Wild and Wonderful

I’ve heard them all.  They are not funny. You are not original. Your laughter is not warranted.

Did you get that? I’ll repeat myself. They are not funny. You are not original. Your laughter is not warranted.

I’m talking about West Virginia jokes.

I’m absolutely sick and tired of hearing jokes about incest, illiteracy, and roadkill. I’m sick of hearing jokes about “Deliverance” and “Wrong Turn.” I’m sick of the ignorance from people who lack the ability to make a joke without insulting an entire group of people.

Allow me to educate you a little  bit on the great state of West Virginia.

1. It has a really cool shape.

2. West Virginia is the only state in the Union to have acquired its sovereignty by proclamation of the President of the United States.

3. West Virginia has the oldest population of any state. The median age is 40. (Read: People there live a long time. A long life is good, right? Yes. Yes, it is.)

4. Jackson’s Mill is the site of the first 4-H Camp in the United States. (4-H is good, right? Yes, 4-H Camps are great!)

5. On January 26, 1960 Danny Heater, a student from Burnsville, scored 135 points in a high school basketball game earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. (Wait…a World Record Holder? Yes, that’s right.)

6. The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second highest steel arch bridge in the United States. The bridge is also the longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet) in the world. Every October on Bridge Day, the road is closed and individuals parachute and bungee cord jump 876 feet off the bridge. Its West Virginia’s largest single day event and attracts about 100,000 people each year. (See, thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies like to visit West Virginia. They also come for the white water rafting, the camping, and the skiing too.)

7. The first major land battle fought between Union and Confederate soldiers in the Civil War was the Battle of Philippi on June 3, 1861. (They have a strong American history).

8. Some famous people from West Virginia include: Pearl Buck (author), Peter Marshall (television host), Chuck Yeager (test pilot /Air Force General), Don Knotts (actor), Mary Lou Retton (Olympic gold medallist for gymnastics), and Kathy Mattea (country music singer).

9. According to the crime index for 1997, West Virginia had the lowest crime rate in the country. (Yes, that’s right. The lowest crime rate in the country. They are good people that live there.)

10. The first rural free mail delivery was started in Charles Town on October 6, 1896, and then spread throughout the United States. (Ever get a letter or card in the mail? That started in West Virginia. How innovative!)

11. The first steamboat was launched by James Rumsey in the Potomac River at New Mecklensburg (Shepherdstown) on December 3, 1787. (Who doesn’t love steamboats? Even Mickey Mouse made a movie on a steamboat. You can thank WV for that.)

12. On February 14, 1824, at Harpers Ferry, John S. Gallaher published the “Ladies Garland,” one of the first papers in the nation devoted mainly to the interests of women. (Hooray for women!)

13. The first electric railroad in the world, built as a commercial enterprise, was constructed between Huntington and Guyandotte. (Oh look…another “first!”)

14. William Tompkins used natural gas to evaporate salt brine in 1841, thus becoming the first person in the United States to use natural gas for industrial purposes. (Hey. Imagine that! Another “first!” And this time it’s natural gas…how beneficial and fantastic!)

15. Mrs. Minnie Buckingham Harper, a member of the House of Delegates by appointment in 1928, was the first African American woman to become a member of a legislative body in the United States. (Wow. A woman. An African-American woman. Who says people from West Virginia are misogynist racists? Not only did they publish one of the first papers devoted entirely to women but they had an African-American woman in the House of Delegates)

I could go on and on but I won’t. Just shut the hell up, ok? It’s not funny when you make jokes about my birth state. All it does it allow your ignorance to shine. So now…just to clarify…people from West Virginia don’t look like this…

To continue to imply otherwise is insulting and degrading to the wonderful, intelligent and successful people who come from, or live in, that beautiful and wonderful state. I’m from, and love, that Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.


One thought on “Wild and Wonderful

  1. As a person who grew up in the New York metropolitan area, we had regional comments about other sections of the country, as I am sure each region has about other areas. West Virginia was of course considered to be beneath consideration. Now I have lived here for 5 years and I have noted a few things: people love it here…they say there is something about the mountains that makes them stay. I know on a recent college road trip to the Northeast it was VERY pleasant getting back here. There is a lot of poverty….very very true. Some areas of the state have some of the lowest income in the US. Education and diversification of commerce will help. It would be ideal for young people to go get a college education elsewhere, in order to get new ideas, and then bring their ideas and energy back to their home state.

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