Tag Archives: WWI

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH Gospel of the Clean Plate

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series: DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH
Foodways

FOOD CHALLENGE AND WWI “THE GOSPEL OF THE CLEAN PLATE”

By 1916 it was clear that Pine Mountain Settlement School was food challenged and more ways were needed to supply the workers and children with a sustainable and nutritious diet that would go beyond the current mountain practices.  By 1917 the challenges and food shortages of WWI were being felt across the country and Pine Mountain joined thousands of institutions in subscribing to President Woodrow Wilson’s programs to conserve food.  Administered by Herbert Hoover, the “Gospel of the Clean Plate,” was started as an attempt to ensure that there would be adequate food for the troops and for the Europeans caught up in WWI.  The government designed a program for certain days to be “meatless, sweetless, wheatless and porkless.” Each state was charged to oversee the program and to monitor commercial businesses and restaurants.

The staff at Pine Mountain followed the war efforts intently, as did many Americans. Many of the staff came from missionary families, and were familiar with many of the dynamics of the European conflicts. One staff, in particular, was following the war daily. Leon Deschamps, a Belgian, still had family in Belgium and watched the war unfold with great anxiety.  In May of 1917, the strain was too much and he left the School to fight in the Great War for his homeland.  Deschamps was much admired by the staff and students at the school.  He was a vital part of the farming activity at the school and when he left his departure left a void and not just a little anxiety. Before he left, Deschamps made sure that  Pine Mountain understood that he would return following the end of conflict. He also made sure that the School was committed to the support of  the Belgian Relief Fund. Deschamps, as the school’s forester and farmer knew what the loss of a farmer at Pine Mountain meant, but his need to join the war effort was overwhelming and immediate,   Mr. Baugh, who had worked with him, assumed his responsibilities in the forest and the farm and the campus had Deschamps promise to retrun to Pine Mountain following the end of the conflict. His strong belief in the war effort and his subsequent departure stirred many students to action to support the War and was their first introduction to a world “beyond the seas.”

The children began to imagine Mr. Deschamps in the fields of war and for them, Belgium became a real place.  A campaign was put into place by the students, not just the staff. They determined to save money for the War effort, and particularly for Belgium, by rationing themselves once a week.  This rationing included adhering to the “Clean Plate Club”.  The children took the idea one step further.

On a chosen day, the children planned to forego their meal and to substitute a lean fare of rice with cocoa rather than a full course meal.  These rice and cocoa meals were adopted following WWI for other occasions when the Schoolchildren adopted some cause which required saving money.  For example, the swimming pool was a rice and cocoa student project but clearly, other campaigns held little persuasion alongside the looming disaster in Europe and the danger to one of their own — the forester and farmer, Leon Deschamps.

“JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT!”

The students at Pine Mountain were well prepared to be “Clean Plate” eaters as one of the rules of the School was that all students must eat at least three bites of the food served to them. The story is told of a young boy who was served some soup from the communal large bowl at the center of the dining table. As he lifted the spoon to his mouth and took the first taste he quickly offered his uncensored opinion. “It tastes like soap!” he exclaimed. Somewhere in the depths of the kitchen a soap bar had inadvertently fallen into the soup pot. The young boy, startled all the children as no one was to comment on their like and dislike of any one food. He looked around the table at his fellow diners and quickly recovered, “And, that’s just the way I like it!” he said as he looked sharply at the supervising staff at the table and continued to slurp the offensive soup.

The Clean Plate Club asked that America, ” Leave a clean dinner plate. Take only such food as you will eat. Thousands are starving in Europe.”

Clean Plate Club

PRACTICE HOUSE/MODEL HOME/COUNTRY COTTAGE

Another piece of the effort to promote the “Gospel of the Clean Plate” was the industrial training that young women received at Practice House, the home economics training center at the School.  Practice House, also called Model Home and Country Cottage was built with funds that were donated to the School by the New York Auxilliary of the Southern Industrial Educational Association.  The donation was a testimony to their very active woman NYC President, Mrs. Algernon S. Sullivan. Mrs. Sullivan was a generous supporter of Pine Mountain Settlement School. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is well known in academic circles for its high minded ideals. For example : the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award  is presented to undergraduate seniors at colleges on vote of the faculty for an individual who “exhibits Sullivan’s ideals of heart, mind, and conduct as evidenced by a spirit of love for and helpfulness to others, who ‘excels in high ideals of living, in fine spiritual qualities, and in generous and unselfish service to others.’ ” [Wikipedia]

Practice House/Country Cottage was just that, a place to practice frugality and attention to good housekeeping, gardening, cooking, budgeting, and other household skills. These were the skills that made the difference during war-time. 

Evelyn Wells in her gathered letters and history of the School describes the Practice House in this manner:

“Our Country Cottage aimed to show them [the girls at Pine Mountain] what was good about their own methods, and to introduce to them others that they badly needed to learn.  Some ideas with which we started had to be abandoned, such as well with water running by gravity to the kitchen sink because we could not strike water …”

Cornelia Walker, a Cornell graduate, and our Domestic Science teacher in 1922-1923, was the first hostess.  There followed Mrs. Seidlinger, Mary WorkAnnette Van Bezey, and in 1926, Marguerite Emerson.  During Mrs. Emerson’s regime, the name was changed from the Model Home to the Country Cottage.

