By Bob Weaver
The lyrics of the "West Fork Valley Home" says you'll find "sassafras tea, hominy, sow jowls and corn bread." You might not find all those things at the Whytsell Reunion, but you'll find some really great country food.
The people who come to the Whytsell Reunion come to eat and talk, but most importantly they are "people of place," well-rooted in the Calhoun clay and connected to one another, a real sense of community.
They come to the grove - Whytsell Park - along the West Fork of the Little Kanawha, to spend a little time together, sharing a meal, listening to some music and talking, talking, talking.
Randall (left), now deceased, was in rare form, shown
here with daughter Peggy Whytsell Stemple
For over 40 years, Randall sang his tune, "My West Fork Valley Home" for those attending.
The reunion always known for its big spread is now fortified with the memory of Randall and his wife Blanche (both deceased), who once busied themselves for days before the annual event.
Marvin and Peggy Whytsell Stemple carry on the tradition. "Most notable is the well over one hundred people who once attended and are no longer with us," said Peggy.
Most notable in the long photo archive - those who have passed into the beyond.
You don't have to be Whytsell to attend, with many neighbors and friends coming from far and wide.
"MY WEST FORK VALLEY HOME"
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.