The Race

December 8, 2017 — Leave a comment

It must have been 1960 or maybe 1961 but I was in High school at Whiteland. At that time the only sports available were baseball and basketball. But, in 1961 they started a track team with Mr. Hyday as the coach. Never was sure if Mr. Hyday had any experience at coaching track but I went out for the team. Made the team as there weren’t too many to choose from and practice began.  Track team practice at that time consisted of running and more running and run we did.

We only had 2 or 3 meets that 1st year and they were only against freshman teams at other schools that had track programs.  Don’t think we won any meets but we had fun running. I ran the high hurdles, 440 and to my cringe the mile.  Didn’t know about the mile until the night before the meet and I thought I’d die before the mile was completed. Not sure but I pretty much believe I was last in that race.

I will admit that I was probably pretty cocky at that time in my life like so many teen are, even today. In my mind I am sure I thought I was indeed the fasted runner on earth. We lived on a small farm and I had plenty of chores to do every day, before and after school. Feed the chickens (500)and gather the eggs, Feed the sheep(100) and make sure the cattle(10) and the ponies (3)and horse had food and water.

Now for the big race! It was a Sunday I’m sure and we had been visiting family and we had stayed probably too long because It was late when we got home and my dad for the first time I could remember offered to help do the chores. Wow, what an opportunity.  I could see at that moment the great feeling I was going to have watching my dad do the chores because we were going to have a race.

I will now layout the race course for you. From the back door to the barnyard fence was about 30 feet and from the fence to the barn was about 150 feet. The fence was a three rail decorative fence that we had put chicken wire on the inside to keep the lambs from getting out. So simple and easy, I am the hurdler and I’ll be over that fence like a shot from a rifle and on my way to the barn before my dad even gets started.

The bet. So, being the smarty that I was I said, “Why don’t we race to the barn and the looser does all the chores.” And dad said,” OK go” and he was off. He was over the fence before I could get off my butt and start running.  He was like a gazelle going over that fence and I about broke my neck going over the fence while watching him beat me to the barn. Needless to say I lost because when I got to the barn dad was setting there on a hay bale lighting a cigarette, smiling. And he said, “I guess you’ll be doing all the chores tonight.” I agreed to my loss and started feeding the show sheep in the barn.

As I was going about my business dad proceeded to tell me about his track experiences at Flatrock High School. Seems he set the Shelby count high jump record the stood for over 15 years and the high hurdle record that he thought might still stand at that time. He also told me that one needs to check out the competition before making wagers that could be painful.  He was a good sport though and after finishing his smoke he did help finish the chores.

This was just one of the many things I learned from my dad. Now 60 years later I will do something and ask myself, how did you know how to do that and the answer is always; I guess dad showed me.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

I know that I am not by myself in my dislike, no detest, of automated answering services. When I have a problem I want to talk to a real person. I don’t want to listen to options 1 thru 9 of possible problems that are not even close to what I need and leave me hanging for an answer of what to do next. They have mostly learned to disconnect the “0” option to get to a real person so you are left with no recourse except to be totally pissed! I really miss the old heavy desk phones that you could angrily throw into the cradle without fear of breaking. Although once, when I was still working I threw the phone so hard that when the receiver bounce out of the cradle the little buttons came out with it. I think that was the maddest I ever got at my boss! But, it did make me feel better! These new phones just don’t have enough weight or character.

I am having a problem getting to the Indianapolis Star’s web page. There is no option given by the sweet lady on the recording that addresses my problem. If I go to the subscription service option the lady on that recording has a voice that sounds like finger nails on a blackboard, still no option to address online problems. I’ve tried email but no reply yet.

Wall-Greens when you call to get a refill on a prescription the auto system is so redundant that I sometime think it would be better to drive to the store to place the request. The lady asks for the prescription number then “checks” to see if it can be refilled then asks if you want it refilled. Why do they think I call in the first place? I have most of the prompt numbers memorized and try to outsmart the system by giving the answers before they ask the questions. Makes me feel really superior to their computer! Oh! And when they call to tell you that your prescription is ready the recording tells you twice that it is ready and then says this message will be repeated and then tells you two more times.

You call a credit card company and ask for you balance and the voice says, let me check on that for you and you hear,” Dum dum dum dee dum” and then the voice returns and says “I found it”. Do they really think I believe that?

I think the worst automated service belongs to Johnson Memorial Hospital and the doctors who practice there. I try not to be prejudiced but it really gets under my skin when the voice on the recording to remind me of my appointment is so oriental that they cannot pronounce my name correctly. It’s ISLEY not IEY! I know it’s not a common name but please, try.

