The Homeplace #experientiallearning

The Homeplace

Growing up in Salem I had heard about the Homeplace restaurant many times but I had never actually been there. I think the reason that I had never been there is because my mother and aunt’s cooking has always been so extraordinary we rarely ever went out to eat. On Sunday afternoons most families where I’m from go out to eat but we all go to my Grandparent’s house and eat a big Sunday meal. But the day finally came that I was going to get to try this, supposedly, amazing food.

It was Saturday October 8th, me and a couple buddies of mine decided we had eaten enough campus food. So we loaded up in my truck and took off down old Blacksburg Road. The drive was very pretty, the leaves were changing all different types of colors and the mountains looked absolutely gorgeous. I was in the absolute best mood, and to top it all off we were blasting some Alan Jackson through the speakers, he is without a doubt my favorite artist of all time.

I almost drove right past the place, it didn’t look like a restaurant to me at all it just looked like a big house. We pulled up the long driveway and to my surprise the place was totally packed. Not only was there no where to park but the wrap around porch was hustling with people. We gave the person at the counter our name and waited for about thirty minutes. I was okay with the wait, we all three sat on a porch swing and chatted with a big family that was waiting. It was evident that this family goes to the home place often by how much they praised the place.

Once our name was called we were seated by a nice older woman who made us feel right at home. A waitress asked for our drink orders and recommended the lemonade so we all tried that. Then the food started coming out and let me tell you I started pounding down everything that was in front of me. This place definitely lives up to its reputation, my personal favorites were the mash potatoes with gravy and the fried chicken.

Everything about the Homeplace reminded me of things that we have talked about all year pertaining to Appalachia. For instance they were playing bluegrass softly over the intercom system. Another thing that really reminded me of Appalachia were all the different painting and pictures that they had hung up on the wall. There were pictures of coal miners and old farmers everywhere. It was really like a step back in time.

The experience was well worth it and I am extremely glad we went. Not only was the food absolutely amazing but eating great country style food deep in the Appalachian Mountains was priceless.

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image of the homeplace taken from:

The Pumpkin Patch #experientiallearning

The Pumpkin Patch

On Saturday October 15, 2016 my friends and I loaded up in multiple vehicles and went to Sinkland Farms. It was a beautiful day outside despite it being extremely windy. We were all very excited to get off campus and do something that we typically wouldn’t do.

When we arrived there was a long line of cars backed up in the road, it was evident a lot of other people had the same idea as us. We got to the front of the line and a great big man with a beard directed us into the front field off to the right. From there we found our parking spot and unloaded out of the vehicle.

As we approached the entrance to the pumpkin patch my nose was delighted. The sweet scent of apple butter and kettle corn being made was enough to make my taste buds tingle. At the gate where you pay to get in the people were extremely nice and welcoming. They then directed us to the hayride that takes you to the actual patch of pumpkins.

I felt very comfortable with all of the people running the place, it was very clear they were from the region. While we were waiting for others to board the hayride I struck up a conversation with the man driving the tractor and ended up giving him a dip of snuff. We talked about the upcoming rifle season and how the deer haven’t been moving much recently. I was having a great time, the day was working out wonderfully so far and I felt like I was doing something truly Appalachian.

Once we arrived at the patch some of my friends picked out pumpkins, some of the girls with us took an outrageously long time. We let one of my friends dogs off her leash and she ran around with her tail tucked in circles just having a ball. Other dogs began to join in and they began running around and playing it was very fun to watch. I began to talk with one of the other dog owners and my friends got annoyed with me because they wanted to head back to the main part but I can talk dogs for hours on end.

After returning back to the main park of the farm we went and checked out the animals. They were all farm related, it is hard to believe that way back when those big pull horses were the only thing people of this region had to farm with. I have been around and worked on as many farms as the next guy and tractors are a really big part of things. It is just a testament to how hard people worked back in the day to provide for their families.

