It’s been a long time since I was in the sixth grade but I remember that I almost flunked because of my smart mouth. I have always loved to read and even today I read 3 or 4 magazines cover to cover every month. I have learned so much from “National Geographic” and “Readers Digest” I just wish I could remember all that knowledge so I could play on Jeopardy.  This story was brought about by something I had read in Readers Digest shortly before this incident.

Many years ago I noticed in the Journal an article that told about the Greenwood School Board voted to name the new grade school after long time principle Mr. Isom. Had I been dead I would have turned over in my grave. Mr. Isom had been the principle at one of the elementary schools almost forever.

In 1956 the 6th grade at Greenwood had 2 teachers. Mr. Belcher taught in the mornings and Mr. Isom, the schools principle, taught the afternoons. One of the subjects he taught was math, basic arithmetic. He was always telling us how smart he was because he did this or that. The only kids he impressed were the girls. He had a very good dark room in the school basement and was always developing film and printing pictures during recess and lunch and sometimes after school. Occasionally, my self-included, a few boys were invited to check out the dark room. He didn’t know I had my own dark room at home. Very basic but I did develop film and print pictures but no enlarging.

One afternoon he started the math lesson by drawing a chalk line the length of the black board, abut 20 feet and said, “That is all the knowledge in the world.”  He then, with a big production, drew a line about 3 feet long and said, “This is what I know.”  And then, and then he drew a line about 2 inches and said, “this is what you know”.

Now the S/A in me took over. Mr. Isom I have a problem for you. You have a hill 1 mile up and 1 mile down for a total distance of 2 miles, assuming instant acceleration you go up the hill at 30 mph. How fast do you have to go down the hill to average 60 mph for the two miles? With a slight chuckle, if I remember right, he said that is so easy. He then proceeded to make a huge math problem on the board and turned around and said,”90 mph”.

I’m sure with a big smile on my face I said, “Wrong”. And he said, “I am not wrong”. And I said yes you are wrong and proceeded to explain that a car going 60 miles an hour takes 2 minutes to travel 2 miles; Right? He agreed, the car in question going 30 mph takes 2 minutes to go 1 mile. Therefore, you can’t average 60 mph because you are out of time at the top of the hill. And when you are dealing with mph you must always include the time factor. The whole classroom burst out in laughing and that was the start of my academic decline in the sixth grade.

My next report card went from B’s and a few A’s to all c’s and I think 1 D. Now that was not a pleasant evening at home. My father could not get home soon enough. The next day my mother went to school and was told that I was one of their best students to which she replied how that could be with those grades. One thing Mr. Isom didn’t know about my mom was that one of her best friends was the wife of the superintenant of Greenwood School System, Mr. Stanly Porter. After a couple of days there was a definite change in the attitude toward me. However, about a week later my dad got a call from Mr. Isom telling him the owner of a down town café had called him to complain about the kids eating lunch being unruly, especially me being very boisterous and loud. He ask me about and I said no I am not loud or boisterous. That I bought a hot dog and a coke and when finished I played pin ball until it was time to go back to school.

The next day my dad went to the restaurant and talked to the owner, I think his name was Morris. Dad asked if he knew me and he said oh yes. He’s a good kid, comes in every day and has a hot dog and Coke and then plays pinball till it’s time to go back to school. Dad then asked if I ever caused any problems and Mr. Morris said none of the boys cause any problems why would you ask. Dad said that Mr. Isom had called and reported that you said Richard was causing problems. I think Mr. Morris called Mr. Isom because my life at school got a whole lot better that afternoon. It got even more better after Dad went to the next school board meeting and lodged a complaint.

I was really glad to start the seventh grade at Whiteland with a clean slate. I guess I did fairly well. I can honestly say I learned a lot and have had a successful life.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda

When I was 12 we moved to the outskirts of Greenwood and I started 7th grade at Whiteland. I became friends with 2 neighbors who were also in the 7th grade. The neighbors were both named Steve and we had some good times together.

