Perhaps overdue, is the explanation as to how my thoughts and experiences came to be a somewhat regular item in the “Letter to the Editor” section of the Mountain Messenger. Stemming back to when my family returned to West Virginia and Lewisburg, I immediately set about to subscribe to local papers, supplemented with the Washington Post as a carry over to where we had lived and my wishes to keep in touch. Well, as my father said, “in a small town, you have to make your fun” so almost as much as I enjoyed hearing the sound of my own voice, as in the years past ranging from “Immediate seating in all parts of the theatre” to “You can’t park there, that spot belongs to Senator Byrd,” to seeing my name in print other than in the arrests column or the obituaries (which I wouldn’t see).
The big story, at the time, was the initial campaign for gaming at The Greenbrier, so I began my efforts of support, on an almost daily basis, to counter the position of Alvey Miller, pastor of the Greenbrier Baptist Church. Public opinion reflected by the vote, favored “No.” Then, I seized the opportunity to complain and question a particular area of the local city government, this series of positions also failed to, when the votes were counted, gain any support. Fully realizing that I was not exactly riding the crest of favorable public opinion, I could only take refuge in the words of Winston Churchill, “He was right, but too soon.”
But having been so pleased in seeing my name in print, even as if to naught, I called the Editor of the Mountain Messenger and asked if there could be consideration of my submitting a column on a somewhat regular basis which I hastened to add would not be about local issues (I had learned my lesson). His suggestion was that my idea might not appeal to his readership but, he countered with the suggestion that I send in my material in the form of “A Letter to the Editor” for an individual consideration for publication. Ever anxious, I agreed.
Of course, a logical question is just what do I read? Straight away, my reply will be the weekly Mountain Messenger is my choice for not only some of the local items of routine and special interest and certainly enjoying the contributions of the regular columnists on a wide variety of subjects. On a regular basis, not only the local based West Virginia Daily News but for immediate national and sometimes local the Charleston Gazette, where I especially enjoy the Alyce Bragg column reflecting her strong beliefs in faith that has sustained her in difficult times, the kind reflections of her family life and the good graces of so many she has had the good fortune to know. Then there is the pile of books, still unread, that I hope to be able to add to my library, hoping to remember which one should I need a glimpse back for a fact or quote. The truth is, reality says this is a race that I will not win. But, with good intentions, I keep buying and adding to the stack.
Remember “that reminds me of a story?” As I recall a lady who had a large collection of books accumulated over her lifetime and when asked which had been her favorite, one that she had returned to and read over and over again, certainly there must be one. Her response was that it would be difficult to pick out one in particular as with the passage of time, she had noticed whenever she reread one, many parts were unfamiliar – it was as if she had never read the book before. This was occurring more and more and she was coming to the conclusion that one day she would be reading the same book over and over again, each time would be the first.
Jack D. Ballard