by Mike Peters
Hello. Yes, it has been awhile. A little over 34 years, to be exact. That's the reason I wanted to talk. I thought I'd catch you up on what you've missed.
For starters, I graduated college. Twice! Thank you for stressing education and for the discipline you instilled in me. That really helped. I don't know if I could have done it without you.
Married? Yes sir! It happened on 20 July 1985. She's a beautiful girl. A very caring and giving person. I think you'd approve of Nancy.
Children? Two lovely little girls, 10 and 7. We named the first one after you. Her grandmother thinks the naming was quite appropriate since little Shelby is as stubborn as big Shelby was. But you and I know Mom. She can hold her own in that department. The youngest is Katelyn. She looks just like me when I was little. Poor thing! We even call her "little Michael." She just smiles. Yes, I show the girls all the old pictures and tell them the stories.
Mom? Oh she's a trooper. You'd be proud of her. After you left, she put herself through school and became a nurse. She's been nursing now for about 32 years. She loves it! Times were hard in the beginning. But we made it. And you know those early days were some of the best of my life. Each time I graduated, I gave her the diploma. She worked as hard or harder than I did to get there. She was well deserving.
What am I doing with myself? Besides working, I've taken up a new hobby--genealogy. Yes, family history. It can be very rewarding. Yes, I know I could have asked you. I thought there'd be more time.
How did I get into that? I met Herbert's daughter online. What? That's computer lingo. When you're online, you can send someone a letter and they get it instantly. Anyway, Gracie infected me with the genealogy virus. It is great! I am constantly finding new cousins and friends. Hope they never find a cure for this ailment. By the way, how is Uncle Herbert? Good! Tell him, I said hello.
Gracie then introduced me to some wonderful people who are members of what we call the Raleigh County list. There we discuss the mines and Coal River. We talk about places named Marfork, Edwight and Naoma. Yes, I know you told me about those places.
I visited Grandpa Peters' old place last time I was in Boone County. It was right after Uncle James died. At Bloomingrose, I turned up Toneys Branch. Like always. But it just wasn't the same. Time does that, I guess. James' youngest daughter Debbie lives in the old house now. She married a Milam boy. I'd like to visit Whitesville next time I'm there. Yeah I know. Take Route 3 out of Raleigh.
Found out that our family also lived in Wyoming County. The first permanent settlers there were the John Cook family followed shortly by the Ralph Stewart clan. We descend from both of these men. They were military men, each having fought in the Revolutionary War. Yes, I thought you'd like that.
Jackson County? The woods are as beautiful as ever. Remember the time we went squirrel hunting there and you lost your sun glasses. Mom's sister "Dee" now owns the old Coleman homeplace. Her son, Clifford "Pete" Casto, shot a buck there last week with his bow. I got some of the venison in my freezer. It'll be gun season soon. How did he get his nickname? When he is a passenger in a car, he always falls asleep. Just like you did. So Grandma Coleman started calling him "Pete" and the name stuck.
Oh, that's the dog barking. What kind? It's a dachshund, a brown miniature crew cut version. Named Wilt. I named him after the basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. I know it was you that got me started with the breed. He's the sixth one I've owned. And the girls love him. I've said it before. If the house was burning and the girls could save one thing, Dad and Mom would be tied for second, behind the dog. He is their protector.
World Series? The Diamond Backs won. Who are they? They're a team out of Arizona. We'll discuss that next time.
If you give everyone there my best, I'll do the same here for you.
Dad? I miss you. Let's talk again soon.