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The Dart: Hot or cold Natchez man enjoys outdoors

 

By Tim Guercio

NATCHEZ — Fred Maier, 84, sits outside in his open-air cabana almost every day listening to Rush Limbaugh, which is where Maier was when The Dart landed at Camellia Drive near Seargent S. Prentiss Drive on Friday afternoon.

“Ever since he started I guess,” Maier said of how long he has been listening to Limbaugh’s radio show.

Even when the weather is cold Maier said he would put on a coat and bring a heater out to the cabana to listen to the program.

Maier said he might even drink a couple of beers while listening to the show.

“It’s never too cold to drink a beer,” Maier said.

About two years ago, Maier said he had surgery on both knees so he walks about 20 minutes a day.

“I’ll get up two or three times a day,” Maier said, “and walk around the block.”

Maier said he was born and raised “growing stuff,” and a look around his entire property shows that.

Over by the fence are two persimmon trees, in the back are two peach trees, next to them a place for the pole beans to climb and up front is what Maier describes as a Mississippi paper shell pecan tree.

“My grandfather planted that tree,” Maier said. “I don’t know when. It has been that big since I can remember, and I’m 84. I shucked paper shell pecans every day to keep up, bagged them in Ziplock bags and put them in the freezer.”

Maier said that an April freeze last year killed every small peach that had been on the peach tree.

“I’ll have them this year,” Maier said, “if we don’t get another late freeze.”

Maier said he was in the second class to graduate from the new Cathedral School.

“The one that’s there now. Before that it was downtown,” Maier said.

After graduating, Maier said he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was happy to serve his country, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, during the Korean conflict.

After returning home to Natchez for a short while, Maier said he went off to college in Lafayette, Louisiana. The school then was called Southwestern Louisiana Institute now known as the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Maier said he majored in horticulture but also continued his football career from his high school days.

Maier, at 6-feet, 3-inches tall and 230 pounds was good enough to start at tackle on both sides of the ball, offense and defense, he said.

“You had to play both ways back then,” Maier said, “all 60 minutes.”

Maier said he got his passion and profession in horticulture from his grandfather,

Christian Tobias Maier, who emigrated from Germany through Ellis Island.

Maier said, from New York his grandfather then traveled to New Orleans eventually settling for good in Natchez.

It was Maier’s grandfather who started a nursery with the name Chris Maier and Son Nursery on Auburn Avenue. That property and nursery are still there today and for years has been known simply as Fred’s nursery under different management.