Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heaven's Gate?

I've entered into a cyber space filled with residents from my home area. From the hills and hollers of WV and specifically a county called Jackson, names are appearing that I haven't seen in the years since I got out.

"Got out" seems to insinuate an escape of sorts.  I've always felt like an escapee.

WV is called the "Little Switzerland of the Americas"  for a reason. The Swiss Alps might be bigger but they are surely not more numerous then the landscape in my home state.

This makes for a beautiful landscape, a photographer's delight and an outdoors man's haven or heaven and that is a pun related to the song by John Denver about this state.

I've never subscribed to the notion that it was "Almost Heaven, West Virginia" but it made John Denver a lot of money, so much in fact that he recognized a good thing once he found it. He also wrote "Rocky Mtn. High" which Colorado loves to use to describe their state. I digress.

Let's get back to those hills. The ruggedness of this state was such that explorers actually detoured around it in their explorations. So do businesses. Unless you live along the Ohio River or the Kanawaha River, you won't want to establish a business that exports.

Trucking your product from the interior of the state will be a costly venture. The chemical plants in the Charleston area enjoy the use of barges to transfer their products. The Kanawha River flows through Charleston making it a much more economical opportunity for manufacturers to ship. Chemical plants dot the river banks. I remember the smell of those plants reaching for miles and blanching the area clear to the Sissionville area, miles from Charleston. EPA must have been asleep.

Major businesses are not rushing to the interior of the state, land locked from any rivers, to build factories. 

I got out. Out to states that had better growth, better economies and more job offers. It was never something I regretted doing. My daughter and I moved away and stayed away.

When the economic meltdown hit the USA, the state of WV was not seriously impacted as there was never many jobs there anyway. Many left the state soon after high school unless they went to WVU. The big joke there is "send your kid to WVU and when he graduates buy him a bus ticket out of the state to get a job". 

The best thing about strolling down memory lane on that board site is realizing after all these years gone from there, many of us shared the same experiences. Times were hard for more then just my family. I always assumed that we lived "differently" then most of the other people there. Feeding seven children was no easy task. The families were large in number and the country kids all shared the same problems. As children we had chores but we had play time too. Our toys were not what they are  today. Discovering that "June Bugs tied to a string" and left to fly around us, homemade stilts, and lots of playing in the dirt, barefoot and shirtless through the summers was the "norm". 

The simple diet of potatoes and pinto beans, cornbread and whatever we butchered for meat was what most of the other country children had. Some had even less. It must have been the times. I would be interested to know what children's lifes were in, say..the West Coast. Were the norm for families there more propersous, less harsh?

As children we didn't bemoan or feel slighted not having. It was what it was and we knew nothing more. Looking back has been most enlightening and no, I don't want to do it again. I have wandered a path that has led to easier times and I wouldn't consider going back to the days of stoking a stove, wringer washers, outdoor toilets and cold drafty houses in the winter and no a/c in the summer. 

I'm spoiled. I want to stay spoiled. I don't need lavish. I do enjoy comfortable more then I could ever express. 


  1. Fascinating post. Totally admirable.

  2. Dave..a high compliment coming from an educator! Thanks a bunch.

  3. Interesting post Char! I love West Virginia and most all of my family still live here. We all managed to have good jobs and enjoy the type of life we have here in WV. Nobody that I know of would like to go back to the days of wringer washers, no A/C, or outdoor toilets no matter what state you lived in. LOL Thank heaven we've progressed along in time as have the other states. We do have the gorgeous mountains and the luscious green valleys, and a friendly way of life here. I thought when I moved to Morgantown, that I would miss the small town feeling, but after a short while, I discovered that the permanent residents here have made sure that they stay connected through the opportunities that are available here. I have also found the richness of diversity in Morgantown pleasurable and enlightening. I am not afraid to walk alone in my neighborhood or take my garbage to the dumpster after dark. Gosh, after all of this rambling, I'm just trying to say that I love West Virginia. Clicking my Red Ball tennis shoes together and saying, There's no place like home!!

  4. Cathy, there IS NO place like home! Beautiful scenery, nice folks. Unfortunately industry has never been a strong selling point for that state and now that our economy has sailed so low throughout the US, jobs are scarse in our country. Kaiser supported and bought in a lot of people to Jackson County and was considered a good job back in the day. As it dwindles, so goes the jobs. Count the number of folks that have moved out to find work..NC, TN,Ohio have received many of them. I know you are thankful that you have a job..many don't and for many of them, leaving family is not an option. It's not easy moving away and starting over where you're a stranger in the community. I lived for 22 months in Morgantown..nice the


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