Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I thought we were buddies

  This is a little story about my Granddad John. If you knew John, then you know that he could be a little ornery, and that he always liked to have fun. Along with the locker plant that he and my Grandma Edith had, he also had a pig farm. Some of my greatest memories as a kid was getting to go to the pig pens with granddad. My mom told me that she used to tell me that if I didn't get in trouble that day that I could go to the pig pens with granddad. I can remember spending many hours chasing pigs back into the pens after they had tore up the fence, or rooted under it. We would get the pigs back in, and granddad would spend hours fixing the fence back up only to have them find another way out a few days later.

  One morning when I was at the locker, granddad told me to go get in the pickup, and that he needed my help that day. Man I don't think I had ever been so excited, granddad needed my help! First stop was granddad's garage to pick up some tools that we were going to need for the job. Next stop was the CO-OP Lumber yard, and if my memory is right I believe ole Ed Burton was the one running it back then. Anyway granddad starts looking at electric fencers. I know I asked him what an electric fencer was, and he told me that it sent an electric pulse through a wire that we were going to run around the pig pens to help keep the pigs in.

  After getting the fencer, wire, posts, and insulators it was off to the pig pens to start the project. Granddad loaded me up with all the posts that I could carry. He would step off so many feet, take one of the posts, and put it on the ground, and so many steps to the next one until finally we had posts all around the place. So the next job was to go back around, and using a hammer, drive all the posts into the ground. I remember wanting to hit the posts with the hammer, and granddad telling me not right now. I guess I pestered him long enough and he got tired of hearing me that he finally gave me a chance. I did pretty good for the first 2 or 3 posts, until I hit his hand with the hammer, so needless to say my post driving career was over, and it was back to holding them again..

  Next came running the electric wire. We put a roll of wire on a post and took off walking. I did pretty good at that, of course all I had to do was hold my end of the post and walk along with granddad. After we got the wire strung, then of course came the stretching of the wire. After granddad got all the wire stretched we started back around the whole place putting on the insulators so that the electric fence wouldn't ground out against the posts. Now, it might sound like I know a lot about electric fences, and maybe I do now, but I sure wished I would have known a little more about them back then!

  Come along evening time granddad and I had finished running the fence around the pig pens. Now was the moment of truth. Granddad plugged the fencer into an outlet. A hum came from the box, and then a red light lit up and then in a few seconds another one lit up. Granddad said it was working perfectly. I looked around the pig pens and I didn't see anything working. I'm not sure what I expected the electric fence to do. Maybe I thought something would pop out of the posts and scare the pigs back in or something. So I told granddad that I didn't see how that one little wire was gonna keep them pigs in when all those other wires couldn't.

  So, granddad drew upon all of his years of experience and knowledge and told me "go over to that wire there and pee on it". Well when you love and respect someone as much as I did my granddad you don't question anything, you just do it, and besides when your a kid you;ll pee on anything, right! So I'm standing there, peeing on a wire when that electric pulse passed by. Now I played football and was hit pretty hard. I've jumped outta swings, crashed my bicycle, wrecked vehicles, even got hit on my motorcycle. I have  broken many bones in all of those cases, but I have never had anything hit me as hard as that little, unseen bit of electricity did! Now, if some of you have never been shocked by electricity, the best way I can describe it is like being hit with a hammer. So you can imagine what it felt like to get hit with a hammer, where I felt like I got hit with a hammer at!

  As I was  laying there on the ground, with my granddad and George Pratt laughing at me, I was thinking, we are buddies, and buddies just don't do that to each other! I am also pretty sure that it was several days before I worked up the courage to pee again.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Just a little off the top

  It was one of those cold , cloudy, drizzly days. The school day was over with, and we had a basketball game in a couple of hours, so we were trying to kill some time before it was time to go get ready for the game. There was 4 or 5 of us down at the FFA hog pens behind the Gym feeding our project pigs. The usual talk was going on, you know like who had broken up with who, who liked who, why a certain teacher always assigned so much homework. After a while Bobby said "I need a haircut,I wonder where I could go and get one"? Well, at that time there was no barber shops in Darrouzett, there was a beauty shop, (my moms) but guys didn't go to beauty shops to get a haircut. Of course I had no choice, but I was a cheapskate anyway and I wasn't going to spend any money on something I could get for free! Somebody made the suggestion that Bobby could always drive to another town and get one, but Bobby said that his pickup was nearly out of gas, and he didn't have any money to get any gas.

