by Alan Davies
Hawk's Vocabulary Extravaganza entry- October
The Quimby Farm had served the Quimby family and their community in Sparta New Jersey for over 150 years. It was two thousand acres of dairy land. Not a Texas sized spread, but for New Jersey it wasn’t too bad.
That was until progress and development arrived and realtors would sidle up to George Quimby, who at 62 years old was the last Quimby who would farm the Quimby Farm.
“Mr. Quimby, do you know what your property is worth?” They would always begin.
“Yes, I do, it fed my family and served my community for many, many years. It’s priceless.” George answered.
Then came the platitudes: “Oh yes Mr. Quimby, you can be proud of that.” Or, “You’ve worked hard and have earned the retirement that selling this property would provide you and er, um, Maggie with enough to live out your years in comfort, dare I say luxury. You would even have quite a legacy to leave your children.”
“Margie, son, and the farm is not for sale.” George would insist.
George and Margie had two wonderful daughters. Both of their girls had chosen college and careers and had done very well.
Property values soared and the parade of realtors simply did not abate. They kept coming and coming. The realtors’ predictions about what he and Margie would earn per acre became more and more incredible.
One evening George was restacking some hay in the barn and lost his balance, falling several feet to the barn’s hard cement floor.
Fortunately the hay scraps that were covering the area where George landed were just thick enough to prevent him from breaking his hip. He was severely bruised though, and he walked with a limp for weeks.
Margie had begun talking to him gently about selling the farm months before his fall. After he fell, her gentle suggestions that they consider selling and going to Florida became vociferous and far less easy to escape. In fact it was downright impossible for him to escape how determined she’d become about them selling the farm.
It was late October and winter was coming. George was still limping. The Farmer’s Almanac was predicting a hard winter.
George rubbed his hands together and watched his breath coming out in clouds and at that moment knew that he was tired of the hard work and the scrimping and saving it took to keep the Quimby Farm going. He started the old Ford tractor and drove it into the barn. He climber off the old gal carefully and kicked the chock under the back tire. Though the floor was level enough, setting the wedge was a habit George had developed over the over fifty years he had worked the farm.
George sat down at the supper table with Margie, held her hand, said grace, and then said, “Margie which one of those realtors would you like me to call?”
“Oh George, are you sure?” She looked relieved and sad at the same time. She knew too well how hard George had worked his family’s farm.
“Yes, I’m sure. I’m tired of working hard in the cold. The last fella that came out here told me we could get five thousand five hundred dollars per acre. That’s damn near eleven million bucks.”
They both stared at each other. Somehow they had never really done the math. Now that he had, and he was good with figures, they were both pretty stunned.
Margie called Pam Snowden; she was a young realtor, a single mother, and never filled the air with a bunch of inane babble when she had visited.
The Quimby Farm property sold in less than six weeks. George and Margie never had more than twenty thousand in their account at one time, and now the amount was too much to believe.
They moved to Florida and chose a nice condo in South Beach. They had refused to look at the palatial homes the Florida realtor attempted to show them. They were not the type of folk who went for the ostentatious.
“Sonny, look at our car. We aren’t showy people. We don’t put on airs, never have.” George said.
About six months later, their daughter Cindy called and said, “The farm, they call the development Quimby Estates. They’re building huge Mc Mansions on half acre lots. Each one is selling for over half a million!”
George couldn’t come up with anything innocuous to say about Quimby Estates, so he just grunted. His mother always told him, “If you can’t say something nice…don’t say anything at all.”
It was funny though, for over 100 years that farm never earned much per acre. He realized he should have been planting houses.
“Come on Margie, let’s go for a walk on the beach, and then go to the buffet up in North Beach, its $3.99 per person.”