It was about 1953 that we came upon a great idea. We were going to become trappers.  There was a creek between our property and the Cooper farm. I think it is Pleasant run creek. There appeared to be lots of muskrats living in the creek and if we caught them we could sell the pelts for $.75 each. Wow think of all the money we will have.

We pooled our money and bought ten or twelve steel traps and left them outside so they would rust and look more like the bottom of the creek. We read everything we could find about trapping and when the weather turned into winter we were ready.

Muskrats live in burrows in the creek or pond banks and have slides that they use to leave and go into the water. You set the traps so that when the muskrat is trapped it cannot get out of the water and drowns. Wow, another $.75. We were doing pretty good when we learned that the fur buyers, Babbet Brothers bait house/ice house, would pay $.50 for an unskinned “rat”. Man, I have skinned my last muskrat. It’s a lot of work for a quarter so trapping got a lot easier.

I don’t remember how many muskrats we trapped but it was getting close to spring when it turned very cold and after several days the creek froze over. We were out of business for several/many days waiting for the weather to warm up and the ice to melt.

During this waiting period we visited my grandpa Isley and while there I read through 2 or 3 “Field and Stream” magazines.  One article in particular may have saved my life or at least kept me out of the hospital. One other point was that I would get up at 5:00 AM ,get dressed, put on winter coats and knee high boots , go out and light a lantern and hang it on the handle bars of the bicycle and ride the ½ mile to the Cooper farm to meet Steve and run the traps.

This became a real problem because Steve was never there and I would have to run the traps by myself.  I said something to Steve’s mother Arlene and she said we never lock our doors so just come in and wake Steve up so he will go with you. So I did. Every morning I became Steve Cooper’s alarm clock.

The ice started to melt and break up so on a Saturday we went out to check the traps. We found 2 or 3 muskrats and I knew that we had 3 or 4 more traps downstream and so started walking south and I saw a large hunk of ice and surmised that I could ride that to the next trap. So I stepped out onto the ice and it broke free from the bank and off we went. It didn’t take long until the ice floe and I came upon the next trap with a muskrat ensnared. What to do? Oh! grab that tree limb hanging out over the creek and pull my way to the bank. NOT! The instant I took hold of the branch the Ice floe was gone from underneath my feet.

There I hung. I now have two choices. Hand over hand to the bank but there is no place to land safely or drop into the water and climb out. The water doesn’t look too deep so that is the 1st choice. I let go of the branch and in an instant I was sure wrong about the depth of the water. All of a sudden I am wet, cold wet, freezing wet almost to my waist and my boots are full of almost freezing water. It seems that water, clear running water, affects your depth perception.

Steve came along, even though he was laughing, he helped me out of the creek. Now I am freezing.  We decide that Steve’s house is closest and we start walking, maybe slogging is a better word. Steve suggested that we should empty the water from the boots and I almost agreed but then I remembered an article I had read in one of those “Field and Stream” magazines at my Grandpas.  The article said that if you ever fell into ice cold water and your boots have water in them don’t pour it out. Let the water keep your pants legs and socks from freezing and your legs and feet from frostbite.  Looking back that was really good advice. Although I thought I was going to freeze to death before we got to the Cooper house.

It seemed like it took us forever to get to the back door of Steve’s house but we finally made it and as soon as his mom, Arlene, saw me she took charge. Richard take those wet clothes off.  Steve, go get a pair of warm socks and get a pair of jeans from your dad’s closet. Now it really was strange and embarrassing to be standing in my underwear in the kitchen of a neighbor with her and her daughter running In and out. The embarrassment didn’t last too long because I was soon wearing a warm pair of socks and a pair of jeans that were 8 to 10 inches too big around and way too short but they were warm.

Mrs. Cooper made hot chocolate for all of us and I was soon warm enough to go home.  She drove me home and Steve rode my bike home. I spent the rest of the day inside until time to do chores.  The only productive thing I did was to decide to end the great trapping enterprise.

Thanks for listening

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

 

Edited and approved by Linda.

Witching a Well!

January 17, 2019 — 3 Comments

Most of us have heard of witching wells. Some believe but most don’t. Well-wishers or dowagers as they were called in the past were thought to be real witches. In the last 200 years the “art” of well witching has gained some practicability.

