The nice thing about living in a small town is that when you don’t know what you are doing, someone else does.—Immanuel Kant
I never knew Immanuel Kant grew up in West Liberty, KY.
The above photo is of West Liberty, KY, my hometown. I was born there. I lived there till college, graduate school, work, marriage, and parenthood…then moved back again for the next twenty-eight years…until last month.
I retired from my profession of thirty-eight years and moved to Indiana to be closer to my daughter’s family and of course, grandchildren. When I moved back to West Liberty twenty-eight years ago, I never thought I would leave again.
I had a professor in graduate school in Houston, TX that was from Sandy Hook, KY about twenty miles from West Liberty. He told me a man needs to live where his roots are. It took me a long time to figure out what he meant, but he was right.
I never understood the folks that left the Kentucky mountains for work and lived in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois for thirty or forty years and then moved back home, leaving their children and grandchildren. But I think I will understand a little better in a few years.
I loved being from West Liberty, KY. Yes, it’s small. Yes, there isn’t a lot of opportunities for young people. Yes, stores don’t stock many international foods. Yes, people always know your business (see above quote). Yes, it is physically isolated somewhat from larger cities. But it is and will always be home.
The residents of West Liberty, past and present, understand this.
Growing up in West Liberty was magical for me. I wanted my children to have the same experience and I had to convince my wife to move from her hometown to let our children grow up in West Liberty. I will always thank her deeply for allowing that to happen. I feel if you grow up in a small town, you learn to get along with people because you can’t hide from them. You will see them or their relatives at every turn. It is easier to make the transition from a small town to a city than from a city to a small town.
As mentioned earlier, I never thought I would leave again. But alas, after over two hundred years of someone in my family tree living in that community, I was the last remaining leaf to be a resident of West Liberty. But don’t get me wrong here, the people of West Liberty would have been enough to keep me there, for they are wonderful people. The beauty of the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains would have been enough to keep me there also. However, we missed our family and Indiana had what Kentucky didn’t have…my daughter and grandchildren.
So West Liberty, I am sorry to leave you. You will always be my home and my love…my roots.