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'My People'
Edward Abbey's Appalachian Roots in Indiana County, Pennsylvania

by James M. Cahalan

Part II, Section 1 : Introduction

"The foothills of Appalachia at last. Now we're getting somewhere.... My people."
-- Edward Abbey, The Fool's Progress (459-60)

Abbey frequently returned to his native Indiana County, Pa. -- here, he brandishes his appropriately entitled book The Journey Home while speaking in 1983 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
THE FIRST PART of this article, in the Fall 1996 Pittsburgh History, began with an outline of Abbey's career as an author. Edward Abbey attracted popular and critical acclaim throughout the world --- particularly in the Southwest, where he was buried at an unknown site in the desert following his death in March 1989 --- but he was comparatively neglected, ironically, in his native Western Pennsylvania. Abbey was a very successful and influential novelist, essayist, environmentalist, and anarchist, the author of Desert Solitaire, Appalachian Wilderness, The Monkey Wrench Gang, The Fool's Progress, and more than 20 other books. Drawing from extensive interviews with Abbey's relatives and friends, as well as from research in the Abbey Archives at the University of Arizona, James Cahalan set forth for the first time the true particulars of Abbey's early life: his birth at Indiana Hospital in January 1927; his upbringing during the Depression at various residences in Indiana County; especially in and around the village of Home; and the formative influences of his remarkable parents, Mildred, a schoolteacher, housewife, church organist, artist, and endless volunteer, and Paul, a farmer, logger, salesman, schoolbus driver, rock-shop proprietor, and a committed socialist in a very conservative county

In this final part of the article, the focus is on Abbey's schooling and first writings in Indiana County, his first trip west, and his returns from the West to his native place both in person and in his writings.

Next section: Indiana County Education and First Writings

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