If the reader will permit me this once a somewhat personal and idiosyncratic essay–heretofore I have never been either personal or idiosyncratic–I will promise never to do it again. No one can doubt the reliability of my promises.
I have played in writing over the years with my birth in West Virginia and my consequent but imaginary possession of twelve toes. (Most readers will not care where I was born, and a fair few clearly wish that I hadn’t been. Well, this isn’t your day.) Anyway, I entered this world in Bluefield General Hospital, McDowell County, West Virginia, because my mother was staying with her father, a medical doctor in Crumpler, an unincorporated coal camp up the holler from North Fork, while my father was gunnery officer aboard a destroyer in the Pacific.
In fact my people are pure Cavalier stock of the Virginia Tidewater. I am Frederick Venable Reed Jr, my mother’s maiden name being Betty Venable Rivers–a cousin marriage, which some will suggest explains a lot. The Venables were prominent in the gentility of Southside Virginia.
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