Wow, time flies when one is having fun. It also flies when there is not much fun to
be had. I have not appeared in Hometown News since the end of January. At that
time, I was deep into a series on the 1972 explosion at National Steel’s Brown’s
Island Coke Plant. I was nearing the end of the Series, and will finish it yet, but
unless we reprint the previous sections, it will likely be a little dis-jointed. So, I am
going to talk a little about my absence and my (our) most recent activities.
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with Stage Four prostate cancer
in late 2019. For the first year I had Radiation and Androgen (hormone) therapy. In
April 2021 I started six sessions of chemo therapy over five months, it worked very
well, but after about five clean months the cancer showed up again. So I have been
undergoing a second round of chemo. I will have my seventh-session by the time
that you read this. Unfortunately, while it is slowing the progression, it is not
halting it, so after this session another type of treatment will be considered. I have
to say that in the last two and one-half years, I have rarely had a bad day from the
cancer, which I define as one when I felt sick. Tired sometimes but not sick.
Tiredness and hair loss have been the biggest side effects, so far. But other stuff
As I ventured out to Morgantown on February 3 rd for the planned second dose in
this round of chemo, the unexpected happened. My appointment was at 7:30 a.m. It
was dark and spitting precipitation, sometimes rain and sometimes snow flurries as
the temperature hovered around 32 degrees. I was driving. Tamara suggested that
she and I switch places so that she could drop me off under the covered entry of the
cancer center and then she would park the car. We pulled into the West Virginia
Welcome Center about five miles north of Morgantown to execute the change, and
I decided to visit the restroom. As I walked in the dark, the rain spotted my glasses
and affected my vision, I stepped up over the 8-9 inch curb, and in doing so caught
the toe of my right boot, which threw me forward. When I landed, I knew
immediately that I had fractured my left arm. My right arm hurt too, just not as bad
and after a few seconds elapsed I could move it, but not the left one. I got up and
into the passenger seat, Tamara started to drive. She wanted to know where to go. I
said “to the WVU emergency department” it happens to be in the building right
next to the Cancer Center. Then I called my oldest son, Christopher. He is a
physician in the Emergency Medicine Department and the Co-Director of the
Residency Program in that specialty. I explained everything and he had a team
ready to meet us in the ten minutes that it took to get to the door. In any event I

was diagnosed with a comminuted fracture of the left humerus (upper arm bone),
about one inch below the shoulder joint. Since repair of the injury would require a
shoulder replacement, and chemo would interfere with the healing process, I left
with a sling, almost total bruising from my waist to my shoulders all around my
body, and the legal maximum of 12 pain pills, a three days’ supply, with a follow-
up in one week. The first week was tough. I stretched the pain pills to four or five
days, and as long as I kept my arm motionless I was fine. That means changing
clothes and showering was agony. I switched to three extra strength Tylenol and
two Motrin every six to 8 hours. After a month the bruising and the pain were
largely gone, but the range of motion of my left arm was greatly restricted, and
subject to discomfort, on movement, but not enough to be called pain. Depending
on how the cancer treatment goes, I may have surgery, maybe not, I am in no
discomfort, and in no mood for any sort of lengthy rehab. Time will tell.

Between COVID-19 and my health issues Tamara and I have not been able to
enjoy traveling for quite some time. I think our last major trip was to San Diego
pre-epidemic. As we have had the COVID shots, we ventured to the Greenbrier
Resort for a few nights last November and all went well. In December I went to
Louisville to see my nephew’s Southeast Louisiana basketball team lose by twenty
points to the Cardinals, still a nice trip. More recently we had sniffles which turned
out to be COVID according to the test, they told us our immunity is supposed to be
high, and we should not be able to become infected or infect others for about four
months so, we decided to take a short trip. Not to go far we drove. Last Thursday
morning we packed the car, and the three of us, (of course, Max the Cavalier King
Charles Spaniel was along for the ride).
We traveled to Governor Justice’s resort aka The Greenbrier, located in White
Sulphur Springs, WV. The location is close the WV-VA border. The other WV
town in the area is Lewisburg about seven miles west of the Greenbrier. There is
much to do at the resort. Everything from daytrips, to horseback riding, to sporting
clays, fly-fishing, especially golf and tennis. However, a one and one-half armed
person is there for rest, scenic beauty and FOOD.
The resort has a long history. From the outset in 1778, people journeyed there to
“take the waters.” It was supposed that the warm Sulphur waters were good for all
sorts of ailments. This sort of “medical” treatment was in vogue in Europe and

