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REFLECTIONS: Sept. 25 — Storm chased us from the field

…Continued from last week

Mama, Sister Jane, and I were hoeing peanuts in the field below the house. Clouds formed in the sky, the wind picked up something terrible and there was much lightning and rain. Jane headed for the house but Mama and I finished out our rows. As we headed for shelter, sheet iron started peeling off the barn roof and sailing over our heads. The old house had little underpinning and was nothing more than a dilapidated structure. Large trees were blown down close to the house and in fact pretty well blocked our road all the way to town. The old house withstood the storm and the three of us escaped unscathed. Tornado? Who knows?

I was plowing new ground one time when one of the horses stepped over a trace chain, got excited, and the race was on. Off they went, dragging me and the plow behind. I think I hit every stump and rock along the way. That was the day I learned to put the check lines around my neck and one shoulder rather than around my waist. All you have to do in such an event is bend over and the lines will slip off.

Our team of horses consisted of “Bob”, a tall raw-boned bay horse with a back bone like a 2 x 4 standing on edge, and therefore extremely uncomfortable to ride bare-back, and “Dick” a gray and somewhat wild horse which didn’t like to be ridden at all. He had a tendency to buck you off whenever you mounted him for a ride. I never did have any “cowboy” blood in my veins and therefore chose to ride our third horse, “Flicka”, a mare with a mule colt by her side. She was easy to ride even without a saddle. I was to ride Flicka into town one day when we passed by a pasture which held another horse and a mule. These two ran through the fence and proceeded to attack the colt. Flicka didn’t care for their actions and braced herself for a fight. With no saddle, I grabbed her mane, then threw my arms around her neck, gradually sliding underneath with arms and legs locked firmly around Flicka’s neck. As the fight progressed, I began to slip, eventually falling to the ground, only to watch as the mare ran over me, never so much as touching me with her hooves. I rolled into the ditch, avoiding the horse and mule, got up, and started walking back home. Flicka and the colt showed up without me and Mama ran toward town looking for me. I met Mama, started crying, went home and never made the trip to town that day.

I was on a mission at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska in December 1954. Our unit had B-36’s and there was another unit there with F-86’s. I had never seen pure jet aircraft before and was enthralled just watching them take off and land. Suddenly, one of them veered off the runway, barely missing the B-36 I was standing by, sailed past the control tower and plummeted to the earth in the midst of a housing area during the noon hour. A dozen women and children were killed instantly.

Another time there was a B-36 in our unit which crashed on take-off, ending up a few yards from my work place. This occurred about 15 minutes after my work time and I had left the building. A part of one of the engines ended up under my desk after taking out a window. Had I been at work, I would most likely have run to the window to see what was happening and might well have gotten there just in time to “catch” the piece of engine. But I didn’t.

I have been in three places where there were bomb threats: The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, The Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and aboard a flight from Manila to Los Angeles. I’m still here so you know that no bombs exploded in those places.

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