5 THINGS | 1 Root Beer; 1 Comet; 1 Peach Porn; 1 Kitty; 1 Nixon

5 THINGS is an occasional showcase of five things from around WestVirginiaVille worth seeing or seeing again.


Root Beer Me

“Root Ber Me,” a WestVirginiaVille.com video short. | july2020

by DOUGLAS JOHN IMBROGNO | WestVirginiaVille.com


Here’s a pick-me-up from downer headlines. The beloved spinning root beer mug atop Frostop in Huntington, WV, disappeared this winter. What with a deathly pandemic, a Keystone Kops government, and having to use table napkins in the loo for awhile, were we also going to lose this iconic landmark, which for decades has broadcast where to find the best root beer for many a parsec? (Frostop’s been there since 1926.)

We stopped the other day, glad to see the mug back in action, and to nab some of their very good root beer. Bad bearings had ground the giant mug to a halt, said our server. They took it down for a quick fix—then the pandemic struck. The owners decided to repaint it, so it was months out of action. It went back up just a few weeks ago.

So, there’s that. Root beer Americana lives in on West Virginia. Hope spins eternal.


Drive-by Comet

The New River Gorge Bridge and Comet Neowise, July 2020 | Photo by KAITLYN HANSHAW, facebook.com/102.photographie.

Here’s a lovely shot of the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville WV. The downward dash of light in the upper left quadrant of the photo is Comet Neowise, which made an appearance in the West Virginia skies in late July. “This was my first attempt at astrophotography,” says Kaitlyn Hanshaw, a Summersville WV resident. “I’m a hobbyist who loves capturing nature shots, as well as abstracts and occasional portraits.” She does not yet have a website for her photos, but check out her Facebook photo page: facebook.com/102.photographie. “I named my small business ‘102 Photography’ because my biggest inspiration in my younger years was my friend Aaron. ‘102’ was his unit number when he passed. Through my work, I strive to bring him honor.”

PS: Comet Neowise is a newly discovered comet (in March 2020) that passed within 160 million miles of Earth. It is the brightest comet seen in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale–Bopp in 1997. As a result, its passage was widely snapped by professional and hobbyist shooters. It could even be spotted by folks living near city centers with light pollution.


Peach Porn

Colorized photograph of Floyd’s Produce peaches. | WestVirginiaVille.com photo

“Have you tried the peaches?” You know they’ve gonna be good when the sales clerk at Floyd’s Produce in Cabell County offers an unsolicited opinion about the 7 peaches you’ve just snatched off a table at the open-air mart and rolled in front of her register. And, oh, they were good. “I love a good peach,” said my daughter, when I laid them on our kitchen table. We were soon enough a peach-less house.


Kombucha and Kitty

Kombucha and Kitty by Kim Wilkinson | Summer 2019 | Cabell County WV

This is a watercolor painting by Kim Wilkinson of Huntington, WV, depicting my late, great departed feline, Gizmo Marie Gadget Imbrogno McKeown, framed by a glass of watermelon kombucha. No, I’m joshing. This is actually a photograph Kim took that she transformed, post-snap, into what looks darn-close to an actual watercolor painting.

This is a tricky business. Photoshop unleashed on the world 1,001 ways to alter a photo to look like crap. There are lots and lots and lots of photographs unwisely filtered and over-saturated to a ne’er-thee-well. The judicious, restrained, and aesthetic use of digital filters itself is a skill to grok.

I am biased in this case, I admit. That is my beloved Gizmo, after all, who has since gone on to her next life. Or the great Scratching Post in the Sky, who knows which. And Kim is, indeed, holding a sample of some of GT’s Watermelon Wonder kombucha I served guests in family heirloom, cut-glass apertif glasses, at a musical deck party last Summer. I am a Kombucha Evangelist. (Have you heard the good word?)


Richard Nixon Lives

Rotate the state of West Virginia 45 degrees and you get ….

It is a fact not widely known that if you rotate a map of West Virginia 45 degrees to the right you’ll reveal a not-bad caricature of Richard Nixon’s profile. I suppose those of us that are of a certain (elder) age must point out to those of you of a certain (far younger) age he used to be the 37th president of these not-so United States, from 1969 to 1974. And the Republican knife-fighter was hounded from office and resigned as a result of great scandal. And that until Trump came along, Nixon was the poster child for a President-gone-bad. And that given the current orange man in the white house, Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon—for all his bigly faults, and they were many—had some major and notable achievements.

Among them, was a detente with China fostered by his visit there in 1972, which ushered in a new era of Chinese-American relations. Plus, his support of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (either of which is hard to imagine any of the current Republican crop of climate change criminals countenancing.)


Until Trump came along, Nixon was the poster child for a President-gone-bad.


He was also vindictive and indeed a crook. But Trump—sometimes referred to as “Fat Nixon”—has certainly gone places where no president has gone before. Nixon was, after all, a conventional politician, with whom it was at least possible to negotiate. Unlike the orange man, who doesn’t seem conventional or even normal, in any sense. But you probably are more interested in now being able to take out your West Virginia driver’s license at a bar (if it’s ever safe to go into one, again, thank you Fat Nixon) and slightly amuse someone with your newfound knowledge about the shape of West Virginia. You’re welcome.

‘Nixon Found Hiding in West Virginia.’ | WestVirginiaVille.com illustration

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