America, as modern medicine was yet to arrive on our doorsteps. Pre-Civil War era
it was known as the “Summer White House” as early 19 th century Presidents and
their families often used it as an escape from the summers of Washington D.C.
During World War II it was first used as an internment camp for diplomatic staff of
hostile countries along with the families of those diplomats. Following an
exchange of diplomats, the US Army commandeered the resort for use as a
military hospital. During the war tens of thousands of injured American
servicemen were treated there. After the war, its then owners, the Chesapeake and
Ohio Railroad (later known as CSX) spent great sums to return it to resort status. I
suspect much of the expense was footed by the US Government as compensation
for the wartime use AND the creation of the secret bunker designed to both protect
Congress and to permit its continued activities in the event of a nuclear war. In any
event the famous decorator Dorothy Draper was retained. She created the splashy,
bright, gaudy color scheme in use since 1946. She and her protégé/successor
Carlton Varney have been in charge of décor continuously since then.
For us, the food was magnificent. The breakfast buffet was the largest and most
varied that I have ever seen. For comparison purposes, it was maybe twice the size,
as that at Oglebay. My favorites were the Bread pudding with vanilla souce,
cinnamon rolls and turkey sage sausage, Dinners were excellent. There are
multiple venues. Our first dinner was steaks at Sam Snead’s restaurant at the Golf
Courses. I had a New York Strip and Tamara had a Filet. We started with oysters. I
didn’t fancy any of the sides, so I asked “Would it be possible to have your
Manhattan Clam Chowder as a side? The answer was: “I will have to check and
will let you know if it is possible and what it will cost?” But I would like you the
reader to remember this response. I didn’t point out that both the soup and the
standard fries were the same price on the menu. The second evening we ate in the
Main Dining room where we had identical meals of Cream of Five Onion Soup
and Halibut with Crabmeat. One of the best meals I have had anywhere. Although,
I confess that I have been to the Greenbrier on more than a few occasions, and
have ordered this marvelous meal previously.
We did a side trip to Lewisburg, location of The West Virginia School of
Osteopathic Medicine. What a wonderful small town. Great slogan: “America’s
Coolest Small Town.” It was crowded with tourists. We enjoyed the numerous
shops and certainly made an excellent choice for lunch, a great little bistro. We
shopped and returned to the Greenbrier.

