SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Sober And Dumbfounded "The Greenbriar"

By Bob Weaver

Staying sober in Durbin, West Virginia, was an eye-opener about the rigors of alcoholism, traveling to the small Pocahontas County town with my two young children, en-route to Cass Scenic Railway in the 1970s.

I had doubled-downed not to drink booze on the road trip with my kids in-tow, leaving my funeral home in Weston, checking into the mountain town's "illustrious" Greenbriar Hotel, a $5 buck a night place, no comparison to the WV resort.

I had spend a few nights in the old three-story hotel before, with creaky bed springs, 1920 furnishings and a large front porch on which to imbibe, often visiting with like-minded folks from the area for late night conservation.

During an earlier visit I met a permanent boarder of the facility, a college professor in his 40s from the northeast, who confided he came to Durbin to commit suicide. Attempting to befriend him, he appeared to become more morose and depressed over time, never learning what happened to him.

Back to my sober trip with my kids.

That night we turned in rather early for an early morning start to Cass. About midnight I was awakened with some serious discomfort with my digestive system and a fuzzy brain.

Dressing, I went down to the lobby to be met by owner Ms. Dunfee, an robust elderly woman who described herself as an "old maid," whose family had owned the hotel since time began. She expressed concern over my medical condition, preparing a bucket of hot water with Epsom Salts in which to place my feet and a dose of Pepto Bismol .

The home remedies gave little relief, and after some time my body began to shake, rattle and roll. Alarmed, the kind lady called for an ambulance, and she awakened my kids, got them dressed and we headed to an Elkins hospital, some distance away, minus Ms. Dunfee.

The ambulance driver and his assistant had enjoyed a few throw-backs with me during an earlier visit.

After being rolled into the ER, a doctor familiar to me entered the room to commence the examination, shortly stating, "I know what's wrong with this man. He needs a drink." That doctor was in charge of detoxing me some months earlier.

A short time later I was administered a glass of liquor and in short order my symptoms went away and I returned to normal.

For the first time I learned about the travails of alcohol withdraw, commonly known as DTs, having not stayed off the elixir for any extended time.

About two years later, in a downhill spiral, with the support of my family, some devoted friends, treatment, Alcoholics Anonymous and a Higher Power, I've now been sober 45 years, after abandoning my career as the happy drunk undertaker to work in field of treating alcoholism and drug addiction for about 20 years.