Thursday, April 21, 2005

SEARCY ’46-‘56 - Part 04

Chapter Two

Tom Pry

First Ruts, Then Path - 2

For those reading this who are or were “locals,” let me place you. That rutted road down which we were bumping is now called North Valley Road, the next road to the right as you’re leaving town, past Honey Hill Road. It goes north for the bigger part of a mile before crossing another road coming in from town, now called Collins Road. North Valley Road goes another, oh, quarter-mile more before turning right and (at the time) coming to a dead end, on the shoulder of the ridge, after another quarter-mile.

The bordering-on-ritzy Hillcrest Subdivision corners at the intersection of North Valley and Collins, grows to encompass all the original 148 acres of what eventually became “Tom Eddard’s place,” including a goodsized chunk of the top of the ridge (we always just called it “the hill”), where the REALLY expensive homes are being built.

That night, though, what that intersection signified was the spot where the county road we were on turned right, back towards town (Collins Road). Think about that statement for a minute, and pick up on the implications. We kept going straight, but county road maintenance turned RIGHT. The county road grader DID occasionally tinkle along that road with some feebleminded political appointee at the wheel – up to the point where Collins and Valley now intersect.

That terrible road became worse, hard as it might be to believe – and, down where it turned right, it became a private road and got absolutely horrible, as it climbed toward our “new” home.

Well, new to us, at any rate.

As we crept along the wide, bumpy path at about 5 miles an hour, the rest of the vehicles fell in behind us and, when we pulled into the yard, around the big oak tree, the rest of them stopped where their headlights could illuminate the house, and Grandad backed the truck up to the warped porch.

We’ll get back to that in a bit. The important thing now is that those vehicles discharged our new neighbors – R. C. Rice (after whom North Valley Road was named by the power company, before 9-1-1 decided on the Valley name, many years later) and his wife, Ozella, the aforementioned “Bubber” Varner, his dad, Gene, and his grandfather, Ben, plus his sister, Nelda Jean, and mom, Estelle, Leo Anspaugh and his family, and Virgil and Gladys Boyd.

I mention all these names because I’m not sure people like this exist any more. These marvelous people, like a trained team, quickly cleaned what looked like 20 years worth of dirt and cobwebs out of the house, then started unloading the truck and car.

No. Putting it that way downplays their contribution. They didn’t just unload the truck: they put everything where it belonged, assembled a batch of new stuff that hadn’t been taken out of the box yet (like a brand new wood-burning stove, which meant also installing a flue, and a kerosene room heater, ditto), put blankets on what needed blankets, etc.

When they were finished, we had a functioning home, ready for sleep, non-essentials piled neatly in one room where we could continue the next day, and all of us ready for the impromptu community supper that we all enjoyed about 11 that night.

They’d brought the food, too.

If counting on my fingers works right, that was almost 60 years ago that it happened. Only one other person alive besides me was there to remember when every person in the valley got out of their beds in the dark, fixed food, and came up to set up their new neighbors in their ramshackle new home.

I hereby offer this tribute to you to help carry that memory forward.

It deserves it.

Yep, they don’t hardly make people like that any more.

(Series originally published late 2003/early 2004 on the old site).


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