My soon-to-release novel, When Silence Sings, is set in part in Thurmond, WV. While there’s plenty to make this southern WV town interesting, one of the main things is that in the early 1900s it was a rich boom town. Today, it’s essentially a ghost town owned largely by the National Park Service. Of course, the thing that’s nifty about […]
Last weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Sharon Robinson, baseball great Jackie Robinson’s daughter. I HOPE you already know what a huge impact Jackie Robinson had on the civil rights movement by breaking the color barrier in sports when he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. But you may not know that he went on to be a key player […]
If you’ve followed my blog very long, you’ve probably seen mention of the fact that I grew up on a farm that’s been in my family for seven generations. It’s a big part of why I write about Appalachia and have such strong nostalgia for the past. Today I thought I’d share a new poem reflecting on a piece of that history . . . SEVENTH GENERATION How many greats does it take to reach back into the days when a cousin named Electa rode a broke down old horse four days across the mountains to find her wounded brother? A great plan indeed. The bullet broke the bone and lodged there. He ought not to have lived, but he said no Rebel bullet would kill him. So, instead of dying, he sang songs. Surely there was a rock of ages and a sweet hour of prayer, blessed assurance and great is thy faithfulness. Electa found him. Nursed him and brought him back a way that seemed familiar now. Today, paved roads hide that trail. Houses and cars a great washing up of flotsam in the wake of the past. Standing here, on land that’s been passed down and down and down, it’s easy to count back from seven. It’s easy to imagine that I, too, might manage something great.
It was 89 years ago today. The notorious Dunglen Hotel in Thurmond, WV, burned in what was then reported to be faulty wiring, but is generally believed to be an act of arson. Although–to this day–the arsonist has never been named. The popularity of the Dunglen may have had something to do with the fact that it served alcohol–which was […]
Today is WV Day. But you probably already knew that. My home state is turning 156 and in honor of the day I thought I’d share some unusual facts about the Mountain State. The largest diamond ever found in North America was discovered in Peterson, WV, by the Jones family. They kept it in a cigar box for 14 years before realizing that it wasn’t just a piece of quartz, but rather a 34.5 carat diamond. About 75% of the state is covered by forests with nine state forests and 37 state parks. The New River in WV is actually among the world’s oldest rivers and runs from south to north instead of north to south like most other rivers in the U.S. The first woman to dunk a basketball in a college game was WV University center Georgeann Wells in 1985. In the northern panhandle the city of Weirton touches Ohio on one side and Pennsylvania in the other. In 1972 spelunker Bob Addis set the world record for stalagmite sitting in New World Caverns in WV. He stayed up there for 16 days. When it seceded from the Union, plans were to call the state Kanawha, but they went with a shortened version of Western Virginia since that’s what everyone was already calling it. And cursed natives to hear, “So you’re from Western Virginia–right?” from then on. Happy birthday, Mountain state!
Isn’t it funny how something utterly familiar will suddenly strike you as . . . odd? While having dinner with friends I was telling a story about a neighbor who used to give us fresh eggs and we realized that none of us knew why eggs come in dozens. Not to mention donuts. Not an urgent question, but one I […]
Last weekend I had the pleasure of teaching at the WV Writers Conference in Ripley, WV. The last time I was at Cedar Lakes Conference Center I was attending Conservation Camp and I was 11 or 12-years-old. It was even better being there this time around! In addition to leading some classes, I got to take some. One was led […]