Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Week Packed into Two Days

Grace and Clayton atop the Grave Creek Mound.

Grace, Clayton and I traveled north to Moundsville, Benwood, and Sistersville, WV to tell stories and see the sights. Tonight I'm worn out, but the two grandkids are going strong.

We saw a lot, walked a lot, told a lot of stories. Here's a breakdown on our trip:
Monday morning we were up at 6:30am, on the road by 7:30am. We arrived in Moundsville in plenty of time and had a great audience for the program--these performances are for the libraries' summer reading program "Catch the Reading Bug," so the stories are all about bugs. The stories have run smoothly and it's been a lot of fun to tell new stories and mixing in some old favorites.
Storyteller Rich Knoblich and writer Bobbie Goodnight were both in attendance--what fun when friends show up! Bobbie brought homemade cookies and two lovely cousins (so sorry I didn't get a chance to chat longer with them); Rich brought his friend Regina and we had a quick, talk-filled lunch with them before heading to Benwood.

Benwood was great after a slow start. A group of 27 adults and children eventually arrived and we were off on a great story trip. I'm using lots of puppets and audience interaction this summer and it's been working very well. Several people commented that they didn't know what to expect, but loved it. And I love hearing that. (I was surprised to learn that mass murderer Charles Manson spent some of his boyhood in the Benwood-McMechen area. somehow I connected him with another part of the state).

We left Benwood and traveled back to Moundsville to visit the Grave Creek Mound, the conical burial mound still in existence in the US. To think that this mound of earth was created by carrying basket after basket of earth to the site--to bury two or three people--is mind-boggling. Built by the Adena people, the mound is one of many found in the Ohio River Valley and adjacent locations.

The museum was a strange experience--although several staffers were apparently working, no one greeted us or spoke to us the entire time we were in the museum ad gift shop.

Clayton scales the heights of the mound.

Very odd, especially for West Virginia. The museum seems to be in a state of change or renovation--many exhibit areas were empty, with no explanatory notes to say why. But the mound itself was beautiful. We walked the stone steps all the way to the top and back down. Breathtaking views. But an odd sense of being in a place that perhaps we should not have been colored my enjoyment of the place.

Down the stone path.

We finally drove back to Sistersville and checked into our hotel. Since we had been told that the owner downplays any stories that the place is haunted, we didn't ask any questions of the staff. We did our own exploration! Lots of nooks and crannies here, but I was saddened to find that the pool, dining room, and Wooden Derrick Lounge were all closed. Times are tough in Sistersville, and the grand old hotel seemed to be almost completely empty while we were there.

Grace gets a "shine" on the vintage shoeshine stand at the Wells Inn.
I have heard from several sources that the Wells Inn is haunted, and that sorry was confirmed by several people we met on our trip. Grace and Clayton were all about exploring the building in search of...well, in search of anything the least spooky. All the while staying tightly together and not far from me! I have to report that, except for a little trick pulled by me, there was nothing the least bit ghostly about our stay. (I think that even if there were spirits about, they kept a good distance between themselves and my non-stop chattering grandchildren!) The beds were comfortable, the staff was friendly and the inn retains most of its grand appearance. A good place to stay, with lots of class.

We left after eating our carry-in dinner and visited the Greenwood Cemetery I wrote about a few weeks back. We watched the sunset from there, caught lightning bugs and read inscriptions. One that said "died 1819" was for a woman who had died at 58--that meant she was born when the US was just a twinkle in someone's eye. Strange thought.

Back at the hotel, the kids and I settled in to rest up for our next adventure---storytelling in Sistersville and a visit to the old West Virginia Penitentary in Moundsville. More on that tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I read your post on the Greenwood Cemetery. It was a peaceful and beautiful place.


Granny Sue said...

Yes it was. I will probably stop there whenever I'm in that area. Odd how a place will touch our hearts like that.

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