Childhood

Greenhand

FFA Manual
Yes, I was a member. I spent a year at Essex Agricultural and Technical Institute as a forestry major. I joined the FFA and achieved the degree of Greenhand. That's my pin attached to the cover. I never got one of those cool corduroy jackets, but I coveted the ones my classmates had. They made you look like you were a member of a motorcycle gang. Most people don't know about the FFA, but the movie Napoleon Dynamite put it on the map in this new century. Being at Essex Aggie was a wonderful experience. I sometimes regret that I left. The reasons I left were all good though. I enjoyed my limited time there and have many great memories of the place. Students got half a day in class and half a day in the field or on the farm. I got to manage timber stands, plant trees, study lots and lots of biology and also work at traditional farm skills. The staff were all friendly and helpful. My fellow students were a pleasure to be with and all had a good sense of themselves. My father always said I was the happiest there. It must have showed. Being on the super honor roll was evidence of that. Whenever I drive by the school I always feel a sense of pride and gratitude. I wish I could go back all over again.
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Trucks

"Let's play trucks!" A cry heard from boyhood days. It was usually replied to with an approval. Out would come the fleet of metal trucks from our toy boxes and things would settle down into truck territories. First up, the roads. You would need a piece of wood, like say a shingle, at least two inches wide and eight inches long. The process would begin by dragging that stick across flat, dry, powdery dirt in a neighborhood yard. The dryer and dustier the better. The roads were defined with side by side wind rows of the powder that would serpentined thru the yard. If you had a truck with a plow or an earth mover truck, all the better. That was more authentic. Your road was sacred. If another wanted to cross your road project and make an intersection they would have to ask permission or face the wrath of a pissed off seven year old. Once the road was done, dump trucks were loaded with dirt and gravel then deployed at all different construction projects. Loads could also include grass clippings, more dusty dirt or wood chips. All vehicles were actually hand pushed around. (batteries not even an option and no remote controls!) The sounds came from various tones of raspberries blown from the lips of their respective drivers. As progress would continue there were more sound affects but hardly any chatter was produced. Occasionally a declaration would be uttered like "this tree trunk is the gas station. Everyone needs to come here to fill up after each trip" and thus a new civic law was enacted for the backyard municipality. If you passed another boy propelled truck on the road the correct greeting must be uttered in the deepest construction man tone possible. The greeting was "Hi Joe" and the reply was (in an attempted deeper tone) "Hi Joe" and off you'd go. The thing was, EVERYONE was named Joe. No Mike, Billy, Jimmy or Jerry, you were Joe. Is there any other name for a self respecting truck driver? No way Jose! These projects could last hours and hours. If it was a particularly impressive civil plan , it could continue into an additional day. The end result was a development plan everyone would be proud of. Another result was the dust and dirt would cover elbows, shins and knees. If it was a particularly ambitious project on a humid day we could sometimes have faces so covered in dust it would look like we had been given black eyes. The mark of a truly successful day of trucks. "Right Joe?" "Right Joe." brrrrrmmmm, Brrrrrrruuuuurrrrrr, ruuum ruuuum errrrrchhhhh.
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