No attempt is here made to estimate what this building has meant to the groups of girls who three at a time have spent six weeks in the Country Cottage, cooking, living on a carefully worked out budget, caring for the cow and selling its milk, and entertaining, under the guidance of the housemother.  The garden was also important, and a summer worker has usually (and with varying degrees of success) canned its produce for the family’s winter consumption.

Two lots of lumber were measured out “according to the Country Cottage plan” and were then sold to community families. The house and the terraced gardens were copied by many in the area.

The structure was built between 1922 and 1923 and was then remodeled in 1927 and again in 1951.  It became a staff residence in 1940 and today serves as a residence for various interns at the School.

Evelyn Wells noted that “We regret that as a neighborhood house it has not become the center that was one of its ideals at the first.”

While the home only accommodated three girls at a time, the impact on those three girls was profound and had a lasting effect on the surrounding community. [The girls were rotated through the program for short periods of time.]

[From The Pine Cone,  May 1935, p.3]

    “Groups of four or five girls have lived at Practice House each six weeks period of this school year to learn what they could of home life.  Twenty-eight girls have had the privilege of making it their home this year while at school.

We realize just as a nation is the composite of the states of which it is made, a state is dependent upon the atmosphere of the communities with it and in turn, the atmosphere of a community is the home life in the community.  We feel we can do a little bit of world service by helping to make the girls of Pine Mountain worthy home members.  A worthy home member is one who not only does her share of the work willingly but one who adds to the joy of the home by her desire to do the right thing and by her pleasant courteous manner.

Some of the more immediate aims which we have held before us have been as follows:

1.    The desire and ability to prepare attractive, tasty meals that were well balanced and inexpensive.

2.    The desire and ability to plan and carry on the work in an orderly way.

3.    To develop a feeling of helpfulness, thoughtfulness and interest in others.

4.    Desire to become a socially poised person.

The work has been grouped and each girl has taken her turn at the various types of work to be done in the home life here

BUTCHERING

“Mr. Hayes has been teaching his A-1 and A-2 Agriculture classes how to butcher hogs.  Hence good pork chops and hams appear on the dining table.”

Most all butchering of meats was conducted by the school during the Boarding School years and meats were canned, salt-cured, sometimes frozen, smoked, and sometimes dried.

This recipe for liver-loaf is most likely scaled for calf liver, but pork liver and even chicken livers could be substituted.  The author would have no desire for any!

[From The Pine Cone, April 1934, p.3]

LIVER LOAF – REALLY!?

Liver Loaf

One way to make a popular cut of the animal go ’round!

1 1/2     lbs. liver
1 1/2     cup dry bread crumbs
1-4        cup melted fat
1            egg
1            teaspoon salt
1-8        teaspoon pepper
1           onion  — chopped

Pour boiling water over liver. Let stand five minutes.  Drain and chop fine and  add all other ingredients, mix thoroughly and shape into loaf.  Put into greased baking dish, or lay strips of salt pork or bacon on top, add one cup water, bake one hour, add one cup tomatoes or tomato soup fifteen minutes before taking from the oven.

IN THE KITCHEN

Kitchens in the community varied widely.  Delia Creech, wife of Henry Creech , son of William  and Sally Creech, was known for her frugality and the rich maple sugar she created from the Creech “Sugar Camp”. 

In the photograph below a woman prepares food in a traditional enameled metal bowl.  Sometimes called flow-ware, these enameled metal-ware pots were favorites in Appalachia and in the South at the turn of the century. Either a blue or a red flow-ware color these metal-ware containers were found in many homes and continue to be prized as family keep-sakes. 

On this page below, is Aunt Sal (Sally Creech) seated at her churn in her very tidy kitchen.  In this posed photograph of Sal, she is seated at the churn which was a necessary kitchen tool for all households that owned milk cows.  Tools in most mountain households were often hand-made or were purchased from “Tinkers” who roamed the mountain valley with wares such as tin pans, crockery, and wash-boards. “Tinkers also made it part of their trade to repair items.  Rarely would any item be thrown away and then only if completely broken or ruined.

Kitchens could also be as rudimentary as cast-iron pots on tripods located near the backyard doorway, or they could be fully equipped centers of family life., as seen in this photograph.  The dangers associated with yard kitchens, the soap pots, and the “blue” pots (indigo dye pots), often located in the yard, are obvious. Small children and adults frequently suffered scalds and burns from these open-air kitchens.  A daughter of Aunt Sal was scalded and died from the burns.  The luxury of an indoor kitchen was only for those whose home was large enough to accommodate an indoor cooking space.  More frequently, the fireplace was a center of household meals and large cast iron pots hanging on hooks or settled on stones, or buried in cinders, were sources of family meals.   This kind of cooking encouraged stews, soups, and simple baked goods.

