My Daughters and their Husbands

My Daughters and their Husbands
This blog will be bits and pieces of my rather simple life, but should provide my daughters with some things they may not know about me. There will be entries here when thoughts come to mind. The posts will be mostly anecdotal and will deal with interesting or unusual events in my earlier life. As a person gets older, many memories pop up periodically about events of the past. I want this blog to be a repository for some of these memories which I wish to share with my daughters.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

John Emerson Hoffman (born August 24, 1908)


(AUGUST 24, 2010) Today would have been my father's 102 birthday.

He was born in West Virginia and lived most of his life there, moving to Maryland in his late 60s. He died in La Plata, MD, in December 1980, 3 months before he got to meet his first grandchild, Christy. My dad's father (Noah Emerson Washington Hoffman) was a "fire boss" in the coal mines of Southern West Virginia. The fire boss was the worker who went into the mine before the shift started and checked the air for methane gas. It was the fire boss who determined if the mine was safe for working. In early years he carried a canary in a cage. If the canary died, there was too much methane; if the canary lived, the shift would start. Later there was a lamp that was carried that detected the methane with the fire going out if there happened to be too much methane in the air.

My father was a hard working man who liked working with his hands. He enjoyed being a plumber. He started out working in plumbing with Crockett Mullins, the grandfather of my freshman year roommate and best friend in high school, Mike Mullins. My dad used to take Mike's dad to school when he worked there.

He then started his own company with a man I never met named Glenn Barger. In 1949 he started Hoffman Plumbing and Heating and worked out of our house on North Oakwood in Beckley until we moved to the house on North Kanawha between my freshman and sophomore year in high school. I worked for my father two summers - right out of high school and shortly after my first year of college. It was during these summers that I learned to appreciate how hard he worked and was anxious to get back to the classroom in the fall.

During the years I knew my father, he had white hair and blue eyes. He was quite muscular and had tanned arms since he did most of his work out of doors. He stood a little over 6' and, in my young eyes, was a very gentle giant. He got frustrated with me at times, as all father are wont to do, yelled at me a few times, threatened to give me a whipping with his belt, which he never did, and was a very loving father. He came from a family that was colder than the warmth he showed. I think my mother, whose family seemed to be warmer, helped to make my dad as he was.

I know he had a temper. There were times during the summers when I worked with him that he showed that temper. He would get frustrated with a tight pipe which wouldn't budge and utter an occasional "damn." Generally, though, he didn't cuss. There was a story he told me about working with Mr. Mullins, during my dad's apprentice years, when my dad had lost his temper working in a second floor bathroom, and got so angry he threw the pipe wrench out the window. Mr. Mullins made him go right out and get it and bring it back upstairs. Fortunately, the window was open when he threw the wrench.

My dad enjoyed fishing and would sometimes go on overnight fishing trips with friends on the New River. He brought back the fish, and my mom was expected to clean them, which she did without complaint. He also went hunting and would bring back some squirrels and rabbits for my mother to clean and fry up.

My dad never served in the military being too old to get drafted during WWII and too young for WWI. However, he did try to get into the SeaBees (Construction Battalion - they did construction work in war zones) of the Army but was denied because of some thyroid problem. My mother was headed to Charleston to join the Women's Army Corp. when she got word that my dad was not accepted into the CeeBees; she immediately came back home

During WWII my mother and father lived in Pearisburg, Virginia, where my dad worked at Celanese, a plastics plant that made war supplies. My dad worked as a pipe fitter during at least one year, and he and my mother talked about how with rations during the war, it was difficult for them to drive to Beckley to see family because of the gas shortage. They would turn the engine off of their car and coast down the mountains between Princeton and Pearisburg, for great distances, as they returned home.

During his retirement years in Maryland, he enjoyed visiting Sis and Brodie's farm. He would help Brodie doing chores and enjoyed driving the tractor on the farm and messing around in the barns. He enjoyed Cobb Island and made enjoyed the last years of his life there.

