Jimmie Phelps is doing his part to keep the city clean. Using an edger, he cut out all of the weeds in front of the sidewalk by his house yesterday.
That's no small task for the 70-year-old. Besides chronic asthma, he's had heart valve replacement surgery, a stroke, and extensive colon surgery.
When asked if his colon surgery restricted his diet, Jimmie laughed and gave a big toothless grin.
"No, I can eat anything I can chew without teeth," he said. "Oh, I have teeth but they're in a jar somewhere."
His wife, Edna Mae, is in HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Terre Haute. She had one leg amputated above the knee due to complications from diabetes.
Jimmie always tries to keep his place up. But in addition to the lawn work outside, he's making special improvements on the inside, too, for his wife's return home. Besides new carpeting in the living room and kitchen, there's a brand new gas range.
"She's an excellent cook," Jimmie said. "And she don't have to use a recipe. We're not going to use it until she gets home. She'll be the first to turn it on."
Edna worked for the Clay Community School Corp. until her retirement about three years ago due to health problems.
Jimmie worked for 25 years at Hardman's Body Shop on Meridian Street. After it closed he worked nearly 10 more years at the Chevrolet garage at the corner of U.S. 40 and S.R. 59 where the CVS Pharmacy is now.
He had to retire after his heart surgery in 1987. But he still takes pride in his home.
"My dad bought the place back in 1945," Jimmie said proudly. "This is the home place. I've lived here ever since I was seven years old."
The father of four took a break from his yard work and rested in a lawn chair in the shade of a hugh maple tree in his back yard. His breathing was labored and he was perspiring even with the cool afternoon breeze.
"I cut my grass every week," he said. "But it's been raining so much. That and visiting my wife, it's thrown me a little behind this week."
Jimmie was asked why he worked so hard on the weeds in the road with the weather so hot and having such difficulty breathing.
"I clean the weeds up cause it don't look good when it's all weeded up. I think it's a wonderful idea to clean the town up.
"Everybody used to have ashes and trash piles," he said. "It's not so much different now. People have always had trash but people don't like to haul trash.
"If a person's gonna live somewhere they should take responsibility to keep it cleaned up."