Heading south on SR23 for a visited at mom and dad's the other day, I noticed a billboard that read:
“Time to change the Neighbors”
It was an advertisement for a national residential builder and developer. As a matter of fact when we were hunting for our last house in Virginia, I looked at one of their “developments.” It was basically the same type of development that we were moving from only it was located in a rural area with larger lots. It was still the same kind of neighborhood where everyone is from someplace else and nobody stayed for more than four years. This is one of the three or four simple reasons that America is such a Charlie Foxtrot.
Rednecromancer is a website dedicated to Appalachians both at home and abroad, (any place that ain't Appalachia) but it is also a site dedicated to global hillbilly world domination and the hillbilly way of life. You can find hillbilly traits among non-hillbillies and in areas outside of Appalachia. Not surprisingly these areas often have high concentrations of hilljacks. My current neighborhood is a good example.
I have neighbors on either side. Both are hilljacks. Bob is from the Stubenville area. He is an accountant, Viet Nam vet, widower, newly-wed and Freemason. Lynn on the other side is only the second owner of a nearly 90 year old home and native of West Virginia. Lynn is likewise a widow but newly engaged. Kathryn, Lynn's daughter was among the various kids who came out to see my band and the other bands some 15 years ago. One of Lynn's son's did some student teaching at my old high school when he was a student at Marshall University. Bob and his new wife Suzanne and Lynn had a party for the purpose of introducing us to the neighborhood. It was kind of like a belling.
Most of the other parents I meet in the school yard are from this community and a good many of them went to this very same school. We often find that we have friends in common and I didn't even grow up in this community.
Staying in one place is good. I know that there is a wanderlust streak in many hillbillies but I think the vast majority like to sink their roots deep down and around the rocky hillsides. But it isn't just hillbillies who find comfort in familiar surroundings and continuity. Most human being do. Problem is that modern-popular culture and television has worked to make a good many people think that they need more than they have and that moving in order to take a job to make more money is a good idea.
Don't misunderstand me. Appalachia is having a difficult time providing a living for native hillbillies. This is saying something seeing as most hillbillies need much less in the way of material objects to be happy. So one cannot blame the folks who move from the hills so they can provide the basics for their families. This is probably why hill folks get so homesick. They are actually happy living in the hills among their own folk. Most people are.
It flies in the face of being politically correct and multi-cultural but research on “happiness” is demonstrating that living in a homogeneous community is one of the greatest factors when it comes to being happy. To be honest I think I lot of this “happiness” crap is just that and only goofy American academics would think that it would be possible to quantify happiness but this is the results of the findings. Oh they want to say that Iceland and Denmark are happy because they are socialist, and they may be but they are also happy because they are about as homogeneous as you can get. I am sure however that some dolt will quote some exceptions that will do nothing more than prove the rule.
Typical xenophobic hillbilly? Not at all. I neither fear nor hate the other. I do understand how being with folks who see the world the same way you do can be less stressful. I also think that America is large enough to handle a patchwork of communities without cramming diversity down each others throats.
Another bit of research some years ago by a Finnish group found that grandmothers were critical to the health and development of children. This explains why women live on after they can no longer have children of their own while men remain fertile but live on borrowed time after 70. It is pretty hard to be a good grandmother living in Tampa while your grandkids are living in St. Paul. So we have a double whammy here. Folks who move their children away from their parents for work and folks who abandoned their grandchildren for Miami and Scottsdale.
Some sledtrack then gets the great idea of bringing school kids in after school to retirement centers so that the children have a place to go after they get off school and before their dual income parent get off work and the old folks have something to distract them from the fact that they are about to die, probably alone. And I am sure that there is probably more than a few government grants to “facilitate” such encounters.
I got an idea. Let's stop moving about the country and destroying our nurturing communities! Tell the big money Delberts to move the jobs to where people already live and preferably to a place that has water. If your old and cold put a kid on your lap instead of moving 1,000 miles away where you expect the federal government to rebuild your home after every hurricane.
Our neighbors are fine. It's our minds that need changing.