Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jeanette Gilpin, November 13, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:02 - Interview introduction and family history

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Partial Transcript: Uh, Randy Norris conducting an interview for the Kentucky Oral History Society

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer introduces Jeanette Gilpin. Gilpin gives her family history. Personal contact information has been muted in this version.

Keywords: Harlan County (Ky.); family members--parents; family members--siblings

00:02:00 - Childhood experiences

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Partial Transcript: If you don't mind telling us the year you were born. 1931. Now you were born pretty much during the heart of the Depression.

Segment Synopsis: Jeanette discusses her earliest memories during the Great Depression and World War II.

Keywords: Fairview; Great Depression; Italy; Mackvay (Ky.); POW; Pearl Harbor; WWII; family members--grandparents

Subjects: Depressions--1929--Kentucky

00:05:05 - "Bloody Harlan"

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Partial Transcript: And when the union came into Harlan County.

Segment Synopsis: Jeanette talks about the conflicts between the miners and the unions in Harlan.

Keywords: National Guard; miners; strikes; unions

Subjects: Strikes and lockouts--Coal mining

00:09:10 - First child

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Partial Transcript: The first one, Michael was born in Fairview. And uh, can I tell him the tale where you ran down the railroad?

Segment Synopsis: Jeanette discusses the near stillbirth of her first son, Michael, and how her mother saved the baby while her husband ran for help.

Keywords: Childbirth; Stillbirth

Subjects: Childbirth

00:11:05 - Flood of 1977

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Partial Transcript: Mother and Dad and all of our children lost everything we had in the '77 flood. Lost our homes, our cars, our furniture, our pictures...

Segment Synopsis: Gilpin tells how she and her family lost everything in the flood of 1977. She talks about moving into a mobile home park, the contamination issues and her husband's injury.

Keywords: government financial assistance; methane gas; plumbing business; rivers flooding; sewage; small businesses; vinyl chloride; water treatment systems

Subjects: Floods--Kentucky

00:15:33 - Concerned citizens against toxic waste

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Partial Transcript: And we bought our mobile home and moved it into the Holiday Inn Mobile Home park; you know all about that, all that contamination.

Segment Synopsis: She begins to talk about the contamination issues in the Holiday Inn Mobile Home Park, beginning with the explosion that seriously injured her husband.

Keywords: methane gas; sewage; vinyl chloride; water treatment system

00:18:02 - Concerned Citizens Against Toxic Waste

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Partial Transcript: Now, when you say, the group, what's the official name of the group?

Segment Synopsis: Jeanette explains that she was not present for the initial meetings for Concerned Citizens Against Toxic Waste, but that she was involved in some of the early organizing.

Keywords: Epidemiology studies; Politics; pollution

Subjects: Environmental protection--Kentucky

00:21:55 - Election

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Partial Transcript: Come up May was election time. This is to answer your question. I'm gonna tell you what happened and you tell me how I feel.

Segment Synopsis: She describes her feelings on how politicians reacted to the needs of the trailer park after the explosion. An unidentified individual on the tape talks about the lack of local officials supporting the group in their efforts.

Keywords: Judge Executive; Senator Charlie Berger; campaigns; elections; union rallies--coordination; water quality

00:27:31 - Health effects of contamination

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Partial Transcript: It is a case of the ostriches sticking their heads in the sand. They don't want to accept it.

Segment Synopsis: An unidentified woman on the tape discusses the difficulty of getting the community to acknowledge the existence and extent of the contamination. Gilpin discusses the lead contamination in her and her husband's blood, and the difficulty of getting accurate measurements. She also talks about the the additional health problems that they and their neighbors have suffered from.

Keywords: birth defects; cancer; contamination; water treatment systems

00:35:53 - Burning

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Partial Transcript: As I understand, what happened out there, that place was used to clean off mining equipment. And also, I understand...

Segment Synopsis: Gilpin describes the amount of pollution created from burning industrial equipment nearby and how little time it took to cover everything.

Keywords: Oak Ridge; mining equipment; pollution

00:39:39 - Chemical effects on the residents

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Partial Transcript: We have gathered every bit of information that we can from everyone we can about these chemicals and their effects....

Segment Synopsis: An unidentified person talks about not knowing the long term effects of exposure to these chemicals for residents or the subsequent generations.

Keywords: PCB's (pollution); VOD's (toxic material); heavy metals; pollution; radiation

00:46:57 - Not media viable

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Partial Transcript: The company, what was the name of the company again?

Segment Synopsis: The EPA told the group that they were not media viable. They are angry that there is so little media coverage of this issue.

Keywords: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); National Electric Coil; cancer; stillbirths

00:49:50 - Things lost in the flood

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Partial Transcript: One of the things that I wanted to get clear was when you had the flood in '77, where were you living when you lost everything...?

Segment Synopsis: Gilpin gives more details about what the family lost during the flood of 1977, including a list of all the vehicles lost and more information about the effects on their plumbing business.

Keywords: plumbing business; rivers flooding

Subjects: Floods--Kentucky

00:53:00 - Health care in the mountains

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Partial Transcript: Since you've had such, uh, so many health things, how is the health care in the mountains, in terms of the availability, accessibility?

Segment Synopsis: She describes the difficulties involved in getting Worker's Compensation to cover her husband's bills.She and her husband also talk about wanting to do missionary work, and the fact that, despite their hardships, they have survived. The interview is concluded

Keywords: Kentucky; Virginia; health; health insurance; healthcare; hospitals; missionary work; worker's compensation

Subjects: health care issues, costs, and access