Rebecca Garrett

Rebecca Garrett, Retired Textile Worker, Runs Flea Market Business; Jonesville, Virginia:

“I grew up in Pennington. Well, right down past a little place called Ben Hur. It was called Cane Creek. It was all right [growing up in the mountains]. We played in the woods [and the] creeks. 

I’m retired [from the] sewing factory. I started working in sewing factories when I was 15 years old. I worked at different sewing factories at different times. No, [didn’t like working in sewing factories], it was basically the only jobs that were around. 

My grandpa was a coal miner basically all his life. My dad was a police officer in Pennington Gap for a while and then he was a police officer in St. Paul and Big Stone. Then after that he was a carpenter, done bricklaying, carpentry stuff. 

My dad did a family tree went all the way back. We got Indian in us… Cherokee Indian, we got on my mom’s side German blood, and Irish. 

I got one son that’s deaf. He’s 35 years old. Right now, he’s not doing nothing, but he did do auto body [and] painting. Communication was a struggle at first. [He was] about a year and a half old [when they found out he was deaf]. During that time, around here, they didn’t have interpreters and sign language teachers, and I had to take sign language classes to be able to communicate with him. [Took classes] at Mountain Empire, and through some of the classes they had at schools. 

He’s good enough now to where he really doesn’t use sign language that much, he reads lips. If you’re a mile away, he can read lips and tell what you’re saying’. He does good, really good [speaking verbally]. They did speech with him in school. He graduated with high school honors. I had to stay on top of him and those teachers in school. 

[What makes Appalachians different from everyone else?] From the city you mean? I’ve visited the city ‘cause some of my family’s from the city. [Here] It’s calm, easy going life. It’s not a fast life, it’s your clean air, trees, and you don’t get into all that smog and fast life. They're more down to earth about things, homebound, not into that crazy lifestyle that’s out there.

[On being a hillbilly] Oh yeah! My nickname’s Rebel! That’s what my uncle nicknamed me! 

I do this, flea marketing. I like growing flowers. I like animals. I like sewing. Little bit, not much! [Still likes sewing after doing it all of her life for work]. If I get the time, I like making jewelry. I cook some, yeah, cornbread, soup beans, collard greens, mustard greens… I like fried chicken. It’s been a while since I fixed anything like that! I think I’m a pretty good cook.

[People outside Appalachia] I don’t think they should think negative about us! The people that I’ve met have not. I’ve met some people from New York—they’re pretty friendly. I actually got along fine with them, had good times with them. 

I think it’s a matter of getting to be spending time around them and stuff. Getting to know each other is basically it.”