  So it was starting to look like Bobby wasn't going to get his hair cut. We went back to talking about regular stuff when Bobby said "hey I know how I can get my hair cut and it won't cost anything". Bobby went on to explain "we can go up to the Ag shop and get the pig clippers, and you guys can give me a hair cut", " but we don't know how to cut hair" we told him. "I just want a burr hair cut" Bobby told us "so you won't have to do anything fancy!" We thought about it for a minute and decided, heck we can do that. So off to the Ag shop we go to get the necessary tools to do the job.

  After gathering all the required equipment, we head back down to the pig pens to begin the job. The Ag Department had 3 sets of shears. The 2 good sets were locked up in the tool room. The shears that we had access to were probably 20 years old. They were so worn out that the motor in them barely had enough power to keep the cutting edges moving. I know some of you have sheared pigs for competition, and some of you haven't. Well trust me when I tell you that pig shears were never meant to be used on human hair, especially old worn out ones. Along with being worn out they are not very sharp, having been dulled on the coarse hog hair over the years, and secondly they have very coarse cutting teeth, but if that is all that you have to do the job with, you make due. So Bobby sits down on a 5 gallon bucket and the cutting begins.

  The first pass down the middle of Bobby's head had to be agonizing, Those shears were pulling more hairs out of his head than were being cut.  Those shears were pulling so hard on Bobby's scalp that his eye holes were now in the middle of his forehead, and his nose skin was between where his eyes were. Bobby was yelling in pain, but we couldn't stop now that we had begun, unless he wanted a reverse Mohawk. Finally somebody says "hey, you know when we shear the pigs, we always dip the shears in some diesel, maybe that stops it from pulling so bad."  So, back up the hill to the shop a couple of us go to get some diesel. When we get back with the can of diesel we pour some in a bucket, and dip the cutting head in the liquid and back to the hair cut we go. You know, if we learned only one thing that day, it was that, diesel does not help to keep pig shears from pulling human hair while cutting, but we kept dipping and cutting until we had gotten all of the hair cut off that we could, or at least all that Bobby could stand.

  As we stood there admiring our work, I still, to this day, cannot remember a more pathetic sight than that of Bobby sitting there on that bucket with patches of hair sticking up that we had missed, and the shears didn't or couldn't cut, and then other patches on his head that had been cut all the way down to the scalp, and then of course there were those trails of red diesel running down his head and neck. Bobby took a rag, and wiped the diesel off of his head, he then ran his hand over his new hair cut. A look came over his face, and he asked "why didn't ya'll cut it all the same length?" "We tried" we told him "but the shears wouldn't cut right." "What am I going to do, we have a basketball game in just a few minutes. I'm going to look stupid" he said. We all shrugged our shoulders thinking, that's your problem, not ours!

  We gathered everything up and put it back in the Ag shop, and then we headed to the locker room to get ready for the game. Well, it got worse once Bobby was able to look at his hair cut in the mirror, and the madder he got, the funnier it became to everyone in there. Finally Bobby decided that all he needed to do was just wear a stocking hat during the game, figuring  that nobody would be able to see what his hair looked like. Then all he had to do was get it fixed before school started tomorrow. The girls game ends, and now it's time for us to take the floor. We run out on the floor and start doing our warm up lay ups. So far so good right, but then Coach comes out onto the court. Now Bobby is not the tallest guy on the team, so he kinda stands behind some of us as long as he can, but now it's his turn to do a lay up, and when he does Coach sees that Bobby has a stocking hat on. "Bobby get that hat off your head" he tells him. "but Coach my head is cold" Bobby replies. "Get that hat off, or your butt is going to be hot!" Coach tells him back. Slowly Bobby reaches up and slides the stocking hat off of his head.

  Bobby no more gets that hat off of his head than his mother spots his brand new hair cut. I'm sure everybody remembers back when you were younger, and when you would get into trouble, you know how  your mom would call out your name you knew you were in trouble, and the more of your names she used then the more trouble you were in. Well Bobby's mother used his entire name that night, yep first, middle, and last name, and when she said it, it was heard over all of the other noise in that gymnasium !

