June 4, 2009 at 2:23 am (Friends, General, Memories, My Travels, Work)

Sometimes things are just right down interesting at the restaurant. We do get to have our little brushes with celebrity although not on the noise level of Chelsea Clinton visiting. However, Rosie served one of the Osmond clan and a former child star on Sunday night. She was the daughter on “Give Me A Break” with Nell Carter, so you can Google that if you wish.

On MondayI had my own brush and probably was the only one in the restaurant who would have given two shits that it was this particular man who found his way into my section.  He was an older gentleman and one that I was fairly certain I had met before. However, as we all know, putting a finger on that particular memory can be daunting.

He was a huge cut-up and kept making me laugh and I kept wondering who the hell he was. As I made another pass, I noticed he had laid his business card on the table and I read his name – Roy Lee Cooke.

Because I’m shy, I slammed my ass in the booth across from him, next to one of his lunch companions and asked, “Where are you from?”

He grinned and said, “MACKDowell County.”  (McDowell, for the rest of us.)

I smiled and said, “You’re a rocket boy.”

He smiled and nodded. See, I knew I had met him before, probably 9 or 10 years earlier at the annual October Sky Festival in Coalwood, WV. He asked about my trip there and I reminded him that was the year is was blue cold and Homer Hickam’s press agent or some such gent had gotten a little too close to the kerosene heater and set himself on fire.

I told him how saddened I was to lose my signed “October Sky” copy in my housefire and he said, “Well, come on down, we’ll get you another one. I’ll even get the dead one’s signature for you.”  OMG! He was referring to Sherman Siers, who passed away in the mid 70’s. The gentleman sitting with Roy Lee asked how he planned on doing that.

Roy Lee said, “Because I’ll sign for him!” 

No, it probably wasn’t polite to laugh, but I did anyway. He gave me his business card and extracted a promise from me to return to Coalwood for this year’s festival. Since Nate will be simultaneously reading “October Sky” and taking WV Studies next year, it will be a very educational trip for him. He swears he remembers going to Coalwood, but, I’m not quite sure and besides, he was only three or four at the time.

I haven’t read “October Sky” for a few years, probably two, since I made a habit of picking it up and reading it to remind myself that when you have a dream,  a few friends willing to pick you up, dust you off, and get in trouble with you, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or your circumstances, you can achieve great things.

The annual October Sky Festival is on October 3rd this year, so make your travel plans now. I would be happy to provide an escort to Coalwood, which is somewhere between BFE and the end of the Earth.  Just to give you an idea of how far out it really is, the nearest point from Coalwood to an Interstate is 40 miles.

If you’d like to make a weekend of it, we could head down Highway 16 and across 83, through the town named after my forefathers, and over to Jolo and The Church of the Lord Jesus, one of the few Pentacostal churches in America where they speak in tongues, drink poison, and handle snakes.

We could also visit War, WV, the southern-most incorporated city in WV. It has 15 churches and 1,000 residents and since only about 40 % of the population attends, well, that’s about 26 people per service. Hey, no line at the baptismal, unless of course they’re a particular kind of Baptist that only believes in baptizing in the river.

My grandparents believed that you could only be baptized in the river, until they got a baptismal at the church. I guess ya gotta have a backup plan.  If you feel enough spirit to be layed out in the Coal River in January, well, have at it.

Anyway, back to Coalwood. Also in the vicinity is the Berwind Wildlife Management Area, perfect for campers, fishermen, hikers, and hunters.

And that’s about all there is. So, mark your calendars, pack the Dramamine (if you don’t know what a switchback is, you’ll learn), and join me in Coalwood on October 3rd.


  1. kenju said,

    I’d love to do that. And I know what switchbacks are and I avoid them at all costs! LOL

    Imagine an Osmond and the child star in Chas! I wonder what they were doing there?

    • blackpunkin said,

      Economic and Business Development. I hate switchbacks but they are a way of life in Appalachia.

  2. eviltwinswife said,

    How cool! We’d love to do that. Keep me up to date on things. I’ll put it on my calendar, too. We’ve got extra room in the van in case anyone would want to carpool with us.

    • blackpunkin said,

      I’ll keep you informed. The place where they have the festival has a great playground for the kids.

  3. tinyhands said,

    Now now, I know you know that October Sky is the movie. The book is Rocket Boys.
    But I love brushes too.

    • blackpunkin said,

      Yes, NotSoTinyHands, originally the book was called, “Rocket Boys,” however, when the movie came out, the name of the book was changed to “October Sky” and now it can be found by both names, at least in local bookstores.

  4. Vince said,

    I remember seeing that movie! It was awesome! that’s pretty cool getting to meet one of the actual guys.

  5. Jammie J. said,

    I’ll bet you made his day. 🙂

    I love your “because I’m shy” humor. Cracked me up.

    Switchbacks are my favorite things to drive in my little car — I go as fast as my little car allows me to. Not surprisingly, I don’t have many volunteers to sit in my passenger seat.

    Sounds like you really love the area where you are from and where you live.

  6. Seamus said,

    Shy, huh? 😉

    Hey! Happy Blogaversary! 🙂

  7. Rick Lee said,

    I met Homer in Taylor Books before he got famous… got my book signed just for the helluvit and after reading the book I was really glad I got that autograph. I was sure it would be a sensation and I was right about that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: