Mark Ison

Mark Ison, Age 22, cuts grass; Crafts Collie, pretty much near Ermine, Kentucky: 

“Growing up in this type of country, pretty much you’ve got three types of people; you got the ones who think they're city, but pretty much spent their whole life around here; you’ve got the ones who are country as crap; and then you’ve got, just, normal people. [I’m] Normal people. 

I used to hunt, but no more. Fishing, I never really got into. Pretty much all I do is skate. 

As a child, growing up in the mountains is exciting and all that because you’ve got new things to go through, the mountains, streams, all this exploring. But once you get a little bit older, growing up in the mountains gets boring because you kinda done it all. 

[Doesn’t want to stay there all his life]. I want to get out and explore more places, not just around here. I want to go overseas to Asia and visit the temples, pretty much just exploring. 

(Did growing up in Appalachia prepare you for life?) Not really, no. It showed you hard times and all that like, money issues, people getting laid off from jobs, no power sometimes. It got you used to the world, but other than that, it didn’t do much. 

The only thing’s been passed down [in his family] is racism. I know. It’s not good.

They were [family working in coal mining] until the President shut down the coalmines. Unless you work in a restaurant or Wal-Mart or something in that area, there’s no longer any jobs left. And it’s hard to even get in on them. It [coal] better come back. Pretty much Eastern Kentucky is gonna just fade away [if it doesn’t come back]. 

Best times [around here] would probably have to be when [the whole town] shows up for like 4th of July, and you see everybody that’s here.

They need to shut their mouth [people who make fun of Appalachian culture]. I make fun of us, but still! Mostly because they've seen these movies with incest and all that, and they think we do that. We don’t. They think we’re from ‘Wrong Turn’. 

This place ain’t special. Probably to the old people who saw it in its prime, but to the new generation, this place ain’t nothing.

We’ve actually tried [to change it]. There’s a skate park now. We’ve put in that. Maybe if they would turn that old high school, have that ball gym open for people, instead of doing the rec center bull crap [where] you gotta pay five dollars to play ball, then I’d see a lot more people doing all kinds of stuff. 

There is hope, but I don’t see it turning that way.”