MOUNTAIN HERITAGE RISES TO THE TOP - First Annual West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Reunion

(06/21/2002)

Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher

Supreme Court Justice Larry Starcher gave a history lesson yesterday on the comings and goings of West Virginia's capitol, during the state's first sixty years. Starcher, a native of Roane County and Golden Horseshoe recipient, spoke at the first West Virginia Golden Horseshoe Alumni Reunion at Glenville State College.

A number of recipients of "The Horseshoe," whose knowledge of West Virginia history has been recognized, attended the event. It is fascinating to consider their achievements, these years since 1934. It made the reunion special.

Judge Starcher recalled his early connections to Rocksdale and Henry's Fork in Calhoun County, and his boyhood days in Spencer. Starcher concluded the only thing left in Rocksdale is part of a stone cellar, and "It's covered with vines."

Appalachian author John O'Brien

The reunion was the kick-off for the West Virginia State Folk Festival, and featured author John O'Brien, whose best selling book "At Home in the Heart of Appalachia" has received popular acclaim. O'Brien, who lives in Franklin, WV, spoke well of the spirit and heart of West Virginia people, often ignored and stereotyped by the rest of America.

O'Brien describes West Virginia as a world of extravagant beauty, lush with green mountains, deep forests, ice-cold trout streams, and small hill farms.

More importantly he describes West Virginia people and culture, old and deeply rooted. He describes the best of mountain character, often dispelled by reporting and myth-making by outsiders.

He also tells the truth about "rapacious greed" inflicted upon mountain people by corporations and politicians who have extracted and exploited the landscape, and how it has affected the lives of West Virginia people.

During the day, O'Brien shared his sensitive views of his beloved West Virginia.

Writer Jack Cawthon and wife, Shirley

While several dozen recipients of the Golden Horseshoe received recognition by Executive Director Dr. Phil Cottrill, Morgantown writer, columnist and Horseshoe winner, Jack Cawthon (and his wife Shirley) talked of his early days in Gilmer County.

Cawthon was once West Virginia's youngest newspaper editor, and was editor of the old West Virginia conservation magazine and long-time columnist for the West Virginia Hillbilly. His current triumph, is his much-read column inside The Hur Herald. "If I could just figure how to operate that contraption, I'd do better," referring to a computer. He still bangs on his antique typewriter, but is expected to enter the new millennium within the next five years.

Ritchie native and writer Mary Lucille Deberry,
now retired from WV Public TV

Former Ritchie County resident and writer, Mary Lucille DeBerry, now retired from West Virginia Public Television, met with the group throughout the day. We recalled meeting her father, the late Judge Max DeBerry of Ritchie County, who spoke at a Calhoun County High School commencement in the late 1950's. "I think it's unusual to remember your commencement speaker," she said.

"The Well Ain't Dry Yet" - Belinda Anderson

Monroe County author Belinda Anderson autographed her book "The Well Ain't Dry Yet."

Meanwhile, in downtown Glenville, Calhoun's Fiddlin' Jake Krack helped start the Folk Festival with a few fiddle tunes. The festival continues through Sunday.

Fiddlin' Jake opens Folk Festival


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