(10/07/2021)
By Teresa Stutler Starcher 2003

Introduction: Teresa Stutler Starcher of Little Creek often writes about the people in her life growing up in the remote hollow between Creston and Rowels Run.

She is a teller of tales about the smallest of adventures that become bigger than life, and has contributed several articles to The Herald. She lives with her husband, Richard, not far from Stutler Ridge and Rattlesnake Knob.

ACE AND FLORENCE

Making a living on the small scrub farms of the rock-riddled soil on Little Creek was a feat worthy of being dubbed a true American pioneer. It took people as hard and tough as the land, as stubborn as the weeds and brush, which they fought religiously in order to survive.

It required a tenacious spirit and at times a fiery temperament to fight the elements. This was the kind of fortitude needed by mountaineers who laid claim to the steep hillsides and narrow hollows of West Virginia.

In this missive I mean to reflect upon their mannerisms and fiery temperament, more specifically the antics of a certain couple who lived on Little Creek many years ago. In telling their story, I do not seek to mock or debase them, but glory in them. I embrace and celebrate them as part of my heritage.

The account could be pure gossip, yet the "war stories" stemmed from the couple themselves. Both were spoken of highly by their neighbors as honest and hard working people.

Florence was described as being a small, skinny woman with an air of steely determination. Ace was said to be a good citizen and a humble type of man, yet he could become riled, mostly by Florence.

Their union could have been a true love match, but hearsay had their nuptial benediction begin with a simple trade. The bandied yarn says that Ace was very dissatisfied with "his first woman," and he met up with a man who was likewise discommoded.

So in the manner of a good horse trade, which is extolling health and virtues while not mentioning the vices, they came to terms, with Ace supposedly minus one disobliging woman, one good shot gun and a lantern - trading for a new partner, a solid "work horse" of a woman.

Yet, if hearsay is true, fate proved to play a trick upon Ace.

One cold morning, Florence told Ace to chop some firewood at their house in a deep, deep holler at the very head of Little Creek. Ace was slack about doing the chore. So Florence went out to chop wood and wasn't in the mood to be none too choosy as to where it came from. It seems Ace had some good lumber stacked near the house, and Florence furiously let the chips fall where they may.

Ace ran out commanding her to stop, but she ignored him. He glanced around and saw a bunch of long switches he had cut earlier for binding up corn shocks. He commenced to swatting at her, after which she turned and raised the ax, waving it like a wild Indian with a tomahawk. Florence went on the warpath.

Ace must have known she meant business. He ran, failing to consider his choice of direction, he ran smack dab into the creek, slipping and tumbling head over heels into the icy water. Florence snubbed her nose at his plight, "Humpf, that will teach you!"

Another day, Ace came in from working in the garden just as Florence was putting some potatoes on to fry. Ace told the neighbors he strolled over to the stove and picked up a few bites of potato from the fry pan, and then walked away. Ace said, "Next thing I knowed that whole skillet of taters hit me over the head like a clap of thunder." You can imagine Florence haughtily glaring at him for desecrating her culinary efforts.

The stories are told that Florence began to reach her zenith as a scrapper, although it is not known what untoward deed or behavior Ace displayed toward Florence, or whether Ace really got the wrong end of the stick.

It is told that one night Ace imbibed a mite too much and he and Florence had a falling out. Ace went to bed as Florence plotted her revenge. She industriously sewed and stitched the sheet around Ace, to resemble a butterfly pupa. Having her man in tow, she began to swat him with her broom, both ends of it, smiting and buffeting him about much like one would do beating a dirty rug.

It may well have been after this episode that Ace lamented, "That's the worst trade I ever made," although another version of the story suggests he went back to the man from which he obtained Florence and asked for the return of his gun and lantern.


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