Saturday, August 13, 2011


I'm going to tell you a little story, one that I don't discuss usually and surely not with anyone outside the small county of Jackson in the state of West Virginia.

Jackson County, WV has two major towns, small as they are, they are surrounded by even smaller villages. The folks  from the small villages came into the towns of Ripley and Ravenswood for any major purchases and to attend high school. Ripley's population was around 3500 souls so you can imagine how small the surrounding villages were.

Everybody knew everybody and some times that was a good thing though I've never been enamored nor felt the need to know everybody around me. I prefer living in a larger town and gaining some anonymity.

The town had one black man that lived on the outskirts of this town. He was known and called N***** George and to this day, when the natives there mention him they defend their right to still use the derogatory description of him by saying "But that's what he liked to be called. That's how HE called himself."

My problem with this is "What did they expect him to do? Rebel? Get belligerent? No. I think he probably just went with it thereby causing him less notice and allowing him to live in some sort of peace there.

In later years I've heard of a few black families that tried to live there. They left.

I can imagine if I had been captured by renegade Indians in the days of tomahawks, hatchets and loose scalps, I would quickly learn what to do to survive. I would be learning to bead moccasins and skin buffaloes, smiling all the while. You could call me honky whitey and I would just smile. Self preservation is a strong incentive for acceptance of many things.
 My thoughts might not be what those captives could interpret. It's a matter of survival. I often times wonder if I met George after he moved away, what stories he would tell me. Was he happy to have left after all those years of living on that hill on the outskirts of that town?

Do not misunderstand. I don't think anyone was ever mean to him. I don't think he ever gave anyone any reason to find fault with him. He kept to himself. He walked a lot. From that hill where he lived, you could see him walking into town, through town and to the other end of town every day and usually more then one trip.  His head bowed low, eyes on the ground, he had a small lurch to his gait. His clothes were nondescript, a faded brown shirt and pants and rundown shoes on his feet.

I never once saw him stop to talk to anyone. I never saw him in a restaurant nor a store nor with any crowds of people. Why is that? And now when I hear people mention his name and pretend to know how he felt and what he liked, I don't get to hear any real conversations he had with them. Wouldn't someone know him if he was so accepted in that community?

In today's world, George might have been diagnosed as BiPolar. All that walking, back and forth from sun up to sun down might be recognized as something other then exercise. I wonder. He was a town fixture.

When people there speak about him and how he liked to be called "N***** George, I question just what did he talk to them about. I've never heard anybody repeat an actual conversation they had with him. Did anybody learn his history? Where he came from?  If he really had friends there in that community, wouldn't they have had coffee with him? Lunch? Sat on the courthouse lawn and whittled along with the other gentlemen of the town?

Of course when his name is bought up, it's always prefaced by the "I'm using his name with the utmost respect....yada yada yada.....And if they are called out on using the N***** in 2011, they justify and assure you that they have "black friends" which is something I have never understood. I say to those people..."Name me a few." They don't expect that and are silent. Knowing names of black people does not make them your friends and if they were your real friends, don't you think you wouldn't have to separate them as to color?

Did anybody REALLY know George?  

Another argument the inhabitants of that small town use to this day for voicing to each other "N***** Hill is that the people that had left town and come back, hearing a discussion on the geography there would not know what area was being discussed if the new name of NORTH HILL was used. A flimsy excuse don't ya think? I was just told this today as to why the name is still used for that hill.

My question is....or rather my answer would be to these people...."the hill north of town where the black man lived". I guess that wouldn't work as it wouldn't give the  people the opportunity nor the justification to still say N***** Hill.

There are many reasons why I would never move back to that area but the bigotry that lies below the thin veneer in that area is something I could never accept. I've been away too long; been around too many different nationalities and small minds bore me.

 Having said all this on the subject of George, I want to also say, the people in that small town were civil if not kind to each other. The parents of the people I grew up with watched over each other and were multiple parents to many. It wasn't a bad place to grow up. I have some problems with  how their views differs from mine. Maybe it's all the places I've lived. All the people I've met. I didn't stay in that little town. There was so much more to see and experience and learn about.

Maybe that's the biggest difference. 


  1. Answer me this ?.....Did anybody know his last name? How sad for a person to be well known and supposing well-liked.....that he wasn;t called Mr. George? I bet everybody else was called Mr...if you get my drift...

  2. I get your drift totally and for a while I just thought it was something that was done for "the times back then" until one young woman commented that her Dad never allowed her to use that name for him so ...I can't make excuses for them after that. Whats a shame is they still can call him "Mr." George to this day. That's because they say he "liked" it. They day his last name was Smith..but who really knows if that was his real name. This is not a story I have ever repeated to people that I meet in my daily life. I am a bit embarrassed about it and I don't care what "they" say about how accepting MR. George was. ....somebody PLEASE recount to me a conversation you had with him!

  3. I meant...they COULD call him "Mr. George" but to this day they still refer to him as N****** George...

  4. I cannot for the life of me believe the comments that were left concerning George. This is 2011 and like I said prejudice is passed down from generation to the next. George was an older man when I was a little girl, and now I am 66 yrs. of age. Sixty yrs. have gone by, and some people act like they are living in a time warp. Thank goodness most of these people stayed in Jackson Co., because they wouldn't have survived any place else! As an R.N. living and working in Houston, Tx., I have had the pleasure of caring for every ethnic group, and patients from every nation. My world has been enriched by those lives that I touched, and I owe that to my grandparents and what they taught me about accepting and getting to know other people. I loved the diversity with my co-workers, the physicians, and my neighbors. When we are so narrow minded, we are the losers. Jo-Ann Tallman (raised in Jackson Co. W.V.

  5. Jo Ann...I too am an RN living in Lafayette, La. and raised in Jackson County. All I can say is "I hear ya..and I agree with the comment that staying in Jackson County might be a good thing for some of them. I don't think the big wide world is ready their

  6. Charlotte,so how are you with the Cajun food? I can eat it all except the crawdads. Our church has a Canjun feast day every year, but thank goodness they serve shrimp too. Would never suck a head, although that is supposed to be the best part! Work with a lot of Cajuns and the food they bring to work is superb, and they always share with me. They tried to teach me Cajun dancing, but I wasn't so good at it but had fun! Hope we get no hurricanes this year to speak of. The last one tore off our roof and uprooted 3 trees, and I was on mandatory duty at the hospital! I retired in February, but still don't want any hurricanes! Glad I live in Texas, because some of the comments on George sickened me. How ignorant can people be? What do you bet, the KKK is alive and well in Jackson County! Jo Ann

  7. I've lived in much worser places then Jackson County related to the race thing. Alabama is blantant about advertising their KKK. Mississippi wasn't a place I will ever return to and even here, racists abound. I steer around them.
    The people in Jackson could start using the MR. in front of George's name and maybe they will get the message. I'm sure their children attend colleges and interact with other nationalaties. They might be slower then the rest of the nation....but hopefully they continue to move forward. Might be any hope for the "older" group though.

  8. I don't like to peel crawfish. I'll eat them if they are peeled and in a stew or a fettucine! Awesome food in this town.
    On the other thing, there are a lot of mixed couples here. They don't receive a second look from most of the people in their age group but there are some older folks that will turn to take a second look. People are interesting to watch don't you find?


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