The old man spent a good portion of his morning clearing away the garbage that was strewn about in his yard. This had become a weekly, no, bi-weekly event as trash was to be carted away each, and every Tuesday, and Friday afternoon. It seemed that any precautionary measures that were resorted to in an attempt to avoid this ongoing dilemma was always countered with a further counter measure. Actually, since those counter measures were always successful, all of the retired man’s counter, counter measures were failures. He failed miserably, and he knew it. Clearly, that damn bird succeeded on each, and every one of those Tuesdays, and Fridays to make the retired plumber look the fool. And he was beginning to feel like one too. Despite all of this, it could not be said that the retired man was one who had an aversion to the ways of nature, and its instinct to survive. In fact, the man cared for animals in general. But, when it came to that particular bird, he hated it, and referred to it as that foul, and feathered foe, or that damn bird.
First, there were the cans with lids he thought would end that matter. They didn’t. Then the former plumber used straps to secure the lids, but they wound up as part of the bird’s nest. Next, there would be this, and later on that, as some sort of securing mechanism, such as replacing recyclable paper bags with recyclable plastic ones. That only made matters worse! Finally, there would be the blue plastic roping, a kind of netting. The man was sure this would end the battle between man, and beast once and for all. The bird however, would simply lift the netting, slip under it, and continue to repeat its, according to the retired man to his wife, that treacherous trash tirade. Another thing the man disliked almost as much as the messy debris strewn around in his well-maintained yard was the calling, or screeching the bird made. And it made it on a constant, and daily basis. He disliked that even more than the shit the bird would drop on the hood of the car’s windshield. What annoyed him almost as much at the bird’s shrieking was when he was finished washing his new car, hosed it down, and returned to towel dry it off. There he’d once again find bird droppings that landed on the chrome section on the front bumper, or streaked down the recently cleaned windshield. It seemed near daily the man was either picking up after the bird, or cleaning bird poop off of his car. About once a month the outraged man would have double duty. Not only did he have to clear away the trash that damn bird had scattered on his lawn, but he also had to hose a mess off of the freshly waxed, and gleaming paint of that new Chrysler.
The man had retired some eight years earlier. He spent his entire life as a public servant working as a plumber for the school board. Although the job wasn’t a glamorous one, it was an important one, and along with it came job security from his union, as well as a nice retirement package.
The plumber met his wife while she was working part time at the German American Social Club of Greater Miami. There she served drinks to club members, and their guests. Although, she wasn’t very good at preparing mixed drinks, she could pour a glass of beer pretty damn good, and she did so without leaving too much of a foamy head. Like the plumber, most of the customers preferred to drink imported German beer anyway.
The plumber, and his wife eventually teamed up, and began dancing in the Miami Schuhplattler Group, which was founded in 1958 by Otto Stoll, and his wife Fanny. Both Otto, and his wife were members of the German club in Miami. Otto had once been a Schuhplattler from Liengries, Bavaria. The couple wanted to keep the German culture, and traditions of the Auerhahn Schuhplattlers alive. Shortly thereafter, Hans, and Trudl Fleckenstein, began to join the former. They first began practicing their traditional folk dances in each other’s homes. After Otto’s retirement, the plumber, who danced marvelously, became the Vorplattler (lead dancer), and “The Original Auerhahn Schuhplattler” came into being. The dancers practiced often, meeting in the evenings, after work, and began to perform at special events that took place at the club. Eventually, they would share their performances with the public at the citywide Oktoberfest celebrations, as well as other events in the community. Oddly, despite all this social dancing, both the plumber, and his wife had but few close friends. Neither one was really very outgoing, or socially inclined, and that suited them both just fine.
Before marriage, while working evenings at the German club, the woman spent her days studying secretarial skills at the local community college. Once she had accomplished skills in typing, and dictation, and received her certification, she landed a secretary position she had discovered advertised in the Miami News. The job was working for the Bacardi Rum Manufacturing Company. The job was located in the famous Bacardi Building, which is a Miami landmark. The building was designed in 1963 when the architect Enrique Gutierrez, of Sacmag International of Puerto Rico, and the builder Frank J. Rooney, created it. Adella P. Estrada, and Alberto Fernando Pla are responsible for the interior design of the landmark structure, which added abundantly to the Latin American influence to the city, which is now quite prevalent these days.
