Saturday, November 27, 2010

Daddy Speaks Out

My family has lived in the Dug Gap community for over 70 years. My father grew up on the family farm. Years later, my grandparents deeded an acre apiece to my father and his sister. They both built houses in the '50's. My uncle also got an acre of ground to build his house on in the '80's. My aunt and uncle moved away but my father has always lived there. Daddy knows a lot about the community.

One time  my mother was driving home from town down Dug Gap Road when a limb broke out of a big tree growing on the side of the road, smashing her windshield on the car. She asked the people who owned the house if they had homeowners insurance to cover the broken windshield.  The homeowners  claimed that it was on the right-of-way and it was the county's responsibility. They contacted the county but they said that they didn't own the right of way. Daddy and Moma went to the courthouse to check the records and find out if the county owned the right-of-way. The county didn't own the right-of-way so they weren't able to get them to fix Moma's car.

Fast forward a few years later when the county was widening the road down Dug Gap. They were taking about a foot or so of everyone's property on each side of the road and paving it. Daddy said they were going to have to pay him if they wanted to pave beside the road because it was illegal  to take people's property without paying compensation.

When they got to his property, he went outside to tell them that they couldn't widen the road at his property unless they paid him for it. The road crew called their supervisors and they came to talk to Daddy. They got the commissioners to come down and tell him that they owned the right-of-way. He told them that he knew for a fact that the county didn't own the right-of-way and he wasn't going to allow them to pave the shoulder of the road unless they paid for it. The commissioners said that they would bring proof to show Daddy that he was wrong. They left Daddy standing at the driveway to make sure nobody started paving while they were gone.

Everybody in the family went inside talking about the excitement and wondering what would happen next. It didn't take long to find out.

Instead of the commissioners coming back with proof that the county owned the right-of-way, a deputy sheriff came down the road and stopped in the road in front of the house. He told Daddy that he didn't have a right to stop the road crew from paving the road and he was wasting their valuable time. Daddy told him that the commissioners were coming back soon to tell him if they had the right-of-way to Dug Gap Road. The deputy told Daddy that if he didn't stop obstructing their job he would arrest him.

Daddy told the deputy that he was on his own property and the sheriff  couldn't arrest him because he wasn't breaking any laws. The deputy grabbed Daddy and yanked him into the road and said, "You're not on your property now, are you?", then  he punched him in the side near his kidneys with the end of his billy stick. It made Daddy double over in pain. Daddy had been suffering with prostate problems when the sheriff's deputy punched him. He had been under a doctor's care because of his prostate gland. Being jerked around by handcuffs and hit in the side didn't help.

The deputy  forced Daddy into the back of  the sheriff's car and took him to jail. One of our neighbor's saw Daddy get arrested and told the family that Daddy had been arrested.

I was pregnant at the time. When I went outside and saw that the commissioners had returned I went up to them and started yelling at them and telling them what a bunch of cowards they were to call the sheriff on my Daddy and that they were a bunch of crooks and liars. One of the commissioners said they thought Mr. Burchfield's "wife" was going to go in labor because I was so upset. The dumbass wasn't even listening when I was cussing them and telling them how sorry I thought they were for having my Daddy arrested. No wonder they wouldn't listen to my Daddy. Daddy's no dummy. He knows an awful lot about local law and things going on in the community. He was right about the law and the right-of-way..

Moma found out that Daddy had been arrested so she got off work and went to arrange Daddy's bail. She got PawPaw to go with her to help get him out of jail. The road crew worked hard to pave that strip of land and get out of there before Daddy got out of jail.

Daddy is not one to sit and let people walk all over him. He contacted a lawyer. Actually, he contacted a lot of lawyers. He found out that no lawyer in Dalton would take his case, even though he had proof that he was right about the right-of-way and the unlawful arrest. It took him a while until he was finally able to find someone to take his case.

In the meantime the road department came back down the road widening the bridges on Dug Gap Road. Moma was at home that day. She went outside and told the workers they didn't have the right to widen the bridge on our side of the road and that she and Daddy were in the process of sueing the county and if they paved the bridge on our side of the road she would just sue them, too. The road crew called their supervisor and he told them to leave that bridge alone. The bridge at my parents house still isn't paved today.

