Yep, You Got That Right

Here’s another good one about my days in the cotton farming industry; I wasn’t working for Dickie Morris—see Barrelin’ Down the Dirt Road, and Barrelin’ Down the Dirt Road (part2)—any longer, but I was still doing the same job. I’d moved up in the world though; this was a fulltime job, living and working on one of the biggest farms in the Buckeye Valley. The owner’s name was Jewel Turner.

I don’t have the same memories of Jewel as I do of Dickie—Jewel was a large, gruff, no-nonsense man, who expected a day’s work for a day’s pay. The pay, by the way, was a whopping buck and a quarter an hour. But! A furnished “house” was included! I emphasize the word house, because even though that’s what it was called, it was nothing more than a shack, located in a cluster of several others like it, where all the farm hands lived.

Another benefit to the job was I had my own tractor. Man, this was the big time! The tractor was a small, gray one—a Ford—and not that new, but it ran like a champ, and I could drive it to and from whatever field I was working at. It was great!

I don’t know how many eighty-acre fields were on the Turner farm, but there were a lot of them, and the place was vast. I was working about a half mile from my house, when the incident I’m about to relate to you occurred. I should also mention I’d only been working there a few days; I think it was my third day.

When noon rolled around, I jumped onto my tractor and headed for the house to get some lunch. I was already married and my son, Billy, was less than a year old (that would put me at almost nineteen) and my young wife and son were waiting for me at the shack. I was fairly whistling a tune as I drove full speed down the dirt roads. Back then—as far as I was concerned—vehicles of any kind had only one speed. Fast!

For whatever reason, there was an oddity to the design of the fields I was driving between on that day. I had to cross a bridge that went over a canal, but before I could get to the bridge, I had to drive up onto the road that ran along the canal bank, turn left then go about twenty feet to the bridge. The road that ran along the canal was about five feet above the road I was traveling on, so there was a gradual slope I had to traverse to get up onto the canal road.

I need to explain; tractors are like boats, in the sense that when you push the throttle lever up to slow down, and you push it all the way, you will slow down and stop fairly quickly. That said, there I was, blasting full speed toward the canal; loving life and thinking about what a lucky guy I was. As I came to the rise in the road, I shoved the throttle up and the tractor slowed. Unfortunately, I hit a bump at the very instant I began to slow, and when I did, I bounced hard in the seat then my hand—still on the throttle lever—jerked the lever back to the full speed position.

I shot up the embankment, was airborne for a few seconds then landed with a huge splash in the middle of the canal. I was still on the tractor’s seat, and I sat there for a moment, as the water ran just below my chin. I quickly concluded that my work here was complete.

I climbed out of the canal—no easy feat, as the banks of those things aren’t made for a person to climb out of—and trudged down the road toward the shack. I was almost dry when I arrived at the house, but my shoes were still making a squishy sound as I walked in.

I told Evelyn she should gather what few things in the place belonged to us, and together we began loading our belongings into my pickup. We were almost finished when Jewel came sliding to a stop and strode over to me. It was obvious, by the murderous look on his rugged face, he had seen the tractor I’d left in the canal.

He watched me put a box of stuff into the pickup then growled. “Yep, you got that right.” He then yelled for his dog—a mangy looking, half-coyote/half-something-else-critter that was as mean and rough looking as he was—“Coyote!” The dog jumped into the back of Jewel’s dusty truck, and stood with its front paws on the fender weld, wagging its tail and staring at me. It had an evil-looking dog smile on its face and I swear it was laughing at me.

Jewel lumbered back to his truck, climbed in, slammed the door, and churned up dust as he spun the truck around and sped off to (I assume) figure out how to get the tractor out of the canal.

We finished loading up then headed down the road in search of my next career opportunity.

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