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hey look what I found

    Growing up in a small town there really wasn't a whole lot of things to do, however, one thing that we spent our time doing was riding around. Of course you had to have a car, or one of your buddies did! So your plans usually revolved around how much gas was in the car, or how much money everybody could scrape together to buy gas. If you didn't have very much gas, or money you stayed in Darrouzett dragging main, and honking at the other cars, not the get out of my way honking, or you idiot, you just cut me off honking. Nope, it was the hey how ya doing, hope you had a great day and your night is going just as good honking, although you had just been talking to them at the CO-OP station parking lot not 5 minutes ago. Now if you had a half a tank you could go to Follett or Booker, and if  the tank was full, well you might even venture plum to Perryton! Although we didn't go there very often, except on dates, wasn't anybody over there we knew to honk at.

  Anyway, this one night there was several of us sitting at the station parking lot trying to figure out what we wanted to do. We didn't have much gas, or money, so it was going to be a dragging main night. So Calley says get in let's go riding around. Now if memory serves me correct Calley, Barbie, and I were in the front seat. Rudy, Sheila, and Travis was in the back seat. If you are from Darrouzett, or have ever been there then you know that it doesn't take you very long to drag main 5 or 6 times and then to drive down all of the other streets in town. So after this was accomplished Callie said "let's go out to the big tree and see if anything is  going on out there." Of course we all knew that there wasn't anything going on out there, or we would have already been out there, but what the heck it was gonna be something different to see other than what was in town. For those of you who don't know what the big tree is, well on the East side of Darrouzett there is a creek that runs through there, and there was a giant Cottonwood tree that stood beside the creek. The city had put some picnic tables down there, put in some lights, and kept it mowed. It was a great meeting place for all types of activities from family reunions, beer parties, to a make out spot! I'm just glad that danged ole tree can't talk!

  As we pull off the highway onto the dirt road, one of Callies favorite things to do was put in an 8 track tape of Pink Floyd's, Dark Side of the Moon, and turn off the headlights so that the parking lights were the only light that there was. So with the moon light shining, and Pink Floyd blaring down the road we went. The road that you drive on today to get down to the big tree is almost the same as the one we used back then. You still drive along the top of the ridge by the baseball field, although the field wasn't there this night. We dropped off of the top and down to the bottom. We made a slow pass, and sure enough nothing was going on down there that night, nor was there anyone down there. So we started back up out of there, up the hill and back along the road.

  About then Barbie says "I've got to pee!" So Callie drives a little further along the road to where there was an old tree trunk laying beside the road. When Callie stopped, I opened the door and let Barbie out to go pee. While Barbie climbs over the tree trunk I get back into the car and shut the door. We are sitting there listening to the music and talking waiting for Barbie to finish her pee. When all of a sudden Barbie lets out a blood curdling scream. This is the type of scream that you would hear at the movies when the ax murderer is fixen to kill the girl, or the grizzly bear is about to attack the hikers! Well the first thought that goes through my head is that Barbie squatted down and a rattlesnake musta bit her on the butt! So I throw open the door, jump out of the car, and run over to where Barbie is standing, Callie, Rudy, and Travis right behind me.

  When we reach Barbie someone asks what's the matter, are you all right? Barbie points to the log and says, "Hey look what I found!" About three feet away from her sits a white Styrofoam cooler, and inside of that cooler there is probably a case of iced down  beer! Somebody had bought the beer, iced it, and had stashed it for some reason behind that log. Maybe they had to go home for a little bit, maybe they had to go to some function, who knows. We didn't care, we figured finders keepers, right! So we grabbed the cooler and back to the car we go. Should we get some out and start drinking, we were thinking. No, what if whoever put it there comes back to get it. Better if we wait till we get out of there, so we put it in the trunk, and we all get back into the car to once again wait for Barbie to finish her pee.

  As we are sitting there I start thinking to myself, and then start laughing. "What are you laughing about?' someone asks me. "Well we were all so excited about finding the beer that we never even noticed that Barbie was standing there in front of us with her pants around her ankles!" Everybody sat there for a minute thinking about this, and then we began laughing. Sure enough nobody had noticed this. Barbie gets back to the car, and I let her back in "what's so funny" she asks.Of course this just makes us laugh harder.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Run Forrest Run...

   When it comes to sports, and small towns, it usually means that you have to participate so that there are enough kids just to have a team, however, when it comes to track that's not always the case, because track is mostly an individual sport. Except for the relay events of course. Anyway we always had  5 to 10 of us that went out for the track team. We had our field event participants, I threw the shot put, and discus, we had our sprinters, and then  came our long distance runner. Now you may have noticed that the reference to this athlete was singular, not plural! We had 1 long distance runner, not a whole team of them, which brings me to the point of this story, which is track training. Now, like I said, I threw the shot and discus so you would figure that the training for these events would mainly consist of some weight lifting, lots of practice on technique, and maybe a few wind sprints, right. So that day when the coach told us field event guys that we needed to run to the State Line with the distance runner, and  the P.E. boys, we couldn't help but wonder if maybe he had lost his mind or something!