It took years before the case went to court. Both of my boys were big by the time the case went to court. Daddy won his case and was paid a settlement.

Another time Moma and Daddy befriended some neighbors who were old maids. Moma had asked them if she could have some of their pecans. After getting to know the ladies, Moma and Daddy felt sorry for them because they all seemed helpless. Their yard was overgrown and their bushes needed trimmed. Daddy went to one of the churchs at Dug Gap and told them that some old ladies who lived in the neighborhood needed some help to get their yard cleaned up. He asked the preacher if he would get some young people together to clean up the old ladies yard. He said that the preacher asked what church they went to. Daddy said he didn't know what church they went to but they needed help and he was asking for it. He promised to get back to him. Nobody from the church ever showed up to help. Moma and Daddy ended up taking their trailer up there and cut down three huge loads of limbs and brush. They hauled it all down to their house and burned it.

Years later, when the electric company wanted to put huge power poles down a small section of Dug Gap Road, everybody in the neighborhood wanted to stop them. People got together trying to get the electric company to use another less invasive route. Daddy and Moma went to meetings to discuss the gigantic metal power poles being proposed. Daddy and other members of the community went around talking to people about the power poles. He even asked one of the pastors from another church for their support in stopping the electric company from putting huge power poles through that part of Dug Gap. Instead of supporting him, they told the electric company that it would be okay with them if they wanted to put the poles on their church property.

When people in the neighborhood found out that the only ones to get any money from the electric company would be the actual people who owned the property that the poles would be placed on everyone lost interest. Never mind the fact that Dug Gap looks hideous with those monstrous metal power poles running through a short section of Dug Gap. It seems that the only way people care about anything is if money is involved.

Daddy has a huge 142 foot metal power pole in the front yard between his house and his neighbor's house. I've learned to ignore it but it is HUGE. And so unnecessary. They could have run the line from Highway 41 through the woods and by the Ryman Farm and subdivision. There are already electric lines that run across that section of Dug Gap Road from Highway 41. It would have been able to go directly to the Valley Point power station by that route along Highway 41. I think the commissioners and the electric company probably chose the route they did to make sure to put a huge ugly power pole in Daddy's front yard. But that's just my theory.

There are a lot of churches in the Dug Gap community. When the Muslim's bought some property in Dug Gap, the community banned together in opposition of a mosque. Daddy went to those meetings, too.

When Daddy was allowed to speak he told everyone in the meeting about asking one church for help in blocking the power lines through Dug Gap and how they hadn't helped. He also told about asking another church to help the elderly ladies in the community. Then he told about one church that had purchased land to build their church on and how they had desecrated a graveyard. He offered to talk to anyone after the meeting if they wanted more details.

The preacher from that church caught up with him after the meeting and told him that he had no right to say things like that about his church. He said they hadn't bulldozed any graves. Daddy told him that he was a liar. He told the preacher that he was going to town one day and saw that the church was bulldozing the land all around the graves. When he came back from town the dirt had been graded down and there wasn't a sign of the graves.

The preacher said, oh well, there weren't any bones and so they didn't desecrate any graves. The preacher also said that someone had told him it would be alright to level the graves. Daddy said he had probably been talking to Quinton Babb and he didn't even own the property so he had no right telling them that they could flatten the graves.

People had used the excuse that the mosque would bring in too much traffic down Dug Gap so Daddy told about all the churches that had been built over the years. One church had been built recently and was adjascent to the property owned by the Muslims. He said that, so far, the churches in the community hadn't done a thing to help him but, he felt, if he asked the Muslims for help they would probably be more accommodating than some people in the neighborhood. He also said that since they didn't meet like the churches in the community they probably wouldn't attract any more traffic than the other churches. Daddy said that he thought the Muslims had as much right to build their church in Dug Gap as all the other churches. The mosque was built but not everyone was happy. The property has been vandalized.

My father is one of those rare American's who believe in standing up for the things that he believes are right and he isn't afraid to stand up to local government or big business or community discord. He inspires me.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gracious Gratitude

I've never forgotten my Christmas present when I was five years old and I especially never forgot the lesson I learned the hard way. As a little kid I don't remember many specific details. I think my consciousness was sort of napping until my id awoke. That's the psychoanalytical source of psychic energy. I guess it is my way of saying that if it were not for this specific incident I would probably have forgotten what I had gotten when I was five but fortunately for that Christmas I had gotten a beautiful bright blue bicycle and had my first road trip.

