Archive for June, 2012

So long, it’s been good to know yuh;
So long, it’s been good to know yuh;
So long, it’s been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin’ my home,
And I got to be driftin’ along.

Do you remember the above words from the chorus of one of Woody Guthrie’s greatest folk songs.  He wrote the above about the great dust bowl disaster and a time known as “Black Friday” occurring in 1935.  Of course that happened several hundred miles west of West Virginia, but I can remember my mother hanging laundry outside on a clothes line and it coming a rain shower and leaving muddy spots on her nice white sheets.  It was a time of many people saying goodbye to their homes and farms and never returning; a time that changed forever the western part of the United States.

The song, “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know Yuh”, was written during and about the great exodus of the rural Americans from the dust bowl states to other areas of the country.  The song really caught on during the folk music revival during the 50’s and the 60’s.  Anybody who was a folk singer or musical group would have  had this song in their repertoire.  Such people as Pete Seeger, the Chad Mitchell Trio, and many of the other groups performing during that era would have featured it.  I do recall, at that time, folk music was high on my list of favorite music and continues so, even today.

I think that folk music is written about the events of our history and country and the people who made it great.  It was easy to listen to and to close your eyes and place yourself in the middle of whatever event the performer was singing about.  It was about a time that will never be repeated or duplicated no matter how much we desire it.  When I hear the song represented by the chorus above, I feel a strong desire to return to that time, knowing full well that  can never be.

About the time that Woody Guthrie was writing the above song, Fort Gay High School was graduating, or had graduated, its first class.  Probably not thinking that at some point,  years from then,  that there would no longer be a Fort Gay High School and that the building that held so many memories would be in the final stages of its long history.  The pictures of the many graduating classes that decorate the hall of the old building will soon be a part of that past, but, you can’t erase the memories of those represented in the pictures hanging there.  Many of them having gone on to serve in industry, government, military, or teaching others about the values of living, will always remember those days with pleasure.

With all of this in mind, the theme for this years banquet will be, “SO LONG, IT’S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YA!”.  We will be saying goodbye to the old building that meant so much to us.  No, this will not be the end of the FGHS Alumni Association, or the end of the FGHS Memorial Scholarship or of the “gatherin” of those who still have ties and memories of it all.  We will simply have to find a place for our banquet and activities for the year 2013, and we will find a place, that is a promise.  The school building may be gone but the memories and activities will live on.

So come join us on Friday evening, August 31, 2012 for the final banquet at the old FGHS building.  Walk through the hall and have one last look at the pictures of your class mates and friends that hang there.  Be a part of, at the end of festivities, of joining in  song with a chorus of  “SO LONG, IT’S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YA”.  I would not be surprised if there were a tear or two.

You will be receiving a letter in mid July with information regarding the reunion with times, dates, etc., and a request for your reservation.  Preliminary times are as follows:  Banquet will be held on Friday evening, August 31, reception at 5 pm., dinner at 6 pm, followed with a program of recognitions, awards, and VERY short speeches.  In that this the last time we will have an  activity in the old building, we are anticipating a great deal of interest and increased attendance.  Once you receive a letter requesting reservations we would suggest that you do so at your earliest opportunity.


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I received the below from someone who is retired Air Force and receives a publication titled the Air Force Daily Report.  The article  is recent, just a few days ago, and clearly outlines what is called in the report a “pattern of hostility towards faith” in the Air Force.  The hot links showing as green in the report are still hot at the time of this blog.  This is a quote from the person that this to me, and I quote;  “Although I had heard snippets of the present administration’s attempt to destroy any and all links to anything pertaining to Christianity or the Bible on all military facilities but I had not heard it from any direct source.  This is at least one true source of attempts to deny active duty military members access to anything that pertains to Christianity while on duty, or on a military installation”.  You will note that it has gained the attention of a number of our legislators.

The article below “is what it is”, a continued attempt by our Commander-in-Chief to censor faith or expression of it within a closed unit of our military over which he has command and control.  Where does this stop?  What rules are out there being changed or formulated for the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard.  If there is a nuclear missile officer out there with his finger on the trigger of a weapon of mass destruction, wouldn’t you want him to have some knowledge of God and the Bible?  After the military, does the civilian population come next?  That is a question you will have to answer for yourself.  Be sure to check out the hot links in the article below.