HOME ECONOMICS RECIPES

A variation of the old  and well-known favorite:

Spider Corn Bread

1 3/4     cups of milk
1             egg
1             cup corn meal
1-3         cup of flour
2             tablespoons sugar
1             teaspoon salt
2             teaspoons baking powder
1             tablespoon fat

Beat egg and add one cup milk;  stir in corn meal, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder which have been sifted together;  turn into a heavy, new frying pan in which the fat has been melted;  pour in remainder of milk but do not stir it.  Bake about twenty-five minutes in a hot oven.  There should be a line of creamy custard through the bread.  Cut like pie and serve hot.

Don’t let an aversion to spiders  or bugs stop a trial of this corn-meal bread. It is delicious!

One of the goals in later years was to provide at least a quart of milk per person per day. Further, the staff was allotted quarts through the end of the Boarding School years (1949) This supplement, no doubt, was a great off-set for the prior Great Depression years as well as both World Wars. 

Meals at Pine Mountain cost the school 33 cents per person per day in 1925 and “it requires great skill and ingenuity to serve interesting food for this sum of money, in a place where there is no ice, and no market where the fresh meat is local beef or pork possible only in cold weather.  Miss Gains, [Ruth B. Gaines]  who has been with us thirteen years, has developed so unusual an ability in dealing with these circumscribed conditions that she has often been urged to get up an institutional cookbook for others up against such difficulties as we have .”

RUTH GAINS MENUS

Miss Ruth Gaines menus for yesterday and today:

BREAKFAST

1.  oatmeal, stewed prunes biscuits with butter substitute

2. Cream of wheat, cocoa, biscuits with butter substitute

DINNER

1. Chicken and rice loaf, creamed turnips, chopped cabbage and celery, soup beans, cornbread, chocolate pudding

        2. Creamed tuna fist, sweet potatoes, green beans, cold slaw, cornbread, jello

       SUPPER

       1. Rice and milk, cornbread, canned pineapple

       2. Potato salad, cornbread, one-egg cake

Our main dishes for dinner are wonderful mixtures of fish and potato, rice and tomato, cheese and bacon. Variety at breakfast comes with fish-cakes, potato cakes, French cream toast, and at supper with a vegetable or cream soup, a bean or potato salad. “

[Worker letter, n.d., source unknown]

OLD LAUREL HOUSE

Kitchen in Old Laurel House

The earliest kitchen at the school was very rudimentary until a new kitchen was planned and included in the first  central dining and community building called ‘Laurel House.’  For the day, it was a state of the art facility and was equipped to accommodate the growing population of the school.  The fire that destroyed this first Laurel House in 1943 was a tragedy in many ways.  It seriously disrupted the food supply at the school and the loss of life in the tragic fire was emotionally devastating for many who worked and knew the students who died in the fire.   While it may be suspected that the fire began in the kitchen, it is known that was not the case and that the small living quarters in the building was the source of the fire.

GIRL’S HOME ECONOMIC CLASS 1934

The Girl’s Home Economic Class of the tenth grade, under the guidance of Miss Smith has been making Menus for the day and testing them by the following rules:

1.   Distribute the protein, carbohydrates and fats equally throughout the day

2.   Do not serve the same food twice in one day.

3.   Do not serve more than one strongly flavored food at a meal.

4.   Balance the soft, solid and crisp foods.

5.   Do not serve several acids or sweet foods at one meal.

6.   Season foods mildly, but tastily.

7.   Serve left-overs in a new form and always attractively.

8.   Greasy meats and vegetables and poorly seasoned foods are not appetizing.

9…Include daily —

(a)  One quart of milk for each child and one pint for adult.

(b)  Two vegetables besides potatoes. (one raw)

(c)   Two Fruits.  (one raw)

(d)  Whole ceral in some form.

(f)   One egg and a serving of meat for an adult.

10.  Serve light desserts,  as fruit or milk pudding with heavy meals.

11.  Serve heavy desserts, such as, pie or cake with light meals.

12.  Serve only one relish or jam at a meal.

13.  Avoid serving colorless meals.

14.  Plan simple meals.

15.  Consider the cost carefully.

 MINTED CARROTS

2 cups grated raw or cooked carrots
1 cup water
4 tablespoonfuls sugar
4 tablespoonfuls chopped mint leaves
4 tablespoonfuls butter

Cook the water and sugar until syrup like.  Stir in the butter and add the mint leaves.  Pour over the carrots and serve.

The family will not object to carrots when served in this interesting way.

The Pine Cone,
February 1934

STOVES

When coal stoves with ovens became more common-place and could be afforded, baking was a point of pride for most mountain households .  The regulation of heat in the coal oven was an art but once mastered the cook would rarely trade up for the newer ovens.  Electric ovens became a part of some households when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) brought electricity to the Pine Mountain valley.  Through the Rural Electric Cooperative (REC), often referred to as the REA, or Rural Electric Association, a part of the New Deal programs of the late 1930s, many household routines changed, but life in the kitchen was very slow to change. While the electric stove became a regular household item following WWII it was slow to be adopted in the Appalachians.  Propane gas stoves were used by some mountain families, but by far the most frequent home stove found in mountain communities until well into the 1950’s, was the coal stove. 