Daddy bought me a 24" bike but, to my diminutive stature, it appeared huge. Daddy chose an expensive bike and he told me that he got it for me so that I could take care of it and never need another bike in my life. Woe! That was a big responsibility to a little girl but I was delighted. He had even put training wheels on the bicycle and left them barely not touching on either side so that the bike could be ridden by experienced riders like himself.

We lived in a rental house on Dug Gap Road in Dalton, Georgia. His parents lived about two miles down the road from us. Daddy's sister lived between us and their parents house along the way. The weather was nice for Christmas day and Daddy suggested that we ride my bike down to my grandparents house. He said that he would ride on the seat and steer for me and I could pedal so that my legs could start getting strong so I could ride my new bike. I thought that was a fine idea. After a while I saw that I had been duped but that didn't matter, we still traveled on. Sometimes Daddy would give me a break and let me rest from pedaling. I was growing exhausted by the time we got to the old Dug Gap store and stopped to rest. My aunt lived in one of the houses next to the store and we stopped in to visit and get warm before we traveled on.

My aunt had her house all decorated for Christmas and had a big cedar tree in the living room sitting on her polished wooden floor. I remember she always had a Victorian painting of a woman posing for her picture. I asked her who the beautiful lady in the picture was and she said it was a portrait of herself when she was young. I frowned at this statement but never thought to doubt her. I just thought they didn't look the same to me. Hmm.

Vivian was a big joker so I never knew when to take her seriously. Sometimes she was called Ben, too, so that's what I usually called her. Her son had tried to call her Vivian when he was little and it had come out as Ben and it had stuck. She was all the time teasing us kids and she was teasing me that day about giving me a Christmas present if I was nice. I had to beg her for my gift. She pulled out a present all wrapped in gay wrapping paper.

I tore into it and unwrapped something knitted. I unfolded it and saw that I had gotten an ugly pair of red slipper socks with stripes on them. I must not have looked pleased because Ben asked me if I liked the socks and I said "No. They're ugly."

I must have hurt her feelings but when you're five years old you only notice your own feelings and my feelings were hurt. I don't know why I didn't like the socks but I thought they were a dumb gift. Vivian said, "In that case then I'll give them to Stevie or Eddie. They'll like them." Stevie and Eddie were my younger cousins and Ben's nephews.

I didn't want her to give my present away so I said "No, I'll take them." to which she replied, "Too late, little girl. You'll learn to say 'thank you' next time." She put the gift back in the pile for somebody else and I ended up with nothing. At first I thought she was kidding but she wasn't kidding this time.

The moral of this story is sort of obvious but it was one lesson I learned awfully young. Too bad a few more people haven't met up with their own Aunt Ben and learned to be gracious and say 'thanks' no matter what the gift is. It's not the present that counts, it's the thought.

I never did get a gift from Ben that year and I never did complain about anything she gave me after that. Lesson learned, Daddy and I continued on to Beulah and Paw Paw's house, but the climax of the day had already happened. The ride back home felt a lot longer.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Up A Tree

The thing that attracted me to Don when I first met him was the fact that he could "do things". He wasn't afraid to work on his own car or get dirty and work hard. He was a man's man. He wasn't big and flashy but he was focused and determined. No matter what the job, Don proved himself more than capable of the challenge.

He built a small shelf out of old oak boards from a pallet and produced an attractive place to display his stuffed raccoons. He had two young raccoons mounted on a tree limb. He also displayed a huge mule deer he had shot in Colorado hanging on the living room wall. He even built a seven by ten foot shelf for our books and TV. He never ceased to amaze me at what he was able to accomplish.

We bought a home in Gordon County and Don has done everything around here that has improved the place. He landscaped the yard so that it doesn't flood under the house when it rains. He put all the gutters on the house without any help. He even put a six foot high fence around the yard for the kids when they were little. Our whole backyard is enclosed.

