One of my favorite things to do was ride around in Grandpas truck. It was a '54 GMC, straight 6 with a 3 speed on the column. Most of the boys and Mom and her sister, Avis, learned to drive in it. The boys all learned to drive at age 8 or 9. Not only that, but they drove the tractors and teams as well.
Grandpa left the tailgate down all the time. It was the favorite riding spot. We all fought for who was going to sit there and ride into town on Saturday nights.
One day, Grandpa was doing one of his usual things of riding around looking at his crops. He had it in 1st gear and it was just idling along. It was just crawling, but, to an 8 year old, it was running faster than I could.
So, what possessed me to jump off, I'll never know. The ground in the upper Eastern corner of Arkansas has lots of sandy areas in it. On the little road there were two or three spots that was very soft sand. I decided how cool it would be to jump off in the soft sand, then run and catch up with the truck and jump back on when it slowed down in the next sandy area.
It's simply amazing how ideas like that can form, and seem so completely rational. And cool too! Why, I still don't know. But, sure enough, I held my bottom off the tail gate in anticipation of the sand. When I heard the truck began to pull down, I gave a push and landed on my feet just perfectly.
Well, perhaps not just perfectly . . . I was facing toward the back of the truck, and upon landing facing backward, I was immediately and very rudely awakened to the fact that I could not run backwards fast enough to stay on my feet!
I hit the sand very hard landing on my rump - without even taking a single step! I rolled over and over finally coming to a stop face down in the sand, gasping for my breath which had been knocked out of me by the force with which I'd landed on my caboose. Have you ever tried to breath and spit sand from your mouth?
It was at that moment that I realized what a mistake it was to jump off the back of that truck. I jumped up and started limping after the pickup, but, it was going much faster than I had imagined.
Slowly but surely, the truck crawled away from me. I ran with everything I had, but could never overtake it. Well, OK, that was not a problem. I would just walk home. But, it was a long, long way home! And it was getting close to dinnertime . . . (back then that was at 12:00 noon. Out here in California we call it lunch.), and I sure didn't want to miss dinner.
So, since it's a long way back to the house, and I couldn't make it in time, I'll just run fast as I can and jump back on the truck. 'bout that time I heard the truck begin to pull down as it entered the next sandy spot in the road. I took off running with everything I had, and was nearly to it when it pulled out of the sandy spot and begin picking up speed again.
I ran harder! Just a little faster . . . just about the time I would catch it again, it began pulling away from me. This happened several times.
Now, I'm beginning to suspect that I'm being played. Didn't matter, I was plumb tuckered out! No way could I run another step! I just let him go and turned around and head for the house. Was I gonna call out like a little sissy girl and let Grandpa see how foolish I'd been to jump off the back of that truck?
"Hair no!" I'd heard Grandpa say. I ain't no sissy! If I got myself into trouble, I'd get myself out of trouble!
I glanced around and saw Grandpa make the turn at the end of the field, and stopped to talk to someone. Aha! This was my chance!! If I hurry, I can make it to him before he takes off.
I wouldn't have to walk home after all! 'Bout the time I was within 200 ft of the stopped truck, Grandpa started up and took off down the road. Man! What a stupid thing this was turning out to be! Just as I was about to turn away to head for the house, I saw the brake lights come on and saw an Uncle crawling down off a tractor. Grandpa was going to pick him up for dinner.
I took off running again, and just about the time I was within hollering distance, Grandpa took off again. And now I was even further from the house. Had I started walking toward the house as soon as I jumped off the truck, I would have arrived just a little after they got there. As it was, I was real late, and missed my dinner. (But Grandma Shelton still set me a plate of beans and taters . . . talkin' 'bout GOOD!)
Well, I just chocked it up as another lesson learned in the school of hard knocks: Jumping off a truck backwards ain't cool!
When I arrived at the house, he acted surprised to see me, and just kind of chuckled as I told him the story. So, the question begs the answer; did he or didn't he know?