On Coon Mountain
Scenes from a Childhood in the Oklahoma Hills
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
196 Pages | 6 x 9
Coon Mountain lies in the Cookson Hills, where the western edge of the Ozark Plateau reaches in to eastern Oklahoma. A part of the Cherokee Nation during Indian Territory days, it was home to a rural community mostly of white and Cherokee farmers by the time Glen Ross was born there in 1929—which could have been 1829, for all the difference twentieth-century industry had made.
These autobiographical essays tell us what was special about the rural Americans of the Great Depression and World War II—about their resourcefulness, humor, and love of the land. How with a minimum of technology, in a subsistence economy, they achieved a life-style and a stature in the eyes of their children that we envy today.
Glen Ross’s lucid, appealing narratives pull us back into a time when children picked corn, peaches, strawberries—whatever was in season—and trapped animals, when a woman had to make hominy beginning with seed corn grown on the farm, and men met the challenges of horse-drawn equipment as they farmed, hunted, and fished to eke out a living with their families.
We have in this book vivid pictures of doughty pioneer relatives and their bygone way of life, including the well-stocked general store kept by Ross’s kindly storekeeper uncle (who spoke Cherokee as well as English), a remote mountain homestead abandoned to the encroaching wilderness, a missionary meeting in the midst of a summer thunderstorm, and an eerie midnight raccoon hunt in once-familiar woods transformed by darkness.
As Ross grew up, the depression deepened. The family traveled five days in a 1936 Chevrolet to Oregon to escape the hard times, only to return a year later to the their homestead. Their battery-powered radio told them of the war in Europe, even as it entertained the women with the early-day soaps. Eventually, war work was to draw the family out of the hills and into the second half of the twentieth century. Readers will laugh as Ross contrasts Coon Mountain with the rest of America.