We had an old dilapidated building that we use for storage. There is a huge old pine tree that grows beside the old barn. Don worried that the limbs would fall off the tree and crash through the barn. This began to really worry him over a long period of time until he finally decided to climb up the tree and cut some precariously loose limbs.

Don had a good chain saw and an extension ladder. He got an early start and climbed up the tree to begin to discard weak branches. The boys and I went somewhere and were gone for a long time. After we came back home we found out that Don had been cutting tree limbs when a big pine limb hit the ladder and knocked it down. He had been standing on another big limb way up high and he couldn't figure any way to get out of the tree or how to retrieve the ladder. He was stuck up a tree!

Don said he sat on the tree limb for a long time yelling for anybody to come and help him down. Our neighbor, Jay, finally heard him calling and came down to see what was wrong. She had a good laugh when she got here and saw him sitting on a tree limb. It was a good thing he had left the fence open or she wouldn't have been able to get in the backyard to help him. She came over and put the extension ladder back up for him so that he could finally come down. He decided to tie a rope to the ladder so that he could pull the ladder back up if he knocked the ladder down again. He didn't want to be stuck again.

That's my Paul Bunyon story about Don.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Runaway Logsplitter

"Neither a borrower, nor a lender be . . . " That reminds me of the story about the logsplitter.

Don's a metal worker and he is a genius with a torch and metal. He made a great logholder for my parents when we first got married and he's able to make anything if he has the time. He has built several flatbed trailers and he even built his own logsplitter after we bought a wood stove and started burning firewood. When a couple of friends heard that Don had built a logsplitter they asked to borrow it. Don is a much more generous person than I am so he agreed to let them borrow his logsplitter. He figured it would be okay because it was a heavy duty hydraulic logsplitter built on a huge I-beam and was practically indestructible. It was capable of splitting some huge trees. He said there wasn't any way they could hurt the logsplitter so I shouldn't worry. Huh! Little did he know.

My friend Pat and her husband asked to borrow the logsplitter and Don lent it to them. Alan came to our house to get the logsplitter and even brought it home after a couple of weeks. I was in the yard when he pulled up in our driveway in his big red truck and just sat there grinning like a 'possum. He hadn't said a word yet. I said, "Hello Alan. What are you doing?" and he kept smiling and said he was returning the logsplitter.

I was confused because I could see that he didn't have the logsplitter with him. Don came outside to see what Alan was doing.When Alan realized that he didn't have the logsplitter attached to his truck he and Don went back down the road trying to find it.

They found the logsplitter a couple of miles down the road where it had come loose from the truck and ended up in a bunch of trees. Don and Alan wrestled it out of the undergrowth and hooked it back up to the trailer hitch and brought it home.

I'm sure I teased Alan mercilessly for losing the logsplitter and not even noticing it and I know I told Pat what a bonehead he was. She had always been aware of Alan's imperfections before and had told good natured stories about him so I didn't think it would make her mad. But not long after that incident I called Pat and she never returned my phone calls. I tried to talk to her several times and she never ever called again. I finally got the message and quit calling her. Oh well.

I couldn't figure out what I had done that was so awful that she wouldn't talk to me but over the years I have seen several friends fall by the wayside. It really hurt my feelings to lose a friend without understanding why. Years later Don admitted that he had told Alan off and told him what a dumbass he was when they had gone back to get the logsplitter. He was really mad at Alan for losing the logsplitter and for not even realizing it until he got to our house. Maybe that's why Pat didn't talk to me again. I just don't know.

Next it was Don's childhood friend Terry who asked to borrow the logsplitter. Don even took it over to Terry's house to let him use it. He lived up in Crow Valley in the country and he had a lot of firewood to split. Terry had one cripple arm so he had been having a hard time getting all his wood split. The logsplitter was the answer to his prayers. Don told him to keep the logsplitter as long as he needed it and he could bring it home when he had all his wood split. Don emphasized the importance of getting the logsplitter hitch locked and using the safety chains.

When Terry was through with the logsplitter he hooked it to the trailer ball and started to bring it home. He got on Walnut Avenue, one of the busiest two lane highways in Dalton, before the logsplitter suddenly came loose from the car and went barreling across both lanes of oncoming traffic and landed in the front yard of a vacant house.

