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The Other Side of the Mountain

A collection of eleven photographic portfolios and stories about folks living in the Appalachian Mountains in the north western corner of North Carolina.  Challenged by rural isolation, minimal education, poor diet and deep poverty these individuals displayed a surprising sense of pride while living with economic limitations, rural traditions and customs reaching back to the early 19th century, as they struggled to survive on a meager local economy.  Many simply eked out a subsistence living relying on a “commodity food program” and modest government financial assistance.

The original essays were created in 1970. I returned to the region in 1975, 1985, 2000 and 2010 to revisit and photograph several of the individuals and families I had photographed years earlier. A series of full-scale video journals on these individual portfolios is currently in development. The first piece, entitled Debbie, is complete and can be accessed by viewing the Debbie portfolio.

Clay

Clay was a lifelong mountain man and often my guide. He appreciated my interest in the local culture and valued the old traditions and lore of the region. He was independent - a man’s man. Like many from his generation…

portfolio

Debbie

A photo essay about Debbie, a five-year-old North Carolina mountain girl, who was living alone with her mother Fanny in an isolated setting “way out on the mountain”.  With few resources and minimal contact with the world beyond their hilltop…

portfolio

Lanzo and Friend

I visited Lanzo briefly one day with Clay and Spencer, two mountain men I traveled with from time to time. Natives in this deep mountain region, they knew many “old time” mountain people they thought I’d like to meet and…

portfolio

May & Vance

The first time I met May and Vance I was startled when right in the middle of our first halting conversation they responded abruptly to a sound they heard outside their cabin. They stood up, went outside and saw their…

portfolio

Morris & Nell

A story about a North Carolina mountain couple who are thought by local authorities to be "socially retarded" yet lived in abject poverty without the support of government aid for many years until a new program offered some helpful financial…

portfolio

Ore & Arlie

Ore and Arlie were sought after musicians in the North Carolina mountain region. I visited with them often and was able to capture on tape their rich sound and traditional style of playing. Ore played a “ringing” fiddle with passion…

portfolio

Place

The Appalachian mountain region in northwestern North Carolina is filled with natural beauty and, back in the time I spent there in 1970, was also place where many mountain folk lived in abject poverty. While the landscape was filled with…

portfolio

Rory & Ransom

I spent a full day from sunup to sunset walking the ridges and hollers of Beech Mountain as Rory and Ransom spent the day hunting for rabbits. They lived with their mother and younger sister with few conveniences in an…

portfolio

The Benfields

The Benfield Family lived up on Ole Yellowtop Mountain. Their place was remote, accessible only on foot and situated about two miles from the nearest paved road. A family of six they lived a spartan life. The whole family was…

portfolio

Tobacco Market

In the rugged Appalachian Mountains the mainstay regional crop is tobacco. It is grown on small parcels of land. The size you are “allotted” is determined by the US Government. The price per pound for the sale of tobacco is…

portfolio

Walter & Therese

Walter was a mountain farmer raising his half acre government allotment crop of tobacco on land he helped his father clear when he was just a young boy. Along with tobacco he and his wife Therese raised several heard of…

portfolio
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