"I'm sorry," she said. "I don't mean to interrupt you, but we're from Mingo county!"
The world throws strange coincidences our way, doesn't it? We stayed and talked with these nice people for probably half an hour. West Virginians are like that--we talk to strangers and end up being friends by the end of the conversation. And we hear some good stories in the process, like this one.
The mother at the table said that her grandfather (or maybe it was great-grandfather) had a store at the top of Ben's Creek Mountain in Mingo county. The mountain is known for its foggy conditions, and one night as her grandfather was riding home on horseback he found himself enveloped in a thick, almost impenetrable fog. He's been out late and he'd had a bit too much to drink, so between the fog and his foggy brain it was a difficult ride.
|from Microsoft Clipart|
The horse stomped and tried to rear, laying back its ears and rolling its eyes in fright. "Turn loose of my horse!" grandfather shouted. He was scared too, but drink can make a man braver than he might normally be in such a situation.
The Devil replied, "You keep drinking like that and you'll be mine in the end. You better stop your drinking, old man."
And then the Devil disappeared. The old man, probably feeling even older after that encounter, continued on to his home.
"So," I asked, "did your grandfather stop drinking?"
"No," the lady who told the story replied, "he said he just quit riding over Ben's Creek Mountain in the dark!"
While we were in Matewan, the man we met in the restaurant there told us this story:
|photo from History of Colorado|
The girls grew up and moved away to Cincinnati, Cleveland and other places where they all prospered and had good lives. They decided that it was time for life to be a little easier for their father too, so they devised a plan to go home and fix up the house for the old man.
They did it up right--all modern conveniences in the kitchen, and a bathroom complete with shower, sink and toilet. When the work was finished, the sisters threw a party--an outdoor cookout. They bought a grill, picnic table, steaks, the works. While they were eating, their father spoke up.
"You girls have got it all mixed up! What are they a-teachin' you in those cities? You've got it all backwards!"
"What do you mean, Dad?" The women were surprised and confused by his comments.
"You're eating outside and going to the bathroom in the house! That's not how it's supposed to be! You're supposed to eat in the house and use the bathroom outside. You've got it all backwards!"
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.