Holler Girl – The Story of a West Virginia Native

April 1, 2014 Travis Dewitz

Guest post by Amy Gentry

“Holler Girl”

Off and on my entire life I have heard the phrase “holler girl” used in a derogatory way. Well, I’ve never really understood why that’s a bad thing. I’m proud to be from the holler. The little red-headed holler girl with freckles on her face and mischievous green eyes. Was I mean? Well yeah! The definition of mean for me was totally different from the definition of mean these days. Did I call people names? Did I hit my Mother? Did I throw tantrums?  Absolutely not….my Mom would have whipped me. My sister and I were mean on a totally different level. We didn’t have internet, cell phones, I-pads, or I-pods. We had barbies, power-wheels, sand boxes, and swimming pools. We played in the dirt and we fought each other. We got in trouble for going farther from the house than we were suppose to. That was our version of mean. We played like one of the boys. We gathered frog eggs and put them in coffee cans and weren’t afraid of getting warts as the old wives tale goes. We had skinned knees and bee stings….suffered through our Mom rubbing our little wounds down with alcohol…but she always blew on it. A Mother’s love is infinite. My Mother taught me how to love and how to receive love.

We cut our jeans off and made shorts and played bare-footed in the yard. We swam in our pool. The neighborhood kids, my sister, and I would all get together. Kristen Shupe, Jason Bailey, my sister Crissy, myself,  and many others would all pick a yard to play in. We played Indian ball, kick-ball, hide-n-go seek, water hose battles and yeah we drank out of the hose…we didn’t die either. We made our own slip and slides from mining belts or old pool liners …we made bubbles from dish detergent.  Some of my fondest childhood memories were playing with my dear friend Kristen Shupe. We used our imagination… we made up games. We played tornado..which we both still remember very fondly to this day.

I am proud to be called Holler Girl. We are strong but gentle all at the same time. We are beautiful with rough edges. We are fearless if need be, but yet know when to run. Our husbands can track the deer, kill the deer, and drag it home….and we can cook it. Lots of ladies kill the deer themselves. We know how to survive, how to plant a garden, how to sew, and what it means to hang clothes on the line. We know how to live if our washing machine breaks down….or the dishwasher goes out. Half of us are the dish washer. We know how to use a hammer and a screw driver then turn around and make a pot of cabbage rolls…or a pan of cornbread…and I “ain’t” talking about from a box.

We know how to tell our children to get over themselves and not coddle them every time life doesn’t go their way. We teach them it’s ok to lose but to dust themselves off and keep moving forward. We see fit that they will grow up to be strong holler girls or boys. We do not feel less-fortunate. Many of us have college degrees, are nurses, teachers, preachers and well-educated women. Some of us finished high school and became the “dreaded wife and mother”–as society portrays it. We just have our own way of life. This is what we are made from. Our strong holler girl mothers raised us well. West Virginia raised us also. These mountains literally  have a way of molding the person you become. I have coal slate under the skin on my knee to this day to prove it….my sister does too. That’s what happens when you refuse to let Mommy clean it. This place becomes part of you.

Window To The Past-My Front Porch

When I was growing up every Saturday morning my Mama would fix homemade biscuits and gravy. I would sit on the front porch with Daddy and usually Papaw in my gown. I can still smell those biscuits and feel that hot plywood stinging my legs….but sitting in the sun felt so good when I first woke up. I was only about 6 or 7 at that time, but I still remember pulling my gown over my knees to protect them from the heat on those hot summer mornings in the holler. I would love to go back there….when I had no responsibilities, not a care in the world. Mommy worried about cooking and Daddy worried about buying the food.

Our little home had a few leaks in the roof when it rained but some of my best memories were seeing my Mommy put out pots and bowls to catch the leaks. I can still hear the drip, drop, drip, drop. I didn’t care. It didn’t scar me for life. It taught me how much the small things mean. It made me appreciate things in life. I didn’t feel impoverished or low, I thought it was cool that Mommy put the pots out to catch the rain. That’s it. It taught me how to live without everything money could buy. To be thankful I was warm, and that I had a Mom and Dad who loved me. I suppose you could compare those small leaks to life. Sometimes we are so flooded with problems, small parts of our mind begin to give way and those tiny leaks occur… as you lose your temper… as you experience anxiety…. during those times just slip a few pots under the overflow of life and let it flow(tears)…. dump them out later(wipe your eyes) and move forward. It’ll all be fine. Those leaks can be patched up later.

I was literally taught that not everything was obtainable by the push of a button as my dad had a T.V. with rabbit ears…. no remote…. just a turn dial. Us kids were his remote when he was tired from working. We would turn that dial until he seen what he wanted to watch. When Daddy came home the T.V. was his. I suppose in way we were taught respect through that too. Today I’m sure that would be considered some form of abuse (haha).  After we were done helping with the T.V. we went to that front porch to play. It was a high tower, a fort, a castle, or a play house. Oh how I’d love to go back for a day!

 The Scent Of My Childhood–A flood Of Memories

I can walk outside during certain parts of the season, take a deep breath, and the scent of the wind floods into my body bringing images to my mind of days more peaceful…like a picture album of long-lost dreams. Each image tells a different story of things I love. In summer I remember those mid-day thunderstorms on an 80 degree day…..and how I loved to play in the rain. I can smell the pine trees that lined my front yard and see the wooden posts my fence was fastened to. I see ” Wish Flowers” blowing in the breeze from a time gone by, when my small fingers would pick them and blow them away to see how far they would travel… praying my wish would come true.

I can hear those faint songs we sang in the spring when it was finally warm enough to go outside to play…”Ring around the rosies…pocket full of posies…ashes…ashes…we all fall down!” Picking flowers and trying to work it out just right so when you finished picking each petal off the boy you liked was sure to love you…”He loves me, he loves me not.” You decided if you had to pick every flower in sight….that boy was going to love you.

I can smell the basement of my childhood church, the coal furnace was down there, and so were our Sunday school rooms. We use to have to wipe the benches off before we sat down. We may have got a little coal dust on us….but our Bibles never collected any dust. We were taught right from wrong. We were taught of Jesus’ love and how to love one another. I remember those hot summer evenings heading to church.  The smell of spearmint gum and the way my Mommy would whisper in my ear when I was misbehaving. She would say “Do you want to make a trip to the bathroom?” I knew what that meant…..so I’d straighten up quick. We knew church was NOT the place to get silly

I smell the cool air blowing in and I remember being 15 and the first time I stood on my back porch with my 17 year old boyfriend and fell so deeply in love….how we broke up and I thought I would die. Sneaking in kisses when Mommy and Daddy wasn’t checking on us. That man is now my husband….but thats a whole other story.

Dusk-Dark In The Hills

On a cool quiet summer evening…. the crickets and frogs chatter late into the night singing their beautiful country songs. The lightning bugs dance atop the highest trees, gracing our presence  during our camp fires and late night talks on the porch. Their small visits are much appreciated because it wont be long until they are all gone and fall will begin its inevitable descent upon us.

When I was young we would make lightning bug jewelry. You took their glowy bulb off and stuck them on your fingers to make rings….or your neck to make a necklace….a small girl with big dreams…we were mountain princesses. Our people may not be able to afford the most expensive jewelry but ours shone the brightest on those sweet summer nights.

