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Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
7 April 2014, 15:39,
#1
Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
http://www.journal-news.net/page/content...1&nav=5045

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Using Mother Earth News and the Whole Earth Catalog, Beth Crowder and her husband, David Wentz and some friends scoured ads for cheap land until they found 420 acres for sale in Doddridge County, where the couple moved in 1977.

Crowder and Wentz had been living in a communal home in Denver, but members wanted to get away from the city and give rural life a try, taking the practices they cultivated sharing a house among six to 12 people and spreading it out on a tract of land. Several members paid $5,000 for the land.

Then, using a series of books called "Foxfire" that outlined Appalachian culture step by step, the couple, among the first in their group to move to West Virginia, set about building a dovetailed log home, a process that took a few years. In the meantime, they lived on their property in a mobile home.

"Ironically, we live 12 miles from Fort New Salem and that's exactly the kind of construction they had," Crowder said recently. "We didn't know. We could have seen what it looked like, but we were going by the 'Foxfire' books."

Crowder and Wentz expected others who had gone in on the land to join them and a few did, coming and going through the years. Also, they each set about making a living. Wentz learned how to be a wood turner. Always artistic, Crowder set up shop in places like Middletown Mall in Fairmont and painted portraits of people and their pets and also served as an artist-in-residence for Harrison County schools. Eventually, she had more time to devote to her own pieces and won two Governor's Awards and one Award of Excellence in the West Virginia Juried Exhibition.

Nearly 40 years later, the two, now divorced, own about three-fourths of the original 420 acres, but have been discouraged by the hydraulic fracturing for gas that has been taking place on Wentz's property, which has meant increased traffic and noise that they both experience, so much that Wentz plans to move to Washington state to be closer to the couple's son. Wentz owns the land, but not the mineral rights....

And those are just two of many stories of the back-to-the-landers who moved to West Virginia during the 1970s in large numbers.

Carter Taylor Seaton of Huntington has written a book detailing how West Virginia benefited from these residents. "Hippie Homesteaders: Arts, Crafts, Music, and Living on the Land in West Virginia," was set for release last Tuesday by West Virginia University Press.....

"I learned that many of them would admit to the fact that if it hadn't been for the people they found on the land already — older couples — they would have frozen or starved to death," Seaton said.

"Also, what was interesting was these people they met were a generation older and they turned out to be the same age as these older couples' children who had left West Virginia during the out-migration where so many young people had left. It was like a whole cycle of somebody leaves and somebody else comes back in....."

No hard and fast numbers exist as to how many people moved to West Virginia with the intention of living off the land. But Seaton said West Virginia census figures indicate that the only population increase in the past 50 years was in the 1970s, with about 10,000 of the 200,000 new residents estimated to be part of the movement.....

All these years later, Crowder has some mixed feelings about her move to Doddridge County. When she and her then-husband bought their land, they gave no thought to their future ability to sell it. Also, Crowder realizes if she loses her ability to drive, she would not be able to get out and sell her art — which she does at arts festivals up and down the East Coast — let alone go to the grocery store.

"I want to live in an adorable town like Lewisburg and walk to the coffee shop and yoga class," she said. "I am jealous that I wasn't one of those people who moved to Lewisburg. They got land for cheap and when they sold it, they got loads of money, because it was outside of Lewisburg."

On the other hand, she appreciates the lifestyle she has had in West Virginia and the support she has received as an artist from entities such as Tamarack and the state in general.

"I feel like I've had a pretty leisurely lifestyle," she said. "You see on the news how people talk about juggling career and marriage and how stressed they are. I never felt any of that. We never got a babysitter until our son was 3. We could have made more money, but what kind of price do you pay on not having pressure?"

From: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.theet.com

73 de KE4SKY
In
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
USA
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7 April 2014, 16:54,
#2
RE: Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
Thats awful that you own the land but people can go below and undermine your land from off the plot...i thought you owned everything you stood on and not just down to the subsoil.
Nothing is fool proof for a sufficiently talented fool!!!!
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7 April 2014, 17:42,
#3
RE: Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
Archaic laws in West Virginia favored the coal companies, and now the gas companies....

73 de KE4SKY
In
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
USA
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7 April 2014, 21:27,
#4
RE: Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
I think its that way here to CH , the one thing that hits home to me is the age thing and the inability to live your life to the full ....and the relience of others .....take notes you young ones it will come to you........sooner than you imagine.
The ability to laugh at yourself while you learn is a great attribute.
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8 April 2014, 15:41,
#5
RE: Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
One of the problems these artsy hippies face is that they have been "self employed" their whole lives and never paid into the national pension system.

The commune was supposed to take care of them in their old age. Only the commune broke up and scattered to the winds. Even their families fled their irresponsible lifestyle.

Now they have no retirement, no pension, no income and higher expenses than they ever imagined. They purchased land without researching it and ignored the advice in the books they were using as reference. (The foxfire series made many references to the New Salem living history museum 12 miles from their home. It also constantly referenced how difficult the mountain life was as one grew older and all the kids left for better circumstances.)

Living off the land is a fine concept until one is in his 60s with a bad heart, bad back, failing eyesight, creaky painful joints an empty wood bin, empty pantry, and an empty house because all the kids went to town to get a real job because they hated the boring food, hard labor and isolation.

Yes, they avoided the "pressure" of conforming to job standards right up until they were about 50. Now they get to wonder what they are going to do about all their woes and worries every morning as soon as they open their eyes. They did not escape the pressure, they simply displaced it to the years when it was too late to do anything to mitigate it.

Poor prior planning produces a piss poor pensioner.
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8 April 2014, 16:23,
#6
RE: Aging Hillbilly Hippies Face Reality
Well stated Mortblanc!

I see examples of this every day and it reinforces the importance of building community.

73 de KE4SKY
In
"Almost Heaven" West Virginia
USA
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