The Gator

The Background:


Ben, Aidan,  and Jeannie Whitehair preparing the Gator for the trip through the Fairy Forest.

Ben, Aidan, and Jeannie Whitehair preparing the Gator for the trip through the Fairy Forest.

Back in 2009 my grandsons, Ben and Aidan Wallace, and I went on a Gator ride through my friend Jeannie Whitehair’s Fairy Forest. The boys sat in the back and we bounced over rocks and small logs, went up and down hills, and over and through places I’d never think a vehicle could go. The boys got out every so often to clear a path, then off we’d go again.


Clearing the path

Her forest of several acres is filled with magic. Each of her grandchildren has their own fairy stump.

A fairy stump is an old stump with three types of lichen; cups to hold water for the fairies to drink, bugles to call the fairies, and scarlet soldiers to protect them.

Her grandchildren keep their stumps cleaned up, and amazingly, when they come to their grandparents’ for a visit, they find that the fairies have sprinkled coins around them.

The magic held for Ben and Aidan as well. Jeannie sent them in different directions to look at various logs and much to our surprise there were coins for each of them.


Finding coins at the Fairy Stump

We bounced back over the terrain to a small open glade. Each of the boys was allowed to drive the Gator. It was a magical day. And I fell in love with the Gator. I could also see how helpful one would be for us, even though we don’t have a fairy forest.

The Story:


Mark’s birthday gift arrives

Mark’s birthday gift arrives

The John Deere Gator is a small utility vehicle, great for hauling rocks, dirt, logs, or equipment – almost anything. The back is a little dump truck as well.

I knew right away that Mark could use this to traverse his antenna hill as well as down the mountain side to work on his Beverage antennas. He could carry all his tools, wires, cables and nuts and bolts. If something was forgotten there would be no need to hike back and forth – the Gator would get him back in minutes.

I bought him one for his birthday.

And he did use it for his outdoor work, but more and more we used it for fun. We’d drive up and down the roads and even off the road, going down over the side of the mountain to explore. We’d drive it down to pick up mail or to visit friends. Our most memorable trip was driving it down to Silver Lake where we had our annual Homeowners meeting. On our way home there was a torrential downpour.

Laughing in the rain

Our little Gator can only go 15mph at its fastest, and we had three miles to go!

Friends, who followed us up in their car, were laughing all the way. They soon passed us and handed us an umbrella. What a sight. I couldn’t help but visualize what we must have looked like – a scene in an old movie with Laurel and Hardy, or Abbot and Costello. Sopping wet we laughed our way home.

But as time went on it was used less and less by us; however, the grandchildren adored it. Around and around and up and down the dirt road they’d go. We kept a parent or at least a licensed driver with them at all times just so no one got too carried away going around a curve, especially with a cargo of kids in the back.


Mark training the grandchildren

On the 4th of July weekends it never stopped, and parents not only enjoyed a second childhood as they got chauffeured around (or drove it themselves), but it was used to deliver food and supplies up and down the hill, to bring logs to the fire pit, and to carry fireworks and cement blocks to the foot of the driveway.


Barry preparing for the fireworks

Many of the grandchildren are now adults with driving licenses, and others are in the process of getting theirs. The Gator no longer holds the thrill of driving that it used to. And Mark is no longer driving down the mountainside to put up antennas. Except for the 4th of July it scarcely gets used.

The Ending:


I sent an ad to the newspaper:

Equipment for Sale:  2009 John Deere Gator CX Utility Vehicle, 86 hrs, Knobby Tires. Excellent Condition.

The Gator was sold and left on July 30th. I watched it take its last drive down the road with a lump in my throat, but the good news is it went to live with a nice family. It was a happy ending.

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What a beautiful story! I love your backstory as well as the one of the Gator you bought. It is so painful, isn’t it, saying goodbye to all that has been in our lives. I love you, Anne

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