SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - 1999: Calhoun More Old Than New, Lurching Into New Millennium


By Bob Weaver/New Years Eve 1999

The new millennium is a few ticks away.

Most of us will pass across this historical moment, and will use it to illuminate the human condition and progress - it's cultural and religious ties, as the past two thousand years go by.

It will be a time of inventory taking, with elements of fear and uncertainly wrapped in a grand celebration.

We'll think of the passages, thresholds, horizons, achievements and changes.

It's mind boggling!

Progress has it's paradoxes, and despite the wealth of human achievement, we paradoxically have deep rooted problems in society, worrisome and unresolved.

We still have starving nations and we continue to kill each other, sometimes in masses.

I have often said that Calhoun County, unlike most parts of America, is barely out of the wilderness.

It has only been a short time ago that we got some paved roads, that bridges replaced ferries on the Little Kanawha, the crank phone was eliminated, and electric came to our rural villages.

It was a long journey when we traveled out of the county to Parkersburg or Charleston, and roads have improved in the past 50-75 years.

They follow the same pick and shovel and dynamite built routes dug out in the early part of the 20th century.

In many ways we are still an isolated bunch, and some feel that is a virtue.

Most of our ancestors over 100 years ago rarely crossed the county line, let alone the Ohio River or out of state.

Calhoun remains a safe, unspoiled and beautiful place, mostly undeveloped, while life has dramatically changed on the other hand.

We seem so far behind, particularly when it comes to providing basic job opportunities and services, which the rest of America seems to gloat about.

Broadband has been an endless political promise for years to help rural areas to develop businesses, healthcare and become better educated, a battle to which I had been dedicated.

Calhoun's farming economy and cultural life was uplifted in the early part of this century with the oil and gas boom, but even that has faded and our children had to leave to find even basic jobs by the 1950's.

I once pledged to quit telling people about all the stores, jobs and activity in the county - the way "things use to be."

Now, the rush is on for the 21st Century.

The information, automaton age, and artificial intelligence, is pushing aside the industrial age (which mostly ignored Calhoun and West Virginia's rural counties anyway) leaving an empty feeling of being left behind.

A political movement to globalize made it even worse.

I find it disappointing how little we know about our own county and it's people since 1856, folks are not much interested in history and civics, with volunteerism fading.

In this new millennium we will likely continue to use strong survival skills while we entertain ourselves to death with media and conspicuously consume to take our mind away from troubles.

As the population of Calhoun declines, I cling to the stories of early families and their struggles, hopes, and dreams, mostly lost and forgotten, except a few stories we have dredged for the Herald.

So, here comes 2000.

It is likely that most of us will stay up to the midnight tick and look up and out across our hills with wonderment and contemplation about what is next.

There will be plenty of trinkets, booklets, novels, TV shows, movies, tunes, extravaganzas, fireworks, choirs and political speeches.

The end of the world will be prophesied by Jerry Falwell and others, and some folks on the fuzzy fringe will act strange, maybe even dangerous. Y2K will come and go, likely fleecing some folks.

The Christian world will rightfully reflect on the impact of Christ during the past 2000 years, considered by many to be the most significant event of the ages.

Other spiritual beliefs give countenance to different gods and higher powers.

Steven Hawking, the eminent physicist and possibly the most brilliant mind since Albert Einstein, acknowledges the mystical connection between physics and the unknown.

The question has been and still remains - Where did it start? What started it? Who started it? What was there before? And where is it going?

Fortunately we have theologians who have given such answers, those who understand and are willing to explain it to us. Surely, we can all mind-buzz with these questions later in the the new millennium.

Hawking said that when we have the answers, then we will understand God.

So, when the big 2000 rollover happens, we will think about all these things, like it or not, after which life will return to its abnormal.

If we are fortunate, that Great Power will still be in charge.

Welcome to the new millennium.

Postscript: My 87-year-old dad wanted to live into the new millennium. He read this little column and said "That's about the way it is."

On New Year's Eve he joined our family and lots of friends for a giant bonfire on Hur Hill and lots of fireworks.

He was not feeling well, but expressed great joy about being there at that time and place. Tears fell down his cheeks. "Well, I made it. Seen a lot, you know," he said.

Nine months later he died.

Welcome to the 21st Century.