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Heyl: Left Hand, W.Va., eschews chance to celebrate maligned southpaws

| Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, 11:30 p.m.

In an incredible statistical oddity, everyone in this tiny West Virginia town is a left-hander.

That's why it's so disappointing to find the place is making no attempt to seize the international spotlight on Saturday. There's no reason why it shouldn't serve as a spiritually enriching place for an oft-maligned and frequently misunderstood portion of the world's population to rally.

Instead…

“Saturday really is going to be just like any other day here,” Sandy Morton, the librarian in Left Hand, W.Va., said matter-of-factly.

What? How can the town, just a scenic three-hour drive down Interstate 79 from Pittsburgh, resist the chance to market itself globally by observing the 25th annual International Left Handers Day?

Bands should march in what should be the state's largest parade of the year. CNN, Fox and MSNBC should be there to cover the speakers singing the praises of 10 percent of the world's population. Crowds should flood into town expecting to be served and entertained by large numbers of food trucks, tattoo artists and fire eaters.

Instead…

“We've never done anything to mark the day,” said Morton of the Geary Public Library in the heart of what passes for downtown Left Hand, christened after the nearby Left Hand Run creek.

That's a pity. Left-handers deserve a day to bask in the spotlight, and Left Hand would be an appropriate place to do it after all we've been through.

Yes, your humble columnist happens to be left-handed, an untreatable condition shared by presidents (Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan), celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lawrence), the filthy rich (Bill Gates) the super smart (Albert Einstein), the risqué sculptor (Michelangelo) and the overdosed musician (Jimi Hendrix), among others.

Despite history being littered with distinguished left-handers, we were labeled witches and warlocks as recently as the 1600s. Perhaps traumatized by the unnatural sight of left-handers holding ballpoint pens, enough people are afraid of us that there's a term for the condition: sinistrophobia.

Is that why Left Hand balks each year at putting itself on the map by hosting an International Left Handers Day festival? Morton insisted that isn't the case.

“There's not much here,” she said. “We have a post office, a grade school, a medical clinic and the library — and the clinic and the library are in the same building.”

Morton is doubtful the community ever will have the capability to stage an event worthy of International Left Handers Day. “That'd be nice, but we're just a small town,” she said apologetically.

It's a shame Left Hand is unable to do the right thing and help the world recognize a demographic that has done so much to advance society.

It's a shame that we southpaws once again will be left in the lurch.

Eric Heyl is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

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