But you're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door,
And it doesn't help to know you're so far away

"So Far Away," lyrics by Carole King

I had our Great Dane out for her morning constitutional, and one of the new neighbors stopped to admire her.

"She's a beautiful dog," he said, as she tried to climb up into what would have been his lap if he were sitting. "My name's Rick, by the way."

"Chuck," I said, reaching out to shake his hand. "We live around the corner in the yellow house. She's just a pup. She has a lot of filling out to do yet. Our son in Tennessee brought her up for us the last time he came up for a visit."

"Tennessee?" he said. "My dad was from Tennessee, near Sparta."

"No kidding?" I said. "My dad was born in Kentucky, but he and my mother lived in Tennessee for a few years before they moved to West Virginia."

"So you're from West Virginia originally?" he asked.

"Yep," I said. "The state calls itself America's Switzerland sometimes, but that's a joke. Switzerland is rich, educated, and secure. They would no more strip mine their mountains than they'd desecrate a painting by Paul Klee or drive a bulldozer through their front door. We're actually the Ireland of America. Just like the Irish, we labored for the benefit of absentee landlords, were driven out of our homes to find food and work, and scattered all over the world, taking our music and our accents with us."

"So where did you scatter to?" he wanted to know.

"Oh, I worked for a few years in North Carolina, and then got a job at an assembly plant in Ohio."

"Is that right?" he said. "Where in Ohio? I was stationed there after I got back from Vietnam."

"Near Cincinnati," I said. "I worked in a GM assembly plant. It's shut down now."

"No kidding!" he said. "I was stationed at Wright-Patterson outside Dayton. I was two years there before I got transferred to Edwards AFB in California."

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