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Ozark Old......

     Until the 20th Century, people struggling to survive in the Ozark Mountains most likely had not considered that their “way of life” had entertainment appeal to an increasingly urban culture spreading inward from two oceans.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, a modestly recognized East Coast Author who, seemingly in bad health, was advised by his doctor to camp out in the Ozark Backwoods as a restorative remedy.  Never mind the science of this prescription, it proved providential in the wildly successful H Wright book about his sojourn, The Shepard of the Hills, published 1905.
     The book was read by untold city folks during the first half of the 20th Century.  Like all folklore tales, it was a mostly fictional story about old and primitive people in an old and uncivilized place.    Although the book did not outsell the “Bible” or “Gone with the Wind”, it did produce a geographic “branding effect” that has endured for 6 generations removed.  Perhaps it would be exaggerating to suggest that, to this day, everyone living in the Ozarks models their lives after "Old Matt and Aunt Mollie”,  but it wouldn’t be irresponsible to say that the modern Ozarks celebrate “old” far more than most of America.  
     For a 100+ years our exports have been crops and crafts.  Our most successful attractions have been  fishing/camping/folklore venues.  Our dress styles have stayed plaid and coveralls.  Our education has been vocational.  Our cusine has been fried.  Our politics has been conservative.   Our winter homes smell of burning wood.  Our religion has been trans-rational-evangelical.  Indeed, Ozark 40 equated to Marin County 60, and Ozark 70+ is about little more than Medicaid Funding.
     Some of us who are not “lifers” in the region, sometimes feel as though we are participants in a long-running reality show.  We wonder whether Dad Howitt, the enigmatic sage resident of Mutton Hollow would cheer our evolutionary path?

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