Every day, Rickey Green shakes off the early morning grogginess, loads his mower and edger, his gas can and broom, and sets out from his home on Pennsylvania Avenue on a bike to serve his eager clients.
The 52-year-old Green’s full grey beard and burly build are emblematic of Santa Clause, his blue eyes shining in Beaumont’s morning sun as he stands ready to begin mowing the yard of Pancho’s Taqueria on MLK on Friday, Nov. 1.
“Tomorrow I get to do something else,” Green said.
Born in Louisiana to a poor family, Green said he’s always found ways to make money while surrounded by poverty. When he came to Beaumont in 1980, he began using his unique Husky 120 — an all-steel bike with an industrial-sized cargo hold flanked by two wheels on the front of the bike.
Green doesn’t need a car. The bike fits a mower, edger, broom and whatever else Beaumont’s handlebar handyman needs for his six to 10 mile journey each day, not including the distance he travels for pleasure.
“I’ve got another one I ride to my other job. I only use this one Sundays and Mondays. Sundays I go over to (Graff or Braff) Street between St. Elizabeth and 11th and I do a couple yards over there. Then I go do a car lot, so roughly two miles or three miles on Sunday and Monday,” Green said, speaking about his one-way trip from Pennsylvania Avenue. “Whenever I actually need it, it’s probably a lot more than that.”
Rusty but sturdy, Green’s specialized bike has served him well, he said, coming in handy especially in the months and years after Hurricane Rita devastated much of Southeast Texas.
“I’ve had it since before Rita, but I had to get used to riding it,” Green said of the cumbersome cargo bike. “After I got used to riding it, then I started using it to get around on.”
On any given day throughout Old Town and along MLK and Calder, you might catch a glimpse of Green as he makes his daily commute to the next job, the cargo hold on his bike filled to the brim with mowers or carpentry tools. But, he said, you probably won’t catch him riding on a cold day.
“I like it much better when it’s hot rather than when it’s cold. I don’t know. I guess it’s just the working conditions,” Green said. “You can do a lot more work when it’s hot than when it’s cold.”
Plans to expand his business have been put to the side: with no vehicle, it’s tough to transport the heavy equipment needed to secure big lawn contracts. But Green said prospective clients have noticed him and are taking advantage of Green’s reasonable price per lawn.
“I get $20 per yard,” Green said outside Pancho’s. “It depends. For this one I get $25.”
As he pushes his small, churning mower, Green said there are always plans to get bigger and better. For now, though, Green is content with having his own business on his own terms.
“I was talking to a guy about (mowing) Babe Zaharias,” Green said. “I told him I’d have to think about that one.