Before we left I got some homemade apple butter which is very hard to come by these days. I can’t think of anywhere else I would be able to get apple butter that good. As soon as I got home I began to spread it out on my mom’s homemade bread and ended up eating the whole jar.

The experience was truly great. I loved hanging out with my friends and showing them some of the things that Appalachian people truly enjoy.


Above is me and my friend Landon at the pumpkin patch.

Talking To The President

Mr. President I am very honored to have been given the privilege of educating you on this fine region that is Appalachia. It is an extremely great place, filled with great natural resources and some of the best people in the country. I am extremely confident that in just a short time you will be a proud resident of Appalachia. I have lived in this region all my life and I am extremely blessed to call these mountains my home.

Recently I took a class on the region called Appalachian Studies. It talked all about the region from music to family life. In taking the course it has shed light on why my family does things the way it does. So after taking this course and living in this region for so long I feel like I am the best person to clue you in on some things around these parts.

First I would like to tell you that not everybody that lives in Appalachia is a redneck, there is all kinds of cultural diversity and ethnic diversity. All this diversity came when people were needed from all around the world to work in the coal mines and no one ever left. Now that I got that stereotype out of your head we can move.

The next thing I would like to let you know is that family really runs deep around these parts. And what I mean by that is most families that have been in Appalachia for a long time aren’t planning on going anywhere soon. This is extremely evident when you are riding out in the country and you see a street sign that reads, “Gerwin Lane.” That is obviously a road that has nothing but Gerwins living there. You can even experience how tight knit the families are in this region by asking kids about it here at Tech. Most people from the region, especially the more rural parts, have no plans of going anywhere after graduation but back home.

The main issue you may face while being in this region is the extreme dependency on drugs. Appalachia does have a serious drug problem that mainly stems from pain killers. The reason for this is because in the heart of Appalachia there is almost no work to do but hard physical labor. And with pain killer prescriptions being easier to get then milk these days a lot of drug problems arise. Drug use habits are often passed down from parents to kids so you are going to have to keep an eye out for the use of drugs on campus. Another issue you may face is having to deal with a lot of students that are extremely poor. All they want is to go to college and be successful but in the mean time they have a hard time paying for food. If you can you should try to make sure that everyone attending this university can afford food one way or the other.

A big sensitivity you should have with your students and families from the region is lay offs. Many many people in Appalachia have recently experienced losing there job and for a lot of these people it has taken a toll. Maybe some sort of coping mechanism would be good for students who parents just lost their income?

The best way without a doubt this institution can invoke positive change is to set up scholarship opportunities just for kids that come out of the region of Appalachia. The more people we get educated in Appalachia the better off the region will be in the future.

Trampoline Project

Handout link:

I really enjoyed working with a good group of classmates and digging into the different relationships between characters in Trampoline. I always like to observe different family dynamics and this sure was an interesting one. Overall I think our group did a very good job on getting our project ready and then presenting the presentation. I think the way we presented using Instagram was the perfect way to do it as well. It was also very clear our discussion questions were good because they all sparked a class discussion.

Pain Killers

This week was an extremely big eye opener for me on how drugs are used so heavily in the region. Specifically pain killers. It became very apparent that these kinds of drugs are very easy to obtain in the region specifically West Virginia. Drugs like Codeine originally became very popular in the region due to the fact that most of the jobs have to do with heavy physical labor. So naturally that hurts a persons body over time and they need some kind of medication so they can get through the day.

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picture of pain killers taken from:

It didn’t take long for the use of pain killers to spread and then many people of the region got heavily addicted to the product. The big drug firms then started to pay off the doctors getting them to prescribe the drugs to just about anybody who would walk in the door. After this happened the pain killers really began sweeping through the region and it ended up destroying so many peoples lives in the process.

A lot of people place the blame on the doctors and the drug companies. However, a lot of people disagree and think that people make their own decisions therefore it is the people taking the drugs fault. So that leaves us with the question, “Whose fault is the pain killer epidemic? The Doctors? The drug corporations? The actual residents?”

