Sunday, June 7, 2009


For those of you who have never met my best friend and constant companion, here he is. His name is Jack and he goes with me everywhere. He was greatly taken with my author badge that I received at the Blue Ridge Book Fair and wore it for several days. I've had Jack for about seven years now. He was one of a litter of five that was named after the "Jackson Five" and he was Germaine (or is it " Jermaine"?) When I got there, he was the only one left, having been passed over because he had a "bubble" in his eye. It is a common defect and is easily removed, which it was when he was six months old. I also consider the fact that he was hit by a car when he was a pup a most fortunate event since he survived, but has a profound fear of speeding automobiles. The first thing I did was change his name to Jack since I had no intention of going out on the porch at night and calling "Here, Germaine!" He is overweight and has trouble getting in my bed at night where he sleeps with Booger, my eccentric cat. He hates uniforms and hats and once bit the mailman, who now refuses to bring packages to the house. (Jack didn't even break the skin on the mailman's ankle, but the mail man considers Jack a vicious mongrel). I, on the other hand, consider him a prince of a dog. He loves everyone and will insist in siting in your lap if you come to visit.


  1. I have three dogs myself. they all like to chase the UPS truck. Yesterday, while on a hike by the creek, they cornered a young raccoon. The coon led them to the thick mud behind a beaver dam. The older, smaller dog, was stuck up to her chest in the mud. The two big dogs, both about 2 years old, were having a time, as much scared of the coon as the coon was scared of them. They were all completely covered with mud. After yelling at them uselessly for 10 minutes, the coon finally got away and the dogs, with a few dozen return sortees, came with me to the old car where they splattered every inch of the interior with mud.
    Jack would have had a good time, too, I'm sure, were he there.

  2. Well, he is a bit full of himself right now. He killed a groundhog and it has had a marvelous effect on his ego. Generally, he is too fat to catch a groundhog, but this one was either young
    or sick. I have a hillside full of ground hogs and there is a fox den up there, now. To tell you the truth, I feel honored by these critters who have been driven off of the mountain above my house and have no other place to go. I'm fencing my little garden and adding reinforcements to my little chicken house. Otherwise, we are going to try to live together. Jack runs groundhots every day; he just can't catch them.

  3. From the looks of the traffic on this blog, it looks like everybody has gone somewhere: vacation, someplace cool, the back yard, the mall, etc. I think I'll go to the garden.

  4. I wish Jack had been at my house last night. A coon killed our broody hen which in effect killed 6 chickens. I'll be glad when my Plott dog is old enough to go on night patrol.

  5. Jack the groundhog-and-mailman stalker is so cute!

    James, my mother once had a dog that hated the UPS truck and chased it with a vengeance. In fact, he was hit by a wheel of the truck and killed while chasing it. We heard later that many delivery trucks emit some kind of high-pitched dog-preventer noise supposedly to keep the dogs away, which is why dogs hate them and chase them.

    Well, Gary, my mixed-breed rescue hound is named Elvis. He named himself that. I had nothing to do with it. He looks like he was designed by a committee that did not reach consensus. His job is to keep varmints out of the yard and to protect the bird feeders, and he does a fine job with both. When I'm calling him, he is the true Elvis, and those Presley and Costello people never enter my mind. The only time I felt a little awkward about his name was when I took him to the vet's last week to get him microchipped. When it was his turn, the receptionist called out quite loudly, "Elvis Wallace," whereupon about twenty people in the waiting room with their little pure-bred frou-frou lap dogs craned their necks to see who would go forward. I just lifted my nose a bit and led him right up as if he had the bluest of blood, and nobody dared to say a word. They just grinned.

  6. Betty,
    In case you don't know, you got a "response" from the photographer in Knoxville.

  7. This traffic'r is back from Oklahoma and enjoying your blog again! Sheila Kay and Jack,
    two of my favorites!!
    I didn't know about the UPS trucks, this may be the reason why my dog Sadie tried to eat the UPS guy up one day which was very odd for her!

  8. Thanks, Gary, for calling Don Dudenbostel’s comments to my attention, or else I would have missed them. (Gary, it took me a while to go back and find the Knoxville photographer's comments, so to save you time in searching backward, I'll cut and paste my comments below. MY APOLOGIES TO JACK FOR HIJACKING HIS THREAD!)


