Having spent a lot of my youth in the Kentucky hills I grew up hearing and seeing all the stereotypes associated with “hillbillies” and country folk. While people have different ways of speaking and doing things in different parts of the world most of the stereotypes are greatly exaggerated and some aren’t even close.
These days the cultural differences among people from different parts of the US are growing smaller and smaller. It is as though the world is getting smaller. 30 years ago you might have to drive 25 miles of narrow, curving roads through the steep hills to get to a major store. Today the same person can just get on the “new” four lane highway and be there in less than 15 minutes as they drive in excess of 55 mph.
Cable and satellite television, free or low cost nationwide telephone calls and the Internet have also made the world, for all practical intents, a smaller place. Children are growing up with television and the world wide web and even those who live in the “boonies” are exposed to a much larger culture than were previous generations.
When I was a child we had 4 television channels including PBS. We received our signal from a network of antenna wire that was strung through the trees and up into the tops of the hills. I recall many times walking through those hills following that line looking for breaks, fallen tree limbs and other problems that caused us to lose our TV. Naturally this happened more in bad weather and especially in the winter months.
We had family up in Ohio so we often visited. I was always amused by what my cousins thought of Kentucky and the people. To them it was almost as if we were living in a different country. They believed television programs like the Beverly Hillbillies accurately depicted those living “south of the river”. Sometimes I played on their ignorance and exaggerated my accent and mentioned things like ‘possum stew. Recently I was in Brooklyn and was asked if it were true that some people in Kentucky ate ‘possum. I told the guy that yeah, everybody down there eats ‘possum but not more than two or three times a week. I never told him any different.