The More Things Change…

I don't get my hair cut in Floyd's one barber shop. It's not worth the time or the money to endure to the tirades of some of the regulars who can't stop bitching and moaning about the "hippies" and "the Mexicans" and "the outsiders" who they say are destroying Floyd's way of life.

I don’t get my hair cut in Floyd’s one barber shop. It’s not worth the time or the money to endure to the tirades of some of the regulars who can’t stop bitching and moaning about the "hippies" and "the Mexicans" and "the outsiders" who they say are destroying Floyd’s way of life.

Barbershops and beauty parlors usually provide a barometer for both the level of gossip and the prevailing mood of a community. The tirades I heard at my one visit to that barbershop are sometimes repeated at nearby tables in the Blue Ridge Restaurant or over coffee at one of the local gas stations.

It’s a part of old Floyd County that I hoped had vanished when we moved back here last year. While the intolerance, bigotry and distrust is nowhere near the level that existed in 1965, it’s still here in the hearts and minds of a minority of longtime residents and that’s too bad.

Floyd became a mecca for alternative lifestylers in the 70s because land was cheap. Many of those who came stayed to start families and build businesses that now provide much of the economic backbone for the community. Other "outsiders" came as well, starting businesses and making the county their home. Two of the five largest employers in the county — Chateau Morrissette Winery and Crenshaw Lighting — are owned by folks who moved here from somewhere else.

Unfortunately, a few of the oldtimers still gripe about people who "aren’t from here." Too bad, because it’s the growing diversity of Floyd County that helps make the area so unique.

Colleen Redman, local poet, published author and blogger, is one of those "newcomers" who found life in Floyd County inticing and addictive. She wrote about it recently in an essay called "Life in the Rural Fast Lane." As I read it I realized that much of what she loves about life in Floyd County did not exist here when I packed up my 1957 Ford in 1965 and headed out to discover the world. The Friday Night Jamboree, FloydFest, monthly Contra dances, a Community Action Center: None of these could be found in the Floyd County I left four decades ago.

Which begs the question: Did I move back here to rediscover the Floyd County that I left 40 years ago or the one that exists today?

I sure as hell didn’t come back to listen to some of the crankier oldtimers in the barbershop bitch and moan about hippies, Mexicans and other "outsiders." Thankfully, their attitudes do not seem to be shared by most longtime residents whose ancestry in Floyd County goes back many generations.

It’s an attitude that, hopefully, will one day die out. And, for the time being, I’ll get my hair cut in Christiansburg or Roanoke and listen to the locals complain about life in those areas.

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26 thoughts on “The More Things Change…”

  1. Mr. Thompson:

    Please don’t let our problem child here in Blacksburg get to you. I know who she is and she’s a vicious, bile-spilling troublemaker who lashes out at people all the time. Her anger in this case is really aimed at a poet from Floyd who won a poetry slam here and this woman hates her for it. The poet from Floyd is published and our troublemaker is a wannabe. Small minds can cause big trouble only if you let them.

  2. Doug, I have known you since the first grade at Floyd Elementary School. You are a true Floyd Countian. This woman who attacks you is not nor should we pay any attention to her thoughtless comments.

    You are a true gentleman. Your restraint in handling this proves that. I’m not sure what she is but she is certainly not a lady.


  3. Hey Doug, do the math. She’s 40. I’m not sure how old your are but based on when you gradudated from high school I’d say you’re about, say, 60? So someone 20 years younger than you is castigating you for not respecting your elders? She should practice what she preaches.

    I’m a long time reader of Capitol Hill Blue and admire your courage in standing up for what you believe. Keep it up.

  4. After reading the absolute garbage this woman and so-called writer put into her questionable blog I have to ask: How can you be so calm? Why do you allow her to make vile comments on your blog when she tells you that your comments are not welcome on hers? Why not throw her self-righteous butt out?

  5. I’m an oldtimer in Floyd Doug and one who remembers when you and your mama lived in an apartment over the old Hoback’s Furniture Store. You were about six at the time.

    I’m also an oldtimer who appreciates what you have to say about Floyd. We were not very hospitable to newcomers and we should be ashamed of that. I’m sure I speak for a lot of the oldtimers here who say we’re glad a hometown boy came back to be with his friends and family.

