418. Alternative BOOK EXCERPT: There’s Something About Cave Creek (It’s the People) ~ Non-fiction By Gene K. Garrison

BOOK EXCERPT – There’s Something About Cave Creek (It’s the People) –
Non-fiction By Gene K. Garrison


Leadpipe, the old man who lived in a trailer and lean-to by the county dump, said that he once had a marriage that lasted seven years. “She’d give me a little trouble and I’d just reach out and grab a handful of boxcars and off I’d go.”

Leadpipe spoke fondly of his present wife, even though they are separated. “Thirty-some years ago I married this little old fat girl downtown. I just love her.” He and his wife have three children.

I wondered if he had a regular job when his children were growing up.

“Oh, Lord help me. The longest job I ever had in my life, outside of being an evangelist, was a year and a half. I didn’t want one of them thirty-five-dollar watches they give you after you put in thirty years nohow. I couldn’t live that way. My old Dad plugged forty years on the railroad. Drove spikes every day, snow or rain. I couldn’t do that.”

Another job was as an animal schooler with a circus. “It was to get the animals acquainted with human beings. I worked with Clyde Beatty.”

He also worked with animals in movies, including Trader Horn and Tarzan Returns. “They had a pygmy village and elephants were supposed to run through it. We had one elephant called Jewel. She picked up this one pygmy by the leg and walked on through.”

The evangelical career that lasted eight years was begun in a Pentecostal church in Michigan and continued for about a year after he moved to Phoenix. “Then, I can’t tell you why, but things fell apart.”

He decided to shuck the whole thing and move under a tree.

“I just found a tree and a flat place. Notice my shack, how it’s built. The boards aren’t straight. You’ll see everything on an angle. Everything is contrary to the way people would build. See that little hump there in the rug on the ceiling? It’s a bird’s nest. How she ever built it there I’ll never know. I leave water out and feed the birds scraps from the table. When it dries up here, like it’s doing now, I’ll go get one of those bags of feed for the birds.

Last year I must have had, I’d say, fifty quail here. They were beautiful. I’ve
had two woodpeckers that have come back here every year for the last four or five years, I know.”

Leadpipe’s love of animals doesn’t include coyotes. One got one of his dogs. “I couldn’t get a gun quick enough. If I move fast, my air shuts off. I have emphysema and this crazy old heart of mine’s about to … but I’m happy. That’s the main thing. You overlook the pains and aches if you’re happy. I can flop down here and go to sleep, or I can go in the trailer. I cook out here, what little I cook.”

He ate soup more than anything else, plus some milk and crackers.

“I sit here at night and smoke a few cigarettes and have a couple of black cups of coffee and listen to my radio. I enjoy life.”

He had visitors just about every day.

“I’ve had people come to me who’ve been shook and wanted to commit suicide or leave their wives.”

Then there are others who just want to sit around and be sociable.

“I have more friends here. You just wouldn’t believe it. I had one man who bought my medicine for three years. I never even knew who it was. I’d go to the drug store to pick it up and they’d say it was all paid for. I have to take nine different kinds of medicine. I have a doctor that came over just a couple of days ago and gave me a shot right there.”

He rolled up his sleeve and pointed to the place on his arm. “He takes me into town and doesn’t charge me anything, not one cent.”

A landlord visited him once at another place where he had squatted.

“Who told you you could stay here?” he asked.

Leadpipe answered, “Truthfully, there ain’t nobody has to tell a squatter where to squat. When a fellow comes along and unsquats him, he just loads up what he’s got and goes down the road to the next bush where he wants to stay.”

The landlord asked, “You’re not paying rent to nobody?”

“Oh, no. If I’ve got to pay rent, I’m on my way before daylight.”

Leadpipe said the landlord burst out laughing. He couldn’t stand it any more.

The man finally said, “You stay here as long as you want to.”


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