/2023, on Appalachian History. The excellent website “has been digging up stories, quotes and anecdotes about the region since 2006 . . . with an emphasis on the 1880s - 1950s.” The articles, about one a month, are usually informative, historical, and entertaining. For example, the article, of 4/4/2023, shares an excerpt from an author's book, which is quite interesting! Apparently, a man, thought to have been dead, was not. This article, by no means, critiques the body of work on Appalachian History!

The guest article, of 2/16/2023, however, had raised my Irish dander, when I read it, initially, in late February. I happened to notice it again, while reading the excellent article of 4/4/2023. My Irish dander arose again! This article is how I speak my mind. The conclusion will explain the true source of and solution to problems -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, and the world in general.

The 2/16/2023 Article

The guest article that rekindled my Irish dander today is: “Why Appalachia’s Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots,” on Appalachian History, written by Amanda Winstead, published by Dave Tabler, 2/16/2023. The guest writer, as Dave Tabler notes, in his introduction to her, is from Portland, Oregon.

The guest article, of over a thousand words, has five sections: an introduction, “Poverty and the 'Diseases of Despair,'” “The Economics of Addiction,” “The Legacy of Big Tobacco,” and “The Takeaway” (or conclusion). First, I summarize those sections. Then, I state my response and conclusion.

The Introductory Remarks

Properly, the introductory remarks compliment the beauty of the Appalachian region, disapprove of the stereotype of the region's inhabitants, and state, “Appalachian peoples are not more 'prone' to addiction than any other regional, cultural, ethnic, or socioeconomic demographic.”

The final paragraph, of the introductory remarks, states the theme of the article:

Addiction in the region has deep, complex, and multigenerational roots. It is a systemic plague that will only be addressed through comprehensive interventions.

Three sections continue the theme. They are as follows.

Poverty and the “Diseases of Despair”

The point, in this section, is that poverty in Appalachia is a root cause “to a lack of access to quality health care,” “uninsured and underinsured” folks, “a dearth of healthcare providers” -- especially “mental health care” and “addiction recovery services.”

Apparently, Appalachia suffers from “diseases of despair” (which links to a 5/31/2021 Forbes article). This is explained as “excessive rates of suicide” and “significantly higher risks for substance use disorders.”

This section embeds links to four other websites, three of which are not noteworthy. One, however, is to the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which proclaims itself to be “an economic development partnership agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region.” Its mission is “to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.” (Interestingly, the guest writer's notation of poverty in Appalachia does not indicate that the ARC has been doing very well in its mission.)

The section's concluding statement is that a “generational cycle” “continues even when the original catalyst (poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.) ends.”[C]hildren grow up in a home with substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings. A family legacy of dependency is born.”

The Economics of Addiction

This second section, apparently, attempts to indicate that the economy of Appalachia contributes to alcohol, drug, and especially opioid addiction in the region. It begins by stating:

Farming, especially tobacco farming, and coal mining have long been the principal industries, and one of the few sources of stable work, in the region for generations.

The guest writer theorizes that injuries and illnesses from those dangerous jobs have “been egregiously exploited by the pharmaceutical industry” (or “Big Pharma” as the article states). The exploitation by “Big Pharma,” as the article speculates, caused the “opioid epidemic,” which may have originated in Appalachia.

The Legacy of Big Tobacco

In the third section, the guest writer speculates that tobacco farming “has given rise to generations of smokers and snuff users. From chewing tobacco to cigarettes, tobacco products remain ubiquitous in many parts of Appalachia.”

The section ends with comments on how folks have been turning to e-cigarettes and “vaping” those e-cigarettes. Apparently, according to the guest writer, the government's efforts to control e-cigarettes are driving folks in the region to buy them on the black market.

The Takeaway

The guest writer concludes her article, in one paragraph, by stating:

The story of addiction in Appalachia is far more complex than the stereotype acknowledges. It is a pervasive disorder with deep, systemic roots. It is a pandemic that will only end when, as a nation, we confront the economic, political, medical, and cultural catalysts driving it.

My Response

What is my response? In general, after my Irish dander cooled enough, the guest writer appears to stereotype Appalachia, in a manner similar to the stereotyping done by others, whom she criticizes correctly. I, however, don't think that she realized that she was doing so.