To the folks who design the automated systems, do you really think we don’t know it’s a recording. Do you think for a moment that we are so unintelligent that we believe we are talking to a real person? I don’t think so. I think if those in charge who buy these systems would listen to them they would be embarrassed. Don’t you?

Thanks for listening.

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

The Rail

October 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

I suppose it was just before the beginning of the Great War (WWI) when two brothers growing up in a very small town in a very rural county of a mostly agricultural state pulled off an amazing heist. Perfectly legal they had permission. I’m sure the instigators of the idea for the heist forever scratched their heads in wonder. If, I have raised your curiosity, I will begin the story. A true story, probably greatly embellished, but none the less true in its intent.

Don’t know exactly when, so I’m going to say summer of maybe 1916 two brothers, the youngest boys of a very large family were growing up in Norristown, Indiana on the extreme southwestern corner of Shelby County. Not a whole lot to do but work. Their dad and older brothers farmed a lot of ground, about 1000 acres.  It took lots of horses and mules to do the work so the basic farm chores were left to the younger boys and the unmarried girls still at home. There were cows to milk, hogs to feed and eggs to gather and in the summer, a huge garden to tend.

It is difficult to imagine the long days and back breaking work involved in farming in 1916. Up before the sun, breakfast and preparing the horses for the mornings work. Feed the horses, brush the horses, harness the horses, check the shoes and repair if needed all by lantern lite.  The boys helped and after the men left for the fields they cleaned up after the horses and took on the rest of the morning chores.

It was probably a Thursday or Friday that the boys went to town on an errand for their dad.  Something I think at the hardware store. As they came into the town of Hope, about 6 miles south of their home they noticed a railroad crew setting around eating lunch. They stopped to talk and asked lots of questions like young boys do.  Whatca doing. Why are you replacing the rails? Is it hard work? Question after question.

As the boys continued talking and being harassed by the older railroad workers one of the boys had an idea. A railroad rail would be perfect for poling corn stalks! Now, I assume you don’t know what “poling stalks” is. To paraphrase “Jeopardy” How do you make corn stalks manageable to plow next spring? The answer is; pole them.

I really think poling stalks was a way to teach young boys how to handle work horses and it seemed that young boys could handle cold , really cold , mornings better than old men.  You had a pole, or a log that you hitched a horse to each end and drug the pole across a corn field with the corn rows. The idea was to break off the stock at ground level and cause it to lay flat to the ground with all the stocks laying in the same direction. To be successful, this job had to be done while the stalks were frozen so that they snapped off, clean and all laying in the same direction.  So, early in the morning before the sun could warm up the stalks and not too fast because if the pole bounced there would be standing stalks and a father’s ire, cold slow boring work to say the least.

Amid all the banter one of the boys, I’ll guess Frank, asked,” how could we get one of these old rail.  I think we could make good use of it at the farm. The workers laughed and told the boys “help yourself.”

If you can load it you can have it. Much laughter ensued as the older men were having great fun with the rube farm boys! Wow they thought and they tried to lift a rail to load it in the wagon. Do you have any idea how much a rail road rail weighs? (About 528#for a 12 foot rail.) It normally takes 4 men with rail lifting tools to carry a rail. Needless to say they could not lift the rail and the men sat howling.  Embarrassed, the boy left to finish their errand.

On the way home, which seemed to them a really long trip due to the frustration, embarrassment, and humiliation, they talked about the rail and how it would make poling stalks so much easier. Somewhere along the way they had the idea! Don’t know which one started the conversation but by the time they entered the barn lot the plan had been finalized.

Saturday, the railroad crew didn’t work. So the escapade began. They loaded all the tools and things they needed to accomplish the heist.  Not a heist but just retrieving a gift. Remember the railroad guys had told them, “If you can load it you can have it” The trip to Hope was full of talk and rehashing the plan. They knew exactly how to bring the rail home.

When they got to the rail yard they rolled a rail away from the pile until it was far enough to start the removal plan. The team and wagon was driven over the rail until the double tree was just past the end of it. Using pry bars and blocks they worked first one end then the other. Raising the rail slowly and with a great expense of boyish energy they kept at it until the rail was up against the axles. Now the easy part. Chain the rail to the axles and go home. Mission accomplished!

I’m not sure if the rail ever worked as planned. I guess I just forgot to ask the question. But, I know the story is true because once when I retold the story at the Isley reunion one of Frank Isley’s grandsons said, “So that’s where that rail behind the barn came from.”

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

Prostate Cancer

September 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

I learned today at church that a friend is to have prostate surgery Oct. 4th and I shared with him my experience of 15 years ago. Because of an increase in my PSA test I agreed to have a biopsy of the prostate gland. Now, that is not a real pleasant experience but saved my life. The lab almost missed it but they did fine a small bit of cancer. My Doctor started to give me three options but I interrupted and said, take it out. I knew too many men, including relatives, who had chosen the other 2 or 3 options and they died of the cancer.