Pine Mountain was fortunate to have a superbly equipped kitchen in the Old Laurel  House and there the coal stove was a central source of fresh baked breads. The kitchen was staffed with a dietitian who was an important member of both the dietary health of the school and the homemaker educational programs during the Boarding School years.

The Pine Cone, Dec. 1934

MAPLE SUGAR MAKING IN THE KENTUCKY MOUNTAINS

“The time for making Maple sugar is during the months of February  and March.  The sap “startups” at this time.  The trees are “tapped” and the sap is collected in a pail. Tapping is accomplished by boring a hole in the tree, driving a spout in and hanging a bucket on it.  The sap looks like clear water but has a sweet taste.

Somewhere in the maple grove, there is a small shed, a “sugar camp” as it is called, to shelter the furnace, a large supply of wood and the evaporating pan.

When the sap buckets are full they are either carried to the camp by hand or the sap is sent through gutters. It is “boiled down” to a thin syrup and then it is taken out and boilded down to sugar in small pans.

It takes 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup ready for table use and a gallon of syrup will make about two pounds of sugar. “

[The Pine Cone,      date????]

MOLASSES STIR-OFFS

Making molasses was another labor-intensive activity at Pine Mountain.  The Creech family, near the school, almost always raised sugar cane, the source of the liquid used to create molasses.

First, the cane was harvested while still green but mature. Then, the cane was trimmed of leaves and bundles of canes were placed in a mill where the canes were crushed to extract the juice of the plant.  The juice was funneled into containers and then deposited into a large iron pot or a flat metal pan that was positioned over a continuous fire.  The pot or pan of cane juice was allowed to boil until it became sugar sweet, concentrated and thick. The foam on the top of the syrup was constantly dipped off the boiling molasses. Most often this was everyone’s job and a most rewarding of jobs.  The foam sticks to the canes dipped into the molasses and make a sweet treat for all who come to  “Stir-Off” the sorghum.

The young molasses is called “Sorghum.” It is sweet, light, and gentle in flavor.  When the molasses is cooked more, the syrup became more concentrated and heavier in flavor and sugar. This dark molasses is the bulk of the molasses-making process.  This very dark molasses, usually at the bottom of the pot, is referred to as “black-strap molasses” and the strong flavor of this residue was sometimes added to corn silage for the livestock. It to sweetened it and encouraged the fermentation of the chopped silage which was generally made from green corn stalks. The Gospel of the Clean Plate was not just for those seated at a table, it carried over into every aspect of growing, preparing, and making more palatable nature’s bounty.

“JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT”

hw/2019-06-10

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH War and PMSS

Pine MountainSettlement School
Blog:  Dancing in the Cabbage Patch

DANCING IN THE CABBAGE PATCH War and PMSS

Many families have carried forward the idea that Eastern Kentuckians have contributed disproportionately to enlistment, casualties, and valor in wartime.  One author has noted that this idea has some roots in reality. Alice Cornett, writing in 1991 for the Baltimore Sun noted that the disproportionate number for Appalachians killed while fighting in the wars following WWI has not gone unnoticed.  Cornett and others have recently suggested that often large number of soldiers from Appalachia have been associated with the “Sgt. York Syndrome.”

THE SGT. YORK SYNDROME

The syndrome coined by Dr. Steven Giles, a psychologist working for the Tennessee Veterans Administration Medical Center at Mountain Home, is in Dr. Giles’ view both laudatory and troubling. He notes that the syndrome is bolstered by the pervasive idea that the Appalachian soldier is a “good” soldier; that  ”Appalachians make good soldiers, and the Army knows it.” This goals- congruence factor, for good or ill, has often found Appalachian soldiers at the front-line of battle and often lauded as heroic.

Why has Sgt. York today become a “syndrome’ of Kentucky soldiers?  Sgt. Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964), was a native of Pall Mall, in eastern Tennessee. By most accounts, he has been described as a hero and the quintessential soldier.  A rifleman, whose bravery in battle and subsequent award of a Medal of Honor, captured the imagination of a nation. He was immortalized when his life was made into a movie in 1941.  Sergeant York directed by Howard Hawks with Gary Cooper as York, was as timely, as it was motivating for many young men who viewed the film.  The enrollment for WWII was growing and Sgt.

York set a standard of conduct that almost made serving in the Army a religious duty. York’s exploits which had been translated to the silver screen furthered his legend and that of the Appalachian soldier. On the cusp of WWII, York, in the mind of the nation and particularly in the minds of Appalachians, York was a model soldier and the “Sgt. York Syndrome” took roots and grew. York’s bravery and his philanthropy now known to all Appalachian young men and to their families following the Great War, became a topic of pride in the mountains and remains so today.  In fact, all the wars since the Great War which the United States has engaged have evoked the name of Sgt. York, particularly in the Appalachian mountains and particularly when recruits came to visit.