Later on into the night we would retire to our beds…and most are covered in handmade quilts and fresh crisp sheets. If you have never hung sheets on a clothesline to dry, then put them on your bed that night….you don’t know what you are missing. No amount of fabric softener or laundry detergent can hold a candle to the scent of wild honeysuckle, lavender, and roses that grow wildly and entangle themselves on the corners of the fence. Those fragrances dance around the edges of our lives….we are accustomed to them..but ever aware of their sweet fragrance. We sleep peacefully in our small homes as God has provided all our needs.

As autumn settles in God paints each leaf on every tree a beautiful fall hue….from browns and purples to orange and red……no mortal man could come close to capturing what we see for a short period in late September to early November. We spent chilly evenings raking leaves just to run and jump in them. I have always been able to smell the seasons…though it may seem strange to some. I can step outside in late summer and literally smell fall….and as each leaf drops one by one….that fragrance intensifies….until late October or mid November….then I can smell the frost….the ice and the impending snow. I think we are so connected to the land here that we actually identify with the seasons internally and spiritually.

Our Enchanting Mountains And The Protection Therein

There is a subtle magic here that roots itself deep into its inhabitants. West Virginia is a place that goes with you no matter how far you stray. It lives in the hearts and runs through the veins of all its natives. I’d like to think the enchantment of this place carries on through years of being gone. It leaves a sore spot in the soul of many former residents.

Our mountains are  beautiful…they’re rustic and unforgiving… yet safe and guarding of us who live in these nooks, crannies, bottoms, and hills. Our starry nights  shine down upon us as we sleep in the valleys beneath towering mountains like millions of angels peering down in watch. The warm night air wraps itself around your body like a blanket. Nature sings us to sleep and wakes us up in the morning.

To watch a storm roll in during the summer…when the sky suddenly goes from bright and sunny to violently electric in one beat of your heart. I love to stand barefooted in the grass with my children in tow….we hold our arms out and close our eyes….and the wind blows so hard against our bodies it feels as though we are flying. If you look up.. the tallest trees bear the winds  with every ounce of their ancient strength….the trees cover every inch of land in sight….and sway violently….they make our mountains seem to dance magically to the beat of the wind. West Virginia thunder storms…..they wash away the coal dust and cleanse our inner most being. When I was little everyone would jokingly say the cause of the storm was that the devil was beating his wife!  I’d like to think our pain washes away in the midst of those storms…brings new meaning to the phrase “It’ll all come out in the wash.”

These mountains  are so enormous yet we are so small in that breath-taking moment when you can see and hear the rain coming….and you wait to feel the first drop land on your face. We used to wash our hair in the rain when I was a kid….it leaves you with the softest hair ever and it smells like freshly line dried laundry. I still play in the rain with my kids today….sometimes the rain is so cold, even on an eighty degree day….it will hit your shoulders and trickle down your back and leave you with chills….almost as if winter breathed down  your spine for a moment. A reminder that soon summer will be gone. We search for rainbows and if we find one I always share the story of God’s promise with my children.

In late winter, I find myself waiting to see the first green bud…..the first hint of green grass playing around the edges of dirt road that encircles my house. The first glance of white or pink on those Dogwood trees is like a baptism for the soul after long months of freezing weather and snow to your knees. Usually everything tries to bloom too early…eager for life….eager to start a new season. Then a frost sets in…and I watch to see if the green will survive. I watch to see if  the glimpse of new life will be blighted. The majority of the time those little buds stand firm….a testimony to the people here. We stand firm even though our small corner of the world…our tiny county…. seems to be falling off the map.

Simplicity-A forgotten Way Of Life

How is that happiness can be found in simplicity?

With simplicity comes nothing to confound…

A life of peaceful purity…..

A life that is true and sound…

Sweet kicks from within….

Trump any degree of wealth……

Being thankful for a home, for food….

For our health……

A country church way out in a field….

A portion for today…

And more tomorrow will yield….

A mountain… a towering  tree…..

A crackling lightning bolt…..

That’s all I need.


Simplicity is hearing the crickets chirp and deciding it’s not a noisy interruption. It’s hearing them call as spring approaches and appreciating the tranquility of lying in bed listening to them sing. Later the frogs join in with their deep croaks and I can’t help but giggle thinking of my Dad singing, “Froggy went a courtin’ and he did ride mmhmmm.” Simplicity is in their lullabye as we softly fall asleep.

No beeping horns, only the sound of a train in the distance…..the window open and a warm breeze caressing your face. These mountains nourish the soul. This place is why I am who I am today. Growing up in the mountains is something I will never regret. I only hope my children have an amazing childhood also…and I wouldn’t raise them anywhere else. When they are older and maybe decide to leave….. I hope this place is so instilled in their very being that they feel called to come back and make a small difference in the community that built them, myself, my parents, their parents, and so forth. I want to see this place boom once again…..but even if it doesn’t my heart will always belong to McDowell County WV.

© Amy Gentry 2014

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Travis Dewitz

My name is Travis Dewitz and I am from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. My specialty is commercial photography with a love for expressive portraits. My work is Conceptual, Emotive, Editorial, Surreal and Eclectic. I am passionate about fashioning new worlds through photographs as I extend my visions beyond the realm of the camera. I have incredible vision, which you can see in all of my photos.

Comments (154)

  1. Danielle Graham

    Wow Amy that’s awesome I couldn’t go to sleep until I read. Once again thank you for reminding me of my childhood:)

  2. Shelby Meade

    I enjoyed this to the fullest. I lived the same lifestyle you did and so proud that I did.There is nothing like these W.V. Hills.Yes I am Shelby Mc Peak Meade and I don’t regret a minuet of my upbringing .

  3. Trish Shine Roberts

    This was so heartwarming…….Very well done. It took me back to my childhood, where everything was simple and plain and wonderful. It makes me sad for my kids on how much they have missed out on. There is nothing simple left in this old world…….Thank you!

  4. Edward Blankenship

    Brought back so many memories I loved it there but I can’t go back everything changed

  5. kay christian

    This brought back so many memories,they are all good .This was so well written. Took me back to my childhood. It was wonderful !!!

  6. Sandra Handley

    Absolutely wonderful, so enjoyed reading, I am a redheaded holler girl also with many memories that will always remain close to my heart, West Virginia will always be my home those hills are a place of beauty. Thank you Amy for a beautiful story……….<3

  7. Robin Varney Simms

    Wow…wonderful! I so enjoyed this. I could have written it myself! I grew up in a holler, and now raising or have raised, my kids in the holler here in Cabell County.

  8. Lisa Mcneely

    Thank you for taking me back to the good old days…. I wish that the kids that are growing up now could also have the childhood experience…Enjoyed reading your story

  9. Lisa Mcneely

    Thank you for taking me back to the good old days…. I wish that the kids that are growing up now could also have the childhood experience…Enjoyed reading your story

  10. Kenneth A Whittaker

    Loved the stories .The remembrance of growing up in the holler.Thanks for the memories and may God bless you enough!!!!

