(12/03/2018)

A Pine Crik Hollow Home

Former Pine Creek resident David Charles Kirby, the son of Roy and Eva Buck Kirby, recalls his life and times growing up in a remote Pine Creek hollow and in Calhoun County.

He attended a one-room school taught by his mother and graduated from Calhoun High School in 1954, with a BS degree in agricultural engineering from WVU (1959).

Professionally he is a Certified Fire and Explosion Investigator and Professional Engineer in WV, OH, and PA, having worked 22 years as Loss Prevention Engineer with Factory Mutual Engineering; 20 Years as Process Safety Engineer with Union Carbide in South Charleston; 12 years a Sr. Principal Engineer with Baker Engineering & Risk Consultants of San Antonio, TX.

He is married to the former Betty Estep of Mt. Zion, their children, sons, Dr. Kris N. Kirby, professor at Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Gregory D. Kirby, of Parkersburg, Safety Engineer at Cytec, Willow Island, WV.

Kirby's recollections reflect life from the Great Depression to the fabulous 1960s, earlier tales can be found under People, Humor and History.

2015

Long Day To Town

I must have been about 13 years old. It was mid-Summer and had been raining for a couple of days, knocking us out of the hayfield. Rain had let up, but was still too wet to work.

I had cabin fever, and decided that I wanted to go to town. There I would go to Cleo Kingsbury’s store and read comic books, go to Doc Smith’s Drug Store and hang out, and maybe even get a Coke Float if I had 15 cents.

At Kingsbury’s you could get by reading comic books as long as you stood up and leafed through them (as though deciding what to buy) when he came around.

If I was alone in the comic section I would sit on the floor and read. Because Dad and Cleo were good friends (voted the same, Masonic Lodge, etc.) Cleo would not chase me off until some other kid came in and joined me.

The ground was too soft to ride my bicycle. It was about 5 ½ miles walking if one went over the Dowd Stump Hill from Cleo Gainer’s house and took about 2 hours walking fairly easy each way.

I set out walking about 8:00 am, arriving at Gainer’s about 8:45. Jennings (Buck) was a good friend about my age, and he agreed to go to town with me.

His brother, Delbert (Bo), three years older than I, had a 1937 Dodge car sitting in the yard. Bo, one of the best mechanics that I ever knew, was working on some mechanical equipment. I asked him if we could drive his car to the top of Pine Creek Hill, just above the Hope Office, and walk from there. I could drive OK (been driving tractor for three years).

He said “Yes, but it has a flat tire”.

Now, I had fixed a lot of flat tires. The tire repair kit came in a black & white striped can about the size of a Clabber Girl baking powder can. I seem to remember that it had a red ball with Bowes Seal Fast™ on it, but that is not important for this story.

Inside the can was a roll of red rubber about 1/8 in thick with a white backing on one side, a tube of glue, and a thin metal plate with sharp perforations to use as a rasp to roughen up the rubber on the tire innertube. The glue was quite volatile, and if you got too close to the gluing operation it would frost your nose-hairs.

The procedure: Jack up the car and take off the wheel. Make sure all the air is out. That could usually be done by removing the tube valve stem, and jumping up and down on the tire near the rim, breaking the rim-seal, and at the same time collapsing the tire.

You then pried the tire bead over the rim (using a broken car spring as a tool). That was sometimes no easy task; a lot of potential elastic potential energy could by generated by stretching the bead over the edge of the rim.

Losing grip on the tire tool could result in it flying far distances, and was even known to kill people. Once the bead was on the outside of the rim one would reach in through the opening, and pull out the tube.

At that point, you locate the leak in the tube. If not evident it meant pumping it up, and sometimes holding under water to see where bubbles escape. In our case you could see a small cut or tear. You then cut a piece of the rubber role to make a patch large enough to cover the hole, and then some; roughen up the area around the hole, smear on some glue, peel off the patch backing, quickly apply it to the glue, and blow furiously to make the glue dry as quickly as possible (trying not to inhale too much glue in the process).

Stuff the tube back into the tire, pry the bead back over the rim, put in the valve, pump it up, put the wheel on, and you are in business. We used what was simply called a tire pump in those days, now simply a bicycle pump.

We followed the above procedure, and were finally on our way to town; however, about ½ mile down the road the car started pulling to one side and thumping, and we realized that we had another flat tire.

We found a semi-wide place to pull over (not an easy task on lower Pine Creek). Upon investigation we saw that it was the same tire. Now, as I said, I had fixed a lot of flat tires. When we pulled out the tube it looked like a small cut (not unlike our first hole), but I diagnosed the cause of the second flat as pinching the tube when we reinstalled it.

Following the above procedure all over again, except this time when we stuffed the tube in we put in the valve and pumped a little air in it so that we would not catch it between the rim and the bead, or our pry tool.

It pumped up just fine, and we were on our way to town; however, just below Bill Godfrey’s we had another flat. I still thought that somehow we were pinching the tube when we put it back on.

By the time we had fixed it the third time I was getting slap happy from smelling so much glue, but we made it to the top of the hill above the Hope office. I don’t remember anything about the visit in town.

I am sure that we had a 15 cent hot dog, and a 5 cent coke, but I don’t remember. I was also probably pretty dirty from crawling under the car (or maybe I talked Buck into this), I don’t remember.

We walked back to the car.

Sure enough, we had another flat tire.

Fixed it, and proceeded toward home. One more flat just below Old Grant Husk’s place (almost within sight of Gainers), and we made it back. Fixing five flats in one day may not be a record, but fixing flats per mile I betcha is.

At any rate, I headed back home – it was getting dark – I didn’t ask Bo to drive me.

After I got home I explained our bad luck to Dad, and he said that it was probably a piece of glass that had sliced through the tread and embedded enough to puncture the tube, but could not be seen from the outside.

The way to determine that was to take the tire entirely off the rim, and run your hand all around the inside until you got cut.

Now I know why my dad always looked toward the sky when doing this, so that he could direct usage of the Lord’s Name in vain back toward the source when he contacted the sharp object.

Next time I thought I'd just walk.

- David Kirby's Pine Crik Tales can be found under People, Humor and History


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