It's every where. Furniture is covered. Cars, trees, plants and houses are coated in it. Children look eternally tanned form a dust covering. Sweat and dust combine to make their faces look like a map of a river delta with its tributaries converging and then dripping off their chins like small waterfalls.
Such is life when you live on a dirt road.
A constant battle is fought to keep the dust at bay. A losing battle but one that is fought with every resource a family can bring to bare. And yes; this is a families fight. No one fights it alone. House after house, along Ferry Road , are inhabited by families that have lived off the land for generations. All fighting the dust together.
The armies that fight The Battle of Ferry Road have no volunteers, no draftees. They are born into this battle. They arrive into this world choking on an onslaught from their eternal enemy. A battle that starts from their very first breath.
Every morning children head out to school in clothes that are washed almost daily because they do not have full closets. Men head out to the fields to work the crops that keep a family alive. Barely alive.
The wives find jobs that will get them home before their children return. Small, unskilled and low paying jobs needed to keep the family fed.
An existence no one wants. No one signed up to join. But there it is laid out before them like a banquet of despair.
Dust! Dust! Along Ferry Road dust is a badge of honor, of courage to the spirit of a people that time has forgotten.
It would take a Mojave Desert's worth of dust to cover the poverty along Ferry Road. But no amount of dust can cover the spirit of the people who live along that road.
Everyday the children go to school, the men head out to the fields and the women to their jobs. Everyday the dust awaits their arrival home and the battle starts over again.
The Duffy family came form a long line of Ferry Road residents, They could trace their lineage here back eight generations. John Duffy and Margret Hall met for the first time when they were just a few days old. Being born into Ferry Road families a day apart. People say that except for John's two years in the army they have never been apart. Married at twenty and raising a family together by twenty one; their lives have been one for nearly twenty two years.
Their three girls were as different as any sisters could be. Carol a serious student with her eyes firmly set on college and escaping Ferry Road. Anne an athlete who was like her mother in every way. Finally Cheyenne; a wild girl, a mother at 15 and swearing that she will never leave Ferry Road.
They are poor, close knit and one of the happiest families I ever met. I met John at the Willow House; a small bar just off Ferry Road and frequented by farmers after a long days work. We hit it off immediately. I can't tell you why. We had nothing in common except our military service but that was enough to start a conversation and hold us as friends for many years.
Many a night I sat at the Duffy's dinner table swapping army stories with John Duffy while the Duffy woman stayed glued to our conversation. Carol had endless questions about college and was vividly jealous of her sister Anne, who was in line for a basketball scholarship, while Carol struggled to find a way to attend college.
Only Cheyenne seemed disinterested in the conversations. She had her path set two years earlier after having the baby. Now she waited for Alex Cummings, the babies father, to return from his military service so they could marry.
The girls were lucky in that they were not needed to work the fields and they could dream of college. The boys living along Ferry road knew from an early age that they would serve there country and then return to work the farms. They had no other choice and they accepted their fate.
PS...A new chapter from this story will appear every Saturday starting September 28th. The people in this story, while I have changed their names and location, are real and have been acquaintances for a number of years. Remember it is still in its rough form and has not seen the eyes of an editor.
PSS...Today's blog is my 500th. not bad for a project that started out reporting on the content of Second Life profiles. I am extremely grateful to the nearly 21,000 people that have honored me by reading my rants and writings.