September 2011

Always Carry Cash in the Country

Marty Spiker tells us about the good, and the not so good, times daughter Alison Morris & her husband had while staying a spell at the Spiker farmhouse.

By Marty Spiker

From August 30 through September 23, newlyweds, Alison Spiker Morris and Grant Morris, lived and commuted from the Spiker Family Farm in Ritchie County to their rural medical rotation assignment in Sistersville (Tyler County), WV.  Alison is the daughter of Mike and Marty Spiker, the granddaughter of Bradford and Alice and great-granddaughter of Jacob and Gay Spiker, the original “Spiker Farm” family.

Ali and Grant are in their third year of medical studies at West Virginia University School of Medicine and will be based in Charleston during their third and fourth years.  In fact, they are living with Alison’s grandmother (Marty’s mother), Nancy Street, in Kanawha City directly behind Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) Memorial Division.  As part of their medical education they work in different areas of medicine.  Rural medicine is one of the components of their medical education.

Ali and Grant were assigned to work with Drs. Gary and Amanda Nichols in Sistersville. They learned much about the special needs and concerns of rural West Virginia patients.  From the heart-wrenching Emergency Room case of a little girl with severe facial lacerations from a dog attack to addicts trying to con prescriptions for manufactured “pain symptoms”, they experienced quite a slice of life in the acute care medical trenches. They worked not only in a private practice office of a general practitioner but also in the ER of the local hospital. 

Rather than stay in or near Sistersville, they elected to stay at the “Spiker Farm” and experience a little of what their ancestors must have experienced by living “out in the country.”  This included watching the fog roll up the Middle Fork Creek in front of the house, viewing the deer and other wild animals, the cool mornings, the warm, sunny evenings, and the extreme quiet broken only by the birds and an occasional overhead airplane, or car passing by. The house has all the modern comforts including electric, “free” gas and satellite TV, but it was not impossible to imagine the first cabin and other home built at the same site which did not have these comforts.  The early settlers of the Spiker Farm site (the Zinns) did not have these.  Jacob, Gay, Bradford, and his siblings did not have these either until the early 1940’s.          

(Photo by Sarah Spiker-Smith)

The commute from the farm to Sistersville was one hour each direction every day on single lane, curvy roads and it definitely took its toll on the young doctors–in-training.  One memorable night they were too exhausted to deal with cooking in the farm kitchen so they stopped for dinner at the “White Tail Café” in Pullman, WV.  After ordering and consuming the delicious home-style food they took their bill to the counter where they proceeded to try to pay with “plastic” but were kindly informed that the establishment did not take credit cards.  No problem!  Ali deftly whipped out her debit card all smiles.  “We don’t take debit cards either” was the exasperated response.  Knowing they had NO CASH OR CHECKS Ali played the only card she had and said, “You can trust us to go get the money and bring it back. My uncle is Dr. Mark Spiker, the dentist in Pennsboro!”   Mark’s popularity (notoriety?) saved the day.

Ali and Grant hosted some special visitors, including JoAnne and Mark King, friends from their mission trips to Guatemala who made a road trip in from Nashville, TN.  Four-wheeling, fishing, walks, bike rides, a cookout with Mike and Marty, and good times around a campfire all made for a very special visit.  

Back in Charleston now, their stay at the Spiker Farm concluded, Ali and Grant feel relieved to say goodbye to the daily caffeine-fueled commute but they will miss relaxing on the porch, the morning mist rising off the meadows, the deep quiet of the night and their new friends, the Nichols family of Sistersville. They recommend the stay to anyone as long as you carry a little “cash” in your pocket.