I watched this show when it first aired and this song snaked its way into my Scots-Irish hindbrain and incapacitated me for weeks. I’ve heard it referred to as one of the classics of improbably maudlin Dixie warblers. It certainly struck a nerve with me and the rest of the rurals huddled around the TV as darkness began to fall (As I recall, our local broadcaster ran Porter and Dolly early to give local advertisers a little boost. This song alone must have moved a couple of truckloads of Neese’s liver pudding.)

This was probably like the Beatles’ Ed Sullivan appearance for a certain generation of Southerners, raised among ghosts and coached to see them in everything from a door swinging independently on its hinges to a spring breeze lifting blooms from the row of ornamental cherry trees planted by the driveway. De rigueur tours of family cemeteries hadn’t worn on me by then. I was still a craven little sucker for stories about a roving, long dead woman looking for her children who died in one of the periodic diphtheria epidemics that swept the South for a hundred or so years. And the cemeteries themselves bolstered the narrative, with increasingly modest headstones marking the inhumation of the next victim. Mostly stories of the winnowing poverty that characterized the lives of the Presbyters who hove up here.

A frequent refrain I hear from survivors of the Great Depression is, There Was  No Cash. No Specie.

You were working , and stuff was getting made, and temporary systems of barter had insinuated, but paper and coin were absent. I understand these were the conditions that laid the colonists bare to the  tax scams of the Lords Proprietors. I’m  also beginning to get the idea that the rural white poor of the South sacrificed their sons of for what briefly seemed like the living wage offered by conscription in the Confederate army, just to get a sense of cash — a whiff of it, anyway.

But the biggest ghost around these parts has always been money. And that’s what really drives everyone batshit.

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