“[My brother and I] will argue, and if he hits me, I’m going to hit him back. Twice as hard, because that’s what I do. And then he’ll go tell mom, which I think is a mistake because he won’t tell what he does. When I tell on somebody, I always make sure I tell what I did.”
Harley Rayann Moses, Age 11; Harlan, Kentucky:
“I have lived in Harlan my whole life, but I’ve lived in different parts of Harlan. I was born here and this is basically where my dad and my mom grew up so it is special to me because my family’s been living here for quite a while. I haven’t been out of Kentucky. I’ve been on the borderline of Kentucky and Tennessee though. That was the farthest I‘ve ever been out of Kentucky though.
I usually just like to sit in my room and watch You Tube and watch TV. But in the summer, I like to go to my cousin’s and swim, and I will play with my friends on Bailey Hill.
I just mainly watch videos and listen to music. I like rap mostly. I like Eminem rap because that’s the only rap I’ve grown up with, Eminem rap.
I like living in the mountains because it is easier because you don’t have to put up with all the noises in big cities and that is where most famous people actually grew up, is in the mountains. I know there’s a few famous people from here, but I don’t know their names.
I go to school at Harlan Middle School. It’s really great, but having seven periods all in one day is really hard. Two of my teachers I have twice a day so that kind of makes it hard because I am used to going to another class for rotation.
I like that I have a lot of teachers that know my name and that I can always come here [Harlan County Boys & Girls Club] and play with my friends. I‘d say my favorite subject is science. Right now in science we are mixing chemicals. My teacher put a mark with a marker on a sheet of paper and cut it up and put it in a glass of water, and she is going to let it sit there all weekend and see what it does.
Well, my mom, if she doesn’t like you, she will straight out tell you. I don’t like you, leave me alone, get out of my face. My dad is more like, easy, and he’ll try to tell you it in a soft way.
He does construction with my papaw. My dad is not around a lot anymore because he got sent off for a while to Bell County Forestry Camp. I go and visit him occasionally. If he plays with us, they search him longer than they would regularly, so he doesn’t want us playing. He doesn’t want to get up and play with us because he is afraid if he gets searched too long that if they don’t find anything that they are going to be really angry because they expect to find something. My dad just wants to talk to us. We are allowed to sit in my dad’s lap. We are allowed to sit by our dad. It is a little square table. My dad has to sit here. Me and Randy have to sit across from each other because we’re both by my dad, and my mom and my mamaw have to sit right straight across from him. The regular visiting hours, if you get up really early in the morning and make it there on time, you are able to visit him for two hours, at the most. What I miss most is that he would help me with my homework and if I always had something wrong, he always would know. My mom can’t tell because my mom and me never hang out. We’ll text each other, but we live in the same house. We won’t really talk as much anymore. It is just my dad and me. We used to talk all the time so that’s the hardest part for me.
[My brother and I] will argue, and if he hits me, I’m going to hit him back. Twice as hard, because that’s what I do. And then he’ll go tell mom, which I think is a mistake because he won’t tell what he does. When I tell on somebody, I always make sure I tell what I did”.
(Do you love your brother?) Yes. We will watch You Tube on my phone together. We will watch You Tube on his phone together. We will take turns playing games on his phone because my phone has no games yet. We will just play all kinds of games. We play Xbox together
[I have at least four grandpas]. I really don’t have a favorite. My one papaw does construction with my dad. We have a family business. It’s construction. He likes to play the piano and he is a guitarist at my church, and he just works all the time. I am more around him than I am with all my other papaws. He will take us outside and he will let us play with Zeus and let us give Zeus a bath. Zeus was my cousin Peyton’s dog that lived at my mamaw’s. He ran off. We don’t know if he died or what, but he used to let me get the water hose and spray him down to wash him. My papaw would also take me to his room and he’d show me his guns. He has several guns. He promised me that one day he is going to let me shoot one of them. I already am registered to shoot a gun. I already have my hunter’s license.
