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So Are West Virginians Really Hillbillies?

(48 posts)
  • Started 4 months ago by mawnansmiff
  • Latest reply from alaskanpiper
  1. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    I found this rather comical, particularly after reading Brian64's post about Floridians.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-us-canada-47967912/people-think-we-re-hillbillies-we-re-not

    Regards,

    Jay.

    ...take up thy stethoscope and walk...
    Posted 4 months ago #
  2. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    West Virginia gets a bad rap, but so do the mountains of NC and pretty much anywhere in Appalachia. Too many people remember the movie deliverance, and yeah, a lot of that was filmed in the mountains of NC. I've had my own set of struggles when people hear how I talk. It was rough getting through college when everyone thought you were dumb because of the word choice and accent based off where you came from. It's a lot better now as people have come a good ways from that way of thinking. I remember having this really good friend in college that tried her best to lose her NC accent because she felt like everyone thought she was dumb, so she purposefully tried to lose it.

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 4 months ago #
  3. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Jay,

    Thanks for the link. I've been enjoying these videos. They're both informative and entertaining. And they help to reinforce the wisdom of the Founding Fathers regarding democracy.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 4 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    Jay, some of them may be hillbillies, but "hillbilly" is not necessarily a pejorative (although it often is). It is certainly not a direct synonym for "white trash"!

    West Virginia was created by seceding from Virginia when Virginia seceded from the United States. Genteel and proper Virginia dearly loved slavery; the raggedy yeoman farmers of West Virginia, not so much. So by today's standards, West Virginia was a more forward-thinking and egalitarian state than Virginia. (I purposely avoid using the word "progressive" for fear that it will be mistaken for the word "Progressive".) So, I guess whether or not they are mere benighted bumpkins is in the eye of the beholder.

    EDIT: Apologies if that info was in the link. I didn't click on it because I am not on my own computer.

    A man who serves his country is a patriot. A man who serves his government is an employee. The two are not always the same thing.
    Posted 4 months ago #
  5. xingpao

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    Wikipedia does not agree, but people claim the word "hillbilly" originated during the black patch tobacco wars as fqmilies turned on each other as many did not agree to join the association and were not able to sell their tobacco for even cost. It was a bloody time in our history and a good read if you have time.

    I believe Hopkonsville, KY still remains the only US city to ever be seized.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  6. mso489

    mso489

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    A writer who represents and writes about mountain culture is Fred Chappell, who has dozens of books to his credit -- novels, poetry, short stories, essays -- is a great representative of mountain people. He was a prof and a mentor of mine, and it was always fun to see academic folk who didn't know him condescend and then get somewhat skinned alive by his incredible vast memory and learning. It would cure anyone of any such illusions of mountain folk's intellect, in about forty-five seconds or less. And it wasn't a pretty experience.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  7. brian64

    brian64

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    and then get somewhat skinned alive...in about forty-five seconds or less. And it wasn't a pretty experience.

    Damn...that's almost as bad as what happened to Ned Beatty.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 4 months ago #
  8. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    I been to the hills. They got BOTH kinds of music there, country AND western...

    Gunner, Black Frigate. Say "Hello" to my little friend!
    Posted 4 months ago #
  9. pepesdad1

    pepesdad1

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    Most "hillbillies" that I have run across, including my wife...are the kind of folks that made America what it is...they are solid, truth-telling, kick-your-ass-in-a-second folks..people that I love being around...cause they are the salt of the Earth and except for Kentucky folks the best folks you can ever hope to meet.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  10. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    "It was a bloody time in our history and a good read if you have time."

    Thanks for that. I will certainly find the time to read it.

    "They got BOTH kinds of music there, country AND western."

    Jay (the other one), but do they have rock AND roll one wonders?

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  11. davek

    davek

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    I live in Ohio and worked in Kentucky for almost 30 years. There is most certainly a "mountain" culture which I experienced by just crossing the Mason Dixon line every day when I took the bridge over the Ohio river. Thing is, to a large extent, even in a more "hillbilly" state, people are just people. Kentucky was, for the most part, like any more rural suburb of Cincinnati. That was true even though many people I worked with had been born in the mountains, many near or in Hazard.

