Moses Owens

Moses Owens, Maintenance Supervisor, Hindman Settlement School and Part-time Handy Man; Garner, Kentucky:

“Been here at Hindman Settlement School as Maintenance supervisor since September ‘85. Before that I worked at a roofing company and did odd jobs, which I still do. I tried the coal mines once. Went back in one and didn’t like it. Was digging coal out of an old coal bank one time and the rocks caved in on me. It locked my head under a rock. That’s when I figured that the coal mine wasn’t for me. 

Growing up in the mountains was a lot of fun. It was an adventure, was for me. People around here are more common. They’ll talk to you more than people away from here will. My brother-in-law went to Indiana. I went up there as a kid and stayed with them awhile. Tried working in Detroit for a while. Detroit ain’t for me. Worked for a roofing company. Missed the people back home. The city was different. Everything in the city is different. I never did like the city. It was like I was lost. People wouldn’t talk to you. Everybody was in a rush. I was always a country boy. 

I usually work 12, 14, 16 hours a day… daylight till dark. Don’t have time for much else. The mountain folks are hard working people around here, they sure are. Used to love to hunt, squirrel hunt, coon hunt, fish, used to love to fish. Just don’t have the time any more. Most folks around these parts play music. The hammer, I just play the hammer (LOL). 

The settlement school here where I work does a lot of good for the community, the dyslexia program, Family Folk Week, the Writers’ Workshop, we have people come here from all over the country and different parts of the world sometimes.

This is a beautiful area, peaceful and quiet you know. Not much violence around here you know. 

I like being called a hillbilly. They call folks from Indiana Hoosiers. I’d much rather be called a hillbilly. TV portrays us as dumb, backwards and stuff. That’s not true. That, I don’t much care for.

One of the saddest times in my life was losing my dad. He was a miner and a veteran of the Second World War. He was part of the landing on Normandy. He drove a tank. He served until the end of the war, came back and worked in logging and mining. Dad served with (General) Patton. He always said Patton was a crazy man. He took me to see the movie (about Patton). He told me the portrayal was pretty good although they didn’t show all of it. Dad said they were a little kind to him in the movie, that’s what dad said. 

Now folks are leaving this area (because coal is down). Lots of homes for sale around here. Coal has always come and gone, big slump in the fifties. It boomed in the seventies and again in the nineties. Now it’s really down. It won’t come back this time. I’m afraid it’s over this time.

We need industry around here for one thing. We are always shipping logs other places. Whatever they do with them where they ship them, why couldn’t they do it here? They could make furniture here with the oak and hickory we have here. There are folks that could afford to invest money in these communities if they would. But getting them to do it is a different story. They’ll invest money in Lexington or Louisville or some other place. Why not invest it here? Something sure needs to be done for the community… it sure does.

The downturn has caused drug problems around here, mostly prescription drugs. I think the doctors around here could put a stop to that if they would but they won’t.”