|WHYTSELL REUNION SET FOR AUG. 7, 2016|
By Bob Weaver, November, 2007
Randall Whytsell, after 91 years, has left his West Fork Valley home.
He passed away quietly this morning getting ready to go the Grantsville senior center.
Randall had a life-time love affair with his place on the earth and its people, most who have come and gone.
He reveled in the life and times, the history, of the lower West Fork Valley, between Rocksdale and Richardson, whose villages are but ghostly images to the rest of us.
In casual conversation about ten years ago, Randall brought up a discussion about the Village of Hassig, where he resides, after which, with his help we brought to life a story about the long-gone village, whose existence was so short-lived it didn't even make a county map.
Randall had plowed-up lots of old beer bottles from his fields, thrown there by customers from Hassigs two saloons, circa 1905.
He carried on with the Whytsell Reunion after his stalwart wife Blanche passed away, with the help of his daughter, Peggy and son-in-law Marvin Stemple.
We owe Randall a deep debt of gratitude for his generous outpouring, much of which has been recorded, of Calhoun country life in the 20th century.
I told him a while back, that we have enough stories and detail to write a book about his "West Fork Valley Home."
If Heaven be a place of recall and memory, surely Randall will continue to re-live the rise and fall of the Village of Richardson, the gas boom days, hunting and fishing, and the people who made it all possible.
Rest high along your river, Randall.
"MY WEST FORK VALLEY HOME" was first sung by he and his late brother Woodrow, first appearing on Parkersburg radio in 1940:
In the West Fork Valley far away where people take their ease
they dance all night and sleep all day and wake up when they please
Where a man of means eats turnip greens while the common folks are fed
sassafras tea, hominy, sow jowls and corn bread
But the robin bird keeps singing in the laurel and the spruce
The old cow bells keep ringing as the cows come home to roost
The sun goes down and the moon comes up just like it's always done
Then we'll pick old Kentucky in my West Fork Valley home
My West Fork girl don't use face paint
She has no use for such
And in a crowd she don't curse loud or drink corn likker much
She has never smoked a cigarette
She's far too nice and good
She always smokes a corn cob pipe like a proper lady should
Now I've got a mule on the West Fork creek who has no maw or paw
I whip him fifteen times a day to teach him gee and haw
When his feed get scarce, I go to town and spend green backs on hay
To make him think the old corn stalks I'm feeding him is hay
While walking with my city girl we met a big pole cat
I told her they made furs and muffs and fuzzy things like that
She said I think I'll capture him
I wonder what I'll make
And I said sister my guess is you'll make a big mistake