CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Looking For Wirt In All The Wrong Places

(03/01/2001)

Burvil was sitting at a table in the Blue Moon with the Wall Street Journal spread before him intently scanning the stock listings when I walked in.

"Can't find hit," he drawled. "Can't find what?" I asked, and as soon as I did I knew I had made a mistake, much like when you smell gas and then absent mindedly light a match to determine the source.

"Wirt County," he replied, and I knew that I was in for not only a lesson in economics but one dealing with mysteries older than the Pyramids. Well, I had gone this far, so the next logical question was to ask why he might be looking for Wirt County in the vicinity of Wall Street.

"I want to invest in hit," and he gave me a look as if to say this is our secret. "Hit's a gonna merge with Wood County and I want some stock afore hand," and I knew this mystery was deeper than I had suspected.

Once Burvil is on a roll there is no use in trying to stop him, and, to be honest, I didn't want to as I figured there must be a story somewhere behind his unusual quest.

"The Charleston Gazette is gonna merge it with Wood County and I want stock cause people who have stock in little banks make out like bandits when they merge with big 'uns," he continued.

He said that if Wood County gets Wirt then Kanawha might go after Wood and a fellow could end up owning a big stake in Charleston before he knew it.

He went on to relate how a fellow he knew had stock in a little country bank that got gobbled up by a bigger one and then the bigger one got taken over by still a bigger one and the man ended up owning stock in a bank that won't even cash his checks now because his computer number couldn't keep up with the mergers.

Burvil said that that bank had been like the Ohio River but was now bigger than all of us put together. I didn't get a connection between banks and the Ohio River, but he cleared it up by saying that the bank like the river had been one bank for all of West Virginia.

It still was unclear why he thought that Wirt County was for sale. I tried to explain that the good people of Wirt County, as well as the citizens of West Virginia, might have something to say about such mergers, even if the Charleston Gazette had given its approval.

Know what he told me? Said I was jealous because I didn't think of it first! And that I probably didn't have money like he did anyway to invest. Burvil having money was news to me as he is always bumming from me to help some "poor little kids" over on Little Wheeze Crick but which I suspect he spends on some vices of his own.

He seemed more than happy to explain the source of his funds. He said Homer Bob had paid him "comp" time wages after reading about the Republicans in Charleston who took the money and then paid it all back.

Burvil said Homer Bob thought that he, Burvil, was a Republican and would pay it back in a day or two, but he added he was going to fool him by turning Democrat and keeping it. Therefore, he was going to invest all $39.45 in stock of Wirt County as he figured that might get him noticed when the Parkersburg county officials started looking around. He hoped for a job taking care of the court house in Elizabeth so that if there was ever a spillover in Wood County it would be ready-but he hoped not too often.

In the meantime, he figured on having fun fishing in the Little Kanawha, living on the dividends paid out by Wood. I knew it was useless to explain the impossible to Burvil. I simply told him he couldn't believe everything he reads in the newspapers.

I know, because I have written some of it.


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