  11. Mona Cook

    This was like reading about my own childhood. I was one of the many that moved away but the mountains called me home. I’m so thankful for all my memories, good and bad. I reared my older two children in West Virginia and am now rearing my five adopted children here as well. I have taught all of them to play in the dirt, run in the rain, jump in the leaves and to make snow angels in the winter. I so enjoyed reading this story and wouldn’t change my childhood for anything on earth. I loved growing up in Fayette County, West Virginia. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Sharon Marshall

    Reading all of these stories was so breath taking. they are so real. first time I visited Virginia, I started to realize why Rodger loved coming from there. he showed me a lot of the history there. people were very much set in their own ways. back in these days many of us and our parents had to struggle and bond together. I know this brought a lot of great memories back from my childhood even here in Michigan. thank you for sharing.

  13. Martha Trent-Kerns

    Great memories as I read this, All of this belongs to each and everyone who lived up the Holler. so proud to be a holler girl.

  14. Martha Trent-Kerns

    I tried to share it to Sharon Lesters page, but it wouldn’t let me.

  15. Mildred Ward Cole

    Brought back many memories. I was born in Kilsyth, WV (Fayette County) and grew up in Mt. Hope, WV. Graduated Mt. Hope High School.


    Wonderful!! I started seeing memories just running across my visonary tract!!! My Daddy was a COAL MINER, Olga Coal Co, Coalwood, WV (McDowell Co); he was raised in Marytown and my mother was from Capels, WV. Thinking about runnin and playing and getting a drink of water from the “community” dipper in the pail of water that hung on back porch. Swinging from vines near the creek, getting wet when you “accidently” slipped off the rope! Thanks for stirring up my mind to happier, more peaceful time in my life. GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!!!!!

  17. Paul H Bowles

    I am a guy, but I can relate in so many ways. Grew up in Summers County, WVa and ” ran away right after High School. Now that I am retired, wish I never left those Wild and Wonderful hills.
    Paul B

  18. BB COLE

    Gratitude wells up when I read these words and remember my childhood safe havens-found both in the beauty of the mountains but also in the big heartedness of the folks who shared their family’s love with kids who were not kin but were included anyway. All the nostalgia is sweet but it doesn’t tell the Others’ story of what it is to grow up as a raggedy coal camp kid who would not have survived and even later thrived because someone fed them (physically and spiritually), sheltered them -even if it meant standing up to mean drunks and showed them what a healthy family could look like. Being dearly loved gives you confidence and loving others makes you crazy-brave but having both means you have a deep source of WV riches that no one can count.
    For these folks and their loving hearts- I am truly thankful!

  19. I have thoroughly enjoyed these pictures and story; both bring back memories of my childhood past. I have always been proud of growing up in The Hollers of West Virginia. I have traveled and lived in many places and none of them has my heart strings attached like those hollers in West Virginia. When some uncouth individual would make demeaning statements about West Virginia I have always defended our state. It would usually be accomplished by pointing out to the talker that West Virginia did not have any problems until their family moved into our state. Over the years I have heard just about every derogatory remark that can be made about a place directed toward West Virginia. Therefore I have developed a long list of comebacks and over the years have embarrassed several people. Currently I am divesting myself in other states and preparing to move back to Almost Heaven. Always remember it took a Civil War for West Virginia to become a state and never forget our state’s motto, Montani semper liberi or Mountaineers are Always Free.

  20. Janet Webb

    This made me remember my childhood .
    I no longer live in WV my son lives there and I visit there

  21. Jo Etta Ewing Statler

    I really enjoyed reading that .I was raised in a holler also and it sure brought back a lot of good memories. Great ,loved it !!

    • McDowell county where Chief of Police Sid Hatfield from Matewan, Mingo County, WV was murdered on the courthouse steps. Sid was the only law enforcement officer in the state of WV to stand by the coal miners when the Baldwin thugs and Tom Felts crew of criminals were assaulting and harassing the coal miners in the southern part of West Virginia. Sid Hatfield had shot and killed several of the thugs during the battle referred to as the Matewan Massacre. The court in McDowell county sent Sid a subpoena on a tromp up charge and would not allow him to bring his firearm for protection. Not one person was ever charged for killing this Law Enforcement Officer in spite of the fact there were several eye witnesses.

  22. Charlotte E Pyle

    I am a holler girl too. Now live in Iowa. Thanks for the free trip home even if just by a memory.

  23. Paul Perry

    Enjoyed this very much,brought back memories of my childhood.I was raised at Pie,W.V. Mingo County.

    • sue

      grew up in taylorville, wv. my husband tells story of how Pie got its name. Ever heard about naming contest?

  24. Emily Dianne Powell Davis Hale

    I came to Iaeger West Virginia when I was 6 years old. Started school there and graduated in 1963. Went on to concord college and then from there life went different directions, but NEVER too far from my memories of y childhood and Iaeger. I still have family there and come back often. Your article was GREAT!!!!

  25. Shirley Vance

    I too am a WV Holler Girl rom next door in Wyoming county. Your words took me right back to my childhood, especially the part about smelling the seasons. Wonderful words here.

  26. Shirley Mae Ofsa

    Beautiful writing about a beautiful State. I was a holler born girl also. Arlington up Northfork Holler. I experienced a lot of the things you described. Thanks for putting it on paper.



  28. Marsha Tolliver Krajc

    My parents were from McDowell Co. And we were all Holler boys & girls. My husband and I live in SC now, but our roots, came from being raised in almost heaven WV. Hard workers, a love of God and people.

  29. Jane Tunning Stewart

    I grew up on a ridge top, Fork Ridge, but life was the same there as in the hollers of WV. I love WV and always will. Growing up there made me the person I am and I would have no other way.

  30. Connie Vance Kingery

    I am a holler girl too!!! Raised in McDowell County, Bradshaw Mountain & Jolo! The best of times and where time stands still…the best place for kids to grow up! I still have family there and visit often. Its not the same, but still home!

  31. Donna Stanley

    Lovely article. Brings back such fond childhood memories of a simpler time that formed our values and morals and made us the adults we are today. We were blessed to be mountain born and bred. I can identify with the smells of the changing seasons and being one with the land. This was a wonderful stroll down memory lane

  32. Louise Cobb

    Reminesence of a wonderful childhood. Thank you so much for similar memories. I was and still am, at heart, a “holler girl”.

  33. Enjoyed your story. I too was raised up a hollow, called Chattaroy Hollow, near Williamson, WV. Love that place and I go back every chance I get. You took me back some years ago. I try to tell my grandkids about me growing up and how we use to play. We had to make out own games just like you said. Thought we had it hard then, but wished I could call those times back. Took my
    grandson back there this summer, he is 16 and never seen a hollow. Coming back home to Myrtle Beach, SC, where we live now he said maw maw I see now what you were talking about. I really like it there. I would like to go back. So I will be taking him back soon. Thank you so much for the memories.

  34. Iva Daugherty

    Very well written and just as I remembered it. I wish I could go back and relive those memories just like they were. Not change one thing about them. WONDERFUL MEMORIES!

