"The gentle need the strong to sustain it, as much as the rock-flowers need rocks to grown on, or the ivy the rugged wall it embraces." –(Harriet Beecher Stowe)
High School graduation meant Frank and I were off to college in the fall. Iowa City and the University of Iowa was our destination; Frank majoring in accounting and me, the dream of all dreams, a law degree. It would be a struggle for us, but together I just knew we could do it. We were both hard workers and our experience with "Nodaway Ridge Serves" in our little community would serve us well. The organization was now functioning well! The steering committee was operating as it should and the poor, the needy, and the elderly in our community were being well taken care of. More than that, the "boys" and NRS had the leadership of Alex Robertson, Micah's older brother, to turn to. The organization evolved over the years, as leadership and members in the group changed, however, the basic purpose and tenets did not!
Motoring out of the "downtown" to the edge of Nodaway Ridge, on the way to the church, I came to the Hanson/Robertson Recreational Area. Nodaway Ridge was so fortunate to have access to and use of this park and athletic field complex. The large shelter, open on three sides, with its attached kitchen and serving area, was used several times each year for community events and fund raisers. "Nodaway Ridge Serves" held their annual chicken barbeque, the fall whole-hog roast, and the Quilter's Festival and Auction there each year to raise funds for support of the food pantry and other charitable works NRS participated in. The shelter was available for other groups and families to use, with advance reservations and payment for clean-up fees. It seemed as though some activity was using the shelter every weekend during the summer.
The Recreation Area boasted separate, lighted softball and baseball diamonds, with bleachers and dugouts, for use by community teams. Town team adult ball teams and youth baseball and softball teams kept the diamonds busy all summer. Additionally, a regulation soccer field, a walking trail, a playground area with equipment, and a picnic area were located on the grounds. The ball diamonds and soccer field activities were scheduled through the NRS office and the grounds maintenance was provided by volunteers. There was some doubt there would be enough volunteers willing to put in the time to take care of the fields, but in the years since it was built, there'd been no problem. People in Nodaway Ridge were proud of the Rec Area and maintained it.
The Recreation Area was named after Jim Hanson and his partner, Alex Robertson. Jim believed a park of some sort was just what Nodaway Ridge needed so he and Alex worked hard in getting it established. An anonymous donor kicked in the cash for the forty acres and fund raising, along with some corporate donations from Central City and elsewhere, provided the money to construct the athletic fields. The shelter was named the Nodaway Ridge Veterans Shelter (Vet's Shelter) in honor of the veterans from Nodaway Ridge and the funding for it was provided by the local VFW. When Jim passed away, he left a nice sum for the Rec Area and the community responded by naming it after Jim and Alex. Alex succumbed to a massive stroke several years ago after he retired, about ten years after Jim died. Both were a great loss to our community for all they did and for the legacy they left us.
Alex was a natural choice for the leadership position after Frank and I left for college, unpaid of course, since he was well liked and respected in the community. He drove school bus during the school year and during the summer, drove a delivery truck for a carrier in Central City. His school bus route in the hills, on the ridges, and valleys around Nodaway Ridge made him acquainted with almost everyone in the area and knew their needs and their talents. It didn't take a rocket scientist, he once said, to notice when some youngster got on the bus and needed a new winter coat or to see through a smiling face to see a hungry child. People were still proud, but for some reason, would listen to Alex and accept help from NRS, especially if he pointed out how they could volunteer to help others and benefit themselves. He was almost as good as my Frank at that, but not quite. Of course, I was prejudiced, but I should be, after all, Frank was my love!
One of the best things Frank and I did, we thought, was introducing Alex to Mr. Hanson. We were going to make our weekly trip, the summer before we traipsed off to Iowa City, to Mr. Hanson's house for bath time and doing some odd jobs around the house for him. Mr. Hanson groused the preceding week about finding a replacement for Frank and me to give him a bath once we were gone. That gave Frank the idea to invite Alex to accompany us on this particular trip. I questioned the wisdom, raising my eyebrows in doubt, but Frank just grinned in response, saying, "Hey, everybody needs someone- you just never know!"
