Last up-date 09/14/2003
Our first color tv, ( 1969 ) was from Monkey-Wards. If a tv can be possesed than this was the one. Every once in awhile the screen would go all white.. and all the hair on your arms would stand up and, A small bolt of lightning would shoot out of the picture tube, into the room. Most normal folks would have taken it right back but not my family. Nooooo, not my family we have to consider the whole situation, just study it awhile and observe, ( and be careful not to come to close to the screen. )
About this same time my dad decided that the cows were getting to durn smart, and were figuring how to get out of the field through his half-assed fence and so he bought an Electric-Fence from, Monkey-Wards. Everyday, my mom would go up and feed the cows and the donkey. She would reach across the electric-fence and toss the hay and pour some grain... And she got away with it for a little while and then, one day I just happened to look her direction when she hooked her sleave in the fence. The juice was on for 20 seconds and off for 10, and when she first hooked her shirt it was off, but came right back on and lit her up, let me tell you. In her struggle she managed to get the wire twist on her skin and it burned her. After she got done with being scared she got really pissed at the old man and not just for the fence but, every damn thing that bugged her for the last umpteen years. The icing on this slice of cake came later that night. As my mom passed close to the tv.. it went all white and zapped a bolt out the front. The Monkey-Wards tv repairman was up the very next day and took the devil-tv away and brought us one that worked just fine. Bonanza and Big Valleyandcrapp in color !! Wow-iee Zow-iee !!
I came home from school one day and there Charlie was checking out our corral. Ohh how he missed those ponies... If you have never heard them hee-hawing, you haven't lived. If he started pinein' in the o' dark thirties of the mornings, he would cut loose. It could be un-nerving at times, but after awhile I got used to it, ( my mom, never !! )
I got up one Saturday morning and old Charlie was just a running around and around the corral, he was really picking up speed and I was thinking he was pretending to be a race horse ...then quicker than I can tell you about it.. He, jumped over the gate like he had Gazelle in his blood ! And off he ran, dissapearing into the brush. OHHH CRAPP !!
So, my mom yells at me to catch him before he gets away. I'm not rally happy about having to do this because I was halfway afraid of that long eared, booger, but off I went anyway.. The brush was pretty thick and hid Charlie pretty good and I was almost on him, before I saw him. He was standing on the edge of the canyon, looking for a way down when out I popped from the brush.. halter in hand.
As I approached him, slowley.. he laid his ears down flat and peeled back his lips to show me a set of, big, yellow teeth.. I mean, B-I-G !! The Tooth Fairy would pay some big bucks for these babies. Then he started making snorting noises thru his nose.. ( and I'm thinking it is time to get back to the house, ) and before I could get my feet moving he was on me and bit my arm, through my Levi Jacket. HURT BIG TIME !! He took off one direction with me going quickly in the other. About an half hour later the Hammonds were calling to say, " Charlie had paid them a visit and was trying to marry the ponies again and would we please come get him ? "
So, my dad was summoned from the club and home he came. First I got a grilling about whether I was sure, " I didn't leave the gate open and that was how he got out..? "
Then it was off in the truck to go bring Charlie home, and by golly when we found him, I was going to lead him home, because the old man sez I have to show Charlie who was boss.
Parked down by the bridge and off through the brush we go, heading towards the Hammond spread. I have that damn halter and I am bulling my way through the brush and hoping against hope, that my dad found Charlie first... and, Deja Vu'. Out of the brush I popped, and there stood Charlie !
Ohhh Crappppp !! He get's a look at me, pulls back them lips. Laid back those ears. And when his eyes bugged out, my feet were heading for the truck. I made some pretty good time, back through the brush and was gaining ground on Charlie when I shot past the old man. Charlie wanted a piece of me, too be sure. He wanted to marry those ponies, really bad and he had that bad boy attitude, " You'll never take me alive.. " The problem , ( for him ) I was out running him and so he decided my dad was as good a target as me. This turned out to be the first of two serious mistakes of bad judgment on his part for this day.
I had stopped running and turned around to watch.... Here came Charlie and he looked as close to a rabid donkey as I ever hope to see again. Running straight at my dad and when he got in close, dad stopped him in his tracks with a right hook to the nose. Dad then hooked his arm around Charlie's neck and got a pretty good hunk of Charlie's ear between his teeth and by golly Charlie wanted nothing more but to have that halter on.. Let me assure you. Dad led him back to the road where he hands me the roap and sez, " I'll see you when you get home. " ( just under a mile ) And off he drove.
