The Ohio Connection
by Brice Hart

 

Those of us who do not live in Southeastern Ohio really do look upon the area with awe and fondness. I have lived in Maryland for over 20 years now. But no matter where I go or who I talk to, I am always looking for that “Ohio connection”. Most of the time when I do meet someone from Ohio, either they went to Ohio State or they are from the Cleveland area.

I was recently visiting a used car lot (just-lookin) in Westminster, MD. During the conversation with the salesman (Jim O’Bryan), I mentioned that I am originally from Ohio. Mr. O’Bryan asked me what part of Ohio, to which I replied, “How well do you know your Ohio geography?” Mr. O’Bryan said that his wife’s family is from Gallipolis, and that he just returned from a family reunion there.

Our conversation just opened up at this point. We spent the next hour (literally) talking about the Ohio River, southern Ohio, and his plans for retirement. Mr. O’Bryan has a boat and he likes to fish in the Chesapeake Bay. His hope is to find some retirement property along the Ohio River and fish there. I told him about the River view at my sister’s house, about our family reunions, about my uncle who pilots the barges up and down the river, and about “The Camp” on the river which Mom and Dad had for many years. He talked about how friendly the folks are in that area, how cheap real estate is, and how much slower the pace is.

Mr. O’Bryan knew that I wasn’t really buying a new truck, but that didn’t stop our conversation. He grew up in Baltimore and he talked about his travels around the country…Florida, out west to Missouri, and up and down the East Coast. Of all the places that he has been, he thought Southeastern Ohio is one of the better places around and that is the place he has chosen to retire.

We have a tradition in our household of talking about the “high point” of our week which is to identify any event that occurred that week that stands out as the best. When I returned home from the used car lot, I told Marcie about this conversation and that it was definitely the “high point” of my week…I had made another “Ohio connection”.