10 things ABOUT: Benita Drew

Story by Johnny Sain

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Age: 44
Occupation: ABOUT advertising sales, portrait photographer and when I have free time, destruction for my husband’s construction business. There’s something therapeutic about a hard day’s work solo, wielding a hammer and crowbar.
Hometown: Pottsville
Family: Husband Jason, children Issac 15, and Issabella 12, Perry and Daisy our beagles, and Jessie our rescue bully.

1) What is your favorite book and why?

Impossible. I have favorite authors, but I could never pick one book. I started reading Poe at ten, and have always loved his work. Reading a Poe book is like a nursery rhyme from my childhood. I read anything I could get my hands on as a kid, but horror and suspense have always been favorites so I’ve read a lot of Stephen King, as well. I enjoy James Lee Burke books. He writes mysteries set in Louisiana. Being from the South, he can write about the South with accuracy in phrases, culture and mindset, and I think that’s important in a time when we are all losing our roots and dialect a little at a time as the world becomes smaller.

2) Dog or cat? Why?

Dog-s. When you’ve had a dog that puts itself between you and danger, the answer is clear. Dogs are purpose driven and every breed has specific traits. Rescue a mutt and it’s like a grab bag of traits. You may not know what you are going to get, but it’s going to love you forever. I’ve had three rescue American pit mixes and they are the most loyal, protective, and loving breeds one could own. Our beagles are the first dogs I’ve ever had a hand in training, and that has been a great experience. They can find anything and they’ll let you know if a leaf falls in the yard. I believe there truly is a dog out there for every person, and it’s probably just waiting in a shelter or rescue.

3) What do you think is the most positive aspect of living in the River Valley?

I can be an extrovert and surround myself with all the great people here, or I can be my true introverted self and get away from everyone and enjoy a beautiful solitude in nature, all within a short drive.

4) What’s something no one would ever guess about you?

I think people that drive exactly the speed limit are suspicious. I’m in awe of people that comfortably choose to sit in the middle of a restaurant with their backs to the door. And I once was licensed to box in the state of Missouri.

5) What is your favorite music genre and artist? Why?

Like books, that’s impossible. I listen to hair bands the most because that was my youth. Southern Rock is making a resurgence and I love that because it’s often relatable. Old country like Waylon and Cash. I never get tired of the old gospel hymns with harmonica and banjo. I grew up with that and it brings me closer to God and my loved ones who have passed. Some days I prefer the blues or reggae or bluegrass or rap or even techno. It’s kind of a crazy mix but all music is about memories and emotions to me, so how can anyone just pick one?

6) What do you nerd out on?

History and travel. I love being immersed in different cultures and knowing the history that made them. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents while I was growing up. My grandpa was mountain folk and his stories were untamed and that fascinated me, and my uncle was in the clean-up of World War II and his stories of being in the places I only read about, during major world events, all sparked that love of history and travel. My grandmother lost her mother when she was two and I always hated that she was robbed of that history of her native heritage.

7) If you could change one thing about the River Valley, what would it be?

Bully dog breed bans. How about we punish bad people for a change? Living in Pottsville I’m fortunate that our council was open minded when it came up.

8) Where is the one location in the River Valley you would tell a first-time visitor that they must go?

Camp Mitchell’s open-air chapel. It is a simplistically breathtaking native stone and wood structure, utilizing His creations for its beauty. Not at all ornate, just you, nature and God. After, travel up the mountain to hike, camp, and enjoy Petit Jean State Park and its CCC structures and trails, and Winrock’s history and views as well.

9) Pizza, tacos, cheeseburger, or fried chicken? Any particular reason why?

All of them. Equally.

10) What is your favorite quote? Could be from an inspirational person, could be an original.

“Can’t never could,” and “you won’t learn any younger.” They are old phrases, but they were favorites of my dad. I didn’t appreciate them when I was eight and he told me to drive the tractor down the road (zero lessons in driving anything) and I’d better beat him there, but I do now. Those sayings still run through my head when something needs done and my confidence waivers.