Posted by Heliocentrism on August 19, 2010
August 30 – September 2, 2002
I had just graduated from college with that bachelors I never put to use. My brother called me one day and told me that I should move to Columbus because there were jobs to be had in his city. I didn’t find one, but I had a great time hanging out with my brother for a couple months.
My brother used to have a boat. He loved that boat. He went boating every chance he could get. One weekend he planned a trip for some of his friends and he invited me to come along.
I’m not sure of the exact dates. I’m guessing it was labor day weekend because Malcolm had time off from work and I don’t remember it being cold.
When not in use, the boat was kept at a storage place in Licking county, Ohio. The boat had to be pulled by Malcolm’s F250, a monster of a truck. This boat and truck combination was big and heavy and took a lot of gas to power. That is probably why the truck had two gas tanks.
Malcolm showed off his driving skills through the narrow streets of Parkersburg. The boat was wider than the lanes we were driving in. He used some poles with red flags attached, to help him see where the boat ended.
I got to see a boat being launched for the very first time. My brother did it almost single-handedly. In case you don’t know what it means to launch a boat, it’s basically putting the boat in the water. The key is to not lose the trailer or submerge your muffler.
But that sounds too easy. There are many things that can go wrong during a boat launch. Sometimes, people forget to detach the boat from the trailer or to not detach the trail from the truck, causing the trailer to be launch as well. Trailers don’t float and should never be submerged. Sometimes the boat can get away and set sail without you.
We went sightseeing during the day, some days, but we mostly stayed on the boat and docked on islands in the Ohio river. We did spend an afternoon on Blannerhassett Island, but I have lost the photos of that part of the trip.
We lived on the boat. The boat had 2 main bed rooms, one towards the front and one in the back. You couldn’t stand in these rooms, but they did give privacy. In the middle there was a kitchen, bathroom, and a living room area, which could be used as another bedroom. This is where you could stand; there and on the top deck.
I’m no hick! I’m from Ohio!
We spent the second day just boating around, going up the river then down, wasting gas and having a great time. Malcolm and I had spent a night on the boat already, just the two of us. This day Malcolm’s friends arrived and would spend the rest of the time with us. There were 6 of us total and there would have been enough room for everyone if some people didn’t snore.
To solve this problem, some of us elected to camp on what ever island the boat was dock near that night. When evening approached we started to look for a nice island.
Following boating/camping manners we didn’t pick an island with inhabitants, if the island was too small. Most of them were, with boats already docked on them. Then we found one with a small day fishing boat; the kind with a single lawn-mower type engine at the back and no top.
They were obviously not spending the night, so we decided to dock there. We came ashore. It was a group of two brothers and a girl. The guys came over to talk to us. We had a good little conversation going with them.
They were from the nearby area and spending the day fishing, though we could tell the girl would have rather been anywhere else. She spent the rest of her time there on their boat, alone; she did not come over to talk with us at all. They were really planning to go home before sunset, but since we showed up they thought they might stay the night.
They kept making a point of the fact that they were from the Ohio side of the river, not the West Virginia side. “No. We’re not hicks!” This insistence made me feel that they were in fact hicks. I was excited. I had never met a real live hick before!
They were almost drunk and very friendly… a little too friendly. When it was time to make dinner my brother, Malcolm, got some wood to make a fire. The boys wanted to help and brought us the cardboard boxes their beer came in. They also went to get us some more wood. The younger brother wanted me to go with him to a “special” part of the island that had great wood, but I declined.
Malcolm started the fire and his friends were ready to get the cooking started but the boys protested. The brothers thought that our fire was too small and set out to get us even more firewood. They came back with a forest of wood and piled it on our fire.
That thing whooshed up like something from the pits of hell. There was no way we could cook anything on that. It would singe the hair on our heads and arms if we got too close.
The brothers, extremely drunk at this point, kept heaping wood unto our fire. I headed for the boat. The younger one kept making eyes at me and he just gave me the creeps. We all found some excuse to go back to the boat. We were going to wait it out. After all, their boat had no top; there’s no way the three of them could sleep in that thing.
They kept drinking and we could hear them stumbling around on the beach. The girl still sat in the boat. Then they started to yell at us. “Why’d you all go away? Don’t you like us? Aren’t we friendly. We don’t even mind that you’re black…”
Then they proceeded to pee on the side of the boat, which was a really dumb thing to do since they had to stand thigh high in the river to do it. Unfortunately for them the boat was too big for them to pee on a part that wasn’t already in the water.
“You guys don’t like us ’cause we’re white! That’s it. It’s reverse racism. You’re a bunch of racists! You think we’re hicks. Is that it? I’m no hick! I’m from Ohio!”
My brother went out to talk to them. He calmed them down and assured them that their color had nothing to do with us not liking them. In fact, we didn’t not like them. We were actually a bit afraid of them.
“Why would you guys be afraid of us?” The fire was still blazing in the background. The rest of us got off the boat and stood next to Malcolm. My brother explained our fears to them. They were strangers, they were really drunk, there was a huge fire they kept building up, and they seemed to get angry easily.
“What!?” one of the brothers yelled. “We’re not angry? Why would we be angry? …because you’re black and you have a nice boat and I’m white and I have that?” He pointed to their little day fishing boat. The girl was slouched over in it. I could tell she was completely over this whole trip and just wanted to go home.
The brothers wanted to know what job Malcolm had to afford such a grand boat. “I program computers,” my brother said. “You have a college degree!?” one of the boys asked a bit surprised. “And a masters,” Malcolm replied.
“I never got to go to college. I had to work since high school,” the younger brother mused. The older brother walked closer to Malcolm and asked him, “Don’t you think your going to college took away the chance of someone else going to college, just because you’re black?”
“Well, when I was in high school I studied very hard. I started college at the age of 15. I was living in the Caribbean at the time and the college I went to was predominantly black. Later I was recruited to join the master’s program at Ohio State University. But if you didn’t get into some college, it’s not because your spot was given to someone else. Colleges are there to make money. You don’t make money by turning people away because you’re too full. If you didn’t get into a college, it’s because you didn’t meet that college’s standard, either academically or in some other way that makes the college board feel like you will not complete their program.”
Eventually they went home. I think the girlfriend drove. At least I hope she did.
How to get there:
You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.
I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.
- Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
- Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)
- Crash Course:
- CGP Grey:
- Mental Floss:
- American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
- Area 51
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- Dandelion Wine
- Girl in Translation
- The Hemingses of Monticello
- The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
- The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America
- Notes from a Big Country
- One Summer: America, 1927
- Rolling Nowhere: Riding the Rails with America’s Hoboes
- Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
- That’s Not In My American History Book
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
- The Water Is Wide
- Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland
- It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.
- Coordinates 39°15’54.3″N 81°33’32.7″W
Ramp at Kenner St. off Rt 47
350 7th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101
Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau
- 800-752-4982 or
I took this trip back in 2002. My brother did all the planning so I remember very little of the information.
- Coordinates 39°16’18.4″N 81°37’52.7″W
- directions from the website
Go to US-50 in Parkersburg
137 Juliana St.
Parkersburg, WV 26101-5331
- (304) 420-4800
- It’s free to just go to the island, everything short of breathing costs money.
- Mostly 10:00 – 17:00
- Times varies for each activity and holiday.
You can buy old time style homemade apple butter and other treats.