By Peter Galuszka
Virginia is my state of choice although I am hardly a Virginian and have long had a hate-love affair with the Old Dominion. It is a beautiful state and well located, but there can be a certain problem with some of the people, especially in the capital area, who may think a bit more highly of themselves than they should be entitled to.
Another state that is much like Virginia in beauty is its southern neighbor, the Tar Heel state of North Carolina, which has long been called a “vale of humility between two mountains of conceit.” One mountain, of course, is Virginia.
My family and I have lived off an on for years in N.C. and one of my takeaways is just how wonderful and unassuming the people area, with the possible exception of John Edwards.
So, it is with sadness that I note the passing of two prominent Tar Heels who went far to promote the the talent and down-home friendliness common to the area.
The first is Doc Watson, the blind pioneer of finger-style guitar playing who died May 29 at age 89. I first heard Watson’s music back in the 1960s and have heard him perform several times. Nothing was too complicated musically for the man from Deep Gap and he defined the movement towards roots, bluegrass and Old Time country music.
Yet Watson could come up with some powerful blues as well and tempered all with his humble personality, which seemed in marked contrast to Bill Monroe, the patrician-acting, so-called “founder” of bluegrass.
The second man was Andy Griffith who died a few days ago. He was native of Mount Airy, which he helped recreate in the fictional Mayberry of his hit TV shows which I watched religiously as a boy. The cornball humor went over the top, but Andy was always there handing out wise and steady advice that was eminently marketable for decades to come.
Griffith was a serious actor who had performed on Broadway and had his start in The Lost Colony on the Outer Banks, where he had retired and died of a heart attack.
To be sure, there are many parts of Virginia that have some of the same values that both men projected. But they can never be Tar Heels.