Some long-time friends were visiting last evening, and we spent a good bit of time telling stories about the good old days. It jogged my memory about some things I had not thought about in years. Most of these are about my Dad, a.k.a. Charlie B., and all are true to the best of my recollection.
As a boy, I went through the phase where I loved to play with parachutes. So Dad went down to the Army-Navy store and bought me a parachute that was originally used for military flares. It was maybe a couple of feet across, and was spring loaded. So I played with that for a while. Some time later, I happened to be with him when he was back at the Army-Navy store, and I found a cargo parachute in a metal canister. So I talked Dad into springing for it.
So what does a ten year old kid do with a parachute that is slightly larger than the size of his bedroom?
A couple of days later, Dad was driving his pickup truck around the area with a parachute tied to the back bumper, and with me in the back of the truck. He probably had the only Harvester-International pickup truck in the world with a drogue chute.
We came home one day to find a new hole in the back door, roughly 2” in diameter and about two feet off the floor. Dad told us he had been “cleaning his shotgun”. (By the way, I still have this shotgun. It’s a 16 Ga. L.C. Smith, Field model).
I told you that one so I could tell you this one.
I had a dog named Joseph, who like all dogs had a personality all his own. He slept in my bed. (or Vice Versa). Anyhow, after Dad shot the hole in the back door, Joseph got into the habit of running to it and sticking his nose out of it any time he heard a car coming. He’d come running down the hall, skidding on the linoleum, and fetch up against the door with his nose in the hole.
I bet you see this one coming. Several months later, we replaced the door. The very next time a car came into the driveway, here came Joseph, drifting around the corners at full throttle, where he slammed into the door with his snout at break-neck speed; it made a pretty good dull thud. I have no idea why this was funny, but it was.
Dad had a chain boomer on the nose of his Harvester International pickup truck, for a hood latch. He failed to shut the hood completely, once, and we were motoring along the local farm & market road, when the hood just blew open, ripped loose, and floated up into the air like a leaf in the fall, coming gently to rest a few hundred feet behind us as we slid to a stop. Naturally, the hood latch was wrecked. Dad welded the hinges back on, and welded the chain boomer on the nose of his truck with a piece of chain to hook it to on the bottom. Never had to worry about that happening again! That’s country engineering, there.
These days, chain boomers are called chain binders. They tighten up any loose chain.
Dad loved to fish (and drink beer). The two seem to go together. Anyhow, one day I noticed his little aluminum boat laying out beside his shop, and the bottom had pretty much been torn out of it. So I asked him what happened.
He told me he had been fishing (and drinking) and he forgot to clamp the back of the boat down on the trailer. On the way home from the lake, on the black-top road, the lock also came loose on the winch at the front of the boat. So he’s motoring along at around 50 mph, looks in his mirror, and finds his boat at the end of fifty feet of rope being dragged down the road. It made him so mad, he just dragged it the rest of the way home…
Dad loved me, I’m pretty sure he did. Once, I asked him for a skate board. Now, you have to understand, this was something new, back then. He asked me what a skate board was, and I described it to him as best I knew how.
A couple of days later, he gave me a skate board. He made it out of the two halves of a steel skate (the kind that is designed to clamp to your shoes), welded to a piece of steel plate, probably 3/16” thick by 6” wide by 18” long. Weighed about 25 pounds. He didn’t even round the corners off, it was just square cut with a cutting torch.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him the flaws in this. So although I never learned to ride a skate board, I did find ways to play with it, so he wouldn’t think I wasn’t grateful.
I got a basketball for Christmas one year. I had no basketball goal, so Dad made a ring of steel out of sucker rod, and welded it to the end of my (heavy duty pipe) swing set. No back board. We also had no flat ground anywhere. I got pretty good at cross-country dribbling, but my own boys taught me how to use a backboard. (I was exposed to them in school, but I never got the ball in P.E. long enough to actually use one).
I hope you enjoy these memories of mine. There’ll be some more, later. Have a nice day!