It’s true — almost. See what I did there?
Full disclosure: while I was born at Wheeling Hospital, I grew up in St. Clairsville, Ohio (go Red Devils!) As often as I could, I spent holidays and summers in Gilmer County long before I made it my permanent residence. The Mountain State is indescribable to people who’ve never visited.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also home to a few Vampires.
The great state of West Virginia has a look, feel, and flavor all its own (not that kind of flavor). Beautiful mountain country mostly unspoiled by industry, a small but dedicated population far less backward than popular movies and television would have you believe, and a state-wide small-town feel that’s entirely different from everywhere else. Our state capital of Charleston boasts less than 60,000 people; New York City alone has over four times the population of our entire state.
But why “a Heaven for Vampires?” For one, it’s a peaceful place; we like that. Mountaineers take care of their own — whether related by blood or part of our extended family. People work together. There’s a work ethic here that things have to get done and nobody else is around to do them, so even if your nearest neighbor is five miles down the road, they’re still willing to help out. There’s also a mandatory relax ethic, too, so when the work’s done, it’s done. Anyone looking to get away from all the craziness and still reside within the continental United States couldn’t do much better.
The native terrain has kept too much major industry from ruining the state (though they still try). Away from major roadways like I-77 and I-79, most businesses don’t stay open too late and “roll up the sidewalks” at sundown. If you’re used to cities that never sleep, that isn’t here.
Sadly, things are changing now. The younger generation is being lured away by more lucrative out-of-state work, leaving the elderly to fend for themselves or fend off their remaining relatives looking for easy money. Heroin use has replaced Hillbilly Hash as the recreational drug of choice, and violent drug-related crimes have increased. Fracking and other industrial pollutants threaten an ecosystem that has survived unscathed for centuries is hurting the vital state tourism trade.
But like all Americans, Hill Folk will only take so much pushing around. We see more than we say, and we think more than you know. West “By God” Virginia is home, and we’re willing to share if outsiders are willing to take care of it and one another. Make no mistake; we see everything.
All the drug dealers, the industrial polluters, and anyone else trying exploit the Mountain State?
They won’t get away with it.
I promise — and I’m not alone.
Montani Semper Liberi.
Keep each other safe.