Even with modern science disclaiming dowaging ability to find water call your local well driller and ask how do I find where to drill a well? The answer will probably be, call old Jim who lives out by you and ask him to find me a drill place. I use him all the time.”

If you don’t believe in well witching I don’t care. I do, I’ve seen it done several times and have even done it myself. I will tell you the story of my Uncle Rush.

Uncle Rush Isley lived in the woods down by Hartsville. He and aunt Gertie lived very primitive in the woods. They always came to the Isley reunion and my dad always had long talks with uncle Rush. In 1956 dad built a house on Howard Road at Greenwood and at the reunion that year asked Uncle Rush if we could come down and dig some trees in his woods. Sure he said. Just wait until the leaves all drop because that the best time to move them. So later that fall we went down to Hartsville and Uncle Rush walked us through the woods pointing out different trees just by the bark. We dug up about 6 trees and took them home and set them out as soon as we got there. As a note they all lived except one. The spot we set it in killed 3 trees over time and finally dad moved the spot.

While we were visiting and digging trees the conversation turned to wells and well witching. Uncle Rush asked if the well driller had witched the well. Dad said he didn’t know but maybe Uncle Rush could come up next spring and check out the new house and see if he could find the well.

You see in the 1950’s the well pipe did not have to above ground level. So the well was under the sidewalk to the front door. No sign of a well anywhere. Later Uncle Rush and Aunt Gertie came up and spent a Saturday with us. Kind of as planned the conversation turned to well witching and Uncle Rush ask where he could get a peach tree forked limb. Dad didn’t know so we went for a drive checking out the fence rows along the way. Soon Uncle Rush said stop. There is an elderberry, it will do. So we stopped and cut a fork off the tree and headed back home.

As soon as we got out of the car Uncle Rush started trimming the branch and soon the fork was ready for use. He showed me how to hold the fork; palms up and grasp the 2 forks as hard as you can. He let me walk around with the fork for a while with no results. He then took the fork and started walking a pattern in the yard but to no avail. So Uncle Rush told dad there is no water in the front yard and dad said come up here on the side walk for a minute. As soon as Uncle Rush got to the spot where my dad was the fork bent straight down. My God he said you have a great well.

I asked if I could hold the fork again and guess what, nothing. No movement at all. I’m sure I looked greatly disappointed and Uncle Rush walked around me and reached around and took ahold of my wrist. Wow I could not keep the fork from bending down toward the well. He claimed the ability to witch wells was electricity in your body. After that I spent the next hour or so witching water wells in the back yard and barn lot. I found 3 or 4 places and Uncle Rush confirmed that there was water where I had marked. I was and maybe still am a well witcher. I don’t know about that but the last time I tried to witch a well, about 10 years ago, it still worked.

So if you need to have a well drilled, just for the heck of it, find a dowager to show you where to drill.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda

How blessed Am I?

December 31, 2018 — 1 Comment

I am setting here thinking about my seventy-four years on this planet. How can anyone even begin to count all the blessings we have received? The blessing of birth is I think one of the best. If you have never witnessed birth of any animal you have missed a wonder of nature. I was fortunate to witness the birth of lots of lambs, calves, colts, and puppies. But, the over and above experience was the birth of my daughter. What a day. To watch her come into the world was an event like no other before or after.

The list goes on and on. The ability to read and look at pictures of people and places all over the world. I think one of the blessings that my dad helped with was the National Geographic magazine. I have been exposed to the National Geographic magazine since I was maybe 10 years old. I still read it cover to cover every month.

The blessing of growing up with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and great grandparents; Listening to their stories and the ability to remember the stories to tell later. The blessing of raising 3 wonderful kids only to experience the losing of my youngest son to colon cancer. But Ron left us with something really special, another blessing if you will, Brooke Nicole’ Isley Clay.

Blessed with a very good education from Whiteland High School, Purdue, University of Indianapolis, Indiana college of Mortuary Science, and the Carl Isley School of pay attention and watch what others are doing so you can do the same task later. Again, a lesson from my dad. You learn more by listening and watching than you do by talking.