I met with my urologist and he said that he would do the traditional surgery but that I was a prime candidate for the new Da Vinci surgery at Methodist Hospital. The only Doctor to do that type of surgery in Indianapolis was Dr. Jones and an appointment was made and after a bone scan we met and he explained the entire procedure and then asked if we had any questions. I had one, how do you remove the prostate gland from the abdomen and he replied that they place the gland in a cloth sack and then remove it, made good sense to me.

So, the surgery was scheduled for 9:00 AM on a Friday morning and according to the doctors instruction I had nothing to eat on Thursday except clear liquids and at 5:00 PM I started the cleansing protocol and drank almost all of a gallon of the nasty stuff. I’m sure you have had the experience of the cleansing protocol and it is not on your list of things you really like to do but you do them when you have to.

We arrived at the hospital at the prescribed time and they prepared me for surgery and 9:00am arrived and no Doctor. 9:30 AM and no doctor. 10:00 and the doctor arrives with this bit of information,” in case you haven’t heard the machine is down. The mother board is fried and there are none in Indianapolis and we are flying one in from the West Coast and it will be here early Monday morning. You have a choice to make; we can proceed with the traditional surgery with 6 to 8 weeks recovery or reschedule the Da Vinci surgery for Monday.”

I said, “I’ll wait till Monday. But, I have a question; I’ll have to do the cleansing procedure again won’t I?”

The Doctor replied, “Yes, if you eat anything.”

I then said, “what if I stay on the liquid diet until Monday, will I have to do the cleanse?”

The other Doctor in the room, the assistant if you will said, “you can’t do that!”

And I replied,” Yes I can. You want to bet.”

And the doctor said’” OK a nickel.” And the bet was on.

And Linda said.” yes he can.” And I did. Lost 10 pounds in the process but it was worth it!

The surgery was successful and I recovered in about three weeks and felt so good I laid Pergo flooring in the 24×24 family/dog room.

Gentlemen, if you’re not having PSA test every year you need to. Insist to your Doctor to have the test annually. Prostate Cancer is 100% curable if caught early. The surgery is nothing compared to other surgeries that take weeks to recover from.

Oh, one last thing, the SOB still owes me the nickel!

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The Crotchety Old Man

 

Trees

September 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

As I look out my window onto the reservation the trees are just beautiful to see. They tell us about the weather like the weather rock we probably had at some point in our lives. If it’s wet it’s raining, if it’s dry the weather is fair, if it’s white it’s snowing and if it’s gone it’s been stolen. Now people don’t really steal trees but you get my drift.

The trees I see from here are looking pretty good for mid-September but I have noticed in a few drives the wife and I have taken that there are trees that look like they have been touched by frost and a few that are just changing color, and a few even that are bare of leaves. These bare trees may be dead but just driving by it’s hard to tell the difference. Even the squirrels appear to have thicker winter coats already.

The point I’m trying to make is that it is still summer and the trees are seriously looking like fall is here. I like fall but I like summer better. This year for me has been really different since I’ve been in hospitals and rehab and convalescing at home. The only time I got to see and feel outside was when I was taken to Doctors appointment or to the hospital for treatments. But, now that I’m allowed to be out by myself I can feel the fall weather coming. In fact I think I even smelled fall the other night setting on the patio.

If fall is early I hope it is a beautiful time and that the winter to follow is not too severe so that we all may enjoy.

Thanks for listening

Richard Isley

Crotchety Old Man

Makes me wonder

September 15, 2017 — Leave a comment

I am recovering from my many maladies of the last 9 months and am almost back to normal. I have always thought about the “older” men who are being driven around by their wives. How could you give up driving? Well I’ll tell you; having a chauffeur is really not too bad and even though I have started driving again being driven is really kind of nice and she is a very good driver.

Today we went to the Apple Works and bought 4 different kinds of apples and then went to Krogers for the next 3 days’ worth of food, got to have really green bananas. On the way to the orchard we drove by the solar farm just south of SR44 on SR 135. I think it is a wonderful thing that the  REMC is using “solar” to augment their supply of electricity and I really think that solar and wind power are the future for generating electricity. However, why take prime farm land out of production for the solar farm? There are thousands of acres in Johnson and surrounding counties that are not suitable for crop production, and less expensive. If we keep using productive farm land for houses and solar farms at some point we will run out of food producing acres and I don’t think we can live off of Solar energy.

Thanks for listening,

Richard Isley

The crotchety old man