Nearly a hundred years ago, when this house was built, the road ran along north of the property. The street or driveway to the highway lay to the east of the house. A concrete sidewalk leads away from the front porch, down six steps to the middle level of the yard, across that and then down another half-dozen steps to what was then the level of the street. At some point, maybe sixty years ago, engineers re-routed US 36 to the south side of the property.
Eventually, the owners built a new driveway to the new highway and the old ways became less used. Over the decades, occasional use was not enough to keep grass from taking over the old drive. With traffic and parking both now at the upper end of the yard, the sidewalk and steps serve little function. So, we decided to have them removed.
I contemplated trying to use my little Kubota tractor but an early experiment with tearing out the short narrow sidewalk that led to the old garden shed nixed that idea. There was no way it would handle over a hundred feet of the wider, thicker slab. So I called Mike Davis.
Mike is our local earth-moving, gravel-hauling, excavating guru. He is such a perfectionist at his work that he can’t find anyone who measures up to his standards. Which makes him hard to work for and great to hire. He did our driveway three years ago and did a great job with it. In spite of persistent eye problems following a work accident and a series of surgeries that only partially corrected the issues, he continues doing his work. Yesterday, while we were working at the college, he took out our concrete.
I expected to see tracks and skid tears all along both sides of the removal site when we got home. Instead, he started at the bottom and worked his way up, keeping most of the skid loader tracks in the old sidewalk bed. He also smoothed out the edges. He even loaded up the mess left from the burn pile and leveled out an extra fifty feet at the lower level of the yard. I was amazed and shouldn’t have been even slightly surprised.
That’s what Mike does: better work than you’d expect. And that deserves both respect and emulation. When a man with one eye can leave things better than he found them, what excuse do I have for doing anything less?