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Inherited Journey
A Powerful Legacy of Courage, Love, and Selfless Giving

Bath Pond
Gus is a recovering addict who left behind a life of panhandling and dumpster diving and now helps those struggling with the same addictions that once ruled his own life. Jay is the son of a Depression-era Florida farmer, a former good-times boy who learned the harsh lessons of discipline and responsibility during the Korean War.

Inherited Journey is the story of the powerful brotherly bond that develops between these two very different men, and of the lasting lies of friendship that will forever link their two families. It is also a fascinating account of joint ventures in a non-profit and selfless giving as they build a business model dedicated to helping those who cannot help themselves. From the weird and wacky challenges of a nationwide singing tour to a tense confrontation with the IRS, Gus and Jay face what life throws at them with courage, grit and good humor.

—Lowell Teal

Becoming Acquainted 13
4

Gus Squires was accustomed to urban areas and accurately finding his destination quickly in any size city, yet today he was in deeper than ever. He had never actually been out into the countryside looking for the headquarters of another foundation, or any other foundation out of a metropolitan area for that matter. He was totally out of his element while he prowled the country roads. He was completely lost.

Locating the executive offices of the Gregson Family Foundation was more of a chore than he had expected. Leaving Orlando a couple of hours earlier on a thirty-minute excursion he was certain he must be two counties wrong. The truth was, he was hopelessly lost. Yet it wasn’t a wilderness. It was beautiful citrus groves and a magnificently manicured cattle operation. He kept seeing signs stating “Eastern Produce” with various numbered blocks on almost every grove division. Then there would be signs indicating various locations for cattle, like “Hardwood Hammock Division.”

On a horse riding along a fence was a fellow who waved at Gus as he drove by. Appearing friendly, Gus stopped, backed up, rolled down his window, and asked the fellow if he could tell him where the Gregson Family Foundation executive offices were.
Yes sir, just go back the way you came about five miles, and you will see a small white sign at a lane with black lettering stating ‘The Gregson Family Foundation.’ It is two miles down that lane,” said the cowboy.

“What is a lane?” Gus inquired.

“This lane is one hundred feet wide, kept like a lawn with no gate at the road. There is a barbed wire fence on both sides and a small sign on the top of one of the posts. I don’t believe you can miss it.”

“Thanks very much,” Gus said as he reversed his direction. There was not another living soul on those roads that morning.

Five miles is not a significant distance on a turnpike at seventy miles an hour, but bumping down a farm-to-market road at twenty to thirty miles per hour seems forever, particu­larly so when one is lost and already late for an appointment.

The sign finally appeared just as the cowboy had said, except it was located within a beautiful orange grove, not a pasture as Gus had expected. The sign did indicate it was two miles to the Foundation offices.

The road was paved and about twenty-five feet wide. The striking thing was how well its landscaping was kept. It looked more like the entrance to a high-dollar country club or a resort of some kind. Gus had no idea he would actually be approaching a very well-kept estate of long standing.

Emerging from the grove a large area of giant oaks appeared in the distance surrounded by an immaculately manicured pasture. There were well-cared-for cattle everywhere in sight.

The lane was aimed directly at the oaks. Under the oaks there were formal evergreen gardens of a European nature. The house was a long, single-story frame structure with formal gardens surrounding it. It was painted white with various porches and a very formal entry flanked by lush plants. It was totally Floridian in a luxurious setting. In fact, it was an opulent home one would expect only to read about.

A small sign pointed in another direction from the house to the Foundation offices. Gus followed the directions to a paved parking area for visitors.

Since he was also the head of another foundation he always dressed the part. His clothing was expensively tailored just for him, including the shirt. On this particular day, since it was hot, he had on a pair of very expensive Bally shoes. He had thought just that morning how much he liked the particular clothing he was wearing. It was handsomely tailored and fit him perfectly.

Entering the office, the receptionist told him that Mr. Gregson was at the barn and had asked that Gus come there. She gave him directions. This was painful for Gus because he was already late and felt sure that Mr. Gregson had grown tired of waiting, was probably mad, and had gone out to do other things.

