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.
Motorcycle Stories (Part 4)
Bear Fork Nemesis - Sometime after I got the new MX I heard of a hill on Bear Fork. This was a 30,000 acre wilderness lying south of Stumptown, only occupied by one family of squatters, although Big Foot sightings had been reported. A couple of us rode in and had no difficulty finding it. A big pipeline crossed the main fork with tough climbs on each side. The bottoms on each side were worn as smooth as the entrance to a groundhog den, but there were no scars at the top of either side. Right hand side was the most difficult as it had two large rocks in the middle of the trail at about 1/3 and 2/3 intervals. One had to ride a huge S avoiding the rocks, then straighten coming out of the second S to scramble to the top of the hill. I hit it a few times, and could make it close to the top - but no cigar.
A couple of weeks later I gathered some of our Sissonville boys, we towed or bikes to Stumptown, and rode to the climb. Just as we were getting to the creek I realized my bike was acting squiggley. I looked down and I was experiencing a flat front tire, as I watched it go completely flat. I don’t think I have ever been more exasperated. I was furious – all of our crew hadn’t even arrived yet. I fired it up, and hit the left hand climb flat out. One doesn’t need an inflated front tire or even a front tire at all if he makes a good ride. I almost made it over the hill, slid it back off the hill, and headed back for Stumptown. It is tough to ride level ground with a flat front. The trail I left looked like a magnification of where a fish worm had crawled in the sand. I was told later that I had made the best ride of the day.
Later I went back to try my luck again. I was climbing the right hand side, and saw where someone had gone straight ahead at the tangent of the S, had cut the bark from a 1 ft. high stump, after which he had scratched or displaced rocks doing considerable environmental damage all the way over the top of the hill beyond my sight. I couldn’t believe it, and started asking around. Finally, someone said it was my crazy buddy from Sissonville riding a lengthened 750 with sprocket chains wrapped around the rear tire. I never made it up the right hand side.
Kawasaki - Somewhere around 1982 I traded the Mini Truck for a used 350 cc, three cylinder, two cycle, Kawasaki.
Not much exciting or memorable about it. Except, one Saturday I rode it to the farm to mow, and stay overnight. I finished my mowing target for the day at about 4 pm. It was a beautiful warm Fall afternoon, and they were having dirt track finals racing in Fairplane. I decided to ride down for the races. It was about 70 degrees when I left the farm, and I put on a leather jacket and took off. As usual, the races dragged on and on until after midnight, all the while it was getting colder and colder. I was sitting in a crowd and did not notice just how cold. I left before the end of the feature, and was shivering by the time I got to the parking lot, and it got worse from there. At a service station in Spencer I literally climbed under the hot air hand dryer. When I got to the top of Spencer Straight the hilltops were a lot warmer than the valleys, and I took Egypt Ridge instead of plunging off the hill to the long ride up the West Fork. The ridge wasn’t much better, and coming off the ridge to Rocksdale was truly numbing. At the Hur low gap, turning back toward Joker Ridge I slowed too much and started falling over to the inside. I was too stiff to get my right leg off the peg and I fell over going all the way to the ground hitting my right shoulder and helmet on the ground. I wanted to curl up and take a nap, but my shoulder hurt too much. The bike was laying there on its side still running. I forced myself up, struggled to set it up and climb on, and continued my memorable ride. Thermometer on front porch at the farm read 37oF.
Two wheel to four wheel dirt - I couldn’t believe that motor cycle trail riding and hill climbing was a fad, but it was. Early 80’s my buddies started showing up riding four wheelers. By the mid 80’s I didn’t have anyone to ride 2 wheelers with and I started riding four wheelers – I now own six of them. I quit riding dirt bikes, and started riding all highway.
Next and last Bikes - Over the next few decades I owned several motorcycles, including a Honda 750 Four, Suzuki 1000 Limited (fastest bike I ever owned). I bought a new Honda Gold wing (in 1994), had it triked, and then traded that for a Stallion Trike (which I still own). During that time period I bifurcated owning both bikes and trikes, owning a Harley 883 Sportster, a 1200 Sportster, and finally a Harley Low Rider.
During those years, Betty was a real trooper. We had some memorable rides including to Don Steinaker’s son’s wedding in Gatlinburg. For two and three day trips Betty would coerce friends into following us in car, and upon encountering fatigue or bad weather she would bail on me and ride with them. We rode with Calvin and Betty Wilson a few times, and one Sunday after church they met us at our house to take a ride. They ask where I would like to go, and I told them the weather looked good, and I would like to ride to Spruce Knob. Hearing no dissenting votes we took off. I had not factored into our trip plans the time delay of 9 miles of gravel road when going to the top by the lake. Thirteen hours later, extending well into the new day we arrived home. They were ready to kill me. Betty (Wilson) was our Sunday school teacher, and it was several weeks before she put forgiveness of my sorry ass on her prayer list.
I sold the Low Rider last year, one of the saddest days of my life. Oh well, I still have the Stallion Trike.
Editors Note: Watch for David Kirby's Motorcycle Stories (Part 5) next Tuesday ... beginning with Other Peoples Stories ...
See part 1
And part 2
Also part 3