    Don, I do not go around being intentionally rude, but I do get my neck hairs up when insulted, for myself and my family and friends and my culture---hence, my raised-neck-hair reaction to your ET Historical Society tour of photographs of Popocorn Sutton and snake-handling preachers and mule-skinners, which surely do fit the bill of stereotypical insult.

    If the photographs were on tour as “stereotypes,” that would be understandable, but to continue to perpetuate such century-old stereotypes in the name of actual historical preservation of a culture is cliche at best and abomination at worst. After a century of this kind of stereotypical insult, how many more times do we need to repeat it? What is new or insightful in this tour of photographs?

    No, I did not research you or your photography. Gary’s blog entry on “Media Hype and Popcorn Sutton” with quotes from you and the Knoxville newspaper were enough for me. I do not know your entire oeuvre, and I was not commenting on your life’s work or even your entire collection of photographs in the ET Historical Society tour. I was commenting only on what I read in Gary’s blog about the Knoxville newspaper article about you.

    Popcorn set himself up as an entrepreneurial stereotype for the tourists who actually believed he was the real thing, or at least they wanted to believe him. As Jeff Biggers says, “America loves its hillbillies,” simply because they sell copy, and Popcorn surely knew how to sell his stereotypical self.

    Your comment in the Knoxville newspaper that you had “caught the essence of the man” is what reminded me of Annie Leibowitz (she always makes that statement of her subjects and objects)---not any comparison of your work with hers.

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  9. (item continued from previous box)

    As for snake-handling preachers, I have never understood how people could believe that a small deviant religious practice that arose in this century could be mistaken for a significant root of our culture. I really don’t think our early Scottish-English-Irish-Welsh-German Anglican-Presbyterian forefathers brought snake-handling here, but somehow it just keeps on being trotted out as representative of who we are, along with rotten-toothed moonshiners in one-gallused overalls. (By the way, I read somewhere that there are more snake-handling sects in Los Angeles than in the Southern Appalachians, but Los Angeles is not “defined” by them.)

    As for me, you write, quite erroneously: “Just guessing from your writing I would say you are not from the south and have only lived here for a few years. You picture yourself as progressive and open minded. Your remarks lead me to believe you really don't know the people of Appalachia and have little interest in finding anything out about them other than your neighbors that are transplants like you.”

    Well, Don, how you concluded all those prejudicial and judgmental opinions about me is a real mystery!

    Actually, my ancestors through all my family tree branches have been in WNC since the 1700s, and many branches have been recorded through many centuries, e.g. the Sheltons of Madison County, who have had volumes written and movies made and songs sung about them. (Google “Roderick Shelton” and then go backward and forward in time if you want a real historical look at Southern Appalachian culture.)

    The gravest error I have seen during my whole life is that so many people think we need other people to tell us who we “really” are, and where we came from, and what our culture is, and how we should preserve our heritage. It is my belief that the debased stereotypes will remain long after our “real” culture is gone---through cartoon characters and denigrating movies and selective “representational” photographs and bad novels.

    Here’s one of my own quotes from essays that made the rounds through the blogosphere this year:

    /// It becomes increasingly harder to identify native mountaineers…..and within a few more generations our real culture may fade into oblivion even as the stereotypes linger. Our centuries-old heritage will be gone, and children in the future will ask, "Who exactly were the hillbillies? Where did they live? Where did they go?" And their mothers will respond, “They were lazy toothless ignorant people in old movies, dear, who ate possums and tourists, but you must not say that ‘h’ word aloud. It’s politically incorrect.”///


  10. Betty,
    To get to the Popcorn post where this controversy originated, all you have to do is type "Popcorn' in the little white box at the top of my blog. It is on the left side, I believe.

  11. Betty, that is one of the finest essays I have ever read! I think I'm going to print that out and display it in a prominent place in my office

  12. Thank you, Dave. It is an uphill battle!

  13. Tell Jack, I'll bring him another milk bone. Gary, your blog just keeps getting better.

    Ben F. Eller

  14. At present, Jack is on guard duty on my deck where he watches for groundhogs. I now have the beginning of a late garden and he has a full-time job. There is also a fox den just above my house and I am hoping that we can work out an alliance of some sort.