Wellsburg is a charming small town along Highway 2 in West Virginia. It has been around for quite a long time, sitting placidly alongside the Ohio River. Better Half and I discovered the Wellsburg Apple Festival last Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
My first objet de plaisir was this odd little house tucked against a heavy brick building. I love old things. I married one. This old thing caught my fancy because of the timber and plaster walls.
The Wells Log House dates back to 1788, when Wellsburg WV was Buffaloe VA. Alexander Wells (I assume that Wellsburg is named after him or his descendents) constructed the four room/two-floor building. It was doomed to demolition until someone tore off the old siding and saw the old beams. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places, District of Wellsburg (registered 1981.) The home is a cornerstone in this area’s History, which you can find in another of my blog entries.
They permitted people to walk through. We entered the back door and found ourselves in an ancient kitchen. (I fully intend to go back and take better photographs!)
The fireplace is known as a turkey breast. It has a matching fireplace sharing a flue; that fireplace warms the second (main) room. The kitchen and main rooms are the same size. There are no plumbing fixtures. A bare bulb illuminates both rooms, added as an afterthought by either the church that owned the building or the previous owners. We were not allowed upstairs (or perhaps we were, but didn’t realize it.)
They have gathered some artifacts and put them on display. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that a few of those items were from the early 1900’s. That's okay. It is the feel that counts.
Standing in an old building is standing in the tide of history and feeling it churn around your body. You close your eyes and block out all the sounds and then, quite clearly, you can sense things from a bygone era. There was struggle here; life was not easy. There was death, there was birth and ghosts of things that once were.
Better Half can be impatient. Yes, it’s an old house. Yes, that fireplace is interesting. He didn’t seem too keen on staying in there for any length of time. He certainly didn’t have any desire to run his hand along the old wooden beams. I am not saying that he didn’t find it fascinating; he lacks my “whatever you want to call it” when it comes to antiques. I, on the other hand, would have remained there for an hour or more.
I got a kick out of someone’s seemingly long forgotten home. Better Half thought it was abandoned. There was a yard sale going on in the back yard, however. People lived inside.
The structure had gaping hold along the roof and a “haunted” tree in the front yard. It was pretty however. I could imagine the various activities that were held here. It had such a view, too. The river was just outside their door. I took several photographs but my favorite was a humble black and white negative. It screamed, “Happy Halloween”.
The Apple Festival wasn’t as appley as we thought it was going to be. There was apple-themed bric-a-brac but the normal country kitsch crowded it out. There were two Avon stands, an apple farmer, the Rotary was present, there were plenty of food stands and we discovered an excellent honey seller (who happens to live in Steubenville.)
Buena Vista Honey Farms offers the tastiest honey I’ve had in a long time. The flavor found in your honey comes from what you allow your bees to play with. Buena Vitsa offered locust blossom and bamboo honeys; we purchased both. They also had a variety of goods: cleverly shaped beeswax candles, gift bags, wedding favors, honey sticks and honey candies. They had some fact sheets and I enjoyed expanding my bee knowledge.
I do not mind bees. They are beautiful little creatures with soft bodies, interesting wings, and a sting that will kill me.
“You’ll be all right if you don’t swat at them.”
Really? Are you INSANE? Why would I want my hand anywhere near them?
I intend to run in the other direction. To hell with the “stand still” thing. Have you seen the Africanized bees? They swarm a cow and in under a minute the poor beast is on the grass and dying as an incalculable amount of bees inject it with venom.
That was my biggest fear when I lived in the Rockies: Africanized bees.
(I’ll do a bee entry at a later time.)
My second biggest fear, as it so happens, is the Granolas. Only in Colorado can someone stroll around and reek of body odor and pot and still be embraced by people from all walks of life.
Susan (the bleached blond and tanned-by-light-bulbs yuppie attorney cougar who also serves on the City Council) turns to her lover (Brittany the gen x’er health food store manager who sexually services half of City Council, unbeknownst to Susan) and says, “Oh, here comes John, that Granola rascal (who I slept with last night while Brittany was at work.) I heard that he launched a “save the Mountain Whale and Pink Titted Owl” campaign. Instant success. John! Yoo-hoo! Over here. Join us for a Starbucks double espresso!”