  35. Phil Bishop


    • Ella Anderson Hockett

      I lived in Davy, but spent lots of time at my grandparents in Helena, then Asco. They were John and Stella Gilliand. I had a bunch of Gilliand cousins. I really miss those OLE days. My uncle’s were Graham, Arthur, and Dee. They are all gone now. So is my brother and sister. McDowell County…💔

  36. Philip Curcio

    Always fascinated by these stories !!
    Never knew or had a REAL family. I was given up for adoption as a baby and then unwanted by the ones who adopted me !! (Guess they needed a kid to fit in with that generation). Can’t get enough stories about Family Love amidst humble and trying circumstances. It’s these people who understand Common Sense and who exhibit Class !!
    Thanks for sharing your story !!

  37. Danyelle Hines

    That was amazing Amy… I was literally taken back to the holler. That place is breed into every part of me. I have been a million different places, and I now live in Alabama. And my heart to return home. There is nothing like our little world tucked away in those hills. I remember having Snake berry fight s with you and eating honeysuckles. I love that place. Thanks for the escape from reality for just a moment in time, and taking me back to my roots.

  38. Allison McClure Lambert

    Logan County, Man West Virginia: Regardless where I am, Home is West Virginia….Wouldn’t change anything about my childhood…

  39. I was born in welch, grew up in Coal Mountain WV.The way you said the things, hit home in so many ways.I left in 82 gone to NC stayed 10yrs came back in 91, I’m a coal hollow boy, will be til the day They plant me under the old oak tree, Love WV

  40. Barbara Mullens

    I did not grow up on a holler, but I lived for over 24 years in McDowell Co. My name was first Barbara Brown and I taught at Iaeger int. for 2 yrs before going to Welch Junior High. I married Rex Sadler from Anawalt and raised our son there until Rex died and we moved. I loved your story and the pictures. Ba big part of my life was there.

  41. Robin Perry Grey

    I was raised up Cannelton Holler (Fayette County). This article brings back a lot of memories.

  42. Don Hubbard

    i am a 3rd generation coal miner in eastern ky knox and bell co ky ,,had good parents and great career in coal mining for 40yrs,,a pleasure to know the hundreds of sur and deep miners over the years,,my mother was a bishop ,,she was raised up in a coal mine camp in bell jellico ”bell co”ky

  43. Edith

    Grew up in Floyd County KY(Martin)..near WVA line..Iceplant Holler…when we moved to Dayton Ohio..I was bout 8..the kids at school would tease me and call me a Briarhopper…we would go home to Martin nearly every other weekend. .told my Mamaw what the kids were calling me…she said : “well, reckon you can tell them fellers you can wipe your butt on a buckeye, but not on a briar!’ Loved my upbringing in the hollers!!

  44. Dennis Chase

    This is a wonderful piece of work! All the reasons you mention are the reasons why West Virginia is so special!

  45. DeAnna Lee New

    Wasn’t a holler girl. Guess I was a coal camp girl. Had most of the same experiences as a child. Born and raised in Isaban, and lived on the McDowell County side of the creek. You know if you ‘re from McDowell County if you pronounce it Mac Dowell County. :))

  46. Dolly Lutz

    Oh, what a heart warming read. I really enjoyed every word. I’m not a “Holler Girl”, but came from a small town where we lived on the last street going up the hill towards the only Highway into the town at the time. We lived on a large piece of property……with tons of Sagebrush and Clover……unkempt to the people who had lovely gardens, but to me was like living in a “magical” place. We could go play for hours out there, with no fear of being taken by some “freak”. Long late nights in the Summer months…..and OH, the wonderful smells of the Lilac Bushes and the Jonquil flowers that were spread all over the hills. Yellow “Johnny Jump-Ups” grew in clumps all across the hill, creating bright yellow patches among the Sagebrush. I can still smell them……

    Your wonderful descriptive words brought back so many good memories for me……though I came from a VERY dysfunctional home, my way to escape was to go out to play amongst the bushes and flowers …….with the butterflies and the bees. Garter snakes were common things, but still terrified me….I spent many an hour just revelling in the Sunshine and fresh air, with nothing to fear.

    One of my fondest memories is when my four siblings and I played in the BIG Rain Barrel with the neighbouring children.
    The rush of the water over my head as I dunked down to the bottom was an awesome feeling. Of course now and then the older children got “mean” and started holding me under……til I came up sputtering and choking…….but it was all in good fun.

    When we moved from there into the center of another small town……(like a City to me), I really missed the freedom I had there. In a sense my childhood ended at 9, as nothing was the same after that.

    Thank YOU for sharing your wonderful experiences with us all. And thank you Wayne Guindon, for sharing this Post with me.

    I have ONE Question…..exactly where did or what does the name “Holler Girl” come from or exactly what is it’s meaning?

    I suspect it means people hollering across the mountain to each other, but not sure.
    Blessings to you and your loved ones……….Dazzling Dolly.

  47. Kathy

    Love it. I’m a “Holler girl” from Fayette county, WV. Crow Holler girl. Amazing how similar our stories are from the next county over. Good read. Great memories.

  48. Roberta Jackie Smith

    I am a “Holler Girl”! Born in Highcoal, Boone County, WV and raised at Rock Creek, Raleigh County, WV. Thank you for your stories. Reading your story and reliving my life as a “Holler Girl”. Well written…I took a step by in time. Thank you for the memories.

  49. Mary Allen

    This brought back memories of my childhood. What I would give if life was so simple, yet rich, now. Thank you for the memories.

  50. Judy Mularoni

    How beautiful! I was born and lived in Kanawaha county and then we moved to Ohio. To this day, I miss the mountains and all the wonderful times I had when staying with relatives every summer in WV.

  51. Donna Jean

    I AM A HOLLER GIRL….No truer words written. Loved your story and most could be applied to my own. Raised in Sangamaw (Sangamore) holler, Clay County West Virginia, I did not know that almost every name ended in “e”, or the fact that we were dirt poor yet we were some of the richest people on earth by having what mattered the most in life with family, love and helpful neighbors. I appreciate that I was raised as I was and proud to say: I AM a holler girl.

  52. Jerry Miller

    I’m a coal miners son from McDowell County! May the Lord bless you as much as this story has blessed me. We do need to be proud of who we are and most of all where we came from.

  53. Edna Sargent Chapman


  54. Bonnie Lester

    I am a holler girl (Ben Creek, Gilbert Creek) Mingo County. Still live in Gilbert, W.va. and all this brought back memories of years gone by. We learned respect, what giving your word meant and protection of family. Thanks for the memories. I knew where these places were before I got to the end of the story. Thanks for sharing

  55. Judy Mullins Shepherd

    this is great! I’m a holler girl , too. From Roderfield….and lived in Westchester Holler 30 years. Now live in Edmond “holler” in
    Fayette co

  56. Patrick Lambert

    I’m a holler boy, still live in Pocahontas County. This was absolutely beautiful, brought a tear to my eye. This is exactly what West Virginia is. It’s nourishment for your soul. I’ve moved away many times, but always end up coming back. This is where my roots run deep…..it’s home.

  57. Shelly Conley

    Have been gone from Logan, West Virginia since 1959 but still have good memories and go back for High School reunions. Have gone from a “holler girl” to a world traveler. Worked and lived in Germany and Japan for more than 30 years.

