'March Madness,' Gilmer County-style; cultural tips, and Hippies

Hey, are all of you enjoying March Madness on TV? It's better than shoveling snow!

These college NCAA tourney games this year have certainly been "mad," in that there have been many surprising upsets.

This March Mad Fever must be catching on in Gilmer County, too, via the official and rumor mills. First of all, the County Commission is facing a budget shortfall, which may put some local courthouse jobs on the line. They are hoping that this won't happen, but ... it might, if all of the elected officials don't cooperate, stand together and agree with the proposed solutions to the existing financial crunch. The two commissioners, with whom I spoke, were pretty jittery about the current budgetary weaknesses and their ability to keep the budget balanced. For more details and background on this critical development, see my editorial on this page!

Secondly, the amiable and kind Dottie Kendig, of the Little Bull Run area, called to warn us that the Little Kanawha Bus service to Gilmer County may be withdrawn, due to a lack of usage and funding.

Dottie is a very good person, spending a goodly portion of her life as wife of a missionary serving in the Amazon region of Peru. There, she learned Spanish, and, for many years, taught it in our region's schools. However, right now she finds it too difficult to drive; therefore, the Little Kanawha Bus line is a "vital service" to her. With it, she's able to get to town to grocery shop and to take care of her other needs.

I questioned Jim Bailey, now the Family Resource Network's (FRN) President, who has been asking governmental bodies for contributions to keep the busline solvent. He had not heard of any imminent withdrawal of the service, but it, too, is a nonprofit organization. As such, they must prove that enough people are using it in order to verify the need for their governmental transportation grants.

As a way of increasing those numbers, Jim suggests that civic organizations charter the bus line for some of their outings.
Of course, he noted that since I was the Historical Society's president, that we could engage the Little Kanawha Bus for excursions to see other neighboring historical sites. Actually, that isn't a bad idea,

In addition, some church groups without buses may find the LKB just the "ticket" to get to their regional conferences and revivals.

Nevertheless, I agree with Dottie that the Little Kanawha Bus line performs a valuable service to the people of this county.

In fact, I've been editorializing about supporting this personal transportation service for sometime. To book a ride for you or your group, call the LKB at 1-866-354-5522 for details on your departure time and other needs.

Thirdly, the Gilmer County Special Olympics is also facing crucial challenges these days. Commendably, we are one of the few counties in our region providing these healthful and inspirational activities for our mentally and physically challenged youngsters. At the same time, it costs money to provide these services.

Mr. Barry Leady, of the Coxs Mills area, has had to take over the leadership of this organization, due to the recent health problems of Ginny Kirkpatrick, the longtime dynamo of this project. "No one can do the job like Ginny did it; she was a real wonder for the past 30 years," he stated to me recently.

I feel for him because he's a full time postal worker, and a very good one at that. He just doesn't have the time to go around and see everyone who'd contributed to this worthy cause in the past. It costs about $200.00 per athlete for the scheduled events, locally and statewide. He praised the United Bank, Knights of Pythias, among others, for sending in their annual contributions.

So, if you gave in the past, now is the time to just write your check to: "Gilmer County Special Olympics," and mail it to: 23 Riddle Hill Rd., Auburn WV 26325.

Your contribution will be appreciated, especially by these participating and attention needing youngsters.

Keep up your good work, Barry! Your efforts are much needed here.

Fourthly, some odd developments must be taking place in the Social Security Administration, as Mrs. Mary Ann Radabaugh, of Kanawha Drive, was kind enough to inform us. (Also, we appreciate Mary Ann for sending that historical information to the Minnesota college student who wanted to know more about Gilmer County. That was very kind and generous of her.)

Back to the point: If you have problems with your "on-line" SS account, she highly recommends that you call the Clarksburg office, 320 W. Pike Street at 1-866-783-7305. They were most helpful to her by placing an electronic block on her SS account.

They also offered much more assistance in answering her other questions than any of the other of several numbers noted in a letter from the SS Administration office in Beckley, WV.

Thanks, Mary Ann, for this information, and for not attending Mr. Fred Radabaugh's recent History of the DeKalb District, which he presented to the Gilmer County Historical Society on last Thurs., Mar. 20. He was a little worried that you might show up in order to keep his Gilmer County historical facts correct. (He joked about that, because his sisters, Mary and Doris Radabaugh, were present to test him out and not let him get too far off base.)

With all of that being said, I thought that he gave a fantastic presentation, getting applause several times throughout his remarks and memories.

Finally, back to March Madness! As a Univ. of Kentucky graduate, I was very happy to see them defeat Wichita State, which was the No. 1 seed in the Midwest's tourney. They'll now face the Univ. of Louisville, so that'll be an old-fashioned and heated rivalry reignited. If WVU isn't in the tourney, I say, "Go Wildcats!" (Plus, I serve on the UK History Dept.'s Advisory Board, so I have to show some commitment to UK in this column, as well as enthusiasm.)

