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

 Gary felt like he was adrift in a prosaic world,  the ongoing experience of an eight-hour day with the Busy Bee exterminating company, coupled with his weekend music ambition, plus struggling to find musicians,  especially with his best friend guitarist Jerry Willis having recently remarried and no longer enthusiastic about playing.  An atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing,  Jan understandably wanting to move closer to her Kansas family and the Apostolic Church.  Unbeknownst to all, Gary having silently also reconciled his desire for a change, his ambition and 16 years of music performance seemingly having finally played out.  Oklahoma City once a bastion of opportunity to a young man, now held the cobwebs of past endeavors.   His employment with the exterminating company was only meant to be a temporary means of income,  Jan’s suggestion of moving to Kiowa was not without merit, but in principle Gary knew 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

 It was late fall during a visit to Kiowa that Gary made some employment inquiries,  filling out an application at Humphrey Implement located just west on the highway into town with its large sign proclaiming, Combine City, then moving on to the Kiowa Service Company, a John Deere dealership.  Gary soon discovering that agricultural related hiring was almost non existent in the winter, that once the winter wheat had been drilled in the fall, the farming activity all but came to a standstill until spring.  With 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.  The call was from the owner of the John Deere dealership Steve Miller, mentioning that he had been visiting with Bud Murrow Gary’s father-in-law and wanted to know if Gary was still interested in going to work and that if he was, he would have a parts department job opening in March.

An abandon house on So. 11th St.

Jan reminding her husband as to what he had promised, “if you can find a job and we can find a house, we can move”.  With the Kiowa employment opportunity 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 house 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 had failed to winterize it, but the vintage residence seemed structurally sound.   When approaching Jan’s parents about its location, they were astounded that Jan didn’t recognize or know the structures history.  The house  was  “The Home Place,”  of Grandfather  Henry Roth,  it was the house  Jan’s mother was born in when it was on a family section of land situated 4 miles east of town on the state line road.  At the conclusion of WW II and in the fifties,  long time Kiowa resident Roy Keifer bought many of the abandoned farm houses adorning the rural countryside.  Roy blocking up and transporting these once vivant houses into town placing many of them on lots on the northeast side of town,  soon to be designated as  “Keiferville”.

 Gary’s first step was to inquiry about ownership of the discarded property,  discovering the Farmers Home Administration having title.   Visiting the FHA office in Medicine Lodge  discovering the property was in receivership having been vacant for over a year the previous owners walking away.  Gary inquiring what it would take to gain title being told it could only be attained if the residence was brought up to an acceptable federal standard.   Gary and the FHA agent coming to an agreement, the property was valued at $7500 and an additional $2000 could be added to the mortgage agreement for improvements to meet standards..  Gary’ father-in-law Bud,  a building contractor agreeing to positioning his construction crew to accomplish the improvements and ready it a mid-March accommodation.

A one way journey Oklahoma City to Kiowa

March having arrive, Gary thanking and bidding his friend and Busy Bee owner Bill Guice,  his sister Helen and his three sons a goodbye.  The couple boxing and packaging their accouterments in preparation for their move, agreeing it would be best for Jan and the kids to stay at her parents during the actual  moving process.   Gary driving the family to Kiowa returning  to Oklahoma City calling upon his good friend Jerry Willis who offered 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 remaining articles.  A decision having been to leave the truck at the Alva U-Haul as planned,  return by bus to the City and drive the Pontiac with the trailer to Kiowa, also returning it to Alva U-Haul franchise.  Jerry agreeing to make himself available in the morning to retrieve his friend at the Oklahoma City Greyhound Bus Station, Gary acknowledging  he would a call from the station upon his arrival.

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 to help with the unloading,  It was decided to store everything in the bedrooms as Bud’s crew hadn’t completed their work and it would best to wait for 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 driving.  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 getting no answer.  Another fifteen minutes, a third call, still no answer,  then a surprising  perplexing event.   Kaye, Gary’s ex-wife pulled into the Bus Station parking area, rolling down her window smiling  ” 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 March 19, 1979.

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