Tuesday, September 30, 2014

'Round Here: Martinsburg Then and Now

The area I live in here is called The Eastern Panhandle Some folks take that very literally. They are everywhere street corners, stop lights, Interstate exits and parking lots they're everywhere panhandling fer money.
There it is marked all purty in red
The one thing we share with the county of Jefferson is that we are in West Virginia but if'n we want to visit other parts of West Virginia we have to leave West Virginia to git there! 

That's right folks! Confusing I know. We live it. But yes, when visiting we have to leave West Virginia and cross into Maryland or Virginia to get to West Virginia. Trust me even the Tom Tom is onto it and that's pretty bad when the Tom Tom recognizes and tells ya so!

For the most part we are the forgotten part of W.Va. Well that is until an election
time rolls around and 'boy they come a crawling back here fer votes then!

I was born in the early 60's just a coupl'a months before the JFK Assassination for those who are into conspiracy theories in a what used to be a small town in W Va. In the 60's there were only 'bout 33,000 people living in Berkeley County.

When talk'in to the older folks 'round here they like to distinguish ya and ask, Old City or New City? That's how the older town folks know which era you were born in. The 60's was the last generation born in what's known 'round here as Old City. What they're referr'in to is the hospital. They tore that building down a long time ago and put a bank in it's place and built a new hospital.

Grow'in up we were poor. So poor we only had one black and white TV that only got three channels. One of those was the Hee Haw Channel. Back then if'n ya didn't get yer butt outside when mama told ya to most likely you'd be the lucky'un left holdin up the rabbit ears so she could watch her soaps that day. We were out from sunrise 'til we were chasin the lightnin bugs!

Back then if'n ya got in trouble on the other end of town, yer folks knew about it before ya got back home. Trust and believe they did. When I was a teenager the chances were great that the person on the other end of the counter was some'un yer parents knew or they went to yer church!

We rode in the back of daddy's station wagon with the windows down. Don't reckon he ever realized why so many folks gave him bad looks as they passed by either.

Some folks don't know it but it is still legal to ride in the back of a pick up truck here. BUT it is illegal to wear a hoodie covering your head here. Of course the thug types round here bought that hoodie law all on themselves!!!

I think of all the pranks back then like TP'ing someones yard, poop bags and puke pocket books- all of which can git ya hard time in the pokey these days! Ridickilous!

Back then those were the days!!!!

My daddy worked hard all his life. He was a firefighter first and worked other small jobs to take care of us. When he left for his firefighter job he worked twenty four hours there. Back when we were younger he came home at suppertime and then went back to work When he got off in the mornin he came home changed out of his uniform and went to work at his other jobs. Then there were other times we didn't see him 'til the weekend.

Daddy answered his last fire alarm way back in the 1980's. He's in his 80's now and has health problems associated with all of his years in this type of public service work. Way back then they didn't have the cool things firefighters have today to protect them when they rushed into a burning building. They've told us that daddy is terminal from the disease. He doesn't live with any regrets though.

Life back then seemed to be a simpler time 'round here! Smaller cities are like that. Martinsburg lost that hometown appeal years ago. It's not the same today with all the crimes and the drugs goin on here that we have today.

Today we're up to 'bout 108,000 people living in this county now according to the last census figures. The town has changed so much I barely recognize it.

In 1986 Good Morning America called us, the sleepy little town in West Virginia. That is the year Martinsburg made it to the #2 spot on the list of Drug Capital of the U.S. Now here we are several decades later and we're jest known as the #1 in the state with the highest number for drug addictions and for the highest number of deaths from heroin and opiate related overdose in the state! Yay Us!!!!

I understand that towns prosper when they progress and bring in commerce to boost the economy. I really do. I would rather live in a town of 200 people than see what has happened to this once small town. I miss that old town and the way we were back then!

When visiting other towns in West Virginia we like visiting the small cities. One town we regularly visit to go camping and fishing only has 'bout 200 folks living there! We love it there! 

Tomorrows post will be about the commerce and economic development here. From the railroad cars and quarries to the bakery and more!

Resources for this post:
pic credit: Wiki


  1. Know how you feel. Change isn't always good.

  2. What Shelly said. It sucks to return home to a place you no longer recognize- and knowing it will never be back. Damn, I am morose now!

  3. Eastern panhandle...I live on the left side of the mitten.

  4. My town was pretty small when we moved here - and you could easily recognise people in the street, even if you didn't know their names. We're up to 20-25,000 now - although we're lucky that it still kinda has the same feel.


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