When I was a kid growing up in Kentucky we all thought that hillbillies came from Georgia and Tennessee. We had no idea that we were hillbillies ourselves. Heck, we were just regular, ordinary people, well educated on the ways of the world and just as sophisticated as anyone else in the hollow.
I remember us sitting around watching the Beverly Hillbillies on TV. That was the first time I had ever seen these funny people. I asked my mother, “Are hillbillies really like that?” She told me they sure were and that she had actually talked to one of them when she went down to Lake Norris in Tennessee about 20 years ago. He talked real funny and she could barely understand what he was saying. “Is that where they live?” I asked her. That was how I found out that hillbillies were real people and they lived in Tennessee and Georgia mostly.
I thought hillbillies were funny, but they seemed to be real nice people. One evening after watching a few hours straight of the Beverly Hillbillies marathon my cousin, my brother and I decided that we were going to run away from home and go down south and live with the hillbillies. We knew that Jed and Granny were living in California so we were hoping their old house was still empty so we could take up a home stead. Yeah, young boys often get silly ideas but we were very serious. We decided to run away day after tomorrow, we didn’t want to miss any of the marathon.
It was about that time that I wondered what a hillbilly might think about shows like the Beverly Hillbillies. I thought they must be very proud. How wonderful it would be to have a television show that was just about your kind of people! I asked my mother about this. I was surprised to learn that hillbillies did not have electricity and certainly no television sets. Why hillbillies don’t even have indoor plumbing! I discussed all this with my brother and cousin. We decided that we would just stay home and watch hillbillies on TV and not run away after all.
One day dad informed us that we were going to go on a trip to Ohio to visit with some of our family. We had never been out of Kentucky before so we were really excited about the trip. Shortly after we arrived at our aunt and uncle’s house the trouble started. Our cousins didn’t mind at all to call us hillbillies and they laughed while they tried to mock our speech.
Later I asked my mother if it was true, “Are we really hillbillies?” She assured me that we were not hillbillies and that my cousins had been mean to say such things but it still wasn’t very nice for me to have blacked their eyes.
I decided that what I had heard about Buckeyes being stuck up and “better than anyone else” was true. I also added ignorance to their list of qualities. They didn’t even know the difference between a hillbilly and a regular person. Hey, if you think we talk funny you ought to go down to Norris Lake, Tennessee!
We saw National Geographic and wild animal shows do TV specials on people all over the world, from Australia to Africa to South America, but we never did see them go down to Georgia and Tennessee to document the hillbillies. Even after all these years I would still like to see hillbillies interacting in their natural habitat in living color on my TV. It might also help to teach some of those Buckeyes up there what real hillbillies are.
Written by Eugene Turner Copyright 2009 HillBillyCrackpot.com all rights reserved and may not be republished in any form.