My papaw Randy, he can’t talk right now because he just got over a stroke that messed his voice up real bad. So he is still recovering, and I am really hoping he can talk better soon. You can hardly even understand him. He kind of stutters a little bit now. I really want him to get better. But one thing I really feel bad for him now is he is grieving over his stepson dying, my uncle Brandon. He was doing electrical work, and he fell like a 100 feet out of the air. He was one of the three people that fell out. The other two lived because the truck didn’t smash them. He got crushed by a truck. It was only a few months ago.
One day I might actually leave for Hollywood or something because I’ve always wanted to go to Hollywood. I want to be a doctor. A professional doctor for movie stars and stuff because that would mean I got paid a lot. And it would be really nice to work with some movie stars I’ve known since I was little.
The worst part of living here though, the worst part about it is all the drugs. Harlan used to be a good town until people started bringing drugs over here. Then it turned into something awful. This is why the population in Harlan is going down. That’s why all my family is moving to Florida and Indiana and it is almost my mom’s time to choose between Indiana and Florida.
I just got in contact my best friend, and she goes to whole different school and if I move I won’t be able to contact her at all again. We get to meet each other at (at the mall. I sing there, she dances. I sing every year though, since fourth grade. That’s the only time I get to see her and her mom always hands out these little cards for her dance place. I’ve always wanted to go, but I can’t because we cant afford it.
I get stage fright if I’m singing by myself. I am okay if I am around people that I’ve sung in front of before I’m okay because I have to sing in front on my church. I hope to be the one that plays the piano in church because I’ve always wanted to do that. My papaw’s going to teach me. He promised to teach me, but I don’t know when.
[Music] is important to me. I don’t care what other people think, but it is important to me because a lot of songs actually mean things to me. Some songs remind me of stuff that I love. Some songs are just hilarious that I want to sing again.
Like there is this song, it’s on Super Mario Smash Brothers, it has Pikachu and it is a video too. And Pikachu’s going “nyuck” and it is so cute because his little paws are just waving in the air and it’s adorable. I just want to keep watching the video over and over because it’s really catchy. And what music means to me for rap and stuff, it’s because that’s the only thing I have grown up around mostly and the one I’ve always heard about is, ‘I’m Friends with the Monster Under My Bed.’ I love that song. I sing it all the time.
Saddest time in my life was a few days after my birthday and my granny died. That was worst because she gave me all of her jewelry and all of her porcelain dolls, but what hurt me the most is I didn’t get anything left after she died because they mystically decided I got the least expensive stuff and [my cousin] would get the more expensive stuff. My cousin has dolls, Barbie dolls, just hanging in a place with all these creepy dolls. They don’t belong in there. They belong in my room hanging up. What her will said is give all the porcelain dolls, jewelry, and Barbie dolls that’s she’s collected over the years to me. It didn’t happen.
She was really nice. She was really sweet. I never got to see her much because she had mold in her house. I’m highly allergic to it. If I breathe it in, I would most likely die. She had to move into her game shed. She had this shed that if I invited a friend over we could sleep in there and we could party all night. My granny would have a microwave in there, and she would give us microwave food so we could have fun in there and stay up all night. And there was a big TV and a bed. It was a queen-size bed, so two people could sleep on it. She had to move into that and add a porch because there was mold in her old house.
My happiest time in my life was basically when I didn’t kill my little brother (laughs). I was two. He was only a baby. I hated him. I wanted to be the only child for the rest of my life because I was only two. I didn’t know better. I tried to throw him off the couch. My mom was vacuuming the floor and put him in his baby player, I couldn’t climb in and out those things though. That’s why she got him one of those and he slept in that and I slept in a crib. I could climb in and out of a crib and if he had a crib I’d be able to climb into his. I could not climb into his little thing because it was over my head. She put it up on the couch where I was sitting. I knew this little trick where I could climb on the back of the couch and get into it. I got into it, grabbed Randy started to throw him and mom came by and I don’t know how, but she automatically caught him and she didn’t even know.
Appalachia is special to me because this is my hometown, and I will never leave. I’m more country than I am city. I like listening to country music. I see a lot of country movies and that would explain why I’m country, because basically half my movies are country. It is just natural to me because I have always been used to country stuff, except rap. Rap I’ve grown up with in my life, that’s something else.”