My overnight hosts in Athens were Bob Eichenberg, Athens County's Planning Director, and his wife, Cecilia Rinaldi, a former high school Spanish teacher who now does message therapy in an old miner's cottage in Eclipse. They also have a cat, and a small pack of energetic dogs: Scout (the pup), Max (the brown one), and Duke (the big lab).
But did my comment about Cecilia working in a miner's cottage catch your eye?
As they say, there's more to this story. Bob and Cecilia are two of six people who a couple of years ago purchased an intact "company town" -- a cluster of houses and a former company store -- that in the early decades of the 20th century were owned by the Hocking Coal Company for its employees.
Threatened with destruction, Bob decided he just had to save this old company town. When he told Cecilia about his plan to purchase the property, and then took her to see it, her reaction was "Oh, my God!"
It wasn't going to be cheap to pull this off. But Cecilia soon became one of the biggest supporters of the project, and is now a co-owner of Eclipse. And she's even opened up a massage business in one of the former miners cottages.
We stopped off for lunch in another of the converted cottages. There's a 19 mile long recreational bike path just a hundred or so feet away, linking Athens to Nelsonville. So Eclipse is a convenient "rest stop."
Bob and his partners put in countless hours on their company town. It's a labor of love. But as Bob said to me, it reminds him of the old tune about owing your soul to the company store -- but now he owes his to the bank & its loan!