The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Quicker With Age

By W. Bruce Wright © 1987

Issue: April, 1987

While reading the February issue of The Mountain Laurel, I was reminded of an amusing incident which happened about 1925 when I was a young boy.

My mother's family immigrated to the USA in the mid 1700's. An entry in the records of the New York Port Authority shows a Kimple arriving in 1734. This is thought to be her ancestor. Information on her family is quite sketchy prior to 1809. The family eventually settled in the hill country south of Wheeling, West Virginia. Some of the family was on the Ohio side of the Ohio River. Regardless of the side, it is steep hill country. So steep that the cattle were required to rotate the pasture in the same direction because the legs on the uphill side were much shorter than on the downhill side. This incident involves her Uncle Sam who was a spry 80+ at the time this happened. He lived on a farm which would qualify as an "existence farm," but there was always plenty to eat.

Uncle Sam's house was 8 or 10 feet above the road; access to it was via a set of stone steps. The barn was directly across the road and it also was some 8 or 10 feet below the road. From the road to the barn was a rather steep grade.

During one of our visits, I was with my father and Uncle Sam and we were walking from the house to the barn. My father inquired as to the condition of Uncle Sam's health to which Uncle Sam replied, "I'm getting quicker." Following Dad's surprised, "Is that so?," Uncle Sam answered, "Yep, a few years ago when I'd slip walking down to the barn, I would take three or four steps before I'd fall. Now when I slip," as he slapped his thigh with the palm of his hand, "I hit the ground just like that!"