The blessing of my work that provided for my family

In 1985, through a friend at work I was reintroduced to a lady I had gone to school with in the early 60’s. Linda had just moved into a new house she had built and always wanting to impress I spent lots of time helping with the hard labor chores. Almost every night some project to tackle. After a whirlwind romance we were married In June 1987 on the island of Maui. Not only did I marry a wonderful but inherited 2 wonderful step kids. Blessings continued to accumulate as Linda and I started dancing 2 or 3 times a week. We were pretty good 2 steppers! And then we got bit!

One Sunday we went to a dog show at the convention center and watched the Miniature Schnauzers parade around the ring. I can do that I said, and the “hobby” began. For over 25 years we raised and showed our Schnauzers all over the country. Made hundreds of friends, spent lots of money, but had a great time. We showed our kids in 11 states, from Philadelphia to Long Beach and Wisconsin to Florida. We traveled through, I think, 30 states total. Had 4 motor homes and enjoyed every minute behind the wheel.

But, all good things must end. Besides my declining health and 2 mothers to take care of we decided to retire and move to town. My only condition was that we only move once. I suggested looking at the then Methodist Home now the Otterbein Franklin Senior Community. And Linda said, you’ve got to be s—–g me! I said let’s just go look. She fell in love with the place and we “bought” a house on the pond. Now you don’t really buy the house. You pay for the right to live there until you can’t take care of it or yourself then they move you to the big house and take care of you until you die, even after your money runs out.

This place where we live that I call the reservation is a wonderful blessing that removes all of the worries about how we end our lives. No burdens to the kids or grandkids. Just come visit every now and then.

The last 2 years have been a real blessing for me and my best care giver. I have been very ill and in rehab for several months here in the big house and then at home under constant care from Linda. Great in house rehab therapy from St. Frances Hospital and cancer therapy from Dr. Ikhlaque at St Frances hospital. That therapy continues today with a new treatment called Hormone therapy that seems to be really working. The cancer is receding and the treatment continue every 2 weeks. A great blessing!

The new year is about to begin. Tomorrow I think. I look forward to all the blessings I will receive because I aim to see the year 2019 through till the end.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The crotchety old man

Edited and approved by Linda

I was thinking the other day (yes it hurt) about all the changes I have seen or experienced in my life time. Start with cars. After the war (WWII) cars changed every year.  Take GM for example, they had 5 brands that were not only different looking but they had different mechanics; different engines and transmissions. Each car division had their own Design departments. When was the last time you saw a straight 8 engine?

Now all cars almost look alike. It’s amazing how Toyota can come out with a new model, new and improved, and all the other car makers also have a new model that looks a whole lot like the new and improved Toyota. You don’t suppose there is a spy among them? With GM having only 3 car brands I think it is sad that they look almost identical. If making fewer models equates to more profit then why not just make one brand and then we could all drive Cadillac’s at Chevy prices, just saying. It’s a different world today.

Look at electronics, when I was in school we never heard of the word or what it meant. Look at what has happened to electronics since I graduated.  While in High School my great grandmother Crafton still used a hand crank phone mounted on the wall by her rocking chair. She would not have one of those newfangled black things in her house. We had a black thing in our house. No dial and no buttons, just pick up the receiver and listen to see (I think that is an oxymoron) if someone was on the party line we were on. If no one was on the line wait for the operator to ask, number please.

Then we graduated to the dial phone and a private line. Just pick up the phone and dial the number; two letters and 4 digits. WOW will wonders never cease? Dial a number became the way of life for most folks. After about 15 years, because of advancing technology, the phone companies, driven by AT&T changed all of our phones to push buttons. And then, in the early 90’s cell phones began to appear. The first one we had weighed about 5 pounds and oh the roaming charges. Every time you left your phone coverage area if you used your phone you accumulated a roaming charge. Learned this lesson the shock way; went to Pennsylvania for the big Terrier dog show and was gone 6 days and when I received the cell phone bill I received the shock, $240.00. After that we were very careful about who we called and when we called. I’m sure glad cell phones have progressed to be able to call anyone anywhere at no additional cost. Isn’t technology wonderful? Just for the record I never had a flip-up phone and I still don’t have a cell phone, but my wife does. But you know, we still dial the phone! Think about it!

