Marion Co TOC
Graphics by Rhio
Mountain Life In the Ozarks
Excerpts from "Mountain Life: The Ozark Folk Center In Arkansas"
This article was a rather lengthy article about the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR. Here some sections of the article I thought might be of interest to us "family hunters". Having visited the Ozark Folk Center I can recommend it highly.
Bill Sky calls the Ozark Folk Center a living museum of American folk music: "Mt. View is called the folk music capital of America. Throughout the year, special musical workshops and programs are held at the Ozark Folk Center where the songs from the 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s are still sung and played. They were still sung and played by families here in the Ozark Mountains as a regular thing until paved roads were pushed through in the 1950s and 1960s, breaking down the barriers of isolation. .... the clock is turned back to the way it was in simpler times when mountaineers were cut off from the outside world. Folks here were self-sufficient, raising their own crops, fashioning their own tools to take care of their needs, making their own furniture and clothing, providing their own entertainment."
The wilderness of the Ozark Mountains in northern Arkansas was first settled by Scotch, Irish and English immigrants 175 years ago, hardy pioneers who made their way northward up a river they called Rackensack, now called the Arkansas.
"They were families moving westward from Kentucky and Tennessee, before that from the 13 Colonies, coming here seeking a better way of life," explains Bill McNeil, 45, music folklorist at the Ozark Folk Center. "The music they brought with them came with their ancestors from the British Isles, some songs like "The Devil's Nine Questions" traced as far back as the 1400s, songs that are still sung by some of the old-time families in the Ozarks. But this isolated heritage has been disappearing rapidly ever since the mountain boys went off to the war in the 1940s and came back with different ideas, ever since pavement came to Stone county and the surrounding areas in the 1950's."
Kermit Taylor, 59, a Stone County school-bus driver living in Happy Hollow, said the music played at the state park is the kind of music he grew up with. "My family didn't own a radio until I came out of the Army in 1946. I brought a radio home with me from the war. My granddaddy was a jig dancer. We made our own music. We raised a little corn, fed a few hogs and turkeys, grew our own tobacco. Our women smoked corncob pipes and dipped snuff. After 1946, '47 and '48 things started changing around here."
Clarice Chitwood, 75, weaves on a 19th-century two-harness, two-foot treadle loom that has been handed down from generation to generation. "We women made clothes for the family, made bedding. People didn't have the luxuries we have today," she said. "We didn't know about them. You don't miss what you don't know. At least we always had plenty to eat, though we never had much money to speak of."
Julie Mae Case, 61, making corn bread on a 1936 community wood stove, said that as child she helped support the family by picking geese feathers for feather ticks and comforters.
Dan Stewart, 30, hand-crafts black muzzle-loading rifles, the type made between 1750 and 1830 and used by Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. "This is squirrel hunting season. Sounds like a war going on around here", says Stewart with a laugh "Yes, squirrel is a favorite dish in these hills. With dumplings, nothing's better."
Elsie Ward, 75, is one of the 50 local people who regularly demonstrates traditional family crafts in the park .... "I learned how to make lye soap from my mama who learned it from her granddaddy". Mrs. Ward says as she melts hog rinds into grease, pours the grease, water and lye into a cast-iron kettle and boils it over an oak fire. "Now, most folks you talk to nowadays have a bad idea lye soap. That's wrong. Lye is one of the best soaps ever invented," she says. "It's good to take a bath and get rid of ticks or chiggers with this soap. It's good for poison ivy. I shampoo my hair with it. It takes the grease spots out of clothes and off floors."
Cheri Hessel, 32, learned spinning on a "walking wheel" with corn husk bobbin. She was taught by Ida Branscum, 82, who has been spinning since she was 9. Ms. Hassel says "In this part of the country people were always resourceful, making do with whatever was available. A dress made out of a flour sack handed down to others as a piece of apparel was later cut up and made into a quilt. When the quilt wore out it was woven into a rug."
Gazell Mode, 60, says she learned to quilt when she was a child "because it was a necessity. Everybody always says, 'You must have patience to quilt'. My hillbilly philosophy is it doesn't take patience t do things you enjoy. It takes patience to do things you do not enjoy."
For more information on the Ozark Folk Center