Author Archives: Ann Eberhardt

About Ann Eberhardt

Member, Pine Mountain Settlement School Board of Trustees 2008 - 2013, and currently living in Phoenix, AZ. Ann's mother, Susie (Hall) Angel was a PMSS boarding school student, graduating from the high school in 1934. During that time, Ann's father, August Angel, was a PMSS teacher of science and printing,1933-1937 and 1940-1942. In June 1936 they were married in the Chapel. Ann was a toddler on the campus in 1940-1943, while her mother worked as a housemother, her father continued to teach, and her brother, Michael Angel was born in the Infirmary. In later years, August owned a printing business, Graphic Arts Press in Viper, KY, and often provided printing for the school. During the 1990s, August was treasurer of the PMSS Alumni Association.

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Books and Horses

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
Books and Horses

Pine Mountain Settlement student Ruth Shuler on horseback, delivering books as part of the Co-op library program. c. 1941. garner_006 (120)

BOOKS AND HORSES AND PLACE

In 1941 the Co-op Program was a well-tested and central part of the educational curriculum at Pine Mountain Settlement School. As an important part of the progressive curriculum, it was a community outreach program that included many aspects of the popular WPA librarians on horseback or packhorse librarians initiative.

In addition to bringing books and magazines to the surrounding Community, the Pine Mountain Settlement program also checked on the health and well-being of the families it served. Many of the visits were in countrysides so rugged that the only means of reaching the home was to travel along streambeds or over roadless mountains. Horses and mules were the only viable transportation. The visits of the Co-op students and often their staff monitors were eagerly anticipated in the homes and they opened the way for families to connect to the Pine Mountain Settlement School and for the School to expand its services.

While the program was conceived under the direction of Glyn Morris, the young Settlement School Director, it was not implemented until the mid-1930s and ended in 1949.  While not unique in the many mountain programs of Librarians on Horsebackt, it touched the lives of many children and their families. While established for very pragmatic and often life support reasons, the idea of young women on horseback traveling through difficult mountain terrain, in the rain, sleet, and snow also had a romantic over-tone.

Perhaps it is the romantic notion of a young girl and her horse facing the world together that appealed. In older generations, the story of Black Beauty still lingers with romantic nostalgia. Perhaps it is the Kentucky horse ambiance. Whatever the inspiration, the stories surrounding the workers and “librarians” who participated in the packhorse program have, in recent years, begun to proliferate. The reasons for the recent uptick in interest in the WPA Librarians on Horseback are many. But, the message, one of service, sacrifice, selflessness, and literacy is important to any generation.

The many selfless hours spent doing community work by women while dependent on the courage and coordination of a horse has far more practical lessons than many contemporary children’s book themes. Further, getting lost in the imagination while on the pages of a book seems far more productive than the passive clicking on electronic media.

A new book has just been published by Little Bee Books, written by noted children’s author Emma Carlson Berne, and illustrated by Italian artist Ilaria Urbinati. It fires up the reader’s imagination. What is so very special about this delightful book is that it is written for and about rural children who are often more removed from libraries. The rural in this case is based on conversations with people from the Pine Mountain Settlement School and the valley is in one of the most remote areas of  Eastern Kentucky.

The book quickly brings the reader into a very accessible tale of Edith, the young “Librarian” who sets off to deliver books while riding Dan, her trusted horse. As the story gallops along, it is sprinkled with local references such as pawpaw pudding, mountain springs, a fierce and  unexpected thunderstorm, and even a familiar mountain family name, “Caudill.” The possible nod to Caudill is perhaps an oblique recognition of noted Appalachian children’s author, Rebecca Caudill, a winner of the National Young Reader’s Award and also a Newberry Honor Book in 1950.  Caudill was a frequent visitor of the Pine Mountain Settlement

The second delight in Berne’s book are the beautiful illustrations by Italian artist Ilaria Urbinati. Ilaria, who lives in Turin on the northern mountainous edge of Italy, has captured the dual nature of mountain living with its beauty and its danger. Her images nearly gallop off the page with energy that competently matches the romping narrative. While Edith looks a bit like a modern Pippi Longstockings, the artist has captured the energy of horseback riding and of the fearlessness of so many Appalachian girls in their native mountains.  The author and illustrator have both grasped many of the natural obstacles that the women on horseback often faced in delivering their “libraries.”

Edith, the librarian in this little book, as Berne explains in her Author’s Note, is not the typical urban librarian that families may know in their city and town settings. She’s a very special librarian, and one that historically existed in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Edith, like the other “librarians” that were often called “Packhorse Librarians” in the WPA (Works Progress Administration 1935-43) offering, was special. In the Appalachian region, young girls were often hired from the local community to fill the librarian role. They knew the mountains, the weather, the dangers that come with the rugged countryside, and the lives of the isolated families.

In her notes, Emma Berne places the story within the genre of WPA Packhorse Librarians in the Appalachians, but she makes the nature of the program locally intimate in her description of the mountain librarian, as well universal in the bravery of women generally. She describes how her local interviews and personal background helped her to shape her story. What she offers up is an inspiring and beautifully illustrated tale that will capture the imagination of young children of both genders, will enchant the parent reader, and bring the public into close contact with rural America.