It was during this time that the plumber asked the secretary to marry him. She said yes, and would remain employed at the Bacardi company until her husband retired, and received his pension. They would then sell their home in Miami, which they managed to hold on to for nearly thirty-five years. They netted a nice profit, and didn’t have to pay much of a sales commission, as the plumber had received a real estate sales license, and dabbled in that line of work in his spare time. The couple then invested the sale proceeds of their home in a capital gains scheme within the stipulated time so as to benefit from a capital gains tax exemption. With the proceeds, they moved to Tellico Plains, Tennessee, a small community where years earlier they had purchased a piece of undeveloped land.
Tellico Plains is a small town in Monroe County. The town is located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and according to the 2010 census its population was around eight hundred, and eighty. During the 1840s, Elisha Johnson, a former mayor of Rochester, New York, built the Tellico River Mansion on his plantation in Tellico Plains. With his brother Ebenezer, the former mayor of Buffalo, he purchased the Tellico Iron and Manufacturing Company. However, during the Civil War, the Confederacy appropriated the iron works for production of munitions. General William Sherman’s Union Army would later destroy the Tellico Iron Works facility. Sherman would thereafter pardon Elisha Johnson for his role in supplying the Confederate Army. This of course was due to Johnson’s northern birth, connections, and sympathies.
The nearby Coker Creek was the site of a gold rush during the late 1800s. Today the small crossroads town has a gold-panning tourist attraction, and it was from a pamphlet at a local tourist information center that the couple would learn of the area. At Coker Creek they explored the old gold mines in the surrounding hills. After numerous return visits, the plumber would often joke about finding a large nugget of gold known for its famous yellow ore. To the wife the odds of finding a piece of gold to retire early on was about as remote as winning the Florida lottery. In reality, the plumber was quite frugal, and would often repeat, “I’d rather have a secured twenty dollars in my pocket, than trading it off for the hopes of a maybe hundred.” Regardless, when the lottery jackpot grew exceedingly high, the couple couldn’t resist purchasing five dollars worth of tickets. They did this, even though they knew the chances of winning were slim to none. The odds were equal to the tickets being placed end-to-end, encircling the entire globe, and after all that, one ticket would be plucked out of the millions. One time they did manage to win $240.00 when they hit on four of the six numbers they had. For some reason they always choose the numbers, 2, 16, 24, 27, 38, and 54. The one time they did win, the earnings were more than the total cost of all the tickets they ever purchased. They even claimed the earnings on their joint tax return of that same year.
Tellico Plains was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. The historic Muscogee settled in the area, before progressing south. They were to be followed by displaced Cherokee from the east, and north by European colonial encroachments. Tellico Plains occupies the former site of the Cherokee town of Great Tellico, which was one of the more important towns of the Overhill Cherokee during the late 18th century. Two traditional Native American paths met at Great Tellico, the Trading Path, and the Warrior Path.
The Tellico River rises in the westernmost mountains of the North Carolina, and flows mainly through Monroe County, Tennessee. The river is a major tributary of the Little Tennessee River, and is one of the primary streams draining from the Unicoi Mountains. After the river crosses into Tennessee, it enters the Cherokee National Forest, where its major tributaries, the Bald, and North Rivers join it. Upstream from Tellico Lake, above Tellico Plains is a premier trout stream. The Tellico River, and its main tributaries are renowned for their brook, brown, and rainbow trout. The Tellico River meanders through a mountain gorge before reaching the broad plains downstream of Tellico Plains.
The Tellico River is the location that the couple finally settled upon, but not without much discussion, deliberation, and investigation into the matter. Once an undeveloped lot was decided upon, they purchased it, and paid for it over a twenty-year period. Looking back, the plumber wished that he had gotten his Tennessee real estate license, and saved on half of the broker’s fee. Eventually, the couple was to build their retirement home upon that particular piece of land. The plumber’s original plan was to spend his days trout fishing upon his retirement. He envisioned returning home with a dozen or so trout where his wife would cook them up as he took his evening showers. Ironically, once they had built their retirement home, he rarely partook in this scheme. Instead, he spent much of his time reading, going for long walks along the river where he reflected on his life, and the fact that he, and his wife had no children to come, and visit them often.
The retired plumber, and his wife ended up building a large three bedroom Ranch style home on the beautiful piece of land that is directly located on the Tellico River, and overlooks the Unicoi Mountains, and Tellico Lake. The wife insisted on performing the interior design tasks, and that was quite all right with her husband. She decided that the colonial period fit well with the exterior, and the surrounding area. One thing that they both appreciated when they first bough the land was how in winter the lake nearly froze over. The scenery around the property was really quite breathtaking. Actually picturesque!