He was a man raised in the coal camps of West Virginia, but lived a good and rather simple life. He only took one long trip out of the mountains, and that was to Florida where he went with a neighbor to visit the neighbor's son and go fishing. He went down on a train; he never flew in an airplane. He did talk of a trip before I was born when he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to visit his father in a hospital there (your great grandfather was a veteran of the Spanish-American War). There were seveal trips to Washington, DC, but other than living the last few years of his life in Maryland, he traveled very little outside of West Virginia, though he did take us to visit relatives in North Carolina about twice a year.

Perhaps, his favorite place to visit was Nitro, West Virginia, where he would travel some weekends to visit Aunt Anna Lee and Woodie. There he, Mom, Aunt Anna Lee and Woodie would spend hours playing a game called BUMP, a board game with marbles. After supper they would often venture to the long side yard of the Nitro house and play lawn darts. My dad was competitive, but seemed to not really care whether he won or lost - he just enjoyed the fellowship of my mom and my aunt and uncle. He called Nitro his "rest home."

As for areas of creativity, my dad was a poet. He published a number of his poems in the Beckley newspapers in the 1920s and 30s. He also wrote a song that was copyrighted in 1930. The song was called "Mother of Mine."

This, I hope, gives an idea of who my father was. He provided for his family a good life, and gave my sister and me a ticket to our futures by encouraging our educational ventures. Education was very important to him. He graduated from high school and was a voracious reader. He and my mom were members of the Book of the Month Club and read many of the great works of literature when the works were merely called "popular literature." Though neither had a college education, they made sure that my sister and I did - it was important to them, and, for that, I will always be grateful.

Thursday, August 19, 2010



(AUGUST 22, 2010) For as long as I can remember, I have always attended church.

As a child, I was a member (baptized at 12) of the First Baptist Church in Beckley, WVA. The rule for me seemed to be that if the church doors were open, I'd be there. I went to Sunday School and church on Sunday mornings, BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) on Sunday evenings, choir practice on Wednesdays after school and then the Wednesday night supper.

Individual things I remember about each of these: Sunday School - We did a lot of coloring and pasting (white glue) and got to learn songs like "Jesus Loves Me.". I also remember that my mother NEVER went to Sunday School but always went to church while my dad NEVER went to church (except on special occasions), but ALWAYS went to Sunday School.

I had a 12 year perfect attendance record at the church for attending Sunday School. Whenever our family left town for vacation, we would always find a church on Sunday morning so I could attend Sunday School. For 12 years I never missed - and then I went to college. How do you say, "Back sliding?"

Since I never missed, that meant that my dad never missed either. I recall a very strong snow storm that came through Beckley. I was in high school at the time and my father and I walked from North Kanawha Street (where I lived) to the church through a very deserted and snow filled town. When we got to church, we were among a handful of those who had made it.

Right after Sunday School, my dad would drive home and pick up my mother. Sometimes I would sit with her in church - sometimes I'd sit with friends and she would sit with her friends. I do recall that her most favorite hymn was "Standing on the Promises." I recall standing beside her in church as she sang, but when this hymn came up, she sang much louder.

Another hymn memory I have of my mother is when she taught Tiffany the last verse of "Amazing Grace." That verse goes:

"When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun."

I recall that she had Tiffany sing "Amazing Grace" while traveling from Maryland, and then taught her that last stanza.

Brodie often thought that Tiffany should have gone to Nashville and was disappointed when Leann Rimes became the child star of that generation instead of our Tiffany.

Our BYF group was fun on Sunday evenings. We did what other youth groups did in other churches, but we often attracted other youth from other churches because our program was much stronger. I do recall that one of my youth leader heroes, Ed Butler, was dismissed by the congregation and lost his job. That made me very sad, and it split our church. I recall that congregational meeting when many adults, whom I'd had great respect and admiration for, spoke out against the man I felt to be good and kind. The vote was taken, Mr. Butler was out, and I was devastated as a junior in high school. I never felt the same about the church after that, but returned with the right spirit as an adult.

