Got mail from Ruddy Adam. Enjoy!
Our Favorite Series, My Experiences on the Road Playing Cards in Harlan, Kentucky, the Swine Flu, and a Fantastic Song that Truly Describes Harlan
We love characters, first and foremost in films, TV shows, and series. “Justified” is still our favorite series, by far. (“Peaky Blinders” is second) There are too many reasons to go into as to why, but in short: great characters (there are at least ten superb characters in this series); great acting; good stories; perfectly fitting music; and the evoking of old memories.
I spent several weeks in Harlan four straight winters playing cards in the 1970s. Although the money was easy (it was the nastiest money I’ve ever touched), I’ve never gone to a place that I so dreaded going, and I’ve never stayed in a place that I so detested. Harlan was the Hellhole of the World in my view. I swore after I got there that last year I would never go there again. And I did not!
The line in the following song that says “the sun comes up at 10 in the morning and goes down at 3 in the day” really brings back memories for me. Harlan was dark. It was dirty. It was cold. It was wet. It was muddy. It was poor. It was foggy. It was smelly. It was sick. The only place to stay was an old hotel called the “Lewallen Hotel.” (I can’t believe I found a picture of this place, of course taken many years before I stayed there. It looks decent in the above picture. It was not!
But there were wealthy coal mine owners there that shut their mines down for weeks in the winter and did nothing but play cards. Two different games would start on Wednesday and run until late Saturday night, and then they broke up. The owners had to be in church the next day. Most of them went Sunday morning and night.
The first two floors of the hotel were occupied by men with black lung disease. They filled the lobby day and night, coughing, coughing, coughing. Poor things! You had to get on the top floor to sleep a wink they were so loud. We didn’t make it that winter.
In January 1977, I got sick there while staying on the 3rd floor. I was traveling with a fellow card player we called the Eagle. I thought I might get better in a couple of days, but I got worse and worse. Finally, I told the Eagle we’ve got to get home, and you’re going to have to help me to the car. Back then you didn’t think of running to a hospital emergency room. Today I’d be in one in an instant if I were that sick. Of course, I was young then and used to getting the flu every year, as were most folks. We simply took it for granted without asking, “How can we keep this from happening next year?”
It was at least a 250-mile trip (and felt like a thousand), and every inch of it was miserable. The misery is so vivid I still remember every foot of it. Hell, it was a dreadful trip in good weather, over mountains, off on two-lane roads, dirty, rainy, foggy, cold. And any other bad thing you can think of.
People today can’t imagine what it was like traveling back then, long before they finished most of the Interstates. I-40, for example, didn’t finish until well into the 1980s.
When I got home it took two to get me to the bed. It took two more weeks to get over the darn stuff. At that point, I started learning how not to get sick like that again. It was no doubt the Swine Flu, but no one checked for things like that back then. The Swine Flu ran rampant over the nation for about four years, killing I promise you, far, far more people than they have listed under that plague. The nation finally got immune to that horrible strain.
In `75 or `76, they put out a vaccine without the mandatory trials. It killed and paralyzed I don’t know how many before they snatched it off the market, and then, simply didn’t mention it at all. Yes, the Marxist Media were lying, distorting, protecting, and often blotting out egregious wrongs the State carried out back in those days, just as they are now. They are just more brazen today, and they’re going to get worse, because they have complete power now. At this point, there is not anyone or anything that can stop them.
This is one of the more descriptive songs I’ve ever heard about a town and the series it’s for. It’s not country; it’s not folk. It’s flat. But it’s got charm, and it’s got plenty of character and pizazz! Somebody knew what they were doing composing and producing this song. Enjoy.
The Old Road Man: Ruddy Adam
From “Justified”: “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (3:35)