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Simple Times Climbing a Rock

Updated on May 1, 2017
Fiddleman profile image

I am Robert Elias Ballard, married to Pearlie Jane (PJ) for 45 years on November 24, 2017. We live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Granite Quarry

Climbing the "Crusher" on Mount Olivet

Spring and those hot summer days on Mount Olivet sometimes found me and my uncle sitting on top of the "Crusher." The Crusher was a large granite rock formation at the upper end of Grandpa's pasture that had been used as a quarry resource in the 1940's. A rock crusher had been set up and the WPA used the crushed stone to make the road going across the mountain.

Our expeditions usually involved free-climbing the rock. All the while we would be climbing we were on the lookout for snakes. Copperheads and rattlesnakes were quite common on the mountain; they might be hiding in the cracks or sunning on the solar heated rocks. Then there were always those little blue lizards we called "scorpions" and other little critters zipping along the rock surface. They reminded me of dinosaurs in their appearance, and I always wondered if through some quirk of nature they actually had shrunk in size from that of their prehistoric ancestors. Not really dangerous, and by their very nature shy, they quickly escaped our view into a crack in the rock or under a loose stone. They are not poisonous as far as I know, but they can give you a nasty bite. I knew of a boy who had caught one with his hands and was bitten. A quick call to the doctor was made and we learned the little lizard was non-poisonous.

There were still holes here and there in the rock that had been drilled to insert dynamite. When the rock was being used as a quarry, a large rock from the dynamiting process had actually been blown several hundred yards crashing into my grandfather's house.Fortunately the rock only glanced off the roof and did little damage.

After the road across the mountain was completed by men from the WPA, the granite wall was abandoned and no longer used. It had become a source for my uncles and others to play.

Once we got to the top of the Crusher, we had a great view of Ann Mountain. We would yell "Hello,hello!" Our voices would return in an echo! For us it was fun to hear our voices coming back. Neither myself or my uncle knew how to yodel but it would have been fun hearing a yodel bouncing off Ann Mountain and we could have pretended we were in Switzerland or some Scandinavian country.

We could sit up there for hours exploring. We found where some of our family members had painstakingly carved their initials into the granite with a metal chisel. I think my own might be there, still possibly overgrown with moss or lichens.

On the Crusher, we could listen to my uncles' beagles running rabbits, and occasionally from on top of the rock we could actually see a cottontail making tracks to escape those devilish beagles hot on their tails.

Late on summer days thunderstorms would come and we would be safely in my grandfather's house. Lightning would flash and thunder boomed. It rumbled bouncing off the mountainside and the echo reverberated down the hollows like cannons on a battlefield. The old farmhouse would shake as if we were having an earthquake.

Every year at Christmas, my uncles always had a shooting match at the base of the crusher. Some had new shotguns or hunting rifles and the backdrop of the Crusher wall made a great shooting range.

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    • Fiddleman profile image
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      Robert Elias Ballard 6 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thank you Jo Miller for stopping by to read and thank you for commenting. I love the East Tennessee area and have friends in Bristol and Mountain City. We live in a rural area near Hendersonville and have only two acres. Two acres don't seem that large until it's time to mow grass. Lol we also are blessed to have family who farm and have animals. Our grandkids love coming to our house and going to play in the creek in the summertime and seeing the cows and horses. Reliving childhood memories is great and sharing them on hub pages is a wonderful way to preserve them.

    • jo miller profile image

      Jo Miller 6 months ago from Tennessee

      I grew up in the country, though not in the mountains, and have such good memories of my childhood play. We didn't have a rock quarry, but we had our grandfather's farm. We were free to roam those woods and fields without much close supervision from our parents. We'd leave the house early in the mornings and return to eat and sleep. When I retired, I moved back to the country and now my husband and I play on our little acreage with our grandchildren. Still having fun.

      I enjoy reading your reminiscences very much.

    • Fiddleman profile image
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      Robert Elias Ballard 6 months ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      Thanks Bob for stopping by to read and comment. We have lots of those little critters and we have caught them on sticky traps in our basement. The mountain lore here says if you see a lizard first in the Spring you will br lazy but if you see a butterfly first, you will not be lazy.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 months ago from UK and Mexico

      Great to have all that space to explore. So little wild country left in the UK.

      Those little critturs would have been venomous, not poisonous (unless they were also poisonous to eat). I was only stung once by a scorpion in Mexico: I knelt on it! I hope not to repeat the experience as it hurt a lot but did no further damage. The really bad ones are rare.

      Bob