Sunday, March 29, 2009

Billy the goat

Dad ran his business, a feed mill/farm store like ringing a bell, he had built it, nurtured it, poured his soul into it. He grew it every year, took no prisoners,the rhythm of his life was a constant drum beat of projects and deadlines. He vacationed poorly, seldom had time to relax.

Which is why I can't figure where the idea to get a goat came from, guess he just figured we needed to have some fun, that it was time to lighten up. He spoke of it several times, we pretty much all thought that was as far as it would go. Then one morning he comes waving around a classified ad from the Sioux City Journal, goats for sale. He motions to Leonard the bulk truck driver, gives him the address and a check. Just like ringing a bell, Dad was getting us into the goat business.

The laughs start right away, Marv, the feed mill operator didn't like the idea of goats, every time the subject had came up he would snort and say “you get goats next thing you know they will be shitting and pissing on the floor”. He was pretty adamant about it. Like I said, Marv didn't think much of goats.

So Marv had missed out on Dad's big conference with us about the Sioux City goats and sending off Leonard to fetch them, about 9 AM he asks “where is Leonard”? So, we tell him, “ he went to Sioux City to get goats” Marv thinks we are kidding him, asks again, we tell him again, Marv sputters something about being us being smart asses and goats shitting and pissing on the floor, giving up he stalks off..

.A hour later, in his best and most sincere voice “ no really, where is Leonard today?” we wince as we say it, “he went to get goats Marv, honest”. Marv walks away muttering to himself still convinced we are teasing him. Now down to a routine we go through it once more before the little one ton GMC with the flat bed bounces into the yard with a Nanny and Billy tied up in the back. Marv was speechless.

If this story was about nanny goats it would be a short one as she was sick and died shortly after coming to her new home. Billy on the other hand was not only healthy, he was full of piss and vinegar, the goat of Dad's dreams, just what our feed mill needed.

For starters he was friendly, had no fear of people, would follow you around like a dog, loved to get his ears scratched. We soon found if we wished to get him out of our hair all we had to do was bend over and pick up a rock or dirt clod, he would take off like he was shot from a gun kicking and skipping sideways as he scooted from view. We never threw a rock at him, guess the people at his old home had and he had just learned real good to scram.

There was never any attempt made to fence him in, Dad's shop, we always called it the shop, was on a couple acres of land west of town on highway 9, in all the time Billy was with us I never saw him venture on to the road, he just roamed around checking us all out. He would wander around here and there, loved people and very curious, any project he was in the middle of it, forty years later I ran into a fellow from Ireton, Iowa at a booth over at the Clay County fair. We get to talking and mention I am from Lester, he perks right up, yes yes he knew Duane Gage, yes he and his partner put up some steel bins for Dad. He then tells of his partner bending over to drive in a wood stake when Billy comes around the corner sees his butt sticking up in the air nice and pretty and pops him one. His partner jumps up and starts waving his hammer at Billy, Billy just backs off a little, sticks out his tongue and makes this bleating noise, sounds for all the world like he is laughing at him. Then the fellow looks around to see not only had his coworker witnessed the whole thing but Dad had just come around the corner and seen it also, both were laughing pretty good. He was pretty steamed by the incident, Billy just sauntered off looking for something else to get into.

We were getting our power service worked on, a lineman from the local REC had showed up, of course Billy wandered over to see if he could help. The fellow was surprised to see a goat and pleased when he turned out to be friendly, at any rate he was petting him and giving a him a good ear rub, finding it to his liking Billy jumped up and placed his hoofs on the fellows chest and was pretty much eye to eye with him when Dad walks by and says,” he will eat that cigarette your holding lit if you let him.” And he would, given a chance Billy would stick out his tongue and take short quick licks at a smoke until the fire went out, then gobble it up. Thinking this was just to cool not to try the fellow held out his smoke and Billy went to work on it. Some smoke got in Billy's his nose and he sneezed blowing goat snot all over the guys face.

Hung like a Billy goat, horny as a Billy goat, stinks like a Billy goat. We had all grown up with these phrases, used them even yet none of us really knew much about goats except Marv and he wasn't talking. If we had we would have got Billy fixed and this story would have had a happier ending, as it was our ignorance although it served Billy poorly generated some good stories.

Billy's first love was Arie who ran the portable mill, most days Arie would pull back into the yard at quitting time, often the rest of us would be standing up in the office watching him park at the bottom of the hill and make his way across the yard to the shop. I guess maybe his absence made Billy's heart grow fonder, anyway Billy sporting a full erection would try to chase him down, Arie would take off for the office turning and slapping at Billy with his hat, this seemed only to fan the fires in little Billy and by now he would be sticking out his tongue making his frenzied bleating “I will still respect you in the morning” noise. We used to laugh so hard the tears would roll from our eyes. Oddly Arie never saw the humor in it..