So now we have almost everything under the control of the 12 year old kids. If we old folks can’t figure it out get a 12 year old and they will fix it. TV’s, computers, cell phones, kindles, and tablets the youngsters know how to make them work properly. However, I have learned a pretty neat trick, If your device stops working properly unplug it from the wall or make sure it is really off then after a minute or two re-plug and turn on the device. This reboot fixes most problems.  When the few times I have had problems I’ve learned to do the reboot and if I still have the problem, when I call the service folks the first thing they tell me is to unplug the device and I say already done that and we get down to fixing the problem. No matter where you look or what you look at the changes during the last 60 or 70 years are almost incomprehensible.

So where will it go? I know I won’ be around here 60 years from now to be able to complain about the latest changes. But, if you pay attention to the latest hype we are starting down a road I’m glad I won’t live long enough to enjoy; i.e., AI (artificial intelligence), driverless cars, and devices that run you and your house just by talking. I wonder if these devices will be able to put my hearing aids in if the phone rings during the night.

I guess I am old fashioned because I don’t have a cell phone, do twitter, or any other of the latest fads. I’m old but not quite old fashioned but I do have a blog!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda

The Gravel Box.

November 8, 2018 — Leave a comment

In the early part of the 20th century roads were not much more that dirt paths, especially in the rural areas. Some counties in Indiana, to help farmers earn money to pay their taxes and a means to put gravel on the roads, created a system of township road commissioners who were appointed to oversee the hauling and spreading and grading of the roads. My Great Grandfather, Lewis Isley, was the road commissioner in Washington Township, Shelby County.  Hauling gravel was usually done in the winter and was cold hard work not just for the farmers but for the horses as well. Wagons were fitted with “gravel boxes” that held ¼ yard of gravel and they had slats on the bottom so that when they arrived at the designated place the slats were turned and the gravel ran out as they drove down the road.  The gravel was hauled from various sand/gravel bars in nearby creeks or rivers. The teams were driven into the streams and the farmers would shovel the gravel to fill the box. Not sure what a ¼ yard of grave weighs but I’m sure it is heavy and the horses or mules had to pull the load up the bank which only the best could do without serious yelling and whipping. Many bets were made and it became a really a boisterous occasion.

My great Grandfather was a very honest man and of those hauling gravel his 7 sons and son-in-law’s were participants. Therefore it was critical to him that his “boys” abided by the rules. Gravel boxes were measured so that everyone hauled a full and proper load.

So now the story belongs to another, Great uncle Plato.  To those directly related to him I apologize because I don’t think he was a bad man just different. I do remember him when I was probably seven and he was a very old then. But I do remember stories my dad told about his uncle Plato and how he lived. Different, very primitive, and almost beyond belief even in the late 1940’s. No screen doors, chickens in the kitchen and on the table. At family reunions we always got there early and dad would set at the food table so he could watch who brought what because he would not eat food brought by certain relatives. I soon learned to follow dad thru the line when food was served. I have digressed, but there were many really good people from Uncle Plato’s family and to them I mean no offense.

Uncle Plato built a new gravel box and it was quite a bit short of the ¼ yard. He painted it and then added a 1 or 2 inch unpainted board on top to make people think that the box had been measured and the unpainted boards added to bring it up to the specifications. However, even with the addition it was still short of the ¼ yard.  He thought that no one would question the volume because surly everyone would know that someone had made him put the box into proper configuration, even his dad. Boy was he wrong! The 1st time he hauled gravel for his dad Great Granddad measured the box and made him add more boards so that he hauled the proper amount he was being paid for.

This story was told to me by my Grandfather, Webb Isley and was not so much about his brother Plato but about his father and how honest he was and how he expected everyone to be honest including his own children.

Thanks for listening

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Edited and approved by Linda