Vol. VI, No. 1, Summer 1992 / No. 2, Fall 1992

Letter to the Editor

It Takes an Ozarker

Dear Editor,

Don Holliday's essay, "In My Father's House," in the Spring 1992 issue of OzarksWatch was one of the freest writings on Ozarks' heart and home I've ever read.

I have heard it said that it takes an 'outside' scholar to come in to study and then present an accurate portrayal of a region. Don Holliday proves that it takes an Ozarker to really define the heart and soul of this area and the people who have sprung from its rocky soil. It is families, living and dying and becoming a part of this place that has made the Ozarks what it is. Holliday bespeaks this truth eloquently.

The Ozarks is indeed "a hard place, with illusions of softness" and growing up here on a hardscrabble farm is living in a world that exists only "Rim to hill rim...so quiet men strained to hear, to see, to feel." In solitary places today it still echoes with"...near and far histories...kin and neighbors and whoever preceded us, nothing more." It is also a place where men may communicate more with the land than with their own fathers.

The Ozarks has long been a region where an umbilical cord ties us to the land, binding us to the soil in which our fathers and mothers lie. An Ozarker, I believe, feels the lifeblood of the Earth pounding through these hills, hears the voices of Ozarkers long since dead, and senses the tears, laughter, cries, and shouts of the past that imbue each solitary place with its own ghosts. Each hollow whispers its own tales of lives spent--the people who toiled there as much a part of the land now as when they lived.

Thank you, Don Holliday, for letting us see and taste and feel the Ozarks through your sense of family. As the Ozarks nears the next century---changing more and more near the metropolitan areas--we need someone with a true Ozarks voice reminding us of whence we came. We have an opportunity to find a balance in our lives, to not lose the roots that bind us to the Earth and this region, and to have the best of both worlds---if only we will.


Paul W. Johns

Nixa, Missouri


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