Surviving the Storms of Life: The 1937 Flood

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.

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Surviving the Storms of Life, West Virginia Style

Last night, probably in part due to the extremely high heat, we experienced a storm far more severe than we usually get in these parts.  Hubby and I were sitting in the family room watching television during the storm, the electricity was going on and off, and all of a sudden he was up in a flash, running outside and looking at the sky in a particular direction.  When I went to ask him if everything was okay, he said that the wind just did not sound right.

That may have been the understatement of the year.

He was listening for a train sound (which we get here all the time, since there are lots of railroad tracks in the area) because he said that is the sound of a tornado.  Mind you, we do not normally get tornadoes in this area since we are surrounded by hills, but it has happened, and that wind was fierce.

My niece was in her apartment at the University of Alabama when the tornado tore the town of Tuscaloosa to bits.  Her phone was down and I was the only family member online at the time, so she sent me a chat message and asked me to tell her mom and dad that she loved them.  Of course, I had no idea what was happening there, but I was alarmed by that message, obviously.  When I asked her what was going on and she told me about the storm and described the horrible sound she was hearing, hubby told me to tell her as quickly as my fingers could type to stop what she was doing immediately, grab her mattress, get in the bathtub and pull the mattress over her, because she was about to get a direct hit by a massive tornado.

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Catfish Man of the Woods

Catfish Man of the Woods

When I was a child, I remember my grandparents taking me to see an Appalachian herbalist named Catfish Man of the Woods (his real name was Clarence Gray, but everyone called him Catfish).  He was quite the character, to say the very least, LOL.  He kept a canning jar filled with his own urine on his mantle, and I remember that it was clear as water, which he attributed to his herbs having long past cleansed his body of toxins, and he would drink it because he believed drinking ones own urine had health benefits.

Do I drink my own urine?  Absolutely not, LOL.

So Catfish was a very unusual person, to say the very least.  He lived in Mason County, which is very rural to this day.  He was barely literate, having been declared ineducable by the third grade, and he talked a mile a minute so you had to listen carefully to understand what he was saying, but he had an encyclopedic knowledge of herbal medicine.  His knowledge of herbs was so advanced, in fact, and he was such an unusual and interesting person, that a documentary was made about him, and he was even once a guest on The Johnny Carson Show.

Some have said that Catfish was an autistic savant.  Back when he was a child, an autistic child would (incorrectly, obviously) indeed have been considered ineducable, especially in rural schools.  I cannot say whether he was an autistic savant, since I am not a doctor.  However, having met him many times, what I can say is that it is very possible, and even somewhat probable.  Either way, Catfish was a great guy, very funny and very friendly – he never met a stranger – and I thought the world of him.

Catfish combined traditional Appalachian folk medicine with traditional Native American medicine, and many people absolutely swore by him and his treatments.  Even today, many folks in West Virginia use traditional Appalachian herbal medicine, including me.

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Propagation of Flowering Bushes Using Softwood Cuttings

Crape Myrtle

Gardening is one of my hobbies, and I have a few magnificent flowering bushes in my front yard which I love so much that I would like to also see them in my backyard.  However, I am nothing if not cheap, LOL, so I plan to propagate them this year using cuttings.

Basically, propagating is making an entirely new plant out of an existing plant, by taking a cutting from the plant and coaxing it to grow its own root system.  This process takes about a month or so, depending upon the plant, but it is extremely easy to do.

Propagation really needs to be done at this time of year so the new plants have a long growing season prior to dormancy, so start looking around at your flowering bushes to see which ones you might want to propagate, either for yourself or to share with a friend or loved one, and we can do it together.

You will need the following items, which you probably already have at home if you do any gardening:  (1) a planting container for each cutting, which must have drainage holes at the bottom; (2) equal parts peat moss and perlite; (3) Saran wrap; (4) sharp pruners (but really sharp scissors will also do); (5) a spray mister; and (6) a location which gets plenty of light without being in the direct sun.

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Attorneys, Books, and Casey Anthony

I am a compulsive reader.  When I say compulsive, I mean that I even read the toothpaste tube every time I brush my teeth, LOL.  Needless to say, I have a huge collection of books.  My hubby actually told me just the other day that I should open a used book store to get rid of some of them, LOL, but as I told him, that is never going to happen.  I love the feel of books, and I even love the smell of them.  I love holding them in my hands, and they bring me comfort for some reason I cannot explain.  Needless to say, I am not a Kindle kind of gal, LOL.

Still, since I do buy lots of books of every imaginable description – my preference is nonfiction, reference and the classics – I am always interested to know what nonfiction books are being released.

I saw on The Huffington Post today that Jose Baez, former attorney for Casey Anthony, has written a book about the case.  In that book, according to HuffPo, he discloses detailed information about the alleged abuse by her father, among other things.

This concerns me because, if the information was given to him by Casey Anthony during the preparation of her defense, and she did not disclose it to third parties, that information is privileged under attorney/client confidentiality.  The privilege attaches to the client, so it cannot be disclosed without her permission.  So I have to ask, is it privileged information?  Did she give permission for him to disclose such sensitive information in a book?  If she gave permission, did she realize exactly what she was permitting him to do with that information?

