To the Editor:
The recent story in The Mountain Eagle about Mabel Kiser and what just one woman was able to accomplish in her later years proves the power of one.
What Mrs. Kiser did in the 1960’s and 1970’s would be harder now because the number of people dedicated to “doing good” just for the fact they were able to do good is fading fast. Nowadays, most people wrongly assume that one person cannot accomplish anything of importance without a committee of at least six and scads of tax funds. These rare finds in today’s society are a novelty—but they can accomplish anything they put their minds to if they only would.
Mabel was an extraordinary woman by the account I read. No one had told her she couldn’t do what she did to help her neighbors and others in need, so she just did it and went on down the road. It can still be done if one wants to try.
The other two women mentioned in the story, the late Siller Brown and Sara Ison, who just passed this week, were two of my mother’s sisters and by that route, my aunts. Both women were important in my book.
Siller Brown met our youngest boy when he was about four years old when my family was on a vacation to my roots on Cowan. I recognized her home and asked my husband to pull up the fairly long driveway to her house. I introduced her to my two sons and husband after telling her who I was because she had not seen me in several years. She immediately got down on the grass near a mud puddle and helped our youngest boy make mud pies and then told him they would place them on top of her yard’s fence posts to dry. Then both of them cleaned up and Siller took us inside and fed us stack cake and Kool Aid.
Siller was an excellent writer, not only for The Mountain Eagle, but as a news feed to one of the national news networks.
Sara Ison, who also wrote for The Eagle, was a mountain woman for as long as I can remember, every inch just who she was born to be and was until the day she died. She wrote just as she felt, and I considered her a good writer.
All these women, including Mabel, are so much like my own mother that the story by Phil Primack really brought back good memories for me. I truly believe Mother could have taught Generals Eisenhower and Patton some lessons on strategy and getting an army (in her case, we children) motivated to do what she was trying to teach us.
In my book, “Appalachian Daughter,” the chapter about summertime fun describes just how much work was involved in not only feeding our family of 10 during the summer, but also preparing foods to feed us in winter when the snow was flying.
In a chapter about welfare, I describe how Mother single-handedly raised vegetable crops under contract with a local cannery and hired everyone in our small town to work her truck patches thus putting returning veterans into jobs of respectability as they returned from the Korean War. I also describe how she kept her eye on a huge family of little ones whose parents were alcoholics and how she fed them nutritious meals to keep them alive and well when the parents were absent from the home drinking.
It appears to me that the women of Mabel and my mother’s era were taught to be self-sufficient and more caring about those around them.
I am amazed by the story of Mabel Kiser of Millstone, who would have been 100 years old this year.
I also would like to see more personal interest stories like these in The Eagle. Thanks for the memories. Let’s hope some of the dope heads who live in Letcher County now are as inspired by Mrs. Kiser’s story as I was.
HELEN C. AYERS
Helen Ayers is an author and retired journalist.