I was born and raised in West Liberty. This is a nice small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. Like all small towns across America, West Liberty has some incredibly wonderful people and some real characters. It was a great place to grow up and to be from. I have always been proud of my hometown.
I always thought that West Liberty was the closest thing on earth to Mayberry, so much so that when my oldest child was getting ready to start school, my wife and I decided to move back to West Liberty to raise our children. You see my wife was not from West Liberty and she was moving away from her hometown area — it was not an easy decision for us at the time.
I think growing up in a small town is wonderful, because you learn how to deal with people. You can’t isolate yourself like you can in a city. I think it is easier to take a small town raising and move to the city than vice versa. However I still had some reservations about this move because I thought I had become citified. I was reminded of the Gomer Pyle, USMC episode when Gomer came back to Mayberry on leave from the Marines and he wanted to surprise his friends only to show up and no one was there.
Only a few people know this about me ( and after this blog, that probably won’t change)…I have written a few songs. I am not a songwriter but occassionally one squirts out of me. I tried to write a song about moving back and I used the above episode as a theme, wondering what Gomer thought about coming back to Mayberry. The only words I could come up with…so far…
“Gomer don’t go back home
Mayberry ain’t what it use to be.
The buildings still stand,
Your friends you will see
But you are the one that has changed.”
Those few lyrics did not prove to be the case with me because it was a smooth transition back home.
However, it hasn’t been so smooth in these last six months since the tornado tore everything up. The buildings don’t still stand anymore and a lot of my friends I don’t see as often because routines have changed. I sometimes wonder if the tornado changed me also. I hope this is not the case. West Liberty will always be a wonderful small town and I know, again, it will be a great place to be from.
I took this shot of Main Street at night this past winter about two or three months before the tornado. Most of these buildings are gone now. I am glad to have this picture. Like looking at friends in old school yearbooks, it will be easier to remember what this old friend looked like. But as we all change from year to year in those photos, it will be great to see West Liberty fully grown up again.
If you like this picture, you can see more here.