Home Travel A Short Trip To Morgantown: College Town Fun, Even If A Doorman Checks Your ID And Says,”Goddamn! 1979?”

A Short Trip To Morgantown: College Town Fun, Even If A Doorman Checks Your ID And Says,”Goddamn! 1979?”

by Dewan Gibson

I backed the car out the garage as my wife and kids waved goodbye. My 5-year-old (the explosive middle child) yelled, “I love Mama more than you!” Backhanded compliment? Yes. But it was progress. The week prior he said he hated me, though just a few days after that he would go on to say, “I’m starting to like you, Dada.”

I was on on my way to Washington D.C. My first stop, a 3-hour drive from my home and halfway to D.C., was Morgantown, West Virginia, a rugged city centered around a charming college campus.

I checked into the Clarion Hotel Morgan. Some would say it’s a historic hotel, others would say it’s in need of renovation. I’d say it was $58 on Hotwire and clean and spacious, though a little spooky if you’ve seen American Horror Story.

lobby of Clarion Hotel in Morgantown, West Virginia

According to the internet, John F. Kennedy once stayed there. Based on my research, he was likely to have been accompanied by a mistress who straddled him because he was a horndog with chronic back problems. I asked the clerk if she knew what room he stayed in. She did not, but she did ask if I had stayed there before. “You look like this guy who stayed here. Are you sure?” Damn…stop being spooky.

After dropping my bookbag in the room and doing a bug inspection (all was fine), I went to the hotel’s rooftop to see all of Morgantown. The view was partially obstructed by a wall nearly six feet tall, but I’m long neck-ded and was able to snap a few pictures.

View of Morgantown, West Virginia from the roof of the Clarion Hotel

Then I walked to Great Wall Chinese Restaurant and bought some fried rice. Despite the joint’s terrible Yelp reviews, I lucked out. It was quality hole-in-the-wall food. And it proved my theory that when there’s a teenager working the register at his family’s Chinese restaurant, the food’s pretty good.

Beer was calling me, so I went to Chestnut Brew Works and Taproom. While making my way there an addict came out of the shadows of a closed storefront. Scary dude who looked pissed at the world. I crossed the street with the quickness, like, “What was that!” Man, sad. Anyhow, Chestnut was a tiny place, which makes it feel more comfortable when you’re alone. The bartender served a hell of a porter.

I had a buzz and decided to take a self-guided tour of West Virginia University. It was after 10 p.m. and many of the students were gone for Easter weekend, but I figured I could still get a feel for the place. My impression: It’s better looking than the city as a whole and the hills give you a good workout.

Lighted building on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown

My skinny legs were tired so I figured I’d sit around at some bars on Morgantown’s main strip, High Street. First I stopped at CVS for some bottled water and toothpaste, essentials I had forgotten before leaving and likely not to be supplied by my hotel. I saw a couple of black students there and asked if there was a hip hop bar they recommended. The girl asked if I was looking to dance. I said I’d probably just sit around and people watch and drink. She recommended a place called Joe Mama’s.

I waited in Joe Mama’s line with freezing coeds dressed in cloth remnants. Unfortunately there was a $5 cover charge. I didn’t have cash on me, and as a veteran drinker I refuse to pay to get into a bar. I went to another bar a couple of doors down and had a Bulleit whiskey, and, perhaps inspired by the American flag draped across the bar, a Budweiser. I paid $6 total. With cheap drinks in hand, the country music coming from the jukebox didn’t sound so boring.

My last stop of the night was a concert venue called Mainstage. There wasn’t a performer that night, so it was more like a nightclub. The bouncer checked my ID and said, “Goddamn! 1979?” I explained to him that I was old enough to remember when Michael Jackson’s hair caught fire. He had no idea.

The music was good, but the dancing kids didn’t have full control of their limbs. I was getting bumped and stepped on. My boots, which I had superglued a year ago after the sole fell ripped, were in danger of falling apart. Getting a drink was more of a headache than I was willing to deal with. Plus I had to get up early and make it to D.C.

After leaving, I crossed paths with two white students making out and stumbling home, or maybe to an alley. The guy said to the girl, “I know you have a thing for black guys…” She answered, rotting breath close to my face, “Black guys are so hot.” Then she made a stupid Paris Hilton sexy face.

As a “safe-looking” black guy these incidents are not uncommon. Sometimes they’re just funny, other times annoying. It depends on two factors: 1) If the comments are anywhere as near as clever as Daniel Tosh’s; and 2) If police have killed an unarmed black man that particular week.

I said thanks and recommended they use protection (for the betterment of society).

I walked back to the hotel, concluding my short trip to Morgantown, but not before taking a selfie with Morgantown’s native son, Mr. Furley. 

-Dewan Gibson

Selfie with Don Knotts during a one night trip to Morgantown, West Virginia

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Hank Drake April 9, 2018 - 10:05 am

I went to Morgantown, WV, for training as a Waldenbooks manager. All I saw was the inside of the mall.

Dewan Gibson April 19, 2018 - 5:04 pm

I actually thought about going in the mall, but it looked like it’s met the same fate as Randall Mall. Ewww!


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