LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The point being that very early one fine, sunny, spring morning youngest daughter, Jennifer, came tearing into my study to announce, “Dad, there’s a man out there tearing up your field wearing a jungle hat and driving a big tractor.”
I followed her to the living room window and, sure enough, a fellow dressed in khaki and wearing what turned out to be a genuine British adventurer pith helmet was plowing up the spot I intended to garden. I had previously spread word to everybody we’d met in the neighborhood that I wanted to raise a garden and somehow Dan had gotten hold of that information. Turned out the helmet was a very efficient sun shade, and a way of reminiscing his tour of Army Air Corps duty in New Guinea during World War II.
Although he only lived about a quarter mile and two houses out the road, we’d never met. He had driven by our house, taken a look at the place and decided the only logical place to plant was where he was plowing. He proceeded to turn enough ground to make a dozen vegetable gardens, telling me later that I could use whatever I wanted but the whole field needed plowing anyway so he just went ahead and did it while he was there.
When I pulled out my wallet to pay him, he waved me off.
“Just being neighborly,” he said. “You’d do the same thing me,” he said, and winked.
Ask Loretta or any other woman in Paint Lick, what they best remember about Dan Ledford and they’ll tell you about his wink. Actually that’s what I best remember too, because he’d frequently grab my wife into a hug and wink at me while he teased her about running off with him.