During the summers is when the small community really came alive. Small boats could be seen upon the lake’s surface from the back window of the newly completed home, which the couple had custom designed oversized so they could always enjoy the fantastic view. Despite this, once the novelty wore away, neither the retired plumber, nor his wife, the former secretary, spent much time enjoying it. The man was especially perturbed by the fact that the damn bird always sat on the wire in full view of the lake. Even more annoying was the fact that that bird called out, every day, from morning until early evening when it would then retire to the tree it had always perched upon, and slept in until early dawn. The retired plumber even contemplated having that tree, his favorite pine cut down, just to spite the bird. Ironically, it was that very tree that had lured the couple to that particular lot. The retired man also gave a lot of thought in hiring a company to remove the wire, and place it underground. He thought about how the general contractor who had built the home had told him how placing the electrical line underground would give the couple an unobstructed view of the lake. He balked at the idea because it would’ve cost him an extra $1200.00 dollars. Often now he wished he had paid that extra expense. As far as cutting down the tree, he finally reasoned that there was no way in hell he would cut down his favorite pine, unless the wood was to be used to roast that damn cackling crow. To the old man, eating crow took on a whole new meaning.
Up stream from the retired plumber, and his wife lived a young couple that had moved into their new home not long after they had. The two families were on friendly terms, and the old man often stopped to chat with the young couple’s ten-year-old son while he was riding his bicycle, and the old man was checking his mail. They would talk about baseball, fishing, and whatever subject was the current talk of the town. Mostly they talked about the new walking bridge that was being built by the park services. The bridge was to extend across the river behind their adjoining homes. This was exciting to the boy as it gave him access to the other side of the river near his home, instead of the long jaunts, or bike rides to the other side of Parnell Street where the bridge was.
The retired man like the boy, and it seemed the boy genuinely like him too. The older man also like the fact that he had moved to the country, and was now far from the city life, and the traffic he had to deal with on a daily basis. He felt he could breath again. He had despised the commutes to work, and often thought of how much he would like to have all that time back. Although he wasn’t a mathematical genius he once calculated that, at two hours a day, five days a week for thirty years, that came to around fifteen thousand hours, or about two years that he had wasted away of his life sitting behind the wheel of a car in slow moving rush hour traffic. Now, at sixty-one, he’d much rather say that he was merely fifty-nine. But, he wasn’t, and would never be again. His hands, and knees felt much closer to seventy he thought aloud, “All that time spent on my knees reaching around a hot boiler, so I could loose up an old rusty pipe that needed to be replaced.” His union had even settled a class action suit against the school board for the years he spent exposed to asbestos. Even though microscopic particles were discovered in his lungs, he never really felt any pain, or discomfort from it.
The house the retired plumber, and his wife had built had three bedrooms, and a two-car garage. It had a dining room, an office, or den, a family room, and three full bathrooms. They rarely if at all had any visitors, as their only daughter had died years earlier from a disease that she had slowly succumbed to. Simply, the house was too large for the couple, most of the rooms went unused, and they knew it, which explained why the family room where the large window was located was so infrequently used by either one of them. The wife, she spent much of her time clipping coupons that were never to be used, and buying ceramic molds for her kiln, which was seldom used also. The kiln project irked her husband, as he knew it was a waste of money, but the coupon clippings long ago stopped annoying him. Once she filled a large plastic sack with the clippings, the retired plumber simply move it out into the garage. She’d then start filling yet another sack as she stared at the daily foray of TV show offerings. Oddly, the couple rarely, if at all, looked at the beautiful river or the magnificent lake. They would talk about it too. They’d then make plans to have an early dinner, and enjoy both the dinner, and the view. But, this was just something to talk about. They never really did.
By the end of the summer the walking bridge was finally completed. It was made of wood slats, and rope, which made for a wobbly crossing. The neighborhood kids thought it was great! They spent much of their time running across it, and trying to frighten each other, or shake it about violently to make the others fall down while crossing. The neighbor’s boy however, was ordered by his father to stay off of the bridge, ”Until further notice,” because the boy had once played too rough, and caused one of the little girls who lived on the other side of the river to fall onto it, and bruise her right knee.
