Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Loyal Jones, August 10, 1991

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:11 - Introduction / family history

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Partial Transcript: This is an oral history interview with Loyal Jones conducted by Linda Beattie for the Kentucky Writers Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Jones was born in Marble, North Carolina. He tells the names and origins of his parents and grandparents, and the names of his siblings.

Keywords: Baptist preachers; Cotton mills; Kentucky Writers Oral History Project; Kentucky writers; Marble (N.C.); Tenant farmers

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Baptists; Cotton manufacture; Kentucky--In literature; Tenant farmers

GPS: Marble (N.C.)
Map Coordinates: 35.175, -83.925
00:07:43 - Early schooling

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Partial Transcript: What was your early schooling like?

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes his early school experiences in a small five-room school, and later on high school, from which he graduated in grade eleven. He later went to Berea College, five years after he graduated high school. Jones did not get a lot of encouragement ahead of time. Berea had the benefit of being a school that students could work their way though in order to finance their education.

Keywords: Berea College; Brasstown (N.C.); Central heating; Marble (N.C.); Navy; Square dances; Traveling libraries; Treasure Island; Typhus; Zane Grey

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea College; Brasstown (N.C.); Education; Education, Higher; Grey, Zane, 1872-1939; Higher education; Square dancing; Traveling libraries; Typhoid fever; United States. Navy

GPS: Berea College
Map Coordinates: 37.57244, -84.29188
00:16:53 - Going to college

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I, I, don't know, the--one of the things that I've always wondered is, uh--maybe I didn't show that much promise, I don't know, but nobody in high school around said, uh, "Why don't you go to college?"

Segment Synopsis: Jones notes that when he was growing up many people went to college from small high schools, except the middle class people in town. The advantage of Berea College included the diverse population of students. The students were not sophisticated, and Jones characterizes the school as paternalistic, providing considerable direction for student behavior. An example of the teaching style included reading ballads out of an anthology without listening to people singing the ballads. It is notable that the ballad is characteristic of the Appalachian region.

Keywords: Appalachian ballads; Ballads; Berea College; Diversity; James Watt Raine; Katherine French; Kentucky ballads; Tennessee Walking Horses

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Ballads; Ballads, English--Appalachian Region, Southern; Ballads, English--Kentucky; Berea College; Diversity in higher education; Education, Higher; Folk music--United States; Folk songs, American; French, Katherine; Higher education; Raine, James Watt, 1869-1949

00:23:05 - Working at Berea College

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Partial Transcript: When you were here as a student, uh, what, job did you have at Berea?

Segment Synopsis: Jones worked as a wood carver during his college career. He also had a job as a janitor at the local elementary school. Jones originally wanted to be an illustrator, and took up drawing and carving. At Berea College at that time, the professors were interested in the Bauhaus school of art. Jones was not interested in the philosophy of art, and for that reason decided to major in English instead of art.

Keywords: Bauhaus; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Laszlo Moholy Nagy; Wood carving

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachia Region; Bauhaus; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Education, Higher; Employment--Kentucky; Higher education; Moholy-Nagy, László, 1895-1946; Wood-carving

00:28:45 - Student writers' publishing at Berea

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Partial Transcript: Did you do much writing here at Berea?

Segment Synopsis: Berea College did not have a formal school literary magazine while he was in residence. The students got together to form a club called "The Twenty Writers" to publish some of their work. Jones wrote a poem that was included in the work. There is a discussion of some of the authors who went to Berea College.

Keywords: Albert Stewart; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Billy Edd Wheeler; Draft; Fort Bliss (Tex.); Kentucky writers; Lee Pennington; The Twenty Writers

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Pennington, Lee; Stewart, Albert; Wheeler, Billy Edd

00:34:45 - Supporting writers

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Partial Transcript: And--but I think in liberal arts colleges, quite often, um, the--when they--when people uphold uh, the great writers, Shakespeare and Milton, and whoever, you know, they represent the epitome, and therefore I don't think there's much, uh, much expectation of, uh, lesser people being able to write anything, uh--

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses the idea that liberal arts colleges do not tend to try to teach people to write, because what they produce will not be as important as the works of Shakespeare and Milton. He expresses the belief that colleges who support writers will produce writers.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Foxfire Movement; Gurney Norman; Harriette Arnow; Liberal arts colleges; Norman, Gurney, 1937-; Wendell Berry

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Arnow, Harriette Louisa Simpson, 1908-1986; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Berry, Wendell, 1934-; Education, Higher; Higher education

00:38:46 - The years after Berea

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what did you do after Berea?

Segment Synopsis: In the years after he attended Berea, Jones volunteered for the draft. He was sent to Japan, where he ran an education center.

Keywords: Berea College; Japan; Military draft; Teacher's certificate; University of North Carolina

Subjects: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Japan; United States. Army; United States. Army--Military life; United States. Army--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.

00:42:24 - The Council of the Southern Mountains

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Partial Transcript: Um, so when you came to the, uh, the Appalachian, uh--blanking here--

Segment Synopsis: Jones recounts the history of the Council of the Southern Mountains, which was founded by John C. Campbell. Jones discusses his time on the Council, and his association with Perley Ayer.

Keywords: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; John C. Campbell; Perley Ayer

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Campbell, John C. (John Charles), 1867-1919; Council of the Southern Mountains

00:49:12 - The Appalachian Center

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Partial Transcript: I founded this Appalachian Center, such as it is.

