Originally created 01/01/02

Living on Hard Luck



WINDSOR - About 12 years ago, when the mail and the school bus and the fire trucks were having trouble getting to their house, the members of one family wanted everybody to know where they lived.

They had no idea that the name they chose for their road would become a badge in their life.

It has almost been a curse, the residents say, living on Hard Luck Lane.

The house, located on a sandy dirt road that cars can get to only by other dirt roads, had an address on Windsor Road, but that's not where the family lives.

About a quarter-mile after the asphalt ends at Windsor Road's intersection with Centerwood Road, the first left leads to the Hayes' house.

In coming up with the new road name, John Bivens and his then-wife Jeanette Hayes thought about their life - how hard it was, how breaks came and went, how they lived from paycheck to paycheck.

"Since everybody out here has hard luck, we'll call it Hard Luck Lane," they said.

So the name was born - after, of course, a petition from neighbors and approval from the Aiken County Council.

Then life rained down more trouble.

About two years after the name change, Mr. Bivens left Ms. Hayes. She remains in the house at 191 Hard Luck Lane. Their two daughters live in separate, neighboring homes.

The younger daughter, Bobbie Rupe, slipped and fell on the job as a waitress about two years ago. She can't work. Her husband, Jay, has been permanently disabled for more than four years.

Just this year, they got a letter from the government stating that it had overpaid the family $14,000 in Social Security benefits. The Rupes are paying them back $30 a month.

People say the family is jinxed, Mrs. Rupe said.

"Everybody swears up and down it is because of this road," she said, standing next to her husband in front of their manufactured home at 215 Hard Luck Lane.

Her husband agrees after he points over to the shed he had built so he could become a cabinet maker. The business slowed severely after Sept. 11.

"Every time we get something going, we get knocked back down again," he said.

Ms. Hayes, a 55-year-old woman who has a "What Would Jesus Do?" wind chime, says life on Hard Luck Lane offers opportunities for faith and laughter.

"If I had something shipped, (the shipper) would call and ask me if (the address) was a prank," she said.

The years have been tough on Hard Luck Lane, and today begins another.

"I think next year (2002) will be even harder," Mrs. Rupe said. "(But) pretty much the whole day we're smiling."

Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or matthew.boedy@augustachronicle.com.