West Virginia Hills by Jeff Ellis

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Say hello to my new partner/contributor

Hi Everybody!
 My name is Connie. Like John, I was born and raised in West Virginia--over on the western side of the state in the Mid-Ohio Valley region. Actually, we grew up in the same town of Ravenswood, our fathers both attracted by employment opportunities at the newly established Kaiser Aluminum plant, as were so many other men with young families during the late 50s and 60s. A new section of town literally sprang up over night in order to meet the needs of its newest residents: streets were laid out and paved, and ranch style homes with attatched carports were built on almost every portioned out lot;  a new strip plaza which housed new businesses that would compete with the older downtown businesses was built; and finally, all around this new construction grass, and bushes, and trees (that have since grown large into full maturity) were planted as quickly as new residents moved in. John and I grew up only 2 blocks away from each other over on the north side of town, and were one year apart in school. We were close friends in high school (especially between 9th and 10th grades when he practically lived at my house), and he was the first boy I ever kissed (he was so sweet about it, stopping on the walk home from school to my house--carrying my books, I might add--in order to ask me in a very gentlemanly fashion if he could kiss me!). I was really too young to date, and my parents would have killed me if they thought for even one minute we were "serious," so the whole business just naturally went the way of most all young romances. Unfortunatley, my parents got divorced early in 1975, and after that school year I moved with my dad and brother to Parkersburg. A few months later John left Ravenswood to join the Army. It would be almost 35 years before our paths would cross again. I eventually left the state in 1977 to go live near my mother in California, but returned to Parkersburg in 1982, where I lived until 1989. Since then I have lived in Ohio, Eastern North Carolina, and Kentucky, teaching English at several different colleges. I have also spent time over the last decade traveling extensively throughout the Middle East, Western Europe, and the Mediterranean region, which I am currently blogging about at  http://dancingamongtheruins.blogspot.com/ . You are welcome to follow me there, if you'd like, as I attempt to bring the world of Biblical archaeology and the culture of the Middle East to life.
     As for me and John, our story picked back up in 2009 when we found each other on Classmates.com and quickly rekindled that old flame! Realizing that the spark between us had turned into love (after tons of phone conversations, emails, and a couple of visits), we  decided to move back together to our hometown of Ravenswood, where we now share a little house right on the Ohio River down at the old ferry landing. And for most of this whole past year, whenever I've not been teaching my classes at OU or WVU-P we have jumped in the car and taken either short day trips or longer weekend  drives all around this beautiful state, visiting not only places that had once been familiar to us as kids, but to almost every nook and cranny of about 45 of our 55 counties. Still, it sometimes seems to both of us a little unbelievable that we are back here, and yet we both feel in our hearts and in our souls that we have truly returned HOME. Together we have decided to share it with you through words and pictures as we continue our travels and explorations all over this wild and wonderful state. If you like, please feel free to make comments or share your own favorite places with us. Thanks so much for visiting our blog, and hope to see y'all real soon as we go travelin' West Virginia!

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