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Old 05-21-2006, 07:37 PM
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Post For $1M, this land is your land

Tommy Taylor grabbed a can of paint and made a statement.

He wants $1 million, firm, for three-quarters of an acre of land on Texaco Town Road, south of Onley.

That's what the hand-scrawled red letters advertise on the piece of plywood out in front. In a two-county area full of Realtors' for-sale signs, Taylor's is, well, different.

Everyone else is selling high, he figures, so he's giving the real-estate market a shot.

"This is valuable property," said Taylor, 56, rubbing his gray hair. "God ain't making any more land, you know."

Taylor's parcel isn't waterfront, but it is unique. It's shaped like a mailbox, with the post connecting a squared-off back section to the paved road like a right-of-way.

In the back, Taylor has constructed a fountain made from two satellite dishes, has an old camper as a workshop and has written his life story, in permanent marker, on the front of a white aluminum shed.

The story chronicles his birth, military duty, three failed marriages and his pet dog. If they die at the same time, his request goes, just slip the German Sheppard in the coffin with him.

The gentle companionship of a good dog is something he appreciates.

"I've been married three times and I've turned out single," he said, describing them: "It starts out good, then it turns as cold as ice and they want their 50 percent."

He loves the property, but the memories are bad.

He remembers too vividly the funerals of his parents, the marriages gone bad and 18 girlfriends he's had -- he recently counted all of them, back from elementary school, and wrote them down.

"It bothers me living here, because I'm living in the past," he said with a frown. "Everybody's left me."

Stop the car, walk the dirt lane to ask about the $1 million property and the sales pitch contains a life story pulled straight from Southern Renaissance literature.

There are "50 thousand million different jobs," lost loves, vehicles as sleeping quarters, several stretches of military service, employment at a Wal-Mart in Aiken, S.C., and a youth that included track-and-field accomplishments.

Today, he acknowledges that his running prowess -- back at Central High School, he once qualified for the state track meet -- is over, nodding at a pack of Tahoe cigarettes in his shirt pocket.

He grew up in Melfa running like the wind. He proved his worth once by running from there to Exmore "without stopping."

"You talk about a long ways," he said.

He graduated in 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War, and "I wasn't getting along too good with my girlfriend, so I volunteered for the draft." His two-year U.S. Army hitch included nine countries, but not Vietnam.

In the years since, he's served several stints in the National Guard.

He's also worked at three different Wal-Marts and once sold so many Electrolux vacuum cleaners that he earned a promotion.

His secret: "It was just natural," he said, adding that after he offered a free demonstration and got in the door, "they'd get asking me buying questions," and he knew a sale was close.

But after his first marriage unraveled, he grew tired of the Eastern Shore, jumped in his car and headed south, sleeping in his ride and working when he could.

At some point, he ended up back at home. It's where his mother, Daisy, wanted him. Marriages and relationships came and went.

Today, there are no relationships, and his parents have passed away.

Apparently conveying with the property is Taylor's personal collection of stuff. For an even million, he'd probably throw it in.

There's the artwork of a shark, an old go-kart, a restored boat trailer and another trailer holding a huge shell of a boat that is posted for sale.

Then there's the small garden shed, a dog pen, a string of automobiles and the satellite-dish fountain.

It's all piled around the lot, the coordinates of which he knows by heart -- a 30-foot drive leading to a square of land, its sides all measuring 150 feet. The back part of the property is 350 feet from the road.

If he can't sell it, Taylor has a plan. He doesn't mind a little hard work, so he figures he'll sell the topsoil down as far as he can. Then he'll let the new owners worry about the big hole.

Until then, he'll sell some vegetables from his garden, split some wood for cash, do some odd jobs -- and try to forget the bad memories.

Some of those bad memories include seeing the casket holding his beloved father, James Henry Taylor, being lowered into the ground during his funeral one day last year.

He thinks about the scene a lot.

"I'm afraid of dying,"he admits.

But wouldn't his mood improve if someone came along and plucked down a cool $1 million for his humble homestead?

"I'd probably have a heart attack and die," he said with a smile.


Taylor's homemade real-estate sign tells the story.
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