Summer had passed, and autumn was nearly over. The reds, yellows, and oranges of the striped maples, the red, and silver maples, the red, sand, and shagbark hickory, the American holly, as well as the southern magnolias, the sycamores, and the cottonwoods had already passed, and the temperature of the lake dipped to the point where swimming in it was no longer tolerable. The north winds had already begun to blow, and this caused the usually serene, and calm waters to blanket over with a hazy chop. Along the shore were broken branches, twigs, and leaves that had turned to various shades of brown. The fishing was still pretty good. But, the wind made for an uncomfortable outing. Perhaps a good day at work sometimes is better than a chilly day of fishing out on a windy lake.
Gone now were the lawn chairs, the skis, the paddleboats, and the echoing laughter of numerous children. The docks along the shore were now as empty as the seasonal rentals, and by evening, the walking bridge rocked to, and fro. However, none of the local residents gave it any mind. They all knew that this was part of living in an isolated community, and it suited nearly everybody just fine.
During this time of year it rained more frequently, and the debris would both pile up, in certain locations, and then be swept away altogether. The great rocks that jutted out of the river near the bridge were now jammed with logs, and various other natural occurring debris. This part of the country was truly a land of four seasons. Everything turned, all but the pine. The retired man was hoping that big black bird would fly south once winter approached. All this life, transforming into death was a sure sign that winter truly was swiftly approaching.
The bathing suits, sunscreen, and summer bonnets gave way to snow chains, mittens, and earmuffs. Despite all these obvious changes, the one thing that remained constant was the calling of that bird, the bird poop on the car, and the Tuesday, and Friday tearing apart of the trash.
Christmas was closing in fast. Main Street had a hand painted sign that counted down the number of days before Santa came to town. The small town shops played all the seasonal songs that were familiar to everyone. Business was increasing as families purchased seasonal nick knacks, snacks, toys, and other gifts for the children. Already the snowplows were clearing the streets, and the family men took to the task of shoveling snow from the driveways, and sidewalks in front of their businesses, and homes. In town square one of the vacant lots had been turned into a place to purchase Christmas trees. These were not trees that came from the areas forests, as that violated both local ordinance, and federal law. After all, national park lands surrounded the area, and cutting down a tree in those forests meant a hefty fine, even a possible jail term, but neither had ever been imposed.
Either by tradition or by habit, the retired plumber, and his wife had decorated a tree, and it sat in the large plate glass window blocking the view that overlooked the river, and the lake to the north. At night, one could count the number of houses on the opposite side of the lake that had Christmas lights, and other ornaments. One of the things the couple enjoyed doing in the evenings was to drive along the snow covered community roads, and take in all of the festive decorations. They especially relished the town Christmas gala where there was a snowman-making contest, and a children’s snowball fight. The retired plumber actually took second place for building the best snowman. His wife tried to pitch in, but her hands quickly became too near frost bitten for her to continue due to her poor circulation. She ended up going over to where the bonfire was to warm herself. Nearly all the town folk were there, chatting, and talking about how the Vols would do better next season, and how the Tide wasn’t as good as it appeared due to there extremely soft schedule, and all of that sort of thing.
Later, when the retired man joined the group around the bonfire, his wife joked with him, and asked what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas? He half joking, and half seriously said, he wanted a shotgun, and some shells to kill that damn noisy bird. It was during this outing that the retired plumber made a deal with the local electrician to come to the house, and place that electric line underground once, and for all. He was pleased with himself for taking the first step in finally getting rid of that damn bird.
The snowball fight was abruptly ended when one of the little girls, the same little girl who had gotten hurt on the recently completed walking bridge began to cry. Apparently, a snowball had hit her in the neck, and she was more frustrated not to be able to identify the culprit, than the actually physical harm it caused her. She really wasn’t injured, it was just that she was very cute, and most of the boys her age were trying to get into a snowball bout with her. Fortunately, it hadn’t been the retired plumber’s neighbor’s son that had thrown the snowball. At that time all the children were called to join the adults by the fire, as it was time to sing Christmas carols. Everyone received a warm glass of eggnog, and then joined in singing, Jingle Bells, Santa Clause Is Coming To Town, Rudolf The Red Nosed Reindeer, and finally Silent Night. Each child was then given a stocking filled with toys, and a large candy cane.
It was a wonderful evening, but it was time for everyone to go home as Santa was to arrive early on that very next morning, and he wouldn’t show up unless all the children were fast asleep. The parent’s had no problem getting the young ones into their cars under those circumstances. Everyone said Merry Christmas, their goodbyes, and called it a night.