I tried to explain to him there was at least twenty years, maybe thirty years difference in their ages. Again, Frank chortled, reminding me, "Mr. Hanson can get just as stiff as you or me. Just because he's a little older doesn't mean he doesn't have feelings and doesn't want to be loved. Besides, they're both alone!"
There was no way in hell I was going to talk Frank out of it, so I just gave Alex a call and invited him to go along. He readily agreed, surprising me to no end!
The three of us walked up the short sidewalk to the house; I rapped on the door and Mr. Hanson hollered, "Come on in boys!" When we entered, he was sitting in his easy chair, relaxed and comfortable, but spotting Alex, he struggled to stand. Alex quickly stepped forward, slipped his arms under the shoulders of Mr. Hanson, and easily lifted him to his feet. Mr. Hanson secured his walker under him while Alex steadied him.
Mr. Hanson smiled, introducing himself; "Jim Hanson," to which Alex responded, smiling as well, "Alexander Robertson."
"You're Abby and Henry's oldest, aren't you?"
Mr. Hanson shook his head from side to side. "It was a sad day when your daddy was killed," he said softly. "I remember you sitting with your Momma and the rest of the family at the service. Pastor Tolliver did a fine job, didn't he?"
At that moment, Frank and I became the accoutrements, the ornaments on the tree, or third thumbs, if that's what one could call us since the two of them began visiting. Before a teenage boy could pop a woody, Alex was helping Mr. Hanson down the hall for his bath.
Frank shouted after them, "Nate and I will clean up in the kitchen and do some outside work."
If they heard him, they never acknowledged it. We don't know what all happened at bath times, but two weeks later, Alex moved in with Mr. Hanson and they both thrived, according to Momma in a letter she sent us in Iowa City. Within two months, Mr. Hanson was getting around with only a cane. "Physical therapy and companionship does wonders," he remarked one time when we were home for a visit. His little farm began taking on a whole new look. The fences were mended, the house was painted, and a shower was installed (an extra-large one that could hold two people).
The new boys helped them out as well, since the eggs and pork coming from the small farm was shared through the food pantry. Mr. Hanson also taught Alex the fine art of meat cutting and butchering. All of the meat cutting was down in what used to be the milk house on the little farm. The Nodaway Ridge Serves Committee helped in the remodeling and equipping the facility with stainless steel counters, shelves, and found a small walk-in cooler to cool the freshly killed animals and after the meat was processed. Three large upright freezers kept the tightly wrapped and labeled meat frozen until time for distribution at the food pantry.
The small shop required a license and inspection periodically for proper sanitation. However, it was deemed for "home processing" and not for commercial purposes. Okay, they did fudge a little, but it worked. Mr. Hanson, Alex, and volunteers processed pork, beef, chickens, ducks and other critters that were donated. During deer season, there was plenty of venison donated and ground up for burger.
Frank's little idea to "help" others really bloomed and settled in place. It was like a neglected orchard; proper pruning, fertile ground, plenty of water, and loving care would produce good fruit! We'd come home from school at holidays and during summer break to help out as we could, but the other boys, the original boys of Nodaway Ridge, were also scattered throughout the state and the Midwest. Kenny Eggers was the exception; he moved to the west coast near San Francisco. Unfortunately, Kenny failed to heed the warnings concerning unprotected sex with strangers and succumbed to that deadly, insidious killer of good people- HIV-AIDS. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered in the little cemetery near the church where I was headed today.
I purposely slowed and finally came to a complete stop near the entrance to the Recreation Area. The Area was not only the site of many athletic events and community activities, but also the place where, during the summer and early fall, monthly music concerts we named "Music on the Ridge," were held. The second Saturday afternoon and evening of each month, concerts were held by local instrumental and vocal groups. All music performed had to be music heard, played, and enjoyed by the folks in the hills and valleys of Greater Nodaway Ridge. The songs were to be the hill songs, those folk songs and the gospel music passed on from generation to generation, telling the stories of our loves, our losses, our triumphs, and expressing the very core of our lives – no rock and roll, no rap, no electronically amplified instruments, acoustical only! Although later on a sound system was utilized as the crowds swelled over the years.
A free will offering was taken at each concert and used to fund scholarships for students from Greater Nodaway Ridge seeking a post high school education. The fund was managed through a foundation established by "Nodaway Ridge Serves" and the scholarships were awarded by a committee of the foundation.
