Why West Virginia’s Birthday Annoys Me


This time of year always annoys me, and it’s not because the kids won’t be back in school for another two months.

It’s because of West Virginia’s birthday.

This year was doubly annoying because the state marked a more significant milestone than usual – its 150th birthday, the sesquicentennial of its formation.

The June 20th birthday prompted celebrations big and small throughout the state and spilled over on-line. My Facebook feed (once I plowed through the all of the ads) was filled with pictures of fireworks exploding over the gold dome of the state capitol, the “Welcome Signs” above interstate highways, ramp feeds, paw paws and pepperoni rolls.

I added to the FB parade. At least some of the pepperoni roll pictures were mine. My wife and I served them along with dinner on West Virginia Day and followed them up with apple pie and ice cream for dessert. What would any celebration of West Virginia statehood be without pepperoni rolls?

But even though my stomach is a little too well-acquainted with them, it still bugs me that I can’t say what many of my friends can – that I was born in West Virginia, that I’m a native.

It pains me to admit, but I came into this world in Connecticut. It pains me even more to admit that I once lived in Ohio.

It’s not that I have anything against Ohioans.

I’d just rather not get stuck behind them on the interstate. That’s about as annoying as pepperoni rolls are to a vegan, which probably says something about how well West Virginians and Ohioans mix.

A smarter man than me could explain the rivalry better. All I can say is I fall on the side of pepperoni rolls.

And, although I’m not much of a slaw guy, I am partial to a juicy hot dog drowned in chili sauce. I’ve even had a dog or two at the legendary Dairy Queen in Hinton – the one with the dining room that provides a gorgeous view of the New River.

I’ve eaten and experienced much of what West Virginia has to offer. I’m even planning a hiking trip to Dolly Sods for next month.

With terrain more like what you’d find in sub-arctic regions, Dolly Sods is one of the most unique places on the east coast.

And it’s in West Virginia.

I am, too. Yet I am still not a native.

I blame my parents. They were living out-of-state at the time my siblings and I were born, making us the first in generations on either side of the family born SOMEWHERE ELSE.

Perhaps this is the year I do something about my status.

A former colleague, who is also suffering from being born somewhere else despite having parents from West Virginia, once suggested we find a way to get naturalized – to obtain a piece paper proclaiming us natives.

A. James Manchin was still alive then. He was the only one we could think of who had the appropriate twinkle in his eye to make such a pronouncement. At the very least, I’m sure he could have dug up a few of those certificates he used to pass out when he was West Virginia’s Secretary of State. He had to have some leftover.

Manchin would have been perfect to confer native status upon us, and he would have done it like he did most things – with a lot of panache.

However, he died before we could put our plan in motion.

Senator Robert C. Byrd was a top choice, too. He certainly had the gravitas, but he is no longer with us, either.

So, I’m asking if there is anyone who can unilaterally lift this burden from me and others who are living in limbo?

Because if the congressional divide on immigration legislation is any guide, I fear I’m in for a long wait if I have to rely on lawmakers to come together on this issue.

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8 thoughts on “Why West Virginia’s Birthday Annoys Me

  1. Oh for the love of . . . you were totally born in WV. Didn’t anyone tell you? It’s not a physical birth thing. It’s totally spiritual. I know folks who came out of the womb in WV, but they are not West Virginians. You’ve got the spiritual status, Brother Snyder. Anyone who wants to take it up with me, tell them it’s D-A-M-E-W-O-O-D and I will set them right. ;-)

  2. There must be a huge pool of us West Virginians-by-choice. But I don’t know if you can call yourself a native until you get to liking that slaw. My first month in WV, I ordered a hot dog with mustard at a diner in Whitesville. The waitress refused to give it to me unless I had a “West Virginia hot dog.”

  3. Damn, Giles, This is an interesting problem. People read my column and assume I’m not a native West Virginian (carpetbagger; east coast elitist; brie eating, spandex wearning bicycle rider, etc.). And here you are, practically a state institution, and you really are an out-of-stater (as well as being a bicycle rider I have pictures! — although I won’t comment on the spandex part). Maybe we were both born with identity disorders. Sean

    From: Giles Snyder Reply-To: Giles Snyder Date: Friday, June 21, 2013 7:13 PM To: Sean O’Leary Subject: [New post] Why West Virginias Birthday Annoys Me

    WordPress.com giles snyder posted: “This time of year always annoys me, and it’s not because the kids won’t be back in school for another two months. It’s because of West Virginia’s birthday. This year was doubly annoying because the state marked a more significant milestone than usua”

  4. Pingback: West Virginia knows how to celebrate its birthday | Steven Allen Adams

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