homeless…

The year 1976 found Lynne and I homeless standing on the dirt with two small boys-one still in diapers. It all came to be because I tried to trust someone and believe again.

I had learned how to operate a tractor trailer in 1975 and went to work for a company that made insulation out of scrap paper and discarded clotheing. The plant ran 24 hours every day of the week and we were running nearly all over the country-my first mountain driving experience came from driving with these folks.

One of the main owners of the outfit was the son of a state senator who later became judge of the county next to mine and was a judge at the time I went to work there. All of the owners and office staff gave the impression they were all church people and were always wanting you to pray with them or to come to church with them.

I returned from all places to return from-the town of Nazereth Pennsylvania , to find the gate of the plant closed and protected with crime scene tape-all kinds of cop cars all over the place and up and down the street and the offices buzzing with police activity. I was told the place was being seized by the FBI…the owners were in jail . I was stunned. I had only two months earlier had agreed to work for a few months with out wages because the company was going through some financial changes and we truck drivers were the key to keeping the place going-so they offered us a share in the company and profits if we could sacrifice our pay checks. I trusted them and was wrong. It seems the company was being used to launder money and was more less bogus as a business and the owners went to prison….the judges son too.

It did’nt take long for the sheriffs office to come with our landlord to evict us and padlock us out of our house. I had to sneak back days later and break into a back window and ‘steal’ our things away-what ever we could haul away. At that time we had no car so we stored alot of things in a neighbors house. We had no where to go and trusting that I was going to become a part owner in a big company I allowed us to get behind on our rent.

We ended up on an 8 acre piece of ground about 15 miles west of town. I found the place in the paper for one hundred dollars down and sixty bucks a month payment. There was no house-no running water or electric , just trees and earth.

Shortly after we settled into a pup tent and set up a camp potty I found a job in the city at a construction company that built water tanks all over the country. We had no automobile so my mornings started at three in the morning and I’d walk into town-nearly 7 miles and hitch hike into work-work all day as a laborer and turn around and do the routine in reverse. On my journey in I carried four one gallon jugs to fill with water-on the return they would be full and heavy and awkward to carry . It was quite a chore.

I eventually learned that the construction form material the company discarded was mine for the takeing so every day at lunch time I’d dig through the piles of scrap wood and find pieces suitable to saw and put nails in and every day I’d tote four or five pieces of lumber along with those gallon jugs…walking a few pieces ahead and going back and getting my jugs of water, leap frogging over and over. It was a job.

Eventually I was able to craft a cabin 12 feet wide and 16 feet long complete with a wood stove for heat and a tarp for a roof. We had a fifty gallon drum standing on pillars to use as a water holding tank and soon enough everything was barely normal and somewhat tolerable-one of the men at the job had sold me a car…it had no brakes but it ran , and came with a bonus-several window frames with glass. A house was coming together.

I’d drive that car to work rideing along the rail line that paralleled the highway and that lasted for a while but eventually the engine failed and I was back to going it on my feet again.

The cabin we built still stands and has withstood every hurricane season its seen-a good testiment for a wood butcher like myself with absolutely nothing for skills with only a carpenters book for a guide. I still use the place-now a wood working shop….we’ve lived on this piece of property for nearly 30 years.

It never was easy. It seemed to never improve. I could’nt keep a job because my attitude towards others and how I felt they felt towards me would always cause a conflict so I had spent a couple of years working on and off with the water tank company until I landed a job 35 miles away driving a steel truck hauling construction materials to the University of Florida campus during the big ‘Florida Field’ job building the south end of the football stadium. I’d get up as I did at the other place and walk into town-nearly 7 miles…hitch to the city and walk across most of it and at the big four lane I hitched to the job and if the days were good I could get there in time to lay back against the gate and nap until the boss came to open up. One morning he came to open up and asked why I got there so early and I explained that I hitchiked. He bought me a car. After nearly four years of walking out of the woods where we lived and hitching rides everywhere for anything and everything-especially work….we finally had a car.

2 Responses to “homeless…”

  1. melissachickie Says:

    You live such a hard life. As a mother now, I cannot understand nor imagine the adversity you had to overcome as a the main breadwinner for your wife and two children. I pray that your home gets heat, windows, and electricity that stays on 24/7 365 days a year.

  2. B.J. Says:

    You might want to pray for Uncle Jay to get a brand new trailer or house to live in! The carpenter ants are charging rent for him to stay at his place, which pretty much dwindles his SSN check to nothing. His place is so open, he fills up his truck with the gas from his oven. His dogs and cat are currently seeking employment. The cat has been trying to get a bird-watching job and advertised as “Joan J. Catabon, Bird Watcher Extraordinaire”.

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