When we moved here in 1979, there were only a few homes in the "Evergreen Development." Though the streets were gravel, they were borough dedicated.They formed a squared circle, out of the normal traffic flow.
Bob and Linda and their two children lived in the traditional two-story across the street. Bob was cool. He worked for an oil company that was exploring the area. Linda was a reader, as am I. The movie "Jaws" had recently been released. We talked about the movie. I told her that the book scared me to death. A few years after they moved back to Texas, Linda mailed me a book about the USS Indianapolis that chronicled the sinking of that ship. I connect with other readers like that.
I got to know Ken over time. He and I used to spend some time together, just shooting the bull. At one of our infrequent neighborhood picnics, we exchanged war stories. Ken had been a pilot during the war. He flew C-47s, hauling freight all over the country. As a student of history, I had some knowledge of the C-47/DC-3/Gooneybird. This airframe was one of the industry's greatest engineering triumphs. Many are still in service as I write this. The machine had a reputation of almost flying itself.
I asked Ken if he had ever had a bad scare with the plane. "Yes I did," he said matter-of-factly. "It wasn't the plane's fault though." He went on to tell us about being held at the gate in Washington, DC for an emergency parcel. The ground crew loaded a pallet of blood plasma onto the already loaded plane. The ship was probably overweight, but the location of the pallet, at the back of the craft, compromised the balance of the plane. He and the C-47 fought and clawed to get airborne. He told us that he had to fight every minute of the flight to keep on a level path. He knew that the shipment would save lives. Skilled and brave men like Ken were an important part of the war effort.
When Ken bought the house, he might not have been aware that the property line did not bisect the curve of the intersection. Instead the line was simply an extension of the Vine Street line.
If he was aware, he may have planned to buy it from the owner of the adjoining lot, John. In any event, the price of the pie-shaped parcel was more than Ken thought fair. They negotiated, but Ken still felt he had gotten the short end of the stick. These two were men of distinction in the community. Neither would have been broken, by however the transaction turned out. John had the upper hand and he won out.
Bob lived down the street, near the intersection of WiIson Drive and Swallow Street. Bob was another heavy hitter in the community. He owned the local feed mill and store. Bob was the consummate practical joker. His reputation was known far and wide. One of his most famous was when he dressed up in full witch doctor regalia and visited a friend at Somerset Hospital. He danced and uttered incantations for several minutes before his identity was discovered. All of the participants had a great laugh, including the patient. It came as no surprise to me when Bob came to our door one cool, windy night to warn me that he, and some buddies, were up to something.
About the time we were getting ready for bed, we noticed a continuous stream of cars going through the circle. I looked out the door and saw the reason for the parade. Bob and friends had erected a statue behind a four by eight sheet of plywood with lettering celebrating a municipal park, named for the two principals involved.
Above the sign, they mounted a life-sized female mannequin, with her arm raised and holding an American flag. For an added touch. Bob crawled to Ken's porch and plugged in a cord to power the two spotlights shining up at the statue. At least 50 carloads came by that night. Many, including me, photographed the statue. Unfortunately, Ken didn't get to see the edifice before the gathering storm blew it over.
It was a great practical joke. No one lost his sense of humor over it. Ken has since passed away and Jean moved out west. I have missed them, but it seems that when a good neighbor leaves, another good neighbor takes his place. The area is now built up. The road is paved. We still have a great neighborhood. It is bigger but still filled with good folks of good heart and humor.