  So, here I was sitting in the locker room putting on my track clothes, and bellyaching about having to run up to the State Line. Now for those of you that don't know where Darrouzett is located, it's not very far South of Oklahoma, as a matter of  fact across country, like the route we were going to run,  is about 2.5 miles up there, and 2.5 miles back A whole lot further than I thinking a shot and discus thrower needed to run. A few of the guys that had been running to the State Line and back since track season began told me to grab my cigarettes, and run with them. While I was wondering why I needed cigarettes to run cross country, one of them tells me that what they do is they run up to the canyons, duck off there, smoke cigarettes until the others come running back by, and then join in with them and run back to the gym. I'm thinking you know, this was my kind of training!

  So after finish dressing, we all meet behind the gym, coach blows his whistle, and off we go North towards Oklahoma. After 100 yards there is a fence that has to be crossed, and then about 50 yards further you drop down into a creek bottom. Somewhere around 400 to 500 yards up a long hill, you come to some washed out canyons where the rain, over thousands, or even tens of thousands of years has eroded the soil down forming a system of canyons that in places is up to 10 - 12 feet deep. I can remember going up there when I was a kid,  pretending that I was a cowboy, and the Indians were up on top getting ready to attack.I would have to maneuver through the canyons to escape from them, I always got away from them and kept from getting scalped! Man I was one good cowboy. Anyway, the canyons are pretty impressive, especially if you know how hard that panhandle caliche is, then you will understand what I'm talking about.

   When we get down in the bottom of the creek bed we figure that we are far enough from the gym that it will be OK to light a our cigarettes. Somebody looks back, no one is at the back watching us. So everybody pulls out their cigarettes and lighters, except for Arnie. That day Arnie doesn't have a lighter, so he pulls out a box of matches, strikes the match, lights his cigarette, and tosses the match away.  Now don't get ahead of me. When everybody gets their cigarettes lit, we start running up the hill.  When we get up out of the creek bottom we can see that the real runners were already at the top of the hill, which was probably only about a half of a mile away, but it sure looked like it was at least 10 miles up to the top to me. After we had run only about 100 yards we start to hear something behind us. When we turn around and look, yep you guessed it, evidently Arnie's match had not gone out, it had instead caught the grass on fire! 

  Well what do we do. Do we go back and try to put the fire out, We could all be hero's battling a wildfire with gym shorts and tennis shoes, but  if we do that then they will also know who started the fire.  So someone hollers, "let's hall butt up to the canyons!" an even better plan in our minds! Everyone ditches their cigarettes and begins running just as fast as they can for the canyons, figuring that we can hide out in them. So, we reach the canyons in what had to be world record time( if they would have kept that sort of thing) and  we duck off into one of the gulleys. "Oh man what are we going to do now" someone asks. "Well we wait here until the guys that run all the way come back by, and then we will follow in behind them and run back to the gym, just like nothing happened!" Except for the fire this plan is sounding better all the time. After a little while we can hear the fire whistle in town going off. We are all peeking around the edge of a gulley  watching down the hill to where the fire is burning. In a few minutes we see the first fire truck arrive and start putting water on the fire.  

  After what seemed like hours some of the guys that had run all the way started coming back by. We knew that we all couldn't just jump in there with those guys, or coach would know that we hadn't ran the entire distance, and if we hadn't run the entire distance we were probably responsible for the fire. So while we stood there waiting we began thinking, what if when we get back to the gym they want to search us to see who might have matches, or a lighter on them. Somebody says, hey lets leave our cigarettes and lighters here. We can always come back later and get them. We all find little hiding places for our stuff, and then one by one we take off back down the hill to the gym.As we are heading back we can see the fire trucks running through the smoke, the emergency lights on the tops of the trucks spinning. We were all wondering just how much trouble we were going to be in. How many days suspension would we get, how many laps of bleachers would we have to run, and would our butts be able to take all of the licks we were going to get before we would get out of this ! 

