Sunday, June 29, 2008

Storyteller's Journey: on the way to Grafton

We left early Saturday morning for our trip to Tygart Lake State Park to tell stories. We had quite an itinerary planned, and as we traveled, the list of things we wanted to do grew. These storytelling trips become mini-vacations as we stop at places that interest us along the way.

The first stop was in Glenville, at the Common Place restaurant. We found it last week during the West Virginia Folk Festival--a neat little small-town restaurant with great coffee and friendly staff. The place was filled to capacity with people and talk. We grabbed our coffee and headed back to Rte 33 East.

Not far out of Grafton (as we were following a string of motorcycles going 35-30 mph--they were from Virginia and I guess the curves scared them) a blur of black crossed the road. Bear! a small one, probably 200 pounds. He is a small black dot behind the trees on the right in the photo--unfortunately I didn't get a very good shot.

Soon we were in Weston, known for its famous (or infamous) state metal institution that was established when West Virginia was still part of Virginia. A street flea market was in progress, so of course we stopped. I found some treasures for very good prices, but was sad when I got home to discover a blue bottle bought for Ellouise somehow didn't get in my bags. But the lovely cotton print tablecloth from the 30's, a china plate from Silesia (had to look that up on Google), a small tin child's plate with the Big Bad Wolf and Red Riding Hood on it, an old bottle with label for a patent medicine, a piece of amberina glass, and a pretty blue pitcher stamped "made in Japan"--all for $15--made me not feel so bad about the bottle. Next time, Ellouise!

A signpost indicated how far it is from Weston to points west. A long, long way. Weston was actually located close to the geographical population center of the United States in the 1840's--the center has since moved south and west to Missouri. It is now only close to the center of West Virginia; a town that almost died out when the mental hospital closed, Weston is now finding new life in tourism and proximity to an interstate highway. I'm glad--I love small towns, and especially small town downtowns.

About 20 miles east, we passed through Buckhannon as we left Rte 33 and headed north on Rte 20. Buckhannon recently had its city seal painted on a building downtown. It's a lovely painting, but I had to laugh when I realized that the building it was painted on was a tattoo parlor! A building tattoo, perhaps?

We had to turn around and come back to admire this mailbox post made from A-model car parts. Larry identified wheels, fan, and hubs.

As you can see, the trip was a already a blast, and at this point it was only one o'clock in the afternoon! Lots more pics and news from our trip tomorrow.


Tipper said...

Love the building tatoo and the wacky mailbox-looks like you had a very neat trip.

I tried the Cinquain-posted it on my blog-and I linked back to your post so folks could see how to do it. Hope thats o.k. Mine are not very good-but I had fun! So thank you for showing me how!

City Mouse said...

That roadside sculpture is really, really neat. (Especially since it is made out of Model A parts!) The first pic reminded my of our neck of the woods up here - very pretty.

Jason Burns said...

The Native American on the Buckhannon Town Seal is Chief Buckanongahela, who gave his name to Buckhannon. He's also one of WV's oldest recorded storytellers- he told the story of Manitou, an evil spirit that allegedly still haunts the area around Audra State Park. Modern versions have twisted this story, saying it is Buckanongahela's ghost that haunts the park. Neat, eh?

Granny Sue said...

Very neat, Jason. You and Matt are full of the most interesting lore about this state. I thought the town got its name from President Buchanan and just misspelled it. Wikipedia has information about Manitou, attributing it to Algonquin tribes, but the word also surfaces in western tribal lore. In some stories I've heard, Manitou is the Earth Spirit, and seemed interchangeable with the Great Spirit. Not being steeped in Native American lore, I can't really speak to this, but I am enthralled with the idea of such a legend in little ol' Buckhannon. Amazing.

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