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'I spent many happy hours at that deep place in the creek, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a couple of high school buddies, fishing for brim, bluegill, sungrannies, and the occasional small catfish or sucker. Mostly, however, it was one of my thinking places and where I'd way now and anon enjoy a not-quite-legally purchased malt beverage.'
Click on headline for complete reminiscence with cited photo(s)
Letter to the photographer:
I always enjoy the photos on CM but here of late, many have been of extraordinary quality. This very morning, the first three that greeted my rheumy old eyes certainly fell in that category - Rowe Farm sunrise, Greater Gadberry fog, and your shot of the Sam Coffey swimmin' hole.
In less than a blink of an eye, I was transported back some forty-five years, a young fellow who (perhaps, in the fashion of youth) traversed with abandon the steep and (at the time) rough, slate-rock ledgy, and certainly unpaved hill on the Russell County side of White Oak Church Road, then merrily splashed across Big Clifty Creek (Bridge? Don't need no stinking bridge!) to get to the swimmin' hole.
At the time, there was no bridge across Russells there and most of the time, attempting to cross in anything short of a truck constituted a crapshoot of the worst kind.
I spent many happy hours at that deep place in the creek, sometimes by myself, sometimes with a couple of high school buddies, fishing for brim, bluegill, sungrannies, and the occasional small catfish or sucker. Mostly, however, it was one of my thinking places and where I'd way now and anon enjoy a not-quite-legally purchased malt beverage.
This entire territory was familiar countryside to my beloved Mama. The house in which she was born and reared stands on Acree Road (off Old Montpelier Road at the top of the hill within sight (or nearly so) of where Acree Road t-intersects with White Oak Church Road (to the left) and Blair School Road (to the right) at the Russell-Adair line. Going across the hills, the distance from this old house to the swimmin' hole isn't that far, nor is it so very much farther to Providence Church, where my mother's family often attended services and where Mother confessed her Savior around 1920.
I often wonder if a young couple, my grandparents-to-be -- that tall, lanky Wheat fellow and the petite, proper, genteel Miss Williams -- then four or five months away from married life but almost certainly sparking, attended the dedicatory services for the new Providence church building in the spring of 1906. J.S. Stapp, a native of the Stapp Springs area and a member of that church, made a fortune, mostly in the timber trade, between the late 1890s and his untimely passing in 1909. Unlike many who made quick fortunes, Mr. Stapp gave liberally to causes in which he believed, particularly to those things Baptist. It was his $1,000 donation that largely funded the first dormitory on the campus of the Russell Creek Academy, and, as the News reported, he provided the financial means "to build the [Providence church] house and furnish it without calling on those who may be present to enjoy the services." (One hundred and ten years later, Mr. Stapp's building is still in use.)
Writer's name on file, withheld by request.
This story was posted on 2016-12-27 20:37:06
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