“The roads are not
graded. Brother used to do that. I wonder what will happen to these roads
We drove quickly away
from his home. Occasionally the bottom of the car was scraped on high
center with a gritty grinding sound of rock on metal. We traveled over the
low water bridge. The flat cement structure was concave and directly on the
ground with no underpinnings. When there was a slow rise of water from
washing off the prairie, the flood simply widened out a bit and ran over
the road at this place. For eighty-five years, at least, it had served with
not a thought of washing out. The other low water bridge where Dad had
pulled huge boulders onto the ground for a crossing had slipped and that
bridge could no longer be used. This shut off the other road along side
the land Ted Turner now owned.
Now looking up to the
old ranch house I realized I suddenly did not feel the same grief. Was it
because my Brother's condition was more important to me than this old lost
home? While we drove across the meadow up to the house it was clear to me
this wasn't even a road anymore.
My friend watched and
helped pull a card table, chairs, ice chest and table cloth from the back of
the car. In a moment the little table was spread with a cheerful cloth.
While we enjoyed a brief lunch, I tried to refrain from talking about what I
“Is your wife happy, out
here in the middle of no where?” I remembered asking my brother as he
lounged easily that evening on the bannister of the old stone porch.
“Oh sure. She likes it
out here. She laughs and talks about her house. Four rooms and path, she
calls it.” My brother was happy, it was apparent. Those were the days when
we were so young and had no idea what life had in store for us.
The soft warm prairie
breeze pulled gently at the table cloth where my friend and I were now
eating. I was facing in a direction so that I could see out over the miles
of prairie land. A scant herd of cattle grazed on Ted Turner's land across
the road. When my friend spoke out it was only then that I realized she did
not enjoy the same view.
“You know, sitting
here looking at the front of that old house makes me wonder what all went on
here.” My friend, of course, was curious.
For some reason I
couldn't talk about all the good times we had. Instead I pointed out where
the dairy barn had been, the tenant houses, the old well, the hay barn.
After our short meal we
took a moment to walk up to the stone front porch. Someone had dug the
rocks off the floor, tried to dig into the foundation on it, and arranged a
row of rocks in a circle around a hole. I wanted to be angry but instead
this was laughable and pathetic. The old rock mason who had done the work
originally was an artist without question. I remember Dad talking about him
using a keystone for whatever he did. These people couldn't even make an
attractive arrangement of their fireplace.
This time when I
started to walk across the floor I looked down and saw that the floor was
really beginning to become rotten and weak so I turned away. My friend was
glad I didn't go on into the house.
“We need to get on our
way if we are going to go through the gift shop on the Tallgrass Prairie
Preserve.” Away from and out of the area was okay for me. No longer did I
feel responsible to a bureau or a family or anyone else. I had done my best.
If there were law suits against those folks, should someone be injured
here, it was no longer a concern of mine. I tried to warn them.