Terry was so shaken that he came on down to our house and got Don to ride back up there and help him get the logsplitter. They brought the logsplitter home.

After these two incidents we didn't lend the logsplitter to anybody again. He let his stepfather use it but he took the logsplitter to Charlie's house and went back to pick it up. We didn't want to take any chances of anybody getting killed, or hurt.

Like I said, "Neither a lender, nor a borrower be." Now you know why it doesn't pay to lend things. We could have been sued if somebody had been injured when the logsplitter was being hauled around by some careless or incompetent person. Thank goodness nobody was injured in either case but the indestructible logsplitter could have been lethal.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silky the Flying Squirrel

When I was in high school a friend of mine raised three orphan grey squirrels. They were Romeo, Juliet and Ophelia. She loved to talk about their pet squirrels and tell about their antics living with her and her young husband in a small mobile home. I would go and visit them and enjoy these beautiful wild creatures up close and personal.

Someone at school had a flying squirrel that was becoming a nuisance and they offered the squirrel to Patricia. She would have liked to adopt the little flying squirrel but she was afraid it would upset her grey squirrels and cause problems. She asked me if I would like to have Silky. I was thrilled to adopt the cute little creature.

Patricia and Billy brought Silky to my house and let him loose to show me and my family how friendly the little squirrel was. They bribed him with pecans and walnuts. He would scamper all over them, crawling on their shirts and pants and perching on top of their heads. He would perch there for a few moments to examine his new environment and then suddenly go sailing across the room to land on the curtain rod and scurry across it like it was a tree limb. He was funny and friendly. He took to us immediately and Moma and Daddy were won over. They didn't mind having Silky in the house.

In the evenings Silky and I would retire to the bedroom with the door closed so he wouldn't wander about the house and keep everybody awake all night. Flying squirrels are nocturnal animals and he became progressively active at night. His bed was a cube shaped kleenex box I place on the curtain rod above my bed.

Every night he would sail across the bedroom over my bed and hit the closet door. Thump! Then you could hear him scurry across the wooden floor and sense him crawling over the bed and leaping up the curtains to ascend to his treetop only to jump into the abyss and smack into the closet door, or land somewhere else and scamper around. After a while I began to grow sick of the noise and loss of sleep. Locking him in the closet didn't help because he would slam into the door again and again trying to get out.

Moma and Daddy were having carpet put in for the first time and having the ceilings sprayed with foam to make it look modern. The house became a maze of displaced furniture that was being constantly moved out of rooms so the ceilings could be sprayed. All of this activity made Silky nervous and he was able to hide so it wasn't easy to keep track of him. The house was finally straightened out and everything settled back to normal. Moma found nuts that Silky had hidden above widows and the glass door. He was very good at saving his nuts for later.

Moma and Daddy were both working at night during that time. Moma would always stand in the bathroom in front of the sink getting ready for work. I had to spend the night next door at my grandparents so I left the house before Moma went to work. I walked to their house. I would have to walk home in the morning to get ready for school. I stayed with relatives whenever Moma and Daddy were both working third shift so I was used to doing this.

The next morning I walked through the field from my grandparent's house in the early morning chill and went into a quiet, lonely house. I ate my milk and cereal and went to the bathroom to finish getting ready for school. The lid on the toilet was raised and I thought I saw an olive green kleenex like the ones Moma used floating in the toilet. I reached out to flush the toilet and then looked down to see that it was Silky floating in the toilet! I was horrified. Silky was stiff and drenched. It looked like he had spit up in the water!

I could imagine the curious little squirrel flying into the toilet unaware of the danger. I imagined his struggle as he tried in vain to get a foot hold on the cold slick porceline. I began to cry with deep wracking sobs as I realized his fear and panic before he drowned . . . in toilet water! Augh!!! What a way to die.

I was sick with grief and guilt because I hadn't stayed to make sure the toilet lid had been closed. Daddy had warned us of the danger and yet we had still let Silky drown. I felt too upset to go to school that day. Moma came houe and got Silky out of the toilet. I didn't even have the guts to fish him out. Whenever I looked at him I wanted to throw up. Moma and Daddy let me mope around the house all day and cry over Silky.