Hence, you'll know what game I'll be watching on TV this weekend, but I do plan on going to the currently advertised "Baked Steak Dinner" fund-raiser on this Sunday afternoon in order to do my fair share to keep the First Baptist Church of Glenville's badly needed "Cancer Fund" going strong. They do so much good work for the victims, all from the bottoms of their hearts. Keep it up, FBCers!

2014 Area Cultural Center

The Landmark Studio of the Arts, in downtown Sutton, offers this region's general public many fine theatrical performances. In fact, they just put on the classic musical, "Oklahoma," which was a success.

It's a "community theater," so Braxton countians and others do the acting. Many younger people, like Braxton High School students, get their thespian starts there.

For the public, their nights of entertainment are a real deal, with the admissions charges: $10 for adults; $8, seniors; and $5, students. Can't beat those prices for legitimate theatrical shows, including dramas, mysteries, romances, history, among others.

To find out more about this year's schedule, log onto the website: landmarkstudioforthearts.org

If you haven't tried out this cultural offering, it's a good weekend night out, many times for the whole family, especially to get our Gilmer County youngsters interested in the theater.

For opera lovers and "lovers," classic musical operas, with English translations on a screen above the stage, are now being planned for next summer at the romantic Music Hall in downtown Cincinnati, OH. This is a family type musical and moralistic type of entertainment, better than the movie garbage.

For info, call 513-241-2742 to verify the time, or go on-line at: www.cincinnatiopera.org

Also, for great opera closer to home, take a short trip to Pittsburgh's Cultural District to try out its opera at: pittsburghopera.org

Finally, a shorter drive from Glenville is to Morgantown's West Virginia Public Theatre in the old Met Theater downtown. Log onto to them on Google!

WV Humanities Council events

Two upcoming "Little Lectures" of the Council's are as follows:

1.) "Writing Daily Commentary," Speaker: Hoppy Kercheval, 2 p.m., this Sun., Mar. 30 (Hoppy is the well known radio broadcaster); and

2.) "Hippie Homesteaders: Impact on West Virginia," Carter Taylor Seaton, 2 p.m., Sun., Apr. 27.

The "Little Lectures" are held at the Council's Headquarters at 1310 Kanawha Blvd., East, Charleston.

A $10.00 admissions is charged, and can be sent to the Council's Headquarters listed above.

Please RSVP to 304-346-8500 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For those Gilmer Countians and West Virginians seeking a nice Sunday Get-a-way, these Little Lectures sound like an ideal and colorful treat.

I'll just comment on the "Hippie Homesteaders," who were quite event in Lobelia, in-between the Droop Mountain Battlefield and winding around the mountain to just outside of Hillsboro in Pocahontas County.

Upon moving to that area in the 1970s, the Hippies were quite visible, coming into town to buy groceries at the old Moore or Walker General Stores. Nevertheless, for the most part, they tilled the earth to grow their foods, having purchased low cost, abandoned old farms way off the main highways. On our Sunday drives, we'd see them struggling behind their 19th century mowboard plows pulled by their horse, tilling the soil.

Of course, the mainstream farmers, who used the modern equipment, i.e.. tractors, combines, brush hogs, etc., made much fun of them in common parlance. But, oddly, they've persisted and thrived, especially in growing the now popular herbal plants in their gardens and organic foods.

Although they were mostly individualists, having retired early from high paying jobs in the city, one funny story was that one group of them formed a commune. Then, they built a common bath house, or steam room, over a creek, which was visible from the winding mountain road.

A neighbor and popular farmer, Johnnie Hill, asked them about it, inquiring, "I see you all, men and women, going into that bath house together. Do you take baths in your clothes?"

Responding, the Hippie quipped, "Do you take baths in your clothes?"

One unrelated side note: When Johnnie's family had my family over to dine with them at their farm home, Mrs. Hill cooked the best fried chicken dinner that we'd ever eaten. Nice and lovely big pieces of chicken from those that they'd raised. My wife and I commented that they could put KFC out of business, if they go into the restaurant, rather than farming business.

Finally, Dr. Patch Adams, of the movie's fame, is still trying to build his "Happy Hospital" atop Droop Mountain. There, the patients will sit around cheering each other up and telling jokes until they get well, having laughed the illnesses out of them.

The funny doctor, played by Brian Williams in the movie, uses humor as an integral part of his medical healing process. It makes sense to me!

Also in talking about Charleston but on a musical note, I've been impressed in past years with the city's Chamber Music Society's programs. The chamber musicians are first-rate in performing on the piano, violin, and cello Ñ a very relaxing combo sound. Sadly, in recent years, I've been busy, thus being unable to get away for these outstanding programs, which usually take place in the downtown's United Methodist Church. Right now, check out the "Charleston Chamber Music Society" and its schedule of performances this year. You can find them by logging-on to their website.


I'm tired tonight (Monday), kind folks, so off to bed I go! And, don't forget to support these worthy causes previously mentioned and endorsed in this column, as well as patronizing the region and state's cultural offerings. And, most of all, thank YOU for reading this column which was too long! For me, brevity is my goal.