On Episode 11 of the WV Podcast, our famous West Virginian is Ted Cassidy, and we went to Eleanor, WV to help celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of this Homestead Community.
Welcome to the WV Podcast, West Virginia’s Podcast. This show features the great state of West Virginia and stories of the amazing people who make it such a wonderful place to live. Your hosts are Jeff & Dee Holbrook. Let’s tear down the negative hillbilly stereotype that has been assigned to us by the national media. Let’s tell our own story.
Maker Of The Rain, our theme music, was composed and performed by Tonya Kouns Holbrook, a lifelong West Virginian resident.
Netflix- On a show called “How The States Got Their Shapes”, there was a discussion on episode 3 “Force Of Nature” about the hillbilly stereotype applied to West Virginians. It is a frank and even handed discussion, talking about how big city newspapers made up stories during the Hatfield and McCoy feud without even coming to see for themselves. We are portrayed as a self sufficient people who are tough and do well for ourselves in spite of the rough terrain of the region.
World War II veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Herschel “Woody” Williams
has an athletic field in Huntington named after him, as well as, a bridge in Barboursville and a National Guard Armory in Fairmont.
Now, Williams also will have a Navy ship named in his honor.
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Today’s Famous West Virginian is Ted Cassidy.
Ted Cassidy was a 6’9” American actor known for his work in The Addams Family TV series and the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Born on July 31, 1932, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ted Cassidy developed a passion for acting, also working as a singer and radio announcer. A majestic presence at 6’9”, Cassidy’s roles included the butler Lurch from The Addams Family ’60s TV show and Harvey Logan in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He also appeared in Gene Roddenberry’s pilot Genesis II.
Theodore Crawford “Ted” Cassidy was born on July 31, 1932, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but raised in Philippi, West Virginia. As a boy and young man, he was a standout on the football field and basketball court, in part because of his great height (as a man, he would reach 6’9″). After high school, he headed off first to West Virginia Wesleyan College and then to Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Soon after graduation from Stetson, Cassidy married, settled in Dallas, Texas and began work in news radio. His job at WFAA in Dallas included coverage of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Career Success and ‘The Addams Family’
Cassidy began his film career in 1960 when he provided the voice of the Martian in The Angry Red Planet. In 1964, Cassidy took on the role for which he would become most famous; that of Lurch, the creepy butler on The Addams Family. During an audition for the role, which was supposed to be a non-speaking one, Cassidy adlibbed the “You rang” line which became his trademark. Although The Addams Family ran for just two years, it has lived on—enjoying cult status—in reruns and even on the big screen.
Cassidy’s large size and deep voice made him a natural at playing villains and thugs, as well as providing distinctive voice-over talent. He voiced the role of Metallus on Space Ghost, The Thing on The Fantastic Four, and Braniac and Black Mantra on Challenge of the SuperFriends. In addition, he played characters such as Injun Joe on The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harvey Logan in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Goliath in Greatest Heroes of the Bible. Cassidy also enjoyed success in the Star Trek world, providing the voice for Balok, portraying Ruk, and voicing Gorn in various episodes. Cassidy also worked with Gene Roddenberry in the early 1970s, when he played Isiah in the pilots for Genesis II and Planet Earth.
Ted Cassidy died in Los Angeles, California on January 16, 1979, from complications after open-heart surgery. He is survived by two children and his long-time girlfriend, having divorced his first wife, Margaret, in 1976.
Eleanor is a town in Putnam County, West Virginia, , along the Kanawha River. Its population was 1,518 at the 2010 census.
Eleanor was established in 1934, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the county and developed it as a test site for families. It was one of three resettlement communities in West Virginia.
During the Great Depression, there was little in the way of housing, and the town, (which was named for Eleanor Roosevelt) was a social experiment called “subsistence homesteading”.
More than 1,000 families applied to live in this new homestead called Red House Farms, about 30 miles west of Charleston, on property once owned by George Washington. After a vetting process to identify the physically and morally strong, just 150 were accepted.
The families moved into this community of opportunity, designed for “eventual self-support”: 150 homes on one-acre lots, each slightly different, each with a chicken coop, a small garden and that most exotic amenity, indoor plumbing. There was a hosiery factory in the works, a dairy farm, a canning operation, a grocery store, and even a pool hall.
The families paid a modest rent to the government that could be applied to the purchase price. The government expected them to work, grow vegetables, learn home economics and engage in cultural pursuits, like joining the band. Their children were to keep clean, stay in school and take cod liver oil to ward against rickets.
If a family did not meet these expectations, it faced “house notice” — public scolding that could lead to eviction.
In 1946, an organization was formed to manage the town, and in 1947, the citizens stopped renting and owned their homes outright. Papers were filed in 1965 with the Putnam County Court, and by majority vote in 1966, the incorporated town of Eleanor came to be.
2015 is the 80th anniversary of the founding of the town. The main road through town, State Route 62 (also known as Roosevelt Blvd) is part of the “Rivers to Ridges Heritage Trail. 3 large historic plaques were dedicated at a ceremony and of course the famous town photo was taken as is tradition. Here is some audio of the event. It involves the town council, Jim Flook, the Americore Vista worker who researched and and spearheaded the effort to get the plaques installed, and Marlene Carr, an original resident of town.
Images of the plaques and the town hall will be posted at wvpodcast.com. Look for episode 11.
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Our featured video today is from “All 1 Productions”. It’s titled “Super Awesome: West Virginia”. It features West Virginians who were disabled by accidents, war, and one who’s father is discussing her life. She decided to be an organ donor when she first got her driver’s license. Her parents supported her decision, not expecting it would actually happen. Check it out! The link is in the show notes for Episode 11. WVPodcast.com
Thanks so much for listening to the WV Podcast, West Virginia’s podcast. Come to wvpodcast.com and let us know what you think of the show. On the website there are links to subscribe. You can also email your comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s Tell Our Own Story.