Teenaged renegades and ‘Grandma’
Got a couple of oldies, but goodies, in the true story line this week. Both these stories happened years ago, in some cases decades ago, but I know they’re true becuz I believe the folks who told them to me.
First story: Let me set the scene. Three high school-age boys back in the 1960s or ’70s were in the midst of a fall weekend of fun in the form of hunting doves during the day, fishing a local river for catfish during the night, and camping on-shore for the whole trip. The location wuz eastern Cowley County, Kan.
Well, the Saturday dove hunting went very well, but a severe thunderstorm during Saturday night put a crimp in the night fishing and soaked the intrepid hunter/fishermen to the skin. When dawn finally arrived, they were a soggy, chilled-to-the-bone bunch.
But, they had an idea. The nearest little town had a 24-hour coin-operated laundry. So, they drove to the laundry and — confident that no one in that town would possibly do laundry at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning — stripped naked and threw all their clothes in a clothes dryer. They figgered in 15 minutes they’d be warm and dry.
However, not all good plans pan out becuz, much to their consternation, they saw an elderly lady drive up, park outside the laundry and begin to unload her dirty clothes. So, in all their bare-butted splendor, they scrambled into the only cover in the place — a large broom closet — and closed the door just before the laundress entered.
They were standing, naked as jaybirds, there amongst the brooms and other cleaning materials — wondering how long it would take her to do her laundry — when the old lady started a conversation with herself.
“Now I wonder whose clothes are in the dryer and where are the owners?” she asked herself. “Guess I’ll find out when they come to get them.”
Well, the boys couldn’t contain themselves upon hearing her self-conversation and they began to giggle loud enuf for the laundress to hear them.
“Oh, my,” she exclaimed. “There are people in the broom closet. I’ll bet they’re up to no good. I’d better leave.” And, she did.
As soon as the boys heard the laundry door slam and her drive away, our boys bolted from the broom closet, made for the dryer and began putting on their half-dried clothes. But, there wuz a problem. They’d forgotten to take the shotgun shells from their jeans pockets and the shells had uncrimped and spilled all the lead birdshot. A lot of it wuz in the dryer rattling around and a lot of it fell out on the floor when they pulled their clothes from the dryer.
They agreed the best course of action wuz to hit the road pronto before the old laundress summoned someone to investigate. And, that’s exactly what they did — leaving it to the locals to puzzle out how and why the clothes dryer had bird shot in it and why there wuz birdshot pellets all over the laundry floor.
“They probably thought a bunch of criminals had been there,” my friend told me laughingly. If that wuz the case, they were pretty close. It was teenaged renegades, not criminals, who were responsible.
My longtime Texas friend, ol’ Wright S. Welle, has expanded his career horizons from electrical engineering to writing and publishing. On a recent visit, Wright — who is just a plain ol’ Kansas farm boy at heart — told me a funny true story that happened during a business trip he made years ago to explain to officials at the Federal Aviation Administration his concepts for a new airplane radar.
As backdrop, I add that Wright lived on a Texas acreage just outside the MetroPlex of Dallas/Ft. Worth and, at the request of friends and neighbors, had agreed to board their riding horses. One of the horses they boarded wuz an ancient sway-backed mare that everyone called “Grandma.”
Now, back to the high-powered meeting. Wright wuz in the midst of his presentation when a secretary (this wuz before cell phones) interrupted and said, “You have an important phone call, Mr. Welle.”
So, Wright picked up the phone and it wuz his wife who explained that “Grandma” had died overnight and her owner wondered if he could bury the old horse on the Welle’s acreage.
Realizing he had a golden opportunity to shock those FAA officials who could only hear his end of the conversation, Wright said, “Just hire a backhoe, dig a hole in the pasture, and bury Grandma in it. That’ll solve the problem.”
When he hung up, all the folks in the room had shocked expressions on their faces. Only after a few moments to let his conversation sink in did Wright come clean and explain that “Grandma” was a decrepit old horse.
Since the last story involved an engineer/writer/publisher, perhaps it’s apt that I end this column with a few wise words about engineering. Freeman Dyson said, “A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.” Okay, have a good ‘un. ❖