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I need to return to Heise Station temporarily to relate a couple of incidents that came to mind recently during a family discussion while on an excursion to the “big city,” which is San Francisco for us. A visit to the San Francisco Symphony’s performance of the the soundtrack of West Side Story plus the film showing on a giant screen above the orchestra was simply spectacular. At dinner beforehand, somehow we were discussing rocks, and I recalled these two stories.
The first involves Bob, the tall pile buck from Texas, who told Uncle Ernie a story I thought was pretty funny. He had been moving a big rock on his construction site and found a rattlesnake underneath. It was his first experience with a rattler and it shook him up. He said the rock he had lifted weighed about fifty pounds, and when he saw the snake, he just took off running—for about a mile, he said. It was probably more like fifty yards; pile bucks were prone to exaggerate now and then. Anyway, when he figured he was far enough away from the rattler, he stopped and realized he had carried the fifty-pound rock with him the whole way.
“Why didn’t he just drop it on the snake,” I asked.
Everybody just smiled.
In 1952 we had one of those old-fashioned tub washing machines with the wringer on top. Being only six, I thought it was fun to help Mom with the clothes-washing chore by feeding the clean garments through the wringer. Ours was electric and automatic so you didn’t have to crank it. Mom and I were having a good old time when I accidentally let my fingers follow a wet shirt between the two wringer rolls. The wringer began to eat my hand! “Mom!” I yelled as my wrist disappeared between the voracious rolls. Did Mom scream and panic? Nope. Calmly, she looked around, took a step or two, picked up a big rock—of which there was nothing short of an abundance in the yard—walked back to the machine, and smashed the rock down onto the emergency stop control above the wringer. Clank! Everything stopped just as my elbow approached the wringer’s maw. By that time, Dad had appeared, scooped me up and into the car for a trip to the doctor in Westmorland. The doc said the machine would probably have broken my elbow if it had gotten that far. All was well, though, and I got to sport a cool Ace bandage for a couple of weeks.