1960 - Our Family's "Evening Bonus" Home 'Up At the River'
by J. R. Beatty
When he returned home from supporting the US Army’s war effort in Africa, Italy, and Pacific Ocean, my Dad worked very hard as a refrigeration delivery man in a red 1936 Jackson's Ice truck.
Then he worked as a trained TV/Radio repairman and an entrepreneur starting his own TV repair business. He saved as much as possible from his and my Mom’s small paychecks to achieve their own American dreams.
With a loving wife and two rambunctious growing boys, he sought out a much better, communication technician’s job with the local telephone company. He spent more than 25 years working very reliably there.
When one day in 1960 he found a small newspaper advertisement for "RIVER LOT LAND FOR SALE", he took his young family 'up to the river' to see it. Then and there he and my Mom agreed to buy the picturesque river lot they chose with its beautiful, large oak trees. They paid the land off on a time payment plan agreed to with the owner – $500 down, $50 a month, 50 something years ago.
Interestingly, my 9 year old, much younger brother generously lent them the down payment cash from his own "Piggy Bank" savings account. His own future epitaph should probably be, "First a Saver, then a Lender, Forever a Banker Be"!
This old, simple, hand-made, wooden sign means so much to some close folks I know. I saw him personally hand-craft the two piece sign, engrave the specially chosen words in the wood, and hang it with his own hands to swing in the breeze off the trunk of a river bank, bald Cyprus tree. All folks passing by on the river can still see the sign and appreciate his dream, too.
Often my younger brother and I had played with our B-B rifles in the surrounding huge oak tree woods. We shot at curled up armored skin armadillos (plink, plink) and at each other (plunk, plunk) without any loss of animal life or boy eyesight – somehow by the Grace of God!
We oozed gallons of salty, sweaty, body fluids in the Florida heat and high humidity. We gave pints of our blood to the local hungry, river mosquitoes. We saw alligators sunning on the mid-river sandbars, wild birds wading up and down the river, and poisonous snakes right in our usual swimming hole! What a fun, dirty, river-boys' life!
Recently, I photographed two bare backed, country Bubba, young river-boys cruising in their flat-bottomed boat by the river lot. A blink of my tear-filled eyes and I saw my younger brother and me on the way down river to the old riverside country store - now more than 55 years ago!
They cut the fast growing grass, carried many big buckets of river water up the steep slope to nourish the many "baby trees" they planted, picked up the falling oak tree limbs as needed after strong wind storms, and built a dock into the river.
They often enjoyed exploring the quaint rural villages, parks, and restaurants near the "Evening Bonus" area.
Without my Dad’s and Mom’s shared dreams and hard work, these and other good experiences / associated good memories would not have happened. I feel great respect for my father and mother's personally conceived and personally achieved dreams in a different day, a gentler time, and a better way of life –
their own true “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”, "GREATEST GENERATION" statement!