RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
With nearly 2,500 members, the “You Know You’re From Portsmouth If …” page on Facebook has become a popular destination for current and former residents to share photos and stories of Portsmouth-past. On Saturday, members will have an opportunity to put a face to those usernames and hear their stories in person, as the group meets in New Boston.
The group was started in August 2011 by Barry Fultz, a 1972 graduate of Portsmouth High School who moved away in 1986 to find better work and now lives in Phoenix, Ariz. While browsing Facebook one day, he found a group called “You Know You’re From Dayton If …” and thought it would be fun to create a similar group called “You Know You’re From Portsmouth If …”
“I thought this would be great to get people talking about our hometown; when we grew up and where we grew up. So I started it and I invited about 35 of my high school friends and other friends who live back there. Within a week it went to 125 people, and 700 people the following week,” Fultz said in February.
The group now has nearly 2,500 members, said local participant Dave Huffman.
It started with simple statements, like “You Know You’re From Portsmouth If … you knew what a hilltop- and river-rat were.” and “… if your parents worked at the steel mill.”
Quickly members began sharing stories about growing up in Portsmouth and old photos from the area as it was many years ago.
“When the group started a little over a year ago, it just exploded with people jumping in making comments on certain photos and people submitting photos to that page. So many people were wanting to know more about our local history and stay positive on Portsmouth, and thinking about the good things that we used to have and wanting those things to happen again,” Huffman said.
He said several of the senior members had heard that some Facebook groups have public gatherings, and thought it would be a good idea. They had their first gathering in April at the Welcome Center, on Second Street in Portsmouth, and more than 60 people showed up.
“A lot of people brought out local history memorabilia and it gave us a chance to put faces and names together, instead of just on Facebook. We got to meet one another, and a lot of friendships have really come from that first gathering,” Huffman said.
The group now is meeting again for a free public gathering at the Vern Riffe Community Center, on Rhodes Avenue in New Boston, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday. Huffman said this meeting was scheduled to coincide with creator Barry Fultz’s local high school reunion, so he will be in town from Arizona this weekend.
“Different members are going to make refreshments and there’s nothing really organized. We’re going to have tables set up for some things, and other followers of the page will be there just to look at the local history,” Huffman said.
He said it’s always nice to meet members face-to-face, and there are few he’s personally looking forward to meeting this weekend.
“The group is not just contained to Portsmouth,” Huffman said. “You can be anywhere from Scioto County. I know there are a lot of friends on Facebook that are from out of town, and they just want to keep up connection with what’s happening back here. I think they want to know more about our Portsmouth history.”
Huffman said the group would like to make these meetings an annual event for members of the Facebook group.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or firstname.lastname@example.org.