Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel

CONTENTS – MARGARET MOTTER Writing “Letting in Light”
[2 typewritten pages, images 07001 and 07002]

These notes by Margaret Motter briefly describe the life of the mountain people and their attitudes and needs. They were possibly written to be used as examples in her promotional/fundraising talks. The following subjects are mentioned:

TAGS: windows ; chickens ; light ; cabins ; world is flat ; square earth ; Katherine Pettit ; travel ; Aunt Renie ; Uncle John ; Aunt Nance ; home improvement ; windowless cabins ; sanitation ; settlement ; health program ; nurses ; doctor ; hookworm ; trachoma ; health ; diseases ; health literacy ; corporal punishment ; schools ; book-larning ; humility ; school board ; whippings ; switches ;



[NOTE: This transcription has been slightly edited for readability.]

[page 1, image 07001]

“Letting in Light”
(Copy of sheet in Margaret Motter’s handwriting)

“Well. Aunt Renie, What can we do for you today?” asked a blue-eyed lady of the Settlement.

“l fotched you’uns a chicken,” was the reply from the little stooped figure, “and I want one of them winders I heard about. My old man, he’s away today and I ‘lowed ye could get it in fore dark.”

The chicken was quickly accepted and a workman [was] sent with a window to let some
light into the little cabin of Aunt Renie and Uncle John. Some time later a visit was made and the question was to the little woman in the doorway, “How have you enjoyed the window, Aunt Renie? “

“I hain’t had no good outen hit at all,” [was] the emphatic response. “John he sets thar all day and I’m aimin’ to fetch you another chicken and have a winder t’other side jest for my own self.”

Years have passed since that incident and the number of windowless cabins is greatly reduced because some people with better ideals of living have gone into the mountains and demonstrated what it means to let in light. The need for lessons in better sanitation is still pressing, however, for many diseases are still prevalent because of actual filth and ignorance of the laws of good health.

Our school does its part in putting on a health program. A nurse is maintained at the school to keep a close watch on the health of the pupils and to administer aid to many neighbors. Besides this, another nurse, living about four miles from the school, serves a scattered group within a radius of ten or fifteen miles, and a doctor who lives seven miles from us in another direction brings her touch of healing to a large circle of distress. Eradication of hookworm and trachoma is by no means easy, for treatment and cure are too frequently followed by a return to the home that produced them and so the vicious circle continues.

But there are other ways of letting in light. The need is still great for book-larning. The following story illustrates a prevailing need for accurate knowledge. A man came to our school to visit one of the founders [Katherine Pettit]  after her return from a trip around the world. He made a friendly call, and upon his departure was questioned after this fashion: “Air ye convinced that the world is round?”

“No, She didn’t convince me nohow,” came the answer.

“Well, did you convince her that it is square?” was the next question.

“NO. I seed she tuk such peace and satisfaction in believing that it was round that I didn’t try to disabuse her mind.”

[page 2, image 07001]

It’s exceptional but not improbable to find a boy or girl in school who still maintains that the earth is square with an angel at each corner!

There is a rare humility about some of them who realize what they’ve missed in the way of schooling,

Aunt Nance came to the school for advice after she had been elected to the school board seven miles away. She spoke thus: “Them fellars over thar sez to have a good school we must git a teacher that uses a bundle of switches. I said I wasn’t aimin’ to prepare for war.”