Sharing more of my dad Hal Thompson’s childhood stories today . 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:
Dad let me stay home for a few days to help herd cattle when I was seven, and my greatest wish was to do that all year long. I still have a scar on my leg, however, to show what happened when I skipped school. The scar is about 1/4 inch wide and one and a half inches long. Here is the story of how I got it: I was seven years old. I had started to school in the first grade in September, and now it was March. We had an early spring, and the ranch country was so beautiful! Wild flowers were blooming and birds were singing, and, oh, how I hated to go to school! I thought I was getting to be grown up now. So I talked to Dad daily about how much help I could be on the ranch if he would only let me stay home. Dad had told me the story of how his father had died when my dad was fourteen. Since he was the eldest son on the ranch, he had to quit school to take care of the ranch and support his mother and sisters. Because he had told me about his experience, I thought he would sympathize with me about not wanting to go to school, and actually, I think he did, but he always insisted I had to finish high school, no matter what. My dad was one of the smartest ranchers I knew of in that area of the country. Every night when I went upstairs to bed, my dad would be sitting by a kerosene lamp reading magazines that he ordered on how to improve the ranch and the herds of cattle and horses.
I think Dad did kind of sympathize with me. One day when I really insisted, he said, “All right, you can stay home tomorrow and you and I will go saw down some trees and cut fence posts.” I’m pretty sure now that he thought if I had to work hard enough, I would change my mind about staying home from school. So about 7:00 in the morning he gathered up the cross cut saw (a long saw with a handle on each end), an axe, some wedges, and a sledge hammer and told me, “Let’s go.” I think I carried the sledge hammer which probably weighed six pounds, but I just weighed sixty. The sledge hammer was used to drive wedges into a log to split it into fence posts. After about 20 minutes that sledge hammer became very, very heavy. I mentioned it to Dad, but he said, “You got to be a man about this. There are different ways of carrying a sledge hammer—carry it on one shoulder for awhile, then on the other shoulder for awhile, then put it across both shoulders.” I was really learning how to be a rancher!
We finally got to our destination, about a mile away. Actually, I think Dad was as tired as I was. He spent some time looking at the forest, and we ate some persimmons off a tree. Finally, he said it was time to get to work. He had me to get on one side of a log and he got on the other. He laid the cross cut saw on top of the log which was about two feet in diameter, and told me what I was supposed to do. In the beginning I