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At 80, Gordon Crump proves you can live the life you want

"Hermit of Clay Ridge" bought 13-acre farm sight-unseen 10 years ago
It's Gordon Crump's birthday today. This story was written earlier this year, back in the summer. Gordon Crump can be found most weekday mornings at Clay Ridge Grocery & Deli. Recently, I found him asleep at the table. He was alright. Just sleeping. ""I didn't get any sleep last night," he said, "the bears kept me up all night." Turns out, he said, a mama black bear and her cub were prowling around rain barrel. He's seen them in the daytime, he said, and meant to scare them off when they rattled around his little wilderness house.

By Ed Waggener

Gordon Crump leads a life most people only dream about.

Mr. Crump, who claims to be a hermit, now lives in a place very much what he has always idealized

The heavily wooded 13-acre farm is ground enough for him to raise his pet-like Nigerian Dwarf milk goats and Great Pyrennees dogs, to have a garden, and to harvest enough firewood from the laps left from the modest logging on the place to provide all the wood heat he needs.

Mr. Crump was editor of the old Columbia, KY Daily Statesman during the 1970s, now lives off Cedar Grove Road in Greater Clay Ridge, KY, on a lane he calls Two Springs Road (but which the county has not yet approved) just across a fence on the Adair County side of the border with Green County. Officially, his postal address is on B. Rogers RD, Columbia, KY.

The garden is an 8 x 12 patch fenced in from the goats, which provides him with all the tomatoes one man can eat, garlic, green onions, squash and cucumbers. A gigantic pumpkin vine embellishes a house where his Nigerian Dwarf goats live. Apparently, the goats don't eat pumpkin, and the plant thrives unimaginably well there.

It's a pretty garden, though Crump maintains "I'm going to take it out. It's too ugly even for me." The graying planks hobbled together to make the fence don't make a single straight line, but, somehow, they and the pathways through the place, created by mowing only totally necessary paths, create an appealing, zippety-do-dah scene.

He bought the place sight unseen. "I was in Phoenix, AZ," he said, "and I picked up a throwaway Thrifty Nickel and saw an ad for the place."

There were six acres for sale for $3,000. Five hundred an acre.

He had spent eight years living in Mexico and had a yearning to go home to Kentucky. "I called the realtor and told him I'd take the place," he recalls. "The realtor asked me if I would want to see it first, and I told him that wouldn't be necessary. I told him I knew about he country and this would be just fine."

What he got was an end of the road hideaway that was just right for his nature. He has good neighbors, county water, Taylor County RECC electrical service, and DSL internet. It's all accessible in an under two mile hike along country lanes to town. To town: through tree tunnels and pretty farm land as picturesque in any season as any in America.

Right now, the byways are fringed with blue cornflower and Queen's lace. The cornflower will draw hundreds of goldfinches when it goes to seed and that's a breathtaking sight, but, even now, an occasion early arriving finch will be seen perched in the cornflower and the unusual combination of yellow and Chelf blue is stunning.

Town is Clay Ridge. Mr. Crump sometimes hikes to the store twice a day, and every day it's open for breakfast. "It's good for my arthritis to walk," he says. "It keeps me limbered up."

Exercise has saved his life before. "I got in bad shape years ago," he said, "and Dr. Phil Aaron told me I had to change or I wouldn't live. That's when I took up walking."

Earlier, he had been threatened with heart disease. "The doctors told me that I had a scar on my heart," he says. "I heard that Dr. DeBakey said that biking is the best thing for good health. I was in Mexico at the time, and I made a habit of riding out every day to a taco stand, eating two tacos, and riding back. I did that for a year. When I went back to check on the scar, they said it was gone."

Career has taken him to many places

Crump began his journalistic career in Munfordville, Hart County, KY, at age 16, working for the Hart County Herald.

He was on the Stars and Stripes in the Korean War. Later, he worked on the Lexington Herald, and knew author A.B. Guthrie when he was a reporter there.

He is known in this area for his tenure as the main writer for the Glasgow Daily Times but more so as editor of the Columbia, KY Daily Statesman, and, inside Waggener-Walker Newspapers, as the editor in chief for the one-time newspaper chains weekly newspapers in Columbia, Jamestown, Edmonton, Stanford, Lancaster, Richmond, Eminence, Crestwood, and Hillview, KY; Decatur and Celina, TN, and Corydon, Charlestown and Salem, IN.

Every travelling editor who left the headquarters of the chain and sallied forth to one of the destinations to assemble the copy (and advertising) for an 8-24 page weekly newspaper remembers that it would have been next to impossible to create save for Gordon Crump's unequalled ability to work through the mounds of notes they brought to him at his office in the basement of 108 N. Reed ST, Columbia.
Those editors included some stellar writers and photographers, people like Ralph Waggener, Jim Anstett, Becky Pedigo, Hughes Walker, Paul Hays, John Walker, Sue Rowe Gerald Reliford, Geneice Marcum, Linda Waggener, Mike Murrell, Darrell Steward, Jim Helm, Jerry Stuhr, Don Doss, and (now Dr.) Neal Gold. It seems as though there were hundreds of those travelling editors, and these are a few who worked with Crump. They all remember how they could bring in news photos taken the day before with a $19.95 Polaroid Swinger camera, and, when they didn't have the time to do it themself, Gordon Crump could write fascinating cutlines without being told a thing about it.
Pete Walker, co-founder of the chain and as good a writer as John Ed Pearce orMark Twain only dreamed of being, found Crump and great confidante and conversationalist, and debater. In politics, they were poles apart. Walker was to the left of John Kennedy; Crump held to conservative principles of Barry Goldwater. It was Gordon Crump who penned the official obituary for the chain's newspapers when Pete Walker died in 1973. It was an eloquent piece.

He wants to write history of Portland, KY

Today, in Clay Ridge, his interest lean more to history. Adair County history in general. Portland, Adair County history in particular.

Gordon Crump is wanting information and photos on Portland, Adair CO, KY, for a history of the community. And a better person for the job couldn't be found. He knows history, he loves the area, he's a prolific writer (just ask Gerald Reliford if you don't believe me), and now, he has enough spare time to do the job right.

"I'm interested in the whole history," he said, "including the Old Portland which was down the hill on Russell Creek."He'd like old newspaper clippings, photographs, and, most of all, personal stories about the place. He would also welcome information about businesses which were located there, before and concurrent with the fabled Garnett Kessler Store established in the 1950s by Garnett Baker.

This story was posted on 2006-10-17 06:19:42
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Happy 80th Birthday! Gordon Crump, treasured Adair Countian

2006-10-17 - On the Adair-County County Frontier, near Clay Ridge, KY - Photo Ed Waggener.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006Happy 80th birthday to Gordon Crump former editor of the Columbia, KY, DAILY STATESMAN and now the celebrated Hermit of Two Springs Road, Clay Ridge, KY. This photo was taken back in the summer. Mr. Crump is leading the life he wants to, raising Netherlands dwarf goats, talking with friends at the store, communicating with family and friends all over the world on he internet. He's pictured above with his favorite Netherlands dwarf milk goat, Baby Doll. No pet in Adair County leads a better life.

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