Evans “Buddy” King
It is a bright, beautiful, cold early Thanksgiving morning in Chicago. I am at my daughter Laura’s house and my other daughter Beth and her family are here as well.
I have been up for over two hours now and no one else is stirring. Not even one of Laura’s over-sized dogs or overly friendly cats.
I am okay with the solitude, it allows me to read and write, but I realize I am becoming my parents. I can’t figure out how to make a cup of coffee or turn on the shower or adjust the thermostat. So I am groggy, dirty and freezing.
Back to the weather: it’s Chicago, I’m cold, but I check the temperatures on my trusty iPad and it’s ten degrees colder in Christiansburg than the Windy City. Not an unusual event, but usually only believed by those of us who have lived in Christiansburg or Blacksburg.
Many of my friends from the north have always “pooh poohed” on the idea that it can be cold anywhere in the south. I challenge them to check the early morning temperatures on a regular basis — l live close to Pittsburgh and can vouch that Christiansburg lows and Pittsburgh lows are pretty similar. It’s 34 degrees in Chicago as I write this and 24 in Christiansburg. Go figure.
I have many stories confirming that southwest Virginia is as cold as I say. One of my law partners for many years began his academic career in the corps of cadets at Tech.
He was from eastern Virginia where the land is flat and the temperatures temperate. The drill field in January ended his academic career for a number of years. He quit school and worked in Virginia Beach for a while just to warm up.
He stole a Mark Twain quote by saying that the coldest winter he had ever endured was a spring in Blacksburg. He has never returned to “Bleaksburg” as he likes to call it.
I remember a few years ago reading that the Disney folks were considering locating one of their theme parks somewhere in the mid-Atlantic, trying to take advantage of the often quoted fact that 3/4 of the U.S. population lives within 500 miles of the mid-Atlantic.
The garden spot of a city they were considering was located at the intersection of two of the country’s busier interstate highways. Sounds perfect right?
Where was this ideal spot for the next Disney? The geniuses who were making this strategic decision had focused their attentions on Wytheville — our Wytheville — Wytheville, Virginia, our old New River District foe.
Thankfully, for Disney at least, warmer heads prevailed and someone started looking at the climate around Wytheville. The Disney intelligentsia, who apparently had never been to our part of the world, were expecting to find palm trees and soft summer winds for 3/4 of the year.
Instead they learned of snow fences and wind alerts on Fancy Gap. The report they received was that southwest Virginia and northern New Jersey have remarkably similar climates. They learned that Mickey and Minnie would freeze their tails off late into the spring and early in the fall in Fort Chiswell.
This story may be urban legend, but it is telling at least of the disdain that north-easterners in particular have for our weather. They seem to think that there is a switch that goes on when you cross the Mason-Dixon Line and the temperature automatically goes up 25 degrees, that everyone on our side of the line wears flip flops year round, that no one here has ever seen snow.
So I don’t doubt that Disney folks were this clueless and that they were wearing short sleeves when they visited Rural Retreat in March.
Now back to Chicago. Obviously it is the Windy City – but not to folks from Christiansburg. Chicago is a summer breeze compared to the top of Christiansburg Mountain in April.
The memories of my childhood are that the wind blew 365 days a year. If it was ever still it was because the snow was so heavy that it brought the wind to a halt. I remember that it was hard to have a conversation outdoors many times of the year. Hat flying, trashcan tossing, limb numbing wind.
Of course it made the summers delightful, with temperatures rarely above the low 80’s. But the winters were frigid and the springs and summers were not to be trusted.
The truth is that Chicago’s nickname comes from its long history of longwinded politicians, thus the “Windy City.”
So maybe Christiansburg can convince Chicago to surrender the name. Or perhaps Christiansburg can claim the title of the “Windy Town.”
Evans “Buddy” King grew up in Christiansburg and graduated from CHS in 1971. He lives in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where he practices law with the firm of Steptoe and Johnson PLLC.