The Hay Loft

The Hay Loft

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Why is it that doing something you know you're not supposed to be doing always seems much better than doing something right?  It's almost like watermelon; watermelon is always best if you steal it!

So it was one day at Uncle Norm's house.  He lived out there on the other side of White Oak just across the big slough.

The big old barn standing solitary out back had a rope hanging out the front where the loft was.  We had been told not to be jumping out of the hay loft.  It was only about 12 ft, but, to us kids, it was like jumping off the Empire State Building.

And hey, if one done it, then everybody else had permission . . .  No . . .  Everybody had to do it.  Then, suddenly there was a continual blast of kids rushing up the ladder, running and jumping out of the loft in a continual stream.  Above the screams of laughter and joy and pure delight, the one in charge could be heard in an important voice, "Go, go, go!"

All of a sudden, it happened.  One of the kids had jumped out, and was now laying on the ground screaming.  All the kids scampered down to see what was wrong.  They just all knew he'd broken his leg or something.

But, what we saw sickened each one of us.  'Bout that time Aunt Louise had heard the screaming and was running hard as she could go toward the fallen cousin.  There on the ground was a bunch of old boards, and nails were sticking up everyhwere.  The kid had landed on one of the nails, and it being a 20 penny nail, (about 4 1/2 inches long), was sticking clean through his foot and out the top about 2 inches!  What a sight!

Kids were looking all pale and white.  One was over on the ground blowing chowder like a volcano.  (I couldn't believe anyone could hurl that much!

Another was crying.  And the one with the nail sticking out the top of his foot, now had stopped screaming, and was fast becoming a celebrity.

He had stopped his whimpering, and was beginning to look important.  All the younger kids were becoming more and more impressed with him.  And, he was tough too!

Until Uncle Norm decided what to do.  Uncle Norm was not shook up, neither did he seem to be in a hurry.  He casually gave some instructions.  You, go get the wire cutters.  You, go get the coal-oil (called Kerosene now).  You got get some warm water in a pan.

It was getting real intense.  All the cousins (well, not all . . . one was still blowing chowder, which had now escalated to coming out his nose, eyes and ears), had gathered 'round and were clearly impressed as to the gravity of the situation.

TV was something you only heard about.  All of us were too poor to own one (probably wouldn't watch it 'cause back then it was sin), so we weren't knowledgeable how hospital stories went.

Now Uncle Norm lived a long way out of town.  Not only that, Drs. were something of a luxury, or an extreme emergency item.  This was clearly neither.  Although the initial shock had worn off and the pain was getting up, the kid was staying quite calm, all the while impressing all of us younger cousins greatly.

Uncle Norm clipped the nail from the board, and kid screamed long and woeful.  And all the cousins screamed with him.  Then, Uncle Norm poured generous amounts of coal-oil all over the foot and nail.

He had some of the bigger cousins hold Randall down, and grasped the end of the nail sticking out the top of the foot with some pliers.

With a very quick yank, he pulled the nail cleanly out of the foot.  And, Randall screamed again!  As did all the cousins!  Again Uncle Norm poured coal-oil all over the wound.  Come Saturday they took Randall for a tetanus shot.

All the kids resumed playing or finding something else to do; something that didn't involve getting nails stuck through their foot!  But you can bet, none jumped out of the loft!

Funny, but jumping out of the hay loft just wasn't fun no more!

George Cavaness

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