Eastern Kentucky living wasn’t as easy as many people think, or maybe it is exactly how people think. Whenever you are a nerd like myself people automatically judge you for some of the dumbest things you would never think of. Have you ever wondered what it was like growing up in Eastern Kentucky? Then this post might be just what you are looking for. Let’s take a dive into the poor-medium lifestyle that I was faced with.
How was life in Eastern Kentucky
Poor. Everyone is poor, well for the most part. That could be, for the most part, is that there is nowhere to work. From where I’m from there was either Dollar Stores, Fast food, or Gas stations. Even then I don’t think they really offered full-time employment. Somehow people get by though, I’ve never been really sure how. Especially whenever I would drive by 3 story houses I always wondered where they worked.
Eastern Kentucky normally gives you zero opportunity to succeed. I don’t think this is by design, but because of there just not much there.
I’ll tell you one thing about Eastern Kentucky though.
If you are broke down on the side of the road, you’ll have a better chance of someone stopping from there. I’ve literally watched people drive by as fast as they could while living in Lexington. In a wreck or broke down on the side of the road? Better off having someone in a beat-up F150 with rust spots on it covered in bondo. Then a city slicker in an Escalade in “good” old Lexington Kentucky. Are there good people that live in the City? I’m sure there are somewhere. I’ve not met many that can even change a tire or jumpstart a battery.
Everybody Knows Everybody
It’s very easy to really miss home (Eastern Kentucky) whenever its the holidays. All my family and friends I grew up with, live there. In Eastern Kentucky, it’s very easy to go to the local gas station and run into about 3 or 4 people you grew up with or went to high school with.
The dating scene. I don’t think I’ve ever dated someone from my county I grew up with. That my mother didn’t know their parents, aunts, uncles, and dogs/cats name. While my mother did work at the bank so it was even a bigger case that she quite literal knew everybody. Even though people wouldn’t live side by side like they do in the city. It always felt like your neighbor and friends where closer than anything city life can offer you.
Going to school in Eastern Kentucky is a weird subject. I think some of the schools were always well equipped. There were always computers in the classrooms as far back as I can remember. I grew up in the computer age. What most people grew up with while living in Eastern Kentucky was nothing. I’ve heard tales from older family members it was common they had to walk to school. Some didn’t get passed 8th grade. High school graduates were basically unheard or very uncommon.
I’m really not sure what happens. I don’t know if its the drug epidemic (mostly meth) that happens. For whatever reason, it is really frowned upon to be from the eastern region of Kentucky whenever it comes to “intelligence”.
I’m here to tell you though I’ve met some brilliant people along my journey to adulthood. Sure we/I still have the twang but I’m far from what I would consider dumb.
This false narrative really needs to be laid to rest. Kids are graduating now, I’ve even heard of Eastern Kentucky to have TOP OF THE LINE technology in the schools.
Sorry to tell you city slickers, we hillbillies ARE NOT as dumb as you once thought. Maybe once upon a time, but not in 2018.
Sports in Eastern Kentucky is one of the biggest speculates for whatever reason. More specifical Basketball.
Being from Magoffin County, Kentucky. We have never won a championship or even gotten close in football. So no one is really ever going to remember my reign as a football player from 2001-2004. However for example, if someone hit a big 3 point shot against Johnson Central in the Regionals it can go down in Small Town History. There is just some reason that Football, as well as other sports, are not taken as seriously.
There were many times that people would laugh at our Football team. They didn’t really care about all the time spent out on the field, we never got support. Basically, it was a mockery. I’m glad to say now that Magoffin has recently gotten a new field and isn’t the complete joke it used to be. Finally, some people started caring about the Football program. All that doesn’t matter as Basketball is just king in Kentucky. We aren’t really known for producing the greatest athletes in the anything but Basketball. Perhaps it has something to do with our amazing State Basketball Team, the Kentucky Wildcats.
Being a Nerd while living in Eastern Kentucky
Being a nerd at all back in the 80s was kind of frowned upon, you were considered kind of a loser. Most of that went away whenever I was in High School or the stigma of being a nerd. Honestly, I wasn’t that big of a nerd anyway. I loved sports but man did I love video games too. I think there was still a stigma to the ladies/girls that you might have tried chasing after though. So I still tried to keep my nerdiness hid away. Sure I enjoyed Magic the Gathering but I wouldn’t be caught dead playing it with all my fellow nerds at school. Is that kind of shallow? Yes, yes it was but that’s just what I’ve always thought.
Now I can play MTG with my wife and she doesn’t care. She actually enjoyed it which is awesome. I also love collecting things you should check out my NES collecting Guide.
I will see I’ve never quite fit the true bill of a stereotypical nerd. Even though some people assumed I was such a huge nerd that I couldn’t change a tire. I’ve changed many a tire, I’ve hung tobacco, I’ve fenced, I’ve run the cattle all over the hills. The only I never really participated in was hunting. I love fishing but I’ve never been a hunter. Being a hunter in the mountains is a big deal, and it’s very manly. Do I shoot guns? Yeap. Shoot Bow N Arrows? You betcha. Just never went on a hunt to kill anything.
My nerdiness is unique at least I’d like to think so, I’ve enjoyed just about every sport there is but also I know how to program a Cisco switch. There are also TONS of people just like me as well. I’ve always used the term Hi-tech Redneck.
The general elections in Kentucky alone are almost as cutthroat as anything I’ve ever seen. If you think some of the big cities such as Lexington have bad advertisements. You should see some of the ones in East KY. Coming from a county with maybe 1200 people, and where EVERYBODY knows everybody. There will be literally families not speak to each other over an election. It’s absolutely nuts! Ad and flyers on every single hill and pole each corner you turn. In everyone’s yards etc.
Perhaps in smaller places, you have EVEN more power than you would in a bigger city. If someone gravels my driveway they can get my vote have been tossed around as long as i can remember.
Jobs and Workforce
Since coal has taken a nosedive, so has the available jobs in Eastern Kentucky. I’ve heard many stories of whenever coal was booming, that Magoffin County was literally the place to be. People were walking around outside town, Movie theater, Roller skating rinks. People talking and trading all day long.
I NEVER HAD ANY OF THESE!? A Movie Theater in Salyersville? Really? I always thought it was a myth. Since the plummeting of coal, all the businesses went elsewhere. No one roaming the streets as they did back in the day. Speaking of work? Unless you want your career to be working at McDonald’s or a Dollar General Store you don’t have many options at least if you live in Magoffin. The biggest company we had that kept people employee moved the business elsewhere. Last time I checked there is a new business that makes truck beds or something now. But, I also heard that they brought the majority of their own workers from somewhere else.
The majority of people commute. I’m not talking like a 30-40 minute commute either. I’m talking like a 2-3 hour commute a day to go to work. Some of my family members do it, heck I’ve done it. The first IT job I got in Lexington for a mere $12/hr I was driving 1 hour and 45 minutes there and back home. Those long commutes really start adding to on the gas mileage as well that it became why don’t I just move. It’s not that I’ve ever wanted to move away from my hometown, but because I’ve had to simply move to work and make a life. Some people choose/sacrifice 4 hours of their free time driving to jobs they hate just so they can grow up at home.
The good, bad, and the ugly!
Driving down the Mountain Parkway, Kentucky has some beautiful land. I truly do love this place, this place is Kentucky.
There are tons of beautiful places you can visit in Eastern Kentucky like the Natural Bridge. Even my hometown has some great looking spots. Going back into the hills and mudding or driving to the top of hills only a 4×4 can get too. You will see some beautiful stuff. That’s where you will find the most beautiful parts, is right on the top of the hills while you can look around. People always brag about the smokey mountains. I’ve been there a few times now and really it’s no different. Perhaps to some people who aren’t used to seeing hills everywhere. I mean we don’t necessarily have big huge mountains like the smokies but its very similar.
Now let’s talk about the bad and ugly. Eastern Kentucky 110% has some of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen.
Stuff like you are seeing above is just gross. You can’t do anything really with this land and its covered with this weed. It’s sad and useless all at the same time. Really in the Fall after all the leaves have dropped it’s pretty ugly out. Now when the snow finally covers all the trees and ground against it can be a thing of beauty again.
The simple life of Eastern Kentucky
Even though I grew up in the poor/middle-income range. I always felt like I had a lot. The house I grew up in had the ceiling caving in, and sometimes we could see the dirt in certain parts of the home, or feeling the cold wind from the ground. I still felt like I had a lot. Most of that was due to the fact I was surrounded by family and my mother worked her butt off to support her family. Like other parts of the country I grew up without a father and I think I turned out for the most part ok. Looking back and living in a modern house now I’ve realized what I really came from. I came from a hard-working family that had to fight to survive every day. Living paycheck to paycheck just like the rest of America just with even less.
Eastern Kentucky is a great place to grow up regardless and I’m very proud to be from there. I’ll always want to go back, perhaps if the job and economy could ever pick up I once again go back and have a life for my family there. Is Eastern Kentucky really so simple of a life? I don’t really think so, getting pulled out of class to go chase cattle across creeks and bier patcher was nothing simple about that. Is really working with your hands simple or is sitting in a nice comfy office chair simple?
Perhaps they call it the “Simply life” because there isn’t much “thinking” involved? This isn’t a knock on the city life at all I mind you. There are parts of the city living I enjoy as well. Not living 30 minutes away from the nearest grocery store is great, and surrounded by any store you could imagine. But, being to pee off the porch without getting some kind of lawsuit or criminal charge against you is pretty awesome as well.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and as always you can follow me on twitter – @realkynerd
Let me know down in the comments below if you’ve ever lived in Eastern Kentucky. Have you ever wanted to visit? Do you still live there let us know how you feel!