Early the next morning the crow was at it again. It had snowed all night, and everything was covered in a fresh layer of snow. The retired plumber stood at his window staring at the crow, which was sitting on the wire in its usual place, even as the snow fell hard all around it. The man thought, “What does it take to get that bird to go away?” As his wife prepared coffee, and breakfast, he commented about that unusual bird to her. He said, “I really wish that bird would just go away.” She laughed, and responded by saying, “Well, think about it. This area had been recently developed. Not too long ago there weren’t no houses here at all. Why don’t you look at it from the bird’s perspective? Maybe it’s trying to tell us to go away? Imagine how quiet, and serene it was before people came in, and began tearing up the land? Before tractors came in, plowing it all up, and hammers hammering away, and vehicles started making those mankind kind of noises.”
The husband then walked up to the Christmas tree, and looked around it, picking up a gift, or two, and examined it. He turned to his wife, and said, “I must not have been a good boy. Santa didn’t bring me a shotgun.” His wife hissed, and said breakfast was ready.
It was already past 9:30 a.m. As the couple sat for breakfast they talked about their daughter, which was a topic that always brought them great sorrow. By this time the crow was calling out loudly, again, and again. It continued as never before. The retired plumber had had enough. He tossed down his napkin, pushed his plate forward, and headed toward the door. The wife watched him, and only said, “Calm yourself. It’s just a bird.” The man put on his coat, rubber boots, and exited the house.
The retired man ran to where the bird was perched, and began tossing snowballs at it. He waved his arms, and jumped up and down, yelling at the bird, all to no avail. He tossed more snowballs, but the wire was apparently too high for him to reach it. The bird kept calling out as if it was in some kind of an alarmed, and frantic state. The sound was also one the man had never heard the bird make before. He threw snowball after snowball at the bird, but it kept calling out again, and again. At one point a snowball came close, but the bird just lifted itself, and went back to the same position, calling, and calling out, again, and again, and still again. Then, suddenly, coming from the direction the crow was facing, came a faint cry. It was the cry of a young boy. The retired plumber immediately recognized it as the cries of the boy who lived next door. The man raced in the direction of those terrible pleas. He came upon the bank of the river, and there he saw the boy, in the water, and near the rope bridge. The boy was desperately clutching onto one of the boulders that protruded through the surface of the raging water. The water level was also much higher than usual due to the heavy early snowfall upstream.
The man knew the boy was in grave trouble, and he knew he had to act swiftly. He also knew if the boy lost his grip, the dam downstream would most likely cause the boy to drown. The man had no time to run for the boy’s father, or to call for emergency services. He had to act quickly, and he had to act now. Without giving it any thought, he pulled down one of the recently installed clotheslines. It cut into his hand badly, but the man didn’t notice. He raced onto the wobbly rope bridge to the place where the boy had apparently somehow fallen in. When he got to the boy, he threw him the line, and told him to grab the end of it, and wrap it around his waste, and around his arm as many times as he could. The boy was too frightened to follow instructions. The retired man pulled the rope back in, and then tied the one end of the line to one of the wooden bridge support posts. He then removed his boots, coat, and pajama top, and wrapped the line around his left arm twice. He then leaped down into the water. In the distance the crow kept right on calling out.
The old man, hoping that the line would hold, grabbed the boy. He never even noticed just how cold the raging water actually was. He shouted to the boy to hold on to him tightly. The boy wrapped his shivering arms around the man as they both fought against the pressure of the rapidly moving water. The man struggled against the current, slowly pulling on the rope until he had a firm grip on one of the ropes that made up part of the bridge. With an almost super human strength the retired plumber grabbed the boy by the arm, and tossed him onto the wooden slats that made up the support section of the bridge. The man then let go of the clothesline, grabbed ahold of the bridge rope, and pulled himself up onto the bridge. The boy by then was already running home, and crying in great fear. The retired plumber then noticed that his boots, coat, and pajama top were nowhere to be seen. “They must have fallen into the water at some point during the crisis,” he thought. He then quickly, half-stepped it back to his home in his exposed feet, and bare chest. When he entered, his wife looked at him, and wondered aloud, “What happened to you?” Sprinting to the bathroom to take a hot shower he yelled back, “I’ll tell you later.”
After the shower the couple sat, and sipped hot chocolate as the plumber retold to his wife what had occurred. The wife tended to the numerous cuts on the man’s hands as he told of the fantastic tale as if it was nothing much at all. The neighbors soon came by, and brought with them a gingerbread cake, thanking the man for saving the boy’s life. As they left the plumber suddenly realized the crow was no longer making its usual racket.
