Woofter's Writings - White Pine Flood - 1943

(08/09/2002)

Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from an old clipping from the Parkersburg News (undated).

Town and Country
By Albert J. Woofter

White Pine was a quiet little village, where folks lived and loved, but in the early morning hours, before the light of day came across the hills, of August 5, 1943, the village was completely swept away.

White Pine was named for the white pines that stood guard on the hill overlooking the village.

The post office has been a sort of family affair with my folks. My grandfather, Isaac L. Simers, two of my uncles, S.H. and George H. Simers, and my dad, W. H. Ayers, were all postmasters before my term started in February 1923. W.T. Webster was the only postmaster except members of our family at White Pine.

Many years ago there were three stores and a large grist mill at White Pine. Lee Gainer, now of Glenville, used to keep a hotel where Dallas Kight's house was. His brother, Ed Gainer, lived in the house where Francis Kelley lived. Postmaster Fred Gainer, of Parkersburg, was born there and he and his bride, June Goff, of Hazel Green, first kept house where Dallas Kight's house stood.

W.H. Ayers had a store here 54 years before a flood in 1937 washed it away. He and his bride, Hester M. Simers, first went to housekeeping in January 1889 in the house where my mother still lived when the recent flood washed her home away.

Leonard Burrows was a newcomer to our village. He had worked in Cleveland and saved his money and bought the Henry Kight place on Road Ford. It was a very attractive little white cottage, but was completely swept away by the flood. He and his wife, Sarah Metz, are from the Five Forks community.

Homer Kendall, his wife, Geraldine Robinson, and their four children had a little cottage covered with brown shingles near the church. They were all away the day of the flood and when they returned their home had vanished.

Royal White, his wife, Alma Kelley, and their six children lived below the church in the house where Royal's dad and mother lived for many years, until Mr. White's death. Mrs. White, or "Aunt Lillie," still made that her home. During the flood an oil tank smashed into their home and it was swept away. Their dog rode on the house until it touched the bank on the opposite side of the river where he jumped off.

The Dallas R. Kight home where we first went to housekeeping in 1927, was washed about 125 feet and lodged against mom's cellar house. It was wrecked. I noticed when we could go into it a fish lying up on a shelf in the kitchen. One of my hobbies is a pitcher collection. My daughter, Helen, had washed and fixed my pitchers all up on Tuesday and only one was broken, not one falling from the shelves. The house had hit the cellar so hard that it was broken in two and had broken plaster board near one shelf of pitchers in the kitchen.

Mrs. Winnie Grimm was spending the night with Mom and her granddaughter Maxine Haddox. They, with Dal, Helen, Peggy and I were part way on our hill for about four hours during the flood, while on the opposite hill Francis Kelley, his wife, Della Grimm, his mother, "Aunt Polly" Kelley, son Donald Burl, and daughter Frances Jean Yoak were stranded. Punt Polly was 87 years old last October but she took all this in good shape.

When morning came it was a desolate looking place, but we were not bitter or broken. We all had our loved ones safe and our memories and our dreams.

Material things mean so little when death is hovering so close. A divine hand led the folks of White Pine that night. The next day you heard on every side, "I'm so thankful everyone is safe."

The flood waters swept many out-buildings away for folks whose homes were not taken. Water was in the homes of J.P. VanCamp, J.K. Ferguson, Callie Simers, Claude R. Wease, Ola O. White and Gilbert Haddox.

The church was moved about four feet off its foundation. It is a lovely place at the church. It had just been painted and had varnish to finish the inside. A new foundation has been put under the floor, fixed where it was broken up the center. That old church as a very sacred memory for so many. That's where we all went to our first Sunday Schools.

Now there is an Honor Roll for our boys in the service hanging there. I believe there are 20 boys from White Pine in the service. They are scattered all over the world, but White Pine still means home to them. Many are the prayers in that little white church for safe return.

My memory goes back tonight to the days when I was a kid tagging along with Dad - and he was the best Dad in the world and one of the finest persons I have ever known. How we loved to go up to Uncle Ed Gainer's to play with Georgia. I liked to watch Uncle Lawson Kelley grind corn into nice soft meal, and at Easter we kids all gathered up at Grandpa Simers and he had a big iron pot in which he would boil and color Easter eggs. Over in his shop or store, "Granny" Simers was a refuge for us all. She fixed us sandwiches, she made us wool 'wristlets,' often caught us with wet feet when the ice wasn't as thick as we wanted it to be; then we sat by her fire and dried our clothing.

Sorrow came to White Pine but we always shared one another's sorrows as well as joys and my! how dear good neighbors help one another.

The day after the flood, "Aunt Della" Kelley said, "Well, it's all swept away, but we can lay up our treasures in Heaven and they will be safe there. "So some day I hope all the folks that ever called White Pine home can meet over in Heaven and tell our memories of one of the dearest little towns in the world, all over again.

Gene Hope Kight
August 1943


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