|Engineer Longs for More of the Simple Life on His Marion Co. Family Homestead|
For now the focus is on his horse, wagon and a few chickens
During the day, Jerome Dodd works as a mechanical engineer for NTN-Bower in Hamilton. He helps make roller bearings for heavy equipment companies.
When he gets home, his favorite thing to do is hitch up his horse to his recently refurbished wagon and ride until dark.
Dodd has been at NTN-Bower for 38 years come this August. He started out working on the machines, but after taking math and business classes at night, he now works as a mechanical engineer.
Dodd likes his job, which has taken him to Europe three times. But given his druthers, he would prefer to be in a wagon with his horse, Bama, pulling him all over the countryside.
When he retires, he plans on driving his horse and wagon around. That and turkey hunting in the spring.
Dodd also plans on getting back into the cattle business when he retires. He’s had cattle in the past and plans to again, when he has more time.
"When I finish making roller bearings for John Deere, Caterpillar and the like, this is what I’ll do," said Dodd as we rode around the field near his home.
Dodd is still trying to break his paint horse, Bama, to pull his iron-rimmed wagon. While five-year-old Bama is used to pulling a wagon, the iron rims on the wheels of Dodd’s wagon have proven to be a challenge for the horse.
"I think the sound of the iron rims frightens him," said Dodd. "He’s used to rubber wheels."
Talk about getting your cart before the horse—Dodd got his wagon last September, but didn’t buy the horse until October.
Dodd’s first cousin Earnest, found the metal trim of the wagon in a barn. The wagon itself was rotten and falling apart. He rebuilt the wagon out of cedar. The wheels were taken to Mennonite country in Tennessee to be rebuilt.
Besides the one horse, he has five roosters and a couple dozen hens, from which he gets about 18 eggs a day. Since he and his wife, Judy, can’t possibly eat that many eggs, Dodd gives most of them away.
"I keep the chickens around because I like them," Dodd said. "I like to hear the roosters crow."
Dodd lives on the place where he was born. He had 10 brothers. His lone sister lived only two days.
His father built highways and the family moved some to be near his work. They ended up back where they started and Dodd wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dodd raised his children on his home place and enjoys having his two young grandsons visit. Braxton and Tyson love their Papaw Chick Chick, as they call him.
He admited the grandsons were on his mind when he decided to buy the horse. Nothing would suit him more than to ride the boys around in the wagon for hours.
As of right now, though, they haven’t been allowed to ride because Bama is still a little skittish of the wagon. Dodd hopes, with a little more practice time, Bama will be calm enough for the boys to ride with him.
Dodd would like to teach his grandsons how to enjoy the simpler things in life, like riding in a wagon, raising chickens or growing a garden.
Dodd is quite interested in historical facts, mostly concerning his family. He has found out his great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Jesse Dodd, fought in the Revolutionary War and is buried at nearby Lynn. He died in 1837.
Dodd has learned Jesse enlisted in the war while living in New Jersey. From there he moved to North Carolina and then to Georgia. Jesse made his way to Alabama and lived in Baldwin County before moving to nearby Walker County, which then included parts of today’s Winston County.
The locale where Dodd lives in eastern Marion County was once home to a large coal mining operation.
Even though the mines are long gone, coal is still found in the vicinity. The field where he likes to drive his wagon was strip-mined several years ago. Much of the area is covered in pine trees now, but Dodd can still point out many of the long-gone features.
Dodd is a huge Alabama fan and loves to go to Alabama football games.
Dodd and Judy have been married for 35 years. They have two grown children, Jake Dodd and Jessica Lee, and two grandsons, Braxton and Tyson Lee.
The Dodds are members of the Oak Grove Church of Christ.
Dodd depends on the Marion County Co-op in Hamilton for horse and chicken feed, and for hay. He also purchases his garden supplies there.
Susie Sims is a freelance writer from Haleyville.