40 Million Dollars

If I had 40 million dollars to invest in a place, in Appalachia, it would be southern West Virginia. I have seen how rough things have been over that way since the coal industry has all but disappeared, which left tons of people without jobs. So if I had that kind of money I would probably build some kind of massive resort like the Greenbrier or something along those lines.

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West Virginia is a beautiful part of the country, there is an endless amount of attractions you could have at a resort. You could have activities that stretch from golfing to snowboarding and everything in between. A resort would have an absolutely huge impact on a community. The job opportunities would be endless for people in the region. Not only would the resort do well but it would bring in so many other people so other businesses would also thrive.

I would also use the money to set up scholarship funds for kids of the region. That way if they worked hard they would have hope of going to college and making a better life for there self.

When America Was Tough

While reading Internal Colonization it was extremely evident that immigration became a huge part of Appalachia. Internal Colonization says, “Individuals and families migrated to the coal counties from the nearby farm counties of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.”

The main reason this sticks out to me so much is because there was a time in America where  people believed that you shouldn’t take hand outs from anyone and you should earn your own money. The attitude back then was basically if you don’t work then you don’t eat, and that is what made America and especially Appalachia the toughest place in the world. People were leaving there home states, mainly because they had been displaced, to work in what probably was the worst working conditions in the country. And they did all this just to feed their family. I envy the toughness and work ethic all the immigrants into the coal mines had.

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Above is a picture of what tough men look like. Picture taken from:

Now a days in America it seems like when the going gets tough people start wallowing in self pity and start looking to the government with their hand out. We need to get back to the way America was before, when people had enough pride in their family names to provide for themselves.

So what happened in history that turned this country from people migrating different places to work, to now not even looking for jobs?

Appalachian Music to Me

For as long as I can remember my dad would blast old school blue grass music as soon as he got home from work. So at an early age I had a real appreciation for good Appalachian music and all the different instruments mashing together to make something beautiful. I have probably listened to just as much blue grass in my lifetime as I have any other genre of music.

In Bill Malones chapter in High Mountains Rising he says, “No style is more traditional or more rooted in mountain culture.” I couldn’t agree with that statement more, at all my family reunions on Bent Mountain in Virginia someone is always playing blue grass themselves or its being played over the radio near the apple butter kettle. People from Appalachia still relate to blue grass music the same way they did when it first became popular. A lot of the stories in blue grass songs are very relatable for someone who grew up in the area. For example the song Rabbit in a Log is very relatable to my family because we pretty much live for hunting rabbits.

The song that I listen to frequently that I think is a great representation of Appalachian music is Mountain Dew by the Stanley brothers. It has great instrumentals, especially the banjo. In the song it talks all about moonshine and you cant really get more Appalachian then that. Here take a listen by clicking this link

Some old people think that Appalachian music is best off with no singing at all, those people think the instruments speak for themselves and shouldn’t be heard behind voices. I disagree, I love to hear a singers voice jive with the rhythm of a banjo or mandolin. Why do you think old people like bluegrass music without words? Does it have to with their age or is it something more then that?


My Town

I am from Salem, VA. It is an extremely awesome place filled with close friends and family. The population is around 25,000 people which feels like a lot less than it really is. Pretty much everywhere you go you see people you know. And most of the time you know the people that are working where you are at also. There is an image that the city officials sometimes choose to put on the front of our newspaper. It’s of a baseball stadium we have in town.

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We just happen to have a minor league baseball team called the Salem Red Sox, that no one is very interested in. I think that the city manager makes a huge mistake in putting the picture seen above on the front of our city news letter because it is an inaccurate representation of this town and what we care about.

Around here we care about football on Friday nights and that is it. Any sporting events you go to in this city there will maybe be a couple hundred people there. But on a Friday night in Salem there is at least 15,000 people packing the stands waiting to see the Spartans play. So why in the world the city manager doesn’t use a picture like the one below we will never know…. Its the only thing that shows what this city is really about.

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