Continued from yesterday’s post, my dad Hal Thompson has gotten some more of his childhood memories written down. Dad is a missionary and pastor. You can find his ministry blogs at Teaching Truth Today or Enseñando las Escrituras. I have always loved listening to my Dad tell stories from his childhood and am thrilled to share them with you. His words below:
After Christmas my brother told me that if I would give him five dollars, he would sell me his share for the rest of the year. I agreed to this deal and gave him five dollars, all in small silver coins. A few days later it was the first of January, and he told me the deal had ended on the last day of December. I couldn’t believe it! I had paid him five dollars, and I didn’t get a thing! When I told my dad about it, he said, “You have to keep your end of the deal even if it pulls out your hair.” In my dad’s way of speaking, that meant I couldn’t back down. I still think that was not fair, but I was never allowed to bring it up again.
The new year was very profitable for us. One cold morning in December we rode a horse for several miles and then went on foot through a pasture to an old abandoned house where we had set a trap. I remember how excited I was. I was carrying the kerosene lantern, although I had to point my fist that held the handle toward the sky for the lantern not to drag on the grass. When we got to the old house, my brother lit the lantern. As soon as we entered I could smell a skunk. My “grown up” brother said, “Hal, go get the skunk!” It was going to be the first time I was allowed to be the one to take an animal out of a trap. I felt like I had grown up overnight! Of course my brother knew what was going to happen—as I approached the big skunk, it curled its tail up over its back and squirted me in the eyes. The more I screamed in pain, the more my brother laughed. I couldn’t see anything and thought I would be blind for the rest of my life. That pain must have lasted five or ten minutes, but it finally cleared up. I don’t remember how he did it, but my brother took the skunk out of trap, and we headed back to headquarters. I found out I wasn’t the only person to have this experience. When I told other people about it, some said the same thing had happened to them.
We did our chores and went to school. When I got there, I opened the door and took about three steps into the one-room school house. The teacher stood up with her paddle in her hand and said emphatically, “Get out of this school and go home and get that smell off of you before you come back! I walked the mile back to my house and told Mother they wouldn’t let me into the school until I got rid of the skunk smell. She told me to take my clothes off and bury them and then to take a bath with lye soap. I rubbed myself so hard I thought I was going to take my skin off. Then I rinsed the soap off and put on dry clothes, but Mother said I still had the scent on me and the teacher would not let me in school. I didn’t go back to school for several days. I bathed again and again, and I guess I finally accidentally used something that took the scent away. I didn’t find out until I was fourteen that all I had to do was gather up dry cottonwood leaves, set them on fire, and stand in the smoke. In just a few minutes the smoke would absolutely take the smell away. I used this remedy many times afterwards.
One time I put a possum in the teacher’s desk drawer. It was at the beginning of Christmas vacation. The school house was never locked. As I think about it now, I can’t imagine my brother letting me do such a thing as it meant the loss of $5.00, which was a lot of money to us then. Over the course of the vacation, I forgot all about the possum. When we got back to school the teacher never said a word about it, and of course, neither did we.