A Landing a Day

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Bob White, Uneeda, Gordan and Van, West Virginia

Posted by graywacke on February 17, 2017

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I use an app that provides a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”

I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town or towns I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location. 

To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2326; A Landing A Day blog post number 757.

untitledDan:  Today’s lat/long 37o 58.910’N, 81o 43.142’W) puts me in SW West Virginia:


Here’s my local landing map:


My watershed analysis is as follows:


I landed in the watershed of (and right next to) the Pond Fork of the Little Coal River (2nd hit); on to the Little Coal River (3rd hit); on to the Coal River (4th hit); on to the Kanawha River (14th hit); on to the Ohio River (141st hit).

Of course, the Ohio discharges to the MM (907th hit).

It’s time to wrap your legs around the Google Earth (GE) yellow push pin, and ride, bronco style, on into the hills and valleys of southwest WV.  Click HERE to do so.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking down the Pond Fork valley, past Van and my landing:


You may have noticed that a road (WV State Route 85) runs right past my landing.  Since it’s a State Route (and not a measly county road), it seems like a good bet for Street View coverage:


Sure ‘nuf; and here’s what the Orange Dude sees:


I’ll send the OD down to Van, where Route 85 crosses the Pond Fork:


And here’s what he sees (looking downstream):


So how about my titular towns?  Well, I could find out nothing about Bob White WV, except that it’s an unincorporated town (no population data), and (according to Wiki), most of the residents work in coal mines (no surprise there).

Actually, it looks fairly substantial:


I found a You Tube video entitled “Explosion in Bob White, WV,” posted by AppalachianVoices (an environmental group that opposes the “mountain removal” method of coal mining).


The description on You Tube:

From the front porch of Maria Gunnoe’s home in Bob White, WV this mountaintop removal site was recorded. Courtesy of Maria Gunnoe, Community Organizer for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

Here’s a GE shot of a large coal mine near Bob White (about 1.5 miles end to end), likely the site of the above explosion:


So what about the name Bob White?  I could find absolutely nothing about it.  I thought of the bird of the same name, but realized that the name of the bird is one word:  bobwhite.  So, it’s the official ALAD verdict that the town of Bob White is named after some guy named Bob White, lost to internet history.

I’ll move downstream (bypassing Van and Gordon for now), and settle in on Uneeda:


Uneeda looks like Bob White, and like Bob White, Uneeda is unincorporated, with no population data.  But Wiki got wild and crazy, and had this to say:

The community was named after a brand of biscuit, Uneeda.

I guess I strongly suspected that that must be the case.   I mean, after all, where else would the name Uneeda come from? 

I’m sure that some (if not most) of my readers remember Uneeda Biscuits.  The product was discontinued in 2008; here’s a fairly recent package (on flickr by Lisabelladesanto):


My wife Jody & I both remember these biscuits, but mainly from our childhood. 

They’ve been around since the late 1800s.  Here’s a 1923 tin on sale on Ebay for a lousy $8.99:


Here comes my ALAD town-naming story (yea, this is too easy):

Around the turn of the 20th century, as increased demand for coal, advances in mining technology, and the development of a robust railroad system for transport all came together, small coal mining communities began to pop up in Boone County (and neighboring counties) in southwest West Virginia.

One of these small communities took root in a wide spot on the floodplain of the Pond Fork, within a few miles of two burgeoning coal mines.  An informal governing body was convened, comprised of the major landowners in the new town. 

[OK, OK, I’ll cut to the chase.]

They couldn’t agree on a new name, so they took a break.  One of the wives who was present was in charge of refreshments, and decided to serve coffee and biscuits.

[It’s OK to be sexist when you’re talking about turn of the century, right?]

And you guessed it – she served Uneeda Biscuits. 

She suddenly had an idea and said (as she held up the biscuit tin), “You need a name? Why looky here.  How about Uneeda?”

Done deal, and the rest is history.

It’s time to make a quick stop in Gordon:


Nothing much to say about Gordon, except that Wiki has a straightforward naming story:

Gordon was named in 1883-1884 by Asa White, the postmaster, after a favorite nephew, Gordon Mason.

