As previously mentioned, I grew up in a rural neighborhood. This could be a challenge when selling Girl Scout cookies, which we did door-to-door back then. In March. In Upstate NY, where it snows a lot. My cousin and I, the same age, next-door-neighbors, would sell together. She’d sell one house, I’d take the next. A team effort.
That’s how we knew people. Or of them. Like Bill Peavert. Mr. Peavert lived in a shack. He heated the shack with a wood stove. He had a note thumbtacked to his door: “If you hear music, I’m home.” Mr. Peavert didn’t drive, that I recall. He always bought cookies from us, carefully counting out his money from a change jar.
My mom and one of her friends up the valley used to joke about wearing their “backless frontless gowns” and going out with Bill Peavert.
When he passed, I think we were all surprised to learn he had a son.
I have two other memories of Mr. Peavert. One night, my step-grandfather, who lived next door to us, called because someone was trying to break into the house. Dad grabbed his twenty-two and went to take care of the matter. Turns out Mr. Peavert had gone on a bender and thought he was home and was upset he couldn’t get in. Dad loaded him into the car and drove him home.
Several years later, my folks had picked me up from a party one Friday night. As we were turning off the highway onto our road, we saw something flailing in the ditch. Dad pulled over to investigate. Mr. Peavert was drunk again. I scrambled into the front seat with Mom. Peavert recognized my father. “Ain’t you the sum-bitch who tried to shoot me?” “Yes,” Dad replied, as he folded the man into the backseat. We drove Mr. Peavert home again.