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Posts Tagged ‘Courage’


Of all the stuff Butch Farley is reported to have done. One is for sure. I was there and have felt guilty ever since.

We were bucking bales for Pop Wardley up near the canyon. Hot, sweaty, hard work it was. Especially if you were a skinny kid like me. Every afternoon at quitting time Pop would ask us what time we wanted to start in the morning. We would all go for six when it was cool. Every day Pop would reply with, “Too many tireds, how about nine.” And so we always hauled hay in heat of the day. At noon we’d skinny dip in the canal so we’d be all cleaned up and cooled off for lunch. Aunt Marge always fed us a great lunch. We’d work about six hours a day for $1.25 an hour. The older kids and some of the younger city kids got work in town for more than that. If you were 14 though, it was bucking bales or nothing.

Pop was a favorite to work for though, mostly because of Aunt Marge’s cooking and because Pop slip stacked. Lots of folks had given up slip stacking after Bobby Roberts’ accident, but not Pop. He was just too set in his ways. Someone drove the tractor (usually one of Marge’s girls) and one of us rode the slip. It was a large sheet of steel dragged by a chain behind the baler. The slip stacker (one of us) stacked the bales on that sheet of steel as they came out of the baler. At the end of the field all you had to do was step off the slip, stick a hay hook in a bottom bale and hang on. The slip would slide right out from under the pile of bales. Now the guys on the hay wagon would load them up and haul them off to the stack yard. It sure beat walking all over the field gathering up the bales. Bobby Roberts managed to get under the slip with a stack on it. It killed him and the thoughts of it kept us on our toes.

Usually, we shut down for a break midmorning and again midafternoon. We didn’t need to bring food but we always brought plenty to drink. On the day I’m thinking of Pop was driving the hay wagon and Mirtle was driving the baler. Butch was slip stacking and Delin Perkins and I were loading the wagon and stacking the hay stack. When we stopped for a break, Mirtle and Pop went to the yard for more baling twine and Delin was finishing up on the big stack. Butch got shaded up and noticed Delin’s thermos full of lemonade. Now, you’ve got to understand that, though we were the same age, Butch was two of me. I hadn’t quite cleared 100 pounds yet and I stood 5′ 10″. Butch on the other hand was a good 190 pounds and was already shaving every day. He didn’t really look like a bully, but his reputation and a particularly cold glint in his eye on top of his size kept me in my place. Anyway, Butch picked up the thermos and looking right at me, drank half of it down. Though I said nothing, I’m sure the glint of terror in my eye made it clear that I wasn’t going to say anything. I did wonder what Delin would say though. I glanced up at Delin on the stack and when I looked back, there stood Butch peeing Delin’s thermos back full.

I have never had a more confusing gumbo of emotions in my whole life as I did that day when I silently watched Delin Perkins down that entire thermos. He never noticed a thing and Butch never even flinched. Today the fear, revulsion, shame, awe, anxiety, delight and bewilderment have all boiled down to a thick greasy guilt. And every time I see old Delin I wonder about that facial tic he’s developed.

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