The old guy

My daughter is pretty handy around the house. It is a talent I did not expect to see in her and I am glad she has discovered and is developing such a useful ability. I have to say though, I am not certain where she found this talent. I suspect it is a hand me down skill passed on from her Mom’s (i.e.my wife’s) family. Save to say that the handyman gene on my side is somewhat underdeveloped.

She called me the other day. She had come upon a plumbing problem and wanted to see if I could offer any solution to this wet dilemma. As I do anytime I am faced with a question I do not have an answer for, I told her I would have to think about it (to get an answer, I would later avail myself of the many repair videos on You Tube). The conversation ended with her decision to go to the hardware store.

When she got back, she called to tell me she had found a solution at the hardware store and proceeded to explain what she had done. The repair had been a success and she was elated at her victory. I asked how she figured it out. She said she had gone to the local hardware store, looked for, and found, “the old guy.”

Of course! The old guy. Every hardware store has one or two of these all-knowing fountains of the doctrine of home repair. You’ve seen him. He’s older than dirt, knows where every screw and bolt and who knows what else is in the store and is the very origin of the wisdom of the handyman. He knows all, tells all, and can fix dang near anything one could conjure up. He has a quiet confidence developed from years of fixing stuff all over the house.

Implementing the old guy’s wisdom respecting her situation, the repair was a resounding success. Of course it was! Had not the “old guy” pronounced the solution?

The old guy is never wrong. Ever.

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And waited

Just like you have been waiting on the latest installment of this story for pretty near three weeks, we also waited over three weeks for the skunks to show up and face the music.

We hit the field every chance we got in anticipation of an all-out war with the skunks . Day after day we waited. We checked the school, the Dairy Mart (we did see them there off and on – they were with “the girls”), and any other place we figured they might be. The only place we saw them was at school and the Dairy Mart. It didn’t make a lick of sense.

After more than  three weeks waiting on a war, we decided they had gotten scared and were not gonna show up at all. We declared victory and the end of waiting. We scheduled a party at the field for the following Saturday.

Early that Saturday morning, we met at my house (it was two blocks from the field). Everybody was there except Larry who had been grounded for ten years (his Dad caught him smoking a cigarette). We made our victory lap pulling a cart full of Moon Pies™ and an RC Cola™. They was in  a cooler that Gary borrowed from his big brother.

It was weird. When we got there, we found somebody had planted little red and yellow flags all over the place. As far as the eye could see, the flags (they was about a foot tall or so) were all over the field. Stewi thought maybe Larry had somehow gotten hold of all the flags somewhere and had planted them to celebrate (you’ll remember he was grounded). He was good about sneaking out of the house though.

Our party lasted all day. It was spectacular! After all the fuss we had been in, the field was ours and ours alone. We made plans to build a new fort over by the sorghum farm and make it our mission to keep tabs on the sorghum bull (see story elsewhere in this blog). It was gonna be a great summer.

The next day was Sunday and we spent the afternoon on the field. Monday found all of us at school. On the way home that day, Stewie (who lived across the street from the field and was the official weekday guard), rode up to us on his bike in a panic!! “Come quick!!” Stewie was a wink from crying. “You gotta see the field!” Something had to be wrong if Stewie was crying. He never cried.

We dumped our stuff on my front porch and raced the two blocks to the field. Even before we got there, I could see what had happened. The field was populated by bulldozers and dump trucks. They were tearing the place apart! We asked a man standing nearby what they were doing. “We’re gonna build houses here'” was all he said.

There it was. In one second, we lost everything. We were stunned. There was nothing left but to drown our sorrows in a Moon Pie and an RC Cola.

On second thought, we decided to go to the Dairy Mart. The girls were probably there….

THE END

 

If it’s war they want, it’s war they’ll get.

So, it was all out war. We were ok with that. Nobody knew that patch of ground better than we did and the panhandle punks were gonna find that out the hard way. There was a lot to do to get ready for this certain victory and the permanent ownership of our land.

First thing we had to set up was stockpiles of clods in strategic places all around the field. That plus they had to be hid so they could not find them. That was easy. We just dug holes in the right places and then covered them up with loose dirt. They weren’t smart enough to find them. We added a few well placed tumble weeds but they got blown away.

The next thing we had to do was plan our strategy to react to whatever direction they came from. That too was easy. They were not smart enough to plan an attack. They would take the easy way and come from the direction of their own neighborhood straight towards the field right by James Butler Bonham Junior High School. Knowing that, it would be an easy defense. We could lay in wait behind the church that sat on the edge of our field. They would never know what hit them. We put our biggest stock piles of clods around the back of the church. We also put clod piles in various places throughout the field in case one of them got smart. Doubtful but we wanted to cover all of our bases.

