Jeff’s Farewell Letter
Forty Years ago, I saw Lafayette for the first time when I set up a lot on Johnston Street across the road
from Dwight’s. It was a restaurant and grocery store back then. I met Dwight and Susie and was
introduced to crawfish and boudin. He had a spigot in the front of his restaurant and I asked if we could
get 2 five-gallon buckets of water every day. He asked if the water was for the Christmas Trees and I
told him no, that it was for bathing since I did not have the money for a hotel room. At the time, we
only had 3 traffic lights in our whole county, so all your traffic was new to us. I brought a fella with me,
Danny Johnson, and one night I sent him to Dwight’s for a water run. He filled up the buckets, started
back across Johnston Street and made it to the center turn lane. About that time here comes a jacked
up pickup truck turning into Dwight’s with nothing on his mind but a couple links of boudin or a pack of
seasoned pork chops, not expecting to see a mountain man standing there with 2 five-gallon buckets of
water. Thank goodness the driver had fast reflexes and Danny ran a fifty-yard dash at a time most
college track coaches would have deemed respectable, especially considering the buckets of water!
When Danny made it to the lot, he was both wet and mad. From then on, I had to find water on our
side of Johnston Street. It was a good run over the years and eventually increased staff and able to rent
much needed apartments at Executive House.
About ten years ago, I started slowing down and decided to work by myself because I could no longer
keep up with the crew. With no one to talk to, I learned to entertain myself. One of my neighbors raises
sheep and back in the summer my youngest son, David and I were riding by one of their fields and her 2
great Pyrenees guard dogs were laying asleep in the middle of the sheep. I told David to watch this and I
howled like a coyote and they came up in a flash ready to fight which gave me a good laugh. David
looked at me and said, “Dad, you have been working by yourself entirely too long”. Lately, at times I
think he is right.
It is hard for me to know how to say thank you for all the wonderful memories you have given me, as
well as allowing me to farm. There are so many stories to tell about my time on the lot which I have
shared so many of them with my family and friends. The single mom with the Christmas tree coffee can
full of change warms my heart as well as the lady who came to the lot after losing her dad. She just
wanted Christmas to be as normal as possible. We were already sold out and in the process of breaking
down the lot. I called home, had a tree cut and shipped same day to her home. The lady who broke the
heel off her pumps still gives me a laugh but is far too complicated to go into detail. But without a
doubt, the stump tree is my favorite. To really appreciate the story, you have to know Steven Johnson,
who, without a doubt is the most honest man I have ever met. When he met his lovely wife, Melody, I
wondered how that would ever work out as everyone has a bad hair day every now and then and Steven
would not lie about anything. In other words, he would not be tactful about telling her she was having a
bad hair day!
Anyway, one of our customers was a teacher and I believe her name was Darlene. We were always
making these stump trees for children on the lot. You just take a 4–5-inch tree stump, drill a hole and fill
with greenery to make a 10–12-inch tree. So, Miss Darlene asked Steven if he would bring the material
to her classroom to help the children make stump trees and they had a wonderful time. This is where it
gets interesting as all the children wrote a thank you note. Miss Darlene brought them to Steven and
pointed out one which said (in the child’s best handwriting), thank you Mr. Steven for my tree, this is the
only one we will have this year. Miss Darlene told us that if we would donate a tree, she would have a
contest and make sure that little girl won. Steven showed me the letter, told me about the contest and
asked what to do, so, here we were talking, looking in different directions, cause neither of us wanted
the other to see how touched the had letter made us. I’m wondering why he brought me into this
because I trusted him to do whatever he feels is best. Then it dawned on me that he did not want to
make a decision on a rigged Christmas tree contest. It was all I could do to keep from laughing and
crying at the same time. You know as good as I love my family, I cannot tell you what I got for Christmas
that year, but I will not forget that little girl’s letter. I do not know her name, what she looks like or
anything about her except that she blessed me that Christmas. To be thankful for a tiny stump tree
made me realize how truly blessed we are. I assure you that she had a Beautiful tree that year. You
know that’s the way of the greatest gift mankind has ever received. Totally unexpected, when God sent
his Son to save us.
When I was in the Army, I always wanted to see a USO show with Bob Hope. He was my favorite
entertainer and though I never had a chance to see him, I will never forget his theme song, “Thanks for
the Memories”. That is how I feel about you.
My wife, Valda, loves the lot as much as me and will continue coming down to help Jeffery. He told me
that he cannot imagine not having the lot as it is such a part of him, just like it has been for me. In
following tradition, he hopes to one day turn things over to his children. I feel that I’m leaving Pollard’s
Riverbend Farm in good hands.
Merry Christmas and God Bless You!!