   By the time we got to the bottom of the hill the Fire Department had finished putting the fire put out, but we  would have to run around the burned out area, we sure didn't want to get our shoes dirty! As we came around the end of the fire line, there was the Fire Chief standing there, and he had this look on his face, you know the one like he knew exactly what had started the fire, and exactly who the guys were that were responsible.I'm pretty sure he didn't really know, but it sure seemed like it. We ran by him trying to act like we didn't have a clue as to what was going on. When we got back to the gym coach was standing there, but we all  had just the right amount of sweat on us, and we are out of breath just enough. Coach never said anything, now I am really starting to think, hey this is gonna work!  None of us bothered with taking a shower that day. We just got our street clothes on, and got the heck out of there! We all figured that the faster we got out of there the better chance we had of not getting into trouble. To this day I don't think anyone ever did get into trouble over that fire, but I do know that I never did have to run to the State line again!


Monday, June 11, 2012

So ya think ya wanna be a bird

     I'm pretty sure that everybody when they were younger, or maybe not so young, has had one of those      "Hey I've got an idea, here hold my beer "! Well, we had had one of those moments one day. Now my memory ain't what it used to be, so I'm not real sure who came up with the idea, but I do remember we all thought it was a good one. All we needed was a pickup, 200 to 300 feet of rope, a parachute, and a bunch of kids thinking parasailing in the Texas Panhandle wind would be a good way to pass the time. What could possibly go wrong, right!

     Well as it turned out, we had access to all of those items. Believe it or not the amount of rope we needed was probably the toughest to find, but being resourceful kids we finally managed to find enough pieces to get to what we thought would be the right length to give us a good ride. So we set about tying ropes together. Anybody get their knot tying Merit Badge in Boy Scouts? I don't think any of us did either, but after awhile we had enough rope spliced together to give us the height we needed. So we all headed off to Frass's pasture, and another adventure. The best way to get the parachute inflated, and keep it inflated was to pull it and the person your pulling into the wind. Now, as anybody knows that has been, or lived in the Panhandle of Texas, there is hardly a day that goes by that the wind isn't blowing, and usually pretty hard. Well this just happened to be such a day. In fact it was blowing so hard that anyone who wasn't riding the parachute had to stand in the back of the pickup, because if we didn't the parachute would pick the back end of the pickup off of the ground.

     I'm not sure who went first, or even how many went before it was my turn, but every time that parachute inflated and they began to rise in the air I knew I just had to try it. Finally my turn, and I began putting on the harness. I think I knew the feelings that the Wright brothers must have had standing there on the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk."You ready Moose?" someone yelled. The pickup slowly took the slack out of the rope, when it tightened up it began pulling me forward, slowly at first and then I had to run to keep  up. The parachute behind me had fully inflated, slowing the pickup down a little, but I heard the engine speed up Then suddenly my next step did not touch anything solid, I was off the ground, airborne!

    I felt my stomach drop as I began gaining altitude, Everything on the ground started getting smaller. Now I know that I was only a hundred feet or so off the ground, but it felt like I was a mile up in the air. Up to that point in my life the view from up there  was the coolest thing  that I had ever seen, except for maybe the day the wind blew some of the girls dresses up at recess! It felt like I had just got up there, when I felt the pickup start slowing down, and I started descending, until I was back on the ground.

   Next up was Cecil, we got him all buckled in and ready to go. Up in the air he went, I was actually jealous, maybe I could get another turn somehow, even though there had to be 15 or 20 of us out there that day. After a few minutes the pickup started to slow, and Cecil was beginning to return to earth. Then all of a sudden POW, what was that noise? It sounded like a gun had gone off, except that we didn't have any guns out there, and even if we did they surely wouldn't have been shooting at Cecil! We looked up at Cecil, and then noticed the rope that was supposed to be tight between the bumper of the pickup and Cecil was instead hanging limp towards the ground!

   Instantly a fear shot through all of us that our friend was going to fall from the sky to his death out there in that pasture, maybe we should have spent the 5 extra dollars for the personnel parachute instead of the cargo chute! Then it came to us, wait a minute, he is attached to a parachute, that is what they are designed to do, to keep someone from falling out of the sky. Sure enough Cecil was heading towards the ground, but not at a speed fast enough to hurt him, but slow enough that he shouldn't even hit the ground very hard.. Everything was going to be fine right. Now, if you have ever seen a war movie, when someone in a parachute comes in contact with the ground they hit and fall over onto their side. That's exactly what Cecil did, however, unlike the movies where the parachute deflates and crumples to the ground, and the guy stands up, unbuckles the harness, and then goes off to do whatever he is supposed to do. With the wind blowing as hard as it was that day, Cecil's chute didn't deflate, it stayed full and with it not being tied to the bumper any longer, it actually began pulling Cecil to the North, away from us!

    We all jumped out of the back of the pickup and began chasing Cecil through the pasture. He was easy to see, he was the big orange and green parachute with a cloud of dust following it! After what seemed to be miles we caught up with Cecil. We got the chute deflated, and Cecil unbuckled from the harness. He was a sight, scratches from head to toe, and cactus thorns everywhere. So we set about pulling the thorns out. I remember about the only thing Cecil was saying was, "my mom is gonna kill me!" he just kept repeating it over and over. After we had gotten most all of the thorns out and cleaned him up a bit, someone said " hey you wanna fix the rope and go some more?" I'm pretty sure no one volunteered for a ride! Even my desire to go again had diminished!

    Now what was ironic about this incident was that Cecil's father had fought in WWII with the 101st Airborne Division, (Band of Brothers) and Cecil had shown me a picture that was taken of his father during jump training, and it showed him landing on his head. So I guess it's true that the nut really doesn't fall far from the tree!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Calling all fish!

  It was a lazy hot summer day, probably a Saturday, when the three of us were sitting around at Walter's house trying to decide on something to do with our time. It wasn't often when all three of us didn't have something going on, whether it was a job, ballgame, or something. The talk soon turned from the activities at school, to girls, and then to fishing.( I'm pretty sure that wasn't the order of importance) We oughta go fishin one of us suggested. That was a great idea the other two of us thought, but where should we go. Well, we go could go up to Aunt Susan's. No, it's all the way up in Oklahoma, and besides, none of us had ever caught anything very big up there, and if we were going to spend our valuable time we wanted trophy sized fish! You know, I personally never knew who the heck Aunt Susan was. I just knew that there was a swimming and fishing hole up in Oklahoma where we would occasionally go. It was more than likely a relative of the Hennighs', or the Howards'. How about just down on the creek. No, wasn't anything down there but mudcat and carp. What about going out to the Grove, yeah there has got to be some monster bass there, everybody always talks about losing at least a ten to twelve pounder there. The grove was a group of cottonwood trees out on the Duke ranch, with a spring fed creek running through it.

  OK, the Grove it was, but how were we gonna catch that monster fish there? We had tried all kinds of bait there before. Spinners, plastic worms, buzz bait, live bait, hula poppers you name it we had tried it. Man if we only had some dynamite, someone said. That would certainly get the big ones! Yeah, but it might blow it to pieces, then we wouldn't be able to see just how big it was, and anyway none of us knew where we could get any dynamite at anyway. Then Walter came up with an idea, "we could shock the fish, and that way it wouldn't kill them, and we could throw the little ones back in." That was a good idea, but how were we gonna be able to shock them. We couldn't run an extension cord out there and throw it in the water. Then Walter said, " I know where there is an old crank type telephone that we could get." The old crank telephones had a crank arm on the side of it that when turned would generate an electrical current that would travel down the phone line and cause a bell to ring on someone Else's telephone, or possibly send it out into the water to stun some fish.

   So we set out to gather up the required supplies for our trophy bass fishing trip. After having found everything that we thought we would need, we set off for the Grove. There was a lengthy discussion on the ride down about which fishing hole would be the best candidate for our experiment. We finally decided on one that we  thought was sure to have the hawg in it. We carried the telephone, two pieces of wire  that were approximately five to six feet long. We hooked the wires up to the phone, and threw the other ends into the water. Our palms were sweaty, our mouths dry, and our hearts were beating faster in anticipation of the coming carnage. Since it was Walter's idea we gave him first crank. Walter spun the handle with elegance, grace, and enough speed that it should have sent an electrical impulse all the way to New York City! We waited for the fish to begin floating up to the surface, but none appeared. Walter once again spun the crank, nothing. Calvin said, " let me give it a spin." Once again no fish appeared. So I tried my luck with the phone. It turned out I was no better at calling up the fish than they were.

  What could we possibly be doing wrong? After some discussion it was decided that we had the ends of the wires too close together. The reasoning being, that maybe the fish had to be between the wires in order to get shocked. Maybe we had actually learned something in Mr.Vickery's Ag class! (not about shocking fish, but about electrical currents) After we had gathered up some more wire, we once again set about our task. This time we had a wire on one side of the bank, and the other strung to the other side. That had ought to have them fish covered this time. The crank was spun again, and once again we waited as no fish surfaced. Perhaps we really are stunning them, only they are getting caught in the moss and weeds, and that's not letting them float to the surface or, maybe the telephone crank wasn't creating an electrical charge, but how would we be able to find out?

