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


.  Gary felt like he was adrift in a prosaic world,  the ongoing experience of an eight hour day with Busy Bee, coupled with a weekend music ambition, plus struggling to find musicians, especially with his best friend guitarist Jerry Willis having recently remarried and no longer was enthusiastic about playing.  An atmosphere of uncertainty prevailing,  Jan understandably wanting to move closer to her 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 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.

.  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 of town with its proclamation,  Combine City USA, then moving on to Coontz Implement and the Kiowa Service Company, a John Deere dealership.  Gary soon discovering that agricultural related hiring was almost nonexistent 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, 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.

.  Jan reminding Gary of a 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 North 11th Street,  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 damage to the kitchen and bathroom, it was apparent the previous owners had failed to winterize it, 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 the structures history.  The house  was  “The Home Place,”  build for Jan’s Grandfather  Henry Roth.  It was the house Jan’s mother was born in when it was situated on the families section of land, 4 miles east of town on the state line road.    At the conclusion of World War 2 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  known as  “Keiferville”.

.  Gary’s first step was to  inquire 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 it was brought up to an acceptable federal standard.   Gary and the FHA agent coming to an agreement, the property was valued at 75 hundred dollars 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 position his construction crew to accomplish the improvements and ready it for a mid-March accommodation.

.  March having arrive, Gary thanking and bidding his friend and Busy Bee owner Bill, his sister Helen and three sons a goodbye.  The couple making ready everything for the 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 and calling upon his good friend Jerry Willis who offered to help with the encumbering  project.  Gary’s plan was to lease a U hual truck for a one-way trip to Kiowa, returning it to Alva in the morning, then taking a bus back to Oklahoma City, where jerry agreed to make himself available and transport his friend from the Greyhound Bus Station to his car.  Gary having secured the truck, the two filling it to capacity, discovering there was still a quantity of boxes remaining,  but not enough to warrant a larger truck.   Gary deciding to acquire a trailer and hitch from U Haul for the Pontiac, like the truck it could be returned in Alva.

.  Gary getting a late afternoon start to Kiowa, thankful,  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 carpenter crew hadn’t completed all their work, and would be best to wait for Jan’s input on the furniture’s location.  With the dawning of a new day, Gary returning the truck to Alva, walking the short distance to the convenience store that served as the Greyhound Bus stop.  Sitting back in his seat, it was nice to let another provide the driving.  With his arrival at the Greyhound Station in Oklahoma City, initiating a telephone call to Jerry,  his friend responding saying he was on his way.

.  Gary patiently waiting, thirty minutes having passed but no Jerry.  Placing a second call but again no answer.  Another fifteen minutes, a third call and 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   “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 appreciative of his ex-wife’s concern.  The  move to Kiowa was completed with the return of the trailer to Alva. 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 Company,  he was to start work Monday morning.

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