Thursday, May 13, 2010

The old, mean guy

I happened across a guy from my old neighborhood the other day. As I looked over a shelf of sale items, deeply engrossed in the art of saving money, a hand touched my shoulder and a deep, mature voice said, "Hello Joey." Even without looking recognition was triggered by his distinctive rich, baritone, almost musical speech. The other was that only a chosen few in my life have been allowed to call me Joey. I turned and looked and sure enough, it was the mean old guy from down the street as I was growing up. He must be in his nineties by now because he was old back then. He was also considered by most neighborhood kids to be as mean as a junk yard dog. For some reason he and I got along OK while other kids thought some day he would kill me and feed me to his chickens.

His ramshackle house was located on the back edge of a gravel road alongside the railroad tracks. His wife planted flowers in the front yard around a stand up bath tub half buried in the ground with a religious statue sitting inside. The rest of the yard, except for a walkway and a fenced area with a chicken coop, was filled with vegetables, two apple trees, a plum tree and a small patch of blackberry bushes, with piles of smelly manure surrounding the roots. The mean old guy worked two full time jobs but still kept the garden growing and spent several hours a week working on repairing and improving some part of the house. He didn't speak to hardly anyone. They had three children, two sons and a daughter. The children were usually inside the house or gone, I can't remember a time when they played outside with the rest of us neighborhood kids. The rumor was that they were being kept prisoners and the mean old guy beat them and his wife every day. They didn't have a TV antenna anywhere on the house. The whole family was weird, they said. I thought they were OK. I met him and his family and talked with them once in a while because I peddled papers to them and also sold the mean old guy his garden seeds from my catalog. I helped him pick them out because he couldn't read. To be continued.

It's supposed to rain pretty good today. Should help my garden grow what I've already planted and help prepare for more planting too..........................Joe

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