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Old 05-05-2009, 02:43 PM
Location: Elkins, WV
374 posts, read 1,118,356 times
Reputation: 391


I have a little bit of ranting to do and I apologize in advance if any of this sounds crazy, but I am so frustrated! We have begun the packing and selling phase of our adventure. At least once a day someone inevitably asks where we are going. As soon as we say West Virginia, we get the weirdest responses. People say,"Oh.......Why there?.......It's pretty, but the people are. well. different..... You might have the most teeth and be the smartest one there..... It's pretty poor there.....Blah.Blah.Blah..." We have gotten to the point where we don't even want to say where we are going for fear of some other negative comment. Then we look around at where we are now.. It is seriously like a third world country with the houses falling down, junk everywhere. Alcohol is a HUGE problem and teeth are few. How can people here be talking so much smack about where we are going? So what am I missing? I see the stats on City-Data, I see the income levels, education levels, etc. But why is it that when you say West Virginia, as opposed to some of the other places we looked at- Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota- people just have nothing good to say? I want to hear from the people that live there- why do you think that is? I want to hear the history behind it, the reality, and the cold-hard truth. I am originally from Iowa, with small towns everywhere and small-town farm-folk. People were poor, but they were nice. And maybe they weren't smart on paper with degrees to throw everywhich way, but they were smart in Life. They could tell me how to grow any veggie in the world, what to do with it, how to fix a tractor, and keep the coons from getting your chickens. Why do people just think that rural means dumb? They must think we are dumb if that's what we want!!

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I am just getting discouraged by all the negative feedback we are getting. It doesn't seem like we got this feedback when we were talking about Maine or Minnesota. Are these old stereotypes from long ago, or is it really that much different from rural anywhere? I know every place is unique, don't get me wrong, but why the negative attitude? Do you that live there get this when you go other places? I find it kind of irritating and offensive, myself, and I want to ask these same people to look around at where they live and tell me how it is that much different.

We are at the point where we don't even tell people exactly where we are going anymore. We just keep it vague. What's the deal?
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:12 PM
Location: Warrenton, VA
336 posts, read 1,182,058 times
Reputation: 108
WV is the state of my birth, and home in my heart, even though we move to OH in 1964/65 and I finished growing up there. I am an educated professional living in the Northern VA area and have lived in many locations due to my husband serving in the military for 20 years. ALWAYS and I mean always when people find out that I am from WV they are shocked, I get comments like “really you don’t look like you are from WV” or “really you don’t sound like you are from WV”. When I was younger it hurt my feelings, because my family is still there and they are some of the most wonderful, honest, fun loving, God fearing people on the face of the earth! If you are from WV you will understand the last one! Anyway after being hurt, I got mad, so now I just tell people who are so rude to say such things, “you know WV does not have the market on poor, uneducated people, in fact most are welcoming and would never say such a thing”! That usually shuts them right up !
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:16 PM
Location: Philadelphia 'Burbs
938 posts, read 2,883,490 times
Reputation: 595
People are nescient. It is what it is.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:17 PM
Location: New Creek, WV
275 posts, read 704,519 times
Reputation: 213
I'm born and raised in WV. Love this state. I'm a college grad, my husband, my parents, siblings, etc... are all also educated and employed. When we lived for a year in FL people would ask us all the time where we were from ( I have quite the accent... can't really help it, and I'm proud of it!). Whenever I'd tell them WV, they would think i meant VA and ask if I was from near Roanoke! I live NO WHERE NEAR VA. Seriously. I wonder if people realize that we really are a state sometimes.

I love it here. It is beautiful, clean and honestly, the people here are some of the nicest I've met compared to any other state I've been too (And I've been to all the states along the east coast, and quite a few in the midwest.)

People who automatically think these things about WV, who judge us prematurely, have obviously NEVER been here.

Next time someone asks you "Why WV?" why don't you ask them "WHy not?". I'd love for someone from another state give me a valid reason other than what they think they know from movies or books. I could easily say the same about numerous other states. Besides, if they think WV is bad, then KY and Mississippi, not to mention Alabama, must be HORRIBLE.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:53 PM
Location: Western Pennsylvania
2,429 posts, read 7,203,402 times
Reputation: 830
Are you sure that AliceT hasn't been in contact with your friends? It sounds like her "Keep West Virginia for those who'll appreciate it" campaign is working.