Another favorite of Billy's was Gary the Kent feed salesman, if he caught Gary in the open he would come up behind him stick his nose in the seat of his pants and take a couple good deep whiffs, as Gary said on more then one occasion ”it's none of that damn goats business if I use Preparation H.

Lavonne was was perhaps the most beautiful woman in our county, our state even, she had such rare beauty that most men, and I might add teens like myself were reduced to blubbering fools in her presence. To walk around a corner and bump into her was like having the brain plucked out of your head. You just knew something dumb was going to happen and there was nothing you could do about it but flee. She drove a dark colored Ford LTD four door,white top, in my minds eye I can still see her swinging it off the highway making a big loop in our yard then hitting reverse to back up to our dock to get some bag feed. And I can still remember the frantic sound of Dad scrambling out of the office running back to the feed room yelling in panic,” Lavonne's coming, Lavonne's coming, where is that damn goat, get him tied up!” I think Dad's worse nightmare was Billy would come around the corner see Lavonne and be smitten, unlike us mere mortals Dad knew full well Billy would act on his impulses.

Marv never did warm up to Billy, it was awkward, like having two friends that didn't get along. Wasn't Billy”s fault, he got along with everyone. Billy would wander over to Marv's world every once in awhile, Marv's world being the feed mill control panel and scale beam. You could hear it from quite a distance, a whooping noise not unlike Indians on attack in the movies, you would look up to see Billy tearing out of the feed mill at full tilt his little butt just a humping, Marv hot on his tail broom always raised up over his head, there are rare moments in life you really get to laugh, from the belly, from the heart, half of mine were compliments Billy.

The hardest we ever laughed though was the day I set Marv up. I was back to the shop early that noon, Leonard had ate in, Clint was back early too. I grabbed a cup of coffee and some goat turds and made my way to the scale beam and control panel. Right where Marv stood while he weighed the feed batch's I piled up the goat turds in a nice little natural looking pile, then spread the coffee out on the floor in three distinct lines. Any half blind tracker could clearly tell a goat had stood right there with a full erection, pooped on the floor and turning twenty degrees at a time sprayed out three good four foot squirts of pee. We go back to the office and to await Marv's arrival. Marv comes in a whistling and how do you doing, marks down his time and heads back to his control panel. It's not long and he is back, sticks his head in the door and looks at Leonard real serious and says, “ you come with me Leonard and let me show you something” with Leonard in tow they head back to the control panel. Clint and I sneak over to the window and watch, we can not hear them but can see Marv is serious as hell pointing at the mess on the floor, I don't know how Leonard kept a straight face, Clint and I are laughing so hard watching Leonard nod his head as Marv talks to him. We can almost read his lips, “ I told you Leonard ,get a goat and first thing you know, shitting and pissing on the floor”.

Poor Billy, he deserved better then he got, all that peeing on his face took it's toll and wasn't long he stunk so bad he brushed up against you had to burn your clothes. We had him staked out on a rope all by himself, at one time the offers to take him in would have been plentiful, now no one wanted him. Dad was working late one warm summer evening when some young kids pulled up all dressed up for a night on the town, told Dad they had heard he had a goat he wanted to give away, Dad pointed to Billy and said there he is, figured they would be back later in work clothes with a pickup, instead they put him in the trunk and drove off.

According to the police reports they dumped him in downtown Rock Rapids right in front of the bar, Billy fell in love with a gal walking down the street, whipped out his tiddlewhacker and treed her on top of a car, the cops got called and the chase was on, Billy gave them a good run by all accounts, nearly made it into the IGA food store before they tackled him. They threw him in the back of the squad car and hauled him off, end of story, almost.

Dad sort of winced when he heard about it, I am sure he felt bad for Billy, not bad enough to call up the cops and fess up to owning him though. One rumor had it he made it to a farm, we all figured we could live with that. Couple months later the gal did the Rock Rapids news for the radio station came on telling about how she heard a noise in her garage while making breakfast, opened the door to see a goat standing on the seat of her snowmobile, eating it, last we ever heard of Billy.

