REMEMBERING: DAVID BARR HATHAWAY COMES HOME - 'Oh Earth, You're Too Wonderful For The Living'

By Bob Weaver 2009

"You can't go home again," was etched in the national consciousness by Thomas Wolfe's novel.

It has come to mean that one can't go back home to your childhood, back home to a person's dreams of glory and fame, back home to the old ways of doing things which once seemed everlasting, but which have escaped time and memory.

Educator David Barr Hathaway (1924-2009) a man of many seasons and talents, came home this weekend to Bethlehem Cemetery, close to his place of origin. After leaving Grantsville to fight in World War II, he continued to cherish his roots.

The Hathaway family remembers David at
quiet memorial Saturday at Bethlehem Cemetery

David has come home, but absent was a grand welcoming party, simply because people who knew him live in far-away places, and most have gone to the grave.

David Barr Hathaway (1924-2009)

It is the plague of aging that softens the memories of growing up, folks reveling in their reminisces. Some say such memories are delusional, not connected to the way things really were.

David would disagree, as would I.

It was a time in rural Calhoun that people were more connected to the place and each other, before the Internet, television, Facebook, I-phones and video gaming.

Small town folks reveled in each other, face to face, dealing with conflict, mistakes and disappointments, or sharing the joys of friendships, thresholds, and successes.

The town of Grantsville was bustling during the day and late into the evening, often folks just coming to town to visit, or to participate in at least a dozen civic and social groups, in addition to attending church.

Grantsville has faded like most West Virginia mountain towns, its' lifeblood to be centralized, merged, consolidated, and now even globalized.

Robert Putnam, in his award-winning book, "Bowling Alone," after lengthy research says we're moving into a period where people are increasingly disconnected from one another.

In 2018, an extensive study says that more Americans are feeling lonely, despite the many electronic devices that "connect" them.

David was passionately connected to his place on earth, fondly recalling his family, friends, adventures, photography, music and education.

Jim Hardman of Grantsville said Barr once strung wires to the houses of several friends all over town to be connected to telegraph keys, and once built an illegal AM radio station in his family chicken house to broadcast a signal around town. He played records and had local sponsors.

His friend Dr. Charles Albert Stump admitted that David and his friends had a touch of the devil of dubious excitement, mostly harmless in nature.

David's love of life and place have always been an inspiration, sometimes saying that the Hur Herald has followed in his path. He gave inspiration to photograph and write about life on this tiny slice of earth.

He reminded me of my feelings to my people and place, which has mostly been a blessing, but on some days a curse.

While his high school friend Von Yoak sang at his grave site in the expansive Bethlehem Cemetery, where many repose, I reflected on the words from Wilder's "Our Town."

The Bethlehem Cemetery near Grantsville

The Stage Manager in "Our Town" describes his cemetery:

"Yes, an awful lot of sorrow has sort of quieted down up here. People just wild with grief have brought their relatives up to this hill - and then times - sunny days - rainy days - snow - We all know how it is."

"A lot of thoughts come up here, night and day, but there's no post office. Now there are some things we all know but we don't take'm out and look at'm very often."

"We all know that something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't earth, and it ain't even the stars."

"Everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings."

"All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years, and yet you'd be surprised how people are always letting go of that fact."

"There's something way down deep that's eternal about every human being…"

Welcome home David.


DAVID BARR HATHAWAY 1924-2009 - He Treasured Roots And Memories