Reading, ‘Riting and the Road to Richmond

   Written by on January 18, 2018 at 11:50 am

Many people’s biggest complaint with Southside Virginia is the lack of jobs. They say, “All of the bright, young people have to leave to find jobs!”

This is incorrect. Many bright young people have chosen to stay in Southside Virginia, while many leave for other reasons. When we were in high school almost a half a century ago, the joke was Randolph-Henry taught Reading, ‘Riting and the Road to Richmond. The majority of my classmates moved.

In fact, many people leave wherever they were born. This has been happening since the birth of our country. Americans are mobile. This is a na-tional and an historic trend. Kids everywhere say, “There’s nothing to do here.” Kids say, “I can’t find a good job here.” Kids want to travel.

When I lived at the beach, I was amazed to hear the young folks there say, “There is nothing to do here.”

Americans have moved to “the frontier” since before we were a country and the frontier kept getting further away. Before that our ancestors moved to the new world. They were looking for jobs and opportunity. That is still the case.

Kids join the military to “see the world” and “to have opportunities” not available in Southside. There is nothing wrong with that. I do know one man who left Southside to join the army. When he left, he was told, “You are leaving because you are too lazy to work in tobacco.”

He achieved the highest rank possible for an enlisted man. Then he returned and is an asset to the community. There is no future in being a field hand. There is a future in the army or in hundreds of other jobs in other places.

Ten years ago, I was invited to the Central High School class reunion. There were more than 400 people in attendance. Almost all were successful and they lived all over the world. Keep in mind many of these Central High Alumni had fewer advantages than Randolph-Henry grads, BUT some left and became successful. Others stayed in Southside and were successful.

So, do we need jobs to keep our kids here in Southside? It won’t matter. Most kids are leaving because they want to leave. Whether to further their education, to leave youthful indiscretions, to see the world, or to gain experience.

Southside Virginia is a great place to live and raise children. So are many other places in America. Some of our kids will stay, most will go. That is just how it is all across the country. There is nothing we can do to change that.

Leave a Reply