With orderly conductLamont Mounsdon doesn’t have all his ducks in a row. That’s because he’s too busy getting all his fish decoys in a row. And his immaculate garden in perfect rows.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
Lamont Mounsdon doesn’t have all his ducks in a row. That’s because he’s too busy getting all his fish decoys in a row. And his immaculate garden in perfect rows. And being an expert craftsman.
“It keeps me out of mischief,” the ambitious octogenarian said of his many hobbies. “I like to keep busy. I don’t like to lay around, let’s put it that way.”
His wife of 63 years, Phyllis, agreed.
“He’s worse than I am,” she said. “He never sits down.”
Mounsdon admits he’s a jack of all trades, but insists he’s master of none. His varied projects and completely weed-free garden tell a different story.
The Mounsdons have lived in their home on Lake Henry for 62 years. Lamont was born and raised about two blocks away. A farm boy, gardening is something he comes by naturally.
“I grew up with it, and it stayed with me,” Lamont said.
But when he and Phyllis got married, she gave him one ultimatum.
“It was either the farm or me,” she said. “One or the other.”
“It was a tough choice, but I made it,” Lamont said as they both laughed.
Since he couldn’t farm, Lamont kept his connection with the earth by planting a huge garden. For several years, as they raised their three children, the garden was an acre in size. While Lamont toiled outside planting and weeding, Phyllis prepared the garden’s bounteous harvest – canning, freezing and cooking.
Lamont has experimented with almost every edible plant imaginable, including blue potatoes.
“They were the most repulsive thing,” Phyllis said. “They were terrible.”
“She pretty near kicked me out when I’d bring those blue potatoes in,” Lamont said with a grin. “I only done that one year.”
No matter what he grew, Lamont has always been dedicated to his crop, and won’t even think of letting a weed interfere. Every chance he gets, he’s out in his garden, working off a little steam, and making sure it’s in tip-top shape.
“Oh, there’s weeds out there,” he protests when someone comments on its seeming perfection.
He’s even been teased about his diligence. A neighbor once called the Mounsdon home, and when Phyllis answered he said, “Tell Lamont I saw a weed in the second row.”
While gardening has been a therapeutic hobby throughout the years, Lamont has worn several career hats. He worked at Alexandria Boat Works ribbing boats for 80 cents an hour; he was a carpenter; he is a veteran of World War II; he owned a gas station; and he spent 25 years as an officer on the Alexandria Police Department.
After his retirement in 1979 from the police department, the Mounsdons spent 26 years traveling to craft shows, where they would display their creative endeavors. Phyllis was known for her scarves, while Lamont made wall hangings, back massagers, fish decoys and birdhouses, to name a few.
The Mounsdons gave up the craft shows six years ago, but it hasn’t kept Lamont from constantly keeping busy. He spends hours making fish decoys – from carving the wood, to melting the lead, to cutting out the fins, to painting the fish. And of course, they are lined up in perfect rows on a table in his organized shop.
And he’s not going to stay out of the garden until he absolutely has to.
“Last year he ended up in emergency,” Phyllis said. “It was too hot and he wouldn’t quit. He’s stubborn, too!”
“You gotta be,” Lamont concluded. “If you haven’t got determination, you haven’t got it.”