Frontier Former Editor

April 29, 2006

The world turned upside down . . . or at least knocked on its side

Filed under: doomed to repeat, humor, old times, schools, societal niceties — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:48 pm

To set the scene for this post, the following photos are of Powell Valley High School’s prom on April 29, 2006. The school, located just outside Big Stone Gap, Va., rented the former Hotel Norton in Norton, Va. for the prom.

Having taken the photos, and having some experience scanning crowds from covering a prison riot and various other scens of civil unrest or tension, I was able to discern a couple of things:

– For every person in formal wear – male or female – there are roughly three to four parents, friends or family members in, let’s say, sit-around-the-house casual.

– This was the prom: not the pre-prom mingling or the post-prom party – the prom.

Proms in this neck of the woods have evolved, or devolved, into sessions in which the proud promgoers literally promenade before a line of parents bearing cameras and making commentary on each couple’s fashion choices.

It doesn’t seem to jibe with what proms were when I was in high school. Feel free to express your own recollections or opinions.



  1. For several months, I traveled through Pikeville and Whitesburg, KY, then Wise and Norton, VA on to Knoxville, TN. About twice a week, in fact. I was born in the coalfields of WV and still have family there. These small towns have their own cultrual markers and societal norms.

    Comment by Soylent Ape — September 6, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  2. Then. for several months you drove within a few hundred meters of my home and my folks’ house.
    While this region shares a lot of cultural threads, some of these towns suffer from ‘outdoing the Joneses’

    The one thing I always laugh about is how people from the Wise County area think of southern West Virginia as a hotbed of bass-ackward inbred hillbillies (I worked at the Bluefield paper for a couple of years) when, in fact, McDowell County is a hotbed of descendants of central and eastern European radicals, anarchists and others who’d eat so-called Scotch-Irish folk of this region alive with bread, cheese and wine.

    And then there’s how we do our proms here to reinforce what idiots can be found here.

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — September 6, 2007 @ 10:37 pm

  3. It’s nice to know someone who’s studied the Mid-Appalachians enough to make that observation. Very keen…

    Gulag-seasoned anarchists, bucket o’ borsht hellcats and Young Turks are well-represented in Southern WV. Near the turn of the century, coal mining was such a shitty, incomprehensively-dangerous job, it was about the only place many of these mountain-fodder immigrants could work.

    Comment by Soylent Ape — September 6, 2007 @ 11:59 pm

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