Ron White (not that Ron White), Runs concessions in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. Lives in Tazewell, Virginia (originally from Grundy, Virginia):
“When I was a kid you worked, not like now a days. We just worked. You raised what you eat. That’s just the way it was. You didn’t miss school unless you had to. Daddy worked and that’s just the way it was.
[My dad was a farmer] and a coal miner forty-three years. Never got hurt; he was blessed. There was five of us [kids]. I’m the only boy. [I never went in the mines] ‘cause what it done to him. He couldn’t breathe.
(Why did you stay in the mountains all your life?) The view and the people. You can’t get no better. They’re just all friendly; they don’t look down at the ground when they walk by you, they speak.
I left here one time, but I came right back. I went to Myrtle six months. That was enough; I didn’t like it, I didn’t like the people, I didn’t like the crowd. I’m a hillbilly. That means everything. I’m a full-blooded redneck hillbilly. [That’s just] the way we are.
I travel a lot. I’ve done concessions twenty-six years. I used to drive a truck, and didn’t know from day to day if I was going to work tomorrow. I was hauling’ coal out of the coal mines. Every time you turn around, they were talking bout laying off, so I said I got to do something. I was thirty-three.
I’ve got two boys, they live in Tazewell. One has his own business, he’s in construction. The other works at Jennmar, makes roof bolts [for mining roofs], and that ain’t going to last long.
I don’t know what people are going to do [when the mines are gone]. There is a hundred and seventy-eight homes for sale in Tazewell right now. A hundred and seventy-eight, man if you can believe that. That’s a lot of homes in the city limits. Ain’t nobody got money and what money they have got, they’re keeping’ it.
[Outsiders] I don’t let them make fun of me. I tell them, ‘Don’t down me till you go try it.’ Go live our life. You’d be much happier than you are now. We’re always happy. We’re just happy, I don’t know why. Just cause of who we are, I guess. The way we was raised.
[I ride] a motorcycle, a Heritage Soft Tail. I went to Sturgis once. That was a hoot. You need to go. It’s just a good time. Just take it at that; it’s a good time.”