the grade now paved…


my place from high

Originally uploaded by jayfherron

My son brought this photograph by-it is my first view of the neighbors place across the way…living here for over 30 years and in all that time I’ve only glimpsed the roof when the trees thin out in the winter.
My place is on the left side of this picture-the road divides it well enough. I’ve only seen my neighbor twice in person-I’ve only spoken to him once.
It is actually a very odd community-once upon a time there was only a handfull of people living out here,now there are cars and faces that one has no clue of who you just drove past.
Once upon a time if you came upon another vehicle one would assume it was somebody that was lost-for once upon a time the road coming out here was so bad even the sherrifs office was relunctant to come out this way.
I still believe it is a miracle that I found this place.
I was working for a judges son who ended up being a liar and a crook and was wisked off to federal prison. I was among the few that believed his story and trusted him enough to work for a few months with out pay. His offer was a cut in the business-which turned out the business was just a huge ruse. I was dumb enough to fall for it.
This was right at 1976.
The ‘sand hills’-as this is called by locals has been my home since then. We lost everything because I believed in the way this man sold the idea-and by whom his father was,former Senator ‘Red’ Cross.
I understand he got ripped off too.

I had to steal our things. After a few months of trusting and no rent being paid-the landlords locked up the mobile home we were living in. I had to climb in a window and steal our possessions-that which we could salvage through a window.

The property we originally came to was a quarter of a mile further up the road. These were available in final years of the good old Florida cheap land days…I bought the property for $100 down and $60 a month payment-grand total…$ 8,000.
It’s a long story-surely found in the archives of all these things I’ve written.
The original property had no water-that was a real slump in the living arrangements-which were then in a tent with my wife and two toddelers. It had no electric…it had no house. Our lifes possessions in the back seat of the car….a British Ford. It was in pathetic shape.

They call the road coming in here a ‘grade’. That is in reference to the machine that came every so often to smooth it out…the smooth condition lasting about a half a day-the road was in miserable condition.
I remember and hope to never forget the way this place came together.
It is 7 miles to the nearest town-in those days it was a one convienience store town….not much else unless you needed horse feed or fence posts.
I had found a job with a water tank construction company. I ended up working there off and on for the years past-often I’d quit…often they’d fire me-and just as often they’d hire me back.
I once upon a time would have to walk out of here-the two miles down the grade and the 5 miles into the nearest town. My hike began at 0330 each morning…I’d hitchhike from the little town into the citys edge and work all day and hitch right back,often times carrying a few boards of lumber salvaged from the construction pit. We built our first house with those…a 12 foot by 16 foot cabin. At one point-I would do a round trip of 70 miles every morning to get to my job…hitchhiking.
One morning at that job the owner of the business found out thats how I got to work-he handed me 500 bucks and said not to come back until I was driving. You could buy an old car back then for that…and I did.
I remember all of those mornings walking out of here-it was so quiet you could hear the electric current going through the wires over head.
And the foggy mornings when it was not only pitch black-but the fog was so thick you’d be wet from it.
I once helped a neighbor-who also worked at the water tank outfit…he had cut a twenty acre field of hay and no one showed up to help him get it off the ground. He came and got me. Made me ride in the back of his pick up truck…not in the cab with him. After the days work was done…if you’ve ever done a hay field-you’ll know it is work,after the days work-they fed me. I had to sit out on the steps to eat. The guys wife had tears in her eyes when she handed me the plate of food…she kept saying how sorry she was. I seemed they passed me 100’s of times as I was walking to try to get to work.
I knew he was not offering me a ride home at the days end-but it was so hard to accept that he would’nt even help me get to work.

That first time on the hay field-after the meal and it was the final moments…the guy handed me some cash. I took a look at it and told him I was glad to be hiis neighbor and help-I rejected the cash.

I think somehow it earned me some respect from the fellow…we obviously came from seperate sides of life-him a life long cow man,me a hippie…thus the reason why he never offered me a ride.
I became known to him as ‘hay boy’…almost the only name he ever called me.
It did not matter-every time he called me I went over and helped do that hay. I never accepted a dollar for doing it either…but eventually got invited to eat at the table in the kitchen,and in due time got to ride in the cab of the truck.
I never got called anything else but ‘hay boy’….sometimes ‘hippie’,but most of the time it was ‘hay boy’.
Funny dang life-sometimes.

2 Responses to “the grade now paved…”

  1. Austin Says:

    I just read the last 3 entries and all I can really say is, I so enjoy your writing.

    Smiles to you and yours,
    Austin

  2. jayherron Says:

    thank you Austin…

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