Lyon created this new work by collecting responses from attendees at the opening of the Reading Appalachia: Voices from Children's Literature exhibition at the East Tennessee History Museum on Sunday, June 16, 2014. It's our Appalachian story.
I’m from Knoxville.
I am from high in the pecan tree.
I am from ancient bones to lost temples.
I am from Sugar Creek
turning over rocks
looking for salamanders
from a home across the river from chemical plants
where sometimes it smelled bad and laundry hung
outdoors could have grit on it when we took it down.
I am from the Atomic City where everybody glows.
I am from a secret city where we didn’t know
what our dads did at work.
I am from a mining town where there were more saloons
than grocery or general stores.
I am from big chemicals –
papermills and plastic. Artificial in the heart of nature.
Fort Lauderdale but we moved back to TN (my father was from the area)
so he could get his MBA at the University of Tennessee.
I am from a land where the river ran brown and the smell in the
polluted air was called “the smell of money”
by our city fathers.
I am from KY and TN. I am from hard workers.
I’m from where you don’t waste time you always do something constructive.
I am from the tobacco fields, milking cows, riding a raft on a flooded creek.
I am from always being the new kid.
I am from sourdough bread and Sesame Street.
I am from sulfur water.
I am from Peter Peppers and race cars.
I am from Macaroni Thursdays and Sundays, like clockwork
5¢ plays put on in the garage for neighbor kids
Towhead sister following me everywhere, every minute
a pest now a best friend.
I am from family.
I am from Disney and Cades Cove.
I am from the western gazebo and the scotch broom dug from Ocoee.
I am from the N.C. mountains (mother) and the tied for state of Franklin (father).
I am from:
flannel graph board of the Prodigal Son
Seven people pressed together in a car on the way to church.
Sundays at church with my family, dressed up with white gloves and purse.
Seeking then finding Jesus’ love.
Betsy-town Training School an immigrant’s dream.
Singing as loud as we can.
Chocolate chip cookie dough.
I am from washed clothes hanging on a backyard clothesline.
I am from evening breezes of honeysuckle across the cooling grass.
I am from playing under a mimosa tree in the backyard.
I am from roller skating down the sidewalk on hot summer evenings.
I am from learning to water ski on the Saint Lawrence seaway.
I am from hanging the wet laundry on the clothesline during summer vacation.
I am from mud between my toes from the river bank, soot from coal furnace in Knoxville.
I am from Kalamazoo, scalloped potatoes, four sisters, playing school.
I am from punkin’ pie, ‘Arsh taters, mudpies, rocky fields.
I am from sprinklers in the front yard, zip lines, tire swings and handstands.
Stony, reluctant earth with promise nonetheless.
I am from Mulberry trees – my friend’s.
British heritage blond hair and sea blue eyes, face from the north around Coveneel in red-purple.
I am from forsythia switches – why else are they growing besides cabins.
Our family doesn’ t say “bad” words – we have more imagination!
Rescuing the doll buggy from the creek.
I am from… dust covered books.
I am from grandma’s homemade donuts,
playing games around the table with my uncles.
I am from Cold Springs on a tobacco farm, hard work but, some fun.
I am from a Mission School run by the Presbyterians, church, school,
dinners on the hill at Vardy Community Presbyterian Center.
I am from cornbread and buttermilk, from bare feet and jokes at the supper table.
I am from homemade chicken soup and stuffed cabbage rolls.
I am from fresh baked rolls, crisp and brown.
I am from a threadbare apron covered in flour handprints.
lamby pink Gambit Bumpy
I am from a home where my mother read to me and took me to a public library
where I could get books to read by myself and share with others.
I am from fig and pecan trees, chicken coop in grandma’s back yard, brown eggs,
smothered chicken for Sunday dinner.
I am from Andersonville TN Norris Dam and TVA had alot to do of where I was from.
Norris was completed and I was just beginning in 1936.
I don’t live here any more but I always come back!
I am from sitting in the front seat between my Mother and Daddy on car trips.
I am from a man that built his own television from tiny, tiny parts.
I am from a mom that taught me to sew.
I am from yellow cassette player, Grandma’s arthritic bent fingers with long, lovely nails lightly scratching my head.
Grandpa’s hearty laugh.
I am from the immigrants of Europe who worked hard to build this great country.
Inherited characteristics blossom in my children and shape my soul and being in ways that are truly me although didn’t awaken and bloom until they harvest me.
I am from my grandmother’s table: fried chicken and corn pudding at Sunday dinners for seven sons.
I’m from a Southern mother and a Brooklyn Dodger, the civil war at home.
I’m from fried chicken and Wonder Bread, an army private and Gone With the Wind, vending machines and colleges paid for with coins.
I am from Bagels, Lox and Sable, Sunday mornings with Uncle Jack. I am from pics and cakes from my mother’s hand. I am from lathes and grinders and drill presses in my father’s lair in the basement.
I am from valiant women
-an Irish girl who learned to make great spaghetti sauce
-from Irish tenors that sang the old songs
-from men who had to drink to the dead in the basement ‘cause Nana wouldn’t have strong liquor upstairs.
-from pagan baby sitters.
-from rosary toting faithful people
-from the North spelled Y-A-N-K-E-E
I am from Hatians – people who talk with their hands and eat mounds of rice with bright kidney beans.
I am from a desert mountain valley - sagebrush, red dirt, and prayers for rain.
I could walk to school and the library.
I loved looking at the open blue sky with fluffy white clouds and vast expanse of stars.
I am from Lookout Mountain’s shadow, the valley of Rising Fawn, the Indian maiden.
New York City born and bred… Appalachian by choice and nature.
I am from blackberries; juice and thorn, sweetness and pain.
I am from distant kin of Appalachia
the wandering Scots-Irish
a child born in 1944
parents who met in the war
one from NJ and the other from CA
I belong to the mountains.