    There was, however, a significant minority which was different. It was the stereotype. As to them, I'll differentiate between "hillbillies" and "rednecks".

    I like hillbillies, I think I'm a bit of a hillbilly myself. Someone who likes the country, likes DIY, and is far from pretentious. A redneck, however, is quite a bit more rowdy and more importantly, doesn't like non-rednecks.

    Basically, the kind of cousin lovin' yahoo who gives respectable white trash like myself a bad name.

    Intelligence is not a factor in either one. I've known some hillbillies who could crunch numbers in their head in ways to amaze me, although their speech was heavily accented and sounded like someone from "deliverance".

    The difference might be that rednecks seem to be suspicious of and dislike people not like themselves whereas hillbillies are friendly folks who are nicer than many city folk I have known.

    Again, both taken together were a minority, albeit a significant one. Mostly, people are the same all over.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  12. tschiraldi

    tschiraldi

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    Half my family is in West Virginia and, yes, they are hillbillies! Quiet, honest, hardworking folks who love their families, their country, and their culture. Many lack any form of formal education, but are extremely intelligent in their trades and full of life's wisdom. Warm, kind, good-hearted folks. You don't knock on doors, you walk right in and say "Hello".

    Posted 4 months ago #
  13. mso489

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    I did a newspaper internship in the Ozarks and most of my feature stories were about local rural people. Though growing up in the Chicago suburbs, my family had experiences with a number of non-urban people so didn't harbor the usual boring prejudices city folks have about others. In the Ozarks, I employed my somewhat quiet nature and mostly good manners to get by. I learned a lot from the citizenry. As both a photographer and writer, I was assigned to take pictures and be the judge for the newspaper's farm beautification contest, which I did, and thought deeply about the judging. Nothing was ever said, but I knew full well I was selected as judge because I was leaving town in a few weeks and would therefore be out of range of retribution. But mostly, people were kind, supportive, and quite trusting of this weird outlander who had arrived among them. My wife, who grew up in fairly remote rural Missouri, meantime, did her summer internship in Detroit during the '67 riots and was co-recipient of the Free Press's Pulitzer Prize.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  14. hoosierpipeguy

    hoosierpipeguy

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    There's a difference between hillbillies, rednecks and trailer park trash. There are hillbillies in West Virginia for sure but that certainly doesn't make every citizen on the State a hillbilly. Same can be said for NC, TN, KY, TN and Arkansas. I have met very few true hillbillies because true hillbillies would stick to the hills and be rather isolated.

    Aside from that, the majority of people I have met from all those States are among the nicest people you would meet anywhere. If you assume someone who moves and speaks at a slower pace is a hillbilly and stupid, you'd be sorely mistaken. It is just their culture. I've found them to be no smarter or stupider than people from anywhere else.

    Just to put it into perspective, I'd much rather live just about anywhere in one of those States than in most large, metro areas.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  15. tbradsim1

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    Real Hillbillies are few, they’re mostly quiet , Cajuns are like them in one respect, Cajuns like to talk, but compare both they are alike, used to visit some in West Virginia when I was in the Navy, they liked my skills in butchering, farming, knowing how to talk and respect the elderly, skills being lost by young folks. They made elderberry jam, we made fig jam, different jams but same people. One thing, they liked stories, told them my Grandfathers stories and boy did they like them.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 4 months ago #
  16. mso489

    mso489

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    I always felt honored when I won some trust because you know you are being closely evaluated. It's their call. I hoped for the best, but expected nothing. As a writer, my major "power" was to listen.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  17. mawnansmiff

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    I can't help but think that the UK version of 'hillbilly', as we understand it and particularly as a pejorative term, regarding the fairer sex is an 'Essex Girl".

    'Essex Girls' are regarded over here as what I think you Americans regard as 'airheads'. Pretty (vaguely) looking but of no intellectual substance. Usually blonde (and usually blonde from a bottle), very pretty to look at (from a distance) though with silicone enhanced bosoms and with the intelligence of a caterpillar.

    Nice to see that this is not so in the US.

