If you’ve eaten at a fine-dining restaurant in New York Ciy or Washington DC, you’ve likely been served on Homer Laughlin china.
Artisan china is the kind of thing successful, educated, refined people expect their upscale meals to be placed on, but they probably never wonder where it came from or who made it — or whether or not the worker had a “peculiar” accent or more than a high-school education.
It takes unique skills from a variety of unique people to craft such a plate. And the artisans, skilled laborers, engineers, scientists and technicians at Homer Laughlin — our country’s last remaining major pottery plant — live along a curve of the Ohio River in rural West Virginia.
Spend one hour in the mile-long factory, which is sited to take advantage of both the region’s rich clay soil, perfect for making ceramics, and the skills passed on from one generation to another, and you understand intellect and talent do not have to come from a four-year institution.
Value and virtue in your work comes from a variety of skills, education and experience.
Fifteen years ago, we didn’t know what people who weren’t like us were thinking, because they were not around us, explains Dane Strother, a Democratic strategist.
“Facebook and 24-hour news and a plethora of news stations and social media has brought focus to those differences. It’s the first time different Americans have ever looked up and seen each other every day. And neither one likes what the other one is seeing,” he says.
Stereotypes are peculiar things. They make targets out of those who are different, be it in language or traditions. And it appears Appalachia remains the last minority population in America for which it is socially acceptable to question intelligence, speech pattern, the way people dress. Their uniqueness.