Pine Mountain thanks Emma for her interest in the Settlement School and for the inclusion of interviews in the region while developing her book. This book is highly recommended for all libraries. While other reviewers have pointed out that the book is “White”, suggesting that it was purposeful in excluding people of color, they have most likely not traveled in the most remote regions of Appalachia. Yet, it is a book that gives dignity to all peoples, particularly rural America, and which is independent of race, ethnicity, and class.


SEE ALSO

RUTH SHULER DIETER Student

RUTH SHULER DIETER Photograph Album

EDUCATION Pack Horse Library Service at PMSS

SIDNEY ALBERT HELTON Student

CAUDILL Family  

 

VALENTINES From the Past

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Biography – Staff/Personnel, Students

VALENTINES FROM THE PAST

Tags: valentines from the past, staff, students, community, valentine cards, excerpts, Stapleton reports, sugar-cookies, valentine parties, Pine Cone, Alice Cobb, Edith Cold, crafts, Community Group, Co-op program, Margaret Kraatz Wright, love letters


In various ways, the PMSS staff, students and community of the past have sent us valentines. Through letters, narratives, publications, photographs and reports, they told us who they were and how they lived and worked. And throughout the 100-plus years of the Pine Mountain Settlement School’s existence, forward-thinking people saved these treasures so that succeeding generations may gain a deeper understanding of days gone by.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, here are a few valentines from the past … about valentines:

STAPLETON REPORT 1928 – February

Valentine, c. 1930. Source:
Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Ira Stapleton and Rev. Robert Stapleton worked at the Line Fork Medical Settlement from 1926 through 1937. Dr. Stapleton sent reports back to their employer, Katherine Pettit, and the PMSS Board of Trustees on a quarterly and monthly basis. The reports detailed much about dealing with the many health issues they encountered but they also recorded their daily interactions with members of the local community. In a 1928 report, Dr. Ira Stapleton wrote:

I made some Valentine sugar-cookies and they were so good Grandpap and Bennet “‘lowed they must have come from the store.” I felt quite complimented as I do not make cookies very often….Finding two heart-shaped cookie cutters among the kitchen furnishings I was tempted to make some for the school children at Bear Branch and there was enough for the birthday-man also. The smaller was placed on top of the larger one and when baked stood out in a pretty relief.

Valentine Party: PINE CONE 1933 March

Scan of a Valentine greeting card depicting Cupids circa 1900. By Chordboard - Self, from material in my possession. Public Domain.[https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4310719]
Valentine, c. 1900. Source: Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

THE PINE CONE was a literary publication written and published by PMSS students during the Boarding School years and intermittently printed in later years. The Pine Cone was also printed as a general newsletter with the first publication produced in 1929. Here is one of the articles appearing on page 3 in the March 1933 issue.

VALENTINE PARTY
Great was our delight when we each received an invitation to go the Valentine Party in costume Saturday night, Feb. 18. We went and had a good time playing games. Refreshments were served and prizes were given for the funniest, best costumed, prettiest and those who came the nearest pinning on the tail of a donkey in the right place. There was a good place for fishing so we fished for our fortunes. My! I hope some of them don’t come true.

Valentine Cards: ALICE COBB STORIES Handing Over Divide Sunday School to Miss Cold, June 1937

Scan of a Valentine greeting card circa 1920.
Valentine, c. 1920. Source: Chordboard [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In Alice Cobb’s letter to Edith Cold, who was replacing Miss Cobb as a Sunday School teacher, she describes the part of the Sunday School schedule during which the children do “handwork.”  

There are plenty of scissors, crayons, and pencils in the Sunday School shelf, a few Sunday School papers, lots of blank paper, and some valentine, birthday, and Easter cards. I use the Christmas cards every week. They simply love them, and look forward to a card with the paper. To show how much they treasure even the most worthless thing — I gave one of the little boys a handful of scraps from the drawer to put in the stove, and he asked if he might have them to take home!

Valentine Cards: COMMUNITY GROUP ASSEMBLY May 20, 1942

Valentine, c. 1915. Source: Missouri History Museum via Wikimedia Commons

First-hand accounts, written by students and presented at the Community Group Assembly, describe their part in the work of the Community Group and the Co-op program at Pine Mountain that took the students out into the community to work with families. Here is an excerpt from a report presented by Flora Mae Ford:

School is no more than well started when along comes the succession of holidays — Columbus Day, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine Day, and Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays, Easter — and the teachers are anxious to have room decorations made, the children want to make mementos of those days to take home, too. … Of course there is no greater joy for us than when we prepare a Christmas treat for each child and deliver it on the last visit before the vacation — unless it’s when the valentine box is opened and we find lots of valentines (the kinds we have taught them to make) addressed to us.

Love Letters: MARGARET KRAATZ WRIGHT CORRESPONDENCE 1930-1932

In the mood to read love letters? The letters of Margaret Kraatz Wright, an eager PMSS teacher during the early 1930s, tell that kind of story. Romancing her future husband through correspondence, Margaret takes a journey that is humorous, touching, incomprehensible, and often maddening, but a journey that eventually won her a lifetime partner.

One of the larger collections of personal letters in the Pine Mountain staff holdings is digitized at MARGARET KRAATZ WRIGHT CORRESPONDENCE 1930-1932, providing images of the letters and accompanying summaries. If the reader follows the summaries or is patient with the idiosyncrasies of her handwriting in the images, the stories will charm and engage.