Concord Charlie Sees His Shadow, Six More Weeks of Winter Weather … But “Temperature Will Be Warm”
Athens, W. Va. – Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid, Michael Curry, served as emcee for the 26th Annual Groundhog Day Breakfast celebration at Concord College, Monday, February 2, 8 a.m., in the College Center Ballroom.
The Groundhog Day breakfast tradition has provided a forum for Concord College officials to recognize those who have contributed to the history and color of West Virginia by awarding them the honor of “Grand Groundhog Watcher.”
Mr. Curry welcomed more than 115 guests, including former “Grand Groundhog Watchers,” Ken Hechler, Nelrose Price, Beryle Santon and John Seago. A moment of silence was held in memory of Professor R.T. “Tom” Hill, a resident of Athens, and faculty member at the College, who passed away last year. He began the breakfast tradition in 1978.
“Only the absolute truth will be uttered here this morning,” stated Mr. Curry. “I have been directed by Concord Charlie himself. I had to break the ice with my boots to reach Charlie’s lair. He’s quite a scholar and has taken up practicing the cello. There is a new paradigm for academicians, a new methodology that will be used to predict this year’s weather, but more about that later …”
He paused for a more serious note, as he introduced Dr. Ancella Bickley, West Virginian and African American educator and “Grand Groundhog Watcher” for the 26th Annual Groundhog Day Breakfast celebration at the College. Dr. Bickley is a retired educator originally from Huntington, W.Va.. She now resides in Florida.
Dr. Bickley talked about the challenges of capturing the history of black people and black organizations in the State. There really wasn’t a formal way to capture the history of black people. Quite often, she said, documents will be in “grandma’s attic” and when grandma passes away, the kids will come in and throw those things away, not realizing their worth. “When there is not a written record,” she stated, “we must rely on oral history, programs from events and bits and pieces from the newspaper.”
Dr. Bickley has written stories in “Goldenseal” and authored a book in 2001—“Memphis Tennessee Garrison: The Remarkable Story of a Black Appalachian Woman”—which she co-edited with Dr. Lynda Ann Ewen, among other works.
Dr. Ancella Bickley: “I want to emphasize, however, that black people are, and have been, a vital part of this state, and although I am devoted to recovering our history here, I hope that some day, people like me will be put out of business. This history is not a history that concerns black people alone, it is a record of people who lived and have lived in this state for a very long time. As such, I am talking about West Virginia history, and this material should be integrated into the entire fabric of the State’s story. It should be taught and considered as a seamless part of the past, present and future of our State.”
Vice President for Admissions and Financial Aid, Michael Curry, presented a “Florida overcoat”—lightweight, fleece jacket—and a plaque, honoring her as Grand Groundhog Watcher for 2004.
“Now, I am most honored to share with you the information that Concord Charlie has imparted this morning,” stated Mr. Curry, with a sly grin on his face. “As I mentioned earlier, the new methodology that he presented, emerging from that praxis into the sunlight, I am sorry to report that Concord Charlie did indeed see his shadow, however, he looked at me grinningly, almost knowingly, and said, ‘Yes, the atmosphere in West Virginia for the next few weeks will be stormy indeed, the airways will be filled with garish political ads, and the harsh winds stemming therefrom, that’s the bad news, but the good news, given the source of the winds, the temperature should be mild.’”