WYS: Small town teaches lessons about life

Adriane Hardin

I’ll get straight to the point. I’m from Appalachia, better known as the sticks. I’ve seen and done things you probably aren’t familiar with. And if you are familiar with them it’s because you’ve caught a rerun of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

I’ve driven an hour to the nearest Wal-Mart.

I’ve spent an hour driving in circles because that was the most interesting thing to do on a Saturday night.

I’ve tasted blackberries fresh from the vine.

I’ve been to week-long revivals, shucked corn, picked beans and run barefoot in sweet summer grass.

I’ve worked at a small-town weekly newspaper where the most popular columns are written by little old ladies who rarely make it into town themselves. Their families hand-deliver their precious prose, which details everything from the size of the tomatoes in their gardens to who has been admitted into the county hospital.

I’m from a place where almost everyone knows your name, and if they don’t know yours they’re bound to know your mama’s.

I’m from a town that is crowded with tourists who long to swim along the shores of Dale Hollow Lake.

It’s a place called Burkesville, and after a swim most folks stop at a gas station for some fudge made by the Amish community of Marrowbone, or stop at a local diner for some chocolate gravy (which is fabulous by the way – if you haven’t tried it you don’t know what you’re missing).

There was a time when I wondered why people came from California, Pennsylvania and New York to put down roots at Burkesville. After spending a year away from there, I think I know.

It’s a different life, a quiet life. People live out their lives there – working, raising children, going to church. As a child I longed to be away from it, to go somewhere, anywhere but there.

I love my life in Bowling Green, but part of me knows that running barefoot in the summer, dressing up for county fairs and shucking corn are things of the past.

I expected a town of such small stature to hold me back, but all of my experiences in Burkesville, even the bad ones, have made me exactly who I am today – a student of life with a great appreciation of all cultures, especially Appalachian folklife. Why else would I be getting a banjo for my birthday and buying “Andy Griffith Show” DVDs?

A year at Western has taught me that what matters most is where you’re headed. But I’ve also learned you can’t get where you’re going until you understand where you’re from.

Now that you know my story, it’s time for you to tell me yours.

Each week I’m going to open the student directory and close my eyes. I’ll whistle a few bars of the “Andy Griffith Show” theme song and drop my finger on one name.

If it happens to be your name, don’t hold anything back. Tell Western where you’ve been, and most importantly, where you’re headed.

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]