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Cosmic Possum (2)

The poet Jane Hicks wrote a poem that explains the term, cosmic possum. She says, “the possum is the perfect symbol of my beloved Appalachia: underappreciated, misunderstood, and the ultimate survivor in the face of all manners of predation.”
How We Became Cosmic Possums

(Suburban Appalachian Baby Boomers)

“Caught between Country Club and 4-H,

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Neither hip nor hillbilly,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere.

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Daddy punched the time clock,

Neither feedsack nor cashmere

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa’s farm.

Daddy punched the time clock,

First generation out of the holler,

Worked weekend tobacco on Grandpa’s farm,

Saved for our college diplomas.

First generation out of the holler,

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Saved for our college diplomas,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams.

Veterans who never spoke the horror,

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Television lullabies shaped weary dreams,

Believed our country always right.

Stanley thermos and lunch pail full,

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Believed our country always right,

Scorned unions in the plant.

Feared beatniks, hippies, and Communists,

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Scorned unions in the plants,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams.

Secretly applauded our highest draft numbers,

Searched the skies for nuclear rain,

Wars they never spoke of, fierce dreams,

Built fallout shelters for our future.

Searched the sky for nuclear rain,

We learned to “duck and cover,”

Built fallout shelters for our future.

Became the hippies our fathers feared.

We learned to “duck and cover,”

Neither shrimp nor crawdad,

Became the hippies our fathers feared,

Caught between Country Club and 4-H.”

This is the child born first generation from down the mountain or out of the holler. He/she is the child that tells the stories of the older generation. He remembers the round snuff boxes, talks about the good eating from the iron bean pot, and wants cornbread crumbled in buttermilk for a meal. He plays a harmonica for fun and enjoys running across a log over a creek.

Mountain roads and dirt roads beckon him. Interstates are boring. Picking blackberries for a homemade cobbler is not work, but an opportunity to enjoy nature’s bounty. Carving spoons or making trays, benches, and stools makes him smile. He even built by himself a Little House Art Studio over a summer and insisted on a tin roof, like his home used to have.

Yet this is also the man who learned Autocad in his forties. Pizza is one of his favorite foods, and he joined the Navy at age 16 because he believes in defending this country. Television, except for the news, the history channel, and This Old House reruns, is a waste of time and money. He likes country music and the shows of Celtic Women.

His father taught him to never miss an opportunity to learn something new, and he lives by that advice. Since retirement as a designer, he has focused on his painting.

Meet my very favorite cosmic possum; he is my husband John.

He is sharing his memories of growing up in Ingle Holler, outside of Union, SC, and they are becoming short stories about a lost time in the mill villages of the Upstate. Since we both believe in preserving history, it has claimed our attention with writing about his family’s heritage, but also South Carolina’s heritage.

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