The following was written by my late wife Elaine. She wrote a long book, a diary really, from which this is one passage:
Some excellent National Theater productions we enjoyed in Washington were The Music Man and My Fair Lady and a solo performance by Marcel Marceau, the mime artist. At Lisner Auditorium, I remember two fine jazz piano concerts: one by Eroll Garner and one by Mose Allison (two of my very favorite jazz players). Mose played at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg in 1999, and we made sure to get tickets early for that one; he and his impressive jazz combo played his old standbys that evening, to the delight of all the older folks in the audience. Going to many super concerts in Lewisburg including Winton Marsalis, Pancho Sanchez (a Latin jazz artist and his band in October 2001), the Multiphonic Singers of the Tibetan Monastery, even Isaac Stern, at Carnegie Hall has been an unexpected bonus of living in Union, WV; no traffic or parking problems, admission costs a fraction of Washington DC ticket prices, and the auditorium is intimate with fine acoustics. And you usually see friends and neighbors in the audience.
West Virginia is a well-kept secret from the “outside world” regarding its cultural events and its people. Dave and I have seen some of our very favorite concerts and plays in this state right in our own area. There are some stereotypes about this state that are “all wet,” as my dad would say. People here in Eastern West Virginia are as educated as in the Washington suburbs, schools have high standards, crime is very low in most counties; you’d have to look a long time to find any shacks with barefoot kids and chickens and pigs running in and out, or old women smoking corncob pipes, or moonshine stills, or outhouses with Sears Catalogs for toilet paper. You’ll also have to go a long way to find people as nice as those we know here in the town of Union, the county of Monroe, state of West Virginia!
I’m going to copy here one of my favorite lines from a play, Our Town by Thornton Wilder, which comes to mind after just rereading the last sentence of the last paragraph: “Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God.”
To be continued…
About the Author: RD Blakeslee is a nonagenarian in West Virginia who built his net worth by only investing in that which can be enjoyed during acquisition and throughout life, as opposed to papers in a drawer, like stocks and bonds. You can read more about him here.
Photos: Courtesy of the Blakeslee Family