Sunday, February 12, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 43nd Installment

year every other year was thwarted.

Reese was the principal and the seventh grade and eighth grade teacher. He changed my life, and the lives of everyone he taught. Because he was there so long (41 years) and in a small community, he would say things like “Your father would have answered the same way,” to a student or “I remember teaching your grandfather,” to a new first grader. Reese had nicknames for most of his students. When Russ and I were in eighth grade and seventh grade he called us Cussell and Racey (Russell and Casey) or the year before, he called Russell, Rustynails, and when I was in eighth grade, I was Case–o–beer which stuck with some friends and became my new nick name instead of Casey. His greater gift to me was the huge head start in high school. For the students that were willing to work hard, he would make a deal to teach both the seventh grade and eighth grade curriculum together when we were in the seventh grade, then teach as much high school level curriculum as we could absorb in the eighth grade. He also taught penmanship, real beautiful cursive handwriting, with enough practicing ‘push–pulls’ and ‘spiraling circles’ that even the boys wrote in a big round hand. In eighth grade he taught English, including sentence diagramming, algebra, geometry, US history, earth science, and physics with a bit of chemistry.

Chapter 10
Which one of you dumb heads forgot to take the hose off the hydrant?” Vernon interrogated me first, then Russell. Blaming me first was the usual pecking order and often a wise conclusion; I did more things, and therefore, just by the numbers, I made more mistakes. This time, though, I hadn’t done it and Russ hadn’t either. Linda? Ted, the neighbor? Vernon always blamed Ted every time he lost something or couldn’t figure what happened to something. He’d say, “That god damned Ted has it!” The truth was Ted basically never borrowed anything.
The hydrant is frozen and you guys will have to carry water until I can thaw it out,” he laid down the law. There were about forty cattle at that trough, and we’d have to carry a fifty gallon drum of water every day, but there was nothing to do but get at it, and after filling the cattle trough, we had to help with the frozen hydrant.

First, we carried boiling water and poured it over the hydrant. The temperature that day was about ten below zero, and we just made it real icy under foot. Then Vernon hooked his AC welder to the iron pipe, the stinger cable on top and the negative cable at ground level, and poured on the amperes. This heated the pipe quickly, and soon there was steam blowing out the spigot. “This isn’t going to work. It’s frozen too deep underground, we’re only boiling the water above ground,” he said gruffily,

500 more words tomorrow

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