    Welcome home.

  6. It was a real pleasure to meet you last night at the Jamboree. Your photos in this week’s Floyd Press made my husband and I want to see for ourselves what all the music and excitement were all about.

    Bravo to you for being such a positive spokesman for Floyd while also not being afraid to point our the problems that face it and other rural communities. We’ve been a reader of your blog for some time and will continue to enjoy Floyd both as new residents and readers who enjoy your writing and incredible photography.

  7. I ask you in a kind manner not come to my site again. And, my stats show you have. I could careless what the you think of me and I loved the comments of ignornace refering to homosexuality you have allowed. You know Doug, you reminded me of Ronald Gay…the man who killed one gay man and left six other gay and lesbians wounded in a bar in Roanoke, Virgina. When you allow these people that show hatred on your site for me and other’s like me, it says what kind of man you truly are. This is the last time I will tell you, Do Not Come Back To My Space Again….There is a law that can stop you from what you are doing…and Doug, I copied your comments so that I would have them if someone got the urge to hurt me so that I would be able to show where they might want to start looking first. I remember my grandfather telling me years ago what many of the good old boys did to the blacks that lived in that area. What you need to understand that this is 2005, and this lesbian does not allow people like you and what has posted comments on your page to hurt what is called the my mind and my heart.

  8. Well, I have been reading the comments on this page and can not believe people that claim to be so open minded would bash a persons livestyle as much as the people on you comment page has done. I have also been reading the lady’s page that you all are talking about. I think that this women is a great writer and all she is gulity of doing is having a great big heart and loving all people. While reading her writings about this situation all she said about miss Colleen was that Colleen had no respect for the underground pup and the people there that chose her as the winner. Also she just felt that you Doug had disrespected the (Oldtimers) as you called them. One thing that I have to ask you all. Do you all like that you all have now tore down a person that all she ever wanted to do is help people and wirte, to the point that she has now lost her pasion. Also have anyone of you ever had a cause that you wanted to fight for? If you have then have you continued the fight until you got results or have do you just sit back and complained about something getting done? If you did fight it did you call people names and put them down as a person? I know that during all of this that Bev not once called you, your comenters, nor Miss Colleen names nor did she say that you all was not welcomed in her town. All she tries to do is get people to open their eyes. You do have to remeber that Floyd would not be there today if it was not for the Oldtimers. That is all that this Bev wanted to get you to see. Also why for somone that is so open minded would you allow such bashing comments on your page. yes everyone has a right to write what they want to say but as ADULTS do we have to stoop down to childish name calling.Name calling and hatered kills people. As writers you should support one another not put them down. I know that Bev never put anyone down for their writing ability but for disrespecting people that have helps us out through their writings. I am just so mad that the writers community is not sticking together. As writers instead of acting as if you are the only writer in the world you should promote other writers around you. While reading on Bev’s site I have seen her promote so many other writers. If she hates anyone that has accomplished anything then why would she try to promote a young man who just got his first book published why would she try to get him to come to Blacksburg to do a reading and get his book in a local book store. To me that does not sound like someone that is jealus of anyone. When reading her writings it is always about people and the way that people are miss treated and dis respected. I do not think that there is a one of you that have read her writings and read each word. She is right now fighting for a town in WVA that is infested with durgs. She is fighting for children so that they can get a good education not be scared to be children. She is fighting for a town that is full of gangs and drug the thing that is killing our children. Has the world gotten so big that we do not care who is killed off by drugs and gangs. I just feel that because she did not say what you wanted to hear she is bile and not welcomed in your town. Also I do believe that she knows all to well what she is. (A LESBIAN). You do not have to tell her that.Please before you all start calling names why don’t you all look in the mirror. You are the ones that are hateful, mean people. Please stop the name calling and start supporting each other we all have to live together that is all that Bev wants is for us all to live together in peace.

  9. Sherry:

    I’m an oldtimer in Floyd and very much appreciated Doug’s remarks. He said things that needed to be said. I commented on this issue but said nothing about Ms. Bishop’s sexual preferences. I don’t care about that.

