Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Demolition of Granny's House

My grandfather died in 1974, my grandmother in 1990. My uncle had lived in the house since then. Due to my uncle's mental problems from an injury many years ago, he let the house run down very bad and for at least ten years never allowed anyone to enter. It wasn't until he went to a nursing home a couple of years ago that we discovered the sad shape of the home. All but two rooms had the floors caved in and the ceilings and wall boards had fallen down from water damage. No bathroom and no running water. It was the biggest mess anyone had ever seen for a house someone was living in.

My grandfather wanted to retire and sell the farm in about 1964. He was 69. A new road in the nearby town took several houses by eminent domain and he bought one, a large two story completely make of oak for $100. He had a few months to tear it down and he took it apart piece by piece, saving all the wood floors and framing materials. He even saved the nails, straightening them out as he pulled them.

He hauled all the materials to the two acres he kept and proceeded to build his new home, mostly all by himself. All he bought was the brick, roofing shingles, wiring and plumbing fixtures. He was 70 when it was finished and lived there with Granny for the last twelve years of his life.

This home was in a very rural area but as always things change. New expensive homes were built close by on former farmland and some of the neighbors didn't like an abandoned house grown up with small trees in their midst. So they did what 'outsiders' do, complained to the county. Actually, unless you looked close when driving by, the house was very hidden.

My mother, being the executor of the 'estate,' got a notice that something had to be done by a certain date or face a $50 fine per day for each infraction. She asked me what to do and I suggested to go to the planning commission and ask them if we could demolish and bury the house on the property. She did and the request was granted.

What should have been a fairly easy two day job turned into a expensive endeavor.

On the way over to the site, hauling the dozer on a lowboy, we were stopped by a state trooper. It appears he had gotten the memo. Small time contractors and even farmers hauling equipment are an easy mark for hidden laws. The cop admitted that 3 out of 4 of the 'small timers' don't have the proper paperwork so he has been stopping them and getting the tickets issued. We were 8 inches over the maximum width of 8'6" and given a ticket for $230 dollars for not having a permit for a 'wide load.' Plus the permit, per year, costs $525. It's not a safety issue but an extortion by the state. After 14 years of hauling a dozer and 'assuming' the limit was 10 feet and never being stopped, we found out otherwise. The state needs money and the small guy is a target. It's a lot easier to ticket a working man than to chase criminals.

What else could go wrong? Well, the dozer had just had its final contracted preventative maintenance by the dealer done the day before at a cost of $2,200. The tracks were tightened to the max and even after pointing this out, we were told they would soon loosen back up. It was noticeable immediately upon starting work by way of the pops and whining that the tracks were too tight but we continued on. Bad move. Excessive stress and vibration took its toll. Just before the job was completed, the right track master link bolts became loose, popped out and the track came off. It will be fixed, no major damage, but what should have been PM turned out to be what I think was a mistake by the service man but it will be hard to prove.

But hey, we've picked up more work from people coming by and seeing what can be done by a dozer and a couple of guys. In this economy that's the positive side, even if we are over 60 miles from home.

The property will be cleaned up nicely and probably worth more someday than with Granny's abandoned house on it.

Someone suggested that I put up a sign near the road saying, "Hey Complainers, Are You Happy Now"

I may just do that.


Music in the video by Moe Denham, "Listen Up" from his latest CD "The Soul Jazz Sessions"

Moe is one of the elite Hammond B3 players in all of the world. Unsung and unrecognized except by those who have known him and seen him play. A Nashville hidden treasure.

There are a few of us who remember Moe best from he first moved to Cannon County TN from Minnesota with the band "Truck Stop." Their shows at the 'Country Comfort' in Murfreesboro are legendary.


  1. Touching story Mr.K
    I share your pain. I was once so fed up I stuck a piece of dowel in the middle finger of a glove, tied the rest into a fist and and left it standing sentry at the end of my driveway.
    There is no viable excuse for this constant nitpicking B.S. from the state. You might consider as a hobby a black powder musket 21 BLAM salute from your front porch every morning.
    Bad cop no donut.

  2. Thanks for the 411 on Moe Denham. This is the first I had heard of him. I'll buy his CD.

    I am a Hammond B3 Junkie... always looking for old copies of Jimmy McGriff..Bill Doggett, etc.

    Dr. John played a mean B3 with Stevie Ray Vaughn along with Reese Wynans. (Pride and Joy)