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MOUNDSVILLE A TOWN WITH SPECIAL PEOPLE-PART 1
I contend that my hometown of Moundsville, West Virginia is inhabited with a group of special people. Growing up in Moundsville was a very unique, and adventurous experience, and this is the direct result of those inhabitants of Moundsville. Even before my birth the people who inhabited Moundsville had a reputation for being special people.
My Dad told me the story of his friend Charlie Jeffers and just how special Charlie was. Charlie was a high school football hero two-time All State, etc, etc. They graduated from Moundsville High School in 1927, and they had a lot of fun together and got into some mischievous things. In 1928 they went to the Blue Angel in Bellaire, Ohio together. There were a lot of Italian Americans in Bellaire. The bartender insulted Charlie, and he jumped up on the bar and shouted “I can whip every Wop in Bellaire and all your help!” Due to the special qualities of Moundsville people no one took Charlie up on his challenge. From what Dad told me Charlie’s reputation for being a great high school football player was only exceeded by his reputation for being a World Class ass kicker. He was well known for this in the entire Upper Ohio Valley.
I have previously chronicled some of my early life in Moundsville. My times with my friends, and working with dad at the B&K Market, and Grandpa Whitworth’s time in the Moundsville Pen. I always knew there was just something special about growing up in Moundsville. Playing cowboys and Indians, playing Americans and Japs, watching Roy Rogers on TV and such. Particularly we loved watching Annette on the Mickey Mouse Club, because she just had that special something that draws a boy’s eyes to her.
Some of my earliest memories of growing up are very special. My mother, Barbara May Whitworth nee Kimberly grew up in a family of nine children who all thought FDR was the second coming, while my dad George Kenneth Whitworth (he hated George) grew up in a family of four children who thought FDR was the anti-Christ. Some of my earliest memories are of heated political discussions between mom and dad. I guess my interest in politics came naturally. Even mom finally left the Democratic Party after they became left wing loons.
I must admit we had some strange customs that went along with growing up in Moundsville. I personally had a custom I don’t know exactly when it started, but every day after coming home from school for lunch a boy named Jacky Simmons and I would hurry through lunch so we could have our daily fistfight. We never had a disagreement about anything. We didn’t even go to the same school. Jacky lived in the First Ward of Moundsville and I lived in the Second Ward, but we met on neutral ground. We were only in the first grade through the fourth grade, and the teen-age boys just wanted to see us fight so we put the show on they wanted. We lived in the East End of Moundsville and we were not called the East End Dirty Asses for nothing. Even today you can see blue jackets with EEDA white lettering on the back of them.
The fact that my family moved to Glen Dale Heights in 1957 when I was in sixth grade didn’t make me any less a Moundsville boy. There were lots of my new friends in Glen Dale that were Moundsville boys at heart. There were also snooty people in Glen Dale, and the Moundsville boys among us liked to give them a little trouble. I remember bringing a noose to school to scare a snooty boy. We weren’t really going to hang him, but the principal didn’t know that. Miss Carrie Zimmerman rushed down the stairs and shouted very loudly at us. This naturally brought on a call to my mother who came to school, and boy was she pissed.
Then the next year my friends Skip and Dave were in 8th grade and I was in 7th grade and Glen Dale had a tradition at the end of the year picnic. The 8th grade boys kicked ass on the 7th grade boys, even though Skip and Dave were my friends they gave me fair warning. I had a plan. I organized all the boys from 7th grade through 4th grade and we were ready to rumble. Once again my plans went awry the teachers discovered the plan, and mom made another trip to school. I can remember her talking and crying to my teacher Mrs. Walker, mom said, ”He’s going to end up in Pruntytown!”(Juvenile detention facility).
Glen Dale had another difference from Moundsville. The Glen Dale children had a choice to make for where to go to high school. The two available public school choices were Moundsville High School and the archrival Union High School. I never had a shadow of a doubt I was going to Moundsville, but some of my Moundsville boy pals chose to go to Union. In my 8th grade year our basketball team played in leagues in both vicinities and won both league championships. We ended up 27 and 1 for the season, and the Union basketball coach tried to recruit all of the team. I said,” No way I’m not going to Union.” So some of us parted company but we remained friendly rivals.
In order to put some context into my contention that Moundsville is composed of a population of special people it is necessary to establish some miscellaneous facts.
The B&K Market was open each day from 8:00AM to 10:00 PM except for Sunday when operating hours were 9:00AM to 10:00PM when either dad or Bill worked alone. This was an alternating schedule where the one who closed one night opened the next morning and whoever opened that day was off at 6:00 PM that night. This amounted to an average workweek of 69.5 hours with three holidays closed per year.
Wow that was an intensive exercise to make the point that dad didn’t have a lot of spare time, but he used it well. When I was playing organized basketball or baseball dad would always be there to watch. On nights he worked 6 to 10 he was there his hour off from 5 to 6. When dad had his night off he got there at 6 to watch. What a special loving man dad was. I could always count on dad for love and support. He used his sparse amount of spare time very well.
During the period mentioned above we went to Pirate baseball games at Forbes Field at least twenty games per season. Those Sunday doubleheaders are great memories. Alas the Sunday doubleheader has gone the way of the dinosaur. Now the Pirates play like minor leaguers. Back in the day Pennsylvania had some strange laws. They were called Blue laws. The early Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania inspired these Blue Laws. No alcohol sold on Sunday. No inning started after 6:00 PM if the game wasn’t done by then it was suspended. If at least five innings were completed the team that was leading was the winner. I remember Danny Murtaugh putting on the stall when the Pirates were behind and it was close to 6:00PM.
In part two I will further disclose those special Moundsville people and the many memories they have instilled in my heart, but in some cases I have promised not to disclose names.