I touch on these every now and again because they’re cool. I’m talking about the Foxfire Books.
My great uncle (I would love to know his name if anyone has the family history) was apparently the last or one of the last coal engineers in pennsylvania. One of these years I mean to take my kid to Strasburg for the rail tour and pick their brains to find out who he is and what sort of strange cancers I can expect to get. But anyway, the family has been living and working in Pennsylvania for the last few generations and while not all of us are rail engineers or police, we at least can say we contributed something to the landscape.
I will link to the first three books, the remainder of the text is available online or sold online. The introduction is long but the relevant part follows:
Many older people in this area, for example, still plant today by the signs of the zodiac and the stages of the moon. I had heard them mention it, but I didn’t know what it meant. Rather than interrupt a con- versation to find out, I figured I’d get my students to tell me. They’d probably know since it was mostly their parents and grand- parents who were doing it. But my kids didn’t really know what it was either, and soon they were as curious as I was. Why not find out and turn the information into an article?So they went home and talked—really talked—to their own rela- tives, some of them for the first time. From those conversations came superstitions, old home remedies, weather signs, a story about a hog hunt, a taped interview with the retired sheriff about the time the local bank was robbed—and directions for planting by the signs.
In short, it is appalachian history and makes for a wonderful read. Please enjoy the first, second, third, fouth and fifth issue. Another fun book in the same vein but less folky is the American Boys Book of Camp Lore and Woodcraft.