Last week Bob & I loaded up in the SUV & headed out
on another one of those sentimental journeys.
Most of his childhood memories are from the years
that his family spent in the mountains of West Virginia,
moving there just in time for him to start 1st grade,
and moving away right before his Freshman year.
It was a beautiful trip...here viewed through
our bug spattered windshield!
The hills of Kentucky were tinted with autumn's colors.
And as we crossed the West Virginia state line,
the colors became more vibrant.
I snapped pictures furiously through our tinted window
as we buzzed down the West Virginia Turnpike,
while Bob began telling me stories.
Usually sort of quiet, these hills brought the memories
flooding to his mind & although I had heard them before,
it was good to hear them again.
One particular tale is told about being in his best friends 1965 GTO.
It was after they had moved away but were back at Huntington
for a church camp & Bob went home with Frank for a few days.
On the ride home, Frank's dad sat in the back seat,
holding an old 8 millimeter movie camera
& gave Frank permission to bury the speedometer!
Bob remembers seeing the needle pointing straight down--
which would have been at least 130 mph!!!
And at that time, although the highway was a turnpike,
it was anything but straight.
Thankfully, they survived the ride to tell the tale!
Bob's dad was a preacher man...
& for that matter, still is.
He moved his family of 5 (Vickie wasn't here yet)
from the hills of southern Indiana
to the mountains of West Virginia.
I asked Bob on this trip if at the time he realized that he
was living in the Appalachian Mountains.
He said no...he just knew they were mountains,
and remembers the cold winters & piles of snow.
leading into Beckley.
Nothing is flat there--
you are either on a hillside,
going around a curve,
or traveling down a steep incline.
I must say, it's beautiful country!
The city streets hadn't changed much
and Bob found his way to his memories.
This one lead downtown & to another highway.
This familiar intersection lead us to the church...
where Bob's dad pastored his people,
earning $50. a week...which probably wasn't all that bad for the time,
and where the kids grew up.
During their years, the building was white blocks.
Just passed the parking lot is the parsonage.
Home for the Thompson's
while living in Beckley
Bob was full of stories of when they were kids...
telling about racing from tree to tree with Sherry...
about Steve breaking Mom's dogwood and blaming "Barry Joe"
and Mom baking chocolate cake & them eating it
while it was still warm, with butter on top...
of Frank & Eddie being their neighbors...
riding bikes up & down the hills...
suppers of fried potatoes & beans
or homemade chili with donuts for dessert...
tales of running & jumping out that tall church door
BEFORE there was a stairway! ...
Lots of memories
Bob began his piano lessons when he was 6 years old.
He remembers his Mom being diligent about making him practice.
Later he could play well enough that he had to play for the church services.
And he remembers going to a few funerals & having to play the organ
before his Dad preached.
where they lived for a few months
while the new parsonage was being completed.
Vickie was born while they lived here.
I have pictures of Sherry & Bob, ready for their first day of school,
leaving from this house.
The years have taken their tole on the little house.
Lincoln Grade School...
a few hills away from home.
Bob remembers being late almost every day.
Mom wanted to let them sleep until the last minute
and then it was a rush to get there on time.
Beckley Junior High...
now part of Mountain State University
where Bob & Sherry went to Junior High.
First Baptist Church...downtown
where the family went to see Stuart Hamblen
to hear him sing "It Is No Secret"
and his new release,
downtown in Beckley
and this picture is for our kids!
Formerly "Charles House Hotel"...
where we stayed in 1991...for one night!
We made our own memories there.
It wasn't quite as nice as Bob remembered!
Bob remembers pushing wheel barrels full of dirt
along this wall of the church
and got paid a penney & a half per load!
He says it took 100 loads to buy a model car!
They were digging the dirt out from under the parsonage
to make a basement.
What a way to earn a penney!
It had been 20 years since we visited Beckley for
a church Homecoming.
It was good to go back home again...
to "Almost Heaven ~ West Virginia"!
is it "Wild & Wonderful"?