GOP Lawmakers to Air Force: Respect Religious Freedom: Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to investigate what they call a “pattern of hostility towards faith” in the Air Force. A total of 66 GOP House members signed their June 19 letter to Panetta, which called on the Secretary to “issue clear guidance” that will “assure Active Duty service members and those considering future service that they need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.” The missive cites several examples where the lawmakers claim the Air Force went too far in censoring religious expression, including removing Bibles from Air Force Inn checklists and suspending an ethics briefing for nuclear missile officers because it included Bible references. “Censorship is not required for compliance with the Constitution, and should not be required for compliance with military directives,” states the letter. In a June 21 release discussing the letter, Black called the Air Force’s actions “unprecedented and without merit.” Forbes said they represent “an alarming pattern” not seen in the other services.

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RUN!!!!! Snake

OK, here is the copper head that John Plymale slew at his home in Hickory, NC.  It was lying in an area that he and his family walk by several times each day.  This, by the way, is not the first one that he has killed there.  I might be looking for a place in Ireland if it were me.  I don’t believe they have snakes there.  I believe he indicated that it was 30 inches long.  I am not sure if that was an estimate or did he REALLY GET CLOSE ENOUGH TO IT TO MEASURE IT.  I hope John is aware that snakes do have family members also.  SO look out!!  If you really want to see the snake close up, just right click on it.

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For lovers of West Virginia history, the below link will lead you to a very interesting story.  John Plymale from Hickory, NC was kind enough to pass it along.  It deals with some events in the Ritchie County area, an area just east of Parkersburg, WV.  I had never heard of the events that are outlined in the area.  Thanks John, for taking time from your “busy schedule” of killing copper head snakes send the link.

The above came about as a result of a search for a place known as Larama Station in Ritchie County.  If anyone out there knows where it is, a reply would be appreciated.  It is one of the remaining old railway stations buildings still standing in West Virginia, or at least that is what information indicates.  It would have probably been located on a narrow gauge railroad that was built to haul timber.

Enjoy the story which you will be led to by the below link.


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I was in Fort Gay yesterday, June 22, for an alumni board meeting and happened upon an article in the Huntington, WV newspaper that will probably be of some interest to all of those hundreds of former students that attended Fort Gay High School over the many years of existence.  Planning has been underway for a number of years to replace the middle school which  occupies the old high school building plus the lower grade school buildings which many FGHS students also attended.  It is sad to see the old high school building go but I suppose that is the price of progress.

I was by the new building site and it is a bee hive of activity.  As stated in the following article, the foundations are in and walls are rising.  I initially was skeptical of the May-June 2013 completion date, however, after observing the last couple of months progress, that skepticism no longer exists.

What impact will this closing have on the FGHS Alumni Association?  Hopefully minimal.  It will mean that we will need to begin looking in 2013 for a new banquet site.  It also means that this year, 2012, we will be saying goodbye to the old building with our final banquet being held there 0n Labor Day weekend. To commemorate this years final activities in the old high school building we will be having a special  banquet program.  In that interest will be great and attendance is expected to be increased, you may wish to begin making your plans to attend at an early date to ensure seating space.  The theme of this years banquet will be “Thanks for the Memories” as we celebrate the end of a long love affair with an old institution that has meant so much to all .

All Fort Gay High School alumni on our mailing list will be receiving, in mid July, a letter outlining plans for the upcoming reunion and banquet.  We would urge those who receive letters or read this to pass along information to those who do not read the Chronicles or are not on our mailing list.  Come back often to this site as new information will be posted frequently.  This years banquet and reunion promises to be special so begin planning now.

FORT GAY,W.Va.– As the new Pre-K through eighth-grade school rises from the ground at Fort Gay, excitement is growing among Wayne Countyschool officials about the impact it will have on December’s bond election Wayne County Schools is asking voters to support a nearly $30 million bond initiative that will, when combined with a $20 million commitment from the West Virginia School Building Authority, build new schools in Crum and Kenova, put turf on the football fields at all three high schools and take care of a variety of school projects countywide.

“This showcases to the rest of the communities what they can have if we pass the bond,” said Assistant Superintendent Mike Rutherford, who is retiring July 31.

By the time the election rolls around, the property off of Vancouver and Broadway streets in Fort Gaywill be under a roof and look like a school, added Assistant Superintendent Don Davis, who also is retiring July 31.

Although Rutherford and Davis won’t be around to see the school’s completion, they are equally thrilled about what it will mean to the small community.

