When I was young & How I Got Old

Posted: July 1, 2016 in Life, Uncategorized
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A friend of mine was asking a question about remembering some of the old style things as kids, like eight track tapes, etc. Hell, I still have an eight-track player that works, and a box full of tapes!

 The first house I lived in that had a phone was the old crank style. Our phone number was one short, one long, and one short crank. There were about eight of us on the line. Anyone could pick up and listen in. We could only talk to those eight households or the switchboard board at Lucille Idaho, ten miles north of Riggins. Lucille had a permanent population of about eight people! The rest of us all lived up Cow Creek, which dumped into the Salmon River. The switchboard could call anyone and connect us to a regular phone. Oh yeah, we did have a radio that only got one station with elevator music on it, and then only when atmospheric conditions were right, no T.V. signal at all. We did have an old wind up Victrola with a few records like the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, some old German beer drinking songs, really great stuff! Not vinyl, the old hard platters that would shatter if you dropped them. Idaho is weird, even then all that was 50 or 60 years out of date. The water for the house came out of Cow Creek. It ran into a little catch basin with a screen on it so tadpoles or leaves did not come out of your faucet or plug up the plumbing, but no other filter. The electricity came off of a power pole, but that was kind of new, we still had a paddle wheel electric generator mounted over the creek that still worked. However it would only run the lights. The fridge and electric stove had to come from Idaho power connections. I had over an acre of lawns, a 3/4-acre garden, thirteen flower gardens, two wood stoves for heat, and just who do you think roto-tilled, weeded, harrowed, cultivated, mowed, and cut all that wood? All with a push mower, a two hand scye, one axe, (no wedge or mall) a hoe and shovel? Me, that’s who, I was thirteen! Rode my bike down the mountain to the bus stop three miles away every school day and pushed it back home at night. That was actually my best and most relaxed time. I would read a book balanced on the handlebars as I pushed the bike back up the hill, which was my entertainment time! There was always chores to do until it got dark, then homework! If I got done with homework before bedtime, or it was summer, I was allowed to read, which I loved to do! Oh, it rarely snowed there in winter over a few inches, it was too freakin cold to snow!

 This was the first family I lived with after leaving my mother and step-dad. We had some weird rules. First of all I admit to having some bad habits. I used words like dang and darn, tended to leave lights on after leaving a room, said pitcher when I referring to picture, evil stuff like that. So the rule was, for any infraction of rules to numerous to mention was a swat with pants down, bent over, with a wooden paddle with holes drilled in for speed. Second infraction was two swats, and then doubled again to four, then added four every time there was another infraction! Twenty swats became the limit. Oh I could be repeatedly paddled at the twenty limit, it just did not get added to once I got that far. I am not against spankings, just the sometime idiots who are in charge of the spankings. I also went to church four times a week. Sunday mornings and evenings, Tuesday was youth group, and Wednesday we had prayer meetings. You see I had run away from home and taken my sister, but that is another story. But since my mother and stepfather were sinners, well it was catching and I had it! So they prayed over me at all of these meetings, waiting for me to be visited by the Holy Ghost and speak in tongues. They were Pentecostal, you see, so no Ghost, no saving. Now my sister actually lived with the preacher of this church, he was the brother of the family I lived with, who was going to also become a minister, and did sometime after I left them. My point is, I can only imagine the hell she lived in!

 So one fine day, having memorized the Holy Ghost speeches of my little congregation, they always said the same gibberish, I proceeded to spout what I had learned, thinking they would now leave me alone. Well it appears my thirteen-year-old brain had not thought this through. Everyone recognized his or her part when it came up! I was literally thrown out of the front door and down the stairs of that church as the spawn of the devil. And this, as I said, at the ripe old age of thirteen! I was still required to go to church down the road at the Community Church. You could be any religion and go there. Not a bad church. The minister, a Mr. Prohaska was very understanding and made it plain from the git go that he did not consider me a spawn of the devil. He also never prayed over me. For me, but never over me. So I planned a new escape. Again, not really a plan, just figured no matter where I ended up had be better, at least that was the thought running through my thirteen year old head.

 So you must understand where all this was taking place, the Riggins Idaho area. One way in and one way out, no other civilization for miles and miles. So running away was a problem, whether north or south it had to be down highway 95 and I knew that would not work. Going overland to the west only got me up against the Hells Canyon, kind of a son to the Grand Canyon. Going east was what they call a primitive area, nothing doing there but maybe a meal for a mountain lion or bear! Or if you were lucky maybe just getting lost and starving to death, you know, the old fashioned way! But luckily the family I was living with had a reunion scheduled I was now fourteen. This took place in Greenleaf Idaho, southern part of the state, and all kinds of places I could head out to. So I packed a ditty bag, you know, with the toothbrush, the couple of bucks I had stashed away, the only other pair of jeans I owned, and some underwear. Which no one looked sideways at, basically what I would have normally packed! I took off in the middle of the second night there. It was a long dirt road and then some county paved roads leading to all kinds of exotic places like Caldwell or Jerome, I mean we were in Idaho spud country!