(Brittany cringes, of course. She slept with John the Granola this morning after Susan left for work.)
I do not miss Colorado. Colorado is where all the plastic people relocate once they discover that they can not be Somebody while living in California. They are too phony for the real phonies. In Colorado (particularly Colorado Springs) they can act as if they’re Somebody as they maneuver their obnoxious diesel SUVs around. They have an inclination to hose themselves down with cheap perfume and bray (LOUDLY) into their Blackberries at Olive Garden. There is no middle ground with these people. They are either furiously angry liberals who are against any and all oppression (to include the oppression of things that should be oppressed, such as loud farts in public) or they are furiously angry ultra-conservatives who believe that everything should be oppressed as God intended it to be (except for loud farts in public, which they promptly blame on the closest liberal.)
You will occasionally find a smile on your face with one group trumps another.
You go boy! And take that outfit with you.
Back to the Apple Festival. There were no Granolas present.
We met the Gourmet Pizzelle guy. He ships. My parents might receive some pizzelles for Christmas!
Why settle for anise pizzelles? That’s old school. He offers “banana nut, butter almond, butter pecan, two chocolate varieties, cran-raspberry, lemon, maple walnut, orange, pistachio, raspberry, rum’n’spice, vanilla butter nut and……. Watermelon!” He also offers “amaretto, cherry cordial, grand marnier, Irish cream, kahlua, pina colada and toffee”. This isn’t enough, however. He populates the rest of his stock with “apple cinnamon, apple swirl, butterscotch, cran-apple, peanut butter, peanut swirl, pumpkin, rum raisin, strawberry and chocolate mint”. He will make them with rice flour on request, and will also made the “no sugar added” variety.
A gorgeous old Victorian façade fascinated me. It was a pharmacy (and probably the old chemist’s shop at one time.) It apparently didn’t fascinate anyone else. It would be easy to say, “they’ve lived in that town all their lives and it seems part of the backdrop, uninteresting.” I can’t fathom that sort of thinking.
I found old homes bemusing as a child. There was a small orchard and dilapidated old home between my street and the closest stores and I would walk past that property every time I craved a pixie stick from the 7-11 or wanted to buy socks at Gemco. I wanted to walk down that long path and ring their bell (if they had a bell, if they had electricity to have a bell) but I never marshaled up the courage. Too late, I would imagine; the house has most likely been torn down to make room for something overly priced and extremely obnoxious.
Back to the Apple Festival.
Irish musicians mixed with bluegrass and folk as we strolled down Third Street. Children, ever polite, enjoyed playing and day dreaming, their laughter mixing with the music in an enchanting way.
Parking meters are taken very seriously in Wellsburg. The citizens decorate some of their meters as though paying homage to the small change gods. Festive flowers crowned these meters, trailing ivy as their American flags waved gailed in the breeze. I thought it was a very nice touch. Given the extremely friendly nature of all the people that we ran in to, I can easily see a women’s group or even the local high school kids setting each of these meter decorations into place.
Equally as amusing was the parking meter fine drop box. This was not a hoax. People really were on the honor system and the honor system in this town was alive and well.
We left the Festival and headed up to Robinson for Joe’s Crab Shack. We haven’t been to one in a while and we were in the mood for fish and fun. I asked Better Half to please stand in front of the restaurant so that I could snap a picture. He, as usual, stood there like a lump. I had to finally say, “will you &^$@ do something to make it interesting?!”
It worked, as you can see.
Getting Bongo Better Half to “do things” for a picture is nearly impossible. I have fourteen years of film with Better Half "doing nothing". Same pose. Same expression. I can flick through them quickly as if they were one of those cartoon books where you watch the dog fetch the ball. In his case, the hair recedes and the face fills out. Poor fellow.
We drove back to Ohio, a bit worn out from our long day but also very satisfied. I allowed myself to be mugged by some of the dogs and then called it a day. I, unlike Better Half, at least do something in a picture, even if it is pulling a face due to dog breath. Pardon the lack of furniture and things in disarray; we just cleaned the carpets. Yes, ewww - the living room green will be painted over soon.