York’s bravery and his philanthropy now known to all Appalachian young men and to their families following the Great War became a topic of pride in the mountains and remains so today. After the release of the film, perceptions grew regarding the fearless nature of the Appalachian soldier. In fact, all the wars since the Great War which the United States has engaged have evoked the name of Sgt. York. Particularly in the Appalachian mountains and particularly when recruits came to enlist, the name of Sgt. York was at the tip of both the recruit and recruiter’s mind.

Yet, even before York, the Nation had seen large numbers of young men and women from Appalachia step eagerly forward to serve. In one Appalachian county in Kentucky, Breathitt, there were no draftees during the whole of WWI because quotas had been met and exceeded by general enlistment by county residents.

However, a grim fact gathered by Alice Cornett should be noted

As a percent of its population, the Appalachian region has sustained higher losses in our wars of the past 50 years than has any other section of the country. West Virginia, the only state designated as wholly in Appalachia, had the highest casualty ratio in both World War II and the Vietnam conflict.

Because many of the counties in Appalachian states have seen their young men recruited, volunteered, and served, the propensity to fight in wars has also been associated with the need for employment and the often biting poverty of the same Appalachian counties that sent large numbers to war.  The numbers of Appalachian soldiers is also now matched by a disproportionate number of racial minority recruits. Thus, the Appalachians Blacks, Hispanics and other groups struggling with economic and social challenge often find military recruitment a way into careers and out of poverty and again, the military knows these young men and women will “soldier on.”.

[See: http://kentuckyguard.dodlive.mil/2013/03/19/a-patriotic-clan-from-eastern-kentucky-in-the-war-to-end-all-wars-part-one/]

WWII V-Mail letter from Alice Joy Keith to August Angel, 25 May 1945. [Angel WWII_vmail_from Alice Joy Keith. [Angel-WWII_vmail_from-Alice-Joy-Keith.jpg]

PMSS AND WWI

rood_066x

Unidentified PMSS student.

At Pine Mountain, there are many stories regarding the School’s engagement with WWI. As students left to fight in the Great War, the staff also left their positions to fight alongside their students. The School was often challenged to fill critical staff positions as well as maintain a balanced student body.  For example, when Leon Deschamps, a Belgian farmer working at Pine Mountain left to fight in WWI early in 1918, he kept in touch with the School and with the children. Deschamps served in the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe in 1917, under the command of General John J. Pershing. He was assigned as a translator (French) and in the forestry department. His presence in the battle abroad was followed with fascination by the whole School.  The students regularly held cocoa and rice dinners to save money for the “Belgians in the war” effort.

In reading through the Leon Deschamps Correspondence we are reminded of the discrimination that many immigrants faced following WWI and WWII and today. As a “foreigner” Leon was one of the first members of the Pine Mountain staff to join the WWI war.  Yet, he was excluded from many of the opportunities afforded job seekers when he retruned. In some cases, the discrimination came from some of the more “enlightened” educational institutions in the country, though there is little indication that Pine Mountain showed him any exclusions. His talents, determination and the enormous endorsement given by those who worked with him are well documented in his correspondence. Yet, the suspicions ran deep regarding “foreigners” following the war.  in the mountains of Appalachian, largely a rural geography, it is no surprise to find see the inclusion of those who knew him that he left legends in all the institutions he touched. Not many of us can claim such legacies.

War, for most of the students at Pine Mountain Settlement, was a distant and somewhat romantic engagement until the soldiers began to return home with shell shock, lungs destroyed by mustard gas, or, in a casket. Yet, for many staff at the School, war was already a very real experience, and one not to be romanticized.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable impacts of war on Pine Mountain staff is found in the personal narratives of those who came to the School after having served in remote corners of the world during wartime. One of the most harrowing first-hand accounts of war can be found in the staff who were impacted by front-lines of conflict. One of these conflicts, the Ottoman Turk-Armenian conflict witnessed by Dr. Ida and Rev. Robert Stapleton was particularly horrific and is well recorded in a recent book published by their granddaughter, Gretchen Rasch. The Storm of Life: A Missionary Marriage from Armenia to Appalachia, published by the Gomidas INstitute in (2016 tells of the two missionaries horrific struggle with the mass genocide of Armenians in and around Ezerum Turkey.

The Stapletons came to Kentucky in the late 1920s to serve as co-directors of Line Fork Settlement (Letcher County, Kentucky), a satellite settlement associated with the Settlement School. They were particularly well equipped to meet almost any human conflict with experience and compassion following their harrowing experiences in Turkey.  The battles around moonshine and the frequent revenge killings of the Appalachians were part of their everyday life on Line Fork in the early decades of the twentieth century. It was a life they often met with humor and compassion, but even more, with understanding. Their early work with the Ottoman-Armenian conflict no doubt brought the petulance of personal and familial battles quickly into perspective.