From that day forward the retired plumber sat at his large plate glass window, staring out at the beautiful lake. His wife would also sit at his side clipping coupons. It had been weeks since he phoned the electrician, and cancelled his order to tear down the electrical line that partially obstructed the view of the lake. He lost his $200.00 deposit for the work, but that didn’t bother him. It had been weeks since the Christmas morning, that crow had annoyed him furiously. It had been weeks since that Christmas morning since that crow sat upon that electrical wire. It would be weeks before the retired plumber would admit that he’d never see, or hear form that crow again. In a shorter span of time, he openly admitted that he wished the bird would return.
As winter thawed, and spring came, and went, and summer once again returned with the boats on the lake, and the lawn chairs, and the suntan lotion, and the children’s laughter, the old man would often find himself looking up at the top of his favorite old pine. There he would see the withered portion of the blue netting that the crow had taken, and used as part of its nest. Over time, due to its age, it eventually fell to the ground. The now very old man, the former plumber, whose wife had passed away a few years earlier, knelt, and picked it up, and carried it into his garage. There it remained on his workbench until the new owners discarded it along with all of the other items, and memorabilia that had once belonged to the old man, and his long deceased wife. There the new owners were to discover photos of the old man, and his wife when they were much younger. There were also photos of their daughter. These photos were of a young girl, and in various stages of her youth. There were a couple photos of the girl’s favorite place, which was the old Crandon Park Zoo. There were also a few photos of the couple’s emaciated daughter who they had given the name Emma. Those particular photos were to be taken by the plumber during his daughter’s final days, which were at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital. The photos of the girl ceased at around the age of twelve. This is also when photos of the retired couple cease to exist as well.
Summers came, and went. New rowboats, lawn chairs, and sailboats replaced the ones that had aged, and no longer were capable of serving their purpose. The lake view rooms were to receive fresh coats of paint now, and again. The children who were raised on the lake grew to become adults. Some would move away, for whatever reason, while others remained, and continued their life in the small town, which grew in size as each year passed.
The little girl with the scraped knees, which caused the retired plumber’s neighbor’s son to be banished from the rope bridge, until further notice, actually ended up marrying the boy. They had two children of their own. They built a house for their family on the other side of the lake, and on land that had been owned by the girl’s family. When the lights to that house were on at night, it was visible from what had been the large plate glass window of the now deceased retired couple.
It seemed that year, by year the houses just kept being built larger, and larger than the one that had previously been completed. Over time the spacious land became sparse, and more regulations were put in place to protect the wild inhabitants of the national park. After all it was the wildlife that had drawn the retired couple to the area in the first place. Even so, the birds, and other forms of wildlife became less, and less visible. The sounds of the animals that had been numerous when the couple first purchased their lot also became less frequent. It had been ages since anyone saw a female deer with her young, and even longer than that since anyone saw a bear, or wildcat. Fishing was still pretty good, but everyone was warned that eating too much of it was not healthy due to the mercury, and dioxin contamination that came from the newly built pulp mill upstream from Tellico River, and the streams that merged with it.
The lake, that had once had been a beautiful powdery blue had changed dramatically. No longer was the water crystal clear as it was when the retired couple made their first deposit to purchase that waterfront lot for their retirement. In the national forest, a contractor somehow obtained a permit from local city councilmen to cut away one entire side of a mountain. The logs were to be hauled away, and used as building material, and the soil mined for various minerals. The site of the half bare mountain disturbed all of the inhabitants of the surrounding area. This newly altered landscape was now viewable from the left side of the former retired couples backyard. The old rope bridge that had been replaced by a new sturdy concrete, and steel structure had no appeal to the children that used to love to play on it when it was rickety, and fun.
When the old man had passed away there was no next of kin. The man, and his wife made the conscious decision not to make a will. As a result, the property reverted back to the state. It was sold at auction, even though there were no outstanding liens. The winning bidders were a young couple from nearby Gatlinburg. They had two young girls, and had discovered the community while driving through on their way to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was there that they had some car trouble, and had to spend the day, and one night in Tellico Plains while the car’s alternator was being replaced. They spent that day renting a rowboat on the lake, and taking in the scent of the fir, and pine, which was quite dominant during that time of the year. The wife took a job teaching at the local elementary school, and the man gave up his office job, returning to his previous trade as a carpenter.
The parent’s of the boy who nearly drowned still lived next door. They spoke fondly of the elderly couple to their new neighbors, and recounted every Christmas about how the retired plumber had jumped into the river, and managed to save their son’s life. Each Christmas when they told this story they would point out the location of where the old rope bridge had been, and was no longer there.