A former feature writer and columnist on the Bluefield, W. Va., Daily Telegraph has released a double CD of oral histories titled “Folks Are Talking” from men and women he interviewed for the newspaper in the 1970s.
Garret Mathews, who moved to Evansville, Ind., in 1987 to write the metro column for The Courier, retired in 2011 after penning more than 10,000 articles on a variety of subjects from a 91-year-old female bootlegger in Princeton, Ky., to the members of a snake-handling church in Jolo, W. Va.
Mathews selected 28 of his early Daily Telegraph stories for “Folks Are Talking.” They include an early United Mine Workers organizer, a horse trader, survivors of coal mine explosions, coal camp baseball players, a child born during the deadly flood of 1977 and a female furrier who carves muskrats while eating peanut-butter sandwiches.
“These men and women are from a bygone era and most are long dead,” Mathews says. “I wanted to record our time together as a way of keeping their stories alive.”
Music evocative of the region that includes southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia is included on the double CD.
Copies of “Folks Are Talking” will be furnished to public and school libraries in the two-state area as well as to historians and colleges and universities that offer Appalachian studies.
“It’s as I point out in the introduction: You just don’t find these folks any more,” Mathews says. “What they shared with me, I want to share with future generations.”
“Folks Are Talking” was featured on a recent interview segment with Joe Dashiell on WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Va. Selections from the double CD are also being played on the public television station in Roanoke.
The double CD costs $17 plus $3 shipping and handling. Checks should be sent to “Folks Are Talking,” c/o Garret Mathews, 7954 Elna Kay Drive, Evansville, Indiana 47715. For more information or to listen to four of the tracks or to order online, go to www.folksaretalking.com
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