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Up Cutshin and Down Greasy

Up Cutshin and Down Greasy: Folkways of a Kentucky Mountain Family

Leonard W. Roberts
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j0jv
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  • Book Info
    Up Cutshin and Down Greasy
    Book Description:

    Along the isolated headwaters of the Kentucky River -- Cutshin and Greasy creeks -- folklorist Leonard Roberts found the Couches, a remarkable mountain family of gifted memory and imagination. For half a century they had preserved the traditional ways of their forebears -- the farming methods, the household arts, and the games, ballads, dances, and tales that were their chief entertainment.

    InUp Cutshin and Down Greasy, brothers Dave and Jim Couch, born about the turn of the century, recall clearly their childhood days on Sang Branch of Greasy and Clover Fork of Big Leatherwood. Dave, a professional moonshiner and bottlegger in his younger days, tells of his brushes with the law. Jim engaged in lumbering and coal mining, with a little moonshining on the side. His accounts of mine accidents, in particular the one that cost him his leg, give an insight into the minds of those who risk their lives underground for the sake of high pay.

    First published in 1959, the book is available once again in paperback to pleasure a new generation of readers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5848-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-viii)
    L. W. R.
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. CHAPTER 1 JIM COUCH, HIS FAMILY STORY
    (pp. 1-18)

    Putney, a stringtown along the winding Cumberland River, grew around the old seat of one of the largest sawmills in eastern Kentucky. I can remember well the day I came over from Pine Mountain School to find Jim Couch, a storyteller from back on the headwaters of the Kentucky River, who was said to know all the stories of the clan of tellers and ballad singers. The houses became thicker along the blacktop, and soon I could see the chimneys of the Intermountain Lumber and Coal Company pouring out acrid smoke on the wind. The level bottoms along the Poor...

  5. CHAPTER 2 DAVE COUCH, HIS FAMILY STORY
    (pp. 19-36)

    At times Jim Couch was very elusive on his day (sometimes two days) off in the week. “He don’t stay here much on Saturday when he don’t work,” his teen-age son Elmer would say; “generally takes off sommers and lays out a corn patch or half the garden for me to hoe. I’ve not got into that corn up yander yit—don’t expect to.”

    And again, “We don’t know when he’s going to come back in the door when he takes off. He goes down there in that town [Harlan] and stands around joking with ever’body, and he shoots pool...

  6. CHAPTER 3 OTHER COUCHES, THEIR STORIES
    (pp. 37-59)

    Mandy hendrix, older sister of Dave and Jim Couch, still lived in an isolated valley on the northeast slope of the Pine Mountain. She was the first member of the family that I met, and although she never told me any folktales, it was she who directed me to Jim at Putney. My experiences on the trip that discovered her are among the highlights of my life as a folklore collector.

    Miss Grace Rood, the field nurse for the hospital of the Pine Mountain School, invited me to go with her to the Cutshin valley. We went down Greasy, up...

  7. CHAPTER 4 JIM AND DAVE, THEIR MOONSHINING
    (pp. 60-79)

    “Hold it a minute,” Jim stopped me one Sunday morning when I was just ready to start the tape recorder. He reached into his inside coat pocket and pulled out a small bottle nearly full of clear, beady liquid. Taking a couple of gurgles, he smacked his lips and extended it to me. One little swallow went down me like a red-hot ball bearing and rolled around at the bottom of my stomach. Jim deliberately gave me time to decide if I had had enough before extending his hand for it, giving it another little dash on his tongue before...

  8. CHAPTER 5 DAVE AND JIM, THEIR FOLKWAYS
    (pp. 80-99)

    “Oncet my grandfather was a-thrashing wheat in the cove,” Dave began when I started the recorder for a session of pioneer legends, “and he heared a hog squealing ’way up towards the top of the hill under a clift. He was thrashing that wheat with a big frailpole, what they alias used for it. He just laid his pole on his shoulder and broke in a run up the side of the mountain to find out what was wrong with his hog. Got up there, and they was a bear had it hugged right up in its arms a-gnawing it...

  9. CHAPTER 6 THE COUCHES’ TALES AND SONGS
    (pp. 100-156)

    It was storytelling and folksinging, of course, which first led me to the Couch family and the interviews that grew into a study of the whole way of life of a mountain family. The quality and quantity of stories and songs I have collected from the family are surprising, although I now know that I have not yet exhausted the store and perhaps never can. Jim said to me once when I was looking for a time to wind up the collecting and start transcribing and editing the lore: “Why, you hain’t near collected all the stuff from us ’cause...

  10. APPENDIX
    (pp. 157-162)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 163-166)