Sunday, May 8, 2016


I hesitate going on any more
about certain things, but I won't
stop myself. The previous person
who lived in my house, the house
I bought, actually I never really
got it straight, was either a guy
named (last name) Kobel, or
a guy named Denton Parmenter.
Various things were rumored
about both of them, and I never
met either.They were somehow
just gone once I arrived. So, I
never got to the bottom of the
story. When I moved in, basically
the house was near to, or marginal
to, being uninhabitable. Over time,
I had the needed things taken care
of, but at first, yeah, it was tough.
Plus, we had a six-month old kid.
It was dead-cold mid-January too.
Minus 12 degrees for the first 5 days,
about, when I got there. I arrived,
first, alone, to make sure the place
wasn't just useless, and then my
wife's father reluctantly drove her
and the infant up. It was a tough
goodbye all around.
On a much more recent trip there, I
found the gravesite of that Denton
Parmenter person in that once-little
cemetery at the top of our hill; so,
after his death, he must have been
transported. The last I knew of him,
actually, was about 1976. His son
came by, knocking on the front
door. I let him in and he just walked
and looked around, talking about
his dad. I asked what was up and
all he said was his father had
moved, with him, to way out to
the sticks in Ohio. Because all
the busyness and congestion of
where I was now had finally
gotten to him. The guy must
have been nuts, because
there wasn't any of either,
but I took his son's word for
it and let it go. All I knew of
him anyway, as I said, was the
name. I never knew any Mrs.
Parmenter, but had heard
some stories. The worse
stories were about that Kobel
guy. Evidently he was a real
lecher. So, whoever it was that
was actually in the place then,
I guess it was as a tenant or a
renter. I had actually purchased
the place from a farmer, over
the other side of the hill. Willard
Brown. He's in that cemetery
now too. He wanted the acreage
around the house, for his own
farm use, so from those 175 acres
he'd deeded me a little, nice
packet of 12, with the water
and the two ponds. Pretty nice.
In addition to the mortgage on
the place ($15,000) I had to have
Willard hold a small second
mortgage for me  -  the bank
would only extend so much.
I paid him $38.03 a month,
for about 2 years, on his little
second mortgage with me. It
was nice on his part to extend
that, and he didn't care; just
wanted that land, and to unload
the dumpy house that was on it.
The kitchen floor was mostly
gone  - long-ago lost linoleum,
and was just battered and beat
old plywood. I had never heard
the word 'underlayment' before,
a really awkward and bad name,
but that's what the flooring guys
called the plywood layer and all,
which they had to replace first
before actually installing the
new floor. That all cost about
$700. The furnace had to be
replaced; that was a bit more
of a project. About $2000. The
furnace in place wasn't one
really. It was a converted coal
furnace, into which a heating
oil line and tank had been run  -
so there was a flame head and a
fuel nozzle and all, but no fans
were installed, or blowers or
anything . Totally dumb. They
called it 'gravity feed', which
was bullshit. The only heat you
got was whatever drifted up
because heat rises. That was
like Pennsylvania deep-thinking
science for them. No real heat of
any noticeable sort ever came up,
unless maybe if you sat right at
the main grate. I immediately
had to get two small potbelly
stoves and punch exhaust tubing
through the outside wall; and I
essentially just helped myself
to the same pea-coal I used to
heat the schoolhouse that was
down on the macadam road,
which schoolhouse I took care
of. The coal was a bonus, and
was never missed  -  the school
itself, between Claude and me
tending the two great coal
furnaces, consumed a lot of
coal. We'd get like a ton,
delivered maybe every two
weeks. We had to keep the
boiler pressures up, 24 hours
a day, through long, dreary,
freezing cold Winters  -  and
one or another brat kid or
some teacher was always
claiming to be cold, so I'd
hear about it. It was a 24-hour
a day job, and I'd have to
come by maybe two times
through the night to keep the
pressure up, get fresh layers
of coal going, and drag out
a layer of burned ash. Total
hard work, and a real pain.
