1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Alex McLaughlin March 8, 2010

This is a historical chronicle of two time travelers from rural West Virginia. The first was Max Nunley aka "Mad Max" a big guy who played football and basketball with me in high school and later became about my best friend over a period of about 50 years.  His fellow hero is Joe Nicely who also played ball with me and “Max”. "Joe" was better than “Max” and a lot better than me in football. He actually got a scholarship to the University of Minnesota. This well researched chronicle is all about “Max” and “Joe” and all of the strange creatures that they met and all of the strange things that happened to them in a place and time back before TVs and the Internet. “Max Nunley” and “Joe Nicely” are code names.

Lotsa laughs: The story begins when Max and Joe were walking down the old route 60 near Williamsburg looking for American Indians of the Seneca tribe. They were really looking for Chief Corncob because they wanted to copyright his name for a toilet paper substitute that Max wanted to produce and market.   The only response that Chief Corncob gave them when they asked about the copyright was when he said “Minnehaha”.The chief was so tickled at his own joke that he named a resort that he founded, Minnehaha Springs

A Mule riding a donkey:  Several months later after they had walked for three weeks, they decided to go take a rest under a shade tree in a community known as Alderson. There was a donkey basketball game going on at that time in Alderson. One of the girls from Alderson named Tokyo Sallie had ran off with one of the donkey riders, "Mule” Bennett who was from Hinton.  Also it was reported that somebody had stolen some donkeys from the gym. Immediately, because no one was real familiar with Max and Joe, the town elders placed them under suspicion as the donkey’s rustlers.  Well, the entire town was in an uproar and they wanted to throw the book at the boys. A local politician asked if either of the boys could ride a donkey. They both responded that the only way they could get around was walking. They also said that as tired as they were of walking, there was no how no way they were getting on a donkey. The local politico indicated that even though they looked kind of suspicious, he thought they should be let go free. The town elders were not convinced. Max stood up and told the town elite that he had a fail safe way to prove his innocence.  About that time Nancy Lugosi one of the town elders shouted out, “Hee haways says that”. Well by then it was clear to most people at the gathering that Nancy Lugosi, who was Bela Lugosi’s grandmother, seemed to know a lot more about the donkeys than either Max or Joe. She moved up to prime suspect as the likely culprit of stealing the donkeys. Elder John Alderson said, ”Nancy that's enough out of you." And that was that.

An Ancient resort: The boys were much relieved but they decided to head out of town quickly before someone changed their mind and put them in jail. They decided that they better take a different route so they headed out the Blue Sulphur road to Blue Sulphur Springs. By my calculations since they walked   a mile in about 15 minutes and since it was 8 miles to Blue Sulphur it must have taken them 120 minutes or two hours, but I am not allowing for the earth’s curvature.  You know when you run on the highway with the road’s pitch that it isn’t really level.  On the other hand with the earth’s roundness and curvature what does level mean anyway.

Blue Sulphur was a tourist designation where the people from the south came in the summer to get away from the heat and get cured and soothed in the sulphur springs. All that is left of the resort today is a Grecian spring house that might be on the historical register. One of the first jobs that the boys had was to help build the spring house.

The boys wandered around Blue Sulphur and then headed to the east where they saw a huge creature that looked like" big foot”.  The boys did notice he could sing a pretty mean tune. Well the boys in recent years did some checking and used carbon dating, DNA and other technologies. They determined that the big tall guy that looked like “big foot” was Perry Como's grandfather and not some antecedent of Elvis Presley as has been speculated. Their research can never be challenged because they used some magic potion called "scientific peer review”.

Uncle Jim, Bruce and Nancy: Uncle Jim Jarrett Bosworth owned land from Blue Sulphur all the way to Green Bank in Pocahontas County. Uncle Jim’s   grandson Bruce Bosworth played football at Green Bank was an all American at West Virginia University and was later an all pro with the San Francisco 49ers. Nancy Lugosi, who we encountered earlier, was a time traveler like Max and Joe. After she left West Virginia under a cloud, she moved to San Francisco where she met Bruce Bosworth .She told Bruce that she did not steal the donkeys and that she was moving to San Francisco to get into politics. Bruce agreed to help her change her name and pay for some cosmetic surgery associated with face lifts. Although it required a wide shift in cultural values, the people of Pocahontas County eventually grew comfortable with the fact that Bruce was living in San Francisco and all that might entail or suggest. However they never forgave Bruce for paying for the face lifts for Nancy Pelosi because they had to look at her perpetual smile on CNN every night. 

Big Time Builders: The boys later spent many years in Alderson and helped build the Alderson Federal facility, Camp Greenbrier, and the Alderson schools. Several interesting things happened to the boys during these years including the following:

  • In order to get into high school football games free, they used to serve as temporary policemen on the road that ran through the football fields and stop the players when cars passed through the fields during the games. 
  • The boys always cooked for the construction crews. They also used to provide cupcakes for all the construction workers and that was how the federal facility got its name “Camp Cupcake”.
  • Max was known as "the hitchhiker" and probably was one of the first hitchhikers in this country.  Nobody would pick up strangers along the road back in those days. Max came up with the bright idea of giving the motorists the thumb rather than the finger. It worked and people started imitating him all over the world. 

