Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Wirt County Hillbillies

My mother told me a little story on the phone tonight, about when she lived in Wirt County, West Virginia during the early 40’s. My grandfather had lost his factory job as the war first started winding down and had returned to his first love—farming. There wasn’t much money to be had on the farm, but there was plenty of food. That came in handy when his kids wanted to go to 4-H camp. It seems that they would let you bring food to help feed the campers if you couldn’t afford the camp fees. That was good arrangement in the days before government interference put an end to common sense.

Mom’s best friend also wanted to go to camp, so they figured they’d ride together, along with their siblings. Her friend’s dad took them in his pickup truck and the kids rode in the back with their luggage, produce, eggs and live chickens. At every bump, the old hens would give a cackle and, of course, the road to Camp Barb was gravel back then.

She said that when they came rolling into camp, more than a few folks noticed their arrival. That was before anyone had heard of the Beverly Hillbillies, but the look must have been similar. They were kids, they didn’t care and they had fun on the trip there and fun the week of camp. What more could you ask for? © 2015

The Great Mystery

As I cruised back toward the shop, after a hard day’s driving, I was enjoying the relaxed feeling of the wider road and the lesser twists and turns of the larger two-lane. I was passing through a narrow wooded valley when I noticed something white near the center of the road far ahead. The hillsides and the tiny valley floor were covered completely with young forest with surprisingly little undergrowth. The effect was that you could see a long distance through the woods in any direction. There were no driveways, outbuildings or houses, so I assumed that the white thing in the road ahead was a piece of trash or litter from some passing vehicle.

As I drew closer, I could see that a slight breeze was ruffling some of the material on the pancake-flat object. The nearer I got, the more feather-like the material looked. Suddenly, I realized that the narrow part pointing my direction had a yellow beak and a pink comb attached. The white, fluttering things were indeed feathers. There, in the seeming middle of nowhere, lay someone’s white leghorn chicken—dehydrated and severely compacted.

Having recognized the object for what it was, I took another quick look around me. Nope, there was no sign of human habitation in the considerable distance that I could see along the valley or up the hillsides. SO, where did this avian adventurer hail from? What brought her to this lonely section of country highway? And WHY,…..WHY did she feel the need to cross the road? © 2015

Friday, May 29, 2015

Interesting - But Depressing (w/pics)

This week, a couple other fellows and I have been hauling "rap" (old broken-up concrete and other demolition debris) away from an old plant that's being demolished. At one time, the plant was a huge specialty metals place. Since then, it's been bought and sold a couple times, parts of the original operation have been spun off as seperate businesses, and some parts have been sold to other companies that continue to operate on the same property. Still, much of the property is no longer used, so after many years of disuse and neglect, the unused parts are being "deconstructed." Nearly all the metal is being recycled. What materials can't be recycled, we're hauling to the dump.

I had to wait a bit to get into the place on one trip.

Click images to enlarge.

The excavator marks the spot where we've been loading the last couple days.

I find it interesting to see a world that I've had little contact with, but the scenery reminds me of pictures I've seen of bombed-out areas from World War II. The effect may not be as different as we think, either. Probably, many closed plants have EPA regulations to thank for their demise. That production, and the jobs that went with it, moved to foreign countries that have no concerns for the invironment, or for the well-being of their workers.

Wages from those jobs paid the expenses for hundreds of area families. The loss of those jobs probably caused the loss of some homes and many automobiles. The financial stress probably broke up some marriages. Some kids may not have been able to go to college. A few adults and children may have even gone hungry, once those jobs weren't there to buy the groceries. However, the bureaucrats enjoyed their power, and the executives and shareholders found they could make even more money exploiting foreign workers than they could doing it to our own citizens.

Here are three more shots of the once-flourishing factory:

I did see ONE thing that I'd love to have. About 50 feet of natural hedge along the edge of the area was made up of small sassafras trees. I have very few on my place and would love to have more. They're unbeatable for beanpoles, hotdog sticks and TEA!

Funny how quickly nature tries to reclaim its own! © 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Stone Work Of Calhoun County, West Virginia (w/pics and link)

My first acquaintance with the stonework in Calhoun County was 36 years ago when I drove a feed truck around the area on deliveries. The house beside the main store in Big Bend was of excellent stonework, unusual in our local area. The store owner at that time told me that the store owner during the depression provided room and board for a gang of Italian WPA stonemasons in exchange for them building him a stone house. The story made sense, so I never questioned it. Below is the house today.

Click photos to enlarge.

I really didn't pay so much attention to the other stonework in the countyb at the time, though I knew it was there. Recently, though, I've been hauling limestone and blacktop through the area, and it's piqued my interest in the quality and quantity of such work in the county. For instance, there's the grade school in Grantsville.

Notice the stone walls in the four photos, also. There's quite a bit of such work in the town. Notice the stone garage in the next photo; there are four in town, I think; I suspect there may have been more at one time.

Here's a photo of the back of their courthouse and jail, though prisoners are no longer kept in the jail. I didn't get a shot of the front, but found one online.

Here's the one of the front from online. I brightened it considerably to make things plainer to see.

Here's another example of the area stonework found online, it's of the old high school, no longer in use. Both it and the grade school are now boarded up.

A few miles away, near Millstone, also in Calhoun County, a DOH garage shows the same quality stonework as many other buildings in the county. (Taken through a wet windsheild in the rain.)

 All this time, I'd been thinking that this was all possibly done by a group of Italian immigrants working for the WPA, and that could be partially true, but the main story, I discoverd almost by accident in an old article at The Hur Herald. Please take a look:

I hope they find a way to save this part of their heritage. If these buildings were in Parkersburg, They'd likely have been torn down years ago. © 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Waste (w/pic)

I hauled some “dirt” (contaminated sawdust) to the dump a couple weeks ago for about a week, at five trips a day. Once again, I was amazed by the things that I saw going there. The construction and demolition debris going there continues to be downright sinful. Having come from a sawmill family, I cringe every time that I see absolutely UNUSED material going to the dump to be covered over with filth and wasted. Some landfills refuse to accept yard waste and lumber, insisting that they be recycled or composted. I wish ours was that way. It wouldn’t put the contractors in such a bind, either, if everyone had to live by the same rules.

This past week, I worked for another company that our employers had farmed some of us out to. Once again, nearly perfect farmland is being used to enlarge an industrial park, while a swamp (aka “valuable wetland) sits unused next door. On the job where I was hauling, there were TWO state inspectors sitting in their cars, not really communicating with each other, making me think they were from different agencies. Neither one seemed to be serving much purpose, other than to slow the work down occasionally. The one was so young that I was surprised his mother let him out of the house, so I couldn’t help but wonder if us taxpayers were getting our money’s worth.

A little piece down the road, the renting farmer got the field plowed and disked before the owners came in and drove survey stakes all over the place and put up little plastic erosion barriers. I don’t know what’s going in there. In front of another industrial property, a bunch of maple trees are being cut, with no indication that it’s for any reason other than to have a more manicured front lawn. The entire trees are being chipped, logs and branches alike. Next door, a two foot thick walnut tree was cut into firewood because it was too close to power lines. I don’t blame them, but they could have sawed that tree into at least $500 worth of beautiful lumber, rather than $50 worth of firewood.

I found out, this week, that an old stone school building, probably from WPA days, was being demolished. It was one of the few remaining stone structures in town, and was solid as a rock, so I guess it just HAD to go. This area seems to have no appreciation either for quality structures, or history. It would have made a good apartment building or something, but I guess the land is freed up for “development” now. No wonder we have nothing in this area, we keep destroying what we DO have.

The Roosevelt School, Parkersburg, WV, stands no longer.
(Photo from online source.)

© 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ditching The Duggars

Well, the heathens among us will be happy. They dug deeply enough that they found some dirt on the Duggars. They had to go back 12 years, but they found it. Now, they can use it to insinuate that the whole family, and even all of Christendom, is corrupt. TLC has dutifully cancelled the show, I’m told. I assume because they’re spinelessly giving in to politically correct pressure to paint all Christians as guilty for the sins of one 15-year-old kid.

I don’t know the details of what Josh did, and I’m not sure that I want to, but I certainly don’t approve of child molesters going unpunished. Still, he came forward on his own back then; he wasn’t discovered and accused by others. That shows me that he was raised right and was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God can forgive him, even if people can’t. Since this was apparently dealt with back then, exhuming the long-past crime at this point serves only to provide ammunition for the haters. There will be calls for blood, maybe literally. One homosexual commented that perhaps his lifestyle now didn’t look so bad by comparison. Perhaps he’s right, but I doubt if he’s 15 any longer, either.

When accusations and hatred fly thick in the media, I frequently find myself remembering a line by Sinclair Lewis from It Can’t Happen Here (a book I highly recommend): “Every man is a king, who has someone to look down upon.” © 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How Sad!

The mechanic where I work has little if any formal training, yet mostly manages to keep the trucks on the road, without the need to send very many to the dealer. However, he's shown little respect by either the company or the drivers. I've always clearly shown him my appreciation for all he does for me, and he's always gone the extra mile to take care of me. Today, I tried to give him a gift card to a restaurant as a token of my appreciation but he wouldn't take it. He told me that my "thank you's" meant more than I'd ever know. He said that I was about the only one around there who treated him like a human being. I told him that was pretty easy, since he IS one! He was adamant about not taking it, so I just had to say thanks again. I happen to appreciate windows that roll up and down and an air-conditioner that works. It's a shame that so many others take them for granted. © 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gold-Plated Skivvies

One should never be too tall, too short, too skinny or too fat. If you are, you’ll have trouble finding clothes and will pay through the nose for them. If I was an average size person, I could buy jockey shorts (briefs) at the Chinese Emporium for only $9.64 for SEVEN pair. As it is, I’ve been paying about that for three pair of 3X. I need a larger size, but that’s as large as they carry. I can’t continue doing that, though. The last couple of packs have had less fabric in them (actually making them a smaller size) and almost NO elastic. As a result, I feel like I’m wearing a white Speedo when I’ve got a pair on. Not surprisingly, they’re made in Honduras.

Today, I checked a small, independent store on the other side of town and found 4X, 5X and 6X. I bought a package containing a couple pair of the 6X to see if they’d work. I guess I’ll know tomorrow. The problem is that they were $19 for those two pair. Some of you will laugh at me balking at the price, but remember what I’ve been paying. To make matters worse, they were made in Bangladesh, and by muslims, no doubt. If I’m going to have to pay that for skivvies, I’m going to go looking for American made. Wish me luck! © 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Old Road Warrior (pic)


When I was a kid, it seemed like every other truck on the road was one of these "off-center" Macks, as I called them. You almost never see one on the highway these days, but a few show up as maintenance trucks at construction and oil well sites ocassionally. This one hides in a shed at the local landfill.I think it mostly hauls fuel to their other equipment.

Ravens, Groundhog Pancakes And The Last Pawn Shop Visit

The experts say that I live in the area where ravens can be found in this country. Over the years, I thought that I’d seen a few, always one at a time. The ragged-looking crows seemed slightly larger than normal, so I wondered if I was looking at a raven, but I never knew for sure. Lately, I’ve been hearing a crow near my home that seems to have a sore throat. His (her?) voice seems lower and a little raspy. At the dump the other day, however, there was no doubt in my mind. While crows were all around, three of their larger cousins sat on a yard-high ridge of red clay and croaked at one another as they watched me drive by in the dump truck. I wouldn’t have had time for a shot, even if I’d had my camera, but they were RAVENS, by golly. Thankfully, they weren’t rapping at my chamber door.

Yesterday morning, on a long, straight section of roadway a few miles up the Ohio from my home town, I saw a young groundhog quickly scoot out to the center of the highway and lay down to sun himself. I knew what he was doing from being around animals, both wild and domestic, all my life. He drug his rear legs out behind him and splayed his front legs to make the maximum contact with the sun-warmed pavement, after exiting his cool den and waddling through the damp grass. The problem was, he was laying just on my side of the center line, and where my wheels would pass, unless he moved. There no cars behind me and no cars ahead of as far as the eye could see. So, I did what any self-respecting, animal-loving truck driver would do—I laid on the air horn. MY but he was a fast little feller! I have to wonder, now, how many groundhogs meet their demise simply because they take a minute to warm their dew-cooled bellies on the sun-warmed asphalt of some country road.

After cashing my check yesterday evening, I went to the pawn shop and picked up my last gun that was in hock. It tells the story that I’ve been working nearly 10 months and have just now been able to reclaim my deer rifle. Trying to catch up from over a year with no work, and low hours this winter didn’t help any. I paid out more money that the rifle was worth, to keep from losing it, but it’s set up just the way I like it, and I’d never bother to get another. So I did the illogical and kept paying their 20% interest per month and paying on the principle until it got down low enough that I felt I could afford to pick it up. I won’t miss seeing the place.

