I’ve decided my next book will be based on the part of the world I call home, which is called the Shortline - a group of small villages along about a 30 mile stretch of road in north central West Virginia. It’s a small community with only a “A” high school, a few gas stations and grocery stores, and a couple thousand people. The tightness of the community can be seen every time we do our cheer. Wherever there are a group of us gathered, whether it be a bar, a football game, party, or several times each year at the Alumni Dance, a lone person will yell, “Shortliners!” and the rest will respond back in unison, “Eat your honey!” It’s unjustifiably shocking to some and amusing to non-Shortliners the first time they hear it.
The tradition was born shortly after a beer joint (hardly a bar) called The Shortline Inn opened back in the 70’s. The owner also kept bees and sold the honey. When the bumper sticker craze started in the 70’s he had some printed reading, “Eat Your Honey at the Shortline Inn”. Since then it’s became our cheer, our show of unity at public and private gatherings.
The Shortliners are an interesting people – saw millers, loggers, people with very strong family bonds who would do absolutely anything for anyone in need. If you are a Shortliner entering a room of people they will not wonder who you are but will know you as “so and so’s boy”. You will often not have to buy drinks at bars because other Shortliners will set you up as soon as you enter. If you lose you job, have an illness in the family, or your car breaks down along WV state route 20, you will be receive unsolicited help. It’s a brand that never leaves you your entire life no mater how far away you move or how different your life may become, and each time I hear, “Shortliners!” and join in yelling, “Eat your honey!” I am reminded of that.