January 5, 2014 Gillum House Bed & Breakfast: There are several dates that cause nostalgia for John and Kathleen Panek at 35 Walnut Street in Shinnston, West Virginia. The first is not s specific date, but a day annually. The other two are dates. January 6 is the last of the series of three.

The first date is a day rather than date. I have no remembrance of the actual date – it was the day after Thanksgiving in 1994. That was the day we closed on the house at 35 Walnut Street, Shinnston, West Virginia. It was an exciting and joyful day. Kathleen was FINALLY going to be going back to West Virginia for good! After the closing, a load of boxes of books and other non-essentials for day-to-day living were unloaded, sleeping bags rolled out on the living room floor, and the first night was spent in our new house. Since Kathleen’s company basically shut down for the week between Christmas and New Years, a return with more boxes, cleaning supplies, and the ever-present sleeping bags returned to ready the house for the moving van and New Year’s Eve was a return to Illinois.

Then on January 4, 1995, the moving van pulled up to 3024 Wakefield Drive to load up. The temperature was 6 degrees F. All the big, heavy, and hard to handle things were loaded into the van. (Kathleen would ride her motorcycle to West Virginia in July.)

Two days later, January 6, 1995, the moving van pulled up to 35 Walnut Street. The temperature was in the low 40s. Sweaters and sweatshirts were all that was needed – it felt like Spring had arrived! Toward the end of the unloading, the mover’s helper stood in the doorway of the van and looked around. “Yep”, he said to us as we stood on the spacious porch, “yep, you have moved to Mayberry.” He had no idea how right he was.

We moved to a town (small city actually) where GOD, Country, and family (in that order) reign. We do not have Barney Fife any longer (our Police Department is quite professional I am pleased to say), our Fire Department is volunteer but rated higher than some paid Fire Departments, and although there have been many improvements to the city, it still retains its Mayberry atmosphere. And John, who was born and raised in Chicago and its suburbs, is now a convert – he loves West Virginia almost as much as Kathleen does!

We invite you to come see what drew Kathleen back after a LONG 24 years in the exciting (?) Chicagoland. The beautiful hills and valleys, the history, the (Oh PLEASE do not let her get started extolling West Virginia – you will be here all night!) covered bridges, the……..

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