Sometime before the end of this month, our new office in Moundsville is going to be up and running. The opening of that office will be something of a homecoming for me, as life and marriage took me away from my hometown for the past 13 years or so. Last week, I was down in Moundsville with Jim, Jamie, and the rest of the Bordas & Bordas "family" that will be staffing the new office, filming some new television spots. For those who have never been involved in a professional video production, it's generally 5 or 10 minutes of action followed by 45 minutes of sitting around while the crew sets and re-sets the equipment. During one of those 45-minute breaks, I got to thinking about all of the memories I had from growing up in Moundsville. For some reason, things that I hadn't thought of for years and years quickly came to mind, each new memory adding width to the smile that I'm sure had some of my co-workers wondering what in the world I was thinking about.
It seemed the longer I sat and thought, the more old memories came flooding forth. I was surprised by how long it had been since I had thought of some of these things, and after several minutes of smiling and laughing to myself, I began to think that I didn't want to go another 20-30 years without thinking of these things again. So, I decided to do what my wife always tells me to do when I have things to remember: I made a list. It's a list I intend to keep, and hopefully add to as the years go by. I'm also hoping that in sharing it, I can bring a smile to the faces of some other Marshall County natives who may have forgotten what a tremendous privilege it was to grow up in a wonderfully unique community. So here, in no particular order, is a portion of my memory list:
1. Moundsville police officer Clyde Pettit cruising the City on his white Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It seemed as if every time a group of kids started thinking about doing something we probably shouldn't, Clyde and his motorcycle would make an appearance.
2. The sound of the whistle from the Fostoria Glass Works factory at noon and 4:00. That whistle always told me when it was time to get on my bike and head back to school after the lunch break at First Ward.
3. Going with my Dad to Mercer's store on Seventh Street (where United Bank now stands) to get the latest Batman or Superman comic book. In the summer, Mr. Mercer always had fireworks for sale in the "back room".
4. The trip to see the Grave Creek Mound at Christmas, with the lights wrapped all around, and the lighted tree on top.
5. Getting "cracks" from Mr. Hubbs (First Ward) and Mr. Miller (Moundsville Jr. High). Mr. Miller had holes drilled in his paddle to cut down on wind resistance. Lots of us felt the sting of that paddle, and it didn't hurt a single one of us in the long run.
6. Playing basketball against the wall during recess at First Ward School under the watchful eye of Walter "Red" Wilson. He taught me to shoot free throws-underhanded.
7. Sled riding from the top of Sycamore Ave. onto Center St., all the way down to Mulberry Ave.. Five blocks, and we never had to worry about traffic.
8. The noon dances at Moundsville Jr. High (lunch was a bag of potato chips and a carton of chocolate milk), and swim dances at the Spurr Pool. You know how certain songs take you back to a particular moment in time? "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James and the Shondells takes me to the swim dances every time.
9. Sitting at the soda fountain counter at Beam's Drug Store and ordering a cherry Pepsi.
10. French fries to go from Bob's Lunch, served in a brown paper bag. With gravy. I still don't understand how that bag didn't disintegrate within seconds.
11. Fast-pitch softball games at the East End, with Frog Garcia, Herb Blake, Gary Bonar, Rudy Zatezalo (our Zak's father), Norm Whitlatch, and manager P.I. Drake.
12. Hanging out at Reilley's Bowling Lanes in Glen Dale until Francis would kick us out because we weren't spending any money.
13. The dominance of the John Marshall wrestling program in the 1970's. I had absolutely nothing to do with the wrestling team, but they certainly brought a lot of pride to our school. Coaches Bill Hinegardner and Ed Dugas, along with guys such as Ron Griffin, Ed West, Scott Lehasky, Ron Koontz, Gary Dobbs, Mike Cain and many others kept JM on the top of the WV heap for all three of my years there.
14. The excitement of having a big-time Hollywood movie filmed in our home town back in 1970. Jimmy Stewart, George Kennedy, Kurt Russell, and many other big name stars were on hand. Several scenes from the movie were filmed in what is now our Moundsville office. The mural from the movie, reading "Merchants Bank of Glory" has been preserved.
15. Last but certainly not least: Sam and Alexandria Shaw. How many times did Alexandria ride her bicycle to our school, camera slung around her neck, to take a picture that Sam would put on the front page of the Echo (right beside "The Wood family recently returned from a vacation at Blackwater Falls. A good time was had by all, and Dad caught an 18-inch trout.")? If there was anything you needed to know about Marshall County or Moundsville, Sam Shaw was the man you asked.
Those memories sure do bring me a lot of happiness. Hopefully, some of you will share your memories of Moundsville in the comments section that follows this blog, so I can add to my list. I know there are dozens of things I haven't thought about. For now, I'm just happy in knowing that Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You CAN go home again.
Hello, Moundsville. I sure have missed you. It's good to be home.