First, was the guest writer born and raised in Appalachia, before moving to Portland? I doubt it. If not, then why, pray tell, did she write a guest article on Appalachia?

Having never been to Portland, Oregon, or even to Oregon, I could write an article titled “Why Oregon's Substance Use Problems Have Systemic Roots.” Unlike the guest writer, however, I am not that impudent. I did search by that potential article title. I discovered and downloaded the “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Srategic Plan,” by the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission, on Oregon's state government website.

I suggest that the guest writer publish future articles about her “back yard,” not mine. The “2020-2025 Oregon Statewide Strategic Plan,” by my quick glance, shows that Oregon has systemic substance abuse problems -- just as Appalachia does. I am not so impertinent as to publish an article about her “back yard,” while I stay in mine!

Second, the logic of the guest writer argues, incorrectly, that “poverty, lack of healthcare access, etc.” lead to “substance-abusing grandparents, parents, or siblings” that creates a “legacy of dependency.” The writer has committed the logical fallacy of causation, by assuming that the former leads to the latter, without sufficient proof. Correlation does not imply causation.

For example, Mom and Dad raised us four boys on soup beans and taters. As the oldest, I passed down clothes to younger brothers. Doctor Goforth, other doctors, the hospital in town, and hospitals in nearby cities were available. Dad could afford health insurance for us, until the cost became too high to afford. My maternal and paternal grandparents were by no means wealthy. The guest writer, to hear my story, would say that I was raised in poverty or near poverty. Dad was a water well driller. Mom left her job at the telephone company, to raise us boys. We raised garden. We survived well enough.

The “economically challenging” environment of my grandparents, parents, and siblings, however, did not lead to substance abuse! Again, correlation does not imply causation. We, instead, relied on the Bread of Life to sustain us, which He did. Poverty does not, inherently, cause substance abuse.

Third, the guest writer must have gone back in time. Farming, tobacco farming, and coal mining are certainly legacies of Appalachia. They, however, are not -- and have not been for decades -- “principal industries” and “the few sources of stable work” in the region.

The old tobacco warehouses are mostly gone -- replaced by businesses. Farm land has become subdivisions, industrial parks, and office complexes. The Appalachia in the writer's mind existed decades ago. Folks still farm and raise tobacco, often on the side.

My area of Appalachia did not and does not have any noticeable number of coal mines. Apparently, there are no coal mines in Tennessee. For example, U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Tennessee, Profile Analysis, Coal (last update, 8/18/2022) reports, “. . . the state no longer produces coal. The state's few mines last produced coal in early 2020.”

Fourth, it appears that the guest writer was running out of vapor, by writing about vaping, near the end of her article. Dad smoked, until he decided to quit. I tried cigarettes, in high school. Dad caught me, bought me a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. He said, “I can't tell you not to smoke, son, since I do, but don't hide it.” Dad's eight-grade-educated psychology worked! I never bothered to smoke again! I wonder if folks in Oregon have ever smoked, chewed tobacco, or smoked e-cigarettes.

Finally, the author's “The Takeaway,” or conclusion, offers no solution as to how we, as a nation, can improve the “catalysts,” which are stated. (As an interesting note, the author describes the “story of addiction in Appalachia” as a “pandemic.” I thought that a pandemic was global. Appalachia is a region on the globe.) Don't worry! My conclusion will offer the solution!


The solution to systemic substance abuse -- in Appalachia, Oregon, this once great nation, or the world -- is not found in the United Nations, the federal government, any state government, or any government partnership agency (e.g., the Appalachian Regional Commission). What is my solution?

My solution patterns the inspired apostle Paul. In his first century letter to the church at Ephesus, he wrote (with my emboldening added for emphasis):

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 5:18-20, NIV)

The reading of the entire letter to the Ephesians is encouraged. Ephesians 5:18-20 is a section in the apostle Paul's theme “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph. 4:1, NIV), which continues to Ephesians 6:20. The theme to live worthy of Christ's calling follows the apostle's eloquent statements of God's grace, in chapters 1-3. This is an inspired statement of causation.

