Summer Nichole, Age 22, Blacksmith in Training, Middlesboro, Kentucky:
“I don’t have a job. I’m staying at home with mom and dad. I’ve had seven hip surgeries. Been having them since I was sixteen. I had my first one the day after my sixteenth birthday. I was born with bi-lateral hips dysplasia; a birth defect, both hips dislocated when I was born. It’s getting closer to being better.
I wanted to go to the National Guard or the Army but with all these surgeries I wouldn’t make it through basic training. It’s hard for me to walk and to sit for long periods of time. There aren’t many jobs I could actually do. I do work at odds and ends like mowing yards. It has to be something I do myself where I can take a break whenever I want to. I have to be my own boss.
During my spare time I do civil war reenactments, I’m into video games; watch a lot of TV, just relax.
I was born in Pineville, Kentucky. Grew up in Middlesboro.
I like living in the mountains. I grew up hunting. My dad always taught me if you know how to hunt you can survive about anything by yourself. I grew up fishing, camping. I practically spent most of my life in the woods. There is a lot of hunting. I like to go hunting; a lot of fishing too. I’m not gonna say I’m the best (At hunting) but I’m pretty good. I killed my first deer, maybe at sixteen. It weighed 70 pounds field dressed. I drug it out of the woods by myself. I’ve taught my little brother hunting and stuff.
There are some really nice people here and some jerks. In my opinion there is a lot of stuff to do. If we didn’t have grocery stores city folk couldn’t live here. Us red necks, country people, we know how to out and go hunting, go fishing, raise our own gardens. We could survive. I love it here. More than likely I’ll be living here all my life.
(Outsiders) make fun of us. Frankly, if they don’t like how we live they shouldn’t come down here. The way we live and our attitudes make us different than them. We treat people better, southern hospitality.
Some people think hillbillies are inbred, nasty living. But if they came down here and actually got to know us they would realize we are smarter than they are. We can make anything out of anything.
One of the saddest times in my life was when I thought I was gonna lose my dad. It was back in 2009. Other than that I’m always happy.
I’m just learning to be a blacksmith. With my hip injury I’ve not been able to do a lot of civil war reenactments. It’s a hot job but it is fun. I like having the ability to make stuff. I first started on a knife and got it too hot; melted it so I’m starting another one. My dad is teaching me all he knows. He’s a good teacher… sometimes.”