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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

A West Mountain Love Story

Have you been up on West Mountain lately? It's still gorgeous.

I think it's amazing that we have a beautiful camel-hump of a mountain right in the middle of town, sandwiched between Prospect and Whittington Avenues.

My mom and dad, Ann Stell and Irven McDaniel, fell in love in third grade at Jones School. As an only child, mom lived in a big pretty white house on Prospect in the 1930s. Her daddy, Dr. Stell,was a surgeon at St. Joe's.

My dad, Irven, lived in a simple house with two brothers and a sister on Whittington. There's an empty lot where the house used to stand, right next to the Showman's Club. His father was an architect and they were struggling through the great depression.

But love can survive anything and Ann and Irven really didn't care that she was "rich" and he was "poor". They wanted to play together.

So, every afternoon after school eight year old Irven (he was a pretty scrawny little boy) would use the deer trails and run over West Mountain and end up in Ann's lush back yard.

Ann's father, the surgeon, wasn't too happy about the ragged little boy in his back yard. Ann was his precious little girl and who was this kid? So, he told the maids to only let Ann and Irven see each other once a week. Surely, this boy would get tired of running over a mountain every day.

The maids felt so sorry for my dad, who continued to show up, knowing he wouldn't get to see Ann. So, every afternoon, they left a glass of milk and a stack of cookies out so he'd have the strength to run home. Ann would wave and smile at him from her room on the second floor as he ate his snack.

My dad died when he was in his early 50's. We were all in his hospital room talking to him when he teared up a little and looked at my mom. He said, so softly we could barely hear him. "Make sure you pour my ashes out on West Mountain. I'll always be running to my girl."

And we did. So, if you are up on West Mountain in the early evening and for just an instant you see a streak of gold and silver in the wood maybe, just maybe, it's Irven running to find his girl.

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19 oct 2020

It was quite interesting to read your story entitled "A West Mountain Love Story". My wife Alix and I have the privilege of owning the Stell House on Prospect Ave, and it we cherish it as caretakers of the history it holds. Knowing this piece of personal history is just one more reason to love our home! Thanks for sharing the story.

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