CALHOUN ORIGINATED HALF-RUNNER BEANS? - Peyton, Urbanic And Staats On Radio, "Let The Big Cat Jump"

By Bob Weaver 2001

Did you know half-runner beans originated in Calhoun County? Charleston Daily Mail columnist Dave Peyton gave the inside scoop to Michael Feldman on National Public Radio yesterday. Peyton, among our favorite West Virginia columnists, appeared on "Whad'Ya Know," with other West Virginians, live from Charleston.

It was a wonderful, humorous and exciting program from the Mountain State.

Calhoun resident and chef, Tim Urbanic, appeared on the show with Feldman, talking about his Sutton restaurant Cafe Cimino. SEE earlier Hur Herald story DiningSpot. Urbanic gave up his career as a mental health professional and raising draft horses to open his popular gourmet establishment.

He told Feldman "I started playing with food when I was a kid. "Cafe Cimino specializes in Italian Food, but also features West Virginia trout from Tucker County and some fine steak. Tim brought an array of the restaurants specialties for Feldman to sample.

Well-known WV musician Johnny Staats talked about his musical career. "I hurt my fingers playing instruments," which hurt his football career, he said. The accomplished mandolin player said he recently went to France to perform.

"I had a little trouble there," he told Feldman. "I kept saying gracias when they served me." Staats said he got some strange looks when he said, "That tower doesn't look like its leaning to me." Staats, said one of the band members told him, "You're in the wrong part of town."

Lisa, from out of state, called in for the Quiz portion of the show. She asked to say, hello to friends in Calhoun County, especially, Jean and Bill of Boogerhole.

Peyton said a Calhoun woman took the half-runner beans (that only grow half-way up the pole) to a Summersville merchant, who later claimed the origin of the seed. "We cook 'em to death around here and throw a lot of stuff on them to make 'em right," he said. Peyton said northerners run 'em under hot tap water, indicating they taste like plastic food.

The columnist revealed he sits in his underwear in his Huntington residence and writes his well-known column. "West Virginia has a wonderful state of mind," he said. "We know tragedy well." He said we lean on fatalism and have the meddle to see us through. Such cultural traits will help America survive the current crisis, he continued.

Peyton often writes about West Virginia originals, like his long-time friend Aunt Ginny, who died at age 93. Dave said, "The chain-smoking, finally got her." Aunt Ginny always said "If you're born to hang, you'll never drown. So let the big cat jump." He explained her old saying means "Bring it on," we're tough.

With massive layoffs happening and more pending, news sources just printed the country is headed for a recession. Calhouner's and many poor West Virginia counties will be little affected, use to hunkering down during a booming economy. Aunt Ginny's saying, quoted by Peyton will likely apply, "Bring it on!"

Peyton talked about celtic culture and tribalism in the state. As a resident of Huntington he thought the people in Charleston were "uppity." It reminded me of visiting a family about a mile downhill from the faded Village of Hur, holler dwellers. "Those people up there at Hur try to run everything," they said. Only eleven of us, including children, lived in the village at the time.

Peyton told Feldman he is hopeful some West Virginia originals are still living up the hollers to help us through the tough times. You can read Dave's editorials in the Charleston Daily Mail and by visiting PeytonPlace.

If you missed the broadcast, visit Whad'YaKnow. Saturday's show will be added soon.