The Greenbrier has its down-sides too. Although the resort allows dogs and cats it
restricts their access. This was our second trip there with Max, so we knew what to
expect. Animal guests are restricted to the Spring Row Cottages. These are older
but pleasant cottages located near the main hotel, with excellent shuttle service
thereto. There is much greenspace around the cottages to walk your pet. As in most
hotels you must crate your pet when you leave them alone. Each cottage has a
living room with log burning fireplace, large bath and walk-in closet along with
large bedroom. These facilities may be older but they are furnished in keeping with
other rooms on the Greenbrier property. In fact, Tamara, Max and I found them
quite homey with the fireplace burning on our trip in November 2021. At first all
appeared the same. However, in the middle of the first night I got up to use the
restroom. I put on my glasses and when I turned on the bathroom light, I saw spots
moving across my field of vision. I took off my glasses and the spots went away. I
looked at my glasses and saw five or six small reddish-brown ants crawling on my
glasses. On returning to bed I turned on my bedroom light and observed a few
more ants crawling on my nightstand both on top of and beneath the glass top.
Those that I could reach were executed by a book. Still I did not feel comfortable
the rest of the night. I killed a few more ants in the morning, I admit there were
only a few, but we reported it to the concierge in the morning. After a brief
discussion, they suggested that we move to another cottage. A good solution from
my viewpoint. The move was arranged, and within fifteen minutes afterwards, I
bumped into a commercial exterminator heading for our old digs.
The new cottage was better in that it was 200 yards or so closer to the main
facilities. After getting set up there we headed for Lewisburg. Max tolerates his
crate very well, and while he prefers the couch or a bed for daytime sleeping, once
in the crate, and after five or six barks to let us know that we forgot him he settles
down to sleep. When we got back we needed to get ready for dinner. The main
dining room still has a dinner dress code, jacket and tie for men and dresses for
ladies. Tamara went to take a shower, she couldn’t make it work, I heard water
running, it was her filling the bath tub. After she finished, I went to shower. Again,
no amount of force from my right hand, could turn the shower on. I checked the
tub. The surround was high and wide. I could not quite manage with one arm to
balance the entry. I realized that if I could get in, I would likely need assistance to
get out. I certainly did not want to become stuck in a bathtub, the way our most
portly President, William Howard Taft, once became stuck in a White House

bathtub. So, I did what all former boy scouts learned to do, find running water, in
this case a sink and get cleaned up.
The next morning, on checkout, we told the desk about the shower. The response
was: “Sorry about that. We will send someone to fix it before the next guest
arrives. Thank you for letting us know.”
In summary, my first trip to the Greenbrier was in 1990. In those days the bellman
at the front door greeted you with “Welcome to the Greenbrier. Have you stayed
with us before?” Then directions were provided and you were told where to
register while they unloaded your car, valet parked it, and your luggage met you at
your room. This time it was: “Checkin in?” “Checkins are downstairs and to the
left.” They checked their list and told us to drive over to our cottage when check-in
was complete. That is standard for the cottages, and there a bellman met us to
unload and help us to set up Max’s crate. The staff was certainly polite and helpful
but that old-time cheerful greeting was gone, except in the dining and bar areas
where the tips are pretty big.
Remember my request about the soup as a side at our first dinner. I got it. But
again, it contrasted with a long-ago trip, where I had started to ask a similar
question. I barely started to ask: “Would it be possible to….? The server politely
cut me off with a chuckle and said: “Honey, this is the Greenbrier, anything and
everything is possible.” As this has become a very long article, I would ask you to
remember this point and my server exchange at Snead’s for the article which will
describe the rest of our trip.
One last family point which sets forth an interesting story about the Bunker. My
youngest son, Alex had a high-school friend and soccer teammate whose Mother’s
family came from White Sulphur Springs. After the friend’s grandfather completed
his military service, he went to the Greenbrier seeking employment. After testing
for security clearance, and other things, he was hired to work on the secret bunker.
Of course, being from the community and continuing to reside with his parents he
needed a “cover story.” Hence, he was hired as a “television and radio repairman.”
All went well until his parents bought an early TV set. One day he came home to
find the TV inoperable. His parents asked him to fix the set. Of course, he had no
clue. He unplugged the set, removed a bunch of tubes, and told his parents that he
would test them at work. The next evening, he returned home and told them the
tubes were ok, meaning that the picture tube went bad, and that meant throw the set
out and buy a new one. Oh, by the way, the grandfather had a long career working

at the Greenbrier. Of great note, is that post-retirement he continued part-time as a
tour guide at the very same bunker he helped construct.
This article has become exceedingly lengthy. It will likely become two parts, and I
am only half-way through describing our trip. I assure you, from our standpoint the
best part (for the three of us) is yet to come. Max is especially excited for me to tell
you about being a wedding crasher.