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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, July 11, 2006



I am having trouble concentrating enough to finish the funeral tale, but it bothers me to see my blog space empty, so I thought I might go back to my “memoir” and tell a little more about the stupid kid tricks with which I was involved.

I wrote a little segment about one of the jobs I had in high school at the Idaho Concrete Products Company and the fun I had “driving” a delivery truck.

There are two or three other interesting things relating to that job, at least indirectly.  I have to mention again that it was not an easy job.  We had to be to work every morning at about seven A.M.  We worked a ten hour day, getting off at five thirty in the evening (we had half an hour for lunch). We all liked the ten hour day because we got time and a half for everything over forty hours a week and with a ten hour day we automatically got ten hours of overtime each week.

Some of us would also be called in on Saturday, till noon, and that was “money in the bank”.  We didn’t do manufacturing on Saturday, but we would often have deliveries, pick-ups (bad blocks or bricks were “culls” and we picked them up and credited the contractor for the cost).  As a result, I was physically stronger than I had ever been in my life.  I had a great tan (I worked much of the time with no shirt), and I was usually completely pooped at the end of a day.  Sometimes I would shower and go out, but frequently I would come home, grab a shower, eat dinner and go to bed.

That summer, my brother, Doug,  was on his mission up in Canada, and dad and mom took dad’s vacation and went up to Canada to see him, leaving me home alone.  I don’t have a clue what they did with Virginia and Byra Lou.  They must have either farmed them out to aunts and uncles, or taken them along to Canada.  At any rate, I was home alone for about two weeks.  Now, whole books have been written about leaving sixteen year old boys home on their own for two weeks, but my folks trusted me, and I tried, mostly, to be trustworthy.  At least, nothing happened in our house that would have upset my parents, but some rather strange, teen age, stupidity happened outside the house.

The first event of interest (at least to me) happened on a weekday evening when I came home really exhausted from work.  It was one of those rare evenings when I had a date or/and appointment with someone after work (with whom and for what I don’t have a clue, but I know I was supposed to be somewhere by seven P.M).    I went downstairs to get a shower and change clothes.  I remember sitting on the bed, and the next thing I remember was the alarm clock going off.  I had obviously slept through my date, or appointment, or whatever and slept through until morning.  I jumped off my bed, took a quick shower jumped into some clean work clothes and, grabbing a banana or something out of the fridge rushed down to the corner.  One of the guys from work picked me up each morning at the corner of Washington and Maple.  I stood there at the corner, waiting, and he never showed up.  He always came at about 6:45, and that time went by, and I stood there waiting.  As frequently occurred, there was no one else on the street.  Sometime after 7:15, I got really edgy and was about to run home to call the boss and tell him I would be late, when a woman I didn’t know came walking along the street.  I stopped her to ask the time.  

“Almost seven thirty,” she replied.  Then suddenly an idea came to me, and I asked another question.

“I feel a little silly asking this, but I had a hard, confusing day at work.  Could you tell me if it is morning or evening?”
Her eyes went a little wide and she backed a step or two away from me.  “It’s evening, of course.”

Realization of what had happened hit me and I sputtered “Thanks”, and went dashing back home.  I had obviously just napped long enough to think I had slept all night, and for some unknown reason the alarm was still on from that morning.

It was too late to do whatever I had planned to do.  I made a couple of phone calls to make sure but it was too late, so I grabbed a book turned on a Bix Beiderbeck record and settled down with a good book.  I can’t remember any bad feedback about wherever I was supposed to be that evening, and I still wonder about that woman and what she (and at my current age, I wonder who she was, or what “it” was or??) thought.  I am glad “she” wasn’t a friend of the family or I would never have lived it down.

Second adventure while the folks were out of town: The single guys at work (and, except for Mark Hancock, who was a close neighbor, I can’t remember the guys’ names) and I decided to go up to Lava Hot Springs on Saturday.  One of the guys had a thirty-nine Plymouth four door that was yellow with black fenders, which had to be one of the ugliest cars in the world. (Isn’t it ridiculous that I can remember the car better than the guy).  He volunteered to take his car, and we all (there were four of us) volunteered to ride with him and pay for the gas.  

On Saturday morning, early, he picked me up, then swung by to pick Mark up on the next street.  We had talked about taking lunches, but we ended up buying a couple of loaves of bread and some lunch meat and cheese from the Bargain Barn.  We also picked up some cokes, some other pop, and some beer.  I don’t remember who was old enough to show an I.D. to buy the beer, but I remember that someone did.  I probably could have bought beer anyplace downtown.  I had learned early that I looked older than I was, and could do things like that without an I.D., but the people at the Bargain Barn knew me, and there was no way anyone would have sold me beer..

We stuck the drinks in an old metal ice chest (with some ice) and away we went.  The  thirty plus mile trip to Lava was without incident, except that the driver offered a prize of a beer to the first person to see the “L” on the side of the mountain over Lava.  Of course, since I didn’t drink beer (at least as far as anyone of them knew), I won the prize and spent the rest of the day with everyone bugging me to drink the beer.  I spent the day as a self righteous hypocrite refusing.

When we got to Lava we spent most of the morning in the outdoor pool (there were two, one indoor and one outdoor) with the other guys trying unsuccessfully to pick up girls and the rest of us giving critiques on “pick-up” lines.  We went out and made sandwiches for lunch and used some of the bread to feed the monster trout that lived under the bridge by the pool.  There was always a crowd of people lining the bridge, tossing in scraps of bread.  I have no idea how many fish lived under the bridge, but most of them were large, and sometimes they would jump right out of the water to snag a piece of bread or popcorn.  I don’t remember much of the rest of the day though I am sure that we wandered up the main street of Lava Hot Springs (such as it was), and I remember hiking out in the brush on the edge of town.  I also remember that we got back in the pool, spending most of the time in the indoor pool.

