“For right now, I want to stay young and help people. That's one thing that I've always loved to do. I love to help people. I like making people laugh and smile because I didn't have that when I was a kid. I was always the kid in the corner, crying about everything so, I don't want to put nobody through that kind of problem. I don't want anybody sad. I just do everything I can in my powers to make everybody happy, smile and feel loved.”
Bobby Perdue, age 20, Disabled; Bramwell, West Virginia:
I’m a firefighter with the Bramwell Volunteer Fire Department. It’s all I can really get down, pack down, right now. (But) I also do a lot of side work - cut wood, clean lots, feed dogs, run them, stuff like that, normal things.
I didn’t really grow up here in the mountains, but I was born here, at Bluefield Hospital. I’ve had a pretty mysterious life, traveling most of the time. I was three years old and my father left me and I didn’t see anything from him, so my mom pretty much kept me, by herself.
Me, my sister, and my brother Josh moved to Los Angeles, California, when I was three years old [to live with] my nana. She’s kind of a rich woman. She's lives in a mini mansion, I guess you would call it; a real nice house, big 15-room house. She is a multi-millionaire old woman, I tell you. She works as some kind of doctor at one of those fancy schools. [She] has beach houses, too, but she won’t share none of that money.
I lived [in Los Angeles] for five years, so, I got that city life. Then, I lived in Tennessee and I came back here to West Virginia when I was eight years old.
It was real warm down there, and it's real cold here, so I'm still trying to pull together that, right there. It’s great living in the mountains.
[Growing up,] I played old timey games, and did things like people would back in the 1900s, play in the sandbox; a little bit of everything. I've done a few things, playing Nintendo - none of this fancy equipment that's out now.
High school was full of drama for me. I was picked on, as a kid. When I was 12, a drunk driver in Princeton hit me. I had to go for immediate surgery. While at the hospital, they found an overgrown cyst on the back of my head that was killing me. If they hadn't found the cyst and operated, I would have had a 30% chance of living. Nobody in high school understood that. They thought it was just a joke (the cyst, the injury) and they made fun of me, for it.
I have a machine in the back of my head, now. I'm what they call disabled, from the accident, the head trauma.
It was dramatic at first. As just a kid, you don't expect something like that to happen. You don't expect all the doctors, waking up in the hospital with stuff piled on you, needles everywhere; you don't know what's going on. It’s actually scary to realize all of this. As a kid, it kind of lays a path in your mind. It sets that little thing in you, that moment where you're scared, you can't rid of that. It's scary remembering the accident, but its something you've got to live with.
I was in the hospital for a year straight. I lay in the bed. It was probably a year and half before I could become me again, before I could do what I used to. I had to learn to do everything again - walk, talk, eat, everything. Just like a little baby again.
Scary, but I guess that's life.
I've worked at it. I still have speech problems. I'm deaf in my right ear. I can't really do nothing much anymore, like I used to.
I have an implant and a big scar at the back of my head. The implant drains fluid from my head to my bladder. It's the fluid that was killing me, building the cyst up. If we keep the fluid from the cyst by draining it, it will help me to survive.
Now, I don't think about it. I don't even know it's there. It's nothing that I can care about. I worry about life, before I worry about that.
My mom, she's around here, but it’s really hard to talk to her. It kind of hurts I've been a momma's boy, but I don't live with her anymore. It just hurts, you know, wanting to be with her and see her more often.
My grandpa died this morning at 6 o'clock, her dad. I'm going to try go see her today for it. Try to power through. Go see her, show her some love.
My grandpa, he fought in the war. In WWII and in Vietnam, I think. I'm not too sure about which wars. He was 70 something. My Papaw was one of the best men you could ever look at. He was strong, he was reliable, trustworthy. He built his own house, his very own house. After he retired out of the military, he pulled trailers for Mountain Motors, which was pretty cool.
I remember he always took me fishing. He'd come in from the military or work and take me. He served in the military a whole lot. Back in his day, they started at 16 in the military; they got you early. He served until 30 or 40, if I'm not mistaken. He was pretty old at the time when he retired from the military. Then, he was working on trailers, and then built his trailers, built his own little service for the longest time.
He died from smoking, so, all I have to say to people who smoke is try to stop, stay away from it. I used to smoke myself, but I just went to dipping. I eased off it. I think cigarettes are disgusting now, for some reason. I used to love them. I can't do it, it hurts, it hurts a lot, because that's what killed him.
I love my mountains, can't get rid of my mountains. There ain’t nothing better than exploring the outdoors. You have many possibilities. There in the city, there's drama, there's cars 24/7 - there's nothing really fun up there. Yeah, you've got fancy equipment, but here you've got freedom, something you can't get anywhere else. You have that special bond with the woods that nobody in the world understands [who doesn't know the mountains]. It's a beautiful place, up here. But, that beauty is anywhere there's mountains. Not just West Virginia.
Here, you've got rednecks and country people. [In other places], you've got city people that like to play by the rules a little bit. Down here, you've got to break the rules to enjoy your fun. I mean, not go too far into it! But just enjoy it a little bit. Down here, you have to break the rules just a little bit to survive, too.
(Hobbies?) Well, I live with a cop, so there isn't much I can do. Can't break the rules. He gets me every time; he keeps me in line. I like to play games, video games. I like to watch Michael Waddell, one of my favorites, my hero. I've been wanting to be like him. He is a real famous hunter. He's got his own website; all you've got to do is just go look him up on YouTube, go like his page, and show him some love because he's probably one of the best hunters there is.
A lot of people are like, ‘Hunting is a bad thing!’ Hunting is a bad thing if you kill it and leave it. If you kill it and eat it, if it's supplying you and your family and you're doing what you're supposed to with it, then it’s not bad. Michael Waddell, he eats his deer and his bear he kills.
I've killed a whole lot of does. I would like to get my hands on a few bucks. I've gotten one, a little spike. Nothing big. These woods are getting clear; the deer aren't showing their faces around anymore. Doe hunting supplies me and it saves me money because I don't have to go buy meat at the store.
For right now, I want to stay young and help people. That's one thing that I've always loved to do. I love to help people. I like making people laugh and smile because I didn't have that when I was a kid. I was always the kid in the corner, crying about everything so, I don't want to put nobody through that kind of problem. I don't want anybody sad. I just do everything I can in my powers to make everybody happy, smile, and feel loved.
I'm a redneck. Hillbilly is a girl's term; redneck is a guy. The older people, back in the day, they had to fight for their survival. They didn't have the fancy equipment we have now a days, they didn't have fancy trucks and bows. They just had to make their own spears and kill their own food. We can just go to the store and buy our food, or just get a bow and kill it ourselves. I guess that what being a redneck means.
Everybody's got their term and how they want to live their life. All I got to say is when judgment day comes and you're not living right then...I can't really tell you. Like the old saying, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. You can lead them people to the right way, but you can't make them change. It's up to them to do that.
If somebody would just, personally for themselves, come down here and live like we're living, in a small town, old fashioned - they would understand the true meaning of living in the mountains. They would also see what's new and modern. There's electric heat now. There are constructed houses. It used to be everyone had to build their own homes.
Personally, I don't like the way things are now. I've never really liked it. I don't like all these fancy cars and fancy things people make. I just want everything to go back the to the way it used to be. I see my grandpa and how he used to live. That's the way, that's it. I love the old. This new stuff just sucks, I hate it. I see people on their hoverboards and all these big phones. I mean, it's just ... why can't you do like people used to do? Talk to someone face to face. Why text them? “