When school was in session, every Wednesday I went to choir practice. We would meet right before the Wednesday evening prayer meeting where a meal was served. Every time I smell meat loaf, I think of those meetings since it seemed that meat loaf was the major entree for Wednesday evenings. In choir I remember learning to pronounce "In excelsis" as if it were, "IN EGG SHELL SIS." Mr. Alan Staton, our high school band director, was also the minister of music during my high school years in the choir.

This covers some of my memories of church. I also have memories of church camp at Camp Cowan near Summersville, WV, and Green Lake, the Baptist conference center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I will write about those at another time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



(AUGUST 17, 2010) I loved baseball as a child.

I played from early morning until the sun went down. I watched professional games (in black and white) on television in the 1950s and 60s. I had (and still have) a Sandy Koufax baseball glove. I had a large collection of baseball cards which I don't know where they are presently. (NOTE: When I was in the, maybe, 4th or 5th grade, I bought baseball cards for 10 for 10 cents, and they came with bubble gum. I had a short period of entrepreneurship that year as one of my classmates liked my ball cards, and he paid me a nickle for each one. That, I learned, was a good return on my investment. For each 10 cent of investment, I would receive 50 cents. This went on for several days, and then someone told Bill that he could get them cheaper on his own, and he eliminated the "middle man," me.

During my early years I loved the New York Yankees. That was when Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Bobby Richardson, and Whitey Ford were among the top players, and they were all on the Yankees at one time.

In my later early years (age 12-20), the Cincinnati Reds were my team. They were also my dad's favorite (he liked the Cleveland Browns football team). Sparky Anderson was the Reds' colorful (pardon the pun) manager, and the team dominated the majors with their BIG RED MACHINE that included Pete "Charley Hustle" Rose and catcher and home run leader Johnny Bench. Was Bench "juicing" then? No one knows, and no one seemed to care back then. It was the age of innocence in baseball.

Now for my own, short, career. I played baseball for 4 years (9 and 10 in the minor league and 11 and 12 in Little League - my team was the Reds). My positions were 1st base, right field, and pitcher. Our team was NOT very good. We had a manager who wanted everyone to play, and there wasn't pressure to win, and we didn't win very many games.

My best friend, Roger Weikle, however, was on the Giants which was a team that had a much better winning record. They usually stomped us when they played. I remember pitching against the Giants, and Roger came up to bat. We kind of broke down in laughter at the thought of the situation while he was standing there. I think he got a hit - ouch. Later in the same game, he pitched to me. I either struck out or walked - I can't remember which one.

My mother, as did most mothers of the ball players, worked in the concession stand. Whenever I came up to bat, she left the building and watched.

I was a pretty good hitter. However, I wasn't a very good runner. I tended to run on my toes, and I would have to hit the ball almost out of the field to get a single. I did get on base most of the times I was at bat. When I didn't hit, I walked - I had a good eye.

I didn't progress to the upper league called Babe Ruth League. I found other interests and never played much baseball after that.

Your mother, however, did play softball for our church league (WMBC) the first couple of years we were members there. I worked in the concession stand (just kidding).

I have, at this date, only attended one professional baseball game in my life. The game was in 1966 and was in Washington, DC. The Washington Senators (now defunct) played the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles had some outstanding players at the time including Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson. The Orioles won the World Series that year. The Senators, as always, ended up in last place.

I still have a cursory interest in baseball, but could care less about college baseball and will, sometimes, enjoy watching several innings of a professional game on TV, usually falling asleep in about the 3rd or 4th inning and waking up when the game is over. I find baseball a little slow to watch on TV.

NOTE: I have a front chipped tooth that is regularly being repaired by Greg Howard. I got that one Saturday morning when I was running forward for a ball hit in my friend Roger's back yard, and Roger was running backwards for the same ball. We collided, and I got up missing part of my front tooth.