He carefully followed the instructions, and as he rounded the barn he could hear several men yelping. Arriving at the location he could actually see what was happening. There were three fellows inside a set of cattle pens made of heavy boards about eight feet high. The men were herding half-grown cattle into a long lane, and one cow had its head caught in a chute located at the end of the lane. There was a shirtless young man working with two older men. He was very muscular and tanned, and sweat was glistening on his body as he did something to the cow that caused a great roar. Gus’s stomach sank. Another man gave the animal a shot and cut a plug out of its ear with a knife. The man without the shirt then stuck an instrument to the animal’s flank, causing another great roar, and a puff of smoke billowed upward. The smell further nauseated Gus.

The shirtless fellow saw Gus and yelled, “Are you Gus Squires?”

Gus responded, “Yes, sorry I’m late, but I got lost trying to locate your office.” All the while Gus was trying to get his wits back about himself from what he had just witnessed the man do. It was gruesome and something he never dreamed existed, even in the world of cattle.

The fellow said, “Not a problem. We have one more bull, and we’ll be finished. Come on in and just leave the gate open behind you.”

Gus entered carrying his briefcase. The cattle moved to the opposite side of the pen, and many were shaking their heads at him. He thought of movies depicting a bullfight in Spain and how the animals shook their heads at the matador before they charged. He was uncertain as to what the cattle might do next.

It had been raining, and there was mud everywhere in the cattle pens. Actually each time they finished an animal the concrete floor of the chute was washed off, resulting in a large puddle that was a mixture of mud and manure. It was soupy, like very liquid concrete except of a darker color. Gus walked up to the edge of the muddy area and stopped awaiting someone who might turn out to be Jay Gregson. Besides, he was uneasy standing in a pen filled with cattle bleeding from their ears and between their back legs. Some were becoming even more agitated at him, furiously shaking their heads, others stomping their back feet. All were extremely bloody and painted with some sort of black-looking tar. None appeared happy.

Another bull was placed in the chute, and the young man without a shirt walked up behind the animal now tied securely, and with a very well executed gesture castrated the animal. Another roar developed, and Gus began to get the idea of what was happening. A more pronounced sickness entered his stomach at the spectacle. Then the puff of smoke billowed upward.

Just as Gus was getting over the initial shock of what he had just witnessed, something hit him in the seat of his pants and sent him reeling forward until he lost his balance and fell in the first slew of mud, water, and manure. Getting up quickly, and before he could straighten up, the same thing hit him in the rear end again, except twice as hard as the first time. The lick sent him fast forward, and he went face down sliding toward the chute. Sliding forward in the mud filled his shirt pockets with the filth, even inside his pants on the front side. When he raised himself up, still holding his briefcase, he noticed a plaster-like cast of his face left in the mud until it began to fill with the filthy water. He was positive one of those cows, now insane with fear and pain, was behind him and about to let him have it again. He felt a horn might penetrate his body at any time. He turned and was ready to defend himself with his briefcase, thinking the next lick might lead to his last breath.

Just as Gus begun to get up, Billy the goat made an angry bleating sound. Gus turned to look at him, and Billy shook his head as if he was coming in for more. Gus didn’t know what his next action should be since he was sure the lick he had just received didn’t come from a goat. When he made up his mind to stand, turn, and face the animal with horns, he lost footing and fell flat on his back in the muddy mess. Now he was completely filthy, front and back. Not only was his clothing ruined, he was bogged up from head to heel in the filthy slew he had just stood from.

Jay turned just in time to see Billy hit Gus the second time, and yelled, “Billy, get away, get out of here.” Jay started to Gus’s rescue.

Billy started for Gus again. Jay grabbed his horns, slowing his forward motion, kicked him several times, and he headed back toward the office. “I’m so sorry, mister. I wasn’t watching the goat, and I’m afraid he has really fixed you up. Let me help you up, and we’ll get you cleaned up.”

“I’m here to see Mr. Jay Gregson.”

Jay stuck out his hand and said, “I’m Jay.” With this he was falling out laughing at Gus, and both slipped down again in the muddy mess.

Gus began to realize what he must look and smell like. It was beginning to be funny even for him. The other two men were also doubled over laughing. Gus saw the humor in it all, and it wasn’t so bad anymore.

