Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mr. Keck

Uncle Ted, Theodore Edwin Miner, had limited brain and learning capacity due to an assault when he was younger. Two men tried to entice him to drink alcohol. Ted refused and then they tried to force him. Finally they beat him and still he wouldn’t drink. The assault caused a brain injury. After that, he had the mental capacity of a third grade student.
To earn money he would dig, dry and sell gin sang, crack and sell walnut or hickory nut meats, and in the summer, he would mow lawns with his green lawn boy push mower. Several of his customers lived several miles away. Ted would push his lawn mower and carry his gas can as he walked to their homes. He would pack a lunch and stay until he had those all of those lawns mowed before going back home. Most of these homes were summer homes or cabins clustered together along about a half mile stretch of roadway.

His favorite lunch was sliced and salted, hard cooked eggs, Miracle Whip spread on white bread, and Oreos. He loved to take a bite of the sandwich and a bite of the Oreo. I tried it and it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t have the love that he had.

The customers were Impressed with Ted’s work and Ted was impressed by the kindness of his clients, but one customer stood out among the others. He had a fondness for Mr. Keck who owned the Keck bottling plant in Kecksburg, Pennsylvania. The plant bottled Pepsi products as well as Cherokee Red, root beer, orange soda, and they had a ginger ale that was bottled in long-necked, dark green glass bottles with white lettering. I can remember the logo on the dark green bottle looked like a wooden club, like one that a caveman would carry; thick at one end and tapered on the other.
Ted mowed the grass at Mr. Keck’s summer cottage on Poplar Run Road just off route 711. It was a single story house with a dark wooden exterior with red trim, a large screened-in porch, and it could only be reached by crossing a narrow foot bridge that spanned the water of Poplar Run. He mowed their lawn until the cabin burned. The family never rebuilt and as a result, the land went fallow and became overgrown. The bridge finally collapsed from neglect.

When Mr. Keck died, Ted walked almost twenty miles to the funeral home to pay his respects to a man that definitely impressed Ted. When Ted walked in the door and found out that he had walked that far, they could hardly believe it. I think at that moment, the family was impressed with Ted that he had walked that distance to view their father.
The family returned the favor when a woman who went to the same church that Ted attended came to the funeral parlor. They asked if she would take Ted home when she left. She did and Ted only had to walk one way to say good-bye to a man he respected.


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