Sunday, August 15, 2010



(AUGUST 15, 2010) Long before Michael Jackson demonstrated his exotic move, Neil Armstrong did his own "Moonwalk."

Throughout my childhood I would hear about the space program. There was the Russian space ship, Sputnik, which we could see from Earth. Many families, in the late 1950s, would gather outside on their lawns on a clear night, look up at the stars together, and see who could spot the moving spaceship first. This was near the beginning of the space program that had the two world powers, the United States and the USSR, competing to send the first man to the moon.

During the early days of the space program, I remember hearing about a monkey and a dog that went into space. And then there were the "manned" space flights with the American astronauts and (Russian) cosmonauts circling the Earth in their space capsules and entering the earth's atmosphere in a fiery blaze and finally landing in the ocean (USA) or in a desert (USSR). I watched some of the rescues on black and white TV as a large helicopter hovered around the capsule bobbing around in the giant ocean.

There was also the launch of Telestar. This satellite was put into space for communications purposes and was the beginning of instant, worldwide communications as we know it. Prior to sending a signal into space and bouncing it back to earth, there was a giant cable that ran under the ocean sending messages from Europe to the US. Little could we imagine then what that one satellite would end up producing.

Telestar spawned a song in 1962 by The Tornados, and the song became the first to reach number one by a British group on the Billboard 100. The song was called, uh . . . "Telstar." If I may use a 60s term, the song was "groovy."

However, the climax of the space program came in July, 1969. People were glued to their TV sets. I wasn't. I had to listen to the landing and the commentary from CBS radio since I was working at WWHY-AM radio in Huntington, W.Va., on that summer day in 1969.

I listened while sitting in the control room, and, guess what? I cried. Bawled like a baby while sitting there alone. It was a wonderful moment of excitement for the world and, especially, the US.

That evening, while walking home, the sky was clear. There in the sky was the moon, very clearly visible. I knew that this was a historic moment and that, up there on the moon, were some human being. From the beginning of time, humans had looked at the moon, wondered about the moon, worshiped the moon, went crazy by the moon, and just about had their lives controlled by the moon, but now, for the first time, there was human life on the moon.

After that, I recall that the moon landings became almost "mundane," and it wasn't until the shuttle program that there was new interest in space. Even those launching because, somewhat, "mundane," as the people went about their lives giving little thought to the space program.

As I said. I cried that evening from sheer exhilaration. After work, I went to the frat house and spent some time there. It was important to be with other people during this awesome experience.

The next time I recall crying was when, in 1973, President Nixon decided to bring all the troops home from Vietnam. It seemed like that war had lasted all of my life and had consumed the nation in bitter conflict.

Both were joyous occasions and momentous. Both were very emotional times.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010



(AUGUST 11, 2010) My father's birthday was August 24. As I was growing up, we celebrated his birthday by going to the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg (actually in Fairlea).

Going to the State Fair always gave me mixed feelings as a child. I enjoyed the rides and the food and the animal exhibits, but with it coming at the end of August, it also meant the end of summer and that school would soon be starting.

As for the rides and the food and the animal exhibits - loved them all. The State Fair was a magical place with the smell of food in the air, the sounds coming from the rides and the sideshow hawkers, and the sight of many, many people smiling because this was a happy place.

This was where I rode my first double Ferris wheel. From the top of the ride a person could see the entire fair grounds and, at night, the vast darkness in all directions that surrounded this marvelous turf of bright lights. From the top of the Ferris wheel a visitor could see the grandstand show going on in the evening and the trotters going around the track during the daylight hours. The trotters were race horses that carried a jockey in a small framed seat on wheels that was pulled behind the horse.

We rarely took the time to see the horse racing in the grandstand nor did we buy tickets for the evening shows. We could, however, find a spot near the grandstand and hear the singers perform and watch the show from a distance. I remember seeing the late Senator Robert C. Byrd on stage playing his fiddle. He played that fiddle very well, and it served him throughout his life as he mentioned on occasions that the fiddle got him into places where he would never have been able to go without it. Senator Byrd also spoke at a junior high assembly when I was in the 8th or 9th grade. He was a young man then, and I watched him as he finished his life as the longest serving U.S.Senator in the nation's history.