So, I'm eyeballin Charlie.. And he is eyeballin me, ( except he is still a little shell-shocked. ) " C' mon Charlie, " sez I but, he wasn't moving. So I sez, " You want to try a knuckle sandwich ? " It Turned out that Charlie was a donkey of many parts and one of those parts was, mind reading and he knew I wasn't going to hit him and so, he didn't move. I spent 20 minutes trying to get Charlie to move, and then we heard dad's truck coming back. As dad pulled into the turnaround Charlie decided that the break was over and it was time to get back to home.. and off we went. With dad following in the truck behind.
Charlie get's to thinking that he still would like to bite a hunk out of me... but, that it wasn't wise with the old man around so.... He picked up the pace and we were jogging and as soon as he heard me start to blow air he got that race horse in him and off he went. I couldn't keep up. Next, dad is yelling at me to, " get my butt in the truck, pronto !! " And off we go in pursuit, but old Charlie is no where to be seen and of course dad is blaiming me and as we crest the rise... There is Charlie, in his pen having lunch and looking rather smug about getting me in trouble twice in one day.
.... Remember when you were a kid.. ? Remember when your fuzzy little brains wanted to soak up as much knowledge about stuff that you could.. ? For a while I messed around with electricity. I didn't know that it could kill you, ( or at least curl your hair. ) I do now but I have learned this lesson hard.
My very first experiment was, ( I believe ) when I invented the laser at the age of four, in my parents bedroom. No foolin' ! I invented the Laser, crude as it was. I was fascinated with electrical cords. See, I thought the cord was magic or somesuchcrapp.. My young pea-brain didn't under stand the appliance did all the work and the cord merely carried the juice. I believed that carpets could fly and of course, magic was real.
My dad had this junk-drawer where he threw everything that didn't have a place, ( which was most everything. ) It was a wondrous thing full of magical treasure to a four year-old and on this particular day the drawer held an electrical cord ending with two bare ends of wire.. The light bulb goes on and I'm thinking to my self.... " I wunder how this thing works ? " Aladin's lamp needed to be rubbed before the magic worked, and so I plugged it into the socket... Didn't do a thing. " Hmmmmmmmm... " Next, I take a wire in each hand and I'm lookin' it all over, thinking how pretty the copper wire waz and I touched the two together.... The only thing I remember clearly at that instant was the smell of the air.. Kinda tinny, a BIG BRIGHT LIGHT and a feeling of a million-zillion chills rushing through my body. My big sister happened to be walking by the room at the exact, ( history making ) instant I created the laser and she was in time to witness the blue-arc boltandcrapp of light as it knocked me ass over tea-kettle.. scared the be-jeebers out of me and you would think this would be my last experiment with the power, but it wasn't.
Four years later when I had managed to live to the ripe old age of eight I had a little too much time on my hands one summer vacation, again I was drawn to the electricity, this time a toaster.
... I guess I should back pedal a little bit in the story of the toaster, and give you a little background... I lived waaaayyy out in the sticks. Last house on a mile long driveway, eight miles from town, ( down-hill. ) Wild land fires were a real threat, did occur on occasions and would scare the crapp right out of you if you were caught in one. Despite all of this, I liked to play with fire. My mom wore my butt off, punishing me for playing with fire and still I did not stop.
Soooo, like the way one must hide booze from a drunk... My mom hid fire making stuff from me, Mr. Pyro. Then came the summer of my eighth year. My mom had gone down the hill to the store, and I decide to make some toast. I'm staring down into the toaster.. watching how the coils glowed orange-red and how the bread turned brown and the pea-brain began to work.
I buttered and peanutbuttered my toast staring at the toaster thinking to my self, " Self... sez I, when the toast is in there those coils get hot !! You can feel the heat when you put your fingers over the top.. Then this means those glowing orange-red coils are really just electrical-fire...... Yeah !! That's the ticket. " So I start looking around for some thing to stick in the toaster to get hot. I wasn't so stupid that I knew I didn't want mom to catch me.. so, I didn't stick any twigs or paper, down in the toaster for fear of discovery and a asswhippinandcrapp.... I did give it some quick and serious thought, though.
Coming from a good sized family group, ( dad, mom, 3 boys & my sis ) everything had to be industrial strength and so was our silver ware. I don't know what metal it was made from but they were made for use. So, I'm thinking about the other night's tv show Bonanza, I thought about seeing Hoss and Little Joe, branding cattle and then it dawns on me... !! I can use one of the all metal knives as a kind of branding iron !! I can just stick it down into the toaster, heat up the blade and brand a piece of wood... " Neet-O !! "
I shoot out side and find me an old piece of wood and zip back into the house.. " This is going to be GREAT !! " Thunks me, " Probably the best idea I have come up with yet. " .............And, as it turned out.. almost my last.
