|The Man (left) & Another Man, 1970s|
In the early days, we lived in a godforsaken part of the county, Austerlitz. Some would use other descriptions: peaceful, unspoiled. All true, but not much help when you need a bottle of milk, the car won’t start in 10o weather, and even if it would, the roads would be snowed under. (We once went to Florida for a month in February, and came home to a septic system so frozen that no amount of hot water would free it up. We had to use a porta-potty till spring thaw – which only comes in June in Austerlitz.) If you knew Austerlitz in the 70s, you know that people there scrambled to make a living, and The Man took whatever work he could find. He built mailbox posts, bunk beds, facades on buildings. But the most interesting were the bridges.
The Green River in Austerlitz has a history of flooding. But one year there was a really bad washout. Houses were filled with muck, and gone were pools, landlscaping, small outbuildings, and bridges. The Man had done some repair work for a wealthy customer, so when the bridge to his house washed out, he asked if The Man could fix it. Without even thinking, he said “yes”. That was a small bridge, but it led to a bigger bridge for someone else the customer knew, who had the same, but bigger problem.
The Man figured out how to divert the Green River so he could pour new footings, then built the bridges. All with only, as he frequently points out to me, a General Diploma from high school. They still stand today, 35 years later, through many other floods -- a testament to the Renaissance Man I married.