Sunday, August 25, 2013

"If you ain't where you are, you're no place."

These profound words, uttered by Colonel Sherman Potter of one of the greatest TV shows ever made, M*A*S*H, have always rung true to me and they hit home more than usual this morning when I read a snarky comment from someone on Facebook.  I don't know this person and wouldn't share the name even if I did, but she was commenting on the fact that a mutual friend, someone I do know, had moved to a big city from our hometown of Parkersburg, WV.  Her response was essentially that it was great that she had gotten away and she should never come back.  Maybe I'm becoming even more of a curmudgeon than I think I am, but that person's words really rubbed me the wrong way.

I was born in Parkersburg very nearly 50 years ago and, aside from short periods when I went away for schooling, I've lived here ever since.  Sure, there are things about it that I might change if I had the chance, but not many and I have a feeling I would regret it afterward if I were given the power to make those alterations, because every action has consequences, many unforeseeable.  Sure, it would be nice to have a bigger venue for sports and concerts here so we could get some famous names in and maybe a minor league baseball team.  But what do we get along with that?  More traffic, more crime, more noise.  In other words, more of the stuff that I live in Parkersburg to avoid.

I think of my beloved hometown as being kind of like Goldilocks.  Not too big, not too small, but just right. There's plenty to do, with some sort of events going on nearly every weekend.  I'm a runner and there are enough races to keep me broke paying for registrations on a regular basis.  There are concerts every single week during the summer in any of several scenic parks in and around Parkersburg.  In the fall, there are football games every weekend and in the spring you can watch track, softball, baseball, and tennis.  No, they aren't professionals, but they're something better--people who play their sport for the love of it.

And we're Goldilocksian in another way.  We're an hour's drive from Charleston and about two hours from Morgantown, Pittsburgh, Huntington, and Columbus, all places with those big-city amenities so many people moan that we lack.  Major college sports and even professional sports, big-name musicians, Broadway-quality theater, and so much more are just two hours away.  And when the show's over, I can come home to my quaint, quiet, friendly hometown.

I love this place so much that I made it the setting of my books.  My heroes could live anywhere, but like me, they chose to come back here after their education and try to make Parkersburg a better place rather than do the two things that too many people do: leave, taking their skills and energy away from here or stay and complain about how much they hate it.  If you really do hate where you are, by all means, go somewhere else.  It will make you happier and it will certainly bring joy to those who don't have to listen to you rant about this place we love.  Hearkening back to the words of the counter-counter-culture of the 60's and 70's, I end with these words:

Parkersburg--love it or leave it.  
A lovely sunset from Point Park

A view of the Belpre Bridge from Fort Boreman Park 
Blennerhassett Island as seen from Fort Boreman Park

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