Monday, June 30, 2014


 Good Morning, Class of '64
Grandpa's Farm - Patience -
There is no doubt that it is around
the family and the home that
all the greatest virtues, the
most dominating virtues of
human society, are created,
strengthened and maintained.
Winston Churchill

Another Day with Larry

Legacy of Ware's Ridge
Part Two - Conclusion

Abandoned Farm House - Robert Lafond
It’s very easy to feel despondent when looking over what once was productive fields, houses, barns, and a schoolhouse/church. It would be easy to think that the work my dad, grandfather, uncle, and so many others did to build this little community was wasted. After all, man strives to build things that will last, things that put a permanent mark on the land. This community did not last.

Life on the Farm - Anne Bridge
But their first priority was not to build a community. Their priority was to raise families, to raise responsible people. The community they built was a means to that end, not the end itself. Their main priority, their families, did last. In that little community, 
  • I learned to read, and more important, I learned to love to read - Thanks, Mom! 
  • I learned to be independent and self-reliant. 
  • I learned to be responsible and to earn my keep.
  • I learned to work and to respect work and workers. 
  • I learned about integrity and honor. 
  • I learned to treat people with courtesy, a practical application of the Golden Rule. 
  • I learned about God from the teaching of my parents and in that tiny Methodist church, but 
  • I learned much more about God from the example my parents and the others in the community set. Many of those lessons I didn’t learn very well - in my ‘60’s, I’m still trying and still have a way to go.
The Bible Tells Me So - Charles Freitag
Every child who grew up in this community learned these same lessons to a greater or lesser degree. These same lessons have been passed on to the second, third, and even fourth generation. It is impossible to count the people who have been influenced by this tiny community.

 An indication of this influence is found in the people now living there. Many of the few people now living there are descendants of the original settlers. A reunion is held each summer with three or four generations coming back. Something pulls them back. People only come back to a place when there is a powerful attraction that comes from some very special memories.

April Fresh - Rollie Brandt
The men and women who built this community accomplished mighty things. The forests they cleared, the buildings they built, the miles of fence they built, the food they raised to feed their families - awesome, but not lasting. The standards and values they inculcated into their families have lasted.

The Old Oaken Bucket - Grandma Moses
If our ancestors could look back over those hills where they invested so much sweat and blood, they may be sad. But probably not as sad as me. They understood, as I am only now beginning to understand, what is really important and lasting. If they could look back at their families and the generations following them, I think they would be proud. They certainly have reason to be.

Most of the people who built the community are still there, in the little cemetery across the road from the site of the schoolhouse/church. The names from the community are all there - Beckwith, Beal, Gay, Ramsey, See, Wood, and, of course, Ware. An interesting monument reads simply “Mary Ambrose, Black Mary, 1829 - 1891, A Freed Slave.” She was a midwife and practical nurse in Valley Head but was buried at Ware’s Ridge. Some objected to burying her in the Valley Head Cemetery. I am proud of my community that they let her be buried there.

Thunderstorm - Grandma Moses
The physical bodies of the founders of this community have long since returned to the dust from which they came, just as the farms are returning to the forest from which they came. Yet the most important part of these people still lives and will live eternally, just as the important part of this obscure little community will live forever.
This little community, Ware’s Ridge, at the top of the Logan Run Road, near Valley Head, West Virginia, won’t be in many history books. It will never be as well known as Lake Woebegone, Bedford Falls, or Mitford. It really wasn’t much - a few subsistence farms perched precariously on the top of some rocky ridges, a few people whose stories will only be recorded in the “short and simple annals of the poor.” But it was really so much more.

Out to Pasture - Charles Freitag
It is all right to look at the brushy fields where corn once grew, the fallen-down buildings and fences, and the tree-covered pastures where once fat cattle and sheep grazed with a tear in the eye. But do not think that all of that hard work was wasted. It was not wasted; it was extremely productive. Our ancestors in this little community built farms, buildings, and fences. But most of all, they raised responsible people. Their influence continues to the third or fourth generation.

Youngsters at Family Reunion Ware's Ridge
No one raised on Ware’s Ridge ever became rich or famous, but no one went to jail. Each person I know of raised in that community worked hard and lived a productive, responsible life. If I could choose to be born at any time in history, to any parents, or in any place, I would choose to be born when I was, to my parents, on Ware’s Ridge. They, and that community, gave me a priceless legacy, one I’m still trying to fulfill.

I am richly blessed.