My folks house was built in 1948 and we bought it in 1954. It was a fairly modern house for it's day, I suppose. It didn't have a fuse box, it had a breaker panel. A big old black box, high up on the garage wall and I remember it having a picture of a bull-dog on the front. My dad told me Mr. Brink lived inside of it to scare me away, ( it worked ) I never messed with it but I guess he should have warned me about toasters too.
I was pressed for time, because I didn't know if my mom was on her way up the hill or not so I cranked the knob all the way up to, " Dark Toast "... I pushed the bar down and waited for the coils to glow nice and bright.... Then I stuck the knife in the toaster and touched a coil.
Had to think quick........ So, I decided to lie, ( as my big sister reads this, I'm sure she will be surprised at this solution of mine... Eh' Sis ?. ) As my mom got out of her car she was greeted by me running out of the house with an story of how, " The toaster tried to electrocutemeandcrapp when I tried to pry a piece of stuck toast out of it.. "
I must have still looked like someone who recently survived the electric chair because my butt cheeks were spared that day. When my dad came home from work that night he took that, " Nuttinbuttcrapp Monkey-Wards " toaster apart to see if he could,
" fix it, " ( a curse in our blood-line. ) It turned out that Monkey-Wards put what they call a,
" fuseable link " in-line, on the power cord. This is what blew and probably saved my young butt... the breakers never popped once. Dad just stuck some tin-foil in it's place and we used that toaster for many a moon there after. I stopped pushing my luck with the electricity, forever more. Quote the Raven, " Nevermore.. "
September, 1965 I was thirteen years old and it was my first day of 7th grade. Whole new world for me compared to the little country grammar school I came to know and loath. All these different classes to go to.. All the different bells, locker combinations.. Buying a jock-strap and really not having a clue as to which leg goes where. New haircut and new clothes. Ready to go!
Math, history, gym, art, English and shop. Shop?? I hadn't a clue what shop was, Like... shop at the store? Didn't have a clue.
Metal shop, to be exact. I loved metal shop. There were all these toolsandcrapp and I was going to learn how to use them and I didn't even have to ask my dad if I could! " Neet-O!! " I made an ashtray out of a piece of copper, cut it into a crude circle and pounded it into an.. kinda, ashtray shape, filed it polished it... got an C, ( Crummy ) for it and I was soooo proud. Next we made a box outta' tin and used these big, awkward soldering irons, ( had to heat them with a blow-torch ) and solder all the seams. My box wasn't as nice as the ash-tray. It wasn't square for one thing, wouldn't sit flat on the table... Wobbled pretty good and the soldering job was..... rough, to say the least and it won me an, D ( for determined/no talent. )
Our next lesson was casting. There was a small metal smelter in the class room and much to my glee I found we were going to get to make stuff from molten metal, ( liquid fire.... my cup of tea!! ) Imagine my disappointment when I found out that there was noooo way, noooo how Mr. Sugiama was going to let us 13 year-old goofs anywhere near the smelter. Noooooo.... Only him and his assistant, ( a ninth-grader ) would be melting anything. " Bummer. " But, I watched how they did it veeery carefully and an nearly fatal idea was beginning in the old noodle, again.
I cast a neat skull in sand and Mr. Sugiama poured molten aluminum inside and after a 24 hour cooling period we cracked open the casts, sanded the seams and polished our skulls. Next I made a skull of brass.... got a C, ( Crummy ) for both and this just spurred my thoughts on. I wanted to maker my own smelter and melt my own metal. And so the weekend came.
Saturday morning I set about getting all the parts together for my home-made smelter.
1. One five-gallon steel bucket.
2. One full gallon, Coleman Fuel, ( white-gas. )
3. One pile of gravel, ( stones various sizes. )
4. One pile of sticks.
5. One book of stolen matches.
6. One very dim-witt.
Mom was down the hill shopping and dad was inside watching tvandcrapp and I was free to implement my plan. First, I put a layer of gravel on the bottom of the bucket. Then I piled a layer of sticks. Last, I poured some Coleman fuel on top. Then another layer of gravel, then sticks and last more fuel. I decided that I needed some bigger, fist sized stones in this mix and so I added a dozen fist sized stones, ( I thought that using the stones was a good idea because they would heat up hot and aid in the smelting. ) More sticks, more fuel and another layer of gravel, topped off with more fuel, ( had about half a can of fuel in that bucket. )
I snuck up-stairs and into the house just to make sure dad was occupied watching the tube, ( he was ) and back down to the driveway, I go ( or is that destiny? ) I pulled the matches out of my pocket and lit one............
