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Don Locke: Looking Through Bifocals

We were going to up-grade now through a small patch of woods. Granddad didn't seem any worse for the wear; I was breathing hard and sweating. It was a couple of hours into morning and a month into summer. The sun was already hot this early. Granddad was carrying the heavy half of the house jack; I was carrying what was supposed to be the lighter half. It didn't seem that way now. I was probably somewhere around my eleventh summer. Granddad was in his seventies, but still a strong man. I was glad when he said, "Let's rest a spell." We were about two miles into the trip; it seemed like several hours since we started.

Our goal was a large copper cable coming up through a two-inch pipe from an old underground mine works. Granddad was retired from that mining company; some of the mine officials told him he could have the cable if he could get it out. It was worth a goof piece of money; these were WWII years, copper was in short supply. We had tried to get it out before this several times with a cross-handle we'd cut from a sapling. But to no avail. With him on one side of the handle, the end of the cable wrapped around the middle, and me on the other, we pulled 'till our eyeballs hung out. Nothing.

"We'll get 'er this time Son," Granddad was confident, "We'll either pull it out, or we'll pull it in-two." We rigged the house jack, and the more we pulled the more that ornery cable stretched. We finally gave up. Granddad said, "Whatddye know?" We finally quit and trudged back home with our cumbersome, heavy load.

All my hoped fell with a thud. With my part of the money I aimed to put with a pretty good bicycle I had, and trade it to Harold Cornelius for a little blocky horse, with a McClellen army saddle thrown in. I never had a horse until a long time later, when our daughter got one.

Granddad grew old and sick, and bed-fast. Each time I went by to see him we would sit and talk a while. Then he would take out his old fiddle and knock-off a round or two of "Turkey In The Straw" or "Little Brown Jug." Then we would just sit a while and talk some more about old times. He would invariably bring the subject back around to that cable. "Someday Son, we'll go back over there . . . and this time we'll pull that cable." He never gave up.

When I went by the last time, my family and I were on our way to another state to a new job. We were saying our goodbyes. He finally said, "You hurry back to see me Son, we'll go back and try that cable another round. I still think we can figure a way to pull it out." Granddad died in his sleep before we came back. He went to be with my grandmother who went on before him.

I guess we all need to kind of cable to hang-on to and try to pull.

Kindest regards . . .


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