“I like to say that I’m from here, and when I get older and I’m something big and I tell them where I’m from, they’re going to be like, no way because you’re from a small town, you guys are hillbillies, and I’m going to be like, ‘Who proved you wrong?’”
Christopher Brown, Age 15; Loyall, Kentucky:
“I was born here. I go in the mountains most every day. Come here. Go to my brother’s basketball games. I carve stuff into trees and we’ve made forts up there before, my brothers and me.
My dad has not been around since I was five. My mom and dad are divorced, and mom works at the Tri-Cities Nursing Home in Cumberland, and she works very, very, very hard. She has four boys, and I’m the oldest. Her name is Shaunda Brown. Where I’m the oldest, it’s a lot of responsibility where she’s always at work, and it’s just crazy.
On Sundays, she goes to work after church and we wake up and I have to cook dinner and everything and then we clean house and I wash dishes and that kind of stuff. [I cook] Pork chops and macaroni and cheese, and that’s pretty much it. That’s what I like. I can fry eggs and weenies and can boil hog dogs and I can do other stuff, too. Sometimes I enjoy cooking. It depends on how I’m feeling that day.
I have twin brothers that just turned 13, and a little bitty brother that’s eight. [The most troublesome brother] is one of the twins, his name’s Matthew. They’re all into basketball. The twin that drives me crazy, he plays football, he’s in love with it. And then the little one, he just goes with the flow. He don’t really care, he goes with the guys. [As far as hobbies], I babysit a lot. And you can consider school a hobby, I guess. That’s a big part.
School is very important for what I want to be. I want to be an anesthesiologist. I think it’s a cool position to be in; to prep people for surgery, and all that. Get them ready. I plan on living in Tennessee, Strawberry Plains; it’s close to Knoxville. I think I can make a better living down there, help more people.
I’ve always liked school; I’ve always enjoyed it, and my friends and socializing. I love math. Math and English. I like to write. When I write, it sounds like a child’s book, no matter what I’m writing, and that’s mostly children’s stuff…I guess where my brothers having an impact on me. Short stories, and essays.
There was one called, ‘My November Day,’ and it was about the time I went to a football game with my family, a UK football game, and it was like when me and my football team went to the state playoffs. I told about what the impact of the experience on me, and I told about who was with me and how they supported and helped and how fun the game was and the cheerleaders and all that good stuff.
I used to [play football], but not any more. I played tight end and linebacker. It just consumed all my time in high school. I was doing the academic team, and then there’s Upward Bound, I’m doing Upward Bound, and Southeast Scholars and stuff like that that’s on the side.
The place, itself, makes it special here. The mountains. [Outsiders] kind of stereotype us to be barefoot hillbillies and slang talk and all that. The truth is, people are the exact opposite. We are intelligent people, and we may talk different than them, but to us they talk weird.
[My happiest time] was probably going to Washington, DC with Southeast Scholars. It’s a group of kids from Eastern Kentucky, and my twin brothers and me were in it because they’re in the same age group now that they’re getting older. We went to Washington, DC for five days and four nights. We went out and got to go to the White House, and the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial all the sightseeing.
[The most impressive stop] was the Holocaust Museum. I realized how much death there was, and how serious it was. I learned more about World War II, first of all, and I learned some specifics, like the dates of death of Presidents, and dates they got elected, and things like that basically. It was a good experience.
[My saddest time] was when my mom’s mom passed away, in 2012. She liked to play Bingo. She was one of the old women that never stopped going. She always had to be doing something. Cleaning. Cooking. Something. She liked to go out and explore, and she liked to socialize and she got my brothers and me anything and everything we wanted. We used to go help her, my twin brothers and me did. We just pulled the weeds out of the ground there. [She was just] 61. It is really young. I felt lost.
I like to say that I’m from here, and when I get older and I’m something big and I tell them where I’m from, they’re going to be like, no way because you’re from a small town, you guys are hillbillies, and I’m going to be like, ‘Who proved you wrong?’”