Wednesday and Friday of this week found me making deliveries into the hinterlands of what I sometimes semi-jokingly call “enemy territory.” There is always some friction between people living on opposite sides of any border, and so it is with the two states that share the bulk of the Ohio River as their boundary. Buckeyes like to think of mountaineers (aka “hillbillies”) as hicks, while mountaineers tend to consider buckeyes to be arrogant jerks (or worthless nuts). I’ve found there to be plenty of both on either side of the river, but still, I have to admit, there IS a difference. A couple small experiments bear this out.
I’ve mentioned in times past that I’m a “waiver”—one of those strange country souls who waves at nearly everyone. Needless to say, I waved at all the other dump truck drivers that I met on the road over there, and there were dozens of dozens of them over the course of Wednesday. At the end of the day, only two had waved back, plus one semi-driver who actually waved first. In my home state, 90% of them would have waved back.
Friday, I was delivering to the same well-site again,….and waving again. There were probably only half as many trucks on the road that day, but the total of those waving back was six. Those had a familiar look and were, I suspect, guys that remembered me waving at them on Wednesday. Still not very many, but progress, I suppose.
I was tempted to write it off as being an influence of northern city mentality, since some of the trucks could have been from larger cities to the north, come south to find work. However, that wouldn’t jive with the second experiment. You see, I also waived at anyone caught outdoors, such as feeding their cattle, mowing their yard, getting their mail and so on. In two days, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON WAVED BACK! They just looked at me as if I must SURELY be insane. (Maybe I am, but I don’t mind.) Back home nearly all would have waved.
There IS a difference folks, though I’ll leave explaining it to the “experts” on the government dole somewhere. My wife does offer an opinion on the matter; she says that it’s because of the high incidence of German blood in Ohio, as opposed to the mostly Scots-Irish of West Virginia. I find that both interesting and amusing, since both she and I have more German blood than anything else!
The well-site that we were delivering to was about ten miles back Rt. # 556 from Clarington, on the Ohio River. It was located in Switzerland Township of Monroe County. It was rugged, but beautiful country, similar to the hillier regions of Doddridge, Richie or Tyler counties of my own state. Most of the hill farms were in various stages of reverting to forest, but there were still more active farmers there than in many of our counties.
It was the sort of land that I’ve always said God intended to grow trees. Still, if the people who settled it came largely from Switzerland, it probably seemed downright tame, compared to the Alps. The Swiss influence is still somewhat evident in the number of bank barns that remain, though you can tell that many more used to be there. Many of the old barns have been replaced by the featureless metal-boxes-on-concrete-pads that pass for barns these days. Oh well, at least some of the land is still being farmed. Most of my own state is growing up into those trees that I mentioned. A little green grass DOES add some welcome contrast to the beautiful monotony of rolling, wooded hills. © 2015