Several years ago I got thinking about Billy and all the fun we had and got a couple goats, one, Red, reminds me of of him, friendly and full of life. Wish I had known enough to take care of Billy as well as I do Red. Another of life's regrets.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So that's How you get Marv mad

You may recall Marv, the 80 something salt
of the earth farmer friend with the cool junk in his grove.
So I am coming back from my folks today, eighty miles due
west. At the half way point I get a call from my son Alan
asking me about Marv, have I seen him today ect.. Not much
is making sense so Alan turns the phone over to Dan, Marv's
neighbor. Seems he looked out to see Marv parked on the road
for some time at the end of his lane. Worried he went down
to see what was up, Marv seemed scrambled and was unsure who
Dan was, said he was getting his mail and then drove off to
town doing a little bobbing and weaving pretty much taking
his half the road right out of the middle.

Dan thinking the better of letting him go followed but lost
him somewhere and couldn't find him back, wound up at my
shop and bumped into Alan, hence the phone call. I suggest
he cruise town to scout for him, he calls back no dice, I
suggest going back to check his house, calls back no Marv.
By this time I am only 5 minutes out, I offer to take over
and try to locate.

I think hard, sounds like blood sugar down or light stroke
that type of thing. Marv has no relatives left in town, one
nephew 1/2 hour away. After some wavering I make the police
station my first stop, give a description of the trouble and
tell them to be looking for a 85 beat to hell two tone
silver and gray F-150 4x4.

I hop back in my car and go looking also. Ten minutes later
I see him just down the street at the fleet store, cops have
him pulled over, relieved I go see how he is, big mistake,
should have just kept driving.(-:

He is blasting the cops who have by now told them a
concerned citizen thought he was driving funny and was
worried about him, I fall on the sword and tell Marv it was
me, now he is really sore, keeps asking the cop what should
he do, he can't even leave the farm without some damn do
gooders calling the cops.

I had thought pretty hard about ratting to the cops, my
reasoning was if it was a stroke and Marv was disabled
somewhere or confused and driving to Timbuktu the twenty
minutes or half a hour I spent looking first before getting
the cops involved could be critical.

I called Alan and the others as I left to inform them that
not only was Marv OK, he was mad as hell. Alan called back a
few minutes later to inform me he had just met Marv on the
road and his jaw was just flapping as he no doubt was still
venting to himself.

Sure hope he gets over it.
Roy Gage

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

We get educated, Beer spot again

So as I told in the earlier story we got to buying our beer from the drive-up window at the Beer Spot. Wasn't long and we had progressed to going on inside and making ourselves comfortable. Sort of a Cheers type of place, typically a Norm or two hanging around, if you recall the first couple years of the show Gramps and Coach bore a lot of similarity.

Most of us kids could have passed for Woody without much trouble. Marylin was a odd one, she always sat at the bar, maybe thirty, thirty five, always alone, made small talk with some of the truckers, seemed to play with her swizzle stick more then she drank. Had the country song, The Queen of the Silver Dollar, been made into a video she could have starred in it. She had little interest in us kids, we had no more then a passing interest in her, we coexisted in this manner for months, perhaps even years.

I don't recall who asked Gramps about her but the word spread like wild fire, Gramps reply to what she did for living? "Well hell boys I thought you knew, she's a hooker". And here all the time we had thought she was a school teacher or a file clerk.

We were just flabbergasted, wasn't like any of us ever tried her out, but we sure never looked at her the same again. No wonder she was always schmoozing with those truck drivers.

Gramps had connections in the force, somewhere. One night we had the place all warmed up, didn't take much, like I said earlier it was small, twenty was a crowd. In the midst of all the noise and jostling the phone rings, Gramps picks it up and is shushing us, he sits it down and yells out, "is everyone here over 19" we all responded to the positive, Gramps scans the bar and then tells us "you had better be cause the cops are coming". In tens seconds no more then three guys are left in the building, the rest of us are gone like smoke. Terry, Kenny and I had rode up with Festus who was of legal age and still in the bar. There were two doors out of the place, one to the south, one to the north. Terry and I had ran out the north door and jumped into the car to wait it out. We had no more then got set down when the black and white pulled up beside us and the cops ran into the south door, Kenny had dallied behind us to polish off the little pony pitcher we were working on, we figured he was toast, then we see his head pop around the corner of the building, he had slipped out the north door and was peaking around the corner while the cops entered the building. Once the cops hit the inside he ran over to our car which was parked right by the south door and jumped in.

We must of looked like choir boys when the cops came out of the Beer Spot and checked us out."No officer we have not been drinking, no officer we just came to see a movie with a friend and yes he is of legal age and we are just sitting here waiting for him". "yes officer, we will be good".

I don't think for a minute those cops were that dumb, or that we were that smart, it was just a simpler time and they cut us some slack, or maybe they were just taking it easy on Gramps. Chances are pretty good they were ordered to pull the raid and they were the ones called Gramps to tip him off. Like I said, Gramps had connections in the force, somewhere.

