October 7, 2005

Almost Heaven.....West Virginia

My husband and I grew up in a small southern West Virginia town called Oceana. It's located deep in the valleys of Wyoming County.

(First off, let's get the pronunciation correct....it's O-see-anna. Most people who aren't from the area pronounce it, O-she-anna. Now that that's out of the way, back to the story.)

It was a wonderful place to grow up. There are about 1,550 residents in the 1.3 miles that make up the town. Everyone knows everyone else. I guess you could relate it to Mayberry. We even had a town policeman that we called "Barney." There are no stop lights or even four way intersections. There are two stop signs though.

When we grew up there, in the 70's and 80's, there were three restaurants...Pizza Hut, Hardee's and McDonalds. They didn't even show up until the 80's. There's still a post office where residents go to actually pick up their mail. There's no home delivery because the streets have no names. If you wanted to let someone know where you lived (just in case they'd been living under a rock all their life) you'd give them directions based on area businesses.

There used to be a store called "Lloyd's 21 hour grocery" that my family had a "tab" with. My mom would send me over to pick up a few things and they'd put in on our tab. Could you imagine actually doing that today? No way! Sometimes I'd even sneak a sucker or piece of gum in with the groceries and enjoy it on the walk back to our house. My mom never found out because the monthly bill wasn't itemized, thank goodness.

In school my husband and I knew every single other kid. I mean there were only 142 kids in my graduating class. How could I not know them all? Friday night football was a major event every week. The whole town would turn out to support the OHS Indians.

If we wanted to go shopping or out to a movie we'd have to drive to Beckley. That was an hours drive from our house. But, it was the closest "big" town. And, come to think of it, that's still the case. I couldn't imagine being an hour away from Wal-mart now. I'd never survive. Where we live now it's just 5 minutes town the road.

My grandfather had a new and used car business in town for years. He sold Ford, AMC, Jeep and later on Chryslers. He closed that dealership in the early 90's. I was devastated when I found out what he was planning to do. He just couldn't compete with the larger dealers. I spent many days there in my youth. It was within seeing distance from our house, right at the end of our alley. His used car lot, Otis Cook Motor Sales, was about two "blocks" (if we had such a thing) on down. He kept that lot open until November 2004, after 50+ years in business. He passed away on May 23, 2005, but my grandmother still lives there.

My dad also owned a used car lot, Tri-Don's, in town. He was open for 21 years before closing and "retiring" in 1998. He and my step-mom moved to Virginia after that. Darrin's parents lived there until 1999. They now reside in North Carolina. My two brothers have moved away too. However, my mother and step-dad still live there. They're still in the same house I grew up in. They're the die hards, the hold outs. Oh, and there's Darrin's grandma too. She still lives in the same house they've been in for 30+ years.

Our old high school is now a grade school. There is no more OHS. It was consolidated a few ago with another school. I guess nothing can stay the same forever, unfortunately. We moved away in 1991, two days after our wedding. And, although we wouldn't want to live there now, it sure is great to go back and visit. Life seems so much simpler there, in the valley.

  1. Oceana Statistics
  2. Oceana Welcome Sign (taken by my brother, Jim, from Indian Point)
  3. Picture of the town ( also taken by my brother )
  4. Picture of Laurel Creek (this is the creek behind our town park & schools)
  5. OHS Alumni Site (created and maintained by my brother)
  6. WV State Homepage
  7. Take Me Home Country Roads song

Take a look at these two awesome pictures taken by my brother, Jim, from Indian Point in Oceana.

1 comment:

  1. Simpsonville used to be like that of a small town, I moved here right before it started booming.. WV is pretty we always travel through on the way to Ohio. Great story and wonderful pictures.


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