Thursday, June 14, 2007

TCC: The Fourth Crumb, Part II

Oh yeah, I was just reminded of another thing about the Wolf Pen Gap area that should be included before we get too far away from the subject. For I had a "dream" one night about a Tyson Foods semi-truck (tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler) pulling a refer (refrigerated trailer) headed south on the "Ridge Road" (a.k.a.: MO State Highway 86 south of Bates Corner). As the truck started down a very steep section of the road in the Wolf Pen Gap area: the driver geared-down, and applied the brakes; but for some reason or another: he had no brakes to apply! So: he tried riding it out by driving the rig into the ditch next to the cliff-face on the northbound side of the road; but he hit a whistle (galvanized water drainage culvert). The rig flipped over the road; and then rolled-over several times before coming to rest about 100 feet down the side of the mountain.

A couple of days later (I think): my mother was heading south on the ridge road when she "heard" someone calling for help. She stopped to investigate; and then saw the wreckage of a Tyson Foods truck about a 100 feet below her.

Believe it or not: it was the driver of the rig who was calling for help. For he was trapped in the crumpled-up cab of his truck; and after he called-out again: my mother told him to not go anywhere while she went for help.

By the time my mother got home: she was babbling quite incoherently; and after my father got her to calm-down a bit: she called the Barry County Sheriff's Office in Cassville (no 911 in that area back then). They then drove back to where the truck was; and after several hours of work: the driver was finally freed from the wreckage.

The Missouri Highway Patrol was also on the scene; and they started their investigation almost immediately after getting the driver out. No conclusion was reached, however; and the driver was of no help at that time, neither. For he was drifting in and out of consciousness; and he was quickly whisked away to the Southern Barry County Hospital in Cassville with some very serious injuries. He was later transferred unto a hospital in Springdale, AR, which is where Tyson Foods is headquartered, as well as where he and his family lived.

After coming home from school that day: my parents told me about the wreck. I then told them about the my "dream"; and after his condition had improved some: the driver was able to give his statement about what had happened. His account matched what I had seen in my dream exactly; and I got chills down my spine when I heard about it.

I am also reminded of some other things that happened while we were living in the Eagle Rock area that should be included. Two of them involved violence: albeit unintentionally.

The first thing occurred when Terry walked-up behind me while I was batting rocks across the road, and got hit on the top of his head by the back-swing of the bat. I thought I had killed him. For he was most definitely a tow-head (having snow-white hair) back then; and he quickly begun to look more like a strawberry sundae than my little brother with all the blood streaming down.

No, he was not screaming in pain. In fact: Terry was more concerned about me than himself. However, that came unto a screeching halt after our father got a look at him; and he really got scared after hearing our mother scream: WHAT DID YOU DO???, at me.

Thankfully: the only real damage that was done was a quarter-sized patch of skin and hair missing from the top of Terry's head; and I did not even get a whipping out of it. Nonetheless: be assured that I was a lot more careful about batting rocks across the road after that.

I also learned a valuable lesson about what can happen when you "throw" rocks while we were living in the Eagle Rock area. For I got all upset over taking the head clean-off of a duck that had been eating baby chickens (young chicks). It was, however, quite a throw from around 30 feet away.

Another lesson learned involved what to do when finding chicken eggs out in the woods. For I found-out what a rotten egg really smells like when the one that I had found exploded all-over me just before I reached the back door of the house.

Yes, life went on; and in 1972: the time for us to move had come around again. It could even be said that it was late on this occasion. For in 1970: the school at Eagle Rock closed because of having so few students (my class had 5 regularly in attendance: Cindy Apperson, Cindy Tichenor, Mary Ann Farwell, Randy Tinsley, and myself); and the 20 mile bus ride to Cassville was a great strain on us all.

Furthermore: my mother had taken a job in the sporting goods department of Johnson's Department Store in Cassville; and then there were also all of the after-school activities (band, sports, etc.), Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and a host of other things that required travel to and from Cassville. So: our move unto a place near "Bates Corner" (around 5 miles east of Cassville) was most prudent in regards unto the saving of time and money.

Bates Corner was an old country store that served as a landmark for decades. It was located at the eastern split of MO Highway 76 (towards Shell Knob, via MO State Highway 39) and MO State Highway 86 (towards Eagle Rock); and I think that it is still standing.

Now, the site that we moved unto was an unimproved strip of land on the south-side of MO State Highway 76; and this left for a lot of decisions to be made. For it did not even have a driveway; let alone: a place to live, and a water supply.

No, I do not remember just how long it actually took; but I do remember that all of the "big" things (something to live in, water well, driveways, and fencing) were completed in very short order. For my father was a master at getting things done; and I am quite sure that my mother played an essential role in it all.

Perhaps it was her who suggested that they buy a double-wide mobile home instead of building a house? For it would be, after all, a lot faster; and a lot less expensive, as well.

Yes, a mobile home is not a house: not even if it is a double-wide; but by the time they had it set-up the way they wanted it to be: one would be hard-pressed to tell a difference. For they had the structure attached unto concrete footings that my father had poured for this very purpose, with the wheels, axles, and front hitches removed.

Furthermore: the structure itself was wonderfully built by true craftsmen at the Ozark Homes facility in Neosho, MO (about 35 miles west of Cassville). For the walls were framed with 2x4 studs on 16" centers; and the floor and ceiling joists were 2x6's on 16" centers.

Yes, the roof and siding were aluminum. For that was the only option available at the time; but with painted heavy-duty under-penning, a full-length covered front porch, along with car port, attached: many who visited our home had trouble believing that it was indeed a double-wide mobile home after being told that it was!

The truth about the well that my parents had drilled on our new place might be of interest unto some. For they had it "witched".

Now, the witching of a well is for the purpose of locating where it should be; and it involves someone with the "gift" walking around with a Y-shaped "witching-rod" pointed forward and held horizontally in their hands (with their thumbs pointed towards themselves). The witching-rod is usually a willow, sassafras, or peach limb; but a piece of wire (like a coat hanger) is known to be used by some.

When passing over a good source of water underground: the witching-rod will point to the spot with a certain amount of force. The more force: the closer the water supply. This principal also applies unto how much water is available; and in the case of our well: the witching-rod jerked down quite violently. In fact: the well-witcher almost lost his grip on it!

Yes, my parents were plumb serious about being Christians; but not so unlike a very great many of their generation: they were rather superstitious about certain things. This was especially true of my mother; but neither one of them saw anything wrong with the practice of well-witching.

Some would even go as far as to suggest that well-witching was ordained by God. For Moses was instructed to tap his staff upon a stone; and water would then pour-out from it.

Besides: it certainly seemed to work. For when the outfit that my parents had contracted to actually drill the well set-down upon the point that had been marked by the well-witcher: they hit a good stream of water at only 45 feet down. Whereas: a well that was drilled across the road a few years later (which was not witched!!!) did not hit water until going over 600 feet down; and the average depth of water wells in the area (whether witched or not) was around 400 feet.

I even tried my hand at witching once or twice; and I was told that I did indeed have the "gift" by a few who should have known what they were talking about. I never put it into practice, however.

After all of the "big" projects were completed: the "fun" really started. For there were about 20 million tons of rocks that needed to be removed before we could have a front yard (40 feet x 40 feet, I think) to mow.

No, I am not exaggerating as much as what most would think. For there was less than an inch of topsoil on that ridge; and underneath it was a layer of rocks (from as small as a grape unto as big as a human head) that we never got even close to getting to the bottom of. In fact: we finally settled for hauling some dirt in after removing 2-3 feet of the rocks off the top.

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