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The Spirit of Man Goeth Upward

Research by Laura S. McKee, Berea Sound Fellow, regrading how WW-II era radio and personal histories have shaped the development of "From the Diary of Eve", a narrative series of poems set in Southern Appalachia.

Renfro Valley Barn Dance, 1939-41

I listened to several broadcasts of the Renfro Valley Barn Dance from between 1939-41. (I was also able to attend one of the performances of this still-running show in the original barn during my stay in Berea.) Certainly, Eve’s exposure to the program will serve as a counterpoint to the language of the national (wartime) news media, and I intend for a minimum of two poems in section two to grow out of her experiences with this show, both through the radio and in attending a live performance.

Eve will, of course, be mesmerized by the all-girl ensemble, The Coon Creek Band, and in particular by the virtuoso, Lily May Ledford. (I plan to develop one poem from her harmonica solos). Additionally, Eve will be enthralled by the coarse and slightly profane Aunt Ida character who berates her husband, Uncle Julian, in short comedy sketches between the musical numbers. Above all, Eve will gravitate to the female figures of the program, and they will serve as additional forces of inspiration for her independent spirit.


"Renfro Valley Barn Dance" WLW radio, 2-4-39.
JL-ET-001/002. John Lair Papers, SAA 66.


"Renfro Valley Barn Dance" WLW radio, 11-18-39.
JL-ET-003/004. John Lair Papers, SAA 66.


"Renfro Valley Barn Dance" WLW radio, 3-1-41.
JL-ET-006. John Lair Papers, SAA 66.