Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 17: PMSS Publications (Published by the School)
Dear Friend Letters 1935
CONTENTS: Dear Friend Letters 1935 April 26
Dear Friend Letters 1935 consists of one 3-page letter that includes the following subjects:
Letterhead lists names of board president, director; treasurer ; story about Little Brit Turner’s death ; his brother Chester’s potential ; how PMSS has improved mountain life ; tuition is ten dollars a year ; this year’s appeal is for both large and small gifts ; how worthy the gifts are for the mountain people ; PMSS deficit is over $6,000 with $285.90 in the bank, due in two months ; Will you help? ;
GALLERY: Dear Friend Letters 1935
TRANSCRIPTION: Dear Friend Letters 1935
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PRESIDENT OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Darwin D. Martin
Marine Trust Bldg., Buffalo, N.Y.
Glyn A. Morris
C. N. Manning
Security Trust Co., Lexington, Ky.
PINE MOUNTAIN SETTLEMENT SCHOOL, INC.
PINE MOUNTAIN, HARLAN COUNTY
April 26 1935
Just after the dangerous yuletide period several years ago, one of our neighbors said “This is the peacefulest Christmas I ever seed — nary a killin’ nor a shootin’!” But not so this year, for on Christmas night Little Brit Turner was killed on Greasy Creek — a tragedy not to be erased even with the passing of several months time. He was only eighteen years old, but already had become such a trouble maker as to earn the name “Bad Brit”. He carried a pistol, drank and sold moonshine, quarrelled hotheadedly with anyone who crossed his path. Some said he was just naturally a “mean ‘un”, but others argued that he was handicapped from the beginning — turned out of his home when he was twelve years old, and living ‘here-to-yander’, sleeping with cows and pigs as often as in a house.
Even so, Brit still had his “pints”, as some of his relatives insisted. He was a bright boy, gentle ordinarily, and wonderfully loyal to his occasional friends. And this year, with the workers at our settlement down Greasy it seemed that he actually had turned over a new leaf. He stopped selling liquor, and finally stopped drinking it, he was enrolled in the Berea opportunity school, and looked forward to this, and to a job after the school ended. We could not say that he was reformed. Doubtless he would have had his frequent lapses from grace, and his life might have continued a vicious failure. However, we know that for some months Brit had been a good boy. The change came too late — for on Christmas day he was shot and killed. The true facts probably will always be shrouded in the mystery of vague stories of people who must for their lives’ sakes mind their own business and keep silence. Yet everything points to the fact that Brit was trying to stop a quarrel, and that the shot came as “he was a-beggin’ them to stop”.
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There will be a trial — and then Little Brit will be forgotten. But for us this cannot be the end. For we have Little Brit’s small brother with us — Chester, with all the potentialities of his brother, and Brit’s tragic death added to the load of trouble already resting on his childish heart. Pine Mountain’s obligation is to help guide Chester out of the darkness of his background down Greasy, to something worthwhile.
This case is not unusual. Pine Mountain came into being to cope with just such recurring sad conditions — not for book larnin’ primarily, important though that is, but to help the children of the mountains recognize and deal with their great social problem — how to live a better life in the mountains. And it is possible for us, unhampered as we are by the required policies of local schools, to build a practical program around the actual lives of the boys and girls who come here for something better.
Sometimes we are discouraged with the seemingly insurmountable barriers, and conditions that we seem unable to change — and then we are wonderfully cheered with the spontaneous word that has come to us many a time from our neighbors up and down the creek — “Does hit seem bad? Well, you should have seen before the school come. Then hit weren’t safe to walk down the creek on a Sunday afternoon, with the shootin’ and drinkin’ so bad.” We know beyond a doubt that the school is accomplishing the double duty of giving industrial, moral and intellectual education, and of serving as a social center in an isolated neighborhood.
“The Dining Room at Laurel House”
“The Little School”]
We realize only too well how much we have to do, how necessary it is that we make every penny count, and how great is our obligation to our students, to our neighbors, and to you who make this whole work possible. Every penny is carefully invested. We have cut our living budget to the lowest minimum, and we use our limited means as frugally as we can, still…
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…to assure wholesome living conditions, and an efficient, effective program. I wonder if you know how far your dollars actually go, at Pine Mountain? According to our present budget, ten dollars pays a child’s tuition and entrance fee for an entire year. Of course the annual subscription amounts to almost twice its face value, in that we can depend upon it, and plan for it in making our budget. We are making an appeal this year, not merely for those larger gifts (although they mean more than ever to us this year), but especially for the small two, five and ten dollar subscriptions, which, as we look forward to them and count upon them from year to year, we can stretch to incredible proportions.
As I began this letter, the thing uppermost in my mind was “Oh, if I could only convey to you what we see each day here of utter poverty, narrow and meagre living in body and spirit alike — a people who have no hope. And then, when you have seen all this, if I could show you the gradual change of shy spiritless waifs into bright-eyed and eager youth — miraculous change! — you would surely say with Uncle William Creech, who gave all that he had for this school, “I don’t begrudge ary dollar I put into it!”
[Photograph caption: “One of Our Seniors”]
Pine Mountain is facing a deficit of more than $6,000.00, and we have $280.90 in the bank! We must pay it in two months time, when the books of the school close for the year. Will you remember the many children whose lives and happiness we hold in trust, and help us to meet this crisis?
[signed] Glyn A. Morris