    Good on you hillbillies

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    instymp

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    Biggest redneck I ever met was from NY state, worse than me.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  19. redglow

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    I spent a lot of years working as a salesman in Southeast Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Met a lot of very nice people in these small rural farming/mining towns. I don't know if they were rednecks or hillbillies. But, I was always treated well and enjoyed working with them and having the opportunity to see how they lived their lives. Good people are good people. No matter where you run across them.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  20. elbert

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    I was on a load through West Virginia when a bad crash on the interstate diverted traffic over the next ridge and onto a state or local highway through a parallel valley (I couldn't tell you where exactly). I remember being shocked at the evident poverty of the people living in this particular valley. It immediately called to my mind the condition of the Indian Reservations so near to my native Iowa, and for obvious reasons; in both cases they are (through no fault of their own) an economically marginalized people living on poor, difficult soil and with few prospects, except to seek better fortune elsewhere. And yet any view that would connect prosperity to moral worth is given the lie here; these people are good, helpful, and friendly.

    Any man who has not found himself in a mountainous country with no vehicle or cell coverage, and at the mercy of rural strangers, has had a very deficient education. I have had this experience directly in both Montana and Arkansas. (Probably the mountain-dwellers wish by now that I would just stay away, and stop bothering them with my City- and University-minted ignorance )

    "An thou hast them, smoketh them!" -An Old Philosopher
    Posted 4 months ago #
  21. mso489

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    I think many mountain people take hillbilly as an honorific title and claim it with some pride. Certainly true in the Ozarks, and I think in the Blue Ridge as well. Just knowing your way around the terrain is an advanced skill. Just camping in the mountains for a week or two is a preliminary education.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  22. folanator

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    Spent a ton of time in WV. It is what it is. Beautiful and trashy all at the same time.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  23. ryeguy

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    Here are my 2 pence:

    What do you mean by "hillbilly"--The term originally referred to the people--predominantly Scotts Irish immigrants--who lived in the Appalachians, on land that no one else wanted because--despite its beauty--it was remote and not suited for farming.

    They were remarkably poor. They engaged in little commerce. Their agricultural pursuits were the equivalent of a big garden and a few animals. They were as much hunter-gatherers (wild American chestnuts were a major staple of their diet before the blight, and game was an essential source of protein, hunting wasn't just for sport) as they were farmers.

    They lived in remote areas (nearest neighbor might be hours away, and the nearest town could be a day or more, and that is presuming good weather). True self-sufficiency was a point of pride. Naturally, they weren't too attached to education or other benefits of civilization.

    The hillbillies are the "folk" of American folk-music, folk-medicine, folk-art, folk-wisdom.

    There aren't very many of those, truly self-sufficient, mountain people around anymore. But aspects of the value-system and way of life (rugged individualism, a certain roughness-about-the-edges) do still dominate Appalachia (including most of WVa.) and it is easily identifiable to an outsider.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  24. cosmicfolklore

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    Funny, my wife is from NC, and she and her family are always talking about how they are so hill billy... ha ha, then drive across the state line into SC... Or drive from Space age Virginia into WV. Or, NASA Alabama into Mississippi. North Carolinians are as much a hillbilly as Einstein by comparison to SC. SC, MS, WV, are like decades behind in so many ways, aesthetically, financially, the buildings all look and seem older, and the smell... the people... it also affects what's on the radio. It's weird. When we go across the state line into one of these states it's so obvious. And, when I ask family in SC how the hell they can stand it, they don't understand. When you live somewhere, where it smells terrible, you are breathing it every day, so you no longer smell the stink.

    Hillbilly has no real meaning nowadays. There are just states that have more opportunities for various reasons, and some where you're just screwed, no matter what you do.

    And, don't get me started on that fake-assed Southern hospitality, nice to your face Southerners... I could write a book. I believe that areas where people are actually more truthful and honest... are not remotely similar to Southerners. Being Southern means smiling and saying what is expected... until they leave the room. I'd rather know where I stand, personally. And, I do it too. We all do it down here. And, I don't even like it. But, I was raised in this fake-assed culture.

    Michael
    Posted 4 months ago #
  25. loborx

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    I'll stay out here in the high desert...