    • Lois pertee

      Was wondering maybe if you would happen to know my parents my daddy his name was john pertee and my mother s name was wooten i too am from logan wva i was born there but moved to ohio thank you for your time and god bless

  58. JUDY Cole

    I loved this it brought back so many good memories!!! It was so well written, I would love to have a printed copy!! Thank you for sharing!!! I was born in Charleston, Even and raised in Kayford coal field country,Kanawha County! My farther as a coal miner and died in the coal mine, when I was 5!! But we had a great Mom who took all five of us to Sharon to live!!

  59. Lisa McKinney Harmon

    Loved your story. I am holler girl also. Loved growing up in WV and no matter where I roamed to I have always called WV home and am proud to say I plan to live the rest of my years here.

  60. Janice Huff Blankenship

    I grew up in the little coal camp Red Jacket , Mingo County in the 50’s and 60’s. You took my heart right back home. I wish this was in print. I would give a copy to all my friends. You explain it so much better than I can. And as the song goes ” No matter where I roam , it will always be my home”. Thanks so much for saying it so eloquently. Janice

  61. Jennifer Johnson

    I was born in Welch, WV and raised in Iaeger, WV…nothing like the errors from where I was raised..we had great times with many great memories!! Great family and friends with good food and spectacular views in all four seasons!! It made me who I am today and I’m truly proud to have been brought up there! Even though I live in NC now, and don’t get back as often as I would like due to life keeping me busy..I think about it often and it will always be home to me!!

  62. Cindy

    I am a holler girl from Monkey Holler, Mannington WV. Still visit Mannington when I can but still live in WV.

  63. Norma Chandler Stadvec

    Beautiful! Simply beautiful! I could feel every memory and word deep within.



  64. Patty Shumate Cason

    I was born and raised in Crumpler Holler, best childhood any one could ever have, so many great memories.

  65. Ellis Butch Layne Jr.

    Had to leave 1965, go north to work. Have called WV home all my life. Lived up 24 holler growing up.

  66. Vickie Bottomly Butwell

    I was born in Welch in 1952. My family lived in Iaeger until 1958 when my father Lloyd Bottomly retired to SW Fl. Born a holler kid and proud of it. I wish I remembered the name of the holler we lived in. It was down the road from the high school.

  67. Amy Gentry

    Thank you to every one who has taken a moment to read or share my story. I love reading each and every comment and hearing your stories as well. Some one above asked what exactly did the term holler girl mean…well most people use it as a derogatory term…..they think it means small minded and back woods…..simple. I have been called a Holler girl by people who live 30 minutes away haha. I wrote this story to bring light to who we really are….intelligent…capable…loving individuals who love where we live. Yes I married young and I have four children…another assumption made by unknowing people….another meaning behind holler girl…but I am a clerk for the United States Postal Service….I am active in my church and I love my life. I would have it no other way….right here in Mcdowell County. And I wear shoes on my feet everyday hahaha…;).

    • A.B. Asbury

      I lived in Coalwood, WV through 5th grade where Mr. Likens was Principal. I had Mrs. Zick in 1st grade & 2 of the Cox families. those were fun formative years. I went to Virginia Tech where a number of Coalwood boys went…Lots of good memories!

  68. loved this. brought back so many memories. the very best memories I have are within the mountains and hollers of home. I am a holler girl from mingo county, Lenore wva

  69. Janice Hawkins Hurst

    I enjoyed reading this so much I grew up in Mercer County WV. I love my town.

  70. Rebecca Shivers

    I enjoyed this so much and relived your childhood through it. Thanks so much. Would that we could somehow have simpler times in our later life!!!

  71. Virginia Ruth Midkiff

    We did not live in coal country but we did grow up in the holler. When I look back now, I wish my children had grown up there. We didn’t have much, but we had parents who loved us very much, there was food on the table and clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet. I do wish my parents did not have to work so hard. West Virginia is Home. Love for this state flows thru my veins and arteries. I thank God for putting me in my family and allowing me to live in the holler in West Virginia.

  72. I am a holler girl from wv. I watched my grand father come home from work in his dirty work clothes and his car bight light fastened to his hat. He had been down in the cold working his time just like many more in our town in wv. My best friends son at the age of twenty four was killed in a mine explosive when he was found he was right at the opening of the mines. The Cole mines is a heck of a place to work.all we could do was pray that they come home at the end of there shift alive.

  73. Bill Lipscomb

    I grew up in west liberty and then valley grove. Close to wheeling. I left when I joined the air force in1986. I love going home but I also love being where I am now in the Florida panhandle. Coal is west virginia and my family had many miners. It’s the best place to be from, but for me there were no career opportunities . I love mountaineer football, follow the herd of marshall and keep tabs on what’s going on there. Thanks to facebook.

  74. Paul

    Wonderful read, sometimes you are in such a big hurry to leave. You never know what you had.

  75. Tressa Marie Johnson

    I grew up in Salem Ohio, but went to Chester West Va frequently, with friends, Sue and Michelle(they are cousins) . Race track near there was fun. Always fun. Great people!!! I was Tressa Conway Stokes.

  76. Roger Herndon

    Grew up in Berwind and War in McDowell County and I recognize many of the photos. Graduated form Big Creek High. Father died in Berwind mine accident when I was 9 years old leaving my mother and 9 children to make ends meet as best we could. We were poor as dirt but didn’t even realize it at the time because how she raised us gave us the character, pride and the will to persevere and achieve success. If I could reset the clock and start over again I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for the article, every word is true.

  77. Geneva Lambert

    I was a Hollow girl also born and raised in Carswell hollow. This has brought back all those precious memories from my childhood. My husband Leroy Lambert, was from Eckman hollow. When he graduated from WVU, we moved to the west coast. Our home is in Roseburg, Oregon. I still refer to WV,as my home. Thank you Amy, for this wonderful article which really tells exactly how hollow life is.

  78. David Reese

    I was born and raised in Cambria County in Pa.I would like to find out about Elm Grove W.V. I think it is in Marshall County. I would like to find someone familiar with a green house there back in the early 50’s. I think the name was Dietrick’s Greenhouse.

  79. Connie Preast

    I’m a holler girl and am so happy that I am. I’m from Clay County. I think the only thing you missed in your story from “my” memories are the winter days when mom would have a big ole pot of vegetable soup or pinto beans cooking. Like you I also remember smells. One of my favorite smells would be walking in to the small elementary school where I went to school and the smells. The pencil lead, chalk, crayons and the stuff they sprinkled on the floors before sweeping. Thanks for all the memories.

  80. Brenda Bonnett Preston

    I was raised in a holler in Barbour County. We had a very simple, peaceful life. Loved your story.

  81. Aaron mcghee

    There is no place like home…..grew up in Fayette County (minden)….small coal mine camp…weren’t rich by far but those were the best years…..try to get back as often as possible…

  82. Nancy Morgan

    that was a beautiful story ..sounds like my life here in the blue ridge mountains of Westren N.C.

  83. Demora Jean Bragg - Hayes

    No place like home. Harrison W V. Clay County. Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to it all.

  84. Pam Kimes

    I am a hollar girl from Dille, wv (Clay County) I had a wonderful childhood. after reading this I relate to these descriptions of every day life. Thank you for bringing these memories back to me so vividly.