Another staff member at the School also experienced the same Ottoman Turk-Armenian conflict in a more Eastern region of Turkey. Edith Cold was stationed in Hadjin, Turkey as a school teacher for children orphaned by the ethnic war. Her letters and stories regarding the conflict that slowly engulfed the region are equally chilling and capture the severe circumstances that war brings to communities across the world. The trials of Edith Cold were captured in a series of New York Times articles that chronicled her ordeals and her incredible bravery in efforts to keep the children and the staff of the school safe from harm. As genocide ravaged the Armenian populations, workers such as Edith Cold and the Stapletons witnessed horrendous atrocities and placed themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. Today, those echoes of brave volunteers and their harrowing continue to fill the news and speak more of the inhumanity that lurks in every conflict of border, ideology, and beliefs. The tales recounted by the Stapletons and by Edith Cold of life in Turkey in the first decades of the twentieth century were shared with students at Pine Mountain, more in their models of tolerance, support, and understanding, than in their recounting or bearing witness of war’s inhumanity. There is good evidence that they softened the edges of many hard lives in the Pine MOuntain valley and beyond.

PMSS AND WWII

During World War II the actions of war came closer to the School as communication improved and the radio brought reports of the war closer to home.  Great numbers of Staff and students left to join the ranks of soldiers or became support staff to the war effort.  During these years communication flowed more rapidly and frequently and the war became a real and present conflict that had little room for romanticizing.  The American mind was war-focused in this second world conflict and daily informed through radio.

rood_065x

A “Thank you” to nurse, Grace Rood from Lester.

Of all the wars, World War II,  possibly had the greatest impact on life at Pine Mountain and in the valley.  Many fathers and sons left their farms in the valley to fight in the war. Many young men stopped their classes at PMSS to go fight the war in Europe and women signed on to nurses corps or to the Red Cross or to canteens in Europe to do their share in the war effort. Classes were suspended when key instructors left. Basic supplies could not be obtained for many families and money was tight. Many families could not afford even the smallest tuition. The impact of WWII on the farm was dramatic as rationing began to impact food supplies and families in the community looked to the School for more assistance in farming needs and health issues. Subsistence and rationing became uneasy partners in many families. Rationing, particularly, was a critical issue with all residential schools and particularly the food issues and family loss only compounded the national and personal crises in the Appalachians.

There are many stories related to Staff who had some family relation in either the European or the Pacific theater of war. See especially the important documentation of war efforts by soldiers in Perry County, KY, maintained by Waukesha Lowe Sammons, daughter of one of the county’s soldiers who did not return from WWII. Waukesha, a Berea College graduate, has created a comprehensive website that traces the Military Legacy of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, who served from the American Revolutionary War to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Her comprehensive website covers just one eastern Kentucky county — Perry County, but it gives a vivid picture of how many wars impacted the region.

http://www.perrycountykentuckymilitarylegacy.com/

World War II in the Asian theater also directly affected the lives of many of Pine Mountain’s staff and students. For example, the expulsion of staff member Burton Rogers from Yali, the Yale in China School where he was teaching when the Japanese invaded in 1937, brought the family to Pine Mountain. His relocation is another story of severe challenge, hardship, and courage.  rood_030xBurton Rogers came as School principal in 1941, and later served as the Director of the Pine Mountain Settlement School. His wartime experience was profound and prompted him to a life-time as a  conscientious objector. As a  member of the Quaker faith and outspoken critic of war for the remainder of his life, Burton and his wife, Mary Rogers, committed their lives to pacification. Mary had learned how to skillfully negotiate conflict when she worked in India and met the pacifist, Ghandi.

The brave and courageous contributions of two Pine Mountain Docotrs, Emma and Francis Tucker and their nurse protegee, Grace Feng Liu  to the School’s understanding of the direct impact of war are also remarkable. The couple’s heroic struggles during the Japanese invasion of China and their work to raise the standards of health in rural China equipped them for the rural work they completed at Pine Mountain, long after most persons were retired. Their story of escape from China when it was overrun by the Japanese, is an inspiring tale of courage and contribution that they shared with the Pine Mountain community and with the students. Grace Feng was a nurse brought with the Tuckers when they came to Pine Mountain. She was later married to T.C. Liu at the School. The couple returned to China following the completion of their education in America but perished under the Communist regime of Mao.

In 1941, the School’s Director, Glyn Morris left to join the war effort as a military Chaplin and with him went a large number of young men to either enlist or take advantage of the V-12 programs that offered training and educational assistance to capable young men. The letters to staff from soldiers in WWII are important records of the history of the war years at the School, as well as the adjustments that the School made during those difficult years.  See for example the Bill Blair WWII Letters and the record of Joe Glen Bramlett, two students at the School.

Another remarkable personal story is that of Frank  W. “Unk” Cheney who survived the bombing of Shanghai and imprisonment by the Japanese during WWII at the Chapel prison camp. His experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese was both horrendous and productive for “Unk” who learned the Japanese language and developed an appreciation for Japanese furniture design. He demonstrated how even the most oppressive features of war can be turned to advantage. His aesthetic sensibilities and gentleness brought a different perspective of the Far East to students who had the privilege of working with him at Pine Mountain.

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WWII students at PMSS.

Many students felt the call to service in both wars, but perhaps WWII had the most profound effect on Pine Mountain Settlement, as so many young men enlisted that work crews were dramatically affected. The three young men to the right are typical of the pride shown by these new soldiers.

