Saturday, February 8, 2014

Feb 8, 2014

  Today, I was remembering some good times while we were  being full-time RVer's. We were Workamper's. We'd work at a campground, ranch or whatever for 2 or 3 months and then move on. In the 10 yrs we did that we met some real characters. One of them I talked about in my last post. It was about a little girl.
  This one is also out West, Apache Junction, AZ to be exact. We were managing a RV Park that had about 30 seasonal (year around) tenants. It also had about 40 sites for overnight, weekly or even monthly campers. The park was owned by absentee owners and we went through a broker type deal for turning in money etc.  Now mixing overnighter and seasonal renters can be a lot of exciting experiences. One of these episodes was about a DESERT RAT, named John (his real name was Adolph but for obvious reasons he went by John). 
  Whatever you heard about desert rats is just about true. If you can imagine living in the desert with no water and of course no modern conveniences. Another park had called me about John. John had rented a spot for a month and they'd put him near the restrooms and showers but they said HE WAS BAD FOR BUSINESS. Would we take him? I said I'd like to check him out first. Well he was what you thought a desert rat  should look like. Tattered clothes, but clean. A beard that needed a lot of attention and he was living in an old van. It was packed to the gills with his necessary living items. The park owner introduced me to John and I was surprised after he said hello to me and the next breath was "they don't like me here"!
The owner of the park hemmed and hawed and soon left. John and I talked for awhile and he admitted to me he had a drinking problem. So I told him I thought we could work out a deal, if he was willing to try. We went to the owner and I demanded they refund some of the rent money he had coming back. You have heard the excuses and such but I stood firm and they gave him his fair share back. John tried to shake hands with the owner but the man refused, of course.
  John had his van packed and it did run, I was surprised. As he followed me back to our park, I was thinking what is Sally going to say? I pulled up to our trailer and shouted for Sally to come out and meet John. Now my wife if you knew her wasn't afraid to speak her piece. She did and she floored us both by saying to us. Darrell you need a shower and John you need a shave if you guys are going to eat at my table tonight. I took John over near the toilets and recreation hall and got him all hooked up. He said I"M  GOING TO EAT WITH YOU GUYS?.  Well you heard her.   HE SAID "WHAT TIME?" About then Sally walked around the corner and said as soon as you two get cleaned up. I suggested a half hour and she said ok.
  If John hadn't had the same clothes on I might not have recognized him when he showed up for dinner. He was clean shaven and he looked pale where the sun hadn't shown in a few months or years.  Now Sally could cook and the larger the crowd the more she liked it. He looked at the big bowl
 of Goulash, garlic bread and salad As we sat down to eat he said "will it bother you if I say a prayer?". We both said go for it. As he was praying I looked at Sally and she was smiling one of the biggest smiles I'd ever seen her have. He said mother used to make this for me when I was growing up. I told him that Greg, Sally's son, liked it also and that I knew he was on the way for a visit, when it was on the stove. He raved about it so that I told him he's better eat it or else. He also  mentioned he like it warmed up for leftovers. Needless to say she gave him most of the leftovers and when he left.  He waddled home.
   Now some of the women (old biddys) kept saying he was dirty and a disgrace and a drunkard. One of our agreements was if he drank he stayed at his place and bothered no one.
  John was a great person to have around and he soon won the admiration of some of biddys. He could make what he called "SODIE BISCUITS" so quick so light you'd think a breeze would blow them away. He was making biscuits one day in his van and I said come in the rec hall and use the kitchen. As some of the woman watched him work they said well he isn't dirty is he? I suggested they try some of his biscuits and they could not believe how good they were. Soon at all of the potlucks and get-togethers he'd make dozens of biscuits to our delight and in return the ladies made him his favorite pies and other goodies to his liking. Also when I was doing maintenance he was pretty good on electricity and plumbing as he'd worked for those kind of outfits through the years. Also I found out his brother was a deputy sheriff and soon he was coming around and thanking us for taking in John.
  One day a couple of men approached me and said they were from the Salvation Army and they owned a trailer that somebody had given them.
The trailer was quite old probably from the 50's and if I remember it was Spartan, single bedroom etc. As I showed them around they said we want to give it to somebody that really needs it. I said GIVE IT?  They said no strings attached. I looked outside and saw John across the park and shouted to him to come on over. As he walked across I told them my story of John. As they were talking to John I slipped away to go home to tell Sally. I got about half way to the office and I heard John yell SALLLLLLLY- Come here! She was working in the office but she heard him calling. She was hurrying along and I said he has some good news, I think. Right then and there with Sally as a witness they gave John that trailer and all of the contents. Soon most of the people were giving John hugs and one of them even brought over a color TV. John hadn't even ever had a TV!  It was a instant house-warming the likes of which I'd never seen.  The men did any maintenance that needed to be done and the women went in and cleaned it, made curtains and within 2 days he was in his own trailer. Then it took him a week or so to empty out his van.
  We left there a few weeks later and we never saw John again but we heard he slipped off the wagon and then got back on. Also that he'd passed away.  Later on we got a letter from the park with a note from John thanking us for all we'd done for him.

 You know John did a lot for all of us at the park giving the faith to keep on going and keeping the trust in people and the Lord and also do not judge a book by its cover.
 Another side light of this story Sally always called him Powder John and he laughed at that. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a GREAT story, Dad! I could smell, feel and see it all! Love your writing!