1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



The River
Barry Worrell

The Greenbrier River.  Constant, but ever changing.  With its many personalities, it's the one thing that remains the same in Alderson.  If you ever spent any time in Alderson, you cannot help but be affected in some way by the river. My first recollection of the river was in the 40's, when my mother would take me swimming.  We would walk the mile, in the hot summer days, up the river to Rock Bar.  Rock Bar was truly the community swimming pool.  The current was slow, and the large flat bed of  smooth river rocks made it perfect. There was plenty of room for open fires to cook a burger or hot dog.  It was a place for families to go in the days of no air conditioning or TV.    The river gave lots of joy there.  It also gave sorrow.  I remember when the Moody boy died after hitting a submerged rail road tie when he dove in.  There were others the river claimed.

I remember playing in, and around the river most of  my younger days.  We were always looking for craw-dads and other river life.  One most remarkable moment, was when David Honaker and I watch Sam  Eades fly his small plane between the two middle arches, under the bridge.  A fellow  would get into trouble for that these days, if anyone were foolish enough to try.

Winter would bring more fun, with the river frozen over.  We played on the ice, listening for it to crack.  Almost tempting it to do so, as we would slowly walk to where the ice met the water, and run back when the ice gave its warning.   Once we wrapped rope around our bike tires, and rode up passed Camp Greenbrier.  I had always heard stories of how the river would freeze so solid, you could drive a truck across the river, although I never saw that.

In my teens, besides girls, we discovered boats.  Some of us had them, and the ones who didn't, rode along.  And of course, we fished the river.  Buddy McClung and I had a boat built, and this was  probably my first financial venture with another person.  Like others, we took the boat below the bridge from time to time.  And when  the river was low, and we would have to get out and pull it back up the river.  We decided to wait until the river got a little higher so we could row it up.  The current was too strong, the boat turned sideways and sank in a second. We gave the boat back.

The river has always presented itself a perfect model for any photographer, or just the casual observer.  In the summer, looking up, or down, the river is beautiful.  As the sun would set, you could look up steam from off the bridge.  The water was so still and dark.  You could see the reflection of  the dimming sky, only being disturbed by an occasional fish feeding on the insects that came out at night.  And in the winter,  the water looking almost black by comparison to the wet  snow  that covered the ground and all the branches of the trees.  When it would flood, it was awesome.  I remember standing on the bridge, watching the muddy waters filled with debris, beat against the pillars. I also remember my folks, and others being flooded out of their homes twice in a decade.

The river has brought joy and sorrow, serenity and beauty, excitement and danger.  It was there long before anyone I ever knew, or heard of, took their first breath.  I dare say it will be there long, long, after I breath my last.  Has the river had an effect on me?  Naw, ..not much.  Roll on old fellow. What else do you  have to do?