Virginia Meador

Interviewed by: Andrew Meador
Date: April 11, 2007

Andrew Meador reports:

"Virginia Meador was born in 1924, only five years before the Great Depression. She is a high school and college graduate. Her occupations included school teaching and serving as an executive secretary. She continues to serve on the Wise County Board of Supervisors and volunteers at Wellmont's Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap."

Interviewer: What is your name?

Meador: Virginia Honeycutt Meador

Interviewer: Were you born and raised in the area known as Appalachia?

Meador: Yes, I was born and raised in Big Stone Gap, VA

Interviewer: How many siblings did you have?

Meador: One. His name was Dr. Grover Honeycutt.

Interviewer: What were your parents' occupations and hobbies?

Meador: My father was a well known dentist in Big Stone Gap and a fine fisherman. My mother was a school teacher for many years.

Interviewer: During which years did you spend your childhood in the area?

Meador: I was born in 1924 and lived in Cracker's Neck until I was six years old. Then, we moved into Big Stone where I lived until I graduated high school in 1942.

Interviewer: Could you briefly describe the lifestyle of Appalachian citizens during your childhood?

Meador: It was a wonderful time to be alive. It was a life of more leisure. We had a great time growing up. We would play tennis in the morning and go swimming in the afternoon. We would gather on people's porches quite often to kill time. One of the most popular games that I can remember was kick the can.

Interviewer: Where did you attend high school and college?

Meador: I attended the old Big Stone Gap High School where I graduated. I then attended Randolph Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, VA, and got a teaching degree.

Interviewer: How did the young adults/teenagers compare to today's generation?

Meador: I believe today's generation seems to have an easier time getting to know more people than we did back then.

Interviewer: What did you make a career out of after college?

Meador: I taught school for awhile. Then, I became an executive secretary. After I married, I did not go back to work until our children were in the sixth grade. From then on, I did some substitute teaching.

Interviewer: Did you ever live and work anywhere outside of the Appalachian Mountains?

Meador: Yes, I lived and worked in Annapolis, Maryland before I was married. I also lived in Ervin, Pennsylvania for a couple of years after I was married.

Interviewer: If so, was life significantly different outside of our area?

Meador: It was particularly different in Annapolis, Maryland, because it was a town on the water and was very close to the Naval Academy.

Interviewer: What do you think makes Appalachia most unique from the rest of our country?

Meador: I think because of our Scotts-Irish heritage, we tend to be very clannish. We have also been isolated in these mountains which causes family to be of greater importance to us.

Interviewer: Has your life been changed by the coal industry in any way?

Meador: Very much. My husband was an engineer and headed many mine operations. I saw it first hand and heard much about it while he talked about it. I learned a lot that I didn't know about the coal industry before I married him. Although I had grown up in Big Stone, I wasn't around the coal industry until I met my husband.

Interviewer: What is your favorite part of life in the Appalachian Mountains?

Meador: Probably the beauty and scenery of the mountains. Also, our people have the best sense of humor and value family greatly.

Interviewer: Do you think it is important that our unique genre of "mountain music" is preserved?

Meador: Definitely. I believe that with the "Crooked Road" going on, it will become more important as time progresses. It is definitely one of the things that makes us who we are.

Interviewer: Do you know anyone that plays "mountain music"?

Meador: Yes. I am friends with many musicians. Also, my daughter is in a bluegrass/mountain music band.

Interviewer: What activities around our community do you find most enjoyable?

Meador: Well, I like anything that is musical. I enjoy going to all sorts of cultural programs here. Big Stone has always had bands and was one of the earliest towns to actually have a band. It was led by Mrs. McChesney. The Pro-Art program here also brings great cultural events to our area.

Interviewer: Why do you think our area is commonly stereotyped in a negative way?

Meador: I think that many of the writers have depicted us in that way. The newspapers also picked up on it. I think that they have made sure that this image is kept alive. In truth, we also bring it upon ourselves in a way.

Interviewer: In what way has "Appalachia" most affected your life?

Meador: Well having lived here for so long, it's always been a part of me. It has always affected what I've done. After college, I ended up coming right back and marrying a local person. My family still lives here, so it has been very important to me and still is.