Day 534: Shade Man Leid

Laetitia and her group headed north out of Crum and stopped for hikes and bird watching in Beech Fork and Chief Cornstalk State Parks before crossing the Ohio River and entering Ohio. Their destination for the evening was a small unincorporated community called “Shade.” It isn’t clear how Shade got its name.

When Uncle Ralph was stationed in San Diego while in the Navy, he observed that many of his fellow junior officers were from the Midwest. His hypothesis was that it was related to the California Dreamin’ phenomenon captured by the Mamas and the Papas in their ‘60s song by that name. One who signed up for a stint in the Navy was more likely to be assigned to one of America’s coasts or Hawaii rather than some remote mosquito-infested place in the middle of the country. Young people in the Midwest who view life in their hometowns as drab often find solace in dreams. As the Mind’s Eye group did a walkabout in Shade, Laetitia overheard a young man named Arthur eloquently promulgating his dream to any of his friends who would listen. She distilled Arthur’s dream into the limerick of the day.

The dream trip of Arthur from Shade
Was Hawaii, where he’d have it made
On the beach in the sun
And he’d surely have fun
At a luau where most folks get leid.

Day 533: Stoop To Droop

After Laetitia had finished her tour of Man and War, she pondered the appearance of the Kopi Luwak coffee beans and its strange coincidence with her grandmother’s return from Indonesia. At a dinner party that evening hosted by Uncle Milt and Aunt Myrtle, Laetitia and Cousin Elsa asked their grandmother about her trip and whether she had brought home any Kopi Luwak coffee. When Grandmother replied, her face bore the enigmatic smile captured by Leonardo in the Mona Lisa. “I had a cup while I was there, but I didn’t bring any back for myself. It’s much too expensive.” Later at the party, Elsa slipped Laetitia a five dollar bill and said, “You win. You predicted she would duck the question by saying she didn’t bring any back ‘for herself.’”

This was to be Laetitia’s last tour day in West Virginia. The itinerary included several communities with unusual names. The group began by heading east to Droop. The small, unincorporated village was named for nearby Droop Mountain, the scene of a Civil War battle. After visiting the Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, the group headed west to Big Ugly, another tiny unincorporated community. Early surveyors apparently gave the area its unusual name because the rugged terrain made their job difficult. Laetitia thought about taking her group hiking in the nearby Big Ugly Public Hunting Area, but she wasn’t sure from the name whether “the public” referred to the hunters or the hunted.

After a hike in Cabwaylingo State Forest, the group arrived at Crum, where they were spending the evening. Crum is a small village of 182 residents. It became famous (or infamous) in the 1980s when Lee Maynard, a former resident, published a book entitled Crum: The Novel. The book was, of course, fiction, and had the usual disclaimer saying that only the town name was a real entity. However, many of Crum’s residents took offense, seeing themselves as inspiring some of the characters who were portrayed in unflattering ways. The book has become a cult classic.

Small, quiet, picturesque towns like Crum are often sought by adults as a peaceful place to spend their working years or retirements, but for most teenagers, such places are anathema. While members of the Mind’s Eye group were taking pictures in a park, Laetitia overheard a conversation between several teenage girls. One of them, Millicent, had just received word that her parents were moving to Droop in the near future. She bemoaned the move, saying there was nothing interesting to do in Crum, but there would be even less to do in Droop, which is smaller. Her story became the limerick of the day.

Young Millicent thought it was dumb
To live with her parents in Crum
But having to stoop
To move with them to Droop
Was a prospect that made her quite numb.

Day 532: Man o’ War

When Laetitia walked into the kitchen at the Emerald Victorian, she was surprised to find a packet of coffee with a totally unfamiliar name, “Kopi Luwak.” After she started the pot brewing, she looked it up on the Internet and found that it’s a rare specialty coffee from Indonesia with an unusual flavor derived from passage through the digestive tract of the palm civet. Though this Asian mammal has the physical characteristics of a carnivore, it eats mostly fruit, including wild coffee berries. The fleshy part of the coffee berry is digested, and the coffee beans pass through and remain in the scat. These are collected from the ground, cleaned, roasted, and sold. Laetitia found its distinct taste enjoyable, but thought she would not make a habit of drinking it, since it often sells for several hundred dollars per pound.

Laetitia scanned the materials in the library looking for inspiration for her next tour. The first thing that caught her eye was a book with the title Man o’ War. The phrase can mean a number of things: a famous racehorse, a relative of the jellyfish, or a wooden warship. This book happened to be about the early twentieth-century thoroughbred that won twenty of the twenty-one races he entered during his sixteen-month career. What interested Laetitia, though, was that during her tours of West Virginia during the previous few days, she had noticed a town named Man and one named War. Laetitia decided that she would go to War first and then to Man.

Leaving Welch, West Virginia, Laetitia took her group to Berwind Lake Park for a morning hike and some bird watching and afterward went to lunch in War. It’s a town of around 800 residents nestled among wooded hills along War Creek, from which its name is derived. The creek’s name comes from a battle between Native American tribes that took place near its source. Laetitia’s group did a short walkabout in War after lunch and then headed for Panther Wildlife Management Area for another hike and to view some wildlife before heading north to Man.

The town name Man was apparently derived from the last syllable of its founder’s name, Ulysses Hinchman. During her pre-dinner sojourn at a bar filled with happy-hour revelers, Laetitia was amused when a local fellow came in asking for directions and got a lot of flack from the rowdy crowd. Finally a man who lived in the town that was the destination went to his car and got a map so he could point out the way to the local fellow. Laetitia distilled the incident into a limerick.

When a fellow from Man in a bar
Tells the crowd he’d like to go to War
Most say, “Sign up, you sap,”
But one with a map
Shows the way for he’s a man o’ War.

Day 531: Uncouth Youth

This day’s route to their ultimate destination, Welch West Virginia, was circuitous, since Laetitia wanted to stop at several parks on the way. The first was Bluestone National River, with its spectacular gorge. They began by canoeing in Bluestone Lake at the Bluestone State Park end of the canyon and then went to Pipestone Resort State Park and rode the tram to the stream at the bottom and back. They made additional stops for hikes in Camp Creek State Park and Twin Falls State Park on the way to their destination for the evening.

Welch is an incorporated community of 2,400 nestled among surrounding wooded hills at the confluence of the Tug and Elkhorn Rivers. On arrival, Laetitia took her group on a walkabout in the picturesque town. As they went by a park on their walk, several group members asked if they could have a little time to take some pictures. As she waited to resume the walk, Laetitia overheard a conversation among several teenage boys about an acquaintance named Mortimer. The gist of the conversation was that he got by with doing disgusting and annoying things because he was cute. Mortimer became the subject of the limerick of the day.

Young Mortimer never would squelch
The chance to give out a loud belch
In a manner, uncouth
But, ‘twas blamed on his youth
By the dowager set around Welch.