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StoryCorps: Lendall Hill

From: StoryCorps
Series: StoryCorps
Length: 01:53

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Lendall Hill tells his daughter, Lori FitzGerald, about his father?s artificial leg.

Hill_small Before Lendall Hill was born, his father lost his leg in a farming accident. But that didn't stop the elder Hill from working at his saw mill -- or from bringing Lendall along on delivery jobs. As they unloaded the truck one day at a mine in West Virginia, Lendall's father, Vaunia, realized his artificial leg had gotten caught briefly on a piece of timber. The sound it made, he recalls, being like "a loud pop." The leg, made of varnished paper and made movable by a system of cables, was twisted at the ankle. "Oh darn, I think I broke my foot," said Vaunia (pronounced "Vaughn.") He sat on the truck's running-board, trying to twist the foot back into alignment with the rest of the leg. After wrenching it around a bit, he climbed back up on the truck and finished the job. Father and son thought little of the incident -- but the mine's timber checker who was working with them that day "turned white as cotton," Lendall recalls. The reason for that became obvious several years later, when they heard from Lendall Hill's uncle, Lon, who had run into the same timber checker. Realizing that he was talking to Vaunia Hill's brother, the man recalled the day he saw a man trying to pop his broken foot back into place. "I'll tell you one thing," the timber checker had said. "That's the toughest man I ever seen." Lon Hill never could bring himself to tell the man that his brother had an artificial leg.

Piece Description

Before Lendall Hill was born, his father lost his leg in a farming accident. But that didn't stop the elder Hill from working at his saw mill -- or from bringing Lendall along on delivery jobs. As they unloaded the truck one day at a mine in West Virginia, Lendall's father, Vaunia, realized his artificial leg had gotten caught briefly on a piece of timber. The sound it made, he recalls, being like "a loud pop." The leg, made of varnished paper and made movable by a system of cables, was twisted at the ankle. "Oh darn, I think I broke my foot," said Vaunia (pronounced "Vaughn.") He sat on the truck's running-board, trying to twist the foot back into alignment with the rest of the leg. After wrenching it around a bit, he climbed back up on the truck and finished the job. Father and son thought little of the incident -- but the mine's timber checker who was working with them that day "turned white as cotton," Lendall recalls. The reason for that became obvious several years later, when they heard from Lendall Hill's uncle, Lon, who had run into the same timber checker. Realizing that he was talking to Vaunia Hill's brother, the man recalled the day he saw a man trying to pop his broken foot back into place. "I'll tell you one thing," the timber checker had said. "That's the toughest man I ever seen." Lon Hill never could bring himself to tell the man that his brother had an artificial leg.

Broadcast History

NPR?s Morning Edition 01/05/07

Transcript

LH: My dad got his leg cut off in a farming accident. and at that time the artificial legs was made out of paper with varnish and they were put around a mold and there was cables in the ankles that connected the leg to the foot. There were some interesting times with that old leg. One time we were delivering mining materials and there was a timber checker that was up on top of the truck and he had to look at every timber that we were unloading. and dad had pulled one of those timbers out and he stepped and got his artificial leg caught and as he turned it let out a pretty loud pop and he said, "oh darn, I think I broke my foot." and he sat down on the running board of the truck and the foot was plainly broken. it was turned at a right angle to what it should be. and he caught his foot in his two hands and he straightened it up and it cracked and popped something awful and said, "oh da...
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Intro and Outro

INTRO:

Recording technology has changed a lot over the years, but you can still do one essential thing: You sit in front of a microphone and you tell a story, which we'll hear again this Friday morning because it's time StoryCorps. It's an oral history project. It travels the country, recording the stories of everyday people. And today, we hear one man's vivid memory of his father's artificial leg.

OUTRO:

Lendall Hill with his daughter Lori FitzGerald in Charleston, West Virginia. StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. You can hear more, at NPR-DOT-ORG.

Related Website

http://www.storycorps.net/listen.