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Posts Tagged ‘Fear’


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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All my life I had watched the Deacons pass the Sacrament at church with a measure of awe. They always deported themselves with dignity and respect for what we Mormons consider a very sacred ordinance. As I approached the age of twelve, when I expected to become a Deacon and have the honor of passing the Sacrament myself, I watched the Deacons with keen interest. I wanted to learn exactly how it was done so I wouldn’t flub up and embarrass myself when I first participated.

I turned 12 just a couple of weeks after we arrived in Himni and moved into the Himni 3rd Ward. Bishop Merrell interviewed me and found me worthy of ordination. My Dad conferred the Aaronic Priesthood upon me and ordained me to the office of a Deacon. I think he was relieved to have actually been there. Four years earlier, when I was baptized things hadn’t gone so well. On the morning of my scheduled baptism my Dad and Grandfather had gone golfing. Grandpa had a heart attack on the third hole. Of course, Dad and Mom and Grandma went right to the hospital. My baptism was scheduled for 5:00 P.M. When the folks weren’t home by three I started to get nervous. When the clock struck four I was really concerned. I got my Sunday clothes on so I’d be ready when the folks rushed in. They didn’t. I had been left in charge of the kids. Todd, my brother and the next oldest was just six and a half. He thought he was big enough to take over and the neighbors were close, so I grabbed my recommend off of Mom’s dresser, left Todd in charge and rode my bike over to the church. I presented my recommend to the Brother in charge and got myself baptized. You can imagine my parents chagrin when they discovered their little boy had been baptized and they hadn’t even been there.

I was baptized by Richard F. Waters. To this day I have no idea who he is. Dad’s name did make it on the Baptismal Certificate as the man who confirmed me. That happened at church the next day. Grandpa recovered too.

So now we come to that fateful day when sitting on the front row in Sunday School I was nervously anticipating my first attempt at passing the Sacrament. (In those days Sunday School was in the morning and Sacrament Meeting was in the evening. The Sacrament was served in both meetings.)

I was prepared. I had learned exactly where I was supposed to go and exactly what I was supposed to do. The Deacon’s Quorum President had assigned me the easiest route, right down the side pews behind where we had been sitting. Just as the Priest finished the blessing on the bread a tickle in my nose produced a sudden and unexpected sneeze. I covered my mouth with my right hand. As I removed my hand I discovered an enormous glob of mucus in the palm of my hand. It was time to stand up and take the trays from the Priests. Panic! I had no handkerchief. What do I do? What do I do?! As I went to stand up the only thing I could think to do was scrape it off on the front of the wooden pew. Thinking of the words…”he that hath clean hands and a pure heart…” I felt so guilty taking the tray into my polluted right hand. I felt as though I had lied about my worthiness. Somehow I got through the passing of the bread. We filed back to the table, two rows of us. First the guys from the other side of the chapel returned their trays. They then backed up to allow my side to approach the table. The water was blessed and we took those trays. As we were filing out to distribute the water I followed one of the boys from the group that had backed up. There oozing down the back of his pant leg was my logie. He had backed up to the bench and gathered it up for me. I nearly fainted.

God has often re-reminded me of my humanity since that day. Thankfully, I have finally learned that my flaws, weaknesses and imperfections are the very reason we have the Sacrament in the first place.

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