Volume VI, No. 1, Fall 1978
"Nobody had it any better." What could be any better than the warm, rich, back-breaking but fulfilling life spent loving, working and dying in the Ozarks--BITTERSWEET COUNTRY?
BITTERSWEET COUNTRY (to be published by Doubleday and Company in November, 1978) is our first book--a culmination of all our research, creativity, learning and labors of love. BITTERSWEET COUNTRY is our endeavor to preserve our Ozark culture, heritage, lore, crafts and neighbors for posterity.
Many people were involved with our book. We credit thirty-seven authors, twenty photographers, eleven artists and more than one hundred twenty-four contacts--people who we interviewed and who demonstrated different crafts and arts. Our advisor, Ellen Massey, edited and re-edited the material for the book, all of which had first appeared in our magazine.
BITTERSWEET COUNTRY is divided into five facets of Ozark living--The Setting, The Man, The Woman, The Neighborhood and The Sweet.
The Setting describes the actual land itself. The thin, rocky, acrid soil somehow nurtures some of the most beautiful but stubborn land in the nation.
The Man, The Woman and the Neighborhood are the people who made life in the Ozarks work. The people had the patience, love and courage to force the soil to produce crops, to carve homes and communities out of dense forest, to accept and deal with the bitter that life so often offered and to fill each others' lives with The Sweet--the love, fun, lore and arts.
The story we tell is not made any less harsh or more glamorous for the sake of appeal. Our friends are honest in their work, their play and their love and this honesty shines through in the refreshing approach BITTERSWEET COUNTRY offers.
Elvie Hough remembers, "Every day was just like the next. We did our morning chores. We'd work in the fields till dark, do our chores all over again in the evening, eat supper and go to bed."
There was a sweet side to the rugged life of the hard-working Ozarkians. "We were a busy bunch, but we enjoyed life. We got together, had parties and things of that sort. We lived good lives," said Ashford Hough.
With each technological advance the Ozark tradition fades a little more. The life was hard, but it gave them an awareness, a special feeling. "Progress is wonderful," Ella Dunn said, "but even though we don't have to work so hard, we've lost something."
BITTERSWEET COUNTRY--a book, a piece of land, a way of life, our heritage not to be forgotten. Everyone remembers, "We never went hungry and we always had something to wear. It wasn't much but we were happy. Nobody had it any better."
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.