Barrelin’ Down the Dirt Road

Barrelin’ Down the Dirt Road

In Memory of Richard (Dick) Morris

This is another tale about yours truly, and the stunts I pulled back in the day. I had a wild streak, knew everything, and needed no instruction from the adult world. (Was anybody else like that when they were a teenager?) Well, anyway, check this out.

Dick Morris was a harvesting contractor in the Buckeye, Arizona area; he didn’t own a farm, but he had the equipment, and contracted to pick cotton for some of the big farms around Buckeye. I hired on to pull cotton trailers from the field to the cotton gin.

It was a fun job; I got to drive an old International pickup, usually pulling two cotton trailers at a time to the gin. I’d pull under the canopy, and they’d use this big vacuum hose to suck the cotton out of the trailer. Once all the cotton had been removed, I’d haul butt back down the dirt roads to the field we were harvesting.

I hadn’t been working for Dick too long, when one morning he came up as I was about to leave the field pulling two trailers filled with cotton. He motioned me to wait, then came over to the window and said, “When you get to the gin, while they’re getting’ the cotton out, check the oil in the truck. You know how to do that?”

I gave him a look that said I did. You know; the look where you raise both eyebrows and tilt your head back and smile. It’s a good look, because even if you don’t know what they’re talking about, the other person usually thinks they’ve insulted you, and they don’t pursue the question. Dick added more to the instructions.

“After you change the oil, don’t forget to latch the hood.” He pointed at the hood latch on the driver’s side of the truck, to make sure I knew what he was talking about. I was starting to think he thought I was an idiot. I had both hands on the steering wheel, and I slumped forward then banged my head on the big wheel. Dick laughed then punched my shoulder and told me to get out of there.

When I got to the gin, I forgot to check the oil, but remembered at the last minute. I bailed out and checked it as fast I could, and the guy running the big suction tube was yelling at me to get to get my dang truck out of the way, as I jumped back into the driver’s seat. During harvest time, there could be a lot of trailers lined up waiting to unload, and time was money.

I hauled-butt out of there, and was once again barreling down the dirt road, when WHAM, something came out of nowhere, and hit the truck’s windshield. It busted the windshield good, too; spider-webbed like crazy in a matter of seconds. I could hardly see out of it.

I looked in the rearview mirror, and to my horror recognized the hood of the truck floating through the air then crashing to the road. I slammed on the brakes, causing the trailers behind me to get all sideways and stuff then jumped out of the truck. I looked at the naked engine compartment, said some things Mom wouldn’t have been proud to hear, then ran back to where the hood had come to a rest.

My first thought was I could put that baby back on real fast, and Dick would never have to know I’d forgotten to latch the hood. One look at the mangled hood—especially where it fastened to the rest of the truck, told me that idea was not going to come to pass. I drug the hood to the truck and somehow managed to get it into the bed of the pickup—the darn thing probably weighed more than I did—then driving a bit slower than normal, crept back to the field.

As I pulled up, Dick saw me coming, and even from a good ways away, I could see his eyes get real big. He stood there, staring at me, and as I came to a stop a few feet from him, he shook his head slowly side-to-side then dropped his gaze and stared at his feet. I rested my head on the steering wheel, and listened as the sound of his crunching footsteps approached then stopped.

“You forgot to latch the hood,” he said, quietly.

“Yes, sir,” I said, not raising my head to look at him.

After a long few seconds, he patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry about it. I can fix it.”

And that’s how I remember Dick Morris. He was a great guy; always smiling and laughing, and he had a genuine love and compassion for people—even know-it-all-teenagers. I’ll never forget him.


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    Just goes to show . . . it doesn’t take much to be kind. Great story!

  2. Stephen Carrera said

    A Great story, thanks for sharing.

  3. Karen Goins said

    Hi, Charlie…don’t know if you knew this or not, but, Dick’s wife, Betty June (nee Williams) was my cousin. Her Dad, Bill Williams, and my Dad were brothers.

    Even though I’m not much older than Dennis and Kathy, I babysat for them when they were younger. Probably only because they didn’t trust Dennis watching the girls!

    Dickie Morris so loved Betty June and his kids, and who could help but love (admire) Dickie. What a great guy. I consider myself lucky that he was a part of our family……..he is family and he will be missed.

    Your Good Buddy…………Karen

    • I kind of remember all that, but it had been a while and I’d forgotten. I originally called him Dickie in the story, but I thought that might be a bit disrespectful, so I chnged it today. He was a great guy; one of those adults that could laugh at, and with, us crazy teenagers. I truly admired him.

  4. jmdh said

    Kinda make me wartly eyed ! The year after Shell passed away ( my wife ) I was at wall mart in Payson,I saw this guy walking up to me from a far. Its was Dicky ! Hadn/t seen him for years but he reconized me. We jacked jaw for a while and told hime I had lost Shelly,. He told me I needed to get back in the sadle again, I just told him I was window shopping threre at Wal mart ! I will miss him too also ! Good man he was !!!

  5. terri0729 said

    Charles, I laughed out loud and Mark and Sara in the living room started making fun of me with the random laugh out of nowhere, lol! Great story! Like the time I went out to start the truck so we could all do to the movie and knowing nothing about a clutch, turned the key on and jumped it through the garage door. My dad came out and said, “You’ll be painting the new one as punishment for that one!”, we haven’t forgot it to this day. Blessings, Terri

    • So glad you enjoyed it and it made you laugh. I did a similar one like yours. Our really old Chevy pickup had the starter button on the floor, and I pushed it with the clutch not in, and jumped into the back of Mom’s best friends Olds 88. Thought I was gonna get killed for sure. Didn’t hurt nothing though, so I skated on that one. Mom didn’t tell the old man. He’d a beat me even though nothing was hurt!

  6. Very good. That is the man/friend I know. He will be missed by all that knew him here on earth. He has a great bunch of old family and friends to keep him company. Kick up your heels, Dick went to meet his maker, come on we can fix this!!

    Thanks for your story Charlie.

    • It amazes me that a person can spend so few minutes with us, and leave an imprint on our life. Dickie Morris was one of those who did just that.

  7. terri0729 said

    My dad only spanked me once in my entire life. Normal, with his deep voice, all he had to do was raise his voice with me. Blessings…

    • Not true here, though he did have the ability to stop us in our tracks with a “look” or a few choice words. Me, on the other hand, I didn’t spank my two boys much; amazingly, one word–said just so–could cause them to reconsider whatever they might be doing; “Hey!”

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