"The sessions could be frustrating. You'd think they were going to vote one way, and next thing you knew, they had voted the other way.
"There are 100 members in the House and 34 here in the Senate. In the Senate, you had a pretty good idea of whether a bill would pass. I liked Senate much better.
"You ever hear of Tony Shepherd? We both ran for Senate and we both lived out Sissonville. On the ballot, they had his address at Sissonville and mine as Charleston, because I lived in Martins Branch. We had both served in the House.
"Tony was sure he was going to get elected to the Senate, but I defeated him. I called him for two or three days and couldn't get hold of him. On the third day, I caught him. I said, 'Tony, where have you been?' He said, 'Darrell, after you defeated me, I've been drunk for three days.'
"Cecil Underwood was the governor when I was first elected to the House. I enjoyed him. I served with seven governors, and I have pictures with all of them, and I've had them all to my house. I really enjoyed Rockefeller. When Rockefeller was governor, we didn't have financial problems. He was very dedicated, to my surprise since he was not born here.
"Caperton was one of my favorites, too. He's the one who appointed me clerk in 1989. Todd Willis, the clerk, had a stroke, and I filled out his term for two months before I was formally elected by the Senate.
"I thought about moving on to Washington, but I never gave it a try because unfortunately, it takes a lot of money to run. Those people spend, even in West Virginia for Senate, a million dollars.
"I used to think, well, everybody runs for governor, so maybe I should do that. But you've got to have the money. I didn't have the money for the big stuff. It would have been nice to have been governor.
"I was Senate clerk for 22 years. Even when they're not in session, you get a lot of contacts from Senators needing this and that. In session, if they had meetings at 7 in the morning and some meetings until 8 or 9 that night, I would still be here. I was here all the time they were here.
"Being 78, I thought it was time for me to step away. They had a big reception for me. I miss it. I was occupied constantly when I was a clerk.
"I'm going to come up here during the session and maybe be a lobbyist. Or I might start my machine shop back up. I still have all the equipment. When I had that machine shop, Carbide had 12,000 employees and DuPont had 4,000, and I did side work for them. Now DuPont has less than 2,000 and Carbide may have less than 700 full-time employees. I retired from Carbide in '89.
"I still live on Martins Branch out Sissonville way. I have a farm in Jackson County, close to 100 acres. Before they put in the dam, I had a big two-story house, and I would rent that, and people would go out and make a garden in the flat ground there. When they put that dam in, they took my house.
"I didn't have a phone there, not even a cellphone. I would go out there and not receive any calls. I'd go out on weekends and do a little work. And nobody could reach me.
"Jan. 9 was my last day. I plan to visit here at least occasionally. If I can get a part-time position, I will come to work just to keep busy. I've been busy all these years. It's kind of depressing.
"I plan to do more deer hunting. When I was 16, there were only three counties in the state that you could deer hunt in. Tucker County was one of them. My dad took me up there when I was 16. Three deer were going to cross the track, two does and an 8-point buck. I had a rifle with five shells in it. I shot at that buck four times and missed. The last shot I killed it. It really surprised me. I was 16 and I'd killed an 8-point buck. I got the fever.
"Where I went is where Timberline Ski Resort is now. It was all owned then by timber and coal companies. They would charge you so much a day to go hunt.
"Now I hunt on my farm in Jackson County, and I've got 70 acres at the homeplace in Wolf Pen. Deer are everywhere today.
"You know, I would start everything all over again if I were younger. This has been quite an experience."Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.