Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jim Webb, October 20, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:02 - Ancestry of his family related to the land

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Partial Transcript: Uh, this is Jeff Keith and Rayna Gellert. It's October 20th, 2015. We're sitting down with Jim Webb. Thank you so much for having us here, Jim.

Segment Synopsis: Jim Webb begins with telling his full name and date of birth. Then he states his parents' full names. He begins to tell stories of his family. He eventually tells of the ancestry of his family, and how they settled in the area.

Keywords: Big Nelt; Cabins; Eolia (Ky.); Esther June Sallying; Family; Hazard (Ky.); Jenkins (Ky.); Katherine Spangler; Pine Mountain; Poetry; Relatives; Revolutionary War; Settlement; Settlers; Shadyside (Ohio); Teaching; Watson Caudill Webb; Whitesburg (Ky.); Wiley's Last Resort

Subjects: Ancestry; Appalachia.; Kentucky; Letcher County (Ky.)

00:10:21 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: And what I would like to know now, in, in getting that sense of Watson Caudill Webb's, you know, connection to this place...

Segment Synopsis: Webb tells stories about his father. Then he begins to tell of his life moving from place to place. He tells of his childhood. He explains how he had odd jobs in order to buy toys like bikes and record players.

Keywords: 3-speed bicycles; Ann Lou Enloe; Barbers; Comic books; Defense plants; Gordon Lewis; Greeting cards; Kentucky Education Association; Louisville (Ky.); Mechanization; Miners’ Memorial Hospital; Odd jobs; Oral history; Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel; Politics; Poor; Record players; Rhubarb; Shadyside (Ohio); Suit salesman; Suits; Superintendent of Schools (Letcher County, Ky.); Wheeling (W. Va.)

Subjects: Appalachia.; Kentucky; Ohio.

00:25:05 - Relationship with his brother

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Partial Transcript: I, I want to talk about Hazard, but before we get to Hazard, you described your brother in the, in the, uh, dedication of "Get in Jesus"...

Segment Synopsis: Webb describes his brother. He tells his brother's stories, and tells stories that they shared between each other. He tells how he reveres his brother.

Keywords: 45 rpm records; Army; Brothers; College; Country music; Family; Get In Jesus (poetry book); MG sports car; Pogo (comic); Radio; Robb Webb; Stereo; Stories; WKIC (Radio station); Walt Kelly

Subjects: Appalachia.; Teachers

00:35:46 - Moving from Shadyside, Ohio to Hazard, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you gave a really colorful remembrance of your time in Shadyside.

Segment Synopsis: Webb tells a few stories and talks about how moving from Shadyside to Hazard was very hard on him. He explains that he was made fun of and he was an outsider. He tells of how he quit playing football because he was so small. He does say that by the time he was a high school senior he had settled into life in Hazard. However, every year he did go visit his friends in Shadyside.

Keywords: Anne Lou Enloe; Chicago World’s Fair; Coal fields; Dance; Emotions; False teeth; Football; Hazard (Ky.); Hazing; Memories; Moving; Shadyside (Ohio); Tiling; “FUPs” (false upper plates)

Subjects: Appalachia.; Kentucky; Ohio.

00:48:22 - Acceptance to Berea College

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Partial Transcript: Great. That's great. You, you, you came to this all from the question where, where I was basically saying,if you noticed trends in the fifties...

Segment Synopsis: Webb explains that the reasoning for moving to Hazard was an ultimatum given to his father from his mother. He says that he didn't want to go to Berea College so he purposefully did not apply. His mom made him apply last minute, and he ended up getting in.

Keywords: Baseball; Budget; College; Esther June Sallying; M.C. Napier High School; Miners’ Memorial Hospital; Money; Perry County (Ky.); Robb Webb; Schools; Standardized tests; Watson Caudill Webb

Subjects: Berea College; University of Kentucky

00:57:52 - "Schools Out" poem from "Get in Jesus"

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Partial Transcript: Alright. We're here to, uh--with Jim Webb.

Segment Synopsis: Webb prefaces the poem he will read by explaining that he and his friends were good kids. He reads a poem titled "Schools Out" from his book, "Get in Jesus." Then the men discuss aspects of the poem that led Webb to write the poem. They also analyze the meaning of the poem and how it related to 1963.

Keywords: Baseball; Black lung; Coal economy; Dating; Friends of Coal; Get In Jesus (Book); Growing up; Injuries; Memories; Mike Henson; Poems; Prom; Reading; Socioeconomic status; “Right where it hurts”; “School’s Out” (poem)

Subjects: Appalachia.; Kentucky; Poetry

01:14:12 - Maturing and "waking up to the real world"

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Partial Transcript: I want to use, uh, language you just used...

Segment Synopsis: Webb goes on to explain when he began living in "the real world". He tells of his roommate who came from a difficult background. He explains what kind of work they did. He explains that their dorms were the party dorms because there was not a faculty member who lived there. He tells of the first time he got drunk and tells a story of a love interest. He decided he did not want to be a doctor his senior year and partied the rest of the year.

Keywords: Appalachian Volunteers; Benign familiar tremors; Cars; College; Dormitories; Education; Grades; Graduation; Lance Livingood; Love interests; Maturing; Meadow Bridge (W. Va.); Medical schools; Nicknames; Parties; Party; Romance; Roommates; Senior year; Strict; University of Kentucky; Vietnam War

Subjects: Appalachia.; Berea College; Kentucky

01:34:33 - First job after graduation

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Partial Transcript: So you--but you hadn't made, made other plans, so what did you do in '67 when you graduated and weren't accepted into medical school?

Segment Synopsis: Webb explains that when he was not accepted into medical school he planned to go to Lexington and sell insurance. He explains he was in the right place at the right time, and was hired into a program for HR purchasing for the hospital. He went to Williamson, West Virginia to work for Appalachian Regional Healthcare for three years and stayed in Williamson as a buyer for ARH.

Keywords: Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH); Buckhorn (Ky.); Hazard (Ky.); Hospitals; Human resources; Insurance; Luck; Plans; Vice president of purchasing; Williamson (W. Va.); Work

Subjects: Appalachia.; Berea College

01:42:19 - Engagement / Graduate school

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Partial Transcript: It's another tumultuous three years, '67 to '70, in terms of national activity.

Segment Synopsis: Webb explains he was starting to become more aware politically. He explains that the army would not accept him because of health conditions. He applied to various graduate schools and was accepted at Eastern Kentucky. He got engaged, and his mother was dying of cancer. The engagement was broken off, and he had to take class with his ex-fiancee. He and his friends created a literary magazine.

Keywords: Accounting; Allergies; Asthma; Birthday; Cancer; Engagement; English literature; Graduate school; Poetry; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; RECK (literary magazine); Romantic poetry; Rotary Club; Undergraduate classes; Watchbands; Williamson (W. Va.)

Subjects: Appalachia.; Army; Eastern Kentucky University

01:59:30 - Knowledge of Appalshop / Life after graduate school

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Partial Transcript: Well, you know, it's interesting to, to hear from you about your involvement with literature...

Segment Synopsis: Webb explains how his parents were forced to retire and they bought a new house. His brother came in to visit their mother. He explains that he became aware of Appalshop because his brother did photography work for them. He explains what he did after he graduated from graduate school.

Keywords: Appalshop, Inc.; Cars; Cecil Diamond; Graduate school; Jerry Harris; M.C. Napier High School; Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel; Politics; Print shops; RECK (literary magazine); School boards; Southern West Virginia Community College; Teaching

Subjects: Appalachia.; Berea College; University of Kentucky

02:12:58 - Teaching at a community college

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Partial Transcript: Well, and I want to back up for one second because it seems like while you were in the print shop and trying to get...

Segment Synopsis: Webb explains that over the seven years of teaching at the community college he connected with a group of other artists. He explains that he began to teach Appalachian Studies, and got the college to buy everything from Appalshop. Appalshop declined him from a full time job opportunity.

Keywords: Appalachian Studies; Appalachian literature; June Appal Records; Mountain Review; Southern West Virginia Community College; Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College; Teaching

Subjects: Appalachia.; Appalshop, Inc.