Have you ever been shot? Kind of a crazy question at the beginning, but I have a reason that I’ll tell you about. First, I want to tell you how I got into a situation that ended with a shot. I have told you about my boys before, so I won’t take up your time with how much I love them. When they were little, I pretty much kept surprising them about what I know and where I’ve been. Now they have grown up so fast I seldom even see them anymore. The only time I’m sure they will call is when something goes wrong.
Austin asked the question that made me feel good when he was still in grammar school. Reed and I had been working on his Jeep and we were trying to pull out the transmission. I was explaining to Reed how the four-wheel drive works. Austin walked up and asked, “Hey Dad, where did you learn all the things you know about?” I’m pretty sure he was talking about something that I had done, or said that impressed him.
I looked up to make sure he really wanted an answer and thought about the question a little bit. I rolled the creeper out from under the Jeep and replied, “Son, when I was little or at least younger than I was when you were born, we didn’t have the kind of life that we now live.” If you wanted or needed a part to repair a car or truck, or really anything that there was no store to buy it from, you had to make it yourself.
My Pop worked for a guy over in Santa Maria. Like most farms from that era, there was a repair shop in the area where we parked the tractor. Inside that repair shop they had a forge. You probably know what a forge is, but I’m also sure that someone reading this that may have heard of one but have never seen one. Shoot! When you think about it, that wasn’t the only forge I had ever seen. When we lived in Arkansas, just about every farm had one.
A forge is like a hopped up fireplace. It has a hearth that held the fire that the user heated up so the metal that was being worked would get so hot you could bend it pretty easy with a hammer. The one I’m writing about had a little fan on the side with a handle for you to turn. When you did, the forced air made the flame a lot hotter. I was old enough to turn the handle while my dad or his hired hand, George Black, hammered out whatever they needed using an anvil that was right next to the forge. I turned that crank almost all morning one time when George was trying to make some horseshoes for an old horse we brought home.
I tell you these things because back when I was his age, we made the parts. I use the word “we,” but I never did anything but turn that darn handle. However, when you work around men who look at a problem and instead of jumping in the truck to go buy the part needed, they just made the part.
The reason I know anything was because I watched George and my dad as they figured out what they had to do to keep the farm running. That’s where I got the saying, “It’s just a piece of metal or screw or bolt. It doesn’t know you or even have an opinion.” My dad encouraged his boys to look at a problem and try to think about what makes it work. He taught us to not get discouraged if we don’t get it right the first time. There is nothing that can’t be done if you want to do it bad enough.
So, I have written a long answer to what may have been a short question, but I wanted him to know why I kept encouraging both of them and their sister when they run into something, be it a arithmetic problem or a history test, it doesn’t matter. Just keep trying and you will succeed. My dad was one of the smartest guys I ever knew. There didn’t seem to be anything that he and George couldn’t fix, and I just kept watching them.
Now I must tell you about me getting shot. The first time I was shot, it really didn’t hurt that much, scared the bejesus out of me, but I just put a dressing on and kept walking. There have been stories told of an officer crying the first time he got shot, but that wasn’t me. However, this time it really hurt. I have been working on my old truck, but I have told you about that.
The incident occurred while I was trying to install seat belts that I had pulled out of a wrecked Lincoln up at the “Pick and Pull” on Spence Road. I figured if they came out of a wrecked Lincoln, they must be pretty good. They were almost new and had this big reel that pulled the belt instantly if the car got hit or stopped by something. The reel didn’t allow me to pull the belts out, so I figured that it must be because they were wound too tight.
There were two tiny wires coming out of the reel so again, I thought maybe they work off the battery. So I spliced a positive wire and a ground wire and leaned over the fender to touch them against the cable that comes from the battery. That’s when I learned how the belt pulls so quickly if you are in a wreck. Anyway, whatever they use for that purpose is an explosive. It exploded and sounded just like a rifle shot. The force of the explosion flung the ends of the belt up so fast it darn near cut my fingers off.
I was sure that the explosion had blown off two of my fingers or at least had broken two of them. When I got the nerve to look at my fingers, I found that I could bend both of my fingers. There was a lot of damage and I thought about calling an ambulance, but it just blew off the skin on the top of two fingers. Eventually my Bride came home and we found that a extra large band-aid would work. It hurt so bad I tried to cry because crying always made me feel better as a child. It didn’t work. I was so angry at myself because I hadn’t examined that belt enough.
If there is to be anything you learn from my mistake that will help, you will find yourself in the same predicament sometime in the future. DO NOT PLUG THE BELT INTO A BATTERY!