The Fruit Basket

Growing up in Smithwick, I knew just about everyone that ever came through there.
After getting out of school and getting married, I left for Austin and would get back up there every few weeks. But things were changing faster than I could keep up with.

The 227 acres that Kenny and I grew up on started being sold off in small tracts. While it’s no secret we didn’t really like it that Cec was selling it off, it wasn’t our choice. He had inherited the property from his Dad in 1958, when our Grandfather, Theron, passed away.

But it appeared that selling off the place was going to give Cecil and Bonnie Gay some measure of comfort and the lake property would remain in the family along with a little of the other property. It would have been a little too self serving for us to have said much about it.

Some twenty years later Bonnie Gay died and then Cec did the same five years later. The landscape and demographic had changed a lot over the course of the 25 years. We knew some of the people, because he had sold to people we knew, while others we got to know over time. The third component in the demographic were some people that had moved in that we didn’t know and for the most part didn’t want to know. They were bringing a whole other dynamic to the area.

As long as Cec was alive there wasn’t a big need for a Property Owners Association. He pretty well made sure that most routine stuff that a POA is for, got done.

It was a sure bet that Kenny and I weren’t going to be babysitting the place as Cec had done, so a POA was established. We felt good about it and was willing to do what we could to help out.

But the fly in the ointment was this one Yankee acting SOB that must have not been filled in on the history of the situation. He was voted in as President.

To get to the property that we still owned along the lake, we drove the same road as the property owners did to get to the land that was designated as the POA Park. From the road everything to the left was property owners park and everything on the right of the road belonged to Kenny and me.

This Yankee, (there may have been others as well) I’ll just call him Bill for this purpose, decided they didn’t want people going and coming to the park without going through a gate first. What Bill and the others may not have taken into full consideration was that the road along the POA Park was actually on property that belonged to Kenny and me.

A nice new gate was erected right at the entry of the park, part way down a hill. Kenny kept livestock on our lake property and we all used it for recreation. Kenny was the one that came in and out regularly and was the one that was going to be inconvenienced the most (and was the least likely to put up with any horseshit from anyone) stopped and told the fellow we are calling Bill to take that gate out and don’t be long about it.

I’m not sure if Bill was hard of hearing or stupid, perhaps both, but he didn’t heed the warning Kenny Lewis had given him. From that point on when Kenny would come off the hill, if the gate was shut, he would plow through it with the big Ranch Hand Grill Guard on his handsomely decked out pickup. Pieces of the gates were laying over the area down there.

It took a little while for it to sink in on Ol Bill, that he was going to eat up the entire budget of the POA, just buying gates. The gate issue was pretty much resolved.

Bill lived just about a hundred yards from the entry to the park, so he vowed to keep an eye on things to keep people out that weren’t suppose to be in the park. A great idea I guess.

A few years later, our son Justin, was going with a little gal over in Burnet. Let’s call her Lauren. Her family was having a get together and she ask if they could use our lovely place down at the lake.

“Sure, just go down there and make it your own for the weekend”.

On Friday she and her grandmother went down to scope out the place to see what all they would need to make it an enjoyable outing. Lauren had a brand spankin new Ford Mustang her folks had just bought her.

Well when they had looked around and headed out Bill stopped them. He went up one side and down the other about what their intentions were and this, that and the other. He scared the young lady and her grandmother half to death.

Lauren came over to the house that evening to visit. She asked me if I was sure it was going to be alright for them to go down to the lake the next day. She told me about the encounter with Bill that afternoon.

Whether you know me very well or not I bet you can imagine how that news was received by me. In about 15 seconds I had Bill on the phone explaining a few facts of life to him. Out of respect for Lauren and my family members I finally walked outside with a remote phone to my ear. Not that I really needed it, as he’s only about 15 miles across the way as the crow flys. I’m sure he could hear me clearly in that short distance.

After I calmed down enough for him to speak, he ask how he could make up for the wrong he had caused.

I said “get your ass up to town in the morning and you have 2 choices. You get the most beautiful bouquet of flowers you can find or get a nice fruit basket and a big one at that, when you see all those people have arrived take that gift down there any give it to the two ladies you offended. But I don’t want you lingering, after you do that, get your butt back up to your house and stay out of sight the rest of the day.
If you don’t do exactly like in telling you, I’ll be over there stomping a mud hole in you ass”.

He choose the fruit basket. A beautiful fruit basket. I think he must have gotten his very sweet wife (I’ve been told she is) to help him really make it look nice. Lauren sent me a picture of it.

That man sure has been neighborly since then. I never seen or heard another thing from him since that time. But it has only been about 20 years.

Actually Kenny and Bill have developed a decent relationship during the past few years. He and I wave if he’s outside when I pass by. So I guess something was accomplished by my tirade. But seriously, you can’t even imagine how infuriating that incident was.

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