A new friend

And one angry, worried husband.

I can’t really say that I blame him.

My adventures have gotten me into trouble. There was the time I blew a tire (hey, where did all the pictures on that post go?) and there was the time I backed into a deep ditch of snow.

I’ve also managed to get busted trespassing, most recently in Rocklyn, WA, just south of Davenport.

So he worries when I go dirt-roading with Bella and my camera. The great Escape, after all, is 12 years old and nearing 300,000 kilometres (that’s about 186,000 miles for our American friends … I still write mostly in Canadian.)

And you never know who you’re going to run into

Touring small towns and back roads

He doesn’t like me riding solo so, on Monday, I found company.

Jerry Hardy owns the Rux homestead and is the fellow who busted me for trespassing on his property. He left comments on the blog post and I followed up by apologizing. We became Facebook friends and chatted about getting together to talk history.

He was game. My American remained concerned. I’d not met this man before and was basing my trust only on Facebook conversations.

But come on … we share a passion for history!

Gerry and I booked an afternoon together. He was my chief tour guide around Harrington, where he went to school and played football as a boy.

He shared the history of the grain elevators, when the wooden ones were torn down, and how one of the current stacks was built on a continuous pour. He remembered nights at the community hall, which empty building held the mercantile, and where the hospital once stood.

He introduced me to Allen Barth, owner of the Studebaker Garage. Allen rebuilds classic cars in the former Harrington Garage, built in 1916 and still bears its original Ford logo.

studebaker restoration


(Sidebar: The Studebaker Garage is hosting the fifth annual Harrington Car Show on Saturday, May 21, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I’m going!)

Affable, kind and warm-hearted, Jerry also approached Dillon Haas, the town mayor, for a chat and that’s how we were invited to see the brothel.

After all that, we headed back to Rocklyn where Jerry wanted to show me the old schoolhouses he keeps on another of his “abandoned” properties.

His grandparents, William and Lydia, bought the house and farmland from Gus Rux (Charles’ brother) in 1917. The house is livable but it shows signs of wears. Jerry pokes at the front door and realizes someone has been trying to break in.

prairie farmhouse

He’s already lost family items to those who think the house doesn’t belong to anyone.

But it does.

Behind the home that holds so many Hardy family memories, Jerry has placed two old schoolhouses — Rocklyn’s Zion school and Coal Springs — he acquired before they could be destroyed. The schools were left empty after the smaller districts were consolidated into the Davenport system during the Great Depression.

abandoned schoolhouse

Jerry has a dream to restore both schoolhouses, too, and place the Zion building next to the Rux farmhouse. Then, that property will no longer be looked upon as abandoned because it will be a spot to tour and learn about pioneers, farming and Lincoln County history.

We came across Doug Mielke, who farms the Hardy land, and he took us to the Church Road field where the Zion schoolhouse once sat.

Time was ticking and I knew I was going to be well past the time I told My American I’d be home.

Trouble was, we were in an AT&T black hole for the entire afternoon. While I stood in the field listening to Doug and Jerry chat about history, my phone started blowing up.

Maremma sheepdog

I was back in range.

After not hearing from me for hours, My American was in his truck and heading toward Davenport to look for me and Bella, worried we might be chained in a root cellar somewhere. I pulled him back from the ledge and sent him home, reassuring him that we were safe.

Dusty and tired.

But safe.

Because my new friend Jerry wouldn’t have had it any other way.

1 comment

  1. I really enjoyed your tour of Harrington and surrounding area. I grew up in Harrington–right on main street in the building next to the Studabaker garage. The old hotel was our house. I still have many fond memories of living in a small town.
    My wife and I have photographed the Hardy homestead several times along with almost all of the old barns and houses in Lincoln County.

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