“Make a decision to talk about why you’re blessed, not stressed. You give life to what you focus on.” ~ Kristen Butler
Ah, another great day in the office. The fabulous Ron Eller was the inaugural interviewee for the new UK Appalachian Center Oral History Project. If you’re unfamiliar with Dr. Eller, I’ll catch you up. He was Director of the UK Appalachian Center for 15 years, distinguished professor of History at UK and known “as a scholar of Appalachian history and the study of rural economic development and social change.” He has written dozens of articles, and his book “Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers: The Industrialization of the Appalachian South,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1983. His latest book Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945 has become a seminal tome for Appalachian Study, history, and social scholars.
When I meet people who have excelled in their profession, as Dr. Eller has, I will sometimes be super jovial in our meeting. (Hint: I’m not ordinarily super jovial) It’s very interesting to watch how people react -and respond- to someone who treats them as if they’re an old friend. They either get that deer in the headlight look and don’t say much, or they get it right away and I can feel the apprehension melt away. I was quite pleased to find Dr. Eller in the latter category. He’s a serious scholar whose work has inspired generations of other scholars, and he was a good steward of the Appalachian Center. His personality reflects his good works. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how proud I was of Kathryn Engle and Emma Kiser for their interview with Eller. It was an excellent interview and a superb launch to a project about one of the most important center’s to grace UK’s campus. Knowing so many of the former directors, and being Appalachian myself, I might be biased in my admiration of the Appalachian Center. I’m also right.