We were “hicks.” That was the insult of choice directed at us Chardon High School Hilltoppers. Rival school children would call us that or sometimes “farmers,” which said more about the insulters than the insulted.
We were not “hillbillies” (our Hilltopper mascot being something of a misnomer). And so, while reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, I had the feeling that not only was his family not my family but his culture was not my culture. (Not to say my culture is crisis-free.) Was his Ohio my Ohio?
Welcome to Rust Belt Girl, an exploration of writing the Rust Belt, from a female perspective. Using this blog, we could discuss which states and cities should be considered part of the Rust Belt, what’s “Rust Belt” and what’s “Great Lakes Region,” where the Rust Belt ends and Appalachia begins. We could talk about whether “Rust Belt” refers more to economics than geography. But let’s not. Politics? Nope.
Here’s why I began this blog: my creative writing keeps bringing me back to my native Ohio. It’s more than setting; more than shared industry and landmarks, natural and man-made. It’s more than regional dialect or terms like “pop.” It’s even more than shared faith, ethnicity, and lineages with their feast days and foods. It’s an ethos, I think, but I need to learn more.