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Ol Smoke

How did I survive the 7th grade....

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How I survived the 7th grade is beyond my comprehension.


It was September 1963 and I was 12 years old and a new 7th grader in Bly, Oregon.

We were doing an experiment in a science class where we had to insert a glass hollow

tube into a rubber stopper and then insert the stopper into a beaker. I was pushing real

hard on the tube when it broke and went thru three of my fingers on the right hand.

The school called my mom and she got my dad and we drove 45 miles to Lakeview to a

hospital there to get my hand repaired. I was placed on a surgery table and the doctor

tried to pull the tube out of my index finger, but it kept breaking. So they finally wound

up breaking the tube into three pieces by breaking the tube between my fingers. The tube

had entered my index finger, then went thru the middle finger and halfway into the ring

finger. Because of the way it went into my fingers, the nerves were wrapped around the tube

making it really difficult to pull it back out. In order to make sure he wasn't cutting the nerves,

they could not give me any anesthesia or Novacaine. The pain was excruciating, and was so bad

that several women had to leave the hospital because of my screaming. It either was really bad

or I was just being a wuss. Don't remember now...so we will say it hurt a lot. They finally got all

the glass out of my fingers and I could bend them and feel stuff okay. So, no damage done. They

put a big mitt of gauze and stuff on me and gave me a pain shot and we went home, 10 hours later.

The winter was really cold that year and my brother and I got mumps. My neck and throat swelled

up but that was about it. The mumps went down on my brother and he lost a testicle to it and

almost died.

The Spring came and it was time to go outside again. So my family decided to go and pick wild

plums up on Bly Mountain. Now these are tasty and make the best jam. We were climbing all over

the place up there and I came into this clearing and there was a small obelisk standing there. I

went over a began to read it. It was a monument to some people, that was doing the same thing we were

doing, back in 1945. They came upon what appeared to be an old bicylce tire. A woman picked

it up and it exploded, killing all 6 of them. The object was a leftover balloon bomb from WWII, that

Japan had sent over on the jetstream from Japan. It had laid there all those years.




While I was standing there waiting on my family to come and see what I had found, there was a buzzing

started behind me. I thought it was bees. Suddenly, out of the woods my father came at me at a full run.

He snatched me up like a football and ran for the trees. He put me down and looked at my legs and stuff,

and then went back over and killed this rattlesnake. It was about 4 feet long. We left that area with our

plums and headed for home. In the car on the way home, my sneaker kept snagging the floor carpet. So,

I bent my leg up to see what was on the bottom of my shoe. It was one of the fangs from the snake.

I took the shoe off and leaned over the back of the seat to show mom and dad. My dad saw it, and ripped

it from hand and then threw it out the window. We pulled over and he took me out of the car and sat

me on the hood and looked my foot all over. No punctures. The only problem was, I only had one pair

of sneakers and there wasn't a store within 50 miles. So I wore my Sunday shoes to school. All the kids

had a good time ribbing me about the shoes. Then that Saturday we went to Klamath Falls and got more

shoes. I looked for that shoe every time we drove past there, but never found it. I wanted it for a


The Summer came and I was with a friend up on the hill behind our house. He had taken his .22 rifle with him

in case we saw something to shoot. We plunked around some but didn't really shoot at anything. We

stopped at this big rock area because he had to pee. So he handed me the rifle and I was holding it with

the butt down. Suddenly a blue belly lizard ran onto the top of the rock beside and without thinking I

slammed the butt of the rifle down on it. The rifle went off sending a bullet through my left earlobe.

I really didn't know what had happened except that the gun went off and I couldn't hear anything. Suddenly

Billy started screaming at me. I couldn't understand a thing he said except "ear" and "blood". Then I

started feeling pain in my left ear and when I touched it, it hurt like hell! Then I saw the blood on my

fingers. Then I started to panic and running around like I was gonna die. (Wuss again) But within a few

seconds we figured out that it was just a minor injury. Except for the fact that part of my earlobe was

missing. Now panic set in. Not for the almost instant death that I had suffered, but for the fact that

my parents were going to kill us. So in an instant my mind started creating this storyline we would

tell my mom. Here it is. I got slapped in the ear by a branch from a tree. Yep. That was our big story.

It worked. Not until I had graduated from college did I tell the true story. She still hit me on the butt

when I wasn't looking. She said, "There! That's for almost killing yourself" Then she kissed me and hugged

me. A couple of months after I shot myself, the boy who I was with shot and killed my dog with that

very gun. I still think of Danny the Dog at certain times. I hope he will be in heaven waiting for me.

A few weeks had gone by since the shooting and Vernon had come out to our house on his new bike.

We went up behind the house onto the hill and was riding it around. There was an old dirt road up there

and we built a small jump and were riding over it. There was about a foot of lift on the jump, but it seemed

like we were twenty feet in the air. The plywood sheet was about 4 feet long and we had a big piece of

wood under it. After a while it got boring and so we set out to find a bigger piece of wood. We found two

old bunks and put them together and then put the big piece of wood on that. It gave us about three feet

of vertical height. You have to remember that we are on a steep downhill road. So of course, I went first.

(No wussy here) Instead of trying it out first, I went whole hog. I went back up the hill about 50 feet and

took off, pedaling like a mad man. I probably got to about 20 mph when I hit the ramp. Visions of flying

through the air were all I had when the bunks rolled over and I hit that big piece of wood. I instantly

came to halt. At least the bike did. I kept on going about 30 feet landing on my stomach and face.

Yep. The wussy showed back up at this time. I got up and immediately ran for home, screaming in

pain and terror. Vernon ran over to see what I had done to his bicycle. We were never friends after

this little mishap.

When I ran into the house, my mom almost passed out from the sight of me. Blood and dirt were all

over me. My shirt was torn ragged and my jeans were ripped up and my whole face was red and

brown. She immediately took me outside and hosed me off. Then she took off all but my undershorts

and stood there looking at me. I was scraped up really bad, but the blood had come from my nose.

Once we got that taken care of, she put some Methylate on my cuts (which hurt worse than the injury)

and bandage a few cuts. But all in all, I wasn't too bad. I couldn't say the same about Vernon's new bike.

The front forks were tore off, the handlebars were bent, the tire and rim were in a figure of an eight.

It cost $28 dollars to replace the bike. I didn't get an allowance for the rest of my life. But, the following

year, my dad bought a bicycle from my sister's girlfriend and dad made it into a boys bike for me. He paid

five dollars for it. I loved that bike. It had a springer front end on it, and I painted it fire engine red.

Well by the time September came around, I was glad that year was over. Not too much happened to me

after that until I discovered....motorcycles and bucking horses. But that's another story.

Edited by Ol' Smoke
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