Monday, June 22, 2009

Come Monday...From Miller To Poverty Point

“Come Monday…” is a weekly series that will involve a review of, or commentary about, websites, movies, documentaries, television shows, sports, music, and whatever else may tickle my fancy at the time. Be assured that these reviews will be generally positive, as in accordance to the Jimmy Buffett song “Come Monday.” This is subject to change, however. In fact, I would be most derelict in my duties to neglect going on a rant every once in a while. For rants promote change, and change can be good—right? Therefore, since good is generally considered as being a positive force in 99.3% of the parallel universes that I am aware of, even a rant could be considered as being something positive, and a genuine hissy-fit would be even better (so I’m told).

I know that this will come as quite a shock to most. For I have maintained a level of discipline unparalleled in the anals of blogging history, but I am still too distracted to get back with the program here.

So, since there was some interest expressed last week about hearing more of what has me so distracted, it seemed only appropriate to post another crumb from the rewrite of The Crackerhead Chronicles. Again, I would greatly appreciate hearing what you think about it—even if you believe that I am wasting His time.

The Fourth Crumb
(From Miller To Poverty Point)

It would be around another decade before Dinah Shore would start singing about seeing the U.S.A. in a Chevrolet in advertisements, but that didn’t stop my parents from starting early. For a Chevrolet was the vehicle of choice for my dad, and from fire ant hills down old El Paso way to garbage-can-raiding black bears on the upper peninsula of Michigan, he showed my mom sights that made her heart sing.

Of course, that had little to do with wildlife. For my mom was raised in an area where a man was not considered to be fully respectable until they had been chewed on some by a mountain lion or a bear, and a woman was expected to be just as tough.

One of her favorite stories was of a very young mother who was left all alone at home with a colicy baby while her husband was off on an extended hunting trip. The crying of her child attracted a mountain lion because of it being very similar to the sound that their own cubs often make, and it wound up trying to go down the chimney in a desperate attempt to get inside the log cabin after exhausting all other possibilities. Needless to say, the young mother was just as determined to keep the big cat from getting her baby, and she started burning what furniture they had after using up all of the firewood that had been piled up next to the hearth. Finally, the only thing left to burn was the mattress that her mother and grandmother had worked so hard to make for a wedding present, but when she dragged it onto the fire, the only thing the mattress succeeded in doing was put the fire out. When she heard the mountain lion making its way down the chimney, she grabbed her baby and rushed out of the door. After making it to her folk’s place, she returned with her father and a couple of her brothers to find the big cat curled up on the mattress and appearing to be quite content.

No, seeing wildlife was not the reason for the song in my mom’s heart, but she would be the first to admit that seeing such sights with my dad was like nothing she had ever experienced before. For he made everything better for her, and he was always quick to tell anyone who would listen that she made everything better for him.

Oh yes, the good times rolled as my parents traveled from job to job, and in what seemed like no time at all to her, my mom had dangled her feet in the Atlantic Ocean from a pier in both South Carolina and Connecticut. She enjoyed being down in the deep south more than anywhere else because of how much it was like home, but she had to admit that New England did have its charm.

They (the good times) do have a tendency to come to an end after a spell, however, and the extreme reluctance of three of my dad's sisters to truly accept my mom into the family put a definite strain on my parent’s relationship. So, establishing a home base in southeastern Kansas was out of the question.

A home base was somewhere to go during downtimes, and not all pipeliners saw the need. For the way the business worked back then was that a particular project, or “job,” would last from a few weeks to several months, and many would just stay where they were until until the next one came along. Considering the fact that most new jobs were lined up before the old one was completed, there usually wasn’t much downtime to be had if you were any good and wanted to work.

No, there was no set crew that went together from job to job. For it was left to the project manager who would work, and they always wanted the best available.

So, when there were jobs in different locations, the best workers often had their choice of where they wanted to go. They also had the option of not working at all, of course, and this is when having a home base to rest for a while was especially nice.

Be assured that these breaks from the action were not just for the menfolk, neither. For as my mom would attest, not having all that much to do while their husband is at work for sometimes up to fourteen hours a day is harder on some wives than others.

My parents finally settled on buying a nice little house just outside of the city limits of Miller, MO, which is around 40 miles west of Springfield, MO. For it appeared to be a fine community of a few hundred good people and a couple of old sore-heads thrown in for good measure, and it was well within the neutral zone (DMZ) between Blue Mound, KS and the Buffalo River area of Arkansas, which limited their exposure to the inlaws and outlaws on both sides of the family.

The plan worked to perfection. For the only visits they had were very welcomed ones from my dad’s sisters, Ann and Maxine, and my mom’s unofficially adopted mother from Texarkana, AR.

Alas, they say that all good times must eventually come to an end, and this is exactly what happened six years into their marriage. For the time had come for me to wreak havoc on their very happy lives.

No, it is not that I was unwelcome. In fact, just the opposite was true. For my parents had been praying for a child for several years, but it was not long before their eyes would glaze-over whenever they heard any reference to the old adage, Be careful with what you pray for because you just might get it.

It started right away—actually. For pipeliners generally had a reputation not so unlike that of cowboys on a cattle drive. This often lead to a great deal of difficulty finding a place to stay in less populated areas, and having a small child in tow made it even harder.

To remedy the situation, my parents went the mobile home route. I’m not sure what they started out with, but before it was all over, we had a 8’ x 45’ Spartan that my dad towed behind a heavy duty one-ton GMC truck.

Of course, that led to a whole new set of problems. For instead of just finding an apartment to set up house in, a trailer park with an empty space had to be located, and when that was accomplished, the trailer had to be set up for occupancy.

Yes, I am quite sure that my dad looked forward to actually going to work. For that had to have been more enjoyable to him than making sure the trailer was level and hooking up all of the utilities.

It also brought him some relief from me. For at the age of nine months, it was off to the races for me, and to make matters worse, I absolutely hated going to sleep. Did they not have Benadryl back then?

Whether it was to keep bad guys out or me in, I am not sure, but an 80 pound German Shepherd by the name of Lady was conscripted into service sometime around 1960, and oh the good times we had. For I would grab one end of an old towel and she would grab the other, and we would spend a good part of each day dragging each other the full length of the hallway down the center of our trailer.

The winter of 1962-3 was eventful. For my parents had built a fabulous house overlooking Table Rock Lake in a subdivision near Hollister, MO that came to be called Poverty Point by the locals because of the affluence of those who built homes there.

Yes, my father made very good money for that time, but we certainly did not rank up there with the doctors, lawyers, and celebrities who came to be our neighbors. For I can remember him saying in 1964 (I think) that no one was worth being paid 6 dollars an hour.

No, it was not part of the plan that we wind up being amongst hillbilly royalty and the societal elite of the area. For our house was the second to be built in that subdivision, and by 1965, we were gone.

Before going there, however, I still have more to say about the winter of 1962-63. For just after Thanksgiving Day, my mom left for about three weeks, and I found out that my dad could only cook eggs and hot dogs. Needless to say, we both eagerly awaited her return, but when she finally did come home, she was not alone!

They named him Terry Alan Beuterbaugh, and I was absolutely fascinated with my new baby brother, who was born on December 14, 1962 in the same town of Newport, AR as I was. Then the new wore off, and I went back to my job of trying to be the center of attention at all times.

Yes, my job had become a lot harder with that cute, cuddly newborn around, but I was quite resourceful for my age. One time I even went as far as to suck a holly berry up my nose after being told (repeatedly) not to.

Off to the medical clinic in Branson, MO we went, and when the good doctor came at me with a tool to remove the berry from my nasal passage, I hollered, "Hold it!!!" in a very loud voice, put a finger in the unobstructed nostril, and then promptly blew the berry across the room. The doctor cracked-up and my mom was absolutely mortified. Mission accomplished!

Alas, there were also times when I attracted too much attention to myself. One of those was when I played Guess Who? with my Hollister School Bus driver. If you are familiar with the game, it requires one of hold their hands over the eyes of the other while asking them to guess who you are.

No, there was nothing necessarily wrong with that. That is, unless you consider it wrong to be playing the game while the bus is going down the road.

Thankfully, a guard rail stopped the bus from sliding off the side of the mountain after it had flipped onto its side. For instead of there being multiple deaths and serious injuries to report, only a few scrapes and bruises occurred.

I was physically unhurt (of course) in the accident, but I still get a little shaky whenever I must pass through a very tall doorway because of how tall the Hollister Elementary School Principal's office door was. I swear, it must have been 20 feet tall, but I suppose that my tall-door phobia has more to do with what happened to me after I went through the Principal's office door than with the door itself.

My reign of terror came to a screeching halt when my tonsils were removed in Harrison, AR (I think) when I was 5 years old. For they failed to do a throat culture on me before performing the procedure.

So? Well, it so happened that I had a Group A streptococcal infection (strep throat) present at the time, and I subsequently contracted a very serious disease by the name of Rheumatic Fever, which was left undiagnosed for several weeks.

Thankfully, the next job was in Minnesota. For the doctors up there were quite familiar with the disease. Whereas, most of the doctors down south at the time were not. For Rheumatic Fever rarely reared its ugly head south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

My parents were advised to get me to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. For the medical facility had quite a reputation for going above and beyond the standard call of duty for their patients, and it was there that I was correctly diagnosed.

Alas, I do not have much of a memory of those days. For what recollections I do have are mostly rather hazy at best, but the sight of that Mayo Clinic doctor coming up to my mother with the results of the tests that they had done is still as clear to me as if it happened just a few minutes ago.

I was so scared. For they had left me sitting all alone on an examination table in a room with large windows (kinda like being placed in a petri dish), and then I saw my mother put her right hand over her mouth, go almost completely limp, and start sobbing.

No, the news was not all bad. For they did want me to stay in the hospital for a period of observation because of having a slight heart murmur, but the disease had mostly attacked my joints. Therefore, it was quite treatable with Penicillin. Aside from not being able to walk very well for a while, my life was expected to return to normal.

I do not remember just how long I stayed in the hospital, but I do have some very clear memories of being there. For my legs hurt a lot, and there were all of those needles coming at me from all directions at all hours of the day and night.

Nonetheless, I also have some very good memories of being there. For I milked my plight for all it was worth, and my parents responded by bringing me G.I. Joe stuff and enough comic books to jam my overactive imagination into overdrive!

Yes, I can see now that my stay in hospital, along with my time of convalescence at home, was truly a great blessing. For it was during that period that I learned about the joys of reading, and not all of my reading material was about Superman, Batman, and Spiderman. For I practically wore the covers off of a comic book of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, and I did the same to a comic book of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last Of The Mohicans.

No, not all of my time as a certified invalid was spent indoors. For I was sometimes granted a furlough to be led out into the sunshine, and I was told about my mother placing me on a limb of a tree that I could see from my window and cry about not being able to climb it. One would think that I would have some pleasant memories of such an auspicious occasion, but there are none to be found rattling around in my head.

Jealousy over Terry and Lady playing our game helped accelerate my recovery. For I was not about to let them have all the fun dragging each other up and down the length of the trailer, and within two years, I was back to walking almost normally—much to the joy of my parents and my little brother, I’m sure.


  1. What a beautifully nostaligic piece this is. Isn't it amazing the things we remember and also ironic that those very things also helped to mold us into the persons we have become. I loved the part about the "DMZ." Every family must have one!

  2. Most of the earlier stuff in the book is for the benefit of my estranged children. For there will come a day when at least their own children will desperately want to know as much about me as they can, but I am very pleased to hear that you also found it entertaining, my dear Cher. Thanks for stopping by again!!!

  3. Thank you so very much, my dear Mike!!! I was about to get upset with you for not responding to the last few comments that I have left on your blog, but as long as you keep leaving comments like that over here, all will be forgiven.

  4. Lol, blowing a Holly Berry from your nose, split a gut laughing.

    Thanks for sharing, you have certainly lead a diverse life.

    $6.00 an hour in 64, wow that was a lot of money back then. Funny the things we remember as we are growing up, btw, we live in a DMZ as well.

  5. nice post friend, i like to read..

  6. Thanks for stopping by again, my dear Bob!!! I'm glad you liked it. There is more to come.

  7. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Kevin!!! I'm glad you liked it.

  8. Thanks for reading the story, my dear Dangduters. Any thoughts?

  9. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Loan. I would highly recommend picking out another name for yourself to keep people from thinking that what comments you may leave are not just for the purposes of generating traffic for your own site.

  10. Very nice post - I enjoyed reading this very much - thanks for sharing.

  11. Thanks for stopping by again, my dear New Hampshire Mike!!!

  12. It's always nice to look back in time. And love to read your stories.

    Btw, also passing by to thank you for the comment on my blog. Apologies for the delay as I just got home. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post as well!

  13. Thanks for stopping by, my dear Daisy!!! I hope you had a good trip.

    I'm also glad you are enjoying the story. There is more to come. So, I hope to see you back.

    By the way, your DaisyGrrrl Says... is on the list for a future Sites To See. I'll let you know when it's actually included, which will be a while because of how many there are in front of you.


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