I used to have these nightmares
that I'd forgotten to go back
to tend the furnace and the kids
were all frozen dead, and their
parents were all coming at me,
and, whew, it was tough.
I had acquired a 1964 Ford
pick-up truck, somewhere, I
forget. I had no money, and
we all just usually traded
around for things, services,
etc. But I can't remember how
I came by this. It had no tailgate,
which I didn't care about. And it
would be needing a flywheel. So
four or five of the local guys came
by and we put our heads together
to figure it was no big deal. I'd
let them get drunk as they wanted,
and we'd get the truck going. I
also pledged to feed them while
we worked. Kathy made a bunch of
simple food, and that part was OK.
Two of us (me and Jim Watkins)
jumped into a car and drove to Sayre,
to a junkyard, to get a flywheel. By
dismantling one from a truck there,
we saw pretty much in reverse what
we'd need to be doing. All good.
We got it home, put the truck up
on some blocks and stuff, and over
the course of maybe three nights,
coming back to it each night,
we got it down. These guys were
certifiable crazies, and they could
drink the tail off a horse. I should'a
known that. They got all boozed
up, each night. Bad jokes, nasty
routines, and the whole cross-section
of innuendo and filth, each night.
I don't know how they made it,
or how we got by. But the truck
project got done, and I had it a
good, long time.
This got the idea into these
clowns' heads that maybe they
could make some extra money
by fixing people's cars, on
my property of course. I
extended to them the part-time
use of my vacant barn area,
where there already were four
or five junked cars which
we'd been using for target
practice, shooting soup cans
and bottles and things off the
tops off from a distance across
my rear yard. Sounds dumb,
yeah, but it's something you
do out there. Honing survival
instincts and all that. So, they
did bring in a few cars, got
things done OK, tune-ups,
points and plugs, oil and tire
changes; stuff most farmers
would laugh at, but these guys
were doing it, cheaply, for
friends or girls or women.
It went OK until, one day,
they found out that Mike
Meehan's sister (one of the
guys, Mike, in this crew),
had slept with a casual
acquaintance they all detested,
named Bob Saterlee. This Bob 
was tough, and didn't take much.
Mike sister was about 20, and
basically it wasn't none of their
business who she was playing
her chimes with. But, so be it.
Bob had a really classy, and
quite collectible, Austin Healy
3000  -  a primo British sportscar,
about 1962. Worth plenty, even
then, and done up real nice.
They somehow got hold of
the car, brought it over to my
barn, ditched it inside, and
proceeded to destroy it  -
a total smash job. No one had
told me about any of this. Bob
had reported it stolen, somehow
Mike's sister got wind of where
it was, and what had occurred,
and  -  next thing I knew  -  the
Pennsylvania State Police were
in my yard, with Bob and the
sister. Another car rolled in, with
those guys in it, rounded up by the
cops, I guess, and the vast and
detailed interrogation began. I
was in the clear, just being held
as fool enough to let these guys
in. They'd admitted to everything,
they'd cleared me of any knowledge
or  participation, and they were
charged with whatever the combined
assault was called. They must have
worked it all out, for later I heard
they paid some fines, worked it
out with Bob and insurance, and
that was that. Mike later became a
State Trooper in Texas State Patrol,
or Rangers, or whatever they're called.
It's funny how stuff like that happens,
one casual conversation to another, a
few curious questions asked, and the
next you know, you're in the middle of
a situation you really should have seen
beforehand. Just waiting to happen.
It's a sort of weakness of character 
on my part too, just being pleasant and
open to all these new people. They
probably saw me coming  -  someone 
new, without any designated this 
or that. Even though I did used to
examine everything, but they'd never
have known it, and this one certainly
did slip by me. You can live life in
carious ways -  the cynical way, the
one that questions every why and 
what, and sees no way in or out 
except the worse of the two. All
things bleak and bad, and someone
always out, after you, on the make.
I wasn't that, but part of that was
in me. My real problem was I
just didn't talk back enough.
I didn't know these guys; they'd
have probably punched me out
for resisting their great idea, 
even if it was my stuff and 
place. Let's just say then, at
least I learned to drink.

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