OK.  time to move to our final stop, Van:


Van has the local high school.  See the football field?  Anyway, from Wiki, under Notable Residents:

Hasil Adkins – Appalachian Rockabilly one man band who recorded many songs, appeared in movies and TV shows and was featured in a documentary, “The Wild World Of Hasil Adkins.”

Sounds interesting.  His name was wiki-click-able, so I wiki-clicked.  Here are some excerpts:

Adkins was born in Boone County, West Virginia on April 29, 1937, where he spent his entire life [just outside of Van, I think].  He was the youngest of ten children of Wid Adkins, a coal miner, and Alice Adkins, raised in a tarpaper shack on property rented from a local coal company.  Adkins’ early life was stricken by poverty.  His parents were unable to provide him shoes until he was four or five years old.  Some reports say he attended school for a very brief time, as few as two days of first grade.

Adkins’ given name, Hasil, pronounced “Hassel”, was often mispronounced.  One of his brothers was named Basil, similarly pronounced “Bassel”.  Hasil dated a girl named Hazel, and was later given the nickname The Haze.   As he explained it, the nickname came about “’cause Starlight records wanted something catchy.”

Hasil Adkins loved to eat meat, specifically poultry, the subject of many of his songs.  Following the release of a 2000 album, “Poultry in Motion,” Adkins toured with “dancing go-go chicken” dancers.  His diet also reportedly consisted of as much as two gallons of coffee a day, and copious amounts of liquor and cigarettes.

Well, what the heck.  I’ll interrupt Wiki with a pertinent YouTube video:


Back to Wiki:

Adkins was said to have suffered from manic depression and insomnia among other mental illnesses.  He never married.

On April 15, 2005, Adkins was deliberately run over in his front yard by a teenager on an ATV.  Ten days later, on April 26, Adkins was found dead in his home, two days before his 68th birthday.

In another account of his death, it was stated that he died of lung cancer. . .

Back to Wiki about his musical style:

Frenetic in progression and explicit in lyrical content, Adkins was known for having an unconventional take on traditional rockabilly.  His unpolished sound was a praised by-product of the makeshift studio equipment used for the majority of his career. “I didn’t try to be primitive, I just had bad microphones”, he wrote.

His lyrics explored topics such as eating peanut butter on the moon and the suggestive strut of a chicken.  Recurring themes in Adkins’ catalogue included sex, heartbreak, decapitation, aliens, hot dogs and poultry.

[Decapitation?  Check out “No More Hot Dogs” on You tube if you dare.]

Together with country and honky-tonk, Adkins’ assortment of styles helped delineate a genre known as psychobilly.

He played and recorded in relative obscurity in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.  But in the 80s, he was “discovered,” developed a cult following, and played in clubs all around the country.

Here’s a Wiki shot of Hasil in 1993:


And one of him performing in Baltimore on the guitar & drums in 2003 (also Wiki):


And here’s a great album cover:


What the heck – with some trepidation, I’ll post another of his YouTube videos.  The words are tough to understand (but I checked out the lyrics and they’re not too bad).  Here’s Hasil playing “She Said.”

(Do a Google search for Hasil Adkins lyrics she said, if you want to read along.)

There is a documentary film about Hasil’s life called My Blue Star.  Actually, I’m not sure if the film was ever completed, but I am sure that a 9 minute trailer for the film was.  It’s on You Tube and is worth seeing to get a real feel for Hasil.  This is for mature audiences, so you’re on your own (but just go to You Tube and search for Hasil Adkins and look for My Blue Star).  It’s actually quite compelling.

Enough Hasil. It’s time for some GE Pano shots.  It turns out that the good folks within about 10 miles of my landing aren’t really into photography.  But at distances of 10-15 miles from my landing, I found a few.  Here’s one by Sean Rose of a stream a couple of watersheds to the east:


And this, by Kenneth King, or a stream a couple of watersheds to the southwest:


And this lovely shot, by Brian Humphreys, taken about 12 miles to the northeast:


That’ll do it . . .




© 2017 A Landing A Day



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