Now, back to the fair. Other rides I remember were the merry-go-round, small cars that went around in circles like a merry-go-round, the "Whip" which jerked the lunch out of the riders, a ride that used centrifugal force to keep those riding it in place as the floor they were standing on disappeared and the riders remained "glued" to the back of the circular wall. There were other rides, and I remember that the only people at the fair that didn't seem to be always smiling were those who worked the rides. They seemed bored and without much personality.

As for the food. WOW!!! Everything was fried or in other ways unhealthy. There was the cone made with 100% sugar called cotton candy, there were caramel apples, there were hot dogs with wonderful chili and onions, there were fries and onion rings . . . it was a childhood fantasy.

Another important part of the fair was to go see the livestock in the barns. There was, in the background of the rides and the shows and the food, a competition going on with 4-H members showing their best calf, lamb, chicken, or other livestock. At that time I was too naive to realize that when the winner was selected, it meant that that animal would get the best price for turning it into a hamburger or a chicken dinner. Also in the livestock section there were displays of tractors and farm equipment. The large tractors dominated and there was equipment that looked like it could be very, very dangerous.

One final memory of the fair was the side shows. One show we went to every year was the motorcycle "Circle of Death." We paid admission and went up a ramp to look over into what appeared to be a very large and very high bowl. At the bottom was a door that blended right into the side of the wall. A man with a motorcycle would emerge from the door, close the door and proceed to ride the cycle around the bottom of the bowl until the motorcycle would start climbing the sides of the wall as the man sat on the bike with both parallel to the ground. This would last about 5-10 minutes as the motorcycle climbed the wall in the "circle of death."

One final final comment about the West Virginia State Fair. As you know your mother and I were married June 22, 1974. That year we decided to go to the state fair, so I contacted a fraternity brother, Sam Yates, and he sent me two tickets to get into the fair. Sam worked with the fair for many years. We decided to travel to the fair, spend the day and drive to Beckley where my parents lived, spend the night there and return to Danville. Lynne packed a cooler of food to last us the day. we had a credit card for gas. And, we had enough money to ride one ride. We walked around the fair grounds all day looking at the exhibits (which were free) and enjoying the people. Finally, at dark, we decided to ride our one ride - the double Ferris wheel. We rode that, left, and drove to Beckley. It was, indeed, a cheap day.

The state fair brings back many memories. It was an exciting, bright and joyous place to go for a day and, when I was a child, to have one great summer day before the drudgery of school began.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



(AUGUST 11, 2010) When I was about 9 or 10, a neighborhood kid, named Johnny, had just returned from an "education" at a special school in Pruntytown, W.Va. The "school" was for children who had difficulty adjusting "socially"; you know, those who tended to go into neighbors' houses and take things or those who tended to beat up kids in the neighborhood. Johnny was, in fact, the neighborhood bully, but he was also our paper boy. There was a story going around that Johnny's mother had leashed him up to a clothesline for punishment, but I never knew if that were true or not. There were also stories about him abusing cats and dogs. Again, these were stories unconfirmed, but they made Johnny out to be more evil.

Speaking of cats and dogs, while I was growing up, we seemed to always have CATS! No dogs, just cats.

There was Brownie (the male cat that turned out to be a female when she had kittens), Precious (my sister's own cat), and Stupid (the cat that often took flight off the TV into the venetian blinds whenever she saw a bird outside the window).

FINALLY, and I don't even remember how it happened, we got a DOG. It was a "fice," so I was told. An online dictionary defines "fice" as: "a nervous belligerent little mongrel dog."

Trigger, my dog named after Roy Rogers' horse, never seemed belligerent, though he was nervous and definitely a mixed breed. He was about the size of Tiffany's Indie, and about the same temperament.