  85. Terry E. Dinsmore

    I ain’t no girl…but I’m from the holler! Wouldn’t trade my childhood for the world. Maple Meadows…by…Fairdale, W.Va

  86. Terry E. Dinsmore

    My favorite “holler” name….”Hoo Hoo Hollow”….Lester, W.Va

  87. Tanya McClellan

    Absolutely beautiful, childhood memories came back to me. A time of being free of the problems of this world we live in today. Thank you so much 🙂

  88. Rose Carpenter Headley

    Oh Amy, Loved your story. Brought back alot of memories growing up with 3 sisters and 2 brothers in Rivesville. I’m a holler girl from Rivesville WV. in Marion County, My dad was a coal miner when I was young and my husband retired from Loveridge Coal Mines. We live in Myrtle Beach now and yes we miss WV. Try to make it back at least 2 -3 times a year.

  89. Tom Wyant

    I grew up in Cottle, West Virginia in Nicholas County. Your story brought back lots of fond memories. I wish I could go back to that time for just one full day. I’d buy penny candy from Mr. Shaffer at the store next door to our house. I’d sit on the big boulder across the road from where we lived and tell it all my secrets. I’d visit Mrs. Riddle at the post office and take her an ice cream. I’d tell my teachers at Craigsville Grade School how much they meant to me and how they influenced my life. I’d look over every square inch of Cottle Church of God and soak in the love from our church family. I’d beg my mom and dad to never move us from my home. If only…..

  90. Barb Jeffrey

    I grew up in a holler. We never had a swimming pool. We got feed sacks filled them with sand blocked the creek swam there. We made our own toys out of tree branches. The mountains was our playground.

  91. Mary Wolfe Hastings

    I was born in the family home, 72 years ago, In Chelyan, WV. Slaughter Creek Hollow, was my home. Went to Chelyan and Cabin Creek, elementary, Chelyan Jr. High School, and Graduated from East Bank High School. I remember swimming in the creek and playing on the side of the hill and swinging on the Grapevines. GREAT MEMORIES…

  92. Sue Ray

    This was beautiful to read. I didn’t grow up in “the holler” but my granny lived there. We lived in Summers County and I still feel at peace when we visit there. Your story put me right back in that tiny house I grew up in, that only seems tiny now. I thought it was huge. You reminded me of the smell of fresh baked biscuits and feeling safe when my dad came home and ate his dinner. We were all quiet then so he could eat in peace. I laughed when I read about the TV “remote”, which was us. Thanks for reminding me of home.

  93. Mary Martinez

    I grew up in Wyoming Co, Lived for a time in Red Jacket Coal #2, My dad was a coal miner, spent a lot of time on Turkey Creek with my grandparents. Love those old hills. Reading you story made me so homesick. My one desire is to return to those montains.

  94. Libby Kinder Scarnato

    Wow….your words are my story. I sat on my daddy’s lap in the late evening in my gown after my bath and he rocked me and we sang hymns, later we sang them in church at the request of the congregation when I was 5 or 6. What a memory! You touched on so many, Amy, and my tears flowed like a river….Fortunately, after almost 30 yrs in PA, I moved back to WV and have the opportunity to relive all the memories of that childhood from the holler of Morris Creek near Montgomery. My daughter was raised in PA but I pray she learned those wonderful ways of a “holler girl mom”! God bless you for putting in words the sights and sounds of the wonderful past for all holler people because we are a special breed!!!

  95. Laura

    Loved your story, you do know how to write. Felt like I was a kid again, I am a holler girl to. Grew up a d raised my two sons in Lincoln County WV. We never had a pool we had a creek to play in though. We ran bare foot in the rain in Summer to. Caught lightening bugs wore a lot of that jewelry. Still remember the well were I drew water. And the smell of the seasons I understand that very well. And so much more. Precious memories for sure.

  96. Patti Flannery May

    I am a holler girl……Logan County, WV. This was an absolutely beautiful story of growing up in West Virginia.

  97. Sheila Addair Jordan

    I’m a “holler girl” and proud of it. Although mom moved us to Ohio when we were young, my heart still belongs to McDowell County WV. Thank you for such a well written story. Took me down memory lane and I’m still smiling. Still have images of experiencing many or most of the things you did. Didn’t know if I’d ever hear anyone tell about the lightning bug jewelry that brought this gal so much happiness way back 50 plus years ago. I’ve told that one with negative responses from my listeners before to a non- holler person. Well goodness, we didn’t kill the poor bug, we’d set them free after we got our glow in the dark jewelry and assumed they’d grow more. (and don’t want to know anything different now). Anyway, once again, thank you for taking us all down memory lane in good ole McDowell Co and giving us a glimps of your life there. God Bless You. PS, places we lived: Atwell Mountain in Atwell, Raysal, Bartley, Stringtown (where I was born), English, Beartown, just to name a few.

  98. Nicki Sutton

    I too am a Hollar girl born in Acme W V up Cabin Creek You can take the girl out of West Virginia but you cant take West Virginia out of the girl!!!!!!!

  99. Donald Thompson

    Amy Gentry’s story of a “Holler Girl” is an apt tribute to the wonderful girls who lived in, and many who came out of, the coal mining camps and hollars. These girls were solid, strong, intelligent, kind, and, in many cases, gentle. Now don’t get me wrong. You never want to push them too far. They fought for what was right; and seldom let anyone sway them otherwise. They became super wives and mothers. These girls may have worn “feed sack” dresses when they were young and never had expensive “makeup”; but their natural beauty shined. Today, they are classy, sexy, and a wonderful friend. I know. I married one (sixty years ago).

  100. Mike Gentry

    I didn’t grow up in the south, but Dad, from eastern Ky and Mom from middle Tenn did. I have heard the stories all my life and remember stories like these. This sure does brings stories like this back . I enjoyed the pictures also. Thank You for sharing on Facebook. This is so neat

  101. Meridith Turkel

    I was fascinated by your story. Never knew you were a “holler girl” or even what the term meant.

  102. melissa estepp scarboro

    i grew up in mingo county w.v. lived up school house hollow up on marrowbone creek. mountain people grow up different than everyone else. i grew up poor and had alot of heartbreaks that kids these days could not fatham. i remember praying to god asking him why my life was so hard as a kid, why does my mom struggle so much to survie this place, we are good godfearin people. i know now that it was not invein…… it made me the person i am today. growing up i couldnt wait to leave those mountains,growin older i cant wait to go back.

  103. Robin Cain Luich

    I’m a holler girl..Seminole W.V. We were wealthy in the best way ,we had Mom,Dad,sister’s and brother.We were free ,We would spend our days up in the hills playing ,from morning till dinner time.It’s where my fondest memories are.

  104. Robin Cain Luich

    Danny Reese ,I didn’t even look at the name at first ,but thought that sounds familiar ,then checked the name and here it was my own sweet uncle Danny ! Lol…

  105. Tracy Morsi

    Beautiful and I am to a holler girl born and raised in bulldog holler in premier west Virginia

  106. Lorie Kline

    Loved this! What memories flood my soul! The good memories, the ones that never let you go! I am also a hollow girl and proud of it! I was born in Huntington, West Virginia in the late 50s. We lived in wayne, West Virginia for a while then moved to a small house outside of town. To a house in a hollow on Patrick Rd. I ran the woods, picked berries to eat, and skinned my knees! It’s where my roots are!

