Mike is two years old. It's late spring of 2014. It's amazing to me to realize I track time by my son's age. Shirley and I are talking about trying for another. Janice and Bennie married six months ago and they had a church wedding after making their public announcement. I gave away the bride and Shirley, holding Mike, acted as mother of the bride and served as Matron of Honor. Jean, Melody, and Cindy were bridesmaids. Ben was best man with Michael, John, and Ted as groomsmen. It was a happy wedding and the new couple moved into a house they had reworked over the summer across from ours.
Michael, Ben, and Jimmy had set up their engineering shop together. Among them, there wasn't much they couldn't build. All the food from the stores was gone. The five corner house women had moved on. Lucy had met and married one of the newcomers. The other four had left for Texas when the free food ran out and they realized that they would have to work to eat. Lucy had been helping Shirley and I on the computers. We still had internet though some sites were no longer available. We had mined it well though and had a lot of information stored locally. Lucy and Shirley were just looking for odds and ends to complete what we hoped to do.
Our net met nightly and many people who had never been hams were actively on the air. It was the primary method of getting news out.
The Amazons moved back to Preservation last fall. There were children coming along to be taught and Atlanta was not fairing well. We had had no response in the last six months to our CNN ads for people. The Amazons hadn't found any new people in almost that length of time. I was still surprised, when I thought about it, that so few people survived. I am not sure it was even three tenths of one percent much less three percent.
We are going to have an organized deer hunt this year. The deer population has been growing and needed thinning. Wild animals generally are more prevalent though we haven't seen Robert's rhino again. My guess is that those animals had moved south because winters can be cold though not too terrible.
We did have one ice storm last winter which finished off power in our area for those few who still had it. The Amazons had suffered from the cold and loss of power. They found one area of Atlanta that still had power but gave up based upon lack of return for their efforts.
I came in from working outside. We didn't have a big farm but it did have a large vegetable or "truck" garden that fed us and others. It was about played out for the year and I was probably harvesting the last crop for this year. Shirley was calling to me as I came in.
"Jack, listen to this!"
From the speaker, I heard, "CQ, CQ, CQ, this is KG4AZQ, calling CQ. Over." Shirley said, "I think it's a recording. I responded and it continues to make the same call regardless. Listen." We listened to the same transmission even to inflection. Shirley keyed the mike, "KG4AZQ, this is K4SAA returning. Please respond. Over." A few moments later, the same call was repeated without change.
I said, "It's a recording. Hopefully, it's recording you. What frequency are you using. Oh. Why don't you respond again and tell him to respond to you on thirty-nine seventy or seventy-one eighty-five?"
"Okay, That will work. It sure sounded like a recording to me, too." She waited for the call again and did just that. She said, "Are you about ready for supper?"
"Yes, just give me a minute to clean off."
We started supper. There was still some gasoline to be had but we tried to use high mileage vehicles when possible. I had snagged a motorcycle which constituted most of my traveling now. We also had a Hybrid car which we used most of the time rather than my truck. We tried to be careful as did the rest of Preservation.
I was actively looking for some horses to ride or pull a wagon or both. Horses had not survived well in this area for some reason. Cattle, on the other hand, had done quite well as had pigs. Chickens had had their problems. Too many predators and not enough care had left few. Eggs were now rare.
I was told and believed myself that my property would handle horses well. The Davidson's had had horses when they were younger according to Dad and Ted. The land had not been farmed in many years though it had good pasturage. We had cattle now, about twenty head. Our biggest problem was deer and rabbits invading our garden.
I had cleaned up and went to help Shirley with supper and Mike. She had me feed him while we talked and she cooked. It was very domestic and we loved it. Some people might say it was a dull life. It did not have a lot of excitement or adventure, but it was immensely satisfying.
Mike finished his dinner about the time ours was ready. I helped Shirley serve and we talked to each other and to Mike. He was now attending the Amazon School. Our three ladies who had stayed in Atlanta had begun a school. They called it the Amazon School in memory of their old name for themselves and their adventures in Atlanta. The school was very popular.
We had started speaking to Mike as if he understood everything as an adult. It meant we had to answer some intriguing questions at times. It also meant our son understood more quickly than most children. Mike was the oldest of the new generation of children but not by much. Janice was pregnant and she and Bennie were looking forward to parenthood.
It was still true that, if you were male and wanted to be married, you would have ample opportunity. Women were in the majority still. The new generation was more evenly balanced. We had had only one divorce when a husband had been overly tempted by another woman They wanted to form a triple with the first wife but she wasn't willing. They divorced. She had not been pregnant nor had any children so they split the property. They gave her the house and the new couple took over another that was serving the two of them quite well. She, the new wife, was pregnant and Shirley has wondered out loud to me if the other woman's inability to become pregnant had been the real cause of affair and the resulting divorce. Children are important.
After dinner and cleaning up, we went into the radio room with Mike for our nets. We had the survivors' net on thirty-nine seventy. After that we had a call net on seventy-one eighty-five and, finally, a two meter net using our repeater. Janice was always available to handle either or both of the first two. Ted was my back-up for the two meter net. It was primarily a news net for local people who didn't listen much on HF. We didn't take check-ins but just broadcast current events for any people who were listening. Comments after that part could go on a while.
I had decided to listen for a while but not comment. As time had passed, people became more comfortable with my leadership. I remained a low key leader and contributing to the comment period would not help maintain that approach. On the other hand, I did want to take the pulse of our community and listening helped me know where people's heads were.
The next day after breakfast and taking Mike to school, we returned to the house. I was getting ready to head out and get something accomplished when Shirley called me. I came into the radio room to hear, "K4SAA, K4SAA, please come in. This is KG4AZQ calling on seventy-one eighty-five. This is Jim calling. Over." This was coming over the speaker.
Shirley keyed the mike and said, "Jim, this is Shirley, K4SAA returning. My husband, Jack, is also listening. Over."
"Shirley, Jack, thank you for answering my call. That recording has been running off and on for over a year. Over."
"Tell us about yourself, Jim. We are located in west Georgia in a community that we have named, 'Preservation.' Over."
"It all started on the Day almost three years ago. I was in California on business not due to return to home until the weekend."
I butted in. "Jim, hang on a second. I want to record this. We have all the time it takes to tell your story. We are very interested listeners and will want to share it with others in our community. Two quick questions, 'Are you alone?' and 'Would you be interested in coming here?'"
"Jack, the answers are yes and yes. It gets a little crazy here with no one around."
"Okay, Jim, we are ready to record. Tell your story and we will talk about getting you down here."
"Okay, Jack, here it goes."
What follows is a transcript of Jim's story as he told it that morning.