Stereotypes are difficult to eradicate, especially when big-city media and out-of-state politicians perpetuate them. I went to college (in Pittsburgh, also part of Appalachia) in the early days of The War on Poverty. One of my roommates asked how many deer I'd killed, the other immediately nicknamed me "Hick", as soon as I told them I was from West Virginia.

I hope you don't let it bother you, or dissuade you from your plans. Maybe in a year or two, you can write your friends, and tell them how nice it is to have neighbors who'll stop and talk with you, how good you've gotten at waving at every driver, walker, and porch-sitter you pass, and how you smile every time a door is opened for you. Yes, West Virginia is different, in ways that matter.
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Old 05-05-2009, 04:07 PM
Location: Germantown, WI
620 posts, read 1,829,395 times
Reputation: 201
People are ignorant to things they don't know. Once when visiting CA a woman asked where I was from; I responded Wisconsin, and she could not contain her laughter. She asked if I was kidding and then proceeded to ask about all the cows here. (I believe there are a FEW cows in California, too , if I'm not mistaken). I asked her the last time she was there and she said Oh, well I've never been there. That was the end of the conversation. What some people cannot understand is that everybody likes something different. How could we possibly all live in the same state???!! Good luck with your move!!
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:07 PM
Location: Huntington, WV
4,924 posts, read 8,853,402 times
Reputation: 926
Someone that lives here in Huntington actually started a website addressing this very thing. He wasn't from here but really just LOVES Huntington. When he would tell others where he lived, he would get the very responses listed above. In response to this, he created a website where people could write there own reasons for "Why Huntington WV?". Here's the link.

Why Huntington WV

Why WV for me? The mountains, the people, the sense of community, the great things one can do here and the sense of pride in just being from WV. A negative image of the state is perpetuated by the media. Few positive things about our state make it outside of our borders but the negative things spread like wild fire. When mixed with the lack of general knowledge people have about the state, this allows these misconceptions to continue. All one has to do is merely visit and see for themselves rather than basing their opinions on a stereotype.

Good luck in your move!
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Old 05-05-2009, 07:07 PM
4,714 posts, read 13,250,699 times
Reputation: 1084
West Virginia is not for everyone...and that includes many West Virginians, too...

Many are like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz...they are not able to enjoy it or return until they get a brain...

I lived and worked in Hawaii, Oregon, North Carolina, ect, after a few years, I got my brain and returned home...

It's a coming of age thing and some never arrive there.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:21 PM
Location: Milton, WV
130 posts, read 365,518 times
Reputation: 61
Amen, David...

Of course I was born and raised here. I was full of angst and wanted to get out, and lived in several places across the country experiencing many different groups of people. I got my brain, and I moved back...and I don't regret it one bit. My wife is originally from Missouri - and that's where we lived for awhile, when we met, and we got married and moved back here. She loves it. And she also has no regrets.

I really don't know why people have that kind of opinion about WV. It utterly frustrates me as well, so I know how you feel. It has been the source of many a fights. I really think a lot of it is the media. They tend to take the jokes that are getting way old, and break them out again. It's done time and time again and people just accept that it's true.

And we all know about the people who don't know WV is a real state, and think that we are still part of VA. There is no excuse for that. That's just stupidity. And it shows more about their intelligence than it does ours.
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Old 05-05-2009, 08:24 PM
Location: Milton, WV
130 posts, read 365,518 times
Reputation: 61
I think that's why West Virginians have a love-hate relationship with Kentuckians. At least in western WV. They usually have to put up with the same bull we do. It's not only WV jokes too...it's Appalachia in general. Namely WV, KY, AL, AR, and MS. I see it the worst with WV & KY.

But when you get out to the midwest, in Missouri...there are similar running jokes there as well. But it's more of a joke than a misconception. Missourians make fun of Arkansas, and vice versa. I think in general, the Appalachian culture can joke between each other - but when it comes to outsiders - it doesn't become a joke anymore...because those people really don't understand, and really do think that way. It's pathetic.
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