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Creeker: A Woman's Journey

Linda Scott DeRosier
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Linda Sue Preston was born on a feather bed in the upper room of her Grandma Emmy's log house in the hills of eastern Kentucky. More than fifty years later, Linda Scott DeRosier has come to believe that you can take a woman out of Appalachia but you can't take Appalachia out of the woman. DeRosier's humorous and poignant memoir is the story of an educated and cultured woman who came of age in Appalachia. She remains unabashedly honest about and proud of her mountain heritage. Now a college professor, decades and notions removed from the creeks and hollows, DeRosier knows that her roots run deep in her memory and language and in her approach to the world. DeRosier describes an Appalachia of complexity and beauty rarely seen by outsiders. Hers was a close-knit world; she says she was probably eleven or twelve years old before she ever spoke to a stranger. She lovingly remembers the unscheduled, day-long visits to friends and family, when visitors cheerfully joined in the day's chores of stringing beans or bedding out sweet potatoes. No advance planning was needed for such trips. Residents of Two-Mile Creek were like family, and everyone was ""delighted to see each other wherever, whenever, and for however long."" Creeker is a story of relationships, the challenges and consequences of choice, and the impact of the past on the present. It also recalls one woman's struggle to make and keep a sense of self while remaining loyal to the people and traditions that sustained her along life's way. Told with wit, candor, and zest, this is Linda Scott DeRosier's answer to the question familiar in Appalachia--""Who are your people?""

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2701-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Margaret Ripley Wolfe
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Family Genealogy
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. My Place
    (pp. 1-6)

    Mine was not the Kentucky of bluegrass, juleps, and cotillions; the Kentucky of my youth was one of coal banks, crawdads, and country music. I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky between the small towns of Paintsville and Inez in a place called Two-Mile Creek. This is my postcard from Appalachia written from the beginning of the “Big War” through the “Age of Aquarius” and running headlong, as quickly as all my baggage will allow, into the twenty-first century.

    I was born February 20, 1941, on a feather bed in the upper room of my Grandma Emmy’s...

  7. My People
    (pp. 7-47)

    I think I must have been ten or twelve years old before I ever spoke a word to a stranger, because there literally were no strangers in my little world. When I met somebody new, I followed the pattern set by all who had gone before me and asked him, “Who are your people?” It then fell to the new person to prove he was not an outsider by tracing his history to somebody or another who lived on the creek or was close kin of somebody who was once a resident. Because of all the emphasis placed upon those...

  8. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  9. Finding My Voice
    (pp. 48-67)

    I began my formal education in September 1947 at H.P. and L.G. Meade Memorial School in Johnson County, Kentucky. At that time the school consisted of five single-story wooden buildings spread out over an open field, bounded on one side by a dirt road and on the other side by a creek. The high-school building was the largest—one story, long, and slim, as I recall. One somewhat smaller building contained two classrooms, one for fifth and sixth grades and one for seventh and eighth. A still smaller building, with a little porch on the front, housed one classroom for...

  10. Pure Magic and Old Friendship
    (pp. 68-92)

    New Year’s Eve was hardly noticed in the hills, at least when I was there. I did not know anybody who stayed up that late, and I guess I was almost thirty before I ever actually rang in the New Year. I grew up going to bed with the chickens—that means early—and I still prefer to be asleep by nine o’clock unless there is some special reason for staying awake.

    The first day of the year passed like any other back home, although folks tried to have cabbage with the ever-present pinto beans, since everybody said if you...

  11. From Nature’s Graces to Gathering Places
    (pp. 93-106)

    Nature was hard to miss in my home country. What with the floods, the humid heat, and the paucity of bottomland, I often viewed her as somewhat less than kind. But she sent flowers to take the edge off. The summers of my youth were filled with a remarkable array of flowers, both indigenous and cultivated, that seemed to surround every house in my community. The scent of honeysuckle always takes me home because it grew wild everywhere in my home county. On the bank directly across from my house, Aunt Exer fought the dread honeysuckle—which we called “the...

  12. Implications of Forever
    (pp. 107-118)

    Adolescence such as we know it today did not exist in my community. Folks went directly from childhood to adulthood, and the date of passage was more likely governed by onset of puberty than by any particular age. If a boy got his growth early, he dropped out of school as soon as he could and went into the mines. If he could not get a mining job immediately, he took off for one of the cities to the north—Dayton,Detroit, Columbus, or sometimes Akron—and moved in with family already there until he drew his first paycheck. Once...

  13. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  14. Marrying Up
    (pp. 119-142)

    Formal education was never included in the list of things I expected of myself. I grew into it randomly, precisely the way I did practically everything else in my life, without priority, plan, or sequence. I went to school for a long time and earned at least two of my degrees before I managed to get any real education of the life-changing kind. Had it not been for the rigid formal structure of the education system when I was growing up, I am convinced that I would have finished high school and spent my life cooking, cleaning, and watching soap...

  15. Movin’ On
    (pp. 143-162)

    All the wrangling over my leaving was forgotten, atleast by me, when Brett Dorse drove through that last mountain pass and I got my first look at the Asheville skyline. It was only then that I realized I was moving to a city rather than a town, and I could hardly contain my excitement. We rented me a room at the YWCA, where I paid sixteen dollars a week for a room and three meals a day. The bathroom was down the hall, but the accommodations were surely as good as the Pikeville College dormitory room I had left when...

  16. Slouching Toward Academe
    (pp. 163-177)

    As I was growing more component in my work, Brett Dorse was becoming more successful at his job. After a little over a year in Pikeville, he was offered a promotion to supervisor of probation and parole in the southeast region. Pikeville was not included in that region, so we had to move to a town somewhere in the southeastern part of Kentucky. Because he would be setting up the office from scratch, Brett Dorse was able to situate his office in whatever town he chose, so I immediately put in for a transfer to any town within that region....

  17. Culture and Cognition
    (pp. 178-200)

    Brett Dorse and I agree that, although am maniage lived on legally for many more years, the life went out of the relationship quite early in my time at the University of Kentucky. We disagree, however, on the question of why the marriage didn’t make it. It could be glossed over by saying that we developed in different directions or that we just grew apart; both statements are correct as well as factual. Nevertheless, I believe our marriage fell apart as the result of several big changes that happened in our lives right at the end of the sixties.


  18. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  19. New Ground
    (pp. 201-217)

    And so, almost two decades ago my body left Appalachia for new ground beyond the Mississippi. Admittedly, it was not by wagon train, but it was nonetheless traumatic. Momma and Daddy never quite got over the fact that both Sister and I moved out of the county, much less across the state line. Before I moved in the summer of 1980, Sister and I talked at length and agreed that our parents were mistaken about the impact of my move. As we saw it, Momma and Daddy were just of a different time and could not understand that, with modern...

  20. Epilogue: Comin’-Home Spirit
    (pp. 218-229)

    Over the course of my life, I have been lucky in that I have seldom managed to get exactly what I wanted; instead, I have most often been able to grow to appreciate what I got. Many times what I perceived as failure at that moment turned out to be success clothed in camouflage. What comes clear to me in these pages is that I have always been a slow learner everywhere but in the classroom—taking baby steps, often in a doubtful direction. In those clue-gathering years when I was failing everywhere but in school, I tried very hard...