The Incredible Story of Shady Lane
Written by Dave Gannaway
One person who made a big impression on me was a colorful character who’s name was Bob Lane. No one ever used his given name, he was always known all as ‘Shady’ (shady lane!) To me he was fascinatingly inarticulate. I recall listening to him telling his friend about me, “He’s an ‘alter’!” he told his friend. “I thought an ‘alter’ was somthin’ in a church!” his friend replied. “Naa, ‘ee writes books . . .” said Shady. “That’s an author,” his friend corrected. “Yea, that’s what I said . . . an ‘alter’!”
Shady had never been to school so reading and writing were unknown to him. But count money he truly could! Despite Shady’s lack of education, he was sharp. He was innovated and often saw opportunities that others missed. His normal type of work was demolition, truck and car breaking and anything that required the strength of an ox and endurance of a camel!
To upgrade an old, inadequate access road to a new school the County had bought all the houses along one side of the existing road with a view to expand it. Twelve houses required demolishing and the sites cleared. Everyone thought that Shady had taken leave of his senses when he offered to clear the twelve houses free of charge, leave the site clear and ready for the construction of the new road, if they would sell him the titles of the houses.
The County agreed to Shady’s offer and sold him the twelve houses with titles for one dollar each with the condition that the site was left clean and clear ready for the road constructors. Shady was delighted and rubbed his hands together with the prospect of earning a buck with what he had in mind.
Because the land is predominantly sand in this part of Florida, all homes are built on a reinforced concrete slab. Shady knew exactly what he was doing. He also had access to the equipment he would need to dig beneath the concrete foundation slabs of the houses. As he did, the houses were supported with girders until a heavy low-loader vehicle could be placed beneath to take the weight. This done, he could drive away with the house intact and in one piece!
One by one Shady found single plots of land which he bought at the right price against the promise to create low cost homes for first-time buyers and single parent families. With the permissions and permits required, Shady relocated the ready made-houses. He hooked them up, fixed them up the inside and out, and placed them on the market at prices first-time buyers scrambled to get.
The building cost of a new, similar sized house then was around One hundred thousand dollars, not including the land. Shady’s ability to innovate and think outside of the box plus having the daring to try it, proved the making of him and a whole chunk of money. Thereafter he was held in high esteem by those who watched as he played-out his outrageous, yet successful scheme.
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