Everything looked ghostly pale and dead when I first arrived in Huntington to visit my son for the Thanksgiving break. Even the snow wasn’t storybook pretty. But I’ve traveled enough to know the beauty of a place reveals itself, if you take the time to look.
This is a small town. Its heart and soul is the university, Marshall, of “We Are Marshall” fame. The 1970 plane crash that killed most members of the football team was a tragedy that, to this day, defines the spirit of the school and its community.
My son chose Marshall based partly on the campus– it’s small and attractive– but also because of his experience with the people. Everyone seemed sincere, helpful and friendly. In fact, I would say one of Huntington’s major assets is the warmth of its people. I don’t know if they’re like this all over West Virginia, but in Huntington folks are downright neighborly. Maybe because it’s a small town. People like to chat. I am charmed by their accents, their apparent decency and their ready smiles.
And they’re good sports, too– note their willingness to humor a stranger and flash the “shaka” for the folks back home.
Seems no matter where you go, there’s a Hawaii connection. It’s like “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon,” island style. That Five Guys dude in the background is married to a Hawaii girl.
And Joe Beter, owner of Jewel City Seafood, serves mahimahi and ahi in his restaurant. Well, okay, he calls it tuna, not ahi. But still, it was like a taste of home, only with hush puppies instead of rice.
And sure enough, despite the early onset of winter conditions, I did find patches of glorious color amidst the grey.
Oops, no, not that.
Like I said, beauty is there. You just have to look for it.
Home tomorrow. Can’t wait to ditch the floofy scarf and winter coat and slip into something more– tropical.