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We are living in what must be the scariest time that nearly any of us have ever witnessed. My concern is mostly with the younger generation, especially the younger children, who cannot fully understand what is going on in our barely functional society. School kids, including high school and college students, are bumfuzzled as to what lies in their future from one day to the next. Parents are undoubtedly frustrated, especially those who try to work for a living and cannot afford to stay home with their smaller children.

Today’s dilemma makes me realize that while growing up, I really didn’t know how fortunate I was. As I recall, about the only thing that put a scare into this coal camp kid and others was when the word got around that there was a rabid dog on the loose somewhere in the neighborhood — a neighborhood that we thought consisted of miles in both directions of the road that sliced through our coal camp.

We also were forewarned by parents and neighbors about playing in the surrounding hills where there could be “mining breaks.” For those who don’t know, a mining break is simply an unintentional opening above a coal mine below. I recall of many deer falling into an abandoned mine, and of hearing their waning cries beneath the earth.

I remember learning about what had to happen if someone killed a mad dog that was usually found to be slobbering at the mouth and thought to have rabies. Fortunately, I never witnessed the action, but the dog’s head had to be cut off and taken to Logan to what I believe back then was the Health Department, where employees there somehow determined if the animal was indeed rabid. If found to be rabid, we were warned, the person bitten by the animal would also go mad, a thought none of us relished.

Aside from the fear of mad dogs, parents allowed their children to do just about anything they desired — venture into the hills, climb trees and swing on grape vines; build cabins; camp out under the summer stars in sleeping bags; wade the creeks; go blackberry picking in summer; build bonfires and roast potatoes in the ashes, or marshmallows in the flames; shoot bb guns (stupidly, at each other sometimes); play inside parked and empty coal cars, and we placed coins — usually pennies — on the rails to be flattened by oncoming trains. For us, freedom was not just a word found in the U.S. Constitution.

Riding sleighs down hillsides in the winter and peddling bicycles during summer was a seasonal highlight in addition to playing whatever sport was in season — be it basketball, baseball or football. When a parent would say “Go play outside,” that’s exactly what we did.

Not all outdoor activities were organized and sometimes we just relied on our imagination and energy. For most of the girls, playing with “Jacks,” playing “Hop Scotch,” “Jump Rope,” and “Mother May I” kept them busy, while the boys were more into activities like “Lost Trail” or “Tin Can Alley”, usually during evenings and nights. Of course, playing marbles was mostly a guy’s thing to do, but “Hide and Seek” was played by all. Apart from marbles, exercise was a hidden pearl of health resulting from these community endeavors, not that we realized it.

It is terribly unfortunate that during today’s times parents are afraid to even allow their kids to play much outside of their homes or other lodgings due to rampant drug use, with possible drug-infested needles lying on the ground in too many communities. Kids need to be encouraged to enjoy the outdoors, especially during this pandemic period. It just needs to be done safely.

It saddens me when I enter a local store and see small children having to wear facemasks. Perhaps the youngsters should not be out in public at all, but I also realize some parents have no choice in the matter. Not everyone has a reliable babysitter.

With schools in so much jeopardy and uncertainty, I can’t help but wonder what will come of it all. Teaching virtually is not going to work for far too many school kids, some whose parents or grandparents will not be able — for one reason or another — to assist in the learning process. At the same time, one must be concerned for the children, teachers, principals and other school personnel, if kids return to school in person. In short, I do not envy school board members or other educational leaders who must try to remedy a situation in which they have no real control of.

Unfortunately, in the long run it will be the kids who may lose out from both an educational perspective and an emotional perspective, as their world has been turned upside down, more so than even our own.

Just think. About the only time kids enjoy wearing masks is at Halloween. And it appears that holiday will likely not be observed in this crazy year of 2020 — the year of the masks.


Last week in a writing concerning the Hatfield Cemetery, I mentioned the unusual home built of sandstone that is situated on Route 44 not far from the famed cemetery. I noted that the house was built by Robert Hatfield, a son of Devil Anse. However, the house was actually built by the son of Anderson “Cap” Hatfield, who named his son after Cap’s brother, Robert.

Anyway, what is somewhat peculiar, aside from the fact that I am unaware of any other house in Logan County that is built similarly, is that the last name of the people who now own the “stone house” is in fact “Stone.” Older folks should remember Janice Stone, who at one time operated a restaurant at what is now the Chief Logan State Park Museum. Janice owns the property at Stirrat and I hope to speak with her or family members for a history story I’ve got planned, which relates to the Hatfield family. Nearly every piece of property in Sarah Ann, Stirrat and Crystal Block was owned at one point in time by a Hatfield.

For those people interested in the Mamie Thurman story and the trial concerning her murder, here’s a tidbit of information you may appreciate. Mamie was almost 32 years old when her life was so viciously taken in 1932. Harry Robertson, one of her many lovers, was head bookkeeper at First National Bank of Logan and president of the City Commission, which today is known at Logan City Council.

Described by The Banner as “one of the most prominent men in Logan,” no one at the time could understand why Harry insisted that Jack Thurman, Mamie’s husband, be hired as a city policeman. The newspaper questioned it publicly, but Harry ended up getting one officer fired and Jack Thurman hired.

If you think about it, during the hard times of the Great Depression, Harry, who rented to the Thurmans, was getting a guaranteed rental income by Thurman’s hiring and it also gave him easy access to his backyard tenant, Mamie Thurman. The history of Logan is so very interesting, to say the least.

DID YOU KNOW that at the time of Mamie’s death Harry Robertson was 40 years old and had two children, a boy and a girl. Men sometimes become idiots and women sometimes do whatever it takes to survive, or to get ahead.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “Judge not and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” — Luke 6:37

CLOSING NOTE: While the virus is slowly creating more local deaths, we should realize that there are far more people dying locally from the overdosing of drugs than there are from the virus. No wonder Magistrate Leonard Codispoti says he will be glad to — in his words — “get out of this place.” Leonard will be retiring in a few months, but his name will also live on in his son named after him — Martin Leonard Codispoti, a well-liked nurse practitioner at Chapmanville Primary Care, which is located at the old Logan bus terminal in Logan, also the former location of Radio Shack of Logan. While Martin may not have any political aspirations, I don’t know that I can say the same for his father.

Dwight Williamson is a former writer for the Logan Banner. He is now a magistrate for Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.