Need A Ride Stranger?…………..#154 (the 70’s)

(Left to Right) Jan’s Uncle Raymond – Aunts Esther and Delma – the home place on the Roth’s farm

The ongoing experience of an eight to five work day with Busy Bee, coupled with Gary’s music ambition relegated to weekends with put together groups, his best friend guitarist player Jerry Willis having married and no longer was enthusiastic about playing,  for the first time Gary felt like he was adrift in a prosaic world.  An atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing,  the family with two siblings a year apart, his wife  understandably wanting to move closer to her family and the Apostolic Church,  and unbeknown to all, Gary having  silently reconciled a desire for a change.  His work as an exterminator was only a temporary means for an income, his ambition and 16 years of music having finally played out, Oklahoma City once a bastion of opportunity to a young man, now held the cobwebs of past endeavors.  Jan’s suggestion of moving to Kiowa was not without merit, but in principle it would mean starting a new life in a new land and like the morning sunrise giving birth to a new day, its presence would embolden the perspective of the future.

Kiowa Service Company

Kiowa Service Company

 It was late fall during a visit to Kiowa that Gary made some employment inquiries,  filling out an application at Humphrey Implement located at the city limits with its large sign proclaiming,  Combine City and following up in town at the Kiowa Service Company,  a John Deere franchised dealership.  Gary soon discovering that once the winter wheat had been drilled in the fall, the farming activity all but came to a standstill until spring.  The winter months traversing, the Christmas holidays having come and gone,  Gary having set aside any conjecture about a job in Kiowa when in February he received a call from the Kiowa Service Company, it was the owner of the John Deere dealership Steve Miller mentioning that he had been visiting with Bud Murrow and wanted to know if Gary was still interested in going to work and that if he was he would have a parts job opening in March.

Before remodeling...

An abandon house on S.11th St.

Jan reminding her husband as to what he had promised, “if I can find a job and we can find a house we can move”.   With the Kiowa employment opportunity news, a renewed energy emerged, the  couple researching the town for an available home.  Jan was intrigued with a vacant  four bedroom, two-story dwelling on N. 11th St., the two-story abode having apparently been empty for a long period of time.  The couple able to gain entrance and with further investigations discovering the water heater and water pipes had frozen with water damage to the kitchen and other downstairs areas, it was apparent the previous owners leaving it in an almost non livable in condition, but the vintage residence was structurally sound.   When approaching Jan’s parents about its location, they were astounded that Jan didn’t recognize or know about  the house’s history.  The house  was  “The Home Place,”  build for Jan’ Grandfather  Henry Roth,   it was the house  Jan’s mother was born in when it was situated 4 miles east of town on the state line road  adorning the families sections of land.  Long time Kiowa resident Roy Keifer at WW II’s end and in the later  years bought many of the old abandoned farm houses adorning the rural acreage. Roy transporting these once vivant houses into town placing many of them on vacant lots soon to be  known as  “Keiferville”.

 Gary’s first step was to  inquiry about ownership of the discarded property,  discovering the Farmers Home Administration having title.   A journey to Medicine Lodge and the FHA office,  finding the property was in receivership having been vacant for over a year the previous owners walking away.  The title and a loan could be attained providing the residence would be brought up to an acceptable standard.   A mortgage agreement being made, the property valued a $7500, an additional $2000 added to the note to bring the residence up to acceptance and ready for occupancy.   Gary’ father-in-law,  a building contractor agreeing to positioning his construction crew to accomplish the improvements needed for a mid-March accommodation.

A one way journey Oklahoma City to Kiowa Ks.

A one way journey Oklahoma City to Kiowa Ks.

The month March having arrive, Gary bidding his friend and his employer Bill Guice,  Bill’s sister Helen and his three sons a goodbye.  The couple boxing and packaging their accouterments in preparation for their move, deciding it would be better for Jan and the kids if all three remained at her parents during the moving process.   Gary driving the family to Kiowa returning  to Oklahoma City  calling upon his good friend Jerry Willis to help with the  encumbering project.   Acquiring a U-Haul the two filling the truck to capacity, it was soon discovered that Gary made an error estimating the quantity of  furnishing the truck would hold, several boxes remaining but not enough to warrant another truck or trading for a larger one . It was afternoon when they finished loading the U-Haul,  Gary driving the Pontiac to the U-haul on S.W. 59th St. to acquire an ample size trailer for the rest of the possessions.  A decision having been made to deposit the truck at the Alva U-Haul as planned,  return by bus to the  City, and drive the  Pontiac with the small U-haul trailer to Kiowa.  Jerry agreeing to make himself available to retrieve his friend the following morning at the Greyhound Bus Station,  Gary acknowledging  he would a call upon his arrival.

Need a ride stranger

Need a ride stranger?

The voyage to Kiowa beginning, Gary at the helm of the truck, the voyager  discovering the U-Haul was road-wise even with its governor set at 60 mph,  having no problems navigating the zig-zag Oklahoma route.  Upon  arriving  discovering  Bud and Jan’s uncle, Charles Terry available for the unloading,  deciding to just set everything inside as Bud’s crew hadn’t completed their work and it would best to await Jan’s input on the furniture location.  With the dawning of a new day Gary returned the U-Haul truck to Alva, walking the short distance to the convenience store that served as the  Greyhound Bus stop.  Sitting back in his seat on the bus, it was the first time in a long time that he could relax while traveling, it was nice to let another provided the piloting.   Arriving at the Greyhound Station in Oklahoma City,  Gary initiating a telephone call to Jerry, his friend answering saying he was on his way.  Gary patiently waiting, thirty minutes having passed but no Jerry.  Placing a second call but this time there no answer.  Another fifteen minutes, a third call, still no answer,  then a surprising  perplexing event,   Kaye,  Gary’s ex-wife pulling into the Bus Station parking area, rolling down her window smiling  “do you need a ride stranger?”.   An explanation was in order,  Kaye explaining: ” Jerry’s car battery was dead ” and the only person he could think of to call was her and she was happy to oblige.  Gary very appreciated of his ex-wife concern.

The  move to Kiowa was completed with the return of the hitch and trailer to the Alva U-Haul, it would still  be a quasi period of time before the family could occupy the house, Bud apologetic for the delay but his contracted business jobs took priority.   Jan’s parents advocating, the family could reside in the basement bedroom of their home until Bud’s construction crew could finish up, Gary was more concerned about Kiowa Service Co.,  he was to start work monday morning.


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