I never heard the explosion. As soon as I lit the match the fumes, wafting up from the bucket ignited with a, ! ! ! ! ! In a split-second I saw the fire-ball and managed to close my eyes. When I opened them a milly-second later I saw the bucket was gone and my face was hot! Just like a sunburn and my ears were just ringing and singing, I couldn't hear a thing. At this moment I noticed my dad coming down the stairs and running straight at me with the weirdest look in his eyes and I thought I was dead. I thought he was going to kill me for messing up his bucketandcrapp and I took off running. I knew I was dead when dad caught me, jumped on me and rode my body down to the ground and to make matters worse he was slapping my head with his handsandcrapp. Dad grabbed me by the belt and drug me over to the water faucet and proceeded to douse me with water and I'm thinking, " Holycrapp!! He's trying to drown me and I start to thrashing in earnest. " C'mon dad... I didn't know it was your favorite bucket..... Lemme' go... I won't touch your buckets again!! !! "
To make matters worse, mom came home in the middle of this and I can see her yelling at dad and I thought she had talked him out of drowning me. Mom then grabs me by the arm and hustles me inside and into the bathroom. My ears were still sounding like a zillion crickets and I couldn't hear a thing but judging from the look on her face my buttcheeks were fixing to get skinned. She grabbed the Bag Balm.. got a big handful and started smearing it on my head and face. I managed to pull away..... then I looked into the mirror....
My face was fire engine red. I had zero eye-lashes, eye-brows and my hair was shorter by a couple of inches. She then grabbed me by the arm and outside we go and I find dad in the car and off we go to the hospital. It turned out that was a veeeery lucky boy indeed... all the way around. When I lit that match the fumes exploded in a fireball. Had I not managed to close my eyes, ( the doctor later told me ) I would have lost my sight. When we got back home, ( and after they got the truth out of me ) dad and I went looking for that bucket and found it in the bushes about 25 yards from the house with it's seam just blown out... You could put your foot in the hole, and there wasn't a piece of wood, bit of gravel and not one of those rocks to be found anywhere. It seems that when I lit the match and set off the events... the vapor exploded, then the fuel in the bucket exploded and like Mt. St Helens, the rocks blew out the side of the bucket. Had they come straight up, ( like they should have ) I would have been headlessandcrapp.
I didn't get a whipping. I guess they figured it was lucky I was still with them and they didn't want to tempt faith, or something. I dunno'... Like the lesson of electricity... fire and me to quote the Raven, " Never More. "
........I want to switch gears here and write about our family vacation of 1968. My dad was a big shot in the union and because of this, he got loooong vacations. One of our favorite destinations was, Yellowstone National Park, ( Jellystone, for you Yogi Bear fans. )
As usual, dad said we were going to be on the road at 6 am, " To beat the trafficandcrapp... " Of course it never worked out that way. We were never on the road before 8 am and the vacation of 1968 was noooo different. On the road again, next stop Montana. Years ago my father was a coast to coast truckdriver, ( Pacific Intermountain Express, ) and on every trip we ever took.. all he wanted to do was get there as quickly as he could, then we would take our time, coming back.
Woe be it to you, if you didn't use the bathroom.... Before you left the house because requests to use the toilet, on the road before the scheduled noon stop... In my case it was a pop bottle handed to me in the back seat and told not to miss. By 1968 I too had the kidneys of a long haul trucker and I could wait as long as he, ( mom never adjusted and would nag him until he caved in and quit passing the, Rest Stops. )
We had a 1965 Chevy pick-up with a 14 foot Aljo Travel Trailer hooked on.. and not just a regular trailer hitch but one of those that had a receiver on the truck, a couple of anti-sway bars kind of deal and it really was, " a pain to un-hook and re-hook the damn thing, " to quote dad. Mom had a phobia about sleeping in the trailer if it was still hooked to the truck. She was always afraid that someone would steal the truck and take us unwilling passengers on a wild ride and she would always make dad, " un-hook the damn thingandcrapp. "
To be continued.....
The tune is, Tequila by the Champsİ , In the summer of 1974 I had Tequila force it's way out of my nose at a high rate of speed and pressure. One of my more, un-pleasant experiences.. ( Kids don't try this at home!! ) Josequervogoldandcrapp never touched my lips, ( or nose ) again.