Local organizations began setting up food and drink booths at the concerts, utilizing the profits to further the goals of their own groups. The little church outside of town, one of NRS's first supporters, was the first to set a booth up and the locals patronized it heavily.
"Music on the Ridge" developed from an idea Frank and I had when Grandpa Harris passed away. His death left me devastated since he was the only father figure I'd ever had. I'd never found out who my real father was, but of course, I never asked Momma! It was from Grandpa Harris I learned what giving and life was all about. His encouragement, along with the love and support I received from Momma, carried me through many uncertain times. From Grandma Harris I received my love and appreciation of music, especially the music of our heritage, that of the hill country, where I and others were raised.
Sam Tolliver and Micah Robertson lived and worked in Central City and but were part of a local (Nodaway Ridge) folk song group. The Tolliver's were always big into music and various ones of them played and sang around the area for years. It was at Sam's brother's funeral Micah and he met when Micah sang. I contacted Sam and asked if their group, "Just the Five of Us," would sing and play at Grandpa Harris' funeral service. They readily agreed. Including Sam and Micah, one of Frank's nephews, and two of Sam's younger cousins belonged to the group. They did a marvelous job paying tribute to Grandpa Harris' life through their rendering of the songs of Southern Iowa, Northern Missouri, with just a touch of Appalachia tossed in.
After we heard them perform, Frank and I thought it was a shame the rest of the area couldn't share and enjoy the hill songs we did, so we approached Sam and Micah, floating the idea of monthly concerts. They agreed it would be a good idea and noted there were other groups around that might be interested in participating. Frank and I agreed to front any expenses it might take to get it started. We lived in Davenport and he had a successful accounting business and I was doing okay as a trial lawyer so it wasn't as if we couldn't afford to spend some bucks for people to enjoy some good, "old-timey" music once a month during the summer and fall. The concerts were a great success and after the second year, NRS picked up the tab for any expenses and rentals.
One summer evening, when the concerts outgrew the shelter and they were being held under a big tent with a stage, Frank and I drove in from Davenport to spend the weekend with Momma and Grandma Harris. Grandma was aging and growing weaker as her body began failing. I knew it wouldn't be too long until she left us as well, so we tried to spend more time at home visiting. It just so happened, that particular fall weekend was the "Music on the Ridge" concert.
We were back stage behind the big tent where the performers generally gathered, waiting for Sam and Micah and their group to finish. A trio of young high school lads was scheduled to perform next. We didn't spot them right away, but did hear some very tell-tale and revealing sounds coming from behind a cargo trailer used to haul equipment.
"Sounds like someone being royally fucked!" remarked Frank quietly.
I nodded my agreement since the sounds of flesh slapping flesh and passionate moaning sounds were coming from the other side of the trailer. We stepped around for a look-see and saw the trio of lads actively engaged in a "warm-up" for their performance on stage. All three devilishly handsome lads had their pants down around their ankles. One rather engaging young man was bent over sucking the nice fat dick of one of his fellows while the third part of the trio was leaning over his back, running his dick in and out of a very receptive ass.
The lad doing the fucking spotted us and announced casually, "We'll be with you in a minute," clenched his ass cheeks tight and rammed in deep, firing his load, while simultaneously bringing about a very impressive orgasmic spewing of man-seed from the lad being spit-roasted. That was all it took for the third lad to pump a load into the mouth of his sucker, quivering as he ejaculated each spurt into that welcoming orifice.
Once done, all three stood and turned to face us, their cocks still throbbing and dripping a bit.
"Hope that's not part of the performance on stage tonight," Frank allowed, "don't think the lady's quilting club would take too kindly to the lack of music."
The boys giggled and one said with a laugh, "Just warming up; wouldn't want to go on stage all stiff and such.!"
"I can see that," remarked Frank. "Looks like you were tuning up an instrument, rosining up the bow, and clearing the pipes."
All three laughed and when Sam and Micah finished, we drove downtown for a beer and some conversation before Frank and I went home. Later, as we lay in bed, Frank rosined up the bow, cleared my pipes, and gave my throbbing instrument a bit of tune up.
The Literary works of Nicholas Hall are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America and are the property of the author.
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