My wife and I are driving to Charlotte, North Carolina.
My daughter has gotten a job and moved there.
My son is working in College Station, Texas.
Like many parents in the Mahoning Valley,
my children have moved elsewhere to get jobs.
It’s a sad situation for the future of our area.
We are transporting some of my daughter’s furniture.
In West Virginia I noted a Gentleman’s Club
called, “Southern Exposure” and a Bible College
are both located at the same exit.
Along the highway I notice mountains of trees.
I see a fire trail with an observation tower
overlooking the vast expansion of forest.
This while the station on the car’s radio
is eerily playing, Jimi Hendrix’s version
of Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
West Virginia is beautiful country to pass through.
Politically I was worried about their future.
Now after the recent primaries the voters
have showed they care about their future.
They have voted against Don Blankenship’s
bid to be their next U.S. Senator.
Don is a coal baron who likes to use racist language.
He spent a year in prison for violating mine safety standards
that led to the death of 29 West Virginia coal miners.
Don has showed no repentance for his crime.
He is happy his parole is up so he can get his guns back.
I was also happy to see that state legislator Rupie Phillips
was defeated in the his bid to be a U.S. Congressman.
Rupie will do anything to win including have run
as a Democrat, an Independent and a Republican.
He was charged with domestic battery in 2012.
Like Blankenship, Rupie does not believe in global warming.
We only spend a short time driving through Virginia.
Local sheriffs have speeders pulled over every mile.
I chock it up to just Virginia being Virginia.
From the on ramp a beat up pickup truck
pulls right in front of our car without even looking.
I cannot get in the other lane as a left lane bandit
has been riding next to me for a dozen miles.
I almost rear ended the dilapidated pickup
as it had absolutely no pickup and go.
In a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina,
we pass a Spanish Evangelic Church.
Its parking lot is filled with modest older cars.
Up the road sits a new huge megachuch.
I dubbed it the Mercedes, BMW church.
We arrive at my daughter’s apartment
and help her move her furniture in.
I call a local pizza shop and place an order.
They said it would be ready for pickup in 25 minutes.
We arrive to pick it up but it takes another 20 minutes.
I forgot to factor in Southern time.
Much like I see in Akron, Cleveland and Pittsburgh,
there are men on street corners holding signs
asking for donations and stating their plight.
My thought is that these guys should dress differently.
I’d suggest a top hat, tuxedo tails, monocle and a cane.
The more they resemble the Monopoly man the better.
I say that because in this country we take care of the rich.
We give them all manner of corporate welfare
while we bash poor people on Social welfare.
We even elected a candidate that filed bankruptcy
several times and stiffed workers who did jobs for him.
Hell, even our so called, elected “representatives”
represent the will of the wealthy not us working stiffs.
We keep voting for millionaires who play golf at County Club’s
So I say, “If you’re begging for money on a street corner
you should dress like you belong to a Country Club.
We stop at a QT which is like our 7/11.
Next to me a car pulls in with a bass booming stereo.
I then hear these lyrics, “Pop Shit, Top Shit,
Pop Shit, Top Shit” real catchy tune.
We go inside to get a fountain iced tea.
Being we are in the South there are several flavors.
The ice is broken and looks like it has been for some time now.
That makes me think about some of the construction standards
I see in places like my daughter’s apartment.
No one seems to be able to miter a corner or spread caulk evenly.
I guess some of that might be because so many people
are moving to Charlotte they are tossing up housing quickly.
From what I see it isn’t necessarily retired people
as much as it is young millennials getting jobs and moving here.
We went to the largest farmer’s market in Charlotte.
We passed on the turnips, okra and greens all which I hate
and we bought the best watermelon I have ever eaten.
It was cool to see senior white men walking
holding hands with senior citizen black women.
Looking around we saw many mixed raced people
and same sex couples all walking holding hands.
Maybe, it is a new South at least in the urban areas.
With an influx of young Northern millennials,
the South could one day turn into blue states.
It would a good thing to see eventually but
it doesn’t take away the hurt of so many of us
having had our children move so far away from us.
“The greatest gift you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ~ Nishan Panwar