[Story contributed by Dr. Brent Blue, February 2016]
I remember I took these photos when I was first introduced to Jess and Steele. I believe John Gaventa was with us. The Huddleston’s freely admitted that due to my long hair, if I had not shown up with someone they knew, they probably would have shot me!
They talked a lot about the strip mine upstream from their property that was poisoning the creek–an incredible memory for me.
I remember our visit was shortly after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The Huddlestons had heard about it on their battery transistor radio. Their only comment was “We don’t care much about what our government does up there as long as they don’t mess up our crops.” I wanted to pass their concerns on to NASA!
My time with the SHC both as an undergraduate at VU and in medical school at the University of Louisville has remained a valuable experience for me, not only for my exposure to the incredible poverty of Appalachia but also lessons learned. One in particular was not to pre judge people:
I was appalled to see parents in the hollows allow young children to chew tobacco until I learned that nicotine, which works as a local anesthetic, helped the pain of their rotting teeth.
That kind of learning does not come from a text book.