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Foreword From about 1880, articles, books, short stories, and novels have been written about Appalachia by journalists, local color writers, and missionaries from the outside. These papers have been too general, or too colored, or too specialized to reveal the delicate, complex folkways and lifestyles of the "natives." At worst they have established no more about the mountain people than cliches, stereotypes, and surface observations. By the 1920s some rather acceptable but sweeping studies had come forward, but, in the main, cliches were burned in to the bone. So late as the 1970s I read in The New York Times a review of an Appalachian book by a well-known critic, who, though he had chosen the volume to review for his paper, couldn't bear to end the evaluation without adding, "... Civilization went round the Appalachian barrier and its miserable people." With myriads of such remarks so often repeated it would seem that the sturdy people of the Southern Highlands have been rubberstamped to death. Can the wrongs be righted? Can the bell be untolled? Will the ages mellow and color the scene? No. Only when the people take the offensive and write ofthemselves. Now is the time for a good new beginning. The Mountains have been discovered again. This time however there is a difference. Natives of the region have been going everywhere to earn degrees in education and in the professions for many decades, seeing their hills from afar and coming to know themselves, knowing their own identity. Upon returning they are at ease with their nurture and culture. Their spirited writings in the forms ofarticles, stories, studies are beginning to cast a true light on life in the hills. To them Appalachia is the best place in the world to be from-and to come back to. The present book is a good example of the new approach to life in the mountains. It is written by a native ofthe area where the subject ofthe book, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, grew up and flourished for 91 years. Although the author, Loyal Jones, covers a good scope of time and space, he is not a generalizer. He focuses on Western Carolina from before the Civil War to the present. Bascom's father, a teacher at Mars Hill, provides Bascom and the other family members with a good basic education. Not satisfied with the baccalaureate and a teaching career, Bascom goes on to graduate studies in law, and finally is admitted to the bar ofhis state. Bascom marries a girl from nearby South Turkey Creek, and when a portion ofproperty comes to her, they move to the country. Their six children grow up and go off to schools and colleges. Their country place becomes a center for music groups, dance parties, and later it is sought out by traveling troubadours and folk dance leaders. Early in his life Bascom was given a fiddle by his father. Even earlier, he and his brother had contrived a cigar-box variety ofthe rowdy American instrument, the banjo; and they played together for fun and later for dances and parties. The banjo became Bascom's favorite for singing, recording, and continual public appearances. This kind of story ofself-sufficiency has often been told in the hills. In this instance it is a beautiful if sacrificial one. Bascom was torn between his two passions-and livelihoods-law and music. As he became the "Squire ofSouth Turkey Creek," his law practice suffered. Especially after a newsbee buzzed in his ear. (He thought ofa regional festival.) He had generated enough interest about Buncombe County to make something greater ofhis leadership and talents. But a large regional get-together had not often been staged in America, or kept going ifone had been. With the Asheville Chamber ofCommerce as sponsor, he was persuaded. The memorable event came on the scene then, casually, in the summer of1928, "about sundown" on Pack Square. It was crowded with Bascom's musical friends, neighbors, groups ofdancers from neighboring counties and beyond. The area was rich in folklore, old-time customs, arts and crafts. They had a marvelous time. The tone ofall such festivals thereafter was set by a friendly and casual atmosphere of fun and entertainment. Invited performers had a place and a time to shine on the platform, Bascom varying the procession to the stage from lively dance groups, individual singers, tale-tellers, spiritual and religious groups to buck and clog dance specialties. Let us keep in mind and reflect on...


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MARC Record
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