A Good Story

Paulson’s Lumber, the pre-Home Depot local lumber and hardware store, knew our family well. Remodeling was a family past-time, so we made it to Paulson’s at least once a week for paint or tape or mud, or any number of sundry supplies. I stood in the aisle looking at paint chips while my mom and brother looked for what they needed on behalf of another house project in the next aisle.

Hutterites from the nearby colony also regularly patronized Paulson’s. A similar group to the Amish, Hutterites lived outside of town, kept a cloistered community, and spoke a German dialect. They supported themselves by farming and selling their wares at farmer’s markets: vegetables, home-made bread, farm fresh eggs. The men wore black pants, black vests, black hats and brightly colored shirts. The women wore long, dark dresses and kerchiefs covered their heads. Unlike the Amish, Hutterites employed tractors, trucks and electricity for some tasks, mostly tasks done by the men.

Staring at the paint chips, I heard escalated voices — notably my mother’s — and then a firm, “NO.” My mother, red-faced and angry, stormed around the corner with my brother in tow, red-faced and laughing.

“We are leaving.”

I scurried after them. Mom can hit a long stride when she means to and my brother, a high school football player, was over 6’5″. She pushed Troy into the middle of our single bench, two toned ’77 Chevy pick-up, threw it in gear and peeled out of the parking lot. Now Troy was really laughing. Book-ended by his mother and his sister, Troy let the story loose.

Apparently a Leader in the Hutterite community had seen Troy at Paulson’s on several occasions. Troy could handle tools and drive a pick-up. The Leader liked Troy’s stature and demeanor. Perhaps this tall, blond, good-looking young man could offer services to the colony? Respectfully, the Leader asked for our mother’s permission. Then, he propositioned my brother. You see, they had a problem with too little distinction in the family lines and perhaps Troy could contribute seed. It would not take much, really, just a weekend and Troy would be returned.

Troy died 16 years ago today and while he never did get to provide stud services for the local colony, he did live a life of spectacular adventure and humor. Troy took the picture used for this post when he, Kendra and I went camping in NW Montana one weekend. Today, I remember him with love, humor and no small amount of nostalgia.

Troy knew how to tell a good story.

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