“Everybody is so excited,”Davis said. “It’s kind of like building a house. You can’t wait to get it finished and get in.”

Both the elementary and middle school date back to the 1930s, with middle school students attending classes in the former Fort Gay High School. The current elementary school,Davis said, is more like a complex, with separate, unconnected buildings.

The new school will cost just under $20 million, with about $15.6 million from the SBA. The L-shaped school will have a two-story academic wing that houses Pre-K through fifth grade on the first floor and sixth through eighth grade on the second floor. The high-school sized gymnasium sets in the center, with the library cafeteria to the right of the gym.

All of the footers have been poured, while crews are working to the get the gymnasium done first. About half of the 31 feet of block has been set. Ron Jarrell, the clerk of works for the project, said all the block for school should be up by the end of August, with roof work to start shortly thereafter.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of the school is a large tree that sets in the middle of the bus loop. Davis and Jarrell said there were rumors of gravesites under the tree, although nothing was found.Davissaid this was the only tree remaining on the property and provides teachers an opportunity to hold outdoor classes.

The property formerly housed the baseball and football fields used by Fort Gay High School. The baseball field was being used by Tolsia High School, which has relocated.

The new school is expected to be completed by May 2013 and open for the 2013-2014 school year.

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It is with a great amount of sadness that we report the passing of one of the members of the “greatest generation”.  I know all members of the FGHS Alumni Association join in extending our  sympathy to Lawrence’s beloved wife, Mary Lou,  and all remaining family members and friends.


(Jun 23, 2012)

LAWRENCE F. “BLACKIE” LAKIN, 86, of Huntington, West Virginia, died on Thursday, June 21, 2012, at St. Mary’s Hospital following a brief illness. He was born September 4, 1925, the son of the late James and Lyda Frazier Lakin of Fort Gay, West Virginia. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his former wife Doris Short Lakin; his beloved son Michael Scott Lakin on December 22, 2011; two sisters, Blanche Wellman and Virgie Pelfrey; and one brother Richard L. Lakin , who was killed in action in 1945 fighting against the German army during World War II. He is survived by his loving wife Mary Lou Pelfrey Lakin, and their children Richard L. Lakin (Kaye) of Ashland, Kentucky, Patti Lakin Smith (Ted) of Milton, West Virginia, Larry M. Pelfrey (Teresa) of Huntington, West Virginia and Lynn Pelfrey Kearns (John), of Oak Hill, Virginia. He was a very caring grandfather to Andrew Richard Lakin; Kathryn Patricia Lakin; Andrew and Tyler Pelfrey and Jack, Bradley and Caroline Kearns. He is also survived by three sisters, Barbara Wright (Clifford) of Richmond, Kentucky, Mary E. (Glendell) Frasher of Columbus, Ohio and Sue Stanley (Jay) of Knoxville, Tennessee. Additional survivors include sisters-in-law Gloria Short Billups (James) of Louisa, Kentucky, Carole Short Yetter (Ed) of Zanesville, Ohio, Treva Watts Short (Bill) of Louisa, Kentucky, Margaret Ann Michael (Ralph) of Fort Gay, West Virginia and Dorothy Wellman Perry (David), of Orlando, Florida; and brother-in-law Joe Wellman of Fort Gay, W.Va. He also leaves behind a host of adoring nieces, nephews, and their children. He was a proud Army veteran of World War II, having served as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division. He saw action against the Japanese Imperial Army on the on the island of Luzon, P.I., where he was severely wounded. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Philippine Liberation medal, Good Conduct medal, and Combat Infantryman’s badge. He retired as chief dispatcher from Norfolk-Southern Railroad, where he was employed for 38 years. He was a member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington, West Virginia, and of American Legion Post 93, who will conduct military rights. He was also a member of Disabled American Veterans and VFW Post 1064. Visitation will be at Reger Funeral Home on Saturday, June 23, 2012, from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted  on Sunday, June 24, 2012, at 2 p.m. at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, Huntington, by Dr. Allen Reasons. Burial will follow at Ferguson Cemetery in Fort Gay, West Virginia. Eulogies will be delivered by son-in-law Ted Smith and great-niece Ashleigh Oatts. Nephews will serve as pallbearers. Flowers are appreciated, or donations may be made to Fifth Avenue Baptist Church Missions Fund or Big Hurricane Baptist Church, Fort Gay, West Virginia. Condolences may be expressed to the family at www.regerfh.com.

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