American Mountain People / J CALDWELL

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by Bruce Dale, © Nat Geo Mag

I asked John Caldwell what kind of bib overalls were best.

"Osh Kosh," he replied.

When I asked why, he said, "Cause that's what they wear on Beverly Hillbillies."

John was buried in his bib overalls a couple summers ago. I went to the funeral.

The preacher preached, "John was the workingest man on Greasy Creek,.........We're all from the mountains, and being from the mountains, we're nearer to God. In fact, I have never met an atheist who lives in the mountains.............One of the highlights in John's life was when he was photographed for National Geographic Magazine."

We left the funeral home in Harlan, Kentucky and drove over Pine Mountain to Greasy Creek. Along the way all traffic stopped coming from the opposite direction, and when we passed a construction site workers removed their hard hats and stood at attention. This is a place where traditions are still valued.