Tharpe Dogs

Its been a while. My apologies if you came here looking for something new but found nothing. Truth is, I’ve been under the weather for a spell. My dad says its ’cause I drank from a mud puddle. Thats my dad. He has a reason for everything. I drank from mud puddles lots of times and never got sick. So he says it wasn’t your average puddle, since it was right where all the cattle stood when they drank from the tank. That tank was too tall for me, so I drank from the cow-puddle. I don’t see why that matters. My young sister Cosi is big, strong, beautiful and healthy as a horse and she fancies warm cow-pies. If there’s a Michelle Vick out there organizing female dog fights, I’ll bet on Cosi. Every time. All I can say is if my dad is right we dogs have all gotten too domesticated.

So, since I’m still not feeling that perky, you’ll have to make do with a one picture post. It came from a wonderful little book called Appalachia: a Self-Portrait which is all photos from that part of rural America taken in the 1970’s by people who lived there. Dorothea Lange step aside. This is the real thing by the real people. Funny thing, though, this book, along with lots of other gems, was culled by the San Antonio Public Library back when me and Barney and Kitty-Kitty lived there, may they rest in peace. The basement sale people had the good sense to price it at $3, which was a lot, since most books were 25 cents or 50 cents or a buck. My dad scarfed it right up anyway. He has a thing for books.

So he shows me this one picture in that book showing, Fields and Pearl Tharpe, in their home in Auburn, West Virginia. They look pretty happy, an older couple sitting there with their two dogs who seem to be getting on a bit themselves — a lot of history on the wall behind them too. My dad said it reminded him of the Millers who lived up Murphy Creek and who fed him for a few weeks when his folks were away. Nice people and Mrs. Miller made real good biscuits and gravy. Myron, that was old man Miller, had bad emphysema which was because he had been mustard-gassed in World War I. Murphy Creek wasn’t in Appalachia, but it might as well have been. Country people, loggers and dust bowl Oakies, like from the Grapes of Wrath. They said ain’t and cain’t. My dad said ones’t you got the hang of it, it was right comfortable. He reckons it was easy but he cain’t talk that way no more. That was in South Western Oregon around 1959 and the locals called it “Murphy Crik”. There was a guy lived up Murphy Crik back then, loved his dog more than anything. Used to let it ride everywhere in the back of his pickup. One day he pulls up with no dog in his pickup. “What happened to your dog?” says my granddad (that would be my dad’s dad — I never did get to meet him). “Oh, had to shoot it–it wouldn’t listen or mind and I got so pissed I took my gun right off the rack and shot it”. That’s what the guy said. Go figure.

Well, Fields and Pearl Tharpe in the real Appalachia would never have done a thing like that. They’s good people. I can tell from the picture. Those dogs look real happy too, and I bet ones’t in a while they got biscuits and gravy.

Fields and Pearl Tharpe

Fields and Pearl Tharpe in Auburn, by Robert Cooper, around 1970

(see it big)

Till next time, your friend,

Rita the dog


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8 Responses to “Tharpe Dogs”

  1. oaktown pablo Says:

    Ole Mrs Tharpe got biscuits & gravy more’n once in a while!

  2. rita314 Says:

    Hola, wiseguy oaktown pablo 🙂
    LOL! Indeed she did! She enjoyed them too, I’ll bet.

  3. larissa Says:

    hello. i’m a friend of david’s. he sent me here. lovely blog you have. i’m totally enjoying the stories and artwork.

    my dog, porkchop, said mud puddles & cow-pies are his favorite and a staple for farm dogs.


  4. Sharon Says:

    Ooops. My reply on the Videos page claimed that I lived in the same state as the Tharpes. Sorry — wrong. The Appalachians run through TN as well, of course, and that’s where I am, not WV.

  5. oaktown pablo Says:

    Aoooooo, Rita – where you at?

  6. rita314 Says:

    Thanks Larissa for dropping by. I’m glad David sent you my way. I really wish I could meet Porkchop. Very nice name!
    ciao, Rita

  7. rita314 Says:

    Hi Sharon, no matter where you live. I’m glad you drop by from time to time. Rita.

  8. rita314 Says:

    oaktown pablo: I’m back after a long absence!

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