    Phil
    Beguiled by the exquisite Arcadia, the days and the years passed from me in delicate rings of smoke,
    and I contentedly watched them sailing to the skies. - J.M. Barrie
    Posted 4 months ago #
  26. davek

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    Spent a ton of time in WV. It is what it is. Beautiful and trashy all at the same time.

    That was good.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  27. elbert

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    When you live somewhere, where it smells terrible, you are breathing it every day, so you no longer smell the stink.

    I grew up in "Sewer" City, Iowa before the last downtown meat packing plant closed. It's fine until you leave town for a few days, then you lose that magic stench immunity

    But hey, at least for us there's money in that stank.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  28. mawnansmiff

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    "It is certainly not a direct synonym for "white trash"!"

    Aldecaker, I'd like to think you know me well enough to know that that was not what is was trying to say.

    Lately there have been several documentaries on British television about various geographical regions of the USA and of their peoples which I have watched and thoroughly enjoyed. You all live in a beautiful and very diverse country.

    I do wish I was younger and had no fear of flying else I would be over there like a shot to enjoy such stunning places as the Grand Canyon, the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Niagara etc and to meet the peoples of wherever I found myself.

    Going East to West via a Greyhound Bus and the return journey via a Harley would be the cream on the cake.

    I've actually been invited over by at least three relative (Mormon) families (all costs paid for!) but declined as I am a confirmed atheist and fear that wouldn't go down so well.

    Regards,

    Julian.

    Posted 4 months ago #
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    aldecaker

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    Jay, I would never think such a thing of you. I only meant the statement in the general sense, in that some here in the U.S. do use those two terms synonymously.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  30. mothernaturewilleatusallforbreakfast

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    Spent a ton of time in WV. It is what it is. Beautiful and trashy all at the same time.

    That was good.

    It was... and I'll tell you what. Call me a hillbilly and see what happens.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  31. elbert

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    I'm always interested to see a British perspective on America. I've just finished a book called English History Made Brief, Irreverent and Pleasurable. One anecdote struck me as relevant to your inquiries, Jay. An English family sent one of their daughters to New York, and wished to be assured of her safe conduct in America. Her mother wired an acquaintance in California asking him to meet the young lady at the port.

    The reply from California to England; "Meet her yourself. You're closer."

    Posted 4 months ago #
  32. cranseiron

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    When we go across the state line into one of these states it's so obvious. And, when I ask family in SC how the hell they can stand it, they don't understand. When you live somewhere, where it smells terrible, you are breathing it every day, so you no longer smell the stink.

    Cosmic, just checkin'-- are you saying Alabama is way more progressive, educated, financially elevated, etc. than Mississippi? That was a bit of a ramble and I'm not sure if you were comparing AL to said neighboring states or just North Carolina.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  33. tulsagentleman

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    I'm not offended by Cosmic's cynical posts. I just mostly ignore them.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  34. mawnansmiff

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    "I'm not offended by Cosmic's cynical posts. I just mostly ignore them."

    Tulsagentleman, with all due respect, Cosmic aka Michael is one of this forum's most respected members. Yes, he has a whacky sense of humour but you really need to know the guy afore you are able to appreciate the chap let alone criticise him.

    You are new here, Michael has been around for many years, try to understand him then you might appreciate him more.

    That aside, nobody here is perfect in every way and of course opinions are just what they are, opinions, so go with the flow and try not to be so judgemental, you will be the better for it.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  35. haparnold

    Hap

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    ...are you saying Alabama is way more progressive, educated, financially elevated, etc. than Mississippi?

