Hinkey grew up knowing he didn't want to farm so when he graduated high school he went into the Army. It was after his tour of duty that he met Ollie which was only after he told the sailor sitting next to her, I'll give you five dollars to let me have that seat or I'll kick your ass.
The sailor laughed and allowed Hinkey the bus seat. That day between Atlanta and Birmingham Hinkey told Ollie he would make her his wife. Nine months later he had saved up enough money to return to Birmingham and ask her to marry him. It was their first date.
That was at least fifty years ago. Now the couple is retired and I am sitting at a table listening to their story while attempting to take in what it is they have created.
When I say Hinkey is eclectic Ollie laughs.
When I say he has an enormous amount of energy she nods.
Yesterday I said I was grateful for a challenge. I didn't even know what that was until I took my camera to the McNeil place.
What I can tell you is that Ollie designed a house and Hinkey built it for her. Then he went to work on a place he never wanted to farm. Three ponds, a half mile hiking trail and catfish that churn water. All of it open to the public. All you have to do is call him or Ollie. They'll ride you around and let you take a walk.
Hinkey says people tell him he's been blessed.
He wonders if that means he worked hard and saved his money. After forty years with the railroad he retired and came home to create what is by anyone's definition a wonder.
You could wonder why an old sewing machine would be sitting out in the woods,
why old golf clubs would be hanging from a string or plastic easter eggs placed on a tree.
What I can tell you is that I walked that trail, sat and talked with Hinkey and Ollie. In the end all I could do was smile. Maybe that's it. Maybe in his retirement Hinkey found a way to spread a smile.
Either that or he has taken the concept of recycling to a whole new level.
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to see the wonder that is Hinkey. And Ollie, of course. There are definitely worse ways to spend a beautiful Spring afternoon.