Friday, December 4, 2015

Episode 13 - Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace

Life in Oak Springs, the Homeplace
January 1999

This series of posts on each Friday, henceforth, moving forward during 2015 will continue the stories of “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction families in the area of Oak Springs following the novel “Christmas at the Homeplace,” which ended as 1997 began. Earlier, we have seen the community move from January 1997 through December 1998. We now move into January of 1999, in novel format…

Episode 13 - Lori, from Chapter 7

Lori was on her way to a business appointment, including supper, on Monday evening. The Jensen & Watkins Construction Company office was only a few miles from the Homeplace Country Inn. As Lori turned north on State Highway 37 from State Highway 24, she thought back to what she knew of this company. Gary Jensen had been in residential construction for more than ten years. He was in his early 70s, but still looked trim and fit, with a well-trimmed mustache. He had been joined, about two years earlier, by his nephew, Trace Watkins, who looked like he could be a son, in his early thirties. Some people around town also compared him to Trace Atkins, the country music singer, including Lori, who had met Atkins in a concert in LA. Since Trace joined the firm, they had built an office and shop out on Highway 37 and expanded the type of work they took on.

Gary Jensen had a house back in the woods, over a hill and behind the office, but Lori had never been there. Apparently Trace lived there with him, as well. Lori had been to the office, before, and had been impressed that they had built in a small kitchen and a stone pizza oven. It appeared both men spent most evening going over plans and blueprints... and eating pizza.

As she entered the office, Trace moved away from the charts on the table he had been examining to greet her. Gary was taking the pizza out of the oven. They each greeted her heartily, and offered her a choice of drinks: beer, wine or soda. She chose Diet Coke, tonight, but welcomed the choices. They sat at a table for four in the corner and enjoyed their pizza, before getting to the work at hand.

Conversation ranged among their earlier life experiences. Although they had met together on several occasions, they still did not know that much about each of their backgrounds, and they were each happy to respond to questions. Lori enjoyed talking about the people she spend time with in Los Angeles when she wasn’t in the air as an airline flight attendant. She also shared how much she liked to talk with passengers, on her usual long flights, about their homes at either end of the flights. She had learned that folks loved to talk about their home, their preferences and their longings. Back home, she would share this information with her friends in the residential development business. “Sure beats reading a magazine on those longs trips,” she liked to say.

She learned that Trace was the son of Gary’s sister up in the Kansas City Area. He had worked construction through a combination of jobs since high school and classes at the local community colleges in project management and construction techniques. He had been happy to get away from the larger winter snows of the Kansas City area to the somewhat milder climate of the Ozarks.

They each enjoyed hearing Gary’s stories of his earlier years as an over-the-road long haul truck driver. They came with no end, and he rarely repeated a story, very unusual in Lori’s experience. As folks got older, they generally repeated stories, over and over. Gary didn’t seem to do that. It made spending time with him very pleasant.

Eventually, they got around to their current project, the proposed "Homeplace Estates housing development. They talked in generalities, at first, and then began to get into specifics on the latest updates to the concept plan. They were soon circling the tables and drawing boards, looking at and asking and answering questions about the specific details of each. They were looking to build in as much flexibility as possible, without running up the costs too much. Finding the best balance of type of housing units along with appropriate activity sites was crucial.

[To be continued - next Friday]

"May everyone have a homeplace, if only in your mind."

Dr. Bill  ;-)


  1. An office with a kitchen and pizza oven, I want to work them :) As always have a great weekend Bill, looking forward to next week.

    1. Why not?! Sounds like a great place to work... if you don't have another life, that is! ;-)

  2. For many years I regretted not being a long-haul trucker....I smiled when I read that part. Knowing what I know now, about solitude not being my best friend, it's probably just as well I never made that dream come true. :) Anyway, I wish you a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    1. Excellent comments. I've often thought of the long-haul trucker life... certainly not for me... but I think I could have done it, for a while, anyway!! ;-)