    You know the motto of the Alabama Department of Education? "Thank God for Mississippi"

    Me, I'm a 'patrician' Tennesseean who just moved away after a couple years in Alabama.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 4 months ago #
  36. cranseiron

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    Well, Hap, AL, MS, LA and AR are all neck and neck-- or is it redneck and redneck?-- in most categories and one can say the same about the other for some metric at one time or another, right? I wasn't offended by Cosmic's comparisons, but curious as to how he came to those conclusions if his standard was AL vs. NC. NC has a much changed complexion as so many residents have transplanted from the Northeast and have brought those sensibilities with them. I am quite content to live in my little hick state where life is generally quiet, unfettered and uncrowded. MS has been labeled "America's Ethiopia", but paradoxically, has such a rich literary history with the likes of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, John Grisham, Willie Morris, Shelby Foote, etc. Music? The home of America's indigenous music, blues and country both of which largely developed here. It's a state of paradoxical quirks, pockets of sophistication, a place of story tellers and close family ties.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  37. haparnold

    Hap

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    No digs meant at Mississippi at all, Cranse, just poking some good-natured fun from one Southerner to another!

    Incidentally, I've had a lot of fun nights I barely remember at the Kappa Alpha house at Mississippi State University, but that's a story for another day...

    Posted 4 months ago #
  38. cranseiron

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    Hell, Hap, everybody else takes digs, one more won't hurt! I didn't take it that way, Hap, so no worries. I just took the opportunity to say a few positive things about the state as most of what is heard is negative. It really is a much maligned state. I've been in NYC and was ignored by a waiter when I was introduced as someone from MS and when I was working I had someone from D.C. contact me about a program I was managing and wanted to come down and take a look at it. When I told her I was located in MS a pause occurred and she pretty much said "Ah, okay, I'll get back to you on that." Surprise, surprise I never heard from her again.

    MS State, huh? Cool. I graduated from Southern Miss.

    Posted 4 months ago #
  39. mawnansmiff

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    Working on my family tree as I have been nigh on 19 years I have recently found an enormous amount of family data from English settlers who worked the West Virginian coalfields from circa 1880...this I was not aware of when I initially posted on the subject.

    Mostly in the Fayette County district, looking at and recording local census and marriage records to my database, they appear to have bred like bloody rabbits!

    Surely I must have a kinsman on this forum?

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  40. mothernaturewilleatusallforbreakfast

    mothernature

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    Pocahontas, Wetzel, and Kanawha county here. We may be cousins though?

    Posted 3 months ago #
  41. mawnansmiff

    mawnansmiff

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    Mothernature, Kanawha is also one of the places my kin settled in.

    If you have any ancestors with the surname ALLPORT or SYNER then we sure have a 'hit'.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  42. mso489

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    I don't know the history of the term hillbilly, but I somewhat assume it was originally a derogatory term cooked up by townees amused by "billy in from the hills," with his strange ways, and then adopted as a term of honor by the mountain folk themselves. The mountain folk in North Carolina like the seasonal tourism, as long as the visitors go back home, but socially maintain a distance, even while selling to the visitors.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  43. ssjones

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    Don't forget that parts of WV have become a bedroom community for Washington DC, so those folks are definitely anything but hillbillies. However, stay off Rt 9 during the morning/afternoon drive times because those folks drive like they are running moonshine!

    Al

    Posted 3 months ago #
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    ekert

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    Did you guys hear about the wheat in West Virginia?

    It's in bread.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  45. mawnansmiff

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    "Did you guys hear about the wheat in West Virginia?

    It's in bread."

    Please explain Ekert.

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  46. haparnold

    Hap

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    There's a negative stereotype that West Virginians (or most rural Southerners in general) are inbred. It's a pun.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  47. mawnansmiff

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    "There's a negative stereotype that West Virginians (or most rural Southerners in general) are inbred. It's a pun"

    Yes Hap, I now get the pun.....however I can say this, of all my known West Virginian relatives that I have researched thus far (and that includes to modern times), I've yet to see any inter family marriages.

    However, amongst my very many Utah relatives (99% Mormons) I cannot claim the same. They bred like rabbits too and seemed determined to keep any wealth in the family by inter marrying lads and lasses to maintain the status quo.

    Right of wrong? Who am I to say, but if they were happy with it then I'm happy

    Regards,

    Jay.

    Posted 3 months ago #
  48. alaskanpiper

    alaskanpiper

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    Joined: May 2019
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    Lower 48 problems......sheesh!

    "We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us." ---Hank

    "Yeah, well, you know that's just like, uh, your opinion, man..." --- The Dude
    Posted 2 months ago #

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