My best friend got married last weekend, so I drove up to West Virginia to attend.This steel mill was once the water that quenched the masses of Hancock and Brooke Counties. It is was also where almost everyone worked and where everyone else wanted to work. It meant security. It meant a good life for you and your family. I sat countless years on that very sidewalk for Christmas and Fourth of July parades. I wonder if they do that still?
Sold to China in the early 2000s, they began to close off parts of the mill, people were laid off and families were hungry. With nothing else and no other trades to work, the people were lost and turned to easy money, things like drugs and gambling cafés.
I feel sad most of the time when I’m back in Hancock County. I miss my people. But, what I remember about my childhood isn’t that when the mill closed it took my home with it.
No, I remember the sweet smell of the country air as my friends and I drove the back roads. I remember going out into the woods for hours and not having to worry about strangers hurting me. I remember sitting on that sidewalk with my grandparents waiting for the fire truck to throw my favorite fruit flavored tootsie rolls.