Flashbacks are very short stories of incidents in my life that are not long enough for a regular blog post, but may (or may not) be interesting, notable, or funny. Your mileage may vary. Here we go:
Circa November, 1953: It was dark, and warm. (O.K., just kidding on this one…)
Circa 1968: 15 year old Popgun riding in car with Mom driving, slowing down to approach a stop sign. Popgun throws his arms up, yells “A TRAIN!!!!”. Mom slams on the breaks, tires howling to a stop, and then realizes… the nearest train tracks are eight miles away. Mom says to Popgun, “Don’t. You. EVER. Do. That. Again!!”.
Circa 1958: Brushfire nearby, Dad tells Mom to call the fire department. Mom calls fire department, shouts “There’s a FIRE OUT HERE!”… and hangs up. A few minutes later she realizes that she didn’t tell them where we were…. (Note: this is WAY pre 911 system).
Circa 1997: Mom, with senile dementia / COPD at nursing home. She calls 911 and tells the dispatcher, “HELP! We’re all dying out here!”. The dispatcher, recognizing the location, called the nursing home back to check, so no harm done. The next day, Popgun asked Mom about it, and she said “Wasn’t that clever??”. Popgun said, “Well, you clevered yourself right out of a phone.” I had to take Mom’s phone away.
Circa 1962: Popgun digs a hole in the sand at the end of our cement walkway, and gently buries seven or eight big water balloons. Dad comes home from work, steps in it – instant mud puddle. He looks puzzled, and went on in the house. I don’t think he ever figured out that I did it.
Circa 1968: Dad is fabricating pontoons for the neighbor’s house boat. I got “invited” to paint the inside of the pontoons, which were, at this stage, just long tubes of thin-wall rolled-and-welded pipe. So I took the spray rig and crawled down the length of the tubes, intending to paint and back my way out so I wouldn’t be crawling on fresh paint. Turns out there was a slight breeze blowing up the tube towards me. I was silver from head to waist, including my glasses, when I came out.
Circa 1966: We are building the barn / shop. I am placing and nailing corrugated sheet iron to the roof, and Dad is handing the pre-cut long pieces up to me from the ground. I am dragging one up from the edge of the roof, and it gets away from me, sliding off the edge of the roof. Fearing that I just cut my Dad in half, I slide down to look as fast as I can; and the sheet metal is standing on end, embedded in the soft ground, as Dad stands looking at it from a few feet away.
Circa 1966: Dad and I are cutting, splitting, and stacking fire wood, for sale to make Christmas money. We’re both splitting wood at the moment. I am driving a razor-sharp steel wedge into the end of a big chunk of oak, and the wedge pops out, flying across the clearing around 20 feet, landing right in between Dad’s feet (who was facing away from me). He just turned around and looked at me for a second.
Circa 1966: We were clearing and burning brush down in the bottoms. Part of this is hard work, but part of it is fun, too; you get to set fire to the piles of brush. Sometimes we’d throw gasoline onto the pile, if it seemed to need it. Once, I threw a screw-top bottle half full of gasoline onto a fire, and nothing happened. I turned away, and heard a “pop-fshhhhh” behind me, and then a few seconds later a “clink” as the bottle landed 40 or 50 feet away from the fire. I had invented the gasoline bottle rocket.