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Folklife Festival 2003 > Appalachia> Making Do With What You Have
making do with what you have

Stories abound in Appalachia of ingenious ways mountain people have used the rich natural bounty or their own sometimes meager resources to solve the problems of daily life. In earlier days, log homes constructed according to traditional knowledge instead of blueprints were sturdy against the natural elements. When mountain terrain made wagons impractical, wooden sleds were constructed for bringing in crops. Corn was too bulky a crop to get out easily to markets, so excess became corn liquor or moonshine, easier to transport and more profitable. Running moonshine left a legacy of fast driving and car mechanics that helped fuel today's NASCAR industry.

Scraps of leftover cloth became quilts of great artistry; hogs, fattened on the natural mast of the forest, turned into meat, sausage, lard, and even soap; cat and groundhog skins, cigar boxes, and tin cans were transformed into musical instruments. Old stories and old tunes took on new locales and new words and sparked the contemporary country music industry.

The spirit of innovation based on tradition is deeply ingrained in Appalachian life. Fine chefs serve mountain delicacies in some of the region's posh resorts. Musicians bring traditional mountain music to new audiences via the latest technologies. Making do and doing so creatively represent a powerful Appalachian attitude.

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