  107. Betty Watts


  108. Cookie Mockensturm

    Beautiful! Very well written. My mind is flooding with memories… Thank you!

  109. Leatha Pietron

    I am a holler girl and so thankful for it. From Hemphill, Orkney Holler !
    Could relate to a lot in this beautiful story, To this day I love simple things.
    Lot of good memories of my family esp. My Mother and sisters. My Dad
    Worked hard. We didn’t have many luxury items but we sure had love.
    Thanks for a beautiful story. Orkney holler is all grown up now.

  110. Gesila Kinder Hargrove

    Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful photos and your memories. I was raised in VA, Tazewell County. This brought back so many wonderful memories to me. I get homesick all the time when I see photos or stop to think back to the ‘good ole days’. I am not that far now and I keep thinking it is time to go home. I wish my husband would of lived long enough for us to make our home there. Sadly, it is a trip that I will some day make on my own.

  111. Sarah arthur

    Thank u this took me back to my childhood I live n fayetteville, WV n a place called Crow Holler it it’s beautiful here born n raised holler girl.

  112. Mazie Marie (Justus) McClendon

    I loved your story. You made me think of growing up in McDowell County. I went to school first grade at Iaeger, then Coalwood, and graduated at Northfork.
    Also, West Virginia College. Although I have been gone from WV for over 59 years – my heart still belongs to WV. I have been fortunate to visit many times
    during each year with my sister and brother. So many of the things that you have mentioned was part of my growing up. I am not a holler girl – my Daddy
    worked for the Norfolk Western Railroad, but we lived in the coal camps and by the railroad tracks. Would not take anything for my growing up in WV.
    You should have this article published!!! It is wonderful.

  113. Dreama Ellison-Rhodes

    My parents were born and raised in WV. And my sister and I were raised the WV way. We weren’t born there but visited every summer. The mountains became a part of my soul! This was so moving for me. Thank you for a job very well done.

  114. Keith Lester

    Ilove this girl and her story I have never met her but I have her on facebook I feel like ive known her my whole life..

  115. June Horn Brown

    I wasn’t raised in a holler, but on top of Bradshaw Mountain down Brushy Ridge. Attended a one room school through eighth grade and then walked a mile to catch a school bus and rode twenty miles to Iaeger High School. I have never regretted being a “mountain girl” even tho we were teased in high school, so we just became good scholars to prove ourselves! Your stories are great – nothing smells as good as fresh line-dried sheets and nothing makes your hair feel and look better than rainwater! And I remember that my face felt wonerful in the mornings after I sometimes broke the ice in the wash pan to wash before breakfast. I had wonderful hard-working parents (I’m the oldest of seven children – only 3 living – and I’m 82.) I still work two days a week at our county Visitor Center and am presently doing a video each Thursday at 3PM on Tazewell County’s site – I’m “Mz. B” and I tell stories about my childhood and encourage people to visit Tazewell County. Of course, my childhood and my stories occurred in McDowell Co, but people seem to like them just fine. I still have one brother living in McDowell and another in Fayetteville. And there’s not a great distance between where I’ve lived for nearly 60 years and my childhood home. I took my dad to the Smokies once – his comment was,”They don’t have a mountain here any prettier than Bradshaw Mountain.” He was right! Thanks for writing about home!

  116. Steve Haugeto

    Very nice story you have to share, Thank you! I was raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN but share many of the same memories with you. My mother worked as well as my dad and we shared in the responsibilities of raising younger siblings. Dad was a carpenter/siding applicator and spent much of time in northern MN building some of the mining towns on the Iron Range. He had TB when he was younger and had one lung so we did not play a lot of ball or other things that wore him out. Watching a Twins baseball game and sharing his bowl of popcorn washed down with either kool-aid or Bubble Up was one of my favorite things to do. We moved a lot which meant it was hard to keep friends unless we happened to move and still go y=to the same school. I attended 5 elementary schools, 2 junior highs and was fortunate enough to attend one high school. The junior high sat across the field from the high school so I got to make and keep lifelong friends – one of my happiest memories was knowing that I would not change schools ever again. If we wanted new toys dad would say ‘you where the woodpile is and the tools go make something and make sure to cleanup and put everything away when you are done and before you go play’. I was the neighborhood stilt maker no matter which neighborhood it was this year. Coon Rapids was still more country than city when we moved their summer of 1960 and we had the woods with a creek at the end of our street two houses down. We were on a corner with hills from two directions. When it rained all the kids would head for house and the big puddle until the storm drain was able to handle the runoff and then we found something else to do. Us kids were shuffled off to the neighbor on Sunday and we would go to church with them. Neither of my parents went with us. My mother found her religion again when she was in her 70’s and attended church every Sunday until her death at 80 – she was never more happy and content than those years. Dad was a WWII Navy veteran and both spent much of their free time working with the VFW. Dad was Adjutant of the post they belonged to for a year or so. Mom held several positions in the Auxiliary including 7th District President for 2 years. We spent much of our time traveling all over the state as mom was a flag bearer in the Color Guard and marched in parades all the time. We became baby sitters at many of the functions and some days had 10-20 younguns to watch at the lake or wherever the function was. We weren’t much older than the kids we took care of so it could be challenging to keep track of them all but never lost a kid and kept them out of trouble. I never learned how to swim despite growing up in the Land of 10,000 lakes. I was thrown off numerous docks and boats and told to sink or swim – I sank and someone would finally figure it out and jump in to rescue me. Good thing I could hold my breath for a long time. Despite not swimming you couldn’t get me out of the water and it worked out as I hung closer to shore watching the younger kids and having a great time. The changing of seasons was wonderful and we always found something to do no matter the weather. Summers are short there so we played double hard to make the most of it. We went outside when chores were done and came home when the street lights came on. I have had more stitches than my 5 siblings combined as I was the daredevil that never backed down from a dare. They called me the accident looking for a place to happen. I would jump off the top of the tall slide on the playground, climb trees and then jump down as it faster than climbing. Nobody could swing higher and jump farther when I was at the highest part of the forward swing. Lightening bugs, frogs, crickets and all of their friends making a grand noise lulled us to sleep most nights. It was a much simpler time then and we enjoyed every second we could. I tried to raise my 9 children/step-children in nature whenever we had the chance and taught them right from wrong and responsibility for their actions from a very early age. They were so happy when we got a television with a remote control so they did not have to change the channels as we had growing up. Now I have 14 grandchildren and one great granddaughter and get to watch my kids pass on everything we gave them and more. Life is good.