The most extraordinary
thing in the world is...
an ordinary man
and an ordinary woman
and their ordinary children.
Gilbert Chesterton

A Beautiful World - Grandma Moses
Sentimental Journey
In 1945 Sentimental Journey was Doris Day's
first hit song. The song's release coincided with
the end of WWII in Europe and became the
unofficial homecoming theme for many veterans.
It lasted 23 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1.
The Platters covered it in 1963.
The Platters - 1963

Gonna take a sentimental journey
Gonna set my heart at ease
Gonna make a sentimental journey
To renew old memories

Got my bag, got my reservation
Spent each dime I could afford
Like a child in wild anticipation
Long to hear that 'All aboard'

Seven, that's the time we leave, at seven
I'll be waiting up for heaven
Counting every mile of railroad track
That takes me back

Never thought my heart could be so yearny
Why did I decide to roam?
Gotta take that sentimental journey
Sentimental journey home

Sentimental journey home

Farm - Rollie Brandt
The Water is Wide
A folk song of English (Irish? Scottish?)
origin that dates to the 1600s.
It remains popular today.

The Irish Tenors

A family is a place where
principles are hammered
and honed on the anvil
of everyday living.
Charles R. Swindoll

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64
View from Ware's Ridge Farm - Logan Run - Valley Head, West Virginia

Where we love is home -
home that our feet may leave,
but not our hearts.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Sundays with Larry

 The Legacy of Ware’s Ridge
Part One
 I love to go back to Ware’s Ridge. I grew up there on a small hillside farm in southern Randolph County near Valley Head, West Virginia. We raised cows, hogs, and chickens for our food. We raised potatoes, sweet corn, and about an acre of garden produce. Our only cash crop was sheep. We raised corn, oats, and hay for livestock feed, and, of course, corn meal for corn bread. One of our main meals was beans and cornbread; it’s still one of my favorites.
The farm doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up. The house has burned, and the outbuildings have fallen down. The roofs collapsed on both log barns, and the log walls have been sold. One of them was roofed with hand split red oak shakes; in the late fifties, my dad, my brother, and I split shakes almost every evening after we came in from the fields for the whole summer.

Home in the Hills - Grandma Moses - Anna Mary Robertson
The once-neat, cultivated, productive fields are grown up with weeds and brush. The fences have fallen down, but some of the chestnut fence rails are still sound. The newest of them would be at least 75 years old. The pastures are grown up with small trees. It will never be a farm again. The cost of the labor to reclaim would simply be too great.

West Virginia Grist Mill - Terry Best
My dad, my grandfather, and my uncle cleared much of the land for this farm and my uncle’s farm. Sometime close to the end of the 19th century, my grandfather lost his store and gristmill on the Tygart River near Valley Head. He was a soft touch for a hard-luck story, and his accounts receivable got out of control. 

(My dad and uncle were many years paying all of Granddad’s store debts. They both married late in life; they paid all of Granddad’s debts before they married. He went bankrupt, but his sons paid every cent he owed.) 

When he lost the store, he moved his family up on the mountain. He and his two sons constructed buildings, cleared forest for farmland, and built several miles of fence.

Early September View from Ware's Ridge
When I was a teenager, my dad, my brother, and I cleared an acre or so to expand a calf pasture. That was a job! When I think of the work to clear all the land in both farms, I am in awe of those men. They didn’t have power saws or tractors - they used axes, crosscut saws, and horses. What an accomplishment! In looking over the farm now, it seems so sad to think of all that work, and now the land is rapidly returning to forest.

On the Road to Ware's Ridge Farm
The entire community is in pretty much the same condition. Fifty years ago, there were 10-12 farms in that community with about 50-60 people. Only 2 or 3 worked elsewhere. Those small mountain farms provided food and shelter for almost everyone in that community. There were 500 - 600 sheep, 40 - 50 cattle, 18-20 work horses, several hundred chickens, and a lot of acres of corn, oats, and hay. I have seen 25 to 30 outdoor stacks of loose hay in one summer in that community. It was a beautiful, thriving, productive farm community. Now the only livestock there are some cattle and a few horses. A few people live there but earn their living elsewhere or are retired. There is a bed-and-breakfast there now, something the old-timers would never have understood. This once nearly self-sustaining productive community is now a nearly-deserted bedroom community.

Hello House Bed and Breakfast - Logan Run - Valley Head, WV 
(The Bed and Breakfast is no longer in operation.)
As I stand and look over the fields where I sweated so much hoeing corn and making hay and the pastures where I chased sheep to the pen and, twice each day, brought the cows in to milk, tears fill my eyes. The land that was so productive now grows only weeds and brush. The sheep and cattle are replaced by deer, and the ground hogs live in peace.

American Farm Scene - Currier and Ives
Many of the houses once filled with the noises of a happy family and the smells of plain, wholesome, delicious food are empty, fallen down, torn down, or burned. The one-room school where many children of this community received their only formal education, and which also served as a tiny Methodist church where we first heard the Word of God, is gone. When someone is buried in the community cemetery, we even have to hire someone to dig the grave - our ancestors would be very indignant! They believed in the community taking care of itself, including the cemetery.

