Approaching 70: Remembering West Virginia

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In September, I’ll turn 70. In many ways, it is a most incredible milestone. From having done decades of research on my family heritage, I found out that my forefathers settled in what is now known as Lincoln Park, way back in the 1600’s. Here is a most interesting fact. Going back many generations, none of my forefathers ever made it to 80. So, I have become ever aware of the clicking of the clock and tearing of the pages of the calendar. 


I tend to write about my family heritage, of the years of growing up in old Lincoln Park, and of people who deeply touched my life. I don’t write much about my years of living alone in a small town in West Virginia, wherein I did my very best to maintain a small chiropractic practice. They were painful years. You see, back in the mid seventies to the early eighties, in a small town in West Virginia, I may as well have put up a sign that read, “Witch Doctor.” I don’t mean to sound harsh, but sadly, that is the painful truth.


There was a time when there was a great prejudice against chiropractic, sadly it was headed by the well meaning, buy poorly misdirected leaders of the established medical profession. I don’t write those words with malice and bad feelings, but rather as facing a cold, hard historical fact. 


A very close friend of mine, whom I have known for many years, suggested that I should write about those years of struggle, the years of counting pennies, the years of a certain loneliness. In many ways, my failure to make it as a chiropractor in that little town in West Virginia, was actually one of my greatest successes. 


Each and every one of us knows deep within the chambers of their heart that they hold the key to their own fate and destiny. Struggles can be looked upon as a means to feel sorry for yourself, to look with envy at those who have all so much while we are faced with living on hot dogs and beans as a dietary mainstay. Or, we can look at our times of struggle as a precious gift that gave us the opportunity to grow and become stronger and dig deeper to find faith in God. 


The West Virginia Years as I now call them were the some of the toughest times of my life. But along the path of that journey in time, I did come to meet and know some very kind people. And, sadly, I came to know some very cruel and mean-spirited people. 


This is a most painful, but still inspiring, memory of my life. It has been very hard to face square on, let alone write about it. Now, at the age of 69, I have found the courage and strength to revisit that time of hard challenges, a certain loneliness, a devastating heartbreak, and a struggle that only strengthened me in heart, mind and soul. 


In the next few montths, that lie ahead, I will share this heart warming story with you.  


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at

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