  As we were standing there contemplating this dilemma, I saw Walter take a wire in each hand, and he then told Calvin, "I'll hold these, and you turn the handle once really slow, and I will be able to tell if it's sending out a current or not." I can still see that smile, or maybe it was a smirk creeping across Calvin's face just before he spun that crank as fast as he could!  I remember thinking, just before Walter's eyes bugged out, and he started shaking all over, and falling to the ground , peeing his pants, and flopping around, like how those fish shoulda been doin. Walter, are you really gonna let Calvin spin that handle, while your holding those wires in your hands, because Ive known Calvin nearly as long as you have, and I sure as heck ain't gonna trust him to do that to me!

  After a few minutes, Walter began to regain his senses, and after talking to him for a bit, we figured there probably wasn't any permanent brain damage, and anyhow, at least we knew that the telephone crank was in perfect working condition. You know, maybe we just need more volts. So, back into the car, and off we went to find a portable electrical generator!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Rodeo

  I think all kids growing up in a small western town probably have the same dreams, one of those dreams is of being a cowboy. We were no different in Darrouzett than anywhere else, so whenever someone had a horse in town everyone showed up. Somehow we all knew, whether it was a sixth sense or what I'm not sure, but a horse in town drew the same attention as an ice cream truck in a city, and everyone came to see if they could get a ride. If you were lucky enough to get on your thoughts quickly turned to winning  some event at the National Finals Rodeo, whether it be roping, pole bending, or the biggy, the bronc busting event. Although most horses that people would let us ride were, well usually so old and broken down that they posed absolutely no danger to anyone, except if they happened to fall over dead while you were on them. Except for one, one called Ticket.

  Ticket was a Shetland pony, and for anyone that does not know what a Shetland pony is, it's a small horse that is somewhere between the size of a normal size horse, and a miniature horse, with the temperament of an attack dog. Now, I'm sure that there are mild and timid Shetlands somewhere out in the world, but I personally have not met one yet. Ticket was without question the meanest horse that has ever eaten oats, and pooped in a field. We all felt sure that if Lucifer himself were trying to take over the earth, he would be mounted majestically on the back of Ticket. The people that owned Ticket claimed that they were at a carnival or something, and they purchased a raffle ticket and won the horse. I always thought they should have held out for whatever the second prize was, but they didn't, and so Ticket the rodeo horse was what they got.

  It was a warm summer afternoon when Pete and Bobby brought Ticket to town. Word quickly spread that Ticket was in town, and if you wanted to ride him you needed to get up to the hotel before the brothers took him back to his pen. So, like I said, with visions of riding the winning bronc at the rodeo, I started off to the backyard which was the rodeo arena. I had seen others ride, and attempt to ride him. Sometimes it went well, and then sometimes, more times than not it didn't. There just seemed to be something about somebody on Ticket's back that must have really annoyed him, because as soon as anyone sat down in the saddle he would begin snorting and bucking for all he was worth. I'm pretty sure that he wasn't actually jumping 10 feet in the air and reaching back and biting pieces out of your legs, but in my mind that was exactly what was happening!

  "Who wants to go first?" Bobby yelled. We all just stood there looking at each other, nobody wanting to volunteer for the suicide mission. "C'mon you pansies, don't be a bunch of babies. There's nothing to be afraid of" Bobby chided us. Suddenly, as if being controlled by some outside force, I felt my hand being raised, and my voice saying I'll go. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late, I was committed, that is unless I wanted to be considered, and called a chicken the rest of my life, and no kid wanted that. I had to prove my bravery to all my friends.

  Slowly I approached Ticket. Bobby was holding him by the reins and smiling like an executioner about to pull the handle. I petted Ticket a time or two, thinking maybe if I made friends with him he would like me and take it easy on me. I placed a foot in the stirrup and stood up, kicked my leg over, and sat down in the saddle. So far so good I thought as I stuck my other foot in the stirrup. Just about then I thought I had to be on Seabiscuit, Secretariat, or some other race horse, because Ticket took off like he was shot out of a gun. By the time I got my head up off of his butt he began to buck. I was holding on for my very life. Every time that his feet hit the ground my jaws popped together so hard that everything went dark for a second, and my ears would ring. Slobber and snot was flying everywhere. I wasn't sure if it was his or mine, but it was all over the place. I knew that in a proper rodeo if you held on for 8 seconds you had fulfilled your obligation, and could get off. I was pretty sure it had not been that long, but surprisingly I hadn't been bucked off yet! Maybe I was going to be the one who tamed the beast.

