Huntington, West Virginia, during the great flood of 1937
The severe weather we have been experiencing here reminds me to tell you about the Great Flood of 1937, known in these parts as simply the 1937 Flood. While it was long ago, and obviously before my time, people in this area still talk about it, and there are old photos in many homes and businesses of the damage. The water was so high in places that it even covered and washed away houses, and it completely wiped out entire towns along the Ohio River.
West Virginia has many, many large bodies of water. We even have a lot of waterfalls, which is not well known to those who have not actually explored the more rural areas. There is not only the mighty Ohio River, which is a mile across where Huntington meets Ohio, there is also the Guyandotte River, Big Sandy River, Monongahela River, Kanawha River, Greenbrier River, New River, and too many others to list. Lots of the creeks here are so large that they are considered to be rivers as well.
Naming the rivers reminds me of an amusing story. When I was in high school, I was very involved in 4-H and student government programs. Through those programs, I came to know the late A. James Manchin, at that time Secretary of State. Now, A. James was quite the character. A tubby man with a loud booming voice, he was a real oldtime politician, and quite beloved throughout the state. For some reason he took a shine to me, probably just because I was an awkward brainy kid from a poor family – salt of the earth, as he might say. I actually liked A. James quite a bit, and he was always very nice to me, but even as a kid I realized he was a little on the wacky side.
The History Channel will be airing a three-episode historical miniseries on the Hatfield/McCoy feud starting tonight, starring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton. I have a unique interest in the miniseries, since it is actually reenacting part of my family history.
As a direct descendant of Devil Anse Hatfield (my great-great-great grandfather), of course I have heard stories about the feud for my entire life. It will be especially interesting to see to what extent the miniseries corresponds with that oral family history.
My great-grandmother remembered Devil Anse fondly. She said that he had a great sense of humor and loved to play practical jokes, that he always had a twinkle in his eye, and that he absolutely doted on his children and grandchildren. She also said that he was fiercely protective of his family, as history is very well aware.
She once told me that no one was surprised when Anse kidnapped the McCoy boys and ordered their execution after they murdered his brother Ellison, and that no one really cared that he did it because they considered it justice done. This does not surprise me at all, even today.
Well, I guess I need to address the Keith Judd issue, since I live in West Virginia.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I am a lifelong registered Democrat, which is really not unusual in this state. I voted for Barack Obama in the last presidential election, but I also have questioned some of his decisions. Nevertheless, since I have far less confidence in those who would run against him, I will vote for him again. For the purposes of this discussion, I guess I should also state that, being a redhead of Scots-Irish descent, I am one of the whitest-looking people you are ever going to meet. That said….
When I was voting in the primary, expecting no one to be running against Barack Obama for President, I noticed that there was an opposing name on the presidential ballot which I had never heard before in my entire life: Keith Judd.
Of course I did not vote for someone I had never heard of before in my entire life. He could be anything. He could be a criminal, or an insane person, or a convicted felon, or even a prisoner. As it turns out, he is all those things.