Sharing stories of our small world

September 24, 2018

A few weeks back, I shared a few stories about the small world we live in, and received even more. One came from inside my own house.

Back in the 1990s, when Don was living in Charlotte but looking for another job, he sent resumes to ad agencies all over the country. He had just accepted a job in Atlanta when he got a call from another Atlanta firm. As he was chatting with the agency representative, a man named Eddie Snyder, Don mentioned he was originally from West Virginia.

“So am I,” Eddie said.

Don said he was from Cross Lanes; that he’d graduated from Nitro High.

“So did I,” Eddie said.

Noticing Don’s last name, Eddie asked, “Any chance you’re related to Mark Patton? I marched with him at graduation.”

Said Don, “That’s my brother.”

One of my writer friends, Beverly Bisbee, said she thinks small-world stories happen frequently with West Virginians because we’re friendly and talkative, and tend to ask lots of questions to show our interest in the people we meet.

“I was having my hair done at a South Charleston beauty salon,” wrote Beverly, “and there were two other women there who were having a grand time talking. They reminded me of some of my talkative friends from Maine, so I felt free to join their conversation and asked where they lived. They were sisters from the Sutton/Gassaway area. When one mentioned she traveled for business to Nicholas County, I asked if they’d ever heard of a family of brothers named Frank, Fred, French, Forrest and Ford, who were my uncles. They laughed and shared that they had aunts named Tessie, Jessie, Bessie and Lessie.”

The women all shared a few laughs over how big families back then must’ve enjoyed naming their kids. And even though they had no idea at the time, the women later discovered they were related — fourth cousins.

From Philip Hutchison, who now lives in Oak Hill, though grew up in Beckley:

“In August 1997, I had to make a trip to Chicago,” wrote Philip. “When I boarded my flight to Chicago, I ended sitting next to a high school classmate on his way to Houston by

This, in and of itself, wouldn’t be all that unusual, except once Philip arrived in Chicago, he went to pick up his luggage and ran into another former classmate who was waiting on her husband.

“I spent my two days in meetings and then returned to Charleston by way of Pittsburgh,” Philip said. “When I boarded my flight in Pittsburgh, I ended up seated beside one of my best friends from college. We ended up returning to Charleston together.”

J. Michael Mollohan, of Charleston, was working at a small-town 1,000-watt radio station as a DJ/engineer in West Virginia when he met an art teacher from the local high school and junior high. ”

We used to hang out,” wrote Michael. “Sometimes he came to the station and kept me company while I was on the air.”

After a while, though, Michael moved on to bigger markets and eventually ended up in Orange County, California, and they lost touch.

“One day I went into a Kmart looking for some music,” Michael said. “As I turned into the record aisle, there was Mark. We had somehow both ended up in a Kmart thousands of miles from where we last saw each other.”

Michael spent a few more months in California before returning to West Virginia for a couple years and then struck out again, this time to Ohio, where he worked for an electronics manufacturer and started a band.

“We played all around the Akron area — Wooster, Madison, Massillon, Orrville, Rittman,” wrote Michael. “One day I went to the Kmart in Massillon looking for a record. I turned the corner into the record aisle, and there was Mark. All those years and miles between us, and there we were again — face to face in another Kmart.”

And finally, Mickey Blankenship, of Mullens, shared a sweet story:

“When I was growing up, my parents would drop me off with my grandmother. She had a nice woman who cleaned for her who had a daughter she would bring along with her. We were friendly for a few years, and then my grandma died and the girl’s family moved and we lost contact.”

Skip ahead about 15 years, to a time when one of Mickey’s friends introduced him to a girl from the next town over during a three-way phone call. A few days later, Mickey got his friend to call her again. He asked where she lived.

“I said, ‘Give me about 30 minutes,’ and I showed up. We hit it off.”

Mickey met her family the next day and learned her mother was the woman who had cleaned for his grandmother, and the girl the one he’d gotten to know all those years before.

“Twenty-two years later,” Mickey said, “we’re still married.”

Small world.

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller.com.

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