  We were right over by where everyone was standing and watching, when all of a sudden I saw Pete shoot out of the crowd and fall to the ground, get up, and then take off running. What the heck was going on? Well, it seems that Bobby had pushed Pete out in front of us, and whenever someone would run then Ticket would chase them. Yep, you guessed it, just like a dog chases someone! So, I'm sure Ticket was thinking, hey this is more fun than trying to buck somebody off. Well Pete is running around in the backyard, with me and Ticket hot on his heels. I'm pulling back on the reins as hard as I can, but it's doing no good at all. Then for some reason that is still not known Pete decides the best way out was to run underneath the clothesline. I saw the wires coming at me, but instead of ducking, falling off, or anything, I froze.

  You know how they say that sometimes in situations your life flashes before your eyes, well it's true. Only as young as I was there was only like 2 or 3 pictures that flashed in my mind before the wire hit my throat. Now, clothesline wire is made out of #9 wire, which is about the size of a Bic ink pen, and it is strung between two 2" x 4" boards at the ends. I'm not sure how long I was unconscious, but I don't think it was very long. When I opened my eyes I saw all of these faces looking down at me. I noticed their mouths moving, but I couldn't hear anything. Slowly as my hearing started returning I could tell they were asking if I was alright. No I wasn't alright, I had just had a killer horse try to do me in! I started wondering, where was that devil horse, because I just knew he was waiting for everyone to move so he could come over and trample me. They told me that I had broken the wire and both 2" x 4" boards at each end.

  The rest of the day was just a blur and has since sunk into the recesses of my memories. I do however remember making a promise to myself that I would never ever under any circumstances get on a horse again, and that I had absolutely no desire to become a cowboy. As I have gotten older every now and then I would catch myself looking at some cowboy boots, thinking man those are some good looking boots, but reality would hit me again and I would remember the rodeo at the hotel all those years back..  Well to this day I have kept my little promise to myself!


Friday, March 30, 2012

A little background

  First off, I should make it very clear that I'm not a professional writer, but you'll probably figure that out real quick. People have told me for years that I should write down the stories that I have been telling, and hearing about growing up in Darrouzett, TX. So I thought, what the heck, might as well.

  Darrouzett is a small town in the Northeast corner of the Texas panhandle with a population at the apex of an oil boom of 444 souls. The majority of the population there are from German descent. Even the town was supposedly founded by a German immigrant who was heading out West to make his fortune, and when he got to the little valley where Darrouzett now stands, his wagon broke down. So the story goes that he wrote back to his relatives that were arriving at Ellis Island in New York, and he told them that as he was crossing the prairie his wagon hit a big ole gopher hole, and the wheel  broke off. They say that his letter said" vell da vagon she's busted, and I can go nowhere, so Dare I'll Set till you get here".

  We grew up during a time where the main entertainment available was, well whatever we could dream up, and believe me we had had some very active imaginations. There were only 3 channels available on the television. The only computers we knew about were on the Apollo space capsules, and a cellular telephone was not even a flicker in an inventors mind yet. We rode bicycles without helmets, played in the dirt, drank water out of the garden hose, fished in the creek, and then swam in it if the fish weren't biting. We could play outside until it got dark, but if Mom had to yell out the door for you get home, then you were already in trouble. We were typical kids, we played baseball during the Summer, football in the Fall, and basketball during the Winter. It was the time between that we used our imaginations to get into mischief. As far as I'm concerned it was the best childhood anyone could want. I'm sure that you've heard the old saying that it takes an entire community to raise a child. Well, that was certainly the case in Darrouzett. So consequently if you did something to get into trouble at your friends house, you not only got into trouble there, but you were in trouble when you got home also.

  I am going to attempt to retell these stories as accurately as I can. I won't guarantee that I haven't forgotten parts of them, or have had to add a little bit to them, but my heart is in the right place anyway. They also will not be in chronological order (I have a hard enough time remembering everyday stuff). Oh yeah, I have changed some of the names to protect the innocent! So here we go, and I hope you enjoy them.