This is a beginning story about an old timer who has since passed away but his legacy will remain, and with some stories that I will be telling you about him, you will get to know him too.

All this really started with the blog here called The Gold Bug- Gold Fever. You need to read it first.

Now on to our story.

In 1975 my wife Annie and I had decided to leave the hectic world of the Bay area and find us some very remote property in the mountains above the old mining town of Foresthill California. At the ages of 37 we were going to change life styles completely. I was leaving the computer world and Annie the insurance industry. We were in for a life time of stories and adventures.

We found us a realtor in the town of Foresthill and we looked at numerous properties without finding what we wanted, until we got a call to come back and look at a 35-acre piece of property that was well off the grid. So off to Foresthill we went. I better introduce Woody right now.  At this point of the property search we did not know of him at all but later learned a lot and to set this story straight I will tell you a bit about him now. At the time he was about 50 years old, and a recluse and hermit of sorts, a man whom others were a bit afraid of. He had been aced out of the nearest bar that was two miles away, mostly because he had informed everyone around there that his cabin was wired with explosives and no one had better even get close. He made a few other comments about explosives too, and the word was he was talking about the bar. Was he serious? Likely not. However, a year after he passed away, I found an old case of dynamite in the truck of one of his old, retired cars he kept.

His reputation had spread a bit too because next to his 5-acre property was a lot of land for sale and some character, who was surveying some of the pieces for sale, got too close to Woody’s cabin. The story is that Woody informed him to keep the hell away from his property, or face the consequences. Well, this person ignored him until the whine of a bullet sailed over his head and the shouts he heard from Woody would have made a sailor blush.

I know for a fact this person who staked the properties moved his stakes 30 yards away from where they should have been. People thought that Woody was just scaring him away. Later Annie and I found out Woody had serious vision problems. Hmmm…who knows where that shot was intended to go.

With that background for you, let me proceed with our property search, not ever knowing a man called Woody.

Our realtor took Annie and I to this property, where we parked up on a dirt road, and walked us down into the property. I remember asking him where the rest of the road went and he just said down the way some, but this was the way into the property. We looked it over good, hiked around the 35 acres some with the realtor, and it was what we wanted. We asked him about neighbors and he said the nearest one was a long way off. However, as we were leaving, I heard some big dogs barking, and they seemed darn close to me. The realtor said the dogs likely belonged to a hunter.

Well, Annie and I wanted this property but those dogs barking and that road going down, which was sort of pushed aside by the realtor, raised our eyebrows. Not long after, we told the realtor we were going to make an offer, after we went on down that dirt road and looked at things. The realtor started looking awfully nervous and finally told us “Well, down that road a way is a cabin and some old fellow lives there, but no one really knows him and that it should not be a problem at all. We asked who he was and the realtor said his name had sounded like Woody but he wasn’t sure.

Annie and I drove down that dirt road again in our VW camper and the more we went down that road the more we heard dogs barking, and they were not poodles. The old cabin came into view and so did the dogs. There were four of them, all over 90 pounds, and they were bordering on vicious. Two of them were jumping against the van as we stopped in front of his cabin. This was looking like some real problems.

We sat there, looking at his cabin, seeing no one, but dogs going nuts. The cabin door finally creaked open and out stepped a man, maybe 5 foot, 7 inches tall, roughly bearded, his clothes looked country rough, and he had on an old black western hat, pulled down where you couldn’t see his eyes.

He stood there for a minute, then yelled out at us “what do you want around here in that city rig?”  That is all he said. There was only one thing to do. So, I yelled back we’re looking to buy the property next to you and wanted to talk with you.  He raised his head up some where I could see cold gray eyes. They did not look inviting. His voice rumbled to us like thunder “Well, you can’t talk with me in that thing” meaning our van. He turned around, opened the cabin door, walked inside, and closed the door.

His big dogs continued to bark, one still jumping up on my door. Annie and I looked at each other, wondering what we were going to do. Maybe just turn our rig around and get the heck out of there while we could…. but we wanted that property.

We needed to get out and talk with him. That is all there was to it. The question was which one of his was going to go out the door first? Well, after all, the dog was jumping on my driver’s side, not the side of Annies. Wasn’t it logical that it would be safer for Annie to get out first because the dog was on my side?

Later, Annie laughingly, tells the story I pushed her out right then…. Which is not true of course. I just figured this fellow was testing us, maybe. I opened the van door and started to step out, and the dog that was jumping on the door backed up some, and, along with him, the three others continued growling, showing some raised fur and nasty looking fangs. The moment my van door opened and I went to step out, his cabin door flung open, and his thundering voice said just one word…. DOWN…Each of those dogs went down on their bellies like they were whacked in the head, and not a sound came from them. His cold gray eyes looked right at me and said “Well, are you coming in?” He then went back into the cabin and closed the door.

Annie and I stepped out of the van, walked around the dogs, and went to his cabin door. Of course, being a real gentleman, I opened the cabin door for her so she could step in first!

Now, before you get critical of that, think about the choices. If you were he, would you rather see a beautiful, blond, southern bell from Alabama come in first, or a Tennessee mountain hillbilly, who has walked on mountain hillsides so much, that one leg seemed longer than the other?

This began the story of Woody, who became our neighbor, and one of our best friends until he passed away, many years later. Yes, he was a lion on the outside and it was a while before we found out he was a lamb on the inside, IF he liked you that is, and there were most he did not like. If not, beware for danger was truly there.

More about Woody soon.