I was given my middle name after my great-great-grandfather. I could
have been graced with his first name, Arthur - there's a solid, noble name.
There was even a king with that name. Instead, he and I were given the name
Blaine. I am not aware of any kings with that name. Arthur Stambaugh was
given this name because it was the town in Kentucky where his parents came
from before they relocated north across the Ohio River in the early days of
the 20th century. So he'd always remember where he came from (or something).
Arthur and his wife begat Ruth, who married a railroad man and
well-witcher named Clarence (better known around town as Poppy), who begat
Viola Rose, who begat Ruth Ann. In 1950 Viola Rose and her husband Johnny
moved the family north - to the far northeast corner of the state, in fact -
in search of better jobs and indoor plumbing. Ruth Ann, my mother, went to
college, moved away, and became known simply as Ruth.
Ruth has made it a lifelong pursuit to put as much cultural
distance between her Appalachian roots and her current lifestyle. Unless she
tells you, you'd never know her family had an outhouse until she was three.
She prides herself in how far she's come.
The other morning I took a shower, walked into my living room
with a towel around my waist, opened the window, and spit into the parking
lot below. Proof positive that you can take the boy out of the hills, but you
can't take the hills out of the boy. Thank you, Arthur Blaine Stambaugh.