I ran across a blog this morning that just made me chuckle out loud. The author was ranting about how she loathes telling people where she is from because there are just too many explanations…too many looks…etc. (Good News, For People Who Love Bad News…) Well, if you are from West Virginia, you know exactly what I’m talking about!
Please excuse me while I go on a small rant here. I can not count the number of times I’ve told people I’m from West Virginia and they respond by saying things like “Oh, yes, I have an aunt there – she lives in Richmond!” AAGGHH! Wrong state. Richmond is the capital of Virginia, not West Virginia – as any West Virginian will tell you in a hurry. Sorry folks, but we split from Virginia in 1861 when they seceded from the United States (our Civil War, remember?), so you are just a little behind the times – nearly 150 years behind the times, in fact! West Virginia was recognized as a separate state and admitted to the US on June 20, 1863.
Our neighboring states are: Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and yes, even Virginia.
I’m a proud West Virginian, and West Virginians know perfectly well, as do most visitors who actually get off the interstate, the popular cultural stereotypes are bunk! West Virginians are about the most friendly and most helpful people you will find. And many have left their imprint all over the map of this beautiful state. There are mountains here, fantastic whitewater rafting (New River Gorge), and other outdoor adventure type things to do (camping, hiking, skiing). Our state capitol has a gold dome. There is Oglebay Park (& The Festival of Lights). WVU football. “We. Are. Marshall.”
But just to show you I have a sense of humor about the stereotypes – and that most West Virginians have a sense of humor about themselves – I’ll share with you some of my favorite answers to the questions, looks, and awkward faces that we often receive!
They say: “Where are you from?”
I say: “West Virginia.”
They say: “Oh. Nice.”
They mean: I’m surprised you have all your teeth.
And people often ask me if I went to one school…
“Umm…yeah – we had a one-room schoolhouse where my Ma used to teach us writin’ and Pa rounded up the cattle for supper.”
Contrary to popular belief, I did not marry my brother, father, 1st cousin, or anyone else in direct relation to me. Too bad though, we have great genes!
And yes – I grew up with running water, including a working tub and shower and toilet! *GASP* The only outhouses we use are the port-a-johns at state fairs.
And no, I wouldn’t know how long it would take to drive a John Deere to town.
But maybe you can let me know next time you rev up your riding mower!
WV at a Glance
Nickname: The Mountain State
Principal Cities: Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Parkersburg, Wheeling
Motto: Mountaineers Are Always Free
State Bird: Cardinal
State Flower: Rhododendron
Famous West Virginians: Pearl S Buck (novelist), Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (Confederate generalist), Don Knotts (actor), Jennifer Garner – born Houston, raised in WV (actress), Chuck Yeager (pilot), John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Nobel Prize winner – subject of movie “A Beautiful Mind”), Mary Lou Retton (Gymnast & Olympic gold medalist)
So I leave you – not only better informed – but hopefully with a more light-hearted, positive image of this beautiful state!
“Country Roads” by John Denver
Almost heaven, West Virgina
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, Mountain Mama
Take me home, country roads
All my memories, gathered ’round her
Miners’ Lady, stranger to blue water
Dark & dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of Moonshine, teardrop in my eye
I hear her voice, in the morning hour she calls me
The radio reminds me on my home far away
And drivin’ down the road I get the feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday,