Saturday, June 9, 2007

TCC: The Third Crumb, Part II

No, I was not being beaten bloody. In fact: the look of disappointment upon my parents faces was more of a punishment than what physical pain was involved.

Yes, it took awhile; but I finally got the message. Subsequently: I returned unto being on my best behavior; and this resulted in some good things.

One of those good things happened in Meridian, MS. For I was recognized as being a model student by my third grade teacher.

Well, being recognized as a model student was not all good. For I was treated as a leper by my fellow classmates; and this included a beautiful blonde southern-belle, whom I had a huge crush on. Not that she would have anything to do with me before.

Another one of those good things happened back in Shell Knob. For after testing at a college-level reading aptitude in the first semester of the fourth grade: the "big room" teacher, Mrs. Reaser, strongly recommended that I be promoted unto the sixth grade. This was backed-up by the "big room" teacher, Miss Walters, during the second semester of the fourth grade at the school in Eagle Rock, MO.

Yes, the time for us to move our home base had come again. For after lodging a complaint with the authorities over people sunbathing on our lawn next to the lake: we found-out that the property line between us and what was under the control of the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers went across our cellar door. So: we settled in another "two-room" school district around 20 miles west of Shell Knob, MO.

No, our move into the Eagle Rock, MO area was not the only change that we experienced around then. For in 1967: a doctor in Oklahoma City, OK told my father that he faced paralysis if he did not quit being a pipeliner immediately; and after receiving basically the same opinion from several other highly-respected doctors: my father finally accepted that he really did have a problem with his back.

Alas, to say that my father had a problem with his back would be like saying that someone with an inoperable brain tumor had a problem with headaches. For after over 30 years of running bulldozers and ditching machines over most of the country in all kinds of weather: one vertebra had completely disintegrated, along with the discs on both sides of where that vertebra was supposed to be.

Needless to say: my father had lost around 2 inches from his natural 6 foot frame; but that was the least of his concerns. For with bone grinding against bone in his lower back: the pain had become unbearable; and it certainly did not help matters much that the only surgical option available at the time was to have his back fused in either a sitting position or a standing one.

No, surgery was not an acceptable option unto my father. He did, however, retire from the work that he loved so much; and this is when he found-out that the work did not love him back in the same way. That is: at least not those who ran the businesses involved. For after paying dues for over 30 years: the Operating Engineers Union informed my father that he was ineligible for retirement pay because of not being 65 yet. Even worse: he found-out that he was ineligible for any workers compensation from the company he had been working for, or any disability pay from the union, because of his condition not being the result of an accident.

Now, in all fairness: my father was offered an office position at a high salary; but he was in too much pain by then to do even that. Therefore: we lived off of the selling of my parents assets until the decision of the Social Security Administration to deny my father's disability claim was reversed in 1969.

No, I had no idea just how financially well-off we were before my father had to quit pipelining. Not that it really mattered. For our parents did a wonderful job of shielding Terry and I from feeling the effects of the strain that they were under. In fact: the only memory I have of something directly related is of my father announcing that he had not smoked a cigarette in over 2 weeks; and of the shame that the rest of us felt. For none of us had noticed that he had quit a 4 pack-a-day habit cold turkey.

Yes, I have other memories of when we still lived in the little green house by the Central Crossing Bridge over Table Rock Lake in Shell Knob, MO. Some are very pleasant. For I can remember running around the yard with Lady and my little brother; and going swimming in the lake next to our house.

Nonetheless: some of my memories of our residency in Shell Knob are not so pleasant. For I can remember making a sandwich out of waffles, cold turkey meat, mustard, and about a 1/2 inch of salt on top of the meat. I still have trouble eating waffles; and then there was my first experience with getting poison ivy. It happened during a visit by some of my father's relatives after they had expressed a great fear of being anywhere near it. So, with me being me: I grabbed a double handful of poison ivy leaves, and smeared them all over my face in order to prove that I had nothing to worry about; and after my eyes swelled shut: I had 2 weeks to reflect upon the fact that it would do me well to also have a great fear of being anywhere near poison ivy from then on.

My memories of living in the Eagle Rock, MO area are similar unto the rest of my memories of my childhood. For some pleasant memories include the thrill of going to Jenkins, MO (around 30 miles northeast) to play in a softball tournament against Jenkins, Shell Knob, Horner, Golden, Mineral Springs, and another school that I cannot remember the name of; and the thrill of going to Cassville, MO (around 20 northwest) to play basketball in a real gym with bleachers, locker rooms, and a hardwood floor against the Cassville Junior High team.

Then there are my memories of our cattle, chickens, ducks, and geese; and raising rabbits in our huge barn, which was actually not much bigger than what a double-car garage would normally be. As well as my memories of playing Beethoven's "Fur Elise" in a piano recital of Mrs. Ford's students; and being the substitute pianist at the Roaring River (Southern) Baptist Church in Eagle Rock.

Last, but not least of my pleasant memories of Eagle Rock is of the starting of a family tradition (minus my father) of being there on the banks of the river with pole in hand when the horn sounded signaling the opening of the Missouri Trout Fishing Season at Roaring River State Park (around 8 miles south of Cassville). It was a tradition that I observed for 14 consecutive seasons; and my brother even won the trophy for catching the largest trout (5 pounds, 14 ounces, I think) by someone under the age of 12 one year.

Yes, I aslo have some not-so-peasant memories of living in the Eagle Rock area. One of them is of racing Billy Easley on my super cool 3-speed bicycle. He was on his Honda 90 mini-bike; and we were going down hill on a gravel-covered dirt road. I had just pulled even when I looked over at his speedometer. It read 45 MPH (75 KPH); and I felt like I was flying. Then: my bike hit a good-sized rock sticking-out of the dirt; and I really went flying. For my bike went sideways; and I went straight over the handle-bars. After sliding face-first on the gravel for 15-20 feet: I was one big scrape from my forehead to my knees. My shirt had been torn off; and my jeans were in shreds. Thankfully: I suffered no serious injuries; but that incident effectively ended any joy that I could receive from riding on 2 wheels.

My next not-so-pleasant memory of living in the Eagle Rock area involves no physical trauma; but it is no less painful than my bicycle crash. In fact: it could be said that it is actually much more so. For I still feel some pain from finding-out that my brother and I were adopted.

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