Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DM and the Knot Hole

Back when I was a wee gaffer, I grew up in a farming community that was fifty years behind the times and proud of that. Very few had electricity, or phone. Indoor plumbing was a path to the outhouse. Water came in buckets, was heated on a wood stove. Baths happened one per week. Schools were one and two rooms. I was the first year of busing, picked up on the public road, and dropped at school, when the roads were open, and the mud was not too deep. I did not get the privilege of walking to school up hill both ways.

Most Sundays the extended family attended church, if the road were clear, the truck running, and passable. When it got real cold, the truck did not run. Sometimes it could be started by pulling with the horses, or if a tractor had been started, the tractor. If that did not work, It was too cold anyway.

Winter stating of tractors required a pail of boiling water/antifreeze mix. With pure water, it would ice up inside the block, and that was not good. There was not enough anti freeze it it to leave it in the engine, just enough to stop the icing. After the tractor was put away, the anti freeze drained and hauled back to the house for reuse the next time the tractor was needed, usually for grain hauling, or grinding. The horses worked fine for manure hauling all winter.

Anyway, now that you know we were poor foke, who on Sundays went to a church in a small place, in the Hamlet, in a church that had been built by farmer volunteers, one of which had been a carpenter/steam engineer/farm building assembler as a young man, and another a bricklayer/mason, and another a oxen driver/oxen freighter/black smith- when the west was young, and many youths who need to learn what ever there was going.  It had a few issues here and there. The pews were made from dressed 1 inch pine. There were a few random loose knots, some of which the center core had fallen out or been pushed.

That church was heated by a airtight stove in the rear, and there was a pew next to the air tight, where my farther always sat so that he could "tend the fire" during the service without disturbing anyone.  It was likely the warmest seat in the house also, but that will be let slide by. Most of my male cousins sat in the rear opposite side, close to the door. I, been less than well behaved (talked a bit), was usually assigned a set at the far end of fathers pew, next to the window, and behind some elderly aunts and neighbors. The church  typically was getting warmish by the end of the service. Occasionally someone would come over and light the fire an hour before the service, so it would be somewhat warmer when we got there.

Anyway, DM, being a few years younger than myself, always was restless during the long boring services. His older brother, the one with a watch with a sweep second hand, often amused himself by counting the priests speaking rate. On cold days, the sermon could hit 150 words per minute, other time more like 100. On days when the priest had several services and lunch before, it could be down to 80 or 90. Something about the wine with lunch. It was something to do. Anyway, back to DM and this one knot hole. He found great joy sticking his finger in it and poking his sister who sat in front. We all found various things to do to pass the time quietly waiting for the time we could move about and do things.

Well as we age, even as youngsters time passes and fingers grow bigger and longer. Knot holes do not grow. You can see it now, the time his finger got stuck. Well his big sister leaned back, and pined his finger down to start with. Perhaps a bit of swelling happened. The poor little guy was trapped, with his finger in the knot hole for half the service, while the remainder of us had entertainment for the remainder of the service.

After the service, DM's father sent his brother over to the neighbors to borrow a saw. When DM heard that, he let out such a scream. "Not my finger, not my finger". Somebody got some snow and iced his figure, likely wetting it as well, and it came out. The saw was put to its intended us of making a knock to the knothole, so no kid could do that again. That was always know as DM knot hole after that. 

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