Paul Hayes, a student, and later PMSS Director, went to Berea College as part of the V-12 program and later to Duke as a recipient of the same military assistance. Paul saw duty in the Pacific. His brother John Hayes, first signed on as part of the Army Corps of Engineers and later in the regular Army, also going to the Pacific theater to fight. Silvan Hayes, the oldest brother was already in the Army in the European war and was killed in 1943 in France. Enoch Hall, a PMSS student from Perry county joined the Army and served in Hawaii where he was stationed when his barracks were strafed by the Japanese in the opening days of the Pacific war. Joe Glen Bramlett, a student who served in the Army left a large visual record of his years at the School and those in the Army.

Student William David Martin left PMSS in March of 1941 to join the Navy and following his completion of duty wrote a letter to the School saying that he had earlier been overcome by “Navy fever” and would like to complete his degree at the School — which he did.

All these young men served with valor and conviction in WWII. Most came home, but some did not survive the ravages of battle. Their names were placed on a small plaque that once hung in Laurel House. Delicately inscribed and gilded, it now shows its age and has been placed in the Archive of the School.

WOMEN IN THE WARS

[**See: http://kentuckyguard.dodlive.mil/2013/03/19/a-patriotic-clan-from-eastern-kentucky-in-the-war-to-end-all-wars-part-one/#sthash.1NIycerE.dpuf]

There were no women allowed in the ranks of the military before WWI.  In 1901 women were able to join the Army Nurse Corps and by 1908, women were allowed into the Navy Nurse Corps. When the US entered into WWI, the ranks swelled in number to around 250 women with approximately 15 drawn from the Appalachian region. Three of the women were from eastern Kentucky and all were graduates of Berea College’s nursing program. **

During WWII there were numerous women from eastern Kentucky and from Pine Mountain who joined the war effort. Two notable nurses who trained at Pine Mountain were Mable Mullins, from Partridge and Stella Taylor. Both young women earned commendations for their war work.

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Stella Taylor

While Mullins and Taylor made remarkable careers for themselves in WWII. Mable Mullins became a Major in the Army, Stella Taylor contributed nursing services as an Army nurse.  Other nurses trained at Pine Mountain were quickly signed on to the war effort.  Also, women left the School to provide services or direct support in WWII in jobs that did not require enlistment but supported the war effort such as industrial support, and canteen work.

Many young men in WWII were not drafted but were exempted in order to maintain farms and critical operations on the home-front, or, often they were exempted because they already had multiple siblings fighting in the war. William Hayes was one such student who was retained at Pine Mountain to maintain the farm while three brothers were recruited. His correspondence with his mother, his brothers and with various students who fought in the war is poignant. The sacrifice of his older brother, Silvan Hayes to the war effort in France left permanent scars on his family as the war did for so many families in Appalachia. William’s correspondence with student Bill Blair is extensive and provides a picture of a student’s course through military training and deployment during wartime.  The list of enrollees in the war efforts of the 1940’s is a long one. Yet, exemption for most young men from Appalachia was not something that they welcomed during WWII just as it was not during WWI and many of the succeeding wars.

The list of enrollees in the war efforts of the 1940’s is a long one. Yet, exemption for most young men from Appalachia was not something that the men generally welcomed during WWII just as it was not welcomed during WWI and the succeeding wars. It was noble to serve for most men in the community.  Within the staff workers at Pine Mountain, the story was often quite different, as many came to the School as conscientious objectors and served their time contributing to the work at the mountain settlement. Two Quakers come readily to mind: Peter Barry and Burton Rogers.

PMSS AND THE KOREAN WAR

The Korean war did not have the same impact on PMSS as did the larger WWII conflict, but it still left its mark on families in the Pine Mountain Valley.  As noted by Alice Cornett’s statistical accounting of participation in that war in her 1991 Boston Sun article,

Nine percent of U.S. military forces in the Korean War were from areas of Appalachia, but 18 percent of the Medals of Honor awarded in that war went to the Appalachian soldiers. In Vietnam, they made up 8 percent of our troops and received 13 percent of the Medals of Honor.

[See:  http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-11-11/news/1991315046_1_appalachian-counties-vietnam-war]

PMSS AND THE VIETNAM WAR AND THE WAR ON POVERTY

At the opening of the Vietnam conflict, Pine Mountain was no longer a Community School site but many of the children who had attended the Community School began to be caught up in the action in Vietnam as they came of age. The most dramatic impact on Pine Mountain of this conflict was the same as that found throughout the country. Families were wrenched apart by conflicting sympathies for the war effort and communities were pitted against other communities as the war dragged on for almost two decades.  Coal was often in the news as the resources went to support the energy needs of the growing war effort and families saw both a coal boom and a large out-migration to Northern factories, as in WWII, where work in the military-industrial complex could bring better wages.

Cmdr. Steven Hayes (back row, far rt.). a student at PMSS and crew on the USS Constellation following end of Viet Nam War..