Both men crawled out of the manure slew to dry ground, and Jay said, “Mr. Squires, come over to the hose, and let’s get you cleaned up a little.” Gus followed him out of the mire and allowed him to rinse off the outer layer. Jay then did the same to himself.
Jay said to one of the other men, “Are the keys in the Jeep?” The answer was, “Yes.”
“Please come with me, and we’ll both clean up a bit. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am that the goat slipped up on you. He was my dad’s, and I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of him because of that. May I call you Gus?”

“Please do,” Gus replied.

The pair of young men took the old military Jeep through the pasture filled with cattle and came to another gate. Jay jumped out and opened the gate. While they were passing through and Jay was closing the gate, Gus saw a perfectly round lake in a depression with a dock and screen house on the end of it. It was a picture one would expect only an artist to paint. It was also one Gus would never forget. The closer they came to it, the clearer the water became. It was as clear as drinking water.

Jay said, “Here is the best hope. We call this place Bath Pond. My folks bathed here when they were married more than sixty-five years ago. They only had an outside pump while they lived in a little house over in that direction. Why don’t you take your shoes and tie off, wade out into the water, clean yourself a bit, and while you’re doing that I’ll get a bar of soap and we’ll both take a bath?”

“That’s the best news I’ve had today,” Gus replied.

When Gus returned to the jeep and began to remove his coat and shirt, Jay already had his jeans and shoes off and was naked. He said to Gus, “Why not undress and take this bar of soap and come into the water?”

Jay was at least one hundred feet out into the water when Gus turned toward the water. Jay dove under water and came up in front of Gus’s face as he got waist deep in the water. Jay was almost born in water of this nature and could swim like a professional.
Gus had never encountered a situation quite like this, and he was not exactly comfortable with it. Thirty minutes ago he was spotlessly clean in tailored clothing, and now his clothes were filthy and he was skinny dipping with a man he’d known less than thirty minutes.

“I don’t believe a Hollywood scriptwriter could have come up with a funnier scenario that what just happened to you, though I know you don’t think it is funny,” Jay said.
“Not at first. I didn’t know what was happening. I thought one of those bleeding cows had attacked me. That was my first encounter with a Billy goat, and not in my wildest imagination would I ever have thought such a thing would happen.”

“It did. I’m sorry, and let’s go from here. I’m Jay Gregson, and I’m happy to meet you, Gus Squires,” said Jay as he held out his hand.

Gus said, “I’m Gus Squires, and I’ve come here to talk business with you, Jay Gregson.”
“Let’s get cleaned up, and we’ll go into the dock house. I think I have some extra jeans out here, and while you are finishing I’ll get the shampoo.”

After both had a bath, Gus shampooed his hair, and they each had on just a pair of clean jeans as they sat down inside the dock house. Both were immediately at ease with the other. It was a personality chemistry easily felt from their beginning moments together.
Gus said, “I notice you’ve lots of scars on your upper body and thighs. Are those from a car wreck?”

“No, I’m afraid the war in Korea is responsible. The war had been over for an extended period, and another soldier and I were subjected to a land mine as we patrolled the perimeter between the north and south. Fortunately, I came through it alive but was hospitalized for a while in Frankfurt.”

“Any ill effects now?” Gus inquired.

“Not many, and thankfully nothing of a debilitating nature. I was an unruly kid, and my parents let me enter the armed services as soon as I was barely old enough. The wound took a good bit of the starch out of me. This was a very good thing, according to my late parents.”

“I’ll bet it did. Before I forget to tell you, this place is absolutely beautiful. I’ve not seen this kind of native beauty since I’ve been in Florida. Have you lived here long?”

“I grew up in the white house by the office, and it is now my home. My dad developed the property.”

“Who is Eastern Produce?” Gus asked.

“My dad sold the place and all the improvements except the headquarters, the house, and a few acres for his personal pleasure.”

“Did your dad cut it out of the wilderness, so to speak?” Gus asked.

“Yes, he did. He was a tough and determined man.”

Jay had retrieved a couple of soft drinks from the refrigerator. The conversation was easy, and both seemed to have an interest in being sociable to the other.

Gus noticed that he and Jay were about the same size, somewhere around six feet two or three, about 190 pounds. They were both about the same age. The largest difference was that Jay was much more muscular than Gus, though he was lean and mean in his own way. Gus was more olive, and Jay was blond with a light complexion.

