Saturday, January 27, 2007


I was at the end of the rope...
For 4 years I had been trying to make a living a a Tilesetter. It had become a slow torture; I would make 1000 dollars one week, only to spend the next 3 weeks trying to find more work. Twice I had been to the very edge, ready to go to the Apartment office to tell them to start the eviction proceedings. This last time, I had actually been to the Office, and an hour later a knock at the door brought me more work and prolonged the torture another six months.

With no money and no work, a vehicle on its last gasp, no where to go, any favors from friends having been depleted long doesn't speak well for lets just get to Arnold shall we?

Arnold is a lifelong friend of Sparky, the mother of XMrs B.Holes. He had an empty trailer. His no good son had moved out of it and it was available to me if I needed some place to go. They said the Trailer was in bad shape. I had no where else to go.
I took the first load of stuff over. It was uninhabitable.
I had no where else to go.
At 3;00 A.M. a few nights later I took the last load over.There was Ice on the roads and it was cold.
I wept.

Arnold had been injured in his teens and was blind. He was raised on a farm. They had a lot of Dairy cows and as a boy he milked them every morning. He says the hardest part to milking a cow is keeping it milked.
He said he picked a lot of Cotton too. He told me all about what that is like, what it does to your fingers and back, how thirsty you get, and how little it paid. I met his mother, she turned 101 last year, and her story was a little different. She said that the only cotton Arnold ever picked was what falls off around the big hoppers they put it in!
Arnold still maintains that he picked a lot of cotton.
When he was a young man he left home and was able to work and take care of himself. The Lighthouse provided both lodging and employment.
Arnold met Mary and they got married. She was the daughter of the local Pharmacist, and they had become friends as Mary would fill Arnold's prescriptions. I asked Arnold how and when he knew that he loved her not being able to see her and all.
"I just got to a point where I wanted to be around her all the time, and she always smelled so good. She seemed like an Angel to me "
Arnolds vision was at about 80% when he was younger, but declined slowly over the years.
They lived in a small town just outside Fort Worth and at some point the town needed a Garbage Truck and an Engineer. Mary drove the truck and Arnold loaded the truck. Not only was the pay pretty good, but this way they could be together all the time. I think this is very Romantic!
Arnold is pretty amazing-the things that he can do are astounding. I have seen him drive nails with a hammer, remove and replace the Radiator on a Car, and he actually worked as a Plumber for years.
He has 2 sons, my age, that are never around unless they are unemployed and need a place to stay, or they have just stopped by to steal something. Apparently they aren't too shy about stealing, and Televisions have disappeared while he was in the bathroom.
Mary died about 15 years ago.
Into the night, an Angel to be.
He said that he had been eating an awful lot of Bologna and Hot Dogs ever since then, and as much as he liked them he sure did enjoy my cooking. My Beans and Hot Water CornBread were especially prized.

For almost a year and a half I stayed at Arnolds. I didn't work much, part of me didn't care if I ever worked again or not. I enjoyed Arnolds company as much a anyone I have ever known. I can think of no one, my kids included, I would rather cook for.

I'm not sure that there is anyone in this world I am as thankful for as Arnold.

(to be continued)


Old Lady said...

I have been anxiously awaiting this story. We must be on the same wavelength though about partial posts.

GrizzBabe said...

I looooovvve hot water cornbread!

Very interested in the continuation of this story.

Annelisa said...

He does sound like an amazing man, your Arnold. I'd thought from the previous post he'd lost his sight through diabetes... and now it sounds like in an accident (?)

Sounds like life wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs round then... Thank goodness you found Arnold (and I think that goes both ways - thank goodness he had you!) At least it kept you from the worst... and sharing stuff with a friend takes the edge of somehow, doesn't it...

Looking forward to the next installment... you write wonderfully!

red-dirt-girl said...

Ok....where are those darn boxes of kleenex when I need them?????

Steve, you've outdone yourself here........this is exactly the story I knew you had in you when Arnold's name first appeared on your blog...........

Oh.....there is way too much to say many morsels of many flavors.....of friends, true friendship, of survival, of angels.......of you and Arnold......I can't wait for the next post...........


Rod's Duck Farm said...

You're on to a good one Steve. I guess all humans feel like "unrecognized handicapped persons" from time to time. Handicapped people are sort of like magnifying glasses. Whatever they do elicits an extreme emotion. We feel immense joy when they are successful and exceptional sorrow when they lose. Forrest Gumpy!!!
Quack, Quack!

Barbara said...

It's nice to have these mutually beneficial relationships. You helped Arnold and he helped you. Did you ever consider writing a book? You have experienced a lot of stuff along the way and I think a lot of people would identify with it.

You have another child too, right? What's happening with that one?

soubriquet said...

The perils of self employment are many. People raise an eyebrow at the hourly rate, never occurs to them there are those times when the phone doesn't ring, those times of no work, no sick pay, no paid holidays, a busted gearbox, worn out tools, all these have to come out of the hourly rate. So, people look at that figure, times it by the working week and think we're living off the fat of the land.
And sometimes we're falling further behind, spiralling down the darkness of mounting bills and lack of credit.
Those times we're often too proud to ask for help. And those times, our true friends shine like jewels.
A moment, please, to quietly give thanks to the Arnolds of this world.

Mother of Invention said...

Can't say I think that working on the garbage truck would seem romantic to me but it worked for them. What a story here...bring on the next chapter.

You do have a great way of developing interesting storeis! It just seems to roll off you!

steve said...

Now that we have a context for Arnold and the trailer, there are several stories that go from here...We ate a lot of that Cornbread and he always would "Boy, howdy thats good"! I thought his vision was Diabetes related as well...and Rod, the handicap didnt much stop him.
Souby, I was not meant for self employment...I'll detail that another time.