I don’t do them. Never have. Here I am. Front and center. We are at the 50th reunion of the class I would have graduated had my family stayed in the community. Instead I am an honorary member embraced by all the folks who knew me way back when. Notice there is no mention of the time or year? Look at all the folks who got old and grey? Ha! To be honest there were a lot of people who came and shook my hand. I would not have recognized a single one. How’d they know me? …by the nametag on my shirt, of course.
Back in the eighth grade (mine) I won the Golden Horseshoe, a prize for West Virginia state history. It’s a multiple choice exam of WV trivia and such. I remember one question on Claire Bee, a WV author. Well, there were four of us to win from each county. That would be about 250+. The black and white photo – I am there front and center next to the education secretary. Don’t ask. I had an Argus C3 brick in hand (camera). This was my first foray into photography. It was an utter dismal failure. Meanwhile the four winners from my county – me, Bill, John, and Marty – all went about our separate lives to be rejoined on this one occasion of our 50th high school reunion.
Charleston, West Virginia. Here’s a shout out to an incompetent restaurant. We stopped in. No waiting. Five of us. Oh! Did I say no waiting? We didn’t wait a moment for a table. There were plenty of tables, even out front. You choose. But, then we waited. And waited. And, finally a waitress came. She took drink orders. Our bad. She returned with water. No drinks. She forgot the order. Have you heard of a pencil? Maybe she was too dumb? She forgot again. We never got to order food. We sat next to another group of about eight. They were getting the same treatment. I finally complained to the manager. As he and I both surveyed the empty tables around us he said, “Sorry, we’re busy.” Yup, horrible. Would you take a chance on the kitchen staff to cook a meal if the front of the house is so bad?
Would you believe that Colleen and I both had a Gilbert Microscope set as kids? Ditomaceous earth, it was stuff they gave you that appeared iridescent under the microscope. Of course, I had a much better medical microscope years later. Unfortunately there is no glowing report or any story that this whetted my desire to become a physician. Colleen and I both exclaimed when we saw the set for sale. She had a great time looking at all manner of things. Somehow I knew this plastic thing was too juvenile for my eventual adult pursuits in medicine.
We moved to West Virginia and lived in this rental house. I don’t know its status at this time. It has a nice paint job. It is entirely smaller as I view it as an adult. I remember Dr. Roberts would come around on house calls when I was ill. It was always evening and I got a painful shot (of antibiotics) in the butt. Imagine being sick in the bed all day long and waiting for the doctor and his needle.
It’s a poor choice of name unless you are in this neighborhood? Am I overreacting? Or perhaps the lettering is reminiscent of Russia? Wasn’t there a movie: The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming. – the lettering was backwards in the title. Wasn’t’ there a time when communism was the enemy. I think we fought the Vietnam war against communism? Maybe the name was here before our fearless leader was elected. Maybe they will be there, still, when he is gone.
When we moved to Elkins, I attended two elementary schools. They are now apartment buildings. Don’t ask. I don’t know why. One, Central, looks to be a low budget, pretty hideous renovation. First Ward was done up nice and pretty. It’s invitingly lit up and I am sure curious to see the inside. I have not pulled the trigger yet. Ummm … bad way to put it.
I have mentioned the A Cappers? It was a folk dance group we participated in during our lunch hours from 4th to 6th grade. Mrs. Cappadoni (get it? A Cappers?) was the advisor/teacher. This is the group. There is a lot of history here. Smart kids. Girls are here who have played a major part of my life. Anne my next door neighbor, she was gone into the wind, moved to Ohio, and lost after she was married. I tracked her down many decades later to be crushed by her lack of interest in connecting again. Beverly was my partner. Funny, in three years as partners, I do not recall a single conversation of substance between us. Colleen, she had her mom contact my mom and we had a “playdate” at eight years old. There’s forward thinking, before the term was invented. Yup, history played out in a very funny way. I haven’t been back to really see anyone since I left in 8th grade. Maybe someday… well, except!!
Speaking of the Golden Horseshoe, I won the award. It is given out for the four highest scores on an exam per county in West Virginia. The exam is on all things WV. Chip Hilton – Claire Bee books. Yup, I read them, so I got the question right. I had a clue I had done well on the test while walking home with and being questioned by Anne. I had gotten a lot of trivia/trivial questions right.
I remember reading a red book to learn about all things good and wonderful about the state. It must have stuck. I was a winner. And the prize? A golden horseshoe pin and a trip to Charleston, the capital. Here I am the token minority standing next to the secretary of education. It always stuck with me that I was hustled to the front to stand with him. It wasn’t an honor. It was a photo op and political. Years later I get that. It’s no big deal. But on some level even and eighth grader gets it. I just didn’t process the event till much later. At least we were not dependent upon an Argus C3 to capture the moment.
Hanging rock. Till it’s not. Some of it once fell and crushed a mail truck – just the truck, the driver was not in it. Lucky! It’s rural W Va. Okay! It’s like Maine or anywhere quaint. It was a wet day. It seems all spring it’s been wet and cold and rainy. Oh! We made it past hanging rock without any falling rock – on our heads.
Wild turkeys – ain’t seen none since I lived in Maine. The mailbox reminds me of Haiti. The American flag? It’s W VA and patriotic. Republican? Hmmm… hard to say.