Bristol, WV

It’s the end of a busy weekend.

Friday I left work early, packed the car with my wife and daughter, my mother, and my mother and father-in-law, and we and headed south to see my son in a college production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Of course, I thought he was perfectly cast as Charlie Brown. I felt kind of sorry for the girl who was cast as Snoopy, though. When I was in college, they had a production with a friend of mine in the role, and in my mind he is the benchmark for Snoopy. So while this girl wasn’t the presence that Jim was all those years ago, she did a good job with the part… it was just a different style of performance. It’s always tough to follow genius, even tougher I suppose when you don’t know you’re following genius.

We stayed the night down south and then on Saturday, my family took my mother on an exploratory mission to Bristol, West Virginia.

Bristol is where my mother’s father lived in the early 1900’s. His older brother went out west in search of work and landed a job with the railroad out in North Dakota. He called his other three brothers out, and that’s where my mother was born – and eventually I was born there, too.

In any event, I’d been looking for Bristol on highway maps of West Virginia for years but never had any luck. I assumed it was one of those places that had disappeared over the course of a century. Then a couple of weeks ago I decided to look on the
Internet and there it was, a little flyspeck of a place that’s not on any of the maps.

On the way there, I was wondering if this was going to be one of those tiny not-on-the-map kind of towns that frequently turned up in episodes of Twilight Zone. It was looking more and more the case when the Internet directions took us (incorrectly) way out on a narrow winding road.

It turned out that Bristol was right on the main road all of the time (take note – I actually stopped and asked for directions). It was such a flyspeck that we’d blown right by it while following the incorrect directions.

So modern Bristol isn’t a hidden in the holler back lot for Twilight Zone. What it is is a hand painted sign, an ancient Methodist Church, and about a dozen homes in an assortment of conditions. There wasn’t much to give a clue to the history of the family, but it was good to see where we came from.

Tomorrow everything back to normal. I hope.

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