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He hasn't lost everything

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Graham “Chip” Ladd, 60, of Woodstock, walks outside his trailer that was destroyed in a Jan. 12 fire. Ladd lost all his possessions but friends have given him food, clothing and another trailer to help him recover. Rich Cooley/Daily

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Graham "Chip" Ladd, 60, of Woodstock, stands in the doorway of a camper trailer that a friend donated after he lost his in a Jan. 12 fire. Rich Cooley/Daily

Friends rally around Woodstock man whose possessions burned in recent fire

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Graham "Chip" Ladd might be poor in possessions -- particularly after losing all he owned in a trailer fire -- but he's rich in friends.

Ladd, 60, said he lost "everything I had: bags and bags of old clothes, new clothes," antique dressers, tables, lamps and more when his 1953 trailer went up in flames on Jan. 12.

The trailer sat on the property of Ann and Steve Racey at 1448 Swartz Road, west of Woodstock.

It also served as Ladd's occasional home, although he says the Raceys' house is his residence. He's also been known to sleep outside on the property.

Ladd said an electric heater he had in the trailer caught fire. He came home the day of the fire to see smoke coming out of a window. He opened the door.
"I shouldn't have done that," Ladd said.

The oxygen fueled the fire, which consumed everything inside.

Luckily, Ladd's beloved cats weren't inside. He kept the heat on for them, he said, and said the heater caught fire.

Before the day was over, people were pitching in.

"One guy came by here the very same night with clothes and food and cat food," Ladd said. "I thought that was great, thinking about the poor kitty cats. That was their castle.
"Two friends of mine, the night it happened went and got me a motel room. I didn't even ask them. I didn't really have to [have] it, but it's nice."

One friend has brought him boxes of food, and on Friday, that same friend provided Ladd with another trailer, albeit one much smaller and needing some work.

Ladd was planning to spend the weekend scrubbing it, and plans to sleep in it sometimes.

"He was using it for a hunting cabin," Ladd said. "It was full of mouse droppings. I found one snake hide in there."

He said he's now got more clothes than he really needs, considering he's not used to having much.

A dry wall finisher and painter, Ladd has seen work dry up considerably in the past couple of years. He spent a few months working for Racey's deer processing business, but that finished up last month.

"Right now, I had a couple bad years of slump like everyone else," Ladd said.

He's been trying to bid on projects, but has been getting underbid, despite dropping his rates.

"So, other people are really hungry out there," he said. "They've got to be because they're doing it for next to nothing. I just have to go around, apply for jobs."

Ladd isn't receiving any government benefits, and has no health insurance, he said. He has a motorcycle and a 1979 Monte Carlo his nephew sold him for $50.

"I try to be independent," he said. "It isn't easy."

Ladd has lived at the Raceys' place for about five years now, and describes his lifestyle as transient, but said being borderline homeless doesn't worry him.

"I've never really wanted anything," he said. "I've never had any great desire to have Cadillacs or big new trucks. I've lived in my car before, years and years ago."

Ladd attributes the help he's been offered to karma, saying he's always been kind to others.

"What goes around really goes around, no matter what your attitude is," he said.
Racey said he's known Ladd for at least 20 years, and Ladd has helped him with his home improvement business.

"We've been friends, he's one of the best," Racey said. "Bad things do happen to him. We try to do what we can for him."

He and his wife feel safer having an extra pair of eyes on their property, and Ladd has a place to stay "as long as is necessary."

Another long-time friend, Tony John, is organizing a raffle to benefit Ladd. He's selling 300 tickets for $5 each for a Marlin 25-06 XL7C rifle with a camouflage stock. Four Star Printing gave a discount on the cost of the tickets, he said.

For tickets, call John at 459-5825 after 6 p.m.

Anyone wanting to further help out Ladd can contact him at 1448 Swartz Road, or by calling him at 481-0840.

1 Comment

He might have lost all that money can buy, but this fellow possesses much that money can't; enviable possessions that can't be necessarily seen nor touched - priceless. This publication would do well continuing to strive in publishing more encouraging stories like this to help offset the prevalent bad news and focus on materialism.

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