Friday, August 20, 2010
In the picture above, I'm holding the oil can, ready to hand it to him as needed. But I was versatile. Other times, I held his cap when he crawled under machinery or I held the hammer when no hammer was needed. Most importantly, I kept him from getting bored by asking him a million questions.
I remember him saying more than once, "OK, Kid, you get two more questions." He never held me to it though.
I loved it when he called me his "hired man."
We'd walk into the general store in New Market and the owner, Eugene Busch, would exclaim to Dad, "Gordon, I see you brought your hired man!"
I liked walking into Busch's General Store with Dad.
In my job as hired man, when I misplaced things or did stuff wrong, he was patient with me, especially considering he was not a patient man. Then there was that one time, though, when I accidentally did something foolish.
While he oils a gear on the corn binder, I see him turn the spout on the oil can to squirt the oil to the side. He hands it back to me and I immediately put my new-found knowledge to work by turning the spout around to face the user. He grabs the oil can from me. Without checking the direction of the spout, he pumps the handle to add another squirt of oil to a gear and, instead, squirts himself in the face with oil.
I say nothing while he gives me a look that contains only a hint of a smile. As he takes out his big red handkerchief to wipe the oil off his face, he says, "I'll get you back for that one, Kid."
And so he did, many times, and I got back at him many times. This "oil can trick"was a running gag between us for nearly 50 years.
Photograph by Helen Fredrickson