The solution is to be filled with the Spirit of God -- not wine, alcohol, drugs, or any form of immorality. My parents, maternal grandparents, and paternal grandparents were filled with God's Spirit, as their godly lives demonstrated. Despite impoverished or near impoverished conditions – with hard manual labor and limitations on health care and insurance -- my ancestors did not succumb to substance abuse -- since they filled themselves with the Spirit of God. This is my family legacy of faith, in Appalachia.

This article is also my ninety-second on heritage and is written in honor of my paternal grandfather, Marion Ferrell (4/13/1880 - 11/21/1970). Tomorrow will mark the date of his birth, in 1880.

The systemic solution is spiritual. “Dear Lord, as my written prayer, thank you for your grace, the faith of my ancestors, and your gift of grace to me, through Christ Jesus. May all people, in Appalachia, Oregon, this nation, and the world, in free will, accept your everlasting solution of salvation, which frees us from the systemic evils that plague humankind. In Christ's name, I pray. Amen.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Church Hayride & the Moonshine Still: It's a True Story (published 3-21-2023; article #397)

Image added by EllieWalker & posted in Alcohol and Old Lace, in The Andy Griffith Show Episodes, Season 1, on Fandom. Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.


For the life of me, I don't recall which year. I was a teenager, probably fourteen or fifteen, and a member of the West View Baptist Church youth group. Mom (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell, 11/24/1932 - 12/27/2000) and another lady, Sandra V., taught and led the youth group. We met, in Sunday School, before the morning worship service. We enjoyed several other activities, such as rollerskating and hayrides. Several adult chaperones helped. The youth group was a wonderful, positive, and formative part of my teenage years, back in the 1970s.

The adult chaperones, around Halloween, had arranged a fall hayride and bonfire, for the youth group. The bonfire -- with roasted marshmallows (marshmellers, as we called them), hotdogs, and Cokes -- followed the hayride.

What do a youth hayride and a moonshine still have in common? This twenty-second article on Appalachia - Upper East TN will explain. It's heritage and humor also. This article is inspired by Grandpa’s Still, on Blind Pig & the Acorn, by Garland Davis, published by Tipper, 3/16/2023. Reading that article, in the context of this article, is highly suggested. (I'll wait here, until you're back, after having read that article. It's a good article.)

Church Hayride

As I recall, a couple dozen or more of us teenagers rode in the big hay wagon. An adult chaperone or two rode with us. I think that Mom was one. A man drove the tractor that pulled us. As dusk approached darkness, the hayride started.

We rode off a two-lane highway and along various dirt roads, which were lined by trees, ridges, and fields. Singing, talking, and joking, we were enjoying a great time! I probably had a liking to a young lady or two. In shyness, I probably tried to do some subtle courting. (Yes, I was shy, until my junior year in high school, when my Irish blarney starting opening my glib, Irish tongue!)

After a good, long ride, the tractor driver hunted an open area, to turn the hayride back for the food and bonfire. He found an open gate, in a field, that was near someone's barn.

Moonshine Still

As we began to circle around behind the barn, to make the return loop, the driver pushed the tractor into high gear and exclaimed, “Hang on!” The wagon jerked, causing most of us to roll backward in the hay! I'm glad that the wagon had wooden side boards; otherwise, some of us could have fallen off the wagon. We rode in high gear, hanging onto each other or to the side boards, until the hay wagon was back onto the dirt road safely.

What happened? Why did we have to go so fast?” -- we had asked and wondered. Just before the tractor jumped into high gear, I'd noticed, near the back of that barn, something that looked like a big barrel, with pipes on it. I didn't know what it was -- at first.

Safely back onto the dirt road, the driver replied, “Did you see that still? Someone has a moonshine still behind the barn! We had to get out of there!” Well, no wonder! I'm glad that no one was making moonshine at the time! Coming upon moonshine making, even by accident, could have been very dangerous -- even on a church hayride.


Almost everyone, who was born and raised in Appalachia, has had a moonshiner in the family or a moonshine story to tell. Thanks, to Tipper, for inspiring this story, as she shared Garland Davis' story.

Fallen off the wagon” usually means that someone has started drinking again. As a teenager, I was glad that none of us young uns had “fallen off the wagon” -- when the tractor driver high geared us away from that still!

Do I hear you laughing? I thought so!

