It was in the late 1970s when I decided to hang it up after 23 years of federal service. As the years passed by I had dreamed of the moment when I could leave the daily rat race, the hustle and bustle, bumper-to-bumper traffic and long hours of working and being away from home. I sought an old home place in the country where the air was fresher and you could actually see the stars at night.
Was there such a place nearby or would I have to uproot and leave old friends behind? I put out the word to several people in the real estate business. One day a call came. "Are you still interested in an old home place? If so, one goes on the market tomorrow so get down here to Rockdale County today."
I promptly responded, looked at some land next to the monastery that had acreage, pasture and woods and was close to nature. It was quiet, on a dirt road and offered me a place to garden and even raise a few cows if I wanted to do so.
It looked like a good place to build a retirement home, so I put a down payment on it the day I looked at it.
In my mind it was a nice place to build a future, a new home place, a place where the wind rustled through the tall pines and where you could hear the crickets, frogs and other nocturnal creatures.
Civilization was close by, but not too near to smother me. I could dig in the soil, plant a small garden, put up some fences and raise a couple of cows. I could sit in peace and quiet, daydream and contemplate future endeavors free of exhaust fumes -- but not dust from the dirt road -- and noisy neighbors.
Eventually, I built my house with its big front porch. I watched as cars passed down the dirt road and after 35 years had realized most of my dreams.
I raised a few cows, but they turned out to be pets and I never turned a profit on any of them. I didn't care. It was fun and a learning experience. I even raised a couple of pigs my spouse gave me as a gift. Yes, and some rabbits, several dogs and cats and even a goat named Rowdy. Rowdy only hung around a couple of days until he learned to jump on top of his house and over the fence to freedom. He was last seen headed to the nearby forest, and we never did find out where he ended up. As for the pigs, the smell caused me to donate them for a church barbecue, so they were not a profit item either.
We breathed our share of dust and drove over muddy ruts along that dirt road for years. The county commissioner would not pave it because he called it the road that went nowhere. Only after my neighbors and I donated some of our land was it paved. Today it is one of the busiest cross-county roads in the area. Check it out and you'll think you are at the Indianapolis 500.
In the decades spent here in Rockdale County there have been many changes. Many more are expected, which we hope will be positive and for betterment of the people.
Looking back, my decision to retire here has brought me happiness, a dedicated, loving spouse, very successful, wonderful children, many great friends and a peaceful environment.
Recent changes have caused some conflicts with the transition of political power. Patience and working together through problems bring hope for a better community. United we stand.
Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.