For more than three decades Al Schlappy harbored the dream. "I’ve had it in the back of my mind ever since I got here in 1978. Every time we drove by Upper Table Rock Mountain, I thought I’d like to climb to the top of it someday," he said. Memorial Day, this year, he celebrated this 94th birthday fulfilling that wish.
Schlappy’s daughter, Lavana Lammon, made the hike with Dad under sunny,
balmy skies. She had climbed it before, but not in the last eight
years. "I figured if Dad could walk all the way to our gate, he could
make it up the 750 foot climb to that elevation," she said.
pair completed the trek in 95 minutes. Other parties of holiday
visitors on the trails either passed them by, or paused to rest, most
expressing amazement at Schappy’s stamina. "I wouldn’t have stopped at
all," Schlappy said. "I just wanted to keep going. It gets real rugged
when you get near the top."
Did they see any snakes? "Just two little bull snakes," he said with a shrug. "No rattlers."
little," said Lammon, who clarified that theirs was not a guided tour,
but one they traveled at their own pace. Once at the 750 foot mark,
Schlappy said, "I didn’t cross over to the edge." Rather, he gazed
with contentment at the view he’d waited more than thirty years to
The native of Chapman, Kansas recounted that he’d
been driving a combine on his family’s homestead as a young man. A
friend came by one day, and invited him to head to California. Schlappy
drove West on roads he described as being comprised of two lanes–one
in each direction. He landed work for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica,
where he met and wed wife Clarice. After 66 years, five children, five
grands, four great grands, and two more on the way, he loses count.
Asked whether Clarice was his first love, he flashed a pensive, deadpan
look, and replied, "She was a welder, too."
when facing the question, "Was Al your first love?" Clarice answered,
"Oh, I don’t think so. We have puppy loves before that."
in retirement, Schlappy keeps busy building unique birdhouses. A
split-level one, and multi-tier vertical design adorn trees on the
family property. He also fashioned patio bricks of concrete, sand and
water to complete a walkway girding a section of the grounds. He loves
to fish and to go rafting whenever his son’s around.
When his daughter asked whether he’d like to climb Lower Table Rock next,
her dad again gave that droll, deadpan stare. "Don’t talk nasty," he replied.
long-held dream the family celebrated this week-on Schlappy’s birthday,
Lammon’s husband, Jim Lammon launched the opening of his brand new
business, Sams Valley Realty at Rainey’s Corner.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent