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!


  1. Good stuff Mark! Amazing how many funny stories I can think of from that little town. Good times.

  2. Linda Webster LoganJune 11, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    Great job Mark! Putting these stories down for everyone to see is a wonderful idea. I know I haven't ever heard that one. Keep it up!!

  3. funny stuff- its almost like I was there- oh I was- can't wait for the next one

  4. Thanks Jerry, Linda, and ah whoever you are. I really appreciate the comments.

  5. Mark your stories never cease to make me laugh out loud. Too funny!