  117. Tammara Williams

    Just curious as to why the first picture is being used in a story about McDowell County? That’s not in McDowell Co. It’s in Fayette Co. on Packs Branch Rd. It belonged to My Aunt Birdie who is long since past but the kin folk take care of it! Please actually post where photos are taken because this is part of OUR Families History not just whomever was raised in a holler

  118. Donna Northup

    My favorite holler name…Tin Can Holler, Mason, WV where my husband Gary was raised💙💛

  119. Dave Price

    My late wife Mary Jane Klatt was living in Kilsyth in 1944 when her father Henry Klatt was killed in the war. Her family had lived in a number of coal mining communities- Beaver, Scarbro, Oswald,, etc.
    After the war her mother Alice Elliott Klatt remarried Timothy Cecil Elliott and they left West Virginia in 1948 never to return. Years later we were in Eastern Kentucky and decided to drive over and see her aunt and uncle Bill and Jo Crumb in Mt Hope.
    We went through Kilsyth and stopped at the little church they had belonged to. The church had put up a plaque listing all the boys who had given their lives in the war. The church was locked but a neighbor noticed us and came over with a key and I was able to take a picture of Mary Jane holding the plaque on the steps of the church.
    Mary Jane passed away in 2011, her mother in 1996 and her sister Freeda in 2015. Would someone reading this please try to find out what church that was. Thank you, Dave Price, Brentwood TN cbmus@bellsouth.net 615-373-0946.

  120. Lorraine

    I was raised a holler girl too, but in Randolph Co.and still live not far from where I grew up. I love your story. My favorite part, “I can walk outside during certain parts of the seasons, take a deep breath, and the scent of the wind floods into my body bringing images to my mind of days more peaceful… like a picture album of long lost dreams. Each image tells a different story of things I love.” When I go back home to the holler I can still hear the sounds from my childhood. I hear my mother and father talking to one another and the joyful sounds of my brothers, sisters and I playing. My mother, father, and some of my brothers and sisters are gone now but the stories of the sweet memories will always live on and be passed from generation to generation. Thank you for this story that helped myself and others remember their childhood of growing up in a holler.

  121. Wanda Cantrell

    Amy, So loved your Holler story. It brought my childhood to the surface. I thank God for my family who lived in a holler in Wyoming County. Remembering, waiting for dad to come walking up the holler with his dinner bucket in his hand. I would run to meet him and he would always have a left over for me. A biscuit, or cookie, or half a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. I thought I was his really special little girl. That big hug covered in black coal dirt. No better feeling. I can so recall so much you said in your article and I cherish every word that was written. Thanks for giving me that feel-good feeling with tears in my eyes. I absolutely loved it.

  122. Tina Gibson

    Thanks so much for sharing. I grew up way out in the country in Nicholas County and enjoyed many of the same things that most of the people here in WV enjoyed. No one even knew what poor meant. We grew up the wealthiest kids ever. We were loved and had love in our hearts, respect for each other and freedom and pride for who we were and what we stood for. We assumed that everyone grew up this way and as adults we found out differently. There’s a happiness and freedom in our hearts that will never leave and we can attribute that to our loving families and the mountains of West Virginia!

  123. Steve Barber

    I’m 61 years old, and read this story with tears in my eyes. I want to move to West Virginia because all of my life I have heard how beautiful it is there in the hills. I long to live in the country, and to me, this would be the place to live. I’m looking to rent a house, but I’m on fixed income for the time being, and can only afford something with rent around $300.00. I don’t want anything fancy. I have pretty much done without all my life, so I am not one to be picky with my dwellings. Thanks for sharing this story. The pictures that go with the story are real beautiful. I’ve always wanted to live in a holler, ever since I was little. I live in the middle of Ohio, so I’m not very far away from . After I read this, it makes me want to just pack up and move there, this minute. I want to live in a little town like Bud. Hope maybe I can get there soon and see this great place written about in this great story. It’s always a pleasure to read a story like this, detailing a time when the world was a whole different place than what it has become. I’ve always thought that there’s no escape from the noise of car horns, heavy traffic, sirens–all of which I hear more than I want to in this tiny town farm community that I live in now. After reading this story, I know that there are places here on earth where a person can get a little taste of what heaven must be like. I sure hope someday before I get too old that I can spend the last years of whatever I have left of my life in a holler or at least near to one. You folks have got it made. Thanks for such a great story of life in a small portion of heaven. May God bless you and yours!

  124. Donna Green Rogers

    You can take the girl out of the hollor, but you can’t take the hollor out of the girl.
    cabin creek hollow, kanawha county
    Thanks for sharing

  125. Joanne McKinley

    I grew up in Akron Ohio and all of my life I heard Dad talke about retiring and moving back to his beloved W. Va. and just sitting on the porch and lookout over his beloved hills.. he finally lived to do that… he lived for 11 months after he retired and moved back there..his last days he lived to sit in a wheelchair and look out over the mountains surrounding nursing home in Parkersburg..he is buried in Pine grove cemetary in Pike W.Va havin lived in Harrisburg.. buried near his Mother, Father. grandparents and 2 of his brothers… they had 10 siblings…they played John Denvers Country roads at his funeral.. I begged God to take him… he was so much in pain. weighing in at 60 lbs when he passed. but he did live those last 11 months in peace.. I cry whenever I hear that song.. I love you Dad still to this day and he always knew how deeply I loved him.. despite my step monster he marriednot allowing us to hug him or kiss his cheeks. I still was able to do it when she wasn’t looking I wrapped my arms around him and said” you know what old man? I love you” and kissed his cheek and between tears he said “I know you do.”Lord I love that man to this day and will remember him until my dying day.. I did get to live in West by God for two years.. Every one in Ohio always thought I was from W.Va. by my accent..NO but I sure wish I was..

  126. Tammy

    I really enjoyed your story very much. Described me to a T. Brought back so many memories, smells and sounds. I miss my childhood. Things were simple and easy. No phones and computers and all the other gadgets. The younger generation would die if they had to live the way we did. Wish I could go back!

  127. Heather Burks

    What a beautiful story!! It’s like you saw into my heart as you wrote. I’m proud of growing up in McDowell county, WV!!! These mountains and their beauty allowed me to escape anything bad going on in my life!!! I returned to WV after the Navy and found ghost towns in what once were busy streets lined with people going about their day. What hasn’t changed and never will, are the people and their love of God, family and friends!! I’d give anything to go back to dancing in the rain, splashing in mud puddles, and chasing lightning bugs with my friends whom felt more like sisters!! I’m trying to show my children the beauty of our Mountain state and to instill in them the lessons passed from generation to generation of mountain men and women. Amy, your words are as beautiful as you are and I’m so grateful that I came across this today!! You are a talented writer and your words made my soul smile!! Sending you light, love, and laughter!!


    To Amy: It seems that I really know you by the way you have written your beautiful life story. You have reminded me of several instances that I have forgotten about which most certainly will be included in my “Lifetime Memoirs”, that is almost completed. I am a male born 1n 1937 on a “Hill”, not a “Holler”, overlooking the small town of Richwood, WV. We were a family of 6 living in a small wooden “Shack” on my Grandma’s property. In 1948, my Dad built a 3 Bedroom home on an adjacent property as our final home. I have included appropriate pictures for each subject matter in my Memoirs and I wish that you would have done the same in your story. Pictures of your home, the surrounding area, and the town would be nice to visually comprehend. While the pictures that are very good, they should be specifically identified as to where they were taken and how they relate to your story.
    I have never thought of “Holler” as a derogatory term. My Cousins lived in “Handle Factory Holler”, and I have always defined “Holler” as the valley between 2 mountains. I love the way you write, ending some sentences in prepositions.

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