As a child growing up near Chicago, I heard my parents speak of “Home” with such love and affection it seemed like paradise to me. As part of the great northern migration from the coalfields, hills, and hollows to factory jobs and city life, my parents were always looking back and thinking about their family and place in the mountains of Southeastern Kentucky. Like so many others, they let go of familiar things and comfortable ways in order to try and make a better living or create a more secure future in the industrialized population centers of the country.
My family was only one of thousands that pulled up Appalachian roots and moved them to new soil across the country. No matter how successful they found themselves in their new locations, they never ceased to take a romantic view of the place where they began.
At a time when industry was quickly expanding, the coalfields of Appalachia provided the coal and the manpower to make it possible. Strong, independent, patriotic, hard working, and loyal were the Appalachian pioneers who left home to follow the American dream in whatever direction it lead. Those men, women, and children were forever changed by the new lives they embraced when they left the mountains, but for most of them memories and people they left behind in Appalachia were always beloved.