That rifle was the one that sat in the corner all year, except for the day that it would fire one shot and put a deer in the freezer. Then it would go back to the corner (after cleaning, of course). That went on for about five years, until I quit bothering to shoot a deer at all. Still, it feels good to have it back. © 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Little House On The Hill (w/pics)

One thing about about being an over-the-hill truck jockey on water pills is that it has helped me develop the ability to spot a plastic privy at 1000 yards. Of course, some are placed in some pretty obvious locations. (Thank goodness!) One case in point is the "welcome station" at our local landfill. You can see it at the top of the grade as you head for the hinterlands of the fill. In fact, it almost appears that the reason for the road is access to the privy.

As you get closer, it warms the cockles a' yer 'eart to know that the garbage folks saw fit to provide this service to those who bring them their trash, their junk and their putrid refuse. One thought: this hilltop location, while well venilated, might make it an unwise place to sit and ponder the deeper problems of life during a thunderstorm.

Like most guys, I actually make use of the facility on the way back out, since you can drive right up to the door and barely take two steps to get inside ( a good thing at a landfill). Incidentally, they've chosen to use a large size that is handicapped accessible. It's nice and roomy, unlike some that I've been in where a big guy like me can just about rub on all four sides at once!

It;s said that babyhood and extreme old age are the only two stages of life when it's acceptable to make bowel movements the center of your life. Unfortunately, for anyone with an artificially active bladder, there's also a stage where plastic privies (or restrooms of ANY kind, including BIG bushes) maintain a large part of your thinking! I ,for one, never dreamed that the day would come that I'd be telling folks that true happiness comes from having an empty bladder. Of course, there might be one thing worse - being so bored that you read this drivel! lol I hope your day is filled with nobler thoughts. © 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Dead Church

When speaking to my mom the other night on the phone, she told me that the Methodist Conference had finally decided to close the church where my family attended when I was little. It was full then, but a gathering of six is considered a good crowd these days. It’s getting to where the offering doesn’t cover the utilities, so the utilities will be turned off soon.

They’re letting members and former members take a memento from the place, like a hymnal or church pew. I’d love to have a piece of the altar (prayer rail, actually) on which one of the former pastors used to pace when wound up, jumping to the wooden floor flat-footed when he wished to make a point. The neighborhood has more people than ever, but you can’t interest folks in attending a church where the spirit died 50 years ago.

I guess the land is supposed to go back to the family that originally donated it. That must gall the church higher-ups. I assume that it will be sold eventually. It would be nice if they’d give it or lease it to some beginning church, but I doubt if that will happen.

I can’t say that I have a LOT of memories there, but I have a few. For instance, the older ladies didn’t jump on the pillbox hat fad, just because Jackie Kennedy did, so I remember having to look around some impressive-sized hats to see the preacher. I vaguely remember a pretty little dark-haired girl that taught my Sunday School class. AND, I remember seeing the only bobcat that I’ve ever seen in my life, as I came back from the outhouse one day during Vacation Bible School. And I remember the bell—even years after we started going elsewhere, we could hear it ringing before service, if we were running late or not going anywhere that Sunday.

I would like to toll the bell for the death of the church but, of course, folks would think me weird for doing such a thing. Besides, should I toll it for the number of years the building was used, or just until the spirit died all those decades ago? Either way, it’s sad. © 2015

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Jack The Younger

“Jack The Elder” is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family. His older sibling was an inconvenience to his mother’s social life when he came along, so she pawned him off on the rest of the family at every opportunity. Ned was a likeable kid, though, so no-one minded. However, Jack turned out to be bratty know-it-all, so he was harder to get rid of. This started a life-long effort on the part of my aunt to brag about him for all of his sterling qualities (mostly imagined) and noble actions (done usually with an ulterior motive).

Jack had the unfortunate luck to be in the lower genius level of society so, of course, it went immediately to his head. No-one could tell him anything, because he already knew it all so, naturally, common sense was not something that he acquired in any appreciable quantity. That would explain why his girlfriend became pregnant while still in high school.

Patti was cute as a button, vivacious, fun-loving, equally as intelligent as Jack, and the life of any get-together. No-one could figure out just what she saw in Jack, but she must have had her reasons for being attracted to him. They “did the right thing” and got married and proceeded to raise their son, Jack Junior. Both sets of parents helped out, and the young couple managed to get their college degrees and get decent jobs. By necessity, young Jack had to spend a lot of time with one set of grandparents or the other. Patti was an only child, and Jack one of two so, when it worked out that Jack The Younger turned out to be the only grandchild for either set of grandparents, it was only natural that they should spoil him rotten. My aunt even did all the things for him that she should have done for her own sons. Needless to say, he thought the world of his grandparents.