Segment Synopsis: Jones explains how he came to found the Appalachian Center. The Center was founded with the idea that people from the region could study Appalachia in a scholarly way.

Keywords: Appalachian Region; Berea College

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Center; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Brushy Fork Institute

00:58:47 - Appalachian humor

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Partial Transcript: Well I know you have a theory of how or why Appalachian humor is different from other types.

Segment Synopsis: Jones feels that humor from the southern mountain region came out of traditional Calvinist values. The humor may turn around tropes with the result that the rural person is perceived as witty, compared to Vaudeville humor that portrayed the urban person as being wittier than the rural person.

Keywords: Berea College; Davy Crockett; Humor; Tall tales; Vaudeville

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Appalachian Region--Social life and customs; Appalachians (People)--Kentucky--Social conditions; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Crockett, Davy, 1786-1836; Fink, Mike, 1770-1823?; Humor; Tall tales; Vaudeville; Watson, Willard

01:05:46 - Family life

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Partial Transcript: All right, uh, backing up again a little bit, uh, before getting more on with your publications.

Segment Synopsis: Jones talks about his marriage in 1954 to his wife Nancy. Their daughter Susan was born in 1958. They also have a daughter Carol, and a son, Scott, whom they adopted at age 5. There is a brief discussion of race relations between teachers and their students of different races.

Keywords: Berea College; Children; Race relations; Reading

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Families.; Race relations; Reading

01:12:21 - Publications

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Partial Transcript: Um, talk about your publications.

Segment Synopsis: Jones has published some articles and essays. He wrote an article called "Appalachian Values" to show people about the culture of Appalachia. He has collaborated on a book of humor, written the text for a book of photographs, and various other books. He is planning a book of his essays to include black and white photographs of the people from the region. Jones has also interviewed people in the region and is working on a book of these interviews. He wants to present a positive image of the faith of people who live in the mountains.

Keywords: Appalachian Consortium Press; August House Publishers; Berea College; Bradley Kincaid; JEMF Quarterly (John Edwards Memorial Foundation); Kentucky writers; Mountain Life & Work (ML&W); Mountain Life and Work (ML&W)

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; August House Publishers, Inc.; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; JEMF quarterly; Kentucky--In literature; Kincaid, Bradley

01:27:14 - Work Jones would like to do

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Partial Transcript: Um, uh, what sort of projects would you like to do that you haven't done in terms of writing.

Segment Synopsis: Jones would like to rewrite a novel that he had written several years before about the Widow Combs, and coal mining. He never prepared it for publication, and would like to revisit the work, if it is still relevant. He stresses the importance of sitting down to write every day, and of keeping a journal.

Keywords: Kentucky writers

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Kentucky--In literature

01:30:44 - Creativity

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Partial Transcript: He writes a lot of fiction.

Segment Synopsis: Jones discusses creativity. He has been amazed, when he goes back to see what he has done, to see how good it really was. He enjoys the process of writing, especially the process of writing poetry. The poet restructures words so that ideas are seen in a different way. Jones discusses authors whose poetry he enjoys. A particularly fond memory that he recounts is an outing to the mines, on the occasion of awarding an honorary degree to Robert Penn Warren.

Keywords: Berea College; Gary Barker; James Still; Kentucky writers; Mammoth Cave (Ky.); Robert Penn Warren; Wendell Berry

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Berry, Wendell, 1934-; Kentucky--In literature; Mammoth Cave (Ky.); Still, James, 1906-2001; Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989

GPS: Mammoth Cave (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.183333, -86.1
01:44:48 - Harriette Arnow

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Partial Transcript: Did you ever meet Harriette Arnow?

Segment Synopsis: Jones describes some of his interactions with Harriette Arnow. He invited Arnow to participate in some workshops that he was running. He describes Arnow as "mountain independent."

Keywords: Harriette Arnow; Kentucky writers

Subjects: Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Arnow, Harriette Louisa Simpson, 1908-1986; Berea College; Women writers

01:47:18 - Theories about creativity

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm just wondering, I've had some kind of interesting responses from other writers, um, in talking about creativity.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Beattie describes other authors' theories about creativity. Jones describes his own view about the nature of creativity and art.

Keywords: Artists; Creativity; Ego; Humble; Questions; Robert Penn Warren

Subjects: Creative ability

01:50:10 - Teaching writing

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Partial Transcript: Um, how do you think writing should be taught?

Segment Synopsis: Jones did not have many courses for creative writing. He thinks that teachers should push people to express themselves and then to work with them to improve. It is important to allow for some writing styles that would work for some writers, that possibly would not work as well for other writers.

Keywords: Classes; Harry Caudill

Subjects: Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Caudill, Harry M., 1922-1990; Teachers; Teaching; Writing

01:58:33 - Overcoming stereotypes

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Partial Transcript: Is there anything that we haven't talked about in terms of, uh, your writing, or the Appalachian region, or your center here that you think is important to mention?

Segment Synopsis: Jones feels that the Appalachian Center is helping to overcome stereotypes about mountain people, but that there is still work to be done in this regard. He discusses Appalachian Heritage magazine, published at Berea College, and various media representations of the region. Jones sums up by saying he thinks of himself more as an administrator than a writer.

Keywords: Berea College; Kentucky writers

Subjects: American literature--Kentucky; Appalachia; Appalachian Region; Berea (Ky.); Berea College; Kentucky--In literature; Public speaking