Monday, March 28, 2011

About 90 Degrees

Our old house in Clifton had (still has) a very steep roof; if it isn't 90 degrees, it's not much less than that. Many years ago, sections of it had to be repaired. Lorraine and Pauline were probably grown by then, so that would put me around 13 years of age. That's the only reason I can think of why my dad would ask someone as terrified of heights as I am to assist him with this job. Now, when my dad, on rare occasion, asked for direct help, you immediately understood that you were honored to be asked to help (Huh, Bill?) That fact aside, you knew he'd be out there doing it on his own anyway if you had ever thought to say no, which you wouldn't.

I remember he had us wear those zip-up coveralls, so clothing would have less chance of getting caught on something and hurting us. I remember him nailing several 2x 4's horizontally on the roof for some foot leverage here and there. No doubt we climbed up via ladder, but I don't remember that part. He gave serious instructions, such as "if the hammer starts to fall, don't move to go after it. We can get it later." He told me to lay against the house and stick to it as closely as possible while sliding my feet along the board slowly. Duh. You couldn't have scraped me off with a Bowie knife. The only way to do this was to flatten your coveralled-self against the roof like a big bug on a windshield, use your hands to find missing tiles and somehow nail them to the roof.

N E V E R * L O O K * D O W N!

It might have only taken us an hour or so to do this, and I'm sure he would liked to have done a better job, but somehow we finished the repairs and climbed down safely. As far as I know, no one has repaired it again. A couple of years later, he needed some help building the milk room out of galvanized steel. The nails for that had heads covered with some fairly soft metal. He could get one in with one or two whaps. I beat those heads to a pulp every time. He would get them in perfectly at the right angle. I mainly learned how to pull them out and try again. He nailed up at least 20 to my 1. It would have been easier for him if he'd sent me to do some other farm thing, but that probably wasn't the point.

He was very impressed with my tenaciousness in tearing down the old chicken coop and calf areas. Once he blew the permission whistle, I spent hours each day sledge-hammering it, pulling it, kicking it, bending it, dragging it, pounding on it, etc. That coop represented to me the evil of bullying. Some poor little chicken would get their drink from a place that iced over in the winter, and the ice would stick around one chicken's neck, pulling off some feathers. Then the other chickens would sense the weakness and come pick at the the poor thing til it got weaker and just died. With every yank, I remembered that injustice and wanted to make sure that that would not happen again, at least in one place in the world. No more bullying!

Also, there is not enough money in the entire world to get me back up on a rooftop.

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