Author’s Arrival Spurs Reunion

When new author Robert L. Van Kirk returned to Wheeling to promote his first book this past week, a joyous mini-reunion ensued with several of his classmates from Triadelphia High School’s Class of 1966.

Van Kirk appeared at a Lunch With Books session at the Ohio County Public Library Tuesday, Jan. 24, to discuss his novel, “Wormwood: High Crimes and a Bunch of Misdemeanors.” (See related article and photos on Page D6.)

The now-retired Van Kirk’s career had taken him all over the country and, as a result of all those moves, he had become “a lost classmate,” and the Class of 1966 reunion committee had been unable to find him for years.

However, after reading of Van Kirk’s upcoming visit to Lunch with Books, Wheeling resident Karen Grisell sent the information by email to her brother, Clarke Ridgway, who now lives in Morgantown. He and VanKirk had been good friends during their teen years and early adulthood. An email address for Van Kirk was secured and sent to Ridgway, who immediately contacted Van Kirk and decided to go to the library to hear him speak.

“News travels fast through email and several of his classmates were there (for the library program): Brad Thompson and Jane Davis from Wheeling. Lee Frizzell from North Conway, N.H., and Johnny Rodgers from Fort Worth, Texas, were here for a friend’s surgery and were able to hear Bob,” Grisell related.

After the Lunch With Books session concluded, the Triadelphia classmates’ reunion continued for three and one-half hours at Ye Olde Alpha in Wheeling, Grisell said.

During his talk, Van Kirk had noted that while working in Wheeling during summers home from college, he spent almost every evening at the Alpha.

After being away from Wheeling for many years, Van Kirk said he returned to the Alpha and enjoyed sitting at the bar with his wife. His wife, though, was less enthusiastic about being in the shadow of the mounted animal heads in the bar area. However, Van Kirk quipped that he was glad that the Alpha still boasted of offering “cold beer and dead animals.”

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Wheeling native John Corbett stars in a new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, “A Smile as Big as the Moon,” set to air on ABC stations at 9 p.m. today, Jan. 29.

The movie tells the true story of teacher Mike Kersjes, played by Corbett, who helps his special education students achieve their impossible dream to attend Space Camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Hallmark officials describe it as a “truly triumphant story.”

After the televised airing, a DVD of the movie will be available for purchase locally at Pat’s Hallmark in the Elm Terrace Shopping Center in Wheeling.

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Representatives of the Hancock County Historical Museum are asking for help in locating photographs of the Marshall House at 1008 Ridge Ave. in New Cumberland.

They explained that restoring the woodwork around the top of the house museum is a major goal for the museum commission. To meet criteria set by the State Historic Preservation Office, the group must stay faithful to the original design of the home. Seeing photos of the home would be useful to them during this process.

At one time, the grounds of the Marshall House were much larger and held a clay tennis court, a carriage house and a horse paddock. Commission members said that obtaining photos of these amenities also would be helpful to them.

Museum officials said they also would appreciate receiving photos of Marshall’s first wife, Lizzie Tarr of Wellsburg. Her father was an interim treasurer when West Virginia became a state.

For more information on the project, call Greg Blake, 304-564-5179.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at: