I took Boo to her basketball practice last night after a long day and a few familiar faces said “was that your building being towed through town this afternoon?”
It was. I had a building moved 50 miles. A crazy hair brained idea…but one that I was dead set on. I wanted to save an old building and recycle it into something new.
When I pulled up to the building yesterday the mover that I’d found was already hard at work. The depot was jacked up and they had used hydraulics to pivot it 45 degrees toward the road. Their trucks and trailer made it so I had to stop right in the middle of the road and park. I could see the looks in their eyes as I parked: great, we have to move all these trucks so that vehicle can drive through. I waved to them signaling I was fine and got out of the truck. They had stopped working for a second, while looking at me. A man walked up and said: I sure hope you are Ashley. And I said: You must be Mickey. As soon as we shook hands the hydraulics started up again.
Mickey Simmons is a salt of the earth kind of guy. You can tell he’s a hard worker, no b.s., and takes care of his workers. They work like a well-oiled machine with their signals, movements, etc. I didn’t do a lot of research right at first to find a mover, I had a few referrals from locals and I called them all but got mostly answering machines. The few that answered the phone or actually returned my call said it was too big of a job and they couldn’t do it with the equipment they had. So I searched on the Internet and found a few house moving companies. Brett asked how I picked Simmons House Moving and my answer was: well, he sounded just like my dad. It was more than that though…I have a really good sense of people. I liked Mickey right off. I knew I could trust him.
And yesterday, as we finally got to meet after days of talking on the phone about the job, I told him I was glad the day was finally here because I’d had anxiety about it, not about transport necessarily, but the owners of the property on the other side were worried about having trucks in the horse pasture and making it muddy, how fast we were going to get it moved, how we were going to get it moved, about heavy equipment tearing up the asphalt, and truck oil on the driveway etc. etc. etc.
Mickey: Anxiety? You didn’t need to worry about any of this.
Me: I know, but there were so many logistics and I was worried about putting these people out while we moved it.
And then he looked at me all serious and said:
Listen here, the sun is going to rise tomorrow. And then it’s going to set. And then the sun is going to rise again. Don’t worry about all that other stuff.
I nodded. He was right.
And then as it started pouring rain in the freezing cold I stood there watching them work. I wasn’t cold because I was mesmerized with the process….and the scenery:
I noticed that they were spending a lot of time underneath the structure attaching metal straps everywhere. Me: Is that going to keep it all together? Mickey: Yep, this is what is known as a balloon construction. The building is just resting on the floor. We have to secure the top and bottom together to keep it from falling apart. (I love knowing just a little bit about just about everything.)
I think it probably took longer than they expected because of the condition of the building. And with the rain everything was getting slick. And then just like that, the sun came out, and they were ready to transport: We’ll just follow you.
Me: Uh oh, I have to pick up my daughter from school. I’ll run go do that and then meet you back at the highway exit.
Nothing like packing in a full day right? I ran to get Boo from school thinking I’d have enough time but they arrived faster than I thought they would. When they called to say they were on the exit I had to answer: Um, I’m stuck in a carpool line. I can’t go forward or reverse. I bet that’s never happened before.
So I called Brett who was working on a roof right at the corner of Main Street: Hey, they are headed your way, I’m going to tell them to look out for you and can you get in front of them and direct them up to our property and where to put the building?
Brett: I see them. They are at the stoplight.
Talk about good timing. I had switched trucks with Brett in the morning, because Ruby was leaking transmission fluid, so I told Mickey to look for the “1982 red Chevy pickup” and to follow it. But then talk about bad timing: at the same exact moment I said that ANOTHER red chevy pickup pulled in front of the convoy… and they followed the wrong pickup! It took them up to the hospital. What are the odds…. Brett eventually caught up to them and they were able to get back on track to drive around the hospital to our place.
But then there was the mud. It had been hailing in Bryson City earlier in the day and the ground had thawed from being frozen. Also, the gas company had dug a trench up the yard earlier in the morning….a perfect storm of mushy red clay. As soon as they got the trailer down to the edge of the yard, the truck began slipping. Another truck was brought around to pull it through the mud:
If they were nervous they didn’t show it. I wasn’t nervous either…the sun is going to rise tomorrow right?
So then, they methodically inched the depot into place and began to lower it, positioning blocks and leveling it as they went. I could hear them talking: we need to dig this out or it will settle eventually. I thought for sure the building would just be dropped, but they made sure it had blocks to sit on for as long as I needed them. It will probably never move from that spot as long as we live here:
And then as fast as they came, they were gone, onto the next city for the next move. Boo checking out the new addition to our property:
There are some people that walk this earth that you are just glad you got a chance to meet, to cross paths with if even for a few moments. I got to spend a day with Mickey, his son and their team and watch them work. It was awesome. I could just follow them around all the time and watch them move really big things.
But the best part is that I’ll always remember Mickey’s words, in the same southern accent my father would have had: the sun is going to rise again tomorrow.
That reminds me of something Kid President said recently:
If you ever need a house, or anything huge, awkward and heavy moved, I’ve got your contact: Simmons House Moving I even love the story of how they got started:
“Every family has a dream to own their own home and in 1981 that dream became a reality for me and my family when someone offered to give me a home to be moved. Not only do I still live in this home today but also our business was born out of that move. “
Check out the structures they’ve moved on their Facebook page here. Impressive.
I wish I could post a picture here. We moved our farm house 14 miles. It was in about the same shape as your building but much bigger. And heavy. The floor and ceiling joists were aged oak (the house was over 100 years old), and the walls were all wood, not studs. The roof peak was 27″ up. And 2 of those miles were on a dirt road, with hills. A couple of times, the truck did a wheelie, so another truck had to hook on to it to hold it down to get up the hill. As we led them through town, people lined the streets. It was like leading a parade. I wished I had thought to bring candy and beads to throw 😉 We had some wonderful times in that house.
Dara Lynn says
Enjoying reading about the journey…..makes my heart feel good Ash! There still are good people out there!
Love this. Love Mickey too.
Congratulations to the addition to the family!!! Cannot wait to see what this little abode turns into!!! Bryson City should be soooooo proud of such a creative new citizen!!!!
Sarah Albertson says
That is so amazing! I can’t wait to see how you fix it up, it’s such a charming little addition. And isn’t it neat all the characters you meet throughout your life? And the interesting circumstances that bring you together,
love that Mickey sounded like your dad – I take that as a God Wink that the message was from your dad to “do it”. I sometimes get them from my late husband and my dad. Can’t wait to see how your little cabin turns out
I’m so happy you saved this building! And that it didn’t need to be taken apart – the thought reminded me of John Brown’s fort, which was reconstructed backwards because they worked off a glass negative.
I’m thinking an Art Studio in the making. I can almost smell the air & the earth in your story telling.