An Alderson Queen: During one summer when the boys were still in Alderson, Joe ran into the most unusual woman that he had ever met. She was named Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith. Joe first met her when he won the hundred yard dash by 5 yards at the summer festival. Joe was one of the fastest people that ever came from the Alderson area. The reason I know was because he ran the entire race backwards and still won by 5 yards. Nobody ever knew how fast Joe could really run because he would never run the race facing forward. Joe was smitten with Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith but one night she had to come to tell him that she was leaving. He said, “Must you go to never return?” She said, "Mais oui" and headed off to Paris, France where she became known as Brick Top. 

Show me the Real Money There was another unique woman who came to Alderson named Lady Jane Grey. She was the most beautiful girl that Max had ever seen. She was fascinated by counterfeit money. She could not help herself. The minute she got out of the facility she would go to Latrobe, Pennsylvania where she would go back to making fake money and restart the cycle of counterfeiting/prison, all over again. This meant that after a year or so she would come back and Max would get to see her. Eventually as the American currency continued to decline in value, Lady Jane Grey decided that counterfeiting was no longer profitable and went into Medicare fraud. This turned out to be very profitable and unlike counterfeiting there was zero chance of getting caught. Lady Jane Grey went on to a life of riches and anonymity and Max never saw her again. 

Warshington and Spaceships: Around the late 1950s the boys needed a change of scenery. Everybody else from Alderson was heading out for the big cites like Warshington and DeeTroit. The boys knew Christy May Higgonbottem who was an NASA astronaut. Christy May introduced the boys to some of the NASA fellers. Well it turned out because the boys were time travelers and had spent so much time on earth observing the moon, the sun and the stars, that they had developed a special talent to navigate in outer space. The top brass wanted the boys to enter into training to become astronauts. That sounded almost like communism to the boys. They did agree to sneak on the space flights and provide whatever service they could. Very few people know that the Russian who were in a space race with the Americans sabotaged a secret American space mission by disarming all of the electronics on the spaceship. The Americans did not hesitate. They put Max and Joe in charge of navigating the spaceship without any electronics at all. The boys charted the vessel through space for three weeks as if nothing was wrong. The Russians were so shocked and confused that they never recovered and eventually loss the space race. It never came out about Max and Ed because there was fear that the Russians would kidnap them.

Roll Bama I mean WVU: After several years, the boys got tired of navigating spaceships and asked to be transferred to the NASA facility in Huntsville, Alabama where they were assigned to do intergalactic research. The boys had done some scouting for the Washington Redskins when they were in Warshington and had a pretty good eye for football talent.  They saw one young player from Daphne, Alabama who really impressed them. They told the WVU coach, whose name is never mentioned in West Virginia, about him and WVU recruited Pat White. The coach was so indebted that he asked the boys how he could repay them. Joe said, “Coach we would like to call one play in a game sometime.”  In the 2006  Nokia Sugar Bowl WVU was hanging on to a slim lead against Georgia with only a few moments left. The mountaineers had lost the momentum to Georgia late in the fourth quarter and were force to punt. Ed went up to the coach and said, “Coach we want to call our play now. Call a fake punt.” The coach said, “You are insane. This is no time to call a fake punt. “Ed insisted and the coach called the fake punt which worked beautifully and WVU held on to win the game.

On Kenny's Knob Things are not what they seem: When the boys finally retired from NASA, the President of the United States asked what America could do for the boys because they had meant so much to this country. Max asked the President if the government could fund a secret delta forces training facility on Keeny’s Knob near Alderson. The President handed them a blank check and said” Make it so”. If you ever go to Keeny's Knob, resist the temptation to saw down trees or kill large turkeys or bears. Every other tree, turkey or bear may well be a delta force solider in training.

Conventional wisdom is that the sink holes in Greenbrier County are caused by karst limestone that has been fractured by groundwater and that the mountain top removal in southern West Virginia is a result of explosives being set off.  Very few people actually know that the Greenbrier County sinkholes were caused by Delta Forces training on explosives or that Mountain top removal in southern West Virginia was caused by practice missiles launched from predator drones that were based on Keeny’s Knob. If you are ever in Alderson and hear a big” swoosh” overhead don’t worry, unless you hear the words “incoming”, it is only a drone in training.

Time travelers kick back: Max and Joe after more than 230 years of battles and adventures are pretty much relegated to emailing and chatting on the Internet now. I don't know what happened to all of the characters in the story. Some I have heard about. Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the US House of Representatives in the daytime and a TV promoter where she does late night testimonials for a San Francisco plastic surgeon. The WVU coach, whose name is never mentioned in West Virginia, went on to have the worst record in the University of Michigan football history. He is now paying WVU more than $2 million for his breach of contract.  I also know that Mule Bennett and Tokyo Sally, also time travelers, became very rich from trading donkeys and a tanning bed /tattoo franchise that they established. They later provided an endowment of $ 5 million to Concord College for the Institute for the Advancement of Appalachian Culture. They have houses in California, Las Vegas and the Caribbean. They don't get back this way much anymore.