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I didn't know one bolt from another, but I've learned.

February 23, 1988|PERRY C. RIDDLE

A weekend in the mountains nearly 20 years ago made a profound change in the lives of Jean and A. C. Gordon. They are now making another change, but they'll keep the home they found in Green Valley.

For 15 yearsC. raced in the jalopy races and we went to super-modifieds. He was a car owner; we had a driver. As soon as we'd get home from work on Friday, he'd have his car all loaded up, and we'd go to the races. We thought we'd never do nothing but race.

We had friends that bought a cabin up here in Green Valley. We came up one weekend to visit them. We liked it so well that our whole life changed. We met a real estate man, and he showed us a one-room cabin on two lots for $4,200, so we decided we'd buy it. That was 1969. A. C. sold his car, and he hasn't been to a race since. Everything changed. It was for the better. We just like this place. You don't have all the humdrum of the noise and traffic that you have down below.

We had the little cabin, and we met so many nice people we just couldn't wait to get up here on weekends. You always had something to do. People were visiting you, or you'd go visit other people. Then your weekend was gone, and you'd head for home. Then we decided to buy our house that we are living in now. We were still coming up on weekends and saving it for our retirement.

In 1970, we decided to build this store. I don't know how come a hardware store came to my mind, but I just figured they needed one. We had the building built, then we finished it on the weekends. We did the insulation and the wallboard. We spent almost a year. People would come in and help us. They'd work a little while and leave, then somebody else would come in and grab a hammer and help.

We always got up about 4 o'clock Monday morning and drove back home to Lakewood. A. C. would go his way to work, and I would go mine. On the way home one morning, we decided that Hillside Hardware would be a good name for it because we're sitting on the side of a hill.

We opened in '72. I quit my job in Maywood on a Thursday, and we moved on the weekend. That's when A. C. started driving the 150-mile round trip to his job in the City of Industry. He did that for eight years and nine months until he retired.

A hardware guy came out and set us up, but then, after that, we didn't buy enough for him to come back. They want $1,000 or $2,000 a month or they won't mess with you. So I do all the ordering on a little fiche machine. People would come in and ask for things, and I would write it down. If I got three calls for a thing, then I would try to get it. A lot of things moved and a lot of things didn't move.

We have a lot of people that just come up to the store to visit. They're out for a walk, and they just stop by to see what we're doing. Some of them come and check out prices and then go to town. If they find them cheaper here, they'll come back and buy it here. I don't believe in tackin' prices on top of prices.

Me, personally, I enjoy it. I like to wait on people and to talk to them. But A. C.'s got one thing on his mind and that's fishing. He can't hardly set here, you know. I've run it by myself. I didn't know one bolt from another, but I've learned. It's up to me, what we order and everything. It's not his store, it's mine.

Now we want to travel, and we're tied down. We never thought that, when we built the store. We thought we needed something to retire on, but we really don't need it. Last year, we put the store up with a real estate person. This year, we decided that we had so many friends selling real estate that we didn't want to make any of them mad, so we just stuck a For Sale sign out there on the door.

Another five years from now, this property will be worth some money. But we don't want to wait five more years because A. C.'ll be in his 70s then, and I'll be going behind him. He's 68 now, and I'm 62. Now, while we've still got a kick left in us, we want to get out and go.

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