Mixed in with all the humorous happenings surrounding Fred, there were also tragic ones. Fred and Emma Atkinson’s son, Huntley, had both his legs broken in 1932 when he was five years old. The family was living just below the country store that Lafar Ruppe was running at the time, and Fred was farming.
The hay crop was being gathered and Lloyd Huskey, Emma’s brother, was driving the wagon and team, hauling the hay to the barn. Lloyd had placed a board from one side of the wagon across to the other so that he could sit to guide the mules. Huntley climbed up and sat on the board beside him for a ride to the barn. The board was slick, and there was nothing to hold onto, so when a wheel ran over a high spot in the field and the wagon lurched, Huntley slid right off. He fell beneath the wagon, and before Lloyd could get the mules stopped, the rear wheel ran over both his legs and snapped them just below his knees.
He was taken to the doctor in Cliffside who set the bones and put splints on each leg. After six weeks the doctor removed the splints, assuming the bones had knit back properly. Huntley was pleased to have them off at last, but his pleasure was short lived. On the same day the splints were removed, he stepped out of one of the farm buildings that had an elevated doorway and a long step to the ground. As he placed his foot onto the ground and shifted his weight to it, the bone in the leg snapped again. This time a cast was put on the leg, and he was ordered not to bear any weight on it for six more weeks.
Emma usually helped Fred in the fields, but had been unable to do much while she had been constantly caring for Huntley. She was desperately needed in the fields, now, since Fred would have a very difficult time doing all the work alone for another six weeks. Little Fred Ruppe was commandeered to help look after Huntley and keep him entertained so both Fred and Emma could work to make their crops.