“You married?” Jay asked.

“Yes, a wife and a son, Sammy, and daughter, Wendy. What about you?”

“Yes, and I have one son whose name is Greg. We named him after my father, and he is the fourth.”

“How old is Greg?” Gus asked.

“He’s ten.”

“That’s Sammy’s age also.”

Jay asked, “Now, what is the subject of our meeting here today?”
Gus began, “Our foundation, Productive Life, is having serious growing pains. Since the outreach of your foundation is somewhat similar to ours, I’m looking for a way that we can be beneficial each to the other.”

“How do you mean?” Jay asked.

“In short, I am a recovering drug addict stumbled upon by Chet MacFarland in New York. He had me rehabilitated about a year prior to his death. Did you know Chet?”

“Only indirectly through others,” Jay replied.

“His wish, prior to his death, was that I find what I wanted to do with my life and begin to pursue it. From what had just happened to me in rehabilitation through Chet, I felt I wanted to do the same for others, except I had severe limitations.”

“What were they?” Jay asked.

“Well, I have a degree that my dad had actually paid for from an Ivy League school, and now I’m thrust into something I know nothing about. Chet sent me to a management consultant in New York and hired me a speaking coach knowing I could never actually counsel addicts and drunks without additional degrees, all of which I have been unwilling to get. All I can do is counsel regarding informational services. I also do stand-up speeches and write articles for papers, magazines, and company newsletters. My problem is I can’t keep parents and those seeking assistance out of my office. They know all I can do is to suggest a facility, and those facilities I can recommend have way too much red tape. I can do the necessary reinforcement after they are out, but no one in our organization can go any further. Those needing it must be treated or rehabilitated first by professionals. We know how to do what we do, but we are not equipped to rehabilitate addicts of any kind.”

“Well, how can we help?” Jay asked.

“You have a convalescent center, a center for brain injuries, a hospice, and a nursing home. The big thing is your foundation is worth between fifteen and twenty times, maybe even more, than what ours is. I need to send those who need rehabilitation services to a place that has qualified technicians and professionals. After rehabilitation I can do most of what’s needed from that point on.”

“How long will that take?” Jay asked.

“For most, it will take the rest of their lives to some degree.”

“In a nutshell, you need facilities and appropriate staff for patients you recommend, is that right?” Jay inquired.

“You’ve gotten right to the core of my needs,” Gus replied.

“How many patients would you feel the need to accommodate?”

“The sky is the limit. There is actually no way any one concern can supply all the need,” Gus said. “My greatest hope is that you can do at least something. I’m not here to recommend how much. You’ll have to judge what you can do, if anything.”

They discussed Gus’s needs for another hour. They also discussed all segments of both foundations’ outreach.

Jay stood and walked out onto the dock away from the screen door. Gus followed and stood between Jay and the side of the dock. Suddenly, Jay said, “Why don’t we take another dip before we go back?” With this, he jammed his hip into Gus’s hip, and Gus went sailing back into Bath Pond with the dry jeans on.

Coming up out of the water, Jay was coming in over Gus. When he came up both were laughing. Jay said, “This water smells fishy for some reason. We need a bath at home.”
Gus piled his muddy clothing in the back of the Jeep, and they took a leisurely drive back to the main house. Gus couldn’t get the beauty of the pasture and the groves out of his mind. Breathtakingly beautiful!

The pair rounded the main house and came to a stop by a path leading through shrubbery. “This is my path to the office when it isn’t raining,” Jay said. “Our bath has an outside entrance. We’ll shower and get you some dry clothing.”

The shower was a double header in a luxurious facility. Both undressed outside, and Jay stuck his head out of the bathroom door and yelled, “Jan, my friend and I need some dry clothing. Would you please get some for us? Anything’s fine.”

With this both walked into the glassed facility. Before the shower was turned on, Jan walked in and saw two men in the shower. “Who is that, Jay?” she asked in a loud voice.
“I’ll introduce you in a moment. Please, just get the clothing,” he replied.

“You have a gorgeous wife,” Gus said. “Just think, before I was acquainted with you thirty minutes we were skinny dip­ping, and now your wife walks into the shower and catches me naked in your shower with you before she knows my name.”

