The Uplifting Story of a Grandma, a Community, and a Court Battle
After many years of working and struggling to raise a family and live a good life, elderly people just wish to be left alone. They want to enjoy their remaining years without too much hassle – whether that’s hassle from difficult family members or local law enforcement.
Unfortunately for Gerry Suttle that wasn’t possible. Due to an outdated – and some might say ridiculous – law, Suttle was forced into a stressful situation. It kept her up at night and wracked her nerves. Living on a fixed income and having limited mobility meant that she couldn’t fix it easily. One day, she looked out her window and saw four boys in her backyard. Were they there to help or harm?
75-year-old Texan grandma Gerry Suttle purchased two acres of land many years ago. It was a gorgeous little piece of property that was easy to maintain back in the day. However, as she got older, basic property maintenance such as mowing the lawn and trimming the shrubs became harder and harder.
That eventually caused problems with the neighbors and town. No longer would grandma Gerry be allowed to spend her retirement enjoying the sun rise and fall over her piece of Texan paradise. Instead, she had to deal with the law.
Threatening sounds in the bushes
Gerry lived in Riesel, a small town of just over 1,000 people in eastern Texas. She lived by herself. That’s because her husband died a few years before, and the rest of her family lived out of state. As an elderly lady with no one around to look after and protect her, she became vulnerable.
In particular, she became vulnerable to sounds on her property. The lawn that she once loved now became a source of fear. Its overgrown bushes and trees could be hiding anything – people, animals, and other sources of danger.
Strange backyard noises
So, when Gerry started to hear odd noises rushing up from the overgrown grass, she told herself it was just a cute little fox running by. That was her way of ignoring the fear. However, that only worked for so long. Soon, she heard more noises – noises that sounded like voices!
Her body froze as she sat, terrified, in the living room. What was she to do? Little by little, she glanced out the window and, to her surprise, saw four boys. She didn’t know what they were doing, only that they were trespassing.
Can’t call the cops
Gerry didn’t want to confront the kids because she didn’t know their intentions. She also didn’t want to call the cops because she had a recent run-in with them that left a bad taste in her mouth. Not too long before this, she received a “breach of property laws” notice.
It turns out the state of Texas has quite a few strict laws regarding grass height. In particular, it’s illegal to have grass on your property that’s more than 18 inches tall. Breaching that law means you have to pay a hefty fine.
A serious violation
Apparently, an initial notice was sent out long before Gerry was even aware that such a law existed or that she was in violation of it. The cop didn’t care. They stuck to their guns and reprimanded the elderly lady for not paying the hefty fine.
Gerry was ordered to go to court, despite the fact that her old age made it quite difficult to appear. Furthermore, they threatened her with jail time over the violation. Riesel Police Chief Danny Krumnow said that violating the city ordinance was a serious matter.
A concerned neighbor
Around this time, Gerry’s neighbor Tom also began to notice the four boys going into her backyard. Tom didn’t tell her and there wasn’t much he could do on account of being an elderly man himself, so he set up a surveillance security system to keep an eye out.
Gerry simply let the boys trespass. Since they never went close to her house, she didn’t sense they were a threat. Regardless, Tom kept seeing them haul in and take out bags in a suspicious sort of way. He kept recording.
Digging for clues
As Tom kept recording, Gerry sat quietly in her living room pretending that four strange boys weren’t galavanting around her backyard. The boys were totally unaware that they were part of a secret surveillance operation, so they kept on working. Then, one of them took something out of a bag.
Tom’s jaw dropped. He zoomed in more to focus on what it was. Turns out, it was gardening tools. The boys brought gardening tools to help out Gerry with the tall grass in her overgrown yard.
It turns out that news of Gerry’s possible arrest spread through the local community fast. Neighbors were flabbergasted that an elderly woman might get arrested – and might do jail time! – over the “serious” crime of having tall grass.
Things only got worse when Gerry was unable to make a court date. Soon, a warrant was sent out for her arrest. What was she to do? Cleaning up the lawn was too physically demanding for a woman of her age, and paying someone was way out of her budget.
The boys talk to Gerry
One day, Tom saw through the camera that the boys with the gardening tools were walking up to Gerry’s front door. He was nervous to see what would happen. Shortly after they knocked, Gerry opened the door – also with a nervous look.
Gerry was totally unprepared for what the boys might say. Although they were quite young – the oldest wasn’t more than 15 – Gerry was still uneasy about these trespassers. That unease began to sink away a bit when she saw their clothes were full of dirt and mud.
Gerry is left speechless
“Hi,” said two of the boys. The others stood there with muddy clothes and garden tools – some shears, a weed whacker, and some gloves. Out of the corner of her eye, Gerry saw another boy pushing a lawnmower back and forth across the yard.
Gerry was taken aback. The boys explained how they pulled up the overgrown weeds and were now ready to mow the lawn. Such an act of kindness took Gerry by surprise. She began to cry and was left speechless.
The neighbors help out
It turns out the four boys were brothers. There wasn’t much to do during the summer, so they decided to help out Gerry. Aware of the impending arrest warrant, the boys didn’t want 75-year-old Gerry to end up in jail.
So, they began cleaning the lawn – for free – despite the heat of the Texan summer. A grateful Gerry brought the boys cold drinks. When doing so, she noticed others coming to help. They all had gardening tools with them as well. A smile grew on Gerry’s face.
Working together, the neighbors decided to split up into teams. One team would take the right side of the lawn, and another team the left side. Tom was included in one of those teams – he brought along a better lawn mower.
It all came together quite organically. The neighbors, inspired by the boys’ actions, came over to pitch in and clean up. This made the work a truly communal effort – and it sped up the timing. Despite the 90-degree heat, the community worked tirelessly to help out Gerry.
“I’m very seldom without words,” Gerry told reporters, but this act of kindness left her speechless. She was shocked by how these four boys started something that brought the whole neighborhood together to help fix Gerry’s problem.
Having the extra hands – and lawnmowers – meant that taming the overgrown yard only took two hours. Furthermore, it didn’t cost the cash-strapped grandma a thing! This act of communal help truly shows that all it takes is a bit of cooperation for amazing things to happen. It’s remarkable these boys learned that at such a young age.
It’s not over yet
Although Gerry’s overgrown lawn was cut down to size in a remarkable act of community effort, it didn’t solve all her problems. In particular, it didn’t solve her legal problems. Shortly after the clean up, Gerry learned that she still needed to head down to court.
She needed to show that she never got the original notice. Gerry was ready to have all the charges dropped. The court, however, had different ideas. Namely, the exact opposite ideas. A legal drama ensued.
The battle is won
Gerry’s original notice said that her grass was too tall. So, an inspiring group of young boys and neighbors cut her grass and cleaned up the yard. The city, however, didn’t accept their work. They were still pursuing charges.
Understandably, this angered all those who helped and all those who supported Gerry. The local news station spread the word of this amazing act through TV and Facebook. More people got on Gerry’s side. Eventually, this led to the court dismissing her warrant.