Hailee Dietz, Wal-Mart Employee; Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
“I was born in Waynesboro, but I grew up in Olinger; a little past Big Stone in Lee County. I actually grew up in the mountains on a farm for about ten years. It was a small little town and everybody was close knit; a simple little life honestly. I didn’t really live around anybody, I lived out in the middle of nowhere. I had my siblings and I played in cow patties, honestly. That’s what I did. I played in the river; we messed around with the cows and we had little go-carts and stuff. And we’d go around and play stuff like that. We were more outdoorsy than how it is now playing video games. We didn’t have that whenever I was growing up.
I think we have a different soul about us. The way that we are and the way that we act about life in general, more slow paced, more family oriented. At least that’s how I’ve always grown up to be. Everybody’s really close knit; not very so fast paced. You think about it; it would be nice to live in the city with all the things that are going on, but I have kids now and I love to raise my kids in the mountains. The morals you can learn and the way you’re brought up. I feel like we raised some pretty decent people.
(On the farm) we had watermelon, zucchini, squash, corn for sure. My dad had the best watermelon. We would never drink (all) our sodas, and he would take our leftover sodas and get one of the big gallon water bottles, and he would pour it all in there and that’s what he would water his watermelon with, and we’d have the best watermelon each year. All the sugar made the watermelon really sweet.
There’s nothing like some home cookin’. We cook really good food actually. All the things that we grew we would really eat . My mom, she would always experiment. We would always eat different culture foods; we would always have different types of food. Mainly barbecues of course, a lot of barbecues. Sauerkraut weenies, pork, corn bread; we actually had corn bread fritters, not the actual thick kind, it's the little flat like a pancake kind. We’d have those and I really like those a lot. That’s what we’d cook.
(Grandparents) You might actually know them, Chuck and Betty Miller. Charles Miller, they were preachers, my family is a long line of preachers. I mean, you can’t go around here; there’s at least twenty churches just in our mile, our radius of our town Big Stone. First they were actually Pentecostal, then it went to Baptist and now we’re Methodist. So we’ve switched around quite a bit, but we were first Pentecostal. I grew up in church actually; there’s not a day we didn't go to church; we always had to wear dresses, no jeans. Definitely was strict on that, very old school. I think (religion) is very important, it really is. I think that’s where we get the basis of our morals to do right ‘cause everything is so wrong now.
(On stereotyping) We’re not rednecks. You know they think we are. You know the way they think about us. We’re not that type. I wish everybody out there could see how good-natured and good-hearted and decent people are around here. Around here, we’d give the shirt off our back to somebody if they really needed it. It really don’t bother me that much cause that’s not how we are but I wish they didn't think that way.
(I’m) a hippie hillbilly. Pretty much anybody around here knows how to go out and go on the farm and how to take care of your horses and your cattle, goats and chickens and stuff like that. I kinda think that’s a hillbilly. You livin’ the old way and you know to live off with just the bare minimum. Livin’ off the land.
Hippie hillbilly? I’m really hippie I guess. I’m nature lovin’ and I love the nature. I like to use the nature, but hillbillies do that too. They like to use the nature for growin’ and livin’. I think they go together. I’m peace, love and I can grow off the land.
I actually lost a brother about five years ago to cancer. He was five years old when he passed away. I think if I wasn’t in this area it would have been a lot harder to take than it would have been somewhere else. Which, I don’t know, I’ve never been anywhere different but the people around here really helped us out, our family, in our time of need when we needed them. I’m still going through it honestly. It’s hard. I have a little girl that’s almost his age now so it’s kinda tough. The sleeve tattoo? It’s actually for my brother. It’s not finished. He loved Toy Story. That’s in memory of him.
Right now, my girls are my happy times. They’re really making everything a lot easier to deal with. Two little girls, Willow and Prim. Willow will be three in August and Prim just turned one.
I absolutely love it (here). I don’t think I ever could leave the mountains. I always try. I always say, ‘I want out of here.’ But when I think about it, no. When I’m on vacation I get homesick. I love it, I do, I honestly love it. There’s just a sense of comfort. “