 So I am trodding down the road, ditty bag in tow around midnight or so. I did not have a working watch. I see a car pulled off to the side of the road. In it was a lady, a school teacher, related by marriage to this family. I had met her before, so knew who she was as soon as she started talking to me. So on that dark night, she convinced me to go back and keep my mouth shut! She said she was in the process of trying to get them to let me come live with her and her family. She told me if I could just wait a couple of weeks that should come to pass. Their resistance had been that she was not religious, so she had joined the Assembly of God church in Council, which was also Pentecostal. I did not know this at the time. She then made me a deal that I would be treated just like her kids, and I would have some say over what happened to me. If I did not like living with them, she would help me find a place that did not include an orphanage. So we shook hands and that was the best damn deal I have ever made! Most of you will know who this women is, but as this will go public, I am not mentioning names.

 So I moved to Council Idaho. This very decent person kept working until she also got my sister, and then abruptly left that particular church. I did well. I had only been to two years of schooling and I was going to be fifteen that fall. Part of that other story I mentioned! So I had some catching up to do. I got straight A’s my junior and senior year. I was class president my sophomore year, editor of the school paper my junior and senior years, on the student council, science club, main string in three sports, and one of the football captains, we went undefeated by the way! So let’s just say I loved school, Council, and everything about it. It was a thriving ranching and logging town with a large mill at that time. I worked in the woods during the summer my junior and senior year. Fibbed a little about my age, but I was a big kid! All of the logging is gone now, mill torn down, so the town is suffering, but still hanging in there!

 So I went to Boise State, but ran out of money second semester. I joined the Marines for four years to get an aviation school guarantee, plus I also did not want to get drafted and become cannon fodder! I scored high so got into avionics working on a computer warfare bird. I wound up in Nam for two tours because my particular skills were hard to come by! They would bribe me with meritorious promotions to extend. I did that twice. So had been an E2 about two weeks before going to Nam and then promoted to E3, but it turned out there were no NCO’s in Avionics electric shop, so they promoted me to E4, a corporal so I could run the shop. So in six months my original one-year tour was up, so they promoted me to E5 Sergeant if I would extend for a second tour. I loved my job, however I did not like stateside troop and stomp. They offered me Staff Sergeant with guaranteed chance at Warrant Officer, but I was going to have to give them 8 more for all of that or four if I only wanted the Staff Sergeant, I was not willing. I should have at least stayed in the reserves, but hindsight is 20-20!

 So got out. Was always planning on continuing my education. Had been taking courses by mail while in the service. It turned out, even though I was not a grunt, but having a high stress job and hanging out on mission runs in Danang, lovingly referred to as Rocket City, gave me PTSD. Not that I admitted to that. However all I wanted to do was race my motorcycle, go boating, trash my 4×4, and was crew chief on a professional race boat, had the odd sand rail, etc. By the time I calmed down I was a daddy and had a mortgage. I had turned my military education into a career as an automotive computer and advanced engine diagnostics tech. I got my master ticket, became a smog tech, but mostly what I did was five gas analysis under load on a dyno. I could look at your tailpipe emissions and tell you what system was down, and usually what part. Once I got proficient at the dyno and 5 gas, I never used a scope again. Just my diagnostic computer and the dyno was all I needed. I knew how to do all the rest, brakes, alignment, pull an engine or trans out of a class A, the whole pie so to speak. But after my first year I was the shop foreman and usually the service manager, so if it was a dirty job, or heavy, I pointed and ordered someone else to do it. I lost nary a nights sleep over it either!

 So ended up working one job after the Corps for just under 30 years. The place closed down due to the owner’s ill health and being bought out by the State. I ended up as service manager for a private set of five Bobcat dealerships! It was stressful but the monetary reward was very, very, amenable! I retired after seven more years. This career did allow me to raise a daughter who has a Masters degree who became a teacher an now an assistant principal. She is the love of my life. Well aside from my wife, who I still have not managed to understand how or why I got so lucky!

 So in closing, I am not in love with religion as some of you may have guessed. As a matter of fact I am of the opinion that religion is the most dangerous entity this planet has ever experienced. Christianity just as much to blame as any other. So I do not begrudge you your belief, my daughter is devout, but for now I am not a willing participant. I am a good person and a great friend to have! I do not lie, well let me admit that I am a storyteller and will embellish if I think the story is boring. This piece is not one of those however, and my moral character, for whatever it might be worth, is a choice I make and not because I am afraid to be punished if I choose immorality!

 

 

Comments
  1. Vianne says:

    John, You are such a wonderful writer and I enjoy reading everything you write. I am sadden to hear of your childhood but so glad you came out of it as the fine adult that you are! What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!!

    • John Love says:

      I attribute any success I have had in life to you and my classmates especially, to the whole town generally, and to those families who gave me a place to belong!

  2. Willis Sisley says:

    Hi John,

    I was never aware of what you endured in your early years! Makes me feel awfully lucky when I look back at mine. Hope this finds you all well and happy! You have a very nice family!

    Your friend,
    Willis

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