posted on Aug, 21 2006 @ 08:53 PM
I was in the kitchen today making homemade pizza for the kids for lunch when a particular song came on the radio. “Remember when?” As I listened
I was taken way back to my childhood, and suddenly remembered a kind old soul from my past, his name was Oliver, and he had a little white dog that he
called Jenny. I wonder whatever became of that dear old man I knew as Oliver and his dog Jenny?
He was in essence a hermit. Oliver lived a mile or two back in the woods from my Grandpa’s farm. He drove an old red tractor, and everywhere he
went, Jenny was with him. That was back in the day when anyone could ride his or her tractor on the main rode, and nobody thought anything of it. And
he drove that tractor to the store, and anywhere just like it was a truck, or car.
Oliver was an untidy old man, I don’t know if he ever bathed? He surely never combed his hair nor shaved his face. I recall his hands were always
dreadfully dirty, and he smelled some, basically like armpits that have never known a deodorant stick. His clothes were soiled too, badly stained with
grease and dirt- but that little dog Jenny, was as white as snow. Jenny sat up on her daddy’s lap on that old red tractor, swollen with pride and in
high spirits. When Oliver would stop the tractor to visit, Jenny would get down and play with us kids. She loved to play fetch!
Oliver had an old shack way back in the woods that he called home. My dad snuck back there one time when he saw Oliver leave on his tractor. He was
so curious about where Oliver lived; he took a notion to go find his home. My dad permitted my sister and I to go with him. It was a long walk, there
were leaves and dried twigs all over the ground that crunched & snapped when we stepped on them. It must have been autumn due to all of all the dry
leaves that were down.
Finally after a little search, we sited Oliver’s cabin. That home was the loneliest looking place I ever saw, and in bad repair too. It looked a
lot like an old claim shanty, single in story with plank-boarded sides that were covering over old tarpaper. There wasn’t a lick of paint on it, and
the boards we weathered and gray with wide dry gapping fissures that ran with the grain of the planks.
Curiosity got the better of my father, and he reached for the knob on the door, and turned it. My father’s nose was crumpled up as if a foul smell
was inside. We were told to stay there, and not to follow him inside.
At last, my dad came back outside, he had been careful not to touch anything inside; he only took a visual account of the shape and quality of
Oliver’s living arrangement. I do believe he was saddened in his heart. We asked him what was inside? He said an old bed, a very old wood cook
stove, and some dirty cast iron pans, an oil lamp. My father was not forthcoming with any other details, and I was sore disappointed that I hadn’t
had the prospect to take a gander inside that cabin. I know he was troubled in spirit thinking about poor old Oliver, and to be quite frank, I think
he was ashamed of the few times he saw Oliver coming in on that tractor, and got out of site so Oliver wouldn’t see him and keep him with long
conversations. Once Oliver started talking, you could scarcely get away from him, and no wonder too, for I’m sure Oliver was jubilant to have the
company to visit with.
When we returned back to my Grandpa’s farm, my dad went into the big red barn. Inside the barn my grandfather allowed Oliver to keep a
refrigerator for his groceries. My dad looked inside to see what provisions Oliver had inside to eat. Not much, some thawed hamburger meat, eggs &
milk. I’m sure my grandpa kept eggs inside for Oliver, as he had many, many chickens and plenty of eggs to share, and in the summertime, nobody in
my humble opinion ever had a nicer vegetable garden than my grandfather, so I’m sure he shared generously of all that Oliver would have want of from
the garden. Those were the days when you came out of church on Sunday, and someone had but a paper grocery bag full of vegetables in your car, and you
might never have known who put them there? Huge zucchinis, radishes, tomatoes…lettuce, you name it.
Sad… really… how different, and selfish we are today, compared to those good old days gone by…when people would give the shirt right off their
back for anyone! I don’t know why I chose to share this story? I’m sure to some it may sound like rambling, but I’d give anything to go back to
that time…a time when people didn’t sit around on computers, or in front of the TV at night, you might just as well find them visiting with their
neighbors instead, and the kids didn’t know what a video game was because it hadn’t been invented yet. Back then we still had board
games…imagine that? Even though Oliver was not a very clean person, he was probably the kindest old man I ever knew. I was young then, maybe 8 or 9
years old, but I hold my very fondest of childhood memories from my Grandpa’s farm. And I loved that kind old, dirty man named Oliver, he was real,
and sincere, and even though some may say ugly…. I thought he was beautiful!
I’m going to have to call my grandma now, and ask her if she knows whatever happened to Oliver? I hope he didn’t die alone…and even more than
that…I hope Jenny; Oliver’s only companion didn’t die first. God forbid!