Laugh Tracks in the Dust 2-22-10 |

Laugh Tracks in the Dust 2-22-10

My Boone, Iowa, sheep shearing buddy and former neighbor, ol’ Nick deHyde, and his lovely, but strict, wife, Tanna deHyde, came to visit ol’ Nevah and me a few weeks ago to help celebrate our common birthdays on Jan. 30. Ol’ Nevah and I are among the few American couples with birthdays on the same day.

We had a great time and they got a bit of respite from the monstrosity of an Iowa winter they are suffering through where they’ve had just a couple of inches short of an all-time record snowfall. They’ve had nearly 50 inches of snowfall, temps below zero a lot of the time, and ain’t seen bare ground since Dec. 4. Now that’s a bad winter, even for those tough Iowegians.

Now, Nick’s mother, the venerable Olda deHyde, lives next door to Nick. She’s well into her mid-80s and still cares for herself and a little flock of chickens. But, at her age, she has to be really careful about falling on the ice and snow when she’s outside. So, she makes every trip outdoors count for something.

I’m telling you this because it leads up to a true story that ol’ Nick told about her this winter. Here’s the way he told the story in his locally-famous column Short Grass and Shallow Water:

This is a dual propose story. I don’t need to describe this winter’s weather to you. We’ve all suffered through the snow, ice, wind and general horrible conditions this winter has brought us. Bear this in mind as it plays a great part in this story.

Back in December I took the afternoon off from work and took Mom to town. We made the usual rounds of the bank, Fareway [grocery], Ace Hardware and Orschelns [farm store]. Mom only goes to town about every three to four weeks in the winter, so when we get home, there’s a truck load to get in the house. I got the bird seed and the chicken feed put in the shed and then started on bringing in the groceries.

I had finished getting the groceries into the kitchen and was standing by the door visiting. Mom keeps a clothes pin hanging from a string on the end of the cupboard, by the door, with the letters she intends to mail. I noticed there were about a half dozen Christmas cards hanging there. I said “Here, I’ll take these to the mail box for you.” 

She took me by surprise when she quickly exclaimed, “No, don’t take those out!” She went on to explain, “I only take out one a day when I get the mail. That way the next day I can watch for the mailbox flag to be down and I know Kurt [the mailman] has came by. That way I don’t waste a trip out to the mail box in this weather!”

Reminds me of a great line from a Willie Nelson song: Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill every time. As you can tell, Mom is doing fine.


Another story involving the same two participants. One day this winter, Nick came home from work and saw Olda slowly and carefully making her way from the chicken shed back to her home. 

Since the path wuz slick and icy, Olda carried a bucket of some kind of grit and she’d throw down a handful of grit on the ice and then take a safe step. It wuz slow going, but she wuzn’t gonna fall.

However, Nick decided to solve the problem for her. He went home and picked up a big batch of snow-melting salt and went to Olda’s and scattered a very liberal application of salt on her complete home-to-chickenhouse path.

“Milo,” he laughed. “Not only did all the snow and ice melt, I doubt there will be any grass grow on that path for the next decade. I put on so much salt, I expect to be hearing from Al Gore for making a major contribution to the melting of the glaciers.”


Thanks to a fun-loving Colorado reader for this story: 

Billy wuz sitting on the front steps of his farm home with a bottle of turpentine. He was shaking it up and watching all the bubbles. 

His elderly neighbor came over for a visit and asked the little boy what he had. The little boy said, “This is the most powerful liquid in the world. It’s called turpentine.”

“The neighbor said, ‘No, Billy, the most powerful liquid in the world is Holy Water. If you rub it on a pregnant woman’s belly, she’ll pass a healthy baby.’ “

Billy looked up at his wrinkled friend and replied, “If you rub turpentine beneath a cat’s tail, he’ll pass a souped-up pickup truck! So, I think turpentine is stronger!”


I’ll close for the week with these words of wisdom from writer W.J. Vogel: “To shorten winter, borrow some money due in the spring.”

Have a good ‘un.

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