Friday, December 30, 2022

TN TDOT Name a Snowplow Contest - Last Day to Vote! (published 12-30-2022; article #383)


Early this morning, while performing my routine fecal plowing, I was listening to News Talk 98.7 FM, on one of the three radios, on my bathroom sink counter top. A news item – aside from shootings in other states reported as “local” news – that caught my attention was that the final day to vote, in TDOT's name a snowplow contest, is today.

Several days ago, a local TV station had mentioned this contest. I had flushed the thought, after wondering why TDOT would waste “toilet paper” money on such a silly contest. Well, the thought “back flushed” into my mind.

Yes, I know that, on 12/30/2000, family and I gathered, in the frigid cold, for the graveside service for Mom (Betty Lou Wood Ferrell, 11/24/1932 - 12/27/2000). Writing this humorous article, however, will help lift my spirit and distract my thoughts, from memories of Mom's graveside service.

Name a Snowplow

After my morning fecal plowing, I found, on TN TDOT Department of Transportation, “Name A Snowplow Contest: Voting Begins.” (The “A” should not be capitalized.)

One of three photographs from “Name A Snowplow Contest: Voting Begins.”

The content of that web page is:

Vote for your favorite Snowplow name. Simply check the circle beside the name you like best and hit submit. Voting ends Friday, December 30 at 4:30 p.m. The top four names with the most votes will be displayed on four different snowplows – one in each region. The winners will be announced in early January.

*Select your favorite entry*

Twenty-five candidates are listed.

Contest Voting*

Big Leplowski; Big Orange; BoomBoomPlow; Brinestone Plowboy; Darth Blader; Don't flurry, be happy; Freeze Slick Mafia; Gatlinbrr; Graceland Growler; Grit & Brine; King Henry; Melton John; MilkNBread; Nashville Plowdators; No More, Mr. Ice Guy! Reba McEnplower; Rhinestone Plowboy; Sleetwood Mac; Snowlene; Snowletta Lynn; Sweet Child O' Brine; Tennessee VolunCLEAR; Thaw Enforcement; Tim McThaw; You're Welcome

Thank you for your submission. A TDOT representative will contact the contest winners.

The website does not state how the 25 candidates were certified or who the contestants are. I suspect a “TDOT deep-state conspiracy!”

After seconds of “deep contemplation,” I voted for “No More, Mr. Ice Guy!” – twice. I reloaded the website. What do you know? The website allowed me to vote often! Since I hadn't voted early, I decided to vote again. So, I voted once more for “No More, Mr. Ice Guy!” I decided that two votes were enough. Of course, I could have continued to reload the website and to vote far more often, until 4:30 PM, but I have better ways to occupy my time.

Of course, I have several questions. Is this the primary or general election? When did voting start? (I voted twice on the last day to vote.) Should voting have been allowed on one day only? Are only Tennessee citizens allowed to vote? Are illegal aliens or citizens in other states, or nations, allowed to vote? (I did not have to present a voter registration card.) Does voting end today at 4:30 PM Central Time or Eastern Time? Was there early voting, before the unknown day that voting started? If so, what were the early voting numbers? What about paper ballots? When will the votes be counted? Who will count the votes? Are they certified to count them? Will there be a recount? What about a tie? Will there be a runoff? What about hanging Internet chad? Will you fine or arrest me, since I voted twice? These are several questions that come to mind.


On the eve of New Year's Eve in 2022, I remember, with sadness, Mom's graveside service, on the eve of New Year's Eve in 2000. I remember my “adopted sister” and her husband, from Missouri, visiting at the homeplace, before the service. I remember the bitter cold. I remember driving in the funeral procession to the cemetery. I remember blocking the impatient driver, who tried to pass the procession. I remember shivering, while seated on the very cold metal chair, during the service. I remember how Dad (Earl Ferrell, 9/17/1927 - 1/25/2008) looked and what he said. I remember the family gathering at the homeplace after the service. I remember every detail.

Should I email, with a link to this article? If I do and get a reply, then I will mention it in a comment. As a public service, I encourage my readers in Tennessee to vote early and often! Today is the last day to vote. Readers in other states or nations, of course, are free to decide to vote or not, based on their own convictions.

Mom, of course, would understand why I wrote this humorous article, laced with sorrow, today. Mom enjoyed my sense of humor. Perhaps, once I join Mom, and so many others, in heaven, I'll share this story with her. I will have plenty of time to do so.