The guy who owned the car was a smallish guy with dark black hair, and once we got in the pool, we played some game where one person would get on another’s shoulders and we would try to knock each other over.  He rode my shoulders and was pretty tough, and though Mark was on the bottom for the other team and was even bigger than me, my team usually won.  After the game, my partner went down to the shallow end of the pool and laid there under the slide.  He laid there for almost an hour and we went down to hassle him.  He finally admitted that he laid there against the edge of the pool under the ladder for the slide because he could look up at the girls who climbed up the slide ladder, and when they had two piece swimsuits he could see parts of their breasts.  We teased him a lot, and then went over and took turns looking up at the girls as they climbed the ladder.  It WAS interesting, and I suspect that if the girls had any idea what was going on the slide would have been empty most of the time.

We hung around till the pool closed then went out and finished the refreshments.  I finally “weakened” and drank my one beer, and the rest of the beers disappeared.   I was glad that most of the beer had been finished at lunch because I wouldn’t have looked forward to the ride home if the driver had been high on beer.  It probably wouldn’t have made any difference because he scared the living daylights out of me without being drunk.

The trip home from Lava, that night, was one of the worst experiences in my life.  Something in “Joe’s (I still can’t really remember his name, but Joe works) brain seemed to slip after we left Lava.  It was a perfectly normal drive for the first couple of miles then Joe decided to switch off his headlights.  If this had been a four or six lane expressway, perhaps it wouldn’t have bugged me, but this highway was a winding two lane road with fairly marginal upkeep.  Even with headlights the road was not well marked and was hard to see.  Without headlights it was hard to see the road, the cutoffs when we were on the side of a hill, or the drop-offs on the OTHER side of the hill.  Even this might have been “no problem” but he was driving well over sixty.  I suggested that I might like to get out and hitchhike home to which he replied “Sure, get out!” .  To which everyone laughed, but which invitation did not include stopping for me to do this, or even slowing down.  About this time a car’s lights showed over the hill and another car came zipping along in the opposite direction.  The other car, seeing us, honked wildly, flipped his own lights off and on the roared past us.

After I had exposed my total horror of this activity, Joe turned the lights back on.  As I thought I might relax for a moment, he then turned into the left hand lane zipping down the wrong side of the road.  I don’t remember my exact reaction but it was probably some gibbering noise.. “ Don’t worry,“ yelled Joe, this isn’t dangerous, you can always see the lights of an on-coming car and dodge out of the way.  My thought was “What if the other car sees our lights and dodges in the same direction?”  The remainder of most of the trip was same-ol, same-ol repetition of the stupidity last to stupidity next until we passed the Port of Entry (truck weighing station) near McCammon.  (which we passed with headlights on and on the right side of the road.  The presence of Idaho State Troupers at the Port of Entry seemed to affect Joe’s driving.)  At the end of the Port of Entry an eighteen wheeler with a large box trailer pulled out just in front of us.  Joe cursed a bit, pulled into the left lane momentarily till oncoming traffic stopped even him from trying to pass.  He continued along behind the truck till he noticed a sign for a “scenic overlook” along the road.  He then pulled over onto the right hand shoulder of the road and gunned the car down the shoulder, passing the truck on the right at the turn off for the scenic overlook.  That move can only be appreciated if one knows how poorly Idaho Highways were maintained at that time.  Some movie star, I believe it was Bing Crosby , had crossed Idaho by highway about that time and was quoted as saying that he couldn’t believe Lewis and Clark had made it across.  The act was fortuitous however because it was too much for Mark as well and Mark reached up over the back seat, took Joe by the neck and promised to lift Joe out of the seat and throw him out the window if he tried anything stupid again.  The remainder of the drive home was with headlights on, on the right hand side of the road, and only slightly above the speed limit.  I lost my early morning ride to work, but Mark started taking his car and swinging by to pick me up.

The folks came home the next week, and though I told them about my sleeping confusion, I never bothered to tell them about the Lava Hot Springs trip except to mention that we had gone swimming.

The last really dumb thing that I did relating to the job had to do with football at the school (and with greed). I had lettered in football my Junior year and was one of only two returning lettermen coming back on my senior year.  Bob Johansson was the other.  We were both linemen.  Our coach, Chase Anderson, from the previous year had left our school and gone to College coaching, somewhere in Oregon, so we had a new coach.  When the new coach announced the beginning of football practice, some two or three weeks before school began, I just panicked at the loss of income from the job, so I went over to his house, introduced myself, and gave him some cock-and-bull story about how my brother was on a mission, things were tight, and how important my income was to our family (dad would have killed me if he had known) and asked if I could start a week or two late.  I hastened to explain that on my job I did a lot of lifting etc. and would run in the evenings so that I would be in shape to start at the later time.  If I remember, he said something like “What the Hell?” but he agreed that I could start a week late.  It did not increase my value to the team and I got a lot less consideration and playing time than I would have otherwise, and I truly regretted it for the remainder of the year, but I enjoyed the extra money.


At 10:10 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

My thought was “What if the other car sees our lights and dodges in the same direction?”

Sounds like you were always too sane to ever be really bad.

At 8:39 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

I had a similar passenger experience. My fear and rage caused my head to pound to the point that the driver had to stop to accomodate me losing my lunch! I promised more if the rest of the drive home was more of the same. He slowed down.

At 11:10 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

running up to ask a woman the time of day; priceless!


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