Why Sam’s Branch

I lived on Sam’s Branch in Lincoln County, West Virginia and walked the quarter mile to Duval High School where the powers tried to fire me three times in twenty-two years. At Duval I mainly taught physical science, chemistry, physics and did a few semesters of principles of technology and environmental earth science.

My students did all hands-on activities, watched and discussed demonstrations at my desk and debated controversial issues and often got off the subject. Never did I say read the chapter and do the questions at the end. We never opened the textbook in class except to consult the periodic chart and such. I coached the girls seventh and eighth grade basketball team for two seasons and was paid $900 for not coaching the boy’s ninth grade team.

My weekly column in a newspaper that lasted one year was entitled The News From Sam’s Branch. I have no idea who Sam was and don’t think anyone living does and those dead don’t think. There is much more to tell but why tell it all at the beginning (like why did I get paid $900 to not coach, it wasn’t because I was a bad coach.) And there was the time I was decked at a board of education meeting by the Superintendant’s brother in law. Those were the days, I sometimes wondered if they would ever end.

Mountain top removal coal mining concerns me more than any other issue. On this blog I will discuss environmental issues and other issues I would write about if I had a regular newspaper column. Other than environmental concerns I hope to write about the raising of children and their “education”; racism has been a lifetime interest of mine as I have tried to work my way out of the osmosis-like absorption of my White culture’s prejudices—I think this may have been easier to do in West Virginia than in the deeper south states; War and the absence of peace also concentrates my attention. If I pause to list the wars, invasions, government overthrows and assassinations the United States has been a part of in my lifetime it goes like this: Second World War, Korean War, the invasions of Lebanon (twice), Vietnam, Cambodia, Granada, Panama, Dominican Republic, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, a proxy invasion of Cuba and a proxy war inside Nicaragua, missile attacks on the Sudan and Pakistan, bombing of Libya, Bosnia, Serbia,Cambodia. And there are USA troops in Colombia, the Phillipines, Japan, Germany and on all the oceans of the world, to name the easy ones that come to mind(someone tell me all the places you know where USA troops are stationed. There is our complicity in the overthrow of the governments of Iran, Guatemala, Chile (assassination of Allende), the Congo (assassination of Lumumba), South Vietnam (assassination of Diem) and covert support of one side or the other in numerous conflicts in Africa and Latin America. I am sure I have left some out. And just yesterday it was reported that the USA is sending “military advisors” to Central Africa. The USA is one hell of a rich nation to support all this worldwide killing. So guess where most of our money is going.

Is there anyone who knows where all USA troops are stationed, including special forces, and why do I think they are everywhere?

There is so much real insanity it is worse than my imaginary paranoia. The paranoids really are after me, I think.

I hope to share my poetry from time to time and even be positve every now and then. So don’t go away.

And I don’t intend to take the fun out of this by doing real close editing.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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One Response to Why Sam’s Branch

  1. No fun should be taken out of this. Ever. For any reason. Congrats on your new blog!

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