By Susan M. Thigpen © 1990
Issue: June, 1990
What makes mountain fathers so special and set apart? Through the years of talking to people from the Blue Ridge and listening to them talk of their childhoods and family life, one theme emerges - families may have been poor, but they were close-knit.
The profile of a mountain father, a composite of a lot of fathers rolled into one, is that of a man of the land. Mountain fathers more often than not were farmers at heart, even though they sometimes pursued other careers on the side. Usually the other careers were to supplement the family income to make ends meet. The memories of children were of working side by side with their father in the fields and gardens, helping to plow or plant or harvest.
The overwhelming majority of memories also are of their father's sense of humor and play as well. It was in the home where most people learned how to play musical instruments and sing in harmony. It was as a family that they learned to socialize at church functions and neighborhood get togethers.
Do not to get the idea that mountain fathers were an easy going lot. Most of the memories also include how strict and stern father could be. Mountain children towed the line and learned right from wrong in no uncertain terms. One trait that stands on top was a mountain father's sense of fairness. A mountain father set standards of morals and values that his children could carry out into the world and live by for the rest of their lives. Countless are the stories of sacrifices made by mountain fathers for their children. They wished a life for their children that was easier than their own.
The summation of mountain fathers was their love. Some of them were gruff, some were affectionate, but without a doubt, mountain children knew they were deeply loved.
This Father's Day, we say a special thank you to mountain fathers for everything they were, and still are, to their children.