The next day I went to school even though I still felt close to tears. My friends asked me why I hadn't been in school the day before. I told them that Silky, my flying squirrel, drowned in the toilet. Instead of the sympathy I expected from them I received laughter and then they would turn around to somebody else and tell them to ask me why I had been out of school. Everybody thought it was a big joke. That was my first experience at realizing that unless a tragedy touches you personally nobody cares.

One good thing did come of that. After Silky drowned Moma did quit buying the green kleenex out of courtesy to Silky. After all, at first, I did think he was a tissue. I guess I was the nut.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazy Coots and Cat Crap

I love living in Resaca. There's never a shortage of entertainment around here. One day Scout and I was at home when a car with two men pulled up in the driveway. Scout went outside to see what they wanted. I could see them outside. In a minute the car was still there but the men were gone. I looked outside the windows trying to see where they had gone. I saw the young man standing in front of our barn and couldn't see the old man or Scout so I went out there to see what was going on.

When I went out there I thought they might be some religious people because the young man looked very clean cut and the old man had Scout cornered at the back of the barn near Colt's truck waving his arms around and kind of poking Scout in the chest. I sure didn't recognize them.

The young man introduced himself and said that the old man was a neighbor that he had been riding around for the past couple of days. He said the old man was on a toot and his family had kicked him out. He had been taking him places when the old man asked him to. The old man asked him to bring him to our house because he wanted to visit Don. It turns out that the old fellow used to work with Don. Don had talked about fixing Colt's truck and the old man had come to see it.

The old man said he thought Don was a great guy and he really had enjoyed working with him. He just kept going on and on and it was obvious he was wasted. He kind of staggered around and looked unsteady. He bent down and cracked his head on Scout's truck and then when that happened he decided to get on one knee and his knee landed in cat crap. I think he had meant to get on one knee and apologize for acting a fool in front of me. Instead he proved himself to be a bigger dummy.

Scout and I started walking them towards the front yard and out the main gate. The old man kept talking about how he hoped he hadn't made me mad and he sure wasn't trying to cause any trouble. I asked the young man if he had been drinking, too, and he said he hadn't. He just felt sorry for the old fellow. The old man staggered and fell back again before he left. I was worried to death he was going to crack his old head. If he had, he would have fallen under the Edgewood insurance policy. That's where we throw you over the fence off of our property and leave you at the edge of the woods and let the coyotes take care of you. That's what I used to threaten the kids with if they ever got hurt while playing. That's why my kids weren't complainers.

 They finally left before Don got home from work. Scout said he was glad Don hadn't come home early or the old man wouldn't have ever left. I figure the old man deserved to fall in cat crap if he's stupid enough to go around visiting people when he's so drunk. Don't you?

I'm just glad that Scout was here when those guys showed up. I wouldn't have been as accommodating.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Wreck in Resaca

This car was going north on Hwy 41 in Resaca Georgia when it turned in front of an oncoming vehicle.
Traffic was backed up after the wreck. It didn't take the LEO long to show up. Fire Trucks and Ambulances showed up, too.

I think that was a PT Cruiser that took that big Cadillac out. I was surprised there wasn't more damage to the Cruiser.
* * *
Over the past 22 years we have seen countless wrecks and accidents. I usually don't think to take pictures but I was able to take the pictures on my cell phone and (with Colt's help) put them up here. 

The man driving the Cadillac was going to visit the Wheat's. He got out of the car and went to talk to Mr. Wheat. I finally figured out that a man and a woman had been driving the PT Cruiser. The lady took pictures with her cell phone, too. I couldn't figure how the white car landed over the ditch and not IN the ditch. If he swung around through the driveway he barely missed a couple of reflectors there. And if he swung around over the ditch how come he didn't fall in it? Who knows? The couple didn't appear to be hurt and the old man was walking around and talking to Mr. Wheat so he looked like he would be alright. I talked to one of our neighbor's who told me that he had lost his wife in February when he was making a turn on the Dalton By-Pass and was T-Boned in the passenger door. His name was Mr. Slaughter. He said he thought the man driving the Cadillac could be Mr. Wheat's father. Don't quote me on that though because I didn't ask.

That's All For Now 

It's always something.
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