    I do care, however, about how she went after Doug and Colleen with what I saw as an extremely personal, hate-filled attack. Doug simply posted some thoughts about how some, not all, of the oldtimers around here felt about newcomers and change. He made it clear that he was talking about a minority.

    Ms. Bishop, however, unleashed a nasty diatribe that suggests what some others here said about her anger and bitterness are all too correct.

    I don’t know Ms. Bishop. I do know Doug Thompson. He is a fellow Floyd Countian who cares deeply about his hometown and his fellow citizens. That’s what counts here.

  10. The only hate I saw was the hate coming from Beverly Bishop and her angry, lies-filled comments about someone she obviously neither knows or understands.

    Doug said nothing negative about her and as a longtime reader of his columns on Capitol Hill Blue it is obvious that he supports gay rights. For her to go and post a photo of him on her web site and suggests he resembles someone guilty of a hate crime just proves what a lying, pathetic, hate-filled women she really is.

    Shame on you Beverly Bishop. You brought all of this upon yourself by going after an honorable man. To blame him for the actions of others is beneath contempt, as are you.

  11. You know, if this Bishop woman cared so much about people and writers she might have thought twice before unleashing such an attack on two other writers. She might have conducted a little research into Doug Thompson’s background to see that he has never, ever, attacked homosexuals or promoted hatred against them. I remember him throwing a bunch of gay bashers off his bulletin board at CHB and telling them they were not welcome there.

    My advice to her is to prove that she cares so much and correct her lies about Doug. But it is obvious she cares nothing about the truth. No wonder the people in and around Blacksburg see her as a nutcase.

    Doug, don’t worry about her. We in Floyd County have your back and we’ll keep an eye out for crazy women from the New River Valley.

  12. No Doug has not said anything about Bev’s lifstyle but the commenters on his page has and they claim to be so open minded then bash her the way they have. I have seen no hate from Bev I have only seen sympathy for people. I know that you do not see that but I have read many writings from her and all I have ever seen is love for all people. Never calling names but the people here have that is very chidish for people who are ADULTS. That is why the world is so filled with hate now. We have to stop the name calling and start loving all people for who they are.

  13. Sherry:

    Did you read what Ms. Bishop wrote about Colleen and Doug? It was a hate-filled attack from start to finish. Not to mention one filled with errors in fact.

    I also see where Doug attempted to correct the errors but his post was deleted and Ms. Bishop told him he was not welcome to respond on her site. Yet I don’t see where he banned her from here. That smacks of a big difference between a closed mind (hers) and an open one (his).

  14. Like the lady in question, I am a lesbian. Unlike her, I know Doug Thompson. My life partner and I own a farm in Carroll County and he has been a welcome guest in our home. He has taken pictures of us and a portrait of me hangs in his gallery in Floyd.

    We face predjudice every day from a society that does not yet fully understand our way of life but to smear a man who is one of the most open-minded straight men I have ever met is an injustice not only to him but to gays everywhere.

    For her to run a picture of him next to someone guilty of a hate crime against gays and then suggest a connection is, in itself, a hate crime and she should be ashamed of such a thing.

  15. OK, everybody’s had a chance to vent and it’s time to move on. I have broken my rule of not editing posts and removed the posts that referred to Beverly’s sexuality. This is the first time that I have done so because I believe in freedom of speech even when that speech is wrong. But in this case, I think people went too far and, frankly, I had not paid attention to what was posted after I posted the earlier request that people not engage in name-calling. I was wrong to let them remain and I apologize for that.

    Words can only hurt if we let them do so. I chose a long time ago to ignore what people say about me because it comes with the territory and if you can’t stand the heat then you should not be putting your opinions out there for public comment.

    However, do not, for an instance, think that just because I let some people who have a problem with gays vent their spleens here means I — in any way — endorse their beliefs or their actions. I hate gay bashing and I have little use for those who indulge in such. Those comments were, fortunately, in the minority and my friends, gay and straight, know where I stand on the issue.

    Beverly Bishop is entitled to her opinions. It’s a free Internet and anyone is free to say what they want. That’s a big part of what the ‘Net is all about. Her lifestyle is also her own and she is free to practice it. If you don’t like it, don’t go to her web site. If you don’t like gays, try the FreeRepublic web site. They like hatred and bigotry over there.

    I do not.


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