Even the idea of an attorney disclosing privileged information in a book makes me queasy.  This has nothing to do with Casey Anthony, mind you, and everything to do with the fact that each person who hires an attorney has the absolute right to believe that nothing they say in confidentiality will end up in a book.  Obviously, I do not know for a fact that what he is saying is privileged or that the privilege has not been knowingly waived, since the book has not even been released yet, but it sure seems like it is privileged information based upon the HuffPo article.  That really and truly bothers me, as would be the case regardless of the client, because it eats away at the basis of our justice system.

It also concerns me a great deal because I seriously doubt that any of those sexual abuse allegations are true.  This is a young woman who lies compulsively and seems to live in a world the rest of us cannot see, after all.  In my opinion, she is quite obviously mentally ill (or as we say in these parts, nuttier than squirrel crap) and as such, no responsible person would ever repeat those kinds of allegations from her without proof that they were true.  Yet if Baez had proof that the allegations were true, he would have presented that proof at trial, since he made the sexual abuse allegation a major part of his opening statement.  I am therefore more than a little disturbed that those types of accusations are being repeated and even expanded upon in a book, from which this attorney will no doubt handsomely profit.  It will thus be very interesting to see if he he ends up getting sued by George Anthony.

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Our quest for an effective hip dysplasia treatment

Napoleon

We are big animal lovers here at my house.  We have had lots of pets over the years, of pretty much every imaginable description, and they are family members to us, not just pets.  None of them are outside pets, they all live in the house with us.

We have a big dog – a Rottweiler / German Shepherd mix – named Napoleon.  We should have named him Bear, because in reality, he kind of looks like a bear since he has a huge body, and a much smaller head with a pointy snout, LOL.

We got Napoleon in an unusual way, in that he chose us.  We had gone to eat at a local restaurant which had karaoke, because at the time my son was dating a girl who aspired to become a singer, and we thought it would be good practice for her to sing in front of an audience of strangers.  When hubby went out onto the patio to get some fresh air (and a break from some of the horrendously bad singing, LOL), he found that a couple of employees were out there with a puppy on a leash.

As the story was told to us, this puppy had been owned by some people out in the holler whose house got busted for making meth.  When the cops burst into the house, the puppy ran like crazy, out into the woods.  The owners went to jail, and the neighbors started looking for the puppy, since there are some wildcats and bears in that area, which meant the poor puppy was in danger.  They eventually found him days later, half starved, and this young couple (relatives of the folks who found him) took him in, only to find that their landlord would not allow them to have any pets.  It was obvious even then that he was going to be huge, after all.

So, they took him to work in the hope that someone there would take him in, and they would not have to take him to the pound.

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What Is A Dad? [Fathers Day]

I wanted to take a quick moment to wish all the dads out there a Happy Fathers Day!

Today got me thinking, what is a dad?  We all are accustomed to thinking of dads in terms of biological fathers, adoptive fathers and stepfathers.  However, that has not really been my experience.

There are lots of unsung dads out there, who deserve the title as much as (or more than) those we normally think of as fathers.  They can be grandfathers, uncles, or even friends of the mom when there is no dad in the picture.  I find those men to be extraordinary individuals, since they become dads purely out of love, and not due to obligation.  Those of us who have those dads are especially lucky, because we can honestly say that our dads chose to be our dads.

Papaw with his dog Bear, sitting at the end of the driveway to my childhood home on the hill. This was taken circa 1985, after he got sick, and about a year before his death.

My dad was my step-grandfather, who we called Papaw (pronounced pap-paw).  He was an extraordinary man, simply stated.  He started taking in his step-grandchildren very shortly after marrying my grandmother (who he barely knew when they married, but that is another story for another time), starting with my brother and me when I was only a few months old.  He eventually raised four of us from infancy.

Papaw worked his fingers to the bone in order to provide for us, but he never once complained.  He was not very educated, though he was also neither illiterate nor stupid, and he valued education for us kids; he worked most of my life as a local truck driver.  Though he could have made much more money driving long distance, since he had the license and skill to do that, he wanted to be home with us every evening.

I do not remember him ever taking a day off, or even a vacation day.  We certainly never went on any vacations of any type, because there was just not the money to do things like that.  We lived in a very poor part of town, in a rundown little house up on top of a hill so steep, with a road so winding, that you could not even get up or down it when the snow fell, unless you walked.  Papaw used to park his car at the bottom of the hill and walk on snow days so he could still get back and forth to work, both arms inevitably filled to overflowing with groceries.

It takes a lot of food to feed four growing kids, after all, and Mamaw took in babysitting for extra cash as well, so there were always at least three or four additional mouths to feed (but usually even more than that, especially when their mothers could not get up the hill to pick them up).  That translates into daily trips to the grocery store just to keep food on the table, but as always, he never once complained, even when he had to carry those groceries on foot up that steep winding hill in a big snowstorm.  Instead he would walk in the door after working all day and then taking that long freezing walk, Mamaw would make him some fresh hot coffee in her old percolator on the stove to warm him up, and he would come into the living room with a smile as big as the whole outdoors, to play with us kids and watch the news while Mamaw cooked supper.

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