He was white, not albino, just white, about 4 years old when we first met, dumber than a box of rocks and hated water. Oh, if you haven’t guessed, Apache was a horse and he came with a beautiful black saddle and blanket. He was a gift from someone my dad knew because every boy on a farm, no matter how small the farm, needs a horse. Apache was not too sure footed, almost clumsy and he stumbled several times as I learned to ride him. But I persevered and we became quite a pair.
It was in the fall of my freshman year and school had started and I had set my sights on a pretty neighbor girl who lived up the road and rode the school bus I rode. I finally got up enough nerve to set by her on the bus and believe it or not talked to her on the twice a day bus rides. So one evening after I had done my chores I took Apache for a ride up the road to see, show off, my horse to the young lady. After spending several minutes of awkward silence interrupted by a few small bits of small talk I left for home and, like all young boys I took off in a cloud of dust and a Hi Ho Silver and down the road I went. I know now that I was going too fast when I turned onto my road and waved at the neighbor boys playing basketball in the Edmonton’s drive way when Apache slipped and we fell.
I would guess that Apache weighed about 800 pounds and I knew enough in that split second that I did not want him landing on me. I bailed and we both hit the pavement and started sliding at about the same time but a bit apart. Finally we stopped and I remember sitting up on the road and watched my horse struggle to get up and I hollered at my neighbor Fred to get the horse because he was starting to walk home. Blood was running down Apache’s right front leg and shoulder and his muscles were twitching like they do when in pain. I basically crawled off the road into the ditch.
About this time I started surveying the damage to myself. Other than some blood and ripped jeans I could not see much damage but I hurt. At that moment Mrs. Edmonton arrived and said two things simultaneously; are you hurt? And your arm is broke! And I said, “No it isn’t. I can make a fist.” At that moment I took a good look at my arm and decided she was right. My arm was broke and it really hurt then. Mrs. Edmonston then she said she had called my mom and they were on their way. While waiting for my folks to arrive I will introduce the cast so far: Mrs. Edmonston married to Commodore Edmonton and were the parents of classmate Ron, and Fred Roesner who lived next door to us and had a younger brother who played with my brother all the time. And now the most important part which you will learn more about later, one of my chores after school was to feed 500 caged laying hens and gather the eggs and in doing that chore my shoes were covered in, if the president can say it so can I, chicken shit and I had not changed shoes before starting this adventure.
The folks arrived and after the “normal” mother oh my God and a bucket full of tears it was decided to take me to Dr. Brown, about a half mile away and get his advice. Dr. Brown who was not only a good doctor but also a friend of the family looked at my now really hurting arm and said I’m going to give him a pain shot and you take him to Methodist Hospital. When he returned he gave me an injection and said he had talked to a Dr. Crawford, the best bone Dr. in Indy and he would be waiting on us.
My dad was a good driver but he drove fast and had a few receipts from various police departments to verify that but on this night he was a race driver and the race was on! I know we have all been in situations where we had to hurry up and wait and hurry up and wait but we were in a takeoff with the tires screaming and stopping with the tires screaming and wait, on the light to change. I don’t know how many stoplights there were between Greenwood and 16th street and Capital Ave. but we hit each one red and that caused extreme pain in my left arm. I was smart enough at 13 to know better than to tell my dad how to drive or perhaps not to drive because I had another major problem confronting me, Mother.
Mom had decided to clean the chicken shit off my shoes and she only had her little tiny hankie. Maybe she had two hankies but I don’t believe they survived the trip. Every time dad would stop for a light mom was almost down on the floor board wiping on my shoes until the light changed to green and the momentum of the takeoff would throw her into my broken arm and I would moan in pain and she would tell my dad not to drive so fast and then another red light. Ouch! Now you may ask how she could get on the floorboard with me in the front seat with them. The car was a 1957 Desoto made by Chrysler primarily for the taxi business. Not sure why dad bought the Desoto but it was a huge car inside. If there was ever a comedy of errors this was it, after arriving at the hospital and checking in they took me for an X-Ray and then we waited for the doctor. And we waited for the doctor for about an hour and a half.
Dr. Crawford arrived and off we went to a pain free nap and awaken to a 10 # left arm and a much quieter ride home. I don’t know where or when they disappeared but my old chicken shoes were never seen again but I’m sure who ever emptied that trash can next day wondered what that terrible smell was.
When we got home mom was putting together something to eat when the neighbor Fred came over and told us he had put Apache in his barn and he thought the horse needed some attention to the scrapes on his right side. I found the bottle of “Black Diamond Liniment” and Fred and I went to check out Apache. He was scraped up pretty bad but we (Fred) cleaned up the wounds and then I applied the liniment to the wounds. The horse quivered all over from the pain of the liniment and he did so every day for the next week that I treated him. His wounds healed perfect with almost no visible scar. The saddle was something else. The pavement removed a pretty good amount of leather that did not grow back. Later applying shoe polish helped the appearance somewhat.
My parents were sticklers for going to school, every day even if you have the three day measles, but that is another story for another day. I was allowed to stay home the next day only, I think, because the Dr. said I should rest and keep my arm up in the air. So I stayed in bed most of the day until dad came home from work and mom told him the chores had not been done and he would have to do them and she was holding supper till he got done.
I could hear him coming down the hall and he came into the bedroom and ask how I was and then related a family story I’d heard before; you have a cousin, Howard, who was born with one arm. His mother made him do everything for himself one handed and he was now the music teacher at
Franklin High School. Now you have both arms one of which is broke but that is no reason you can’t do your chores tonight. I will help you because supper is waiting.
Several years later it came to me why my Dad made me go do the chores that night because I didn’t do anything. He had me set down and had me tell him what to do. He didn’t know what I did and so he learned and I learned a really good lesson about my Dad.
My horse, Apache, stayed around for a couple of years and then because of other interest I had we found him a new home.
Thanks for listening,
The crotchety old man