Ware's Ridge Cemetery, Valley Head, Randolph County, West Virginia;
Located 2.1 miles east of US 219 along County Rd 66 (Logan Run Rd)
between Valley Head and Mingo, West Virginia.
Walter V. Munza

The cemetery is one of the few things that looks the same. In fact, it has been enlarged. It is well maintained. A trust fund was established to keep it maintained because about the only people left in the community are in the cemetery, and they cannot cut much grass. They probably don’t care much if the grass is cut or not!

Leaving Ware's Ridge by Logan Run Road

When I go home,
its an easy way to be grounded.
You learn to realize what truly matters.
Tony Stewart
This Ole House
A version of "This Ole House" by Rosemary Clooney, 
featuring bass vocals by Thurl Ravenscroft,
reached No. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1954.
Rosemary Clooney - 1954
Ware Family and Friend's Reunion
Ware's Ridge Farm
Home of Ralph and Betty Ware
Logan Run
Valley Head, West Virginia
Sunday, Labor Day Weekend
Y'all Come!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Good Morning, Class of '64

Television Families from 
the Fifties and Early Sixties

Part Two

Father Knows Best 
1954 - 1963 

Father Knows Best was an American radio and television series which portrayed middle class family life in the Midwest. It ran on radio from 1949 to 1954 and on television from 1954 to 1960. Only Robert Young remained of the radio cast when the series moved to CBS Television.
  • James "Jim" Anderson, Sr. – Robert Young 
  • Margaret Anderson – Jane Wyatt 
  • Betty "Princess" Anderson – Elinor Donahue 
  • James "Bud" Anderson, Jr. – Billy Gray 
  • Kathy "Kitten" Anderson – Lauren Chapin 

The Anderson's
Lauren Chapin, Jane Wyatt, Robert Young, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray
A total of 203 episodes of Father Knows Best were produced. They ran until September 17, 1960, and appeared on all three television networks of the time. The television show won six Emmy Awards and averaged #6 in Neilsen Ratings in its final year of production.

Robert Young - 1956, 
Best Continuing Performance by an Actor 
in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series

Robert Young - 1957, 
Best Continuing Performance by an Actor 
in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series

Jane Wyatt - 1957, 
Best Continuing Performance by an Actress 
in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series

Jane Wyatt - 1958-59, 
Best Continuing Performance by an Actress 
in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series 

Jane Wyatt - 1959-60, 
Best Continuing Performance by an Actress 
in a Leading Role in a Dramatic or Comedy Series

Peter Tewksbury - 1959 
Best Director for a Single Program of a Comedy Series: "Medal for Margaret

Because of it's popularity, in 1959, the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned a special 30-minute episode of Father Knows Best called "24 Hours in Tyrant Land" to promote the buying of savings bonds. It never aired on television but was distributed to schools, churches and civic groups. The episode is included on the Season One DVD.

Father Knows Best was so popular that when production ended, it continued on the primetime TV network schedule for the next three years, from September 1960 through April 1963 (no other TV show in history has done that).

It ran another five years (until 1967) on ABC's daytime line-up. Throughout the decades of the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's it was on local and cable channels. Currently (2014) it is being broadcast on the Antenna TV Network.

On November 22, 1963, the third season episode "Man About Town" was being rerun on several ABC affiliates when at 1:42 PM EST, ABC News broke into the program with the first bulletin of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.
The TV cast reunited for two TV movies on NBC, in 1977.

Father Knows Best
May 15, 1977

Father Knows Best
Home For Christmas 
December 18, 1977

Father Knows Best Reunion - 1977
Betty had become the widowed mother of two girls, 
and Bud and his wife were the parents of a son.
Kathy had become engaged to a doctor.
Father Knows Best - Bud Learns To Dance
Season One - Episode One

TV Guide Covers


Father Knows Best on Radio 


Audition Show - 1948


Father Knows Best Quotes

Bud Anderson: You've been around so long and seen so much and done so much, and still manage to look so good.
Jim Anderson: Thanks a lot!
Bud Anderson: I think you look real young. Honest. Younger than Joe Phillips' dad, younger than Claude Mesner's uncle, why even younger than...
Jim Anderson: Bud, before you have me back in kindergarten, see who's at the door, will you?

Bud Anderson: How many were in your class, Dad?
Jim Anderson: Oh, 2-300 I guess.
Bud Anderson: How many are left?

Margaret Anderson: Well, I suppose Father knows best.

Robert Young and Jane Wyatt - Father Knows Best Television Series