Skip to comments.Peggy Noonan: Almost Heaven
Posted on 08/03/2005 9:39:05 PM PDT by presidio9
It's summer, the country's traveling, and the great pleasure to be had from leaving home is meeting and falling in love with a place you've never been to. I end that sentence with a preposition to segue into my favorite story this summer of cultural tensions and differences as navigated by two American women. A Southern lady sees a vacationing society lady from the Northeast. The Southern lady is gregarious: "Where y'all from?" Society lady is put off: "I'm from a place where they don't end sentences with a preposition." Southern lady smiles, nods her head: "Beg your pardon. Where y'all from, bitch?"
It's fun to see cultures collide, because that's one of the ways you know they still exist. America continues to be full of differentness, in spite of the samening effect of national media. (I made up samening. It refers to the tendency of different, small and localized pockets of culture to take on the ways and values of national culture as it is imposed by television, music and movies.)
Local survives. Particular and distinctive survive. Especially in West Virginia.
I have just been there for the first time, and it is a jewel of a state. It is like an emerald you dig from a hill with your hands. You know when you've passed into it from the east because suddenly things look more dramatic. You get the impression you're in a real place. All around you are mountains and hills and gullies, gulches and streams. The woods wherever I went were thick and deep. From Morgantown to Ballengee a squirrel can jump from tree to tree. It is a tall state--the hills, trees and mountains--and shadowy-dark, with winding roads, except for where it's broad and beige and full of highway, courtesy of Robert Byrd. The highways
(Excerpt) Read more at opinionjournal.com ...
"Beg your pardon. Where y'all from, bitch?"
Hillary is the person I have in mind that the Southern Lady would be talking to.
Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but as a NYer, I feel the need to remind you of just exactly who WV's senior senator is.
"The highways are perfect looking, unstained by wear and tear, and not many people seem to use them."
West By God Virginia has got to have the slowest drivers in the USA. The speed limit on the highways is still 55. West Virginians think driving the speed limit is really letting her rip so they usually plug along the highways at 50 MPH. Don't want to have too much fun!
No wonder there is no wear and tear on their roads.
Reminds me of the Joads under the jalopy fixin it. Tom slips and cuts his hand. His father says that the "Damned machine" attacked him and Tom says its just mad because he knows how it works--won't let ya fix without a little blood---something like that but the theme of industrial machinery as monsters or dehumanizing was in a lot of literature and folklore. We really were an agrarian society and machines were a threat. Mases of laborers were replaced by mechanization----Marxism is so absurd now in light of the inneccesity of masses of laborers.
You don't suppose WV's slow drivers has got anything to do with the terrain do you?
Nice little story. Were Lewis & Clark in West Virginia earlier exploring? I thought they pretty much started from St. Louis?
An interesting tidbit on LeFayette that I read in the paper the other day. He was 19 years old when he became a major in the Continental Army in 1777.
First joke I heard when arriving in NC. :)
What would terrain have to do with slow drivers?
Besides, speed limits are just suggestions.
For years scientists thought that the speed of sound was the absolute limit, until Chuck Yeager broke it. I have proved the speed limit signs wrong numerous times. I've also had cops ticket me a few times for disproving their science.
Every morning, recently, I have driven from Martinsburg to Sleepy Creek WMA, or over to Morgan County, and Cacapon State Park. I take my dog, Spot, for a run, while I hike (walk, and look around occasionally) throughtout.
I have several ways to get there, depending on my mood and preference. I can loop to Hagerstown, MD, on I-81, zip out I-70 to 522 South, at Hancock, MD, drive through Berkeley Springs, WV and on to the Park.
It's "cruise control" for me, and at 65-70, I get passed regularly, by people doing 75-85, and more. It's a race track, with trucks providing a little excitement, and aggravation.
Or, I can leave on Rt 9, go through Hedgesville, then it's 55 most of the way to Berkely Springs. The main problem is that there are few places to drive that fast, without leaving the roadway's curves. Then, it's an 8 mile drive south on 522. It's 55, out of town, but 45 for a mile or two leaving.
The other route takes me out Tuscarora Pike, and over the first mountain, at the western side of the Shenandoah Valley, through Back Creek Valley, and up Third Hill Mountain, into Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area. I can pass through it, and wind up on 522, then drive north 4 miles to Cacapon.
The distance is 17 miles closer, and takes me 12 minutes longer. But, it's fun to see the idiots you encounter. Some of the roads are barely two lanes. I followed a Waste management truck down into Martinsburg the other day, and folk coming up the mountain had to pull off into the ditch on the side, while the trash truck hung wheels off the right side, with a Verrrrrrry steep drop below. I just followed.
The guy standing in the foregound of the truck pics was driving up Third Hill Mountain, when his truck couldn't encounter a switchback. He was lost, having turned left instead of right, then driving 16 miles over two mountains, looking for his terminal. It was his third day on the new job, driving solo, from Florida. They pulled the back wheels up onto the roadway, then backed the semi- almost a mile before they could turn it around!
