Forever from Lawrence County

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Nora Swango Stanger is a Lawrence County native and Appalachian outreach coordinator for Sinclair Community College.

The focus of the past 30 years of my  professional life has been to promote the richness and beauty of the Appalachian people and our heritage. 

Too often outsiders consider our people to be ‘less-than’ based on stereotypes and the social construction of images of Appalachia created by the media. The sad truth is that many of our people have adopted the same ‘less-than’ attitudes about ourselves and we have stayed in the shadows of American society much too long. 

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Having been a displaced Appalachian for much of my life I yearn for ways to stay connected to my land and my people. I refuse to forget my foundation and my origins because these make up my core values. In a world where people struggle to know their purpose and their identity I only have to remember, and then it becomes clear. 

My name is Nora Swango Stanger. I am the daughter of Emma Jean Swango, the granddaughter of Dempse & Nora Mitchell, the great-granddaughter of Steve & Rena Turner.

I am the sister of Ruth, Mike, Amy, Linda, Garry, Ella, and Tresa.

I am the wife of one husband and mother of two daughters: the aunt of 17, great aunt of 34 and great-great aunt of one.

My people have been known here for a hundred years. 

I am from carrying water from the well and filling up the coal & wood boxes before bed.

I am from hunting wildflowers like Jack-in-the Pulpit, Trilliums and even Ginseng.

I am from climbing sandstone boulders and swinging from grapevines.

From Gum Stump, Aarons Creek, White Holler, and Coal Bank Holler.

From Waterloo, Arabia, Aid, Getaway, Greasy Ridge and Dog Fork.

I’m from listening to Whip-or-wills on hot summer nights and Bob Whites call in the morning.

I’m from working in Burley tobacco and cleaning off abandoned cemeteries for Decoration Day.

I’m from shopping at Mann’s Market and playing on the courthouse lawn.

I’m from high school bands marching in the Christmas and Memorial Day Parades.

I’m from county fair 4-H competitions and eating soup beans at Pioneer Days in Proctorville.

I’m from riding Greyhound buses to parts unknown and returning in cars bought with my own money.

I’m from risking to move away and longing for home.

I’m from birth at General Hospital, to layout at Phillips Funeral Home and rest at Bradshaw cemetery.

No matter where I lay my head, I am Lawrence County.