My hometown is full of pride and good country living
My hometown is VERY small. It is not a tourist centre, it doesn’t having shopping and the only accommodation is with the family member of your choice (we are just about all related there). It has a name that in today’s standards is considered taboo... Gay, West Virginia.
In 1888 the town members held a meeting to find a name for the town, it was Dog Town because of the number of strays. They just couldn’t think of one thing that they all liked. As they were leaving to meet another day one of the men shouted, “Well at least we’ve had a gay ole time today.” It stuck. The connotation in those days was gay = happy. So we are a happy little town that loves are community and any involved about it. The younger generation tried to change the name once, but the older ones wouldn’t hear of it. There is a lot of pride in being from Gay.
My family moved here from Lewis County in 1854. We settled a farm on Cox’s Creek that is now in Roane County, then to a small place by the water in Gay. The homestead was raised by Grandpa Matt (James Madison Hinzman) and it sits in a valley right off of the road. This homestead was still standing when I left in 2006, but it was going to be torn down at any time. Great Aunt Ruby just put a double wide on the property to move into so that they could tear it down. Five generations were raised here or nearby.
It is a farming community. There are also gas companies pumping, there was once much logging to be done, there was a grist mill, a general store, post office, meeting hall and community building. Only the Community building and post office remain.
My father moved from here when he was a young man. We always had ties there and came back often to visit family, but we didn’t settle there until 1998. Dad bought 2 acres and I bought 3. We got some goats, chickens, a hog and tried our luck at a bit of homegrown living. My son grew up here and it was a good upbringing. There was church every Wednesday and Sunday, socials at the community building, homecoming picnic on the lawn in the middle of town, gospels sings, 4-H and clean living.
I know a lot of history of this town. I know every inch of its soil. Another branch of my family owned all of it at one time, it was given to him by the government for his service in the Revolutionary War. I walked my son around this town would pick up the dirt and tell him a lot of our family’s sweat went into this land he should be proud of every step he takes here.
My grandmother died in a car wreck in 2003, she was the glue that held everything together. My father then lost heart for the place and became a snow bird to Florida. I stayed taking care of my grandfather (who was also in the wreck and severely injured) for three more years. I feel in love with a man in Australia and sold it all up to more there.
Gay will always have a piece of the heart of this family. It is nothing to most but a great Sunday country drive, but our history, our blood, our sweat is all embedded in each inch of it. It is beautiful, especially in the fall when the leaves all turn colours. The creeks whisper secrets and the trees embrace you. If you ever go to Jackson County, West Virginia stop in and take a drive. I re-painted a sign on the Gay road that if you come to it you know you have arrived. It simple says...Welcome to Gay.