Trigger was not a "house dog," something that I regret today. He stayed in a dog house outside and was tied to a short leash. I also regret that I didn't walk him as much as I should.

But, Trigger was my first dog, and I loved him. He was smiling when I went to take him food and water, and loved to take the walks we seldom took in the neighborhood. I was, at that age, busy with baseball, friends, and doing other things. Trigger was my dog, but I really wasn't a very good master. Perhaps that is why I over compensate with Sadie, walking her, often, twice a day at the park and showing her the love I failed to give Trigger.

One spring morning, before getting out of bed to dress for school, my mother came in and said that she had some bad news. I looked up with my head still on the pillow. She had Trigger's collar in her hand and said, "Trigger got hit by a car on Valley Drive this morning. He got off his leash, and Johnny, the paper boy, found him. Trigger is dead."

I said nothing and took the leash from my mother's hand, held the leash next to me, and cried. Later, I discovered that I wasn't the only one who had cried that morning. My mother told me that Johnny, the paper boy, when he had given her the leash. had tears streaming down his cheeks.

For a few days, a week, a month, several months, I don't remember how long, I slept with Trigger's leash under my pillow.

Trigger gave me memories of my first dog, and Johnny never was unkind to me - in fact, after that morning, Johnny became a friend. Perhaps both were just a little nervous and misunderstood.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A CHILD GENIUS (well, maybe not)


(AUGUST 10, 2010) I must have been in the 4th or 5th grade when I got the call from a local TV station to be a contestant on their program "Kiddie Quiz." The station was in Oak Hill, W.Va., about 20 miles from Beckley. The only problem was that on that same night I had to attend a Cub Scout awards banquet, and I felt I couldn't miss that.

Well, the timing was worked out so that I could do both, but I had to wear my Cub Scout uniform on the quiz show. The game was set up with four kids whose name had been drawn the week before by 4 other kid contestants. Whatever the kid who drew your name had won the week before, the new contestants received also, plus the opportunity to answer questions and get more prizes.

A contestant was given a question; if that contestant didn't answer the question correctly, the next contestant got the same question until all four had had the chance - then the answer was given and the game continued with no one getting any points. I was the 4th contestants, and for the first 3 questions, the other 3 missed the answers, so I nailed the questions and got a prize for each correct answer. I sensed that the other three contestants hated me for "taking their prizes."

Now, as I think back, was it this peer pressure that made me miss the 4th question I was given? The question was how many states signed the Constitution. I thought for a short moment and answered, "13." The host of the show paused and asked, "Are you sure?" I said, "Yeah. There were 13 original colonies." The host said, "I'm sorry. The card says 12. I'll check it after the show and get back with you if you are right." The answer was, in fact, 12.

In answer to the question about peer pressure, I don't think so. I missed it. It was the only question I had missed all night. But still I had won some toy soldiers, a giant Tootsie Roll, some building blocks, a toy gun, AND all of the prizes won by the person who had drawn my name the week before.

Unfortunately, the contestant the week before was a girl. I won a Betsey Wetsey type doll, a tea set, and a Mr. Potato Head set. This was the first time in my life that I had done what is today called "re-gifting." I gave the gifts to my girl friend at the time, and she was pleased.

I went to the Cub Scout meeting, got my awards, took my loot home that evening, and was a semi-celebrity at school for a week or so. but fame didn't spoil me. Soon I lowered my nose, looked eye-to-eye with my friends, and became just "good ol' Dave."



(AUGUST 9, 2010) When I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom, dad and sister went to Lake Shawnee, near Princeton, W.Va. (in a small community called Spanishburg). It was a winding old road (highway 19 and 21) and took about 45 minutes to an hour to get about 40 miles from Beckley (it always seemed longer).

The park, as I recall, had some shelters for picnicking, a large lake for swimming, and a small amusement park. I always enjoyed our family outings there. Mom would make fried chicken and potato salad and other sides and take desserts (a pie or a cake). There was a small snack shack there for drinks. I remember, especially, riding the large swings that went around in circles allowing the riders to get higher and higher as the swings went around. There was also a merry-go-round.

