Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Little Visit To My Hometown

Morning folks, Bev and I got back yesterday evening from the trip below. I’d pre-posted 6 articles because I knew I’d be offline for the entire trip, which explains why no replies to your comments on my blog or comments from me on yours.

I think I may have blogged about some of this previously and if so, I apologize, but we recently made our annual trip to Fairmont, WV to visit with my aunt and a few cousins. This is the town I mostly grew up in, living there until I was 16, when my dad’s job took us to southern New Jersey and I returned to attend college at WVU just 20 miles away, in Morgantown. Both sets of grandparents and all of their 10 kids lived in the area until I was around 10 and both families were pretty close, so I knew all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins pretty well - I like to go back once a year to visit and see what’s changed.

When I was a kid, Fairmont was a bustling little city, with many industries, coalmines, and a thriving downtown area. In the 60’s & 70’s, most of the industries & mines closed and the town went through a slow process to near death, and it wasn’t until the FBI built a facility nearby (another Robert Byrd helping his state) that it began a little turnaround. It’s still nothing like the town I grew up in and is unlikely to ever be, but it’s a least no longer depressing to visit. For you football fans, it’s the home county of Nick Saban, of Alabama, and Rich Rodriguiz, of Michigan as well as the state’s current Governor.

When we arrived, cousin-in-law Ruth had a dinner of homemade vegetable soup and fresh baked pepperoni buns waiting for us – check out this link for the pepperoni bun story. I started the next morning with a couple of reheated pepperoni buns that were nearly just as good as the night before – she had split them and added peppers canned in tomato sauce and cheese.

My aunt and uncle bought their little piece of heaven on the river in 1969 and it’s referred to as the camp, as are most of the smaller summer-only places. This is from their side yard.

And from the dock - it's steep.

For us train buffs, we get up close and personal with several trains a day with nearly always one in the middle of the night. This is a shot from the side deck toward the tracks, which are a good 10-12 feet above the deck level (a later post will be devoted to trains). Believe me, in the middle of the night you think it’s running right thru the bedroom.

From the tracks down to the camp.

From the parking area.

This shot is level across the tracks and the top of the stack is all that's visable.

This area along the Tygart Valley River contains everything from places smaller than this to big fine year round homes along the 6-7 mile stretch of the river just before it joins with the West Fork to become the Monongahela in downtown Fairmont. Here are a couple of shots of the river with the last three taken as I sat on the porch writing this. As you can see, the river has cut a steep sided valley with very little level land along it. Also, while I typed, a couple of ladies made their morning paddle past the camp.

There is a website devoted entirely to discussions of the WV hotdog and ratings of the joints around the state that serve them. According to the authors, the typical dog contains chili, mustard, onion and slaw, except in a few counties where slaw is taboo, and Fairmont is the county seat for one of those counties. Also for these dogs, the sauce (not called chili) is everything and the many competing joints around town go to great lengths to keep theirs a secret. So for me a hog dog has always contained a warm bun, small wiener, yellow mustard, onions, and sauce and never ever slaw – which is a source of some disagreement around our place as Bev refuses to see the light :-). Here’s my two with medium heat for lunch and as can be seen, there’s not much to them – but I’d love to get Woody’s sauce recipe – they’re highly rated on the website as well. It was only a few years ago when I began watching food channels that I realized that these were not the standard for hotdogs on the planet – what an eye opener – Bev’s response was “I told you so.”

The reality is that Bev makes an excellent sauce and we use bigger wieners and more of everything on ours – including slaw on hers.

Enough for today, and we’re off to the cousin’s house to watch the Florida/ Tennessee football game – unfortunately WVU/ Maryland wasn’t televised, so we listened on the radio.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. Well, I was about to call out search and rescue, but figured you must be on a trip. :-) I love hearing a train in the distance at night...but that might be a little close. OMG, those pepperoni buns look amazing. Love that idea. Thanks for the link to the hotdog ratings. I just picked up a flyer that outlined different regional hotdogs. Very interesting. Great post Larry.

  2. It looks like a nice camp! I didn't know you'd done time in Jersey. You have my sympathy. But that explains how you lived in the North! Welcome home, Larry & Bev.

  3. I LOVE a good dog and those pepperoni rolls look so delish. I do like slaw but I would gladly replace it for some good sauce. What a beautiful setting for a little vacation.

  4. It is always good to go home. Although, much of my family is originally from WV, I have never traveled to that beautiful state. I have it on my bucket list to travel through the family hometown of Logans County.

    I had no idea that WV had a reputation for hot dogs. That's really cool.

  5. You married a wise woman, Larry. She's right, slaw belongs on there:)

  6. Larry, I don't know when the last time was that I had a pepperoni "roll". We used to frequent a little diner in Morgantown (actually across the Star City bridge at Ann's Diner, and Stella (the owner) would make them on occasion.

    As for those hot dogs, ummm; I don't think the Cosmopolitan was around when you went to school in Mtown, but when we were growing up they offered a steamed bun, small dog, and their special sauce... that looks a bit like that last photo... no slaw on them though.
    Ok, dinner time for me.

    You and Bev have a great weekend.


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