Words of Wisdom: Ya gotta be tough, if ya gonna be dumb


Growing up on a farm and doing chores, one tends to learn things the hard way.  These lessons stick with you and occasionally you are reminded of them.  I recently purchased a couple of Ford trucks.  One was a nice looker and I thought a great deal.  Now, I will admit this is one of my short comings. The words “a great deal” immediately gets the old heart excited. Not that I will try to sell and make a profit. It’s just a great deal. The other truck was an ole timer.  One of those you can climb right into the engine compartment and do what you will.  The great deal, good looking truck ran well for a time. I was beginning to congratulate myself for snatching up that deal. But then things went sour. After investing time and money into the good looker, I began to get some life lessons. I ended up having to tow it home four times. The last tow was the final straw. There is a time when one must admit “enough is enough”.  I am not one to give up quickly on a great deal and one day I will get up the courage to tackle the good looker again. In the mean time, I wanted an older truck that I didn’t have to worry about new technologies. As life would have it, I spied one that I could make a deal on.  I knew the truck, having spent time sitting in the engine compartment already.  I made the deal and the offer was accepted. I had the ole timer hauled home because I didn’t trust it would bring me home.  And now I have me a project. With some tender care, it now runs like the work horse she used to be.. But one of the four tires on the back was flat. It had been flat for so long it was weather cracked and wouldn’t hold air. The task now was to just take two of the rear tires off. It would operate just as well with only two tires on the rear. One on each side of course. Now, here comes the life lesson. I knew from other trials that rusty nuts and bolts are not the kindest articles to work with. But, this time I was prepared. (at least so I thought).  I opened up my bag of tricks and sprayed all the wheel nuts and got out the biggest tools I had. When I say biggest tools, I mean big breaker bars, toughest sockets and a long galvanized pipe. I was indeed prepared for a challenge. Here enters another of my faults. I call it  “will power”, but others call it just being stubborn. I make the attempt of taking one of the eight tire nuts off. Standing on that long galvanized pipe while trying to loosen the nut  I succeeded in breaking one of my extensions. Ok, I have more and that tire will come off, eventually.  As I bent down to pick up the broken pieces, I noticed an L stamped on the ends of the studs. Now this L does not stand for light bulb. Ford in their wisdom has decided that some tire nuts should be backwards.  My. Mistake, got to go the other way to take these off.  So I set up to go the other way. Ka blam,  I just broke another extension. But this time, I also slip and hit my head on the steel frame. This just reminds me of lessons learned a long time ago.  Lesson one, “Ya gotta be tough, if ya gonna be dumb”.  The other lesson I was reminded of I learned when working in the woods way back in ’66.  The skidder I was driving for Targett and Vaughn had a flat tire. Of course, as the driver, it was my responsibility to change it. These tires are loaded with a liquid to help the skidders balance.  The skidder tends to go down the trails with its rear tires in the air when empty. They are heavy and weigh about 600 pounds.  They have to be handled with a crane.  In those days a cable crane was used to load trucks.  My Dad was the operator of this crane.  His only job was to load the tire onto the truck and then come back to lift it back off the truck to put on the skidder.  The rest, he graciously left up to me. This was pretty much the same situation as today. Those tire nuts just do not come off easy. In those days, I was not a 200 pound muscle monster.  I was only a 145 pound skinny kid. But, I had to show Dad, I could do it myself. During one attempt the breaker bar slipped and caught a couple of my fingers between unforgiving metal parts. In great pain, I put my gloved hand under my arm and did a bit of a dance. Dad, in his greatest humor, which was dryer than popcorn at times. He sticks his head out the door of the crane and asks, “Did ya feel that?”  “Did that hurt? “  Usually, I would come back with some snide remarks. This was my Dad and so I held my tongue. “Well, now,” he says.  “You know how not to do that”.  “Let’s get back to work and get that tire on.”  I was not bleeding, it was just a couple of fingers that objected any movement.  Just because they were turning black and blue was no reason to stop working. This was how we learned things in those days.  There was no one running to see if we were ok. Ya not bleeding and ya still standing up. Wrap it up if you have to, but lets get this job done before supper.  Banging my head on the steel part of the truck body just reminds me of those lessons of old.  Maybe this is how we need to do again.   Give youngsters a hint how to do things and let them learn.  They will learn how not to do things as quick as how to do them properly.  “There is an easier way to do that, you know? “

Ka Blam, there goes another extension.  Go borrow Roy’s now.       Ken White mountain man tinkerer.

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