Sunday, May 26, 2013

Storytelling Road Trip: Gilmer County

There is nothing I like better than a road trip into the deep country of this state, so when I'm storytelling I try to make time to explore the area around the places where I perform. Thursday we were in Gilmer county, WV, in the little community of Troy. I remember when we were looking for land in West Virginia and would read the Strout Realty catalog like a best seller--Troy was one of the places where land was usually inexpensive. But we never actually looked at any farms there because my ex-husband needed to be located within driving distance of Charleston, and Gilmer county was definitely outside of that parameter.

The school was right in the heart of the community, and it actually was the heart on this day. The event was an Appalachian Heritage Day; community members came in to demonstrate all sorts of traditional activities from dancing to making butter, quilting, beekeeping, woodworking and more. There were two men there representing both sides of the Civil War, too. You know Larry was right over there talking to them! Storytelling, of course, is so much part of our daily lives here that it's a natural for such festivals.

We arrived early to set up my sound system. Although there are only 100 or so students at this school, the event was held in the gym and acoustics can always be tricky in such locations. I knew the dancers would be on before me and I did not want to be setting up while they were dancing. Besides, I wanted to watch. I thought they were square dancers but as it turned out this was the Pink Ladies, a line dancing group, and they danced to 50's music. They had everyone up to do the Twist. which was a lot of fun. While this might not seem like traditional Appalachian life, remember that the music of the 50's is 70 years old now, and to the kids that's pretty old!

I was surprised when a Bassett hound wandered into the school. The children seemed to know him quite well, and so did the principal, who was not amused. I suppose she had a point--a dog wandering around could be pretty disruptive, but he seemed to really want to be there. Even though she took him outside quickly, he came back several times. I think perhaps it was the smell of lunch cooking that was irresistible to him.

I had a blast telling stories. Sometimes the stories flow with no real effort on my part and this was one of those days. We ranged from singing Old Dan Tucker to the story of my walking catfish to a Jack Tale and others in between. We laughed and sang and I waited for the dog to return but he never did.

We ate lunch with the kids, always an interesting experience--they tell so many stories themselves. Then we waved good-bye and headed north. Some of that journey you saw in yesterday's post. But there was more to see, so here are the pictures of a few of the places we saw:


Near Leopold, the birthplace of Joseph Diss DeBar, creator of the state seal of West Virginia.

On Little Buck Run

..and further up the road

graves so old the trees have grown around them.

Churches, and a historic school:

For Sale: One Country Store (in bad need of repair):

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Nance said...

just back from 10 days days of vacation out 'west', I still would climb in the car with you and travel the beautiful State of West Virginia. I love the green rolling hills. As a child I called them mountains (coming from Iowa) but my mother corrected me. Those are hills. And they are beautiful hills. You keep on telling . . . and I'm along for the ride.

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