|By Dave Peyton 2001|
Once in awhile, I
find something that reminds me of
why I continue to live here. This week, it was a
double whammy -- spring and Emma Metz.
I found Emma on the Internet. Her story was
brought to the world through the good work of Bob
Weaver, the publisher of The Hur Herald at
online newspaper that originates from Calhoun
Weaver's online publication is a labor of love. He
writes the news from the tiny county in central
West Virginia, and seeks out
stories about real people. In fact, his online
newspaper reminds me of the late
Jim Comstock's famed weekly, the West Virginia
Emma Metz is the subject of one of Weaver's
The article begins:
"Standing in a field of daffodils, 77-year-old
Emma Metz told about making it
on her own all her life."
Weaver's pictures shows Emma standing in a field
of daffodils, part of the
thousands she has planted on her 91 acres on the
right fork of Crummies
Emma is an "original." I got that term from the
late Jesse Stuart, the great
Greenup County, Ky., writer who spent his life
writing stories about
"originals," the people of this region who are
relatively unaffected by world
events and happy about their isolation.
Emma choses her lifestyle apart from the world
without complaint. In fact,
she rejoices in it.
She was born in the remote hollow where she lives.
During the Great
Depression, she received machinist training under
the National Youth
Administration at Arthurdale, W.Va., in Preston
County. She worked in
Springfield, Mass., and later in Ohio during the
World War II years.
But she couldn't wait to move back home. And she
did. She has neither
electricity nor a telephone. She doesn't listen to
the radio. She doesn't have a
mailbox. She says she doesn't need one.
"I turned down government help several times. They
seemed to have too
many rules for signing up," she says.
She does get help from neighbors and she's
"I do need some help sometimes," she says. "I get
around pretty slow on
Emma is content about where she lives and how she
lives. But what
impresses me most about her is her belief in and
understanding of God.
"You know God is truth," she says. "A belief in
God is a journey about which
you understand a little."
That's what makes Emma and the thousands
of "originals" like her in our hills
and hollows special. They've learned the truth
about themselves and where
they live. But they know that what they've learned
is only the beginning.
Without people such as Emma Metz and without
spring, this would simply be
another ho-hum place to live. But because of them,
this is an extraordinarily
vibrant, perhaps electrifying, place to be,
especially in mid-April.
Meanwhile the message of spring in the mountains
and lessons learned from
the "originals" such as Emma Metz carry some of us
through the remainder of
the year and give us strength to join her in the
journey about which we
"understand a little."
Dave Peyton is a columnist for The Herald-