He had to go through four stop signs, and drive on roads that I feel somewhat uncomfortable, at times, in my Lincoln, or XC-90, to encounter others.
And the worst. A few years ago the National Highway Safety Administration put driver recording devices (like those used in airplanes) in a cross section of American cars to see how drivers reacted right before fatal collisions. Among the data they collected was the fact that the word most often uttered by drivers just before a collision was "oh, shit." However, in West Virginia they discovered the most often uttered thing was "Here, hold my beer, watch this."
Have you read the book? It's unbelieveable what they were able to accomplish, with fortitude as their main strength.
One man died, of appendicitis, shortly after beginning the voyage. That was their only casualty, throughtout the journeys, winters, and Indian attacks. They paddled upriver...
Splendid account of real America from Peggy Noonan.
Where my ancestors came to from Germany in 1755. And my family lived in until 1948. I love traveling West Virginia.
Thanks for the link - that looks like a very professional site and I'll have to look at it more. The "nice little story" was peggy's account of rural america (and I think she needs to get out into it more from the tone of her article!).
From the map on that website it looks like when they were going through West Virginia to get to St. Louis and doing some recruiting along the way. I wouldn't think theat they were doing any naming of new rivers? Had Lewis & Clark been explorers much earlier in this area? I'm thinking not - hadn't they been "just" a couple of military guys that could organize and lead a group.
And yes - it is amazing what they did. I'm out here in Washington State. I seem to recall somewhere that after they could see the Pacific Ocean, it still took them a long time (like another 6 months?) to get to it because the Columbia River gorge was so difficult. I'll need to look on that nice website to relearn that actual timeframe though!
You got me laughing.
Nevertheless, despite all the romance and moonshine of all that, the fact is people everywhere drive faster in urban areas, faster on interstate highways, and slower when the road curves.
And if you've never driven through the mountains of WV off the interstate, you've never seen a road curve.
Good article. Thanks for posting.
Actually, in WV, the speed limit on Interstates is 70, and up to 65 on unlimited access four lanes (such as Rt 19, from I-79 to Beckley).
All other highways are 55 or less. Most of the bad drivers I notice have PA or Ohio plates, it seems. In fact, one of the worst drivers passed me at night on a double yellow line with a doughnut spare and one headlight burned out. He had Ohio plates.
You notice it more here when people drive slow, because the curvy mountain roads limit passing opportunities.
All that aside, as a lifelong WV resident, I can say that the author got it right. We're calm, easygoing people, very used to a simple, slow paced way of life. But you don't want to make us angry, because we all have guns. Heck, some of our guns even have guns.
As I posted on another thread today, hearing gunshots here, any time of year, is no big deal. In my backyard, I've fired off my rifle after 11:00 pm on July 4th. I've had law enforcement officers admire my carry weapon, instead of asking me why I thought I needed to carry it.
You usually know your neighbors, and they'll help you in any way they can.
It's not uncommon to go shopping and run into friends or co-workers. In fact, it's hard not to see someone you know. Right off hand, I can think of six families on this block that I actually know in some capacity other than as neighbors.
You can leave your keys in your vehicle. I have a Jeep, and I can leave the top down with my CD's in the console, unlocked. All night.
I can drive 15 minutes and be miles from another living person.
Right now, it's after 11:00 PM. The storm door is closed, but unlocked. The front door is wide open. I can look through it and see cars going by out on the street. If someone walks by on the sidewalk, they're about 20 feet from my door. Chances are about 9 out of 10 that if someone would walk by, I'd know who it was.
Even though I have a CCW permit, I'd feel comfortable walking the 1/4 mile to the local convenience store completely unarmed, right now.
I remember when I was a kid, my best friend's dad got mugged in Charleston. That was over 20 years ago, and he's still the only person I've ever known that got mugged.
This year, my real estate taxes were just a little over $200 on 6 acres and a 1700 sq. ft. house (That 6 acres, by the way, cost me a little over $11,000 when I bought it in 2000. It's about 75% woodland, too). Car taxes on 2 vehicles and a boat were under $50.
I brag about this place a lot, but frankly, I don't mind the fact that people make jokes about it. If it makes people not want to come here, that's fine with me.
Very articulate defense of the noble people of West Virginia. It is a beautiful state and the people are great. I live in Virginia and the slowest cars on our highways (I didn't say the worst, just the slowest) all have Wild, Wonderful West Virginia plates (I'll throw in a couple of Florida plates as well.)
When do you get rid of your two Democratic Senators?
It's long overdue, I can tell ya.
I haven't been following closely, because there's usually no point - the incumbent with the "D" next to his name usually is the automatic winner. But now, it's looking like the Capito (R) might actually be giving Sheets a run for his money.
We can only hope.
Here is a photo taken from behind the car windshield of a pretty country road near Point Pleasant (I retouched the bugs off of the windshield and removed a mailbox from along the road). I do believe this is what John Denver was singin' about.
Recognize the road, KET?
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