It was at this park that I got attacked by a black bear. It was a ferocious attack that I escaped with the brute force of my small strong muscles overcoming the bear that had already drawn blood. OK....maybe it wasn't "ferocious" and maybe it didn't have "brute force" and maybe I didn't use my "small strong muscles" to overcome the bear.

The bear was a cub which was part of the lake wildlife "zoo," and one of the park workers had taken the small bear (a little larger than Sadie) out and let the children get near it.

I was wearing shorts, and for some reason the bear started to climb my leg. It was at that time I realized how sharp the claws of a bear (even a small bear) are. I looked down, and there was blood coming down my leg in 4 straight lines from the incisions the bear had made with four claws. The park management took me to the First Aid station, put iodine on the cut, bandaged my leg, and we enjoyed the rest of our outing at Lake Shawnee.

It has been a long time since I have thought about Lake Shawnee. When I Googled it, I learned some interesting things about its history. It is now considered one of the "scariest places in America." If you want to read the history about Indians, settlers and the park, click here. It's an interesting story.

Sunday, August 8, 2010



(AUGUST 9, 2010) As you know, I enjoy being out on the Riverwalk and walking in the fresh air. It wasn't always that way.

When I was growing up, my dad took me fishing on the New River or at a lake located at Pluto, W.Va. (it was a reservoir for the Beckley drinking water). I couldn't see what my dad saw in just sitting out there, on the bank of the river or the lake, and just waiting for a fish to bite. Sometimes we would sit out there for hours and not get one bite.

I think of those times when I would rather be with my friends playing baseball or basketball in my back yard rather than being out there with my dad. Those times fishing were, however, special times when he was bonding with me, and I was doing everything I could to not bond with him. It wasn't an intentional thing on my part, it was just a kid thing and a kid trying to be cool.

When I was very young (before I was 9) my dad owned a piece of land on Flat Top Lake. This was a large recreation lake, and the property we had was called Chickapin Ridge. It was on the side of a hill that went down to the lake. We would park at the top of the hill and walk down a winding dirt path to a picnic table. My dad also kept a wooden fishing boat there in season.

On a neighboring lot there were some nice houses, and one lot at the end of the cove had a concrete platform and a rope for the kids to swing on into the lake.

My mother would make a picnic lunch/supper, and we would go out on the boat to fish and spend the day, usually Sunday afternoons, there in the summer. One unpleasant memory I have was that often I would return home with a bad sunburn. I would be miserable that night, and the next few days, my blisters on my back would burst and my back would start itching and peeling.

I kind of enjoyed the family time at the lake. My dad sold the property when he was being assessed to help pay for paving the road that went around the lake.

Though I often rebelled whenever my dad offered to take me to go fishing with him, I realize now that I would rather be with my dad, out next to the water, more than just about anything else. His love for the outdoors became a latent interest of mine. I'm grateful to him for encouraging me to go with him when I would have much rather done something else.



(AUGUST 8, 2010) Last night my daughter Tiffany and her husband Patrik did something that I did nearly 38 years ago. They went to a concert.

As a graduate student at Marshall University, I was in Huntington, West Virginia, during the summer of 1972 to complete the last 12 hours of my master's degree. While there, I went to a concert with a friend I had dated in high school and at Marshall, on occasions. This was, by the way, our last date.

We went to a concert at the Keith Albee theater on 5th Avenue in Huntington. The Keith Albee is an old, restored grand theater that seats several thousand people.

The concert we attended was performed by a fairly young rocker named Alice Cooper whose most recent hit that year was "School's Out for Summer." It was a loud and exhilarating concert.

Last night Tiffany and her husband, Patrik, went to a concert in Stockholm. It was a concert with such groups as Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, and ALICE COOPER. 38 years later, and Alice Cooper is still rockin'. I hope she found the concert as exhilarating as I had 38 years earlier.

My thoughts are always with my daughters and their husbands.