“That’ll keep her on her toes,” Jay said with a laugh.

Shorts, briefs, T-shirts, and flip-flops were in the dressing room adjacent to the bath when they finished showering. Both dressed and walked into the family room where Jan was seated.

Jan turned toward them with a stern look on her face, particularly when she observed a jokester face on Jay. Before she could say anything, Gus said, “Mrs. Gregson, my name is Gus Squires, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am that you weren’t warned of my presence in your bathroom naked. I do apologize.”

Jan laughed and said, “One thing that makes Jay so fascinating is that I can never predict what he will say or do next. If you are not embarrassed about it, I’m not. Forget it.”
“Thank you. I don’t guess I’m embarrassed anymore, but I was a moment ago when you walked into the bathroom. I know you had no idea I was in there. Your husband has been having fun off me all afternoon,” Gus concluded.

“If you were with him, he was having fun at your expense, count on it,” Jan replied.
“Sit down a moment, Gus. Jan, Gus is head of the Produc­tive Life Foundation that assists with information to rehabil­itate drug and alcohol addicts. He came out for a conversation, and Billy bounced him into a mud hole filled with manure in the barn lot and we had to go to Bath Pond for relief. The water there is a bit fishy, and we both needed a bath.”

“Gus, Jay has known he should get rid of the goat and he won’t. The best thing for you to do is just watch for Billy the goat next time you visit. No one else, except Jay, will keep anything that has any mischief or harm about it at all. Better still, watch Jay all the time.”
“Believe me, I’ll watch for the goat from now on, and, on your advice, Jay.”

Jay said, “Come on, Gus. I’ll walk you to your car. It is getting a bit late, and you have a distance to go.”

Outside Gus said, “You have a wonderful wife, Jay. She’s even more beautiful on the inside than out, and that is saying a great deal about her. Not much about her taste in men, but she is a lady and a beautiful one,” Gus said with a chuckle.

“If I ever get you back to the Bath Pond, Gus Squires, I’ll drown you.” With this Jay put his arm around Gus, and they walked toward Gus’s car at the office. Emerging from shrubbery there stood Billy on top of Gus’s car, looking at them. “Get down, Billy,” and with this he jumped to the hood and then onto the ground and ran.

“I’m sorry, Gus. I should have locked Billy in the barn. The fact is he does this to all new cars that come here. Yours looked new to him.”

“It is new! But I really don’t see any damage. If there is a scratch it can be removed when it is polished next. No harm done,” Gus said with a smile.

After Gus was seated in the car, Jay said, “Gus, let me talk to my comptroller and see what we have available. Also, would you just write me a letter outlining what you need, and maybe there is some way we can at least offer minimal assistance?”

“Great meeting you, Jay, and I’ll be happy to outline it in a letter.” With this, Gus turned his car into the driveway and waved at Jay. Jay waved back.

Driving out, Gus was reliving his experiences with Jay Gregson, but even more, Jay’s wife Jan. He had never looked at another woman since Anne came into his life, but Jan was seriously drop-dead beautiful. Nice also went along with her beauty, and it was difficult to keep one’s eyes where they should be. Jay was a nice fellow and overflowing with mischief that was painfully apparent.

Back home, Gus piled his clothing in the washroom of their home and walked into the kitchen dressed in shorts, a T-shirt, and flip-flops. Anne was coming into the room at the same time and couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Gus usually looked as if he’d just stepped out of a men’s store wearing new clothing. Spiffed up!

“I’ve found the most wonderful couple in Jay and Jan Gregson. You are going to like them, Anne,” Gus said.

“Where on earth are your clothes?” Anne asked.

Then Gus proceeded to tell his story of the goat and the mud hole, Bath Pond and the visit with Jan in the shower. Anne thought the entire incident was hilarious.
“I’ll look forward to meeting this pair,” she said.

“The good part, Jay didn’t say no when I told him what I wanted. There is, at least, some possibility that he will help me get some sort of a facility established to help more addicts. He wants a letter of proposal and a follow-up meeting.”

“That’s great,” as Anne left laughing. “You know usually there isn’t a hair out of place on your head. Go to a mirror and look at yourself.” With this she really had a good laugh.