I have often puzzled about Gramps, about what his motive was in selling us beer. I don't think it was greed, he wasn't on commission, he seemed to genuinely like us. It sure wasn't cause his boss made him, or even wanted him to. All the older people liked him, wasn't like he was some old fool had to bribe kids so he could have friends.

We found out when his birthday was and one Saturday nite we all pitched in and bought him a nice cake with candles, frosting and his name on it. Those were real tears ran down his cheeks, you don't fake that. One night Mikes girlfriend who was all of 14 was hesitant to tell Gramps she was old enough to buy, Gramps looked at her softly and said, It's Ok honey, just tell me your 19". Like I said, I just can't figure him.

It all came to a end one Sunday nite, for some reason a couple of us tagged along with Loony Boone. Didn't normally hang with him, none of us were angels but trouble followed Loony around, big time. We got a table and a pitcher. Looney was sitting against some cases of warm canned beer and starts slipping them out when the barmaid wasn't looking and pouring them into our pitcher, we didn't think it was good idea, drinking warm stolen beer, but Loony thought it was and just kept doing it. It was a hard choice, drink warm stolen beer or rat out your buddy.

In hindsight we should have just got up and left. Next week a friend told me the barmaid figured out what was going on after we left and she was pretty sore, never went into the place again. Don't like warm beer to this day.

I think about the whole deal more then you would think I would.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bud's Beer Spot

We spotted the 56 while we were cruising around Rock Rapids, just siting in the car lot, pretty as you please, two door hardtop, turquoise and white. We fell all over it my buddys and I, had a Hurst three speed mystery shifter, 265 V8. Dave rushed home got the 125 bucks from some where and laid claim to it. We were all a bit envious.

Between the three of us, Dave, Bill and myself I was the painter my Dad having a shop with a air compressor and a old spray gun. It was pretty big stuff painting cars and I already had a couple under my belt. We chewed on it some and settled on hugger Orange, it was a new color and it was loud. All a couple 16 year olds could hope for. We always painted Dupont Dulux, no spray booth, no respirator, no lights worth a tiddle. I would hold a trouble light in one hand, the gun in the other, bugs were always a problem, that and over spray, I would get a panel looking really good only to come back and find it fuzzy.

The 56 was the best I ever did. No over spray, no big moth tracks, as close to perfect as we would ever get..I coughed up orange phlegm for a week We pulled the bumpers, built some pipe push bars for the rear, painted them black, already had dual Smitty's. You rolled into town in the 56 and heads turned, seriously, it would turn heads today.

Bill, AKA ,Billy Smoke, was a little older then Dave and I and looked a lot older, by now we all shaved but Smoke was the only one had anything to shave.

We made the driver switch a block away from the Beer Spot, Dave road shotgun while I sat in the back, Smoke looked cool as a cucumber as we rolled up to the drive thru window.

About the Beer Spot, it was a small bar, two tables, a row of stools and a drive thru window, sat right next to Pete's 76 on east tenth street. I should add it was Bud”s Beer Spot, and Bud hated kids and never sold to kids, and we all knew it, just like we all knew Gramps ran the place on weekends, and Gramps loved kids and loved to sell beer to them. It was Sunday afternoon and Gramps 59 Chevy was sitting outside. Looked like a slam dunk.

We ordered a case of long necks, Gramps was all smiles and small talk, sure boys, no problem he says, as he bends over to grab our beer we see Buds car pulling into the parking lot. We are whispering to each other under our breathe as we make small talk to Gramps, he is sliding our beer out and then fiddling with our change, thru the drive-thru window we can see Bud entering the bar then stooping over to peer at us. Bud starts to yell,we yell at Gramps to keep the change the same time we are yelling at Smoke to drop the hammer, he dumps the clutch only to have the engine stall. Damn.

It should be noted at this time that between the three of us we never had a car would start with a hot engine, the 56 was no exception, it just grunted. In total panic Dave and I jumped out and started to push while yelling at Smoke to throw it into second and dump the clutch, by now Bud and half the bar are running out the side door after us. The tires squawked as Smoke dropped the clutch and the motor roared to life, Dave and I vaulted through the open side windows screaming at Bill to nail it. We left Bud standing there cursing and waving his arms. We got about a block and half down the side street before the rear tire went flat.

We were sure they would be following us, sweating bullets we quickly threw the beer in some bushes while we changed the tire, then throwing the long necks in the trunk we rolled out of town, as quietly as you could in a hugger orange 56 with dual Smitty's.