Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 09: Staff/Personnel

CONTENTS – MARGARET MOTTER TALK: “CONTRASTS” [2 pages, images 001 & 002]

Margaret Motter, in her promotional talk titled “Contrasts,” tells of the differences she observed between life outside the mountains and life within them and between life at the School and life in the neighboring homes. She describes the School’s setting, philosophy, and services, which follow Uncle William Creech‘s dream of improving conditions of the mountain people through education.



*NOTE: The following transcription of the Margaret Motter talk “Contrasts” extends the abbreviations found in the original (above), except where their meaning is unclear, and contains added language for clarity.

[typewritten, page 1, image 001]

P.M.S.S. “Contrasts”

Life always contrasts. So we find it in our journey to the mountains. Along the way, fields (quilts), large cities, imposing railroad stations. Then as we get into the mountains, [reg. less ex/] farm, smaller houses, inadequate railroad stations.

Our stop, Laden, is the last word in simplicity, or better forlornness. There are two box cars for a waiting room and a small shack that boasts a sign, “Gov. P.O.” Our School is located 7 miles from this unimposing place. The journey must be made on mule, logging train, or by foot.

Literally & figuratively, one needs a strong heart to go forward. Steep climb, narrow passes, precipitous ledges, but in contrast, a scene of incomparable beauty. One learns to trust the horse and just drink in the love. Mountains everywhere!

Descend into the valley, pass numerous squalid drab houses & cabins, and finally reach the School in the bottom lands. How did the School get there? Why so much beauty there in contrast to nearby cabins? The story of the founding of the School is the unfolding of a dream.

What power in a dream! Often as I stood in meditation & almost awe before Uncle William’s one-room windowless cabin where he reared his family of 7, I thought of his words – “Except they have a vision, the people perish.” The mountain people who have lived more abundantly, because of the vision of that one mountain man can bear testimony to truth of those words. For 30 years he dreamed. How true that “We are such stuff o’ dreams!”

Read from Uncle William’s 2 letters.

Thus Uncle William dreamed of help for his people, of help for generations yet unborn. Has his dream come true?

It is a beautiful school plant – 13 buildings, reservoir, barn, dairy, farm (which raises much food – 12,000 cabbages); 120 children live in a communal homey atmosphere doing all the work of the School under supervision. Each child pays $10 a month if possible (or work in the summer to pay their debt), work 2 hours a day to maintain self-respect & feel the dignity of work. One child caught on well. “One thing I don’t like: milk. But I reckon….”

The School tries to touch all of the life of the child – physical, mental, social, and spiritual. No secondary subjects are taught. Simple XTN[?] ideals [s…?] are set before them showing a [har?], friendly happy way of living, contrasting with fights, feuds, and bitter feelings of past.

We see hangovers of feuds – “His pappy always…

[page 2, image 002] …pickin’ on my pappy & now me & hims been pickin’ on each other.”

Life in the School is a big contrast to life in the home.

Size, windows – Cabins sometimes have no windows. (Tell story of Miss Pettit & window.)

Fresh air – such aversion! Plenty at home but don’t use it.

Bathing – great problem in the mountain home. Water carried, hard labor. Children dirty. First bath – (tell story of Rhoda Melindy.)

Keeping clothes clean & in good condition.

School work is often different from old traditions, i.e. “square world.”

There is however a general appreciation of learning. A man who borrowed books, encyclopedia, said he “Read thru kiver to kiver.” and “Law, Miss Pettit, a body couldn’t book up all I don’t know!”

Brit’s letter. Give all. “Incurgement is a grate thing for young boys.”

The School tries to develop appreciation of the beautiful surroundings with beautiful hills back in hollows & along picturesque creeks, but often they don’t see beauty. A girl cured of trachoma learned to appreciate clouds, butterflies, flowers.

Appreciation of Christmas – An old idea is exemplified in answer: “Hit’s peace. Ain’t nary killin’”

Our idea is to show a season of joy, sweetness. We sing the Wassailing song. The chorus “Love….” I saw written in chalk on the wall of a mountain home where I visited, these words from the Wassailing song, “Love & joy.” And I felt how truly that mountain girl had carried back to the little home a new idea of sanitation, a new conception of beauty & happiness in a home.

In addition to the work of the School proper are 2 centers, where a wide circle of people are served. Our doctor & nurse, besides work at the School, do much public health work in neighborhoods, even going out 20 or 30 miles.

So we are trying to carry out Uncle William’s idea – “I don’t want hit to be for this location only.”….