In April of 1964. Lyndon Johnson traveled to Inez, Kentucky and sat on the porch of the Tom Fletcher family and declared a War on Poverty.  As noted by many, the universities in the Appalachian region were more engaged in naming buildings and honoring the dead than engaging their cultural and economic conscience. A political and economic protest was not high on their agendas as they followed the welfare of family members caught up in the Vietnam conflict. Eventually, however, it was Johnson’s “War on Poverty” that created the largest shock wave on Appalachia, not the fighting in Vietnam. The fall-out from Johnson’s social service programs for the Appalachian region would have an impact far greater than any war fought in foreign lands.  Many scholars today remind us that families in the region are still climbing out of poverty that was prolonged by this federal assistance effort. —the War on Poverty. The casualties from the ramifications of the War on Poverty were not just sons and daughters, it was entire families and generations of those families.

Used as a sort of guidebook for the eager volunteers that came into the region, Jack Weller‘s Yesterday’s People (1965) became the cultural window for the Appalachian Volunteer program, an outgrowth of the War on Poverty. Funded through the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Appalachian Volunteers soon found themselves in a cultural war that roughly followed the same timeline as the Viet Nam War and the political differences were often as volatile and acrimonious as the Anti-Vietnam war movement.  Accused as Communists, radicals, hippies, elites, subversives, and importantly, “Outsiders,” the Appalachian Volunteers (AVs)  came into the region believing that they could make a difference. Two other “outsiders, Glyn Morris, then at Evarts and Myles Horton at the Highlander Center in Tennessee cautioned the new arrivals to respect the cultural differences of the region. Both Myles Horton and Glyn Morris had studied under Reinhold Niebuhr at Union Theological Seminary and Myles admonished the AVs who trained at his center in Tennessee to “…find out what they [people of Appalachia] want you to do and work quietly, and remember: you’re different. They’re not different.” Neibaur’s book, Moral Man in an Immoral Society, made a profound impact on both Morris and Horton and helped to shape both of their worldviews regarding war and each had an antipathy toward a war of any sort.  Don West, poet, activist and native of Appalachia was more direct in his cautions regarding the War on Poverty

The Southern mountains have been missionarized, researched, studied, surveyed, romanticized, dramatized, hillbillyized, Dogpatched and [now] povertyized …

By 1970 the Appalachian Volunteers had lost their funding from the OEO and Johnson’s War on Poverty had come to a virtual halt, but not before a number of Harlan County youth had begun to question and rethink the cultural and economic divide in the county and had begun to dialogue with the Volunteers — often against their parent’s protests.

Mildred Shackleford, interviewed by Alessandro Portelli for his book They Say in Harlan County (2011) put it this way

“I got involved in them [Appalachian Volunteers] because I thought they had something different to offer and I wasn’t too sophisticated at that time. I was about sixteen or seventeen years old. I was reading a lot. I was finding out different things. The involvement in Vietnam — I was finding out a little bit of it and I found out that, what the United States was doing in that country, wasn’t something that I could respect; and I hadn’t thought [of] looking at Harlan County in the same way that I looked at Vietnam. That’s one thing I did learn from those people pretty quickly; that in a way we were more like the people in Vietnam than [like] the people in the rest of the country.”

War comes in many forms and is met with an equal variety of responses. Whether it was the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, the War on Poverty, or the wars in the Middle East, the people of Appalachia have been there as defenders, patriots, educators, nurses, and very often, leaders, and the lessons of the Pine Mountain Valley have never been far away from their practice and their minds.

*The commentary in this blog is the that of the author, Helen Wykle, and does not necessarily represent the views of Pine Mountain Settlement School. hhw


Resources:

Billings, Dwight B; Ann E.  Kingsolver. Appalachia in Regional Context; Place Matters, Lexington, Ky: University Press, 2018.

Niebuhr, Reinhold. Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1932.

Portelli, Alessandro. They Say in Harlan County, Oxford/New York:Oxford University Press, 2011. Oral histories taken from families in Harlan County.

Satterwhite, Emily. City to Country circa 1967-1970,  Looks at war in the populations of city and country.

Webb, James. I Heard My Country Calling; A Memoir. New York : Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 2015. ©2014.  A novel about the Vietnam War by Webb, a former U.S. Senator; Secretary of the Navy; recipient of the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart and combat Marine. In his words, “…a love story–love of family, love of country, love of service. ” Born in Arkansas but with roots in Appalachia, the Webb family saga spans WWII, Korea and the Vietnam years. Explores the Vietnam War through the over-romanticized novel Christy by Catherine Marshall and the “familiar” depravity of Appalachians as depicted in James Dickey’s Deliverance.

Weller, Jack. Yesterday’s People,  Kentucky : University of Kentucky Press, 1965  (reprint 1995) “Mr. Weller presents, with compassion and humor, one of the most incisive studies that have been made of an American folk community. It contains many quotable passages about social classes in America, and about Appalachia in particular.”―Publishers Weekly

See more at: http://kentuckyguard.dodlive.mil/2013/03/19/a-patriotic-clan-from-eastern-kentucky-in-the-war-to-end-all-wars-part-one/#sthash.1NIycerE.dpuf

Kentucky Soldiers in WWII, Harlan County  http://usgwarchives.net/ky/military/wwii/harlan.html


See also:  http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1991-11-11/news/1991315046_1_appalachian-counties-vietnam-war