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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

Stories we want to be true
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Friday, May 10, 2013


No one on the front porch ever seemed to know what really happened.

But everyone had believed the story, so it was told time and again, probably changed a bit each time.

My grandmother was the first one I remember telling it, so I tend to believe her version. After all, she was there, and her children were still very young at the time.

Anyhow, the story, as hard as it is to believe, went liked this, according to my grandmother.

At one time a lady moved way back in Wimmer Holler, all the way to the end to live an abandoned small house. She was a stranger to everyone, and my grandmother said she was a "dark-complected woman," who had an accent that was certainly not local.

Some thought she was a Gypsy, although others said she was from "somewhere in the ocean," which, I assume, meant an island.

She was not particularly friendly and kept conversations very brief and matter of fact as she would walk in and out of the holler to the nearby country store. Since she seemed to be a recluse, the rumors and tongue-wagging started immediately.

My grandfather, Samuel David Wimmer, was a preacher and by all accounts a good man who would not harm a fly. Okay, I am sure he was good with a fly swatter, but he would not harm another person, at least not without good reason.

Since he and my grandmother lived at the beginning, or mouth, of the holler, all passersby walked within a stone's throw of their house.

He was outside chopping wood on a warm fall day, and this mysterious lady, whose name no one knew, walked by. For some reason, my grandfather's dog, old Red, barked at her. He was a friendly coon hound, and barking at someone like that was not characteristic of him.

The woman stopped, walked over into the yard, pointed her finger at the dog and told him to be quiet. He immediately stopped barking.

My grandfather, a mild-mannered man, did not like what she had done and, probably because of all the mystery around her, told her to get off his property.

The woman reached into a small pouch tied to her waist, produced a fistful of some sort of powder or dust and threw it front of my grandfather, saying something to the effect that he was cursed.

She then wheeled around and walked up the holler, not saying another word.

My grandfather, of course, thought it was strange, scratched his head and walked into the house, not really knowing what to think about what happened. So he prayed for her.

But later that night, when he got up from the dinner table, he couldn't walk. I mean the only way he could get around was to crawl. Everyone thought he had just thrown out his back, probably from chopping wood, so he went to bed thinking it would be fine the next day.

It wasn't, and try as he might, he simply could not walk.

This went on for a few days and he showed no signs of progress, so a rare trip to the doctor was probably in order. But then he thought of the curse.

Could it be? Is it possible?

Being a preacher, he had reservations about such things, but then again, strange things happen.

So my grandfather crawled out to the front porch and sat there, waiting for the lady who usually walked to the store once a week, and on that afternoon.

Sure enough, it wasn't long before she came down the road, and he hollered at her, asking her to come over to talk to him.

She did, and even old Red was silent as she looked at his legs covered up with a blanket.

He didn't have to say a word, maybe she saw the kindness in his face and knew he had meant no harm, and she reached into her pouch and threw some more dust his way.

"You will be good," she said, and walked away.

He realized before she was out of sight that he could stand up and walk again.

Oddly enough, it was the last time he or anyone saw the woman and they never knew what happened to her.

I have heard numerous versions of the story, but I never heard my grandfather tell it since he died young, only 47, of pleurisy.

But my grandmother's version was probably the best and may have been the most accurate.

Grandma said he took the incident as a sign from God that you should never judge anyone without knowing them first. And he even convinced himself that the woman was some sort of angel, sent here to teach him a lesson.

Many may doubt the entire story, but I don't. Many strange and mysterious things have happened in that holler.

That was just one of them told on the front porches.

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