I recently ran across these thoughts that I posted just before a trip I made “back home” to Bluefield on 4-29-2009.
Growing up in the mountains of southwest Virginia, I was forced by my daddy to listen to country music. Well, I suppose he didn’t force me. I could‘a gone outside to play, but he when he was home, I ‘spect I hung out with him a lot. He was gone so much workin’ on the railroad, and when he wasn’t gone workin’ on the railroad, he was gone drinkin’. But when he was around, he listened to country music on the only television station that we could pick up, way out there on 460. Now his music was not like what you see on the Country Music Award Show today. Daddy’s favorite was pure heart-breakin’ back woods mountain music. He would watch the Porter Wagoner Show when Porter had as much glitz as Liberace. Standing on the Grand Ole Opry stage, Porter showed off his sequined wagon-wheel jacket and sang along side the big-haired blonde, Dolly Parton. They sang that ole “cryin’ in the ye beer” type music until it would make my tender ears bleed in agony. Whispering Bill Anderson, Little Jimmy Dickens and the local guy, Cecil Surrett, were talented men to my daddy. There was even a band of young fellows that my brother sarcastically referred to as SALVATION. I think that is because they always sang that salvation song and whined the notes right through their nose. My daddy loved those twangy sounds.
With all that said, you understand that I have very little use for my daddy’s country music. Strangely enough, when I hear those familiar instruments of mountain music, I long to go back. Back to Virginia. Back to a time when I didn’t know anything but that. I am transported to places where people put a smile on my face and warmth in my heart. I am drawn to the mountains where I was born and raised. Mom always said that I ‘got above my raisin’ and maybe I did in some ways. But I am always proud of where I came from and the people that worked so hard in those mountains. That is what makes me who I am.
SHERRY, I THINK MOST OF US WOULD LIKE TO RETURN TO THOSE MOUNTAINS. THE ONES OF US WHO LEFT. WHAT IS IT ABOUT HUMAN NATURE? WHEN WE ARE YOUNG WE CAN’T WAIT TO LEAVE AND THE OLDER WE GET WE LONG TO GO BACK. MUST BE A MAGIC IN THOSE MOUNTAINS BECAUSE WE YEARN FOR THEM. THANKS FOR THE PICTURES.
Thanks for commenting Doris and this kid for understanding exactly how I feel.
I grew up in Falls Mills. Ran the creeks, sneak up and fish and hunt frogs in the dam, swimming in the Old Mill Dam, swimming in the old Harry Swimming Hole in Mudfork Creek. I left Falls Mills in 1960 when I joined the Army. That was 53 years ago. Since that time I have lived all over the world. We finally settled in Columbia, SC and I worked for the Army 12 years at Fort Jackson. Then to Saudi Arabia after that war, then Bosnia for 3 years rebuilding that country after that war and a year in Kuwait, training US Army Soldiers prior to the Iraqi War. At 63 years of age, I gave up and we moved to the mountains of East Tennessee. There is a magic and mistique about the hills that just does not go away. I am nearly 73 now and that magic still exists and I love the mountains. Coming back to Bluefield, Virginia later this month for the Class of 1959, Graham High School Reunion. You bet, I will be on top of East River Mountain and sit there and digest the beauty of those mountains. William (Bill) Cecil Thomason
Bill, thank you most importantly for your service to our country. And thank you for sharing your comments. My sister Gail will be attending that same GHS reunion. Enjoy your time “back home”.