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Friday, April 11, 2014
Flash Fiction Friday
That happened to me; as a kid.
Our farm was out in the country. Town wasn't a trip we took lightly; the County Seat was reserved for Court Day; once a year. Our contact with the outside world was the Madison County Gazette, delivered every Monday. We were able read about the doings in the county, the state, the country and the world. We usually stopped with the county; there was enough going there to keep us busy.
Then one afternoon we caught a surveyor and his crew running down the top of the ridge behind the barn. In his wake were a string of sticks marked with red and yellow tags. They ran as far as I could see; clear through the cow pasture and across the fence into Mr. Blakely's corn field. They ran straight as a string as far as I could see.
It was me and my four brothers who saw the men; the three older ones ran up the hill; Benny, being the youngest, knew it was his job to fetch Pa. We knew better than to talk to these strangers; that was Pa's job.
The man in charge explained to Pa what they were doing. Seems the Federal Government had decided it was time we threw our oil lamps away and lit the house with electricity. And since we couldn't bring home this electricity in a 5-gallon can, they were running wires to bring it to us; and those wires needed towers. The red pegs were were the lines would run, and the yellow were where the towers would sit. One would be going up right where we were standing.
Pa mentioned that he wasn't real keen on the idea of a tower in the middle of his pasture. Well, the man said, Pa didn't have a choice. Some one in the State Capital had decided a tower would be in the middle of his cow pasture, If he didn't like it, he could take it up with the man in the Capital. Pa got a mad gleam in his eye, and walked over to the first peg he could find, and reached down to pull it out by the roots.
The man told he could pull the peg if he liked, but every peg he pulled was 30 days in the county jail. Pa let go of that peg like the devil himself was dragging on the other end.
That was something to me; at the age of ten I first saw my Pa afraid of something.
He hadn't back down from our bull when he was loose; he hadn't run when the tractor got loose from Uncle Silas and was headed his way. He hadn't backed down when that girl's family came to get Uncle Ferd for a wedding at the end of a shotgun 2 years ago last March.
But he was afraid of a peg.
That was the last we saw of that man. They worked across our place all afternoon, and by sunset they were out of sight on the far side of McMahon's hill. A few days later a car pulled up the lane and two men got out. They had some papers for Pa and Ma to sign, allowing some other men to put up the tower on the ridge. Pa wasn't too happy about it, but the men said as part of the deal we would get a line and two poles to bring electricity to the farm yard. And we would get a check every year from the Electric Company because of the tower.
Pa still wasn't happy; but the money made him feel some better about it. A few days after that we saw a silver monster rising up out of Mr. Blakely's corn. A few days later we heard a machine on the ridge. The crew had cut through our fence and put in a gate- Pa thought they had done a fine job of it to; But Uncle Ferd allowed that they hadn't used enough nails on the bracing. Uncle Silas mumbled something a spat a wad of chaw at it. Before the week was out we had a metal monster of our own. 6 weeks later we had a pole in the yard with a light on it, and a week later at dusk we were just sitting down to supper when the farmyard was suddenly lit up like the Midway at the fair.
That's when I knew my world was changing for good. I looked around the table and saw everybody straining for a look out the window; Ma hollering to keep our dirty hands off her curtains. I was the last one up, and as I looked to see where Pa was, I saw him sitting in his place at the head of the table.His hands folded on his lap, and a small tear caught on the end of his nose.
I didn't then know if this change was for good or evil; but I knew nothing would ever be the same.