Carl Kiilsgaard (Western Kentucky University)
Richard White has lived outside of Whitesburg, Ky., his entire life. The son of a coal miner, White has grown up with and dealt with first hand, the problems that exist in eastern Kentucky. With the coal industry the only major source of jobs in the community, Richard finds it hard land steady work. He lives with his wife of seven years, Tammie, and their three kids Holley, age seven; Bobby, age five; and Sam, age one. Both Richard and Tammie struggle with drug addiction. Prescription pills, due to the high injury rate in coal mines, are widely available in the community and easily purchased for the couples abuse. Despite social and economic set-backs the couple provides the best they can for their family. (All names changed upon subjects request) The White family pose for a portrait outside their home in Whitesburg, Ky. The family moved into this trailer after their first home was burned to the ground in a suspected arson case.
Richard White pulls his horse, Blaze, from behind the families trailer and out into the front yard. Having grown up around horses, Richard was determined as a young man to one day own a horse and when he finally saved up enough money he bought Blaze as a present for his wife Tammie.
Before going out to play with his sister, Bobby White is stopped for a goodbye kiss from his father Richard. Tammie White stands in the doorway observing the scene in front of the families trailer. With a stream close by and plenty of woods to explore the White children enjoy living in the hollow.
With five full time residents and frequent visitors the White house can become quite chaotic during different times of the day. Extended family plays a big roll in the daily lives of the White family, as seen here where in the background Richard prepares food on the counter top next to his nephew and two sisters.
Richard White snorts a percocet prescription pill as his son Sam looks on while receiving a kiss from his mother Tammie. Addiction has its good days and bad days for Richard and Tammie, both of whom have been addicted for many years. Tammie, during her three pregnancies was able to quit prescription pills but returned to addiction each time after her children were born.
Arguing over money Richard is overcome with anger and strikes Tammie across the face. The couple would soon get over the argument after Richard realized he misplaced the money he had accused Tammie of taking.
Tammie and the children spend many nights sleeping on the couch waiting for Richard to come home from being out with his friends. The children share a room in the trailer but prefer the comfort of being able to sleep next to their mother.
Richard discusses local hollow happenings with his neighbor Linda, while Holley and Bobby wait impatiently by their fathers 1988 Chevrolet Camaro. Richard was worried that his actions the previous night with Linda's husband, Shelbert, were going to be made known to Tammie, Richard's wife. Linda assured Richard that she would not say a word to Tammie about his alleged wild night.
The barn for the families horse Blaze nearing completion, Richard asks Tammie if she will hand him a hammer to finish a nail. The couples dog, Shiloh, joins them, as dusk sets in on Whitesburg, Ky.
Laying on a bed in the early morning with her son Bobby at her side, Tammie waits for her husband Richard to finish his cigarette so the two can start their day. Though neither work more then the occasional odd job, both Richard and Tammie stay busy through out the day taking care of their kids, meeting with friends and family, and attempting to find prescription drugs to use.
A walk down the hollow is briefly interrupted by Richard pulling Tammie aside for a hug. Though neither spouse can predict what will happen tomorrow they both stay positive in a situation that they know is not ideal. 'We live a rough life,' says Richard, 'But we make the most of it. Family comes before anything. I'd go to jail for a million years before someone laid a hand on my kids.'