As I got older I moved out for several decades away from that which was once a beautiful unspoiled place we called home. Following numerous years had gone, I moved home to see family and friends. As I turned up the street that led to our old house place everything had changed. Now on either side of the street leading up the hollow into our old house place, the mountains had been leveled.

Things had really changed. I could hardly recognize the area in which I grew up. The scene of Appalachia had changed a great deal as I just realized at this moment, it only keeps on changing. Looking back now I understand these days were very calm, calm and a true joy to have grown up in. For a boy such as myself it was a blast from day to day, one experience after another.

helen

Appalachia Is Changing

If there was not some thing to do we devised something. The hills were quite majestic with lots of wild life and enormous trees from large virgin woods covered the area. The streams were quite clean. They’re so clean you could drink from some of them with no worrying of contamination of any type. The bigger streams had a wonderful assortment of fish inside them. I woke up one morning and I could sense how things were changing. At the distance I could hear the sounds of a enormous engine roaring. There were no crows hollering, no grim birds singing. Each one of the morning sounds that we were accustomed to hearing every morning has been silenced. I then heard the sounds of trees crashing coming from throughout the road in front of our dwelling.

As I looked up towards the surface of the mountain I saw that the boom of a huge shovel swing about and dump its load over the face of the mountain. Huge stones were rolling down the mountainside. As the stones picked up speed in their trip down the mountain they drifted into trees and bowling them over how a bowling ball strikes and strikes over the pins at a bowling alley. That noise was a message to all of us that things in our community was changing. Now strip mining has been introduced into our community. I knew down deep that our lives would never be the same. As time went by the mountains were silenced more. Those morning and evening sounds we loved hearing much were getting weaker and weaker till eventually they had been only a blurb to be observed every now and then.

The street that went in front of our house became very busy with a single coal truck after a second going by our property. They left a trail of suffocating dust and a rutted out pot holed street in their wake. Finally they moved on after a few years when the coal seam was drilled. Late evening and nighttime was a time of the day. When it began getting dark the lightning bugs would light up the late night atmosphere. Exactly like clockwork we would catch a jar, take off chasing after them to put as many as we could to our jar to view them light it up. The noise of the whippoorwill, katydids and crickets chirping was like an early evening symphony as their music filled the air. Like many kids in our community we’d play outside way into the night.