We got it all done and everybody got his assignment. The last thing we did was make sure everybody knew they would have to be extra special nice at home to avoid getting grounded. That meant doing all the chores AND not tormenting the sister in the house (or, as in my case – the big brother). The last thing we needed was to lose men to home jail. We were ready.

Saturday morning came and we got our chores done as quick as possible (while avoiding a last minute grounding). We were all there in Stew’s backyard.

“We’ve done all we can, fellows,” Larry said with great sincerity. Steve and Gary had been sent out to watch and warn us when they sighted the panhandle punks. The ten of us remained in hiding in Stewi’s backyard and waited for the alert from Steve and/or Gary. We waited. Any waited. Lunch came and no word. It was summer and it was hot, hot, hot. Steve and Gary came back with no sighting. Larry and I replaced them until dusk. Nothing. Not even one. Where were they?

At dark, we all headed for home. “Tomorrow is Sunday,” Larry pronounced. “They will come after church. I’m certain of it.” We agreed we would meet back at Stew’s on Sunday after church.

Next Week: Wait

 

Of course, you realize this means war

We waited all day and into the early evening for the “panhandle punks” (that was the name we give them) to show up and get the surprise of their lives. You know, they never showed up that Saturday or the day after. We were in hiding and ready for war both days and they never showed up. At the end, we figured they were either too full of ice cream or were too busy playing four square or (shudder) house with the girls. ( A word of explanation: girls back then used to play “house.” That’s when they got in the garage and played like it was their house and they had tea parties and other girl stuff like that).

Well, we never saw the punks that weekend and figured the girls had made good on their part of the deal so we had to make good on our end. We took fifty or so of our GI Joe’s over to Gail’s (she was the boss of the neighborhood girls) and made plans to play four square. Never let it be said we did not honor our word.

“We don’t want em,” Gail pronounced as we stood at her front porch, bags of GI Joes in hand. “We made a bargain and we’re sticking to it,” I was unmoved by her casual dismissal. Gail shut the door right in our face without so much as a howdy do.

“Works for me!” Larry was thrilled that we did not have to give up our GI Joes or play a dumb game with the girls. We turned to leave and right behind us was the five meanest girls in the neighborhood along with EVERY one of the panhandle punks. There was twelve of us facing two-hundred and fifty (well, maybe twenty five. Oh, twelve) panhandle punks and their new “girlfriends.” We stared at each other for a spell when one of the punks got the nerve to speak. “What are you little boys doing here?” I did not recognize the speaker but was later told it was a fellow called Billy. “Ya’ll got no business talking to ANY of our girlfriends.” I was okay with that and said so. “I ain’t got no time to mess with any dumb ole girls anyway.” I was happy to be done with them.

Billy walked up and got right smack dab in my face and told me that I was NEVER to call his girlfriend dumb.

“YOUR GIRLFRIEND!!!???” So that’s it! Them girls done gone and got into their heads. I laughed out loud right smack dab in Billy’s face!! Just then a bunch of clods flew from the other punks at us. Most missed (they weren’t very good at clod throwing).

Everybody froze and I walked right up face to face with Billy. “Of course, you realize this means war.” It did too and we were ready.

 

Ice cream and sweat

We agreed with the girls that they could have our GI Joe soldiers (the were NOT dolls!) three days a week and we would play four square twice a week with them. They wanted half our Joes up front.

“Not in this lifetime,” I wanted to make for sure they could produce what they said they would. “You just show up at the field at 2:00 tomorrow and we will show you want we can do,” Gail was as serious as can be. Our Joes stayed put until then.

The next day was Saturday and we had a tough time waiting til 2 O’Clock. We did sneak up to the field about noon or so but the place was empty. We went back to Stewie’s backyard while Gary rode his bike up to the Dairy Mart to see if maybe they were already there. Gary came back after a bit out of breath from riding hard. “Every guy from that neighborhood and every girl in town is at the Dairy Mart!” Gary was panting by now. “The place is packed inside and outside!”

“I’ll be dawged! I was stunned to figure them girls had up and done what they said they’d do.  Larry jumped up. “Dang! Let’s go! We got stuff to do!” As one man, all twelve of us (this was one of those rare days when at least one of us was not grounded) made a beeline to our beloved field. Just as we expected , it was completely empty save the full-time residents.  Yup, it was ripe for the taking.

We was going to take the place apart (i.e. wreck all the tumble weed forts they had) but discovered the windstorm from last night had done the job for us. Yet another sign that God was on our side. We had no idea if and / or when the punks would get back from the Dairy Mart so we just decided to hunker down in every low place (there weren’t many here) and wait. And waited. And waited.

Round about suppertime, we decided they weren’t coming back. The girls had said they would get those fellows off our field and they did.  Those girls sho nuff tricked them fellows. While they got tricked off of what they thought was their field, we took our field back. They were eating ice cream with a buncha girls and we were waiting and sweating and waiting and sweating. Ice cream. Sweat…..ummmm

Next week: Of course, you realize this means war!

Facing the inevitable

I didn’t know which was worse. Taking a bunch girls on to help us get rid of the bums and rats that stole our land or running away. My mom and dad would be matter than a striped snake (and striped snakes are ALWAYS made) if I took off. Besides, I wouldn’t get Mom’s pancakes and that, well, Mom made the best pancakes on the Panhandle. So…we decided to at least listen to the girls. Argh….

The following Saturday morning, we met with all of the neighborhood girls (somewhere north of six million it seemed) to see what cockamamie idea they had.

“You know, most of the boys are older than you all”, Gail began. “Yeh, and you know boys at that age like girls” she continued. “That’s disgusting.” Larry was all fired up against this idea. I told the fellows  to hush up and hear them out.

Gail went on, “Given that they like girls and they have invited us to visit them at the fort they just built, we could go out there and visit with them and get them to take us to the Dairy Mart on Western Drive”. The Dairy Mart was a about three miles from the eastern edge of the field. (My brother and I worked there in high school). While they was at the Dairy Mart, we could sneak onto the field and fight them off when they returned. Margaret didn’t think they would be back. I have no idea why.

“Well,” I thought it might just work.  We agreed to that plan. “Wait just a doggone minute” Gail was angry about something. “Don’t forgot our side of the deal. In exchange for luring them off the field, we get your entire collection of GI Joes© three day a week AND you all have to play foursquare with us twice a week.

There’s two problems with this plan 1) I mentioned earlier that GI Joe is a combat soldier and the first thing he’ll do is whip Ken. 2) The girls would be getting free ice cream which should be ok with the foursquare deal.

“Take it or leave it,” Margaret stood her ground.  “You could bring us some ice cream” Stewie was a sucker for ice cream. “I’ll see what I can do,” Gail offered.

Afterward and back in Stewie’s backyard, we were no convinced. “I don’t think we got the best deal outta this”, Larry was madder than a red hen. “But I don’t see any other way.” We figured we had two hundred GI Joes among us and they would make short work of the three or four “Ken the weenie” dolls the girls had. There was, however, nothing for it.

NEXT WEEK: Feminine whiles

A trip to the big city!

(With your permission, we will take a side track from The Clod Wars and take a detour of sorts)

The wife and I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas last weekend. You know Las Vegas, right? It’s in Nevada and that’s a four hour plane ride from here due west. It’s in the desert which means it is pretty hot most of the time. Anyway…

I went there on business and took the wife with me. We figured on maybe seeing a show and then going to Hoover Dam. Ought to be a fun time.

We stayed in one of them fancy resort motels. There’s lots of them there and they have all kinds of stuff to do. Why, in the main hallway of the fancy hotel we stayed in they had this great big room with all kinds of tables for playing cards and other tables where folks threw dice all across the table for some reason. The game with dice was called craps I think.  Then they had these other machines that folks called “one armed bandits.” I don’t know why. Oh, and they had lots and lots of pretty girls all over the place. I don’t know why either. None of them seemed to be playing any games.

Well, we were walking through this big room (you can’t get anywhere in these places without walking through the big game room). and all of a sudden, I felt a stabbing pain in my right rib cage. I looked and there was nothing near my right side except my wife. I asked her what hit me and all she said was “You know.” Well, no, I did not know and said so. She didn’t say a thing as we kept on walking. She wasn’t happy about something or other and it was too close to dinner to start a fight.

I was enjoying the walk through the big game room and all the scenery when, without warning, I suffered yet another stabbing blow to the ribs cage. It was on my left side this time. I looked left and there was my wife and nobody else. “Did you elbow me just then?” I asked. She looked at me with what I would call an ornery face and said, “What do you think?” I told her I had no idea and asked her why she had elbowed me. “Well, if you don’t know, I am sure not going to tell you.” I had no clue what all the fuss was about but, by now, we got to the elevator and to our room. The only time I got elbowed was when we were going through the fancy game room. She never did explain herself. I let the matter drop.

I still don’t know what she was all fired up about.