As is often the case, Jack and Patti had a marriage that was probably doomed from the start, partly by their youth, but perhaps more so by Jack’s “charming” personality. Jack’s family silently blamed him; I don’t know who her parents blamed. I’m sure there were some flaws on both sides; there usually are. Young Jack mostly stayed with his mom in the beginning, but when his hormones kicked in, he got a little much for Patti to handle, so the boy was moved in with his father and his father’s new girlfriend. The resultant clash of raging hormones (made worse by divorce) and raging ego on the father’s part often sent young Jack to the grandparents’ homes. Not only was it more peaceful there, he got doted on, so he understandably grew to love his grandparents even more.

Both grandmothers were just plain silly over him, but the grandfathers made some effort to teach him manly and honorable conduct, mostly by example. Young Jack seemed to have the personality of his uncle, rather than his dad, so that was a blessing for everyone, including himself. His paternal grandfather tried to teach him how to be gracious and sophisticated without being stuffy, and how to be comfortable being whoever he was. While that was a wonderful thing, his maternal grandfather did him the biggest favor—he taught him a trade. From earliest times, he tried to get young Jack to go with him on heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning calls. When the grandfather retired (more like when he died), Jack simply took over the business and stayed busy.

It’s that business that caused me to contact him recently, when my brother-in-law left that sort of business to work in an office. Our aging appliances may supply him with a small stream of steady work, as most new appliance aren’t worth bringing home from the store, and I plan on keeping the old ones until they’re no longer repairable. It’s been nice to renew contact with him. I’ve missed his younger perspective and his easy laugh. Of course, I think Jack The Younger is probably about 50 these days. However, his father is still living, so the term yet applies.

Jack is learning to prioritize his life. Not every battle needs fought, and not every labor is worth the effort. He’s learned, for instance, that he likes working for older people, as opposed the younger, richer consumers. He says they’re more pleasant to deal with, and more appreciative of his efforts. They also are less likely to quibble over the price than the better-off younger folks. Of course, it may help that he seems to cut older folks a slightly better deal. I think it all goes back to his relationship with his grandparents. While he plans on trying his best to keep up with technology, he told me that he’s going to target the older segment of the market. Other businesses don’t seem to want them, and he PREFERS them.

He doesn’t have a wife or kids, so with both sets of grandparents now gone, his world is shrinking. His dad lives one state to the north of us, spending his retirement playing video games day and night. I don’t know what his wife does for entertainment. His mom, single for the second time, is doing a sort of legal work for a friend after “retiring,” and is active on the board of a local wildlife park. Over the years, she’s gotten multiple college degrees, and has worked as everything from a college professor, to an EPA scientist to a long-haul trucker. She’s also an author. I suspect that she’d STILL be the life of any get-together. Jack now lives in the house where she was raised (as was he, largely), while she bought a house two doors away. My guess is that they’re close.

I suspect Jack is a bit lonely for family. We’ve thought about having him out sometime. If we feel mentally energetic enough, maybe we’ll invite his mother, too! ;-) © 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Not-So-Still Of The Night

It was 3:30 am when I took the pooch out. Along with her leash, I had my large DeWalt rechargeable flashlight and my great grandfather’s hickory livestock cane in my hand. The light is a constant now that it’s warm enough for snakes, the cane has been a sometimes thing recently, since I’m having trouble with either a stone bruise or a heel spur. This time, I take the cane more as a weapon; its strength and the pipe-collar extension on the tip make it a force to be reckoned with.

Once the Mighty Dachshund takes a prolonged drain, I keep pressure on the leash, to assist her with her jump back up on the porch. Then, I do something usually reserved for daylight hours; I lead her over to the porch swing and have a seat. She is a touch slower than normal taking her place at my feet, I guess because this is something new to her. In a few seconds though, she’s in her usual spot, and at her usual angle, so she can watch both the side yard and the road that goes by the front of our place, 200 feet in the distance.

There’s a bright moon above and our security light out by the road sheds some light on the porch and the lawn, even from that distance. Since the two light sources are from nearly opposite directions, the trees and grass before us are lit up fairly well. I can even enjoy the beauty of the wild dogwood blossoms at the edge of the woods, thirty feet away. The pooch lies there, sniffing, looking and listening.

She turns her head nearly over her shoulder when two or more coyotes raise a chorus on a distant ridge. There seems to be some awareness with her that the sound would be dangerous, were it closer. Sometimes, on warm nights when the windows are open, we can hear the screaming of little animals (probably rabbits) being carried to their deaths. I stroke her velvety side with the cane tip, reminding her that “the big dog” is here to protect her. The fact seems to put her at ease. The chorus soon ends and no more is heard from the furry choir.

A whip-poor-will chants far away in the hollow. Eventually, he moves far enough away that all you can hear of his song is the first note. A mocking bird sings a couple ditties out near the security light, but soon fades back into restful silence. Some day-bird braves a note or two down in the words, as if to say that she’s still there, but waiting for brighter hours.

I hear a couple bugs droning, I think, but it’s hard to tell with the light ringing in my ears that I’ve always had. In the distance I hear the engine of a semi on the distant east-west highway, and the whine of the tires on the north-south road that intersects it. Neither day nor night has been silent since the first four-lane went through, when I was about 10. Still, it’s an almost quiet night. Soon, a car approaches on our little country road and, eventually, goes by our home. It’s moving at a reasonable pace as it passes, so it’s probably not a young person. It hums off into the distance and relative quiet returns.

Normally, the pooch arises and walks the short distance to the door when she’s had her fill of porch-sitting and wishes to rejoin her mistress. Tonight, she seems content to stay a while longer, even when I specifically ask if she wants to go inside. I give her another five minutes and then arise and turn to the door myself. She remains rooted on the porch until I tell her to come. I hate to make her go in, but I need to go back to bed. Of course, I’ll have to type this up and post it first. © 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

In The Land Across The River

Wednesday and Friday of this week found me making deliveries into the hinterlands of what I sometimes semi-jokingly call “enemy territory.” There is always some friction between people living on opposite sides of any border, and so it is with the two states that share the bulk of the Ohio River as their boundary. Buckeyes like to think of mountaineers (aka “hillbillies”) as hicks, while mountaineers tend to consider buckeyes to be arrogant jerks (or worthless nuts). I’ve found there to be plenty of both on either side of the river, but still, I have to admit, there IS a difference. A couple small experiments bear this out.

I’ve mentioned in times past that I’m a “waiver”—one of those strange country souls who waves at nearly everyone. Needless to say, I waved at all the other dump truck drivers that I met on the road over there, and there were dozens of dozens of them over the course of Wednesday. At the end of the day, only two had waved back, plus one semi-driver who actually waved first. In my home state, 90% of them would have waved back.

Friday, I was delivering to the same well-site again,….and waving again. There were probably only half as many trucks on the road that day, but the total of those waving back was six. Those had a familiar look and were, I suspect, guys that remembered me waving at them on Wednesday. Still not very many, but progress, I suppose.

I was tempted to write it off as being an influence of northern city mentality, since some of the trucks could have been from larger cities to the north, come south to find work. However, that wouldn’t jive with the second experiment. You see, I also waived at anyone caught outdoors, such as feeding their cattle, mowing their yard, getting their mail and so on. In two days, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON WAVED BACK! They just looked at me as if I must SURELY be insane. (Maybe I am, but I don’t mind.) Back home nearly all would have waved.

There IS a difference folks, though I’ll leave explaining it to the “experts” on the government dole somewhere. My wife does offer an opinion on the matter; she says that it’s because of the high incidence of German blood in Ohio, as opposed to the mostly Scots-Irish of West Virginia. I find that both interesting and amusing, since both she and I have more German blood than anything else!

The well-site that we were delivering to was about ten miles back Rt. # 556 from Clarington, on the Ohio River. It was located in Switzerland Township of Monroe County. It was rugged, but beautiful country, similar to the hillier regions of Doddridge, Richie or Tyler counties of my own state. Most of the hill farms were in various stages of reverting to forest, but there were still more active farmers there than in many of our counties.

It was the sort of land that I’ve always said God intended to grow trees. Still, if the people who settled it came largely from Switzerland, it probably seemed downright tame, compared to the Alps. The Swiss influence is still somewhat evident in the number of bank barns that remain, though you can tell that many more used to be there. Many of the old barns have been replaced by the featureless metal-boxes-on-concrete-pads that pass for barns these days. Oh well, at least some of the land is still being farmed. Most of my own state is growing up into those trees that I mentioned. A little green grass DOES add some welcome contrast to the beautiful monotony of rolling, wooded hills. © 2015