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One Saturday afternoon in 1984, I asked my dad to drive me from our home on Sandlick Creek to a little town called Fleming-Neon, on the Eastern end of Letcher County, in the Eastern part of Kentucky.
Folks often assume that, as Eastern Kentuckians, we are backwards, out-of-touch with modern culture, and cut off from the rest of the world. But, brothers and sisters, IT IS A LIE! Because, do you know what had drawn us out of the holler that day? What had caused me to wheedle and whine and cajole my dad into a drive across the county? It was for the fashion-forward purpose of going to a tiny store where I knew I could obtain banana clips for my hair along with MADONNA BRACELETS!
Note: Although I have always loathed the music of Madonna, I couldn’t resist the gorgeous possibility of encircling my wrists in dozens of bands of industrial-grade black rubber. I mean, it was an awesome look! A timeless classic, like The Little Black Dress or Cashmere And Pearls. Amirite? (Red sucker optional)
Anyway, we reached the store, and my dad sat out in the car as he did for all Shopping Experiences. I came out triumphantly, and began shoving the bracelets on my arm the minute I got in the car. (I had only been able to afford 5, along with two banana clips. So I didn’t look QUITE like Madonna.) My dad watched me and said, “Let me see one of those.”
He turned the bracelets over in his hands and asked, “How much did you give for these?” I told him they’d been 5 for a dollar. He said, “I want to show you something.”
He began driving and I relaxed into wherever he was taking me. After all, it was Saturday, I was 12, and I knew I’d probably get a hot fudge sundae from the Sugar Shack out of the deal if I played my cards right. We drove through Whitesburg and over to Red Fox, where he worked with mining equipment as part of his job. He took me into the warehouse where all the parts and equipment were stored, and I found myself standing in front of a big wall of O-rings, a type of rubber gasket used in machinery, sized from tiny to ginormous. He took one of my bracelets, held it up until he found the matching size, and said, “These cost about a 16 for a penny.” And he told me to take as many as I wanted!
I filled up both arms with more than I could ever wear. I took them to school the next day and handed them out like a Fairy Material Girl Godmother, and I still had enough to last me for years. They looked great with my parachute pants. (Until I traded them all in for skinny ties and hair mousse and pink high-tops with scrunchy socks!)
I love that the same hillbilly ingenuity that my family employed to patch barns with tobacco cans, make lye soap out of past-date commodity cheese, and craft dolls out of corn shucks and scraps of cloth, was also able to help me rock some eighties fashion!
And here’s a funny fact that most people don’t know: one of the songs from my last album with Zoe Speaks was pretty much a response to Madonna’s “Material Girl” song. It’s kind of the “Anti-Material Girl Anthem” (because I hated that song–sorry, Madonna!) The song is called Give Me Some Sugar and you can hear it on all your fave platforms, including here:
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Carla is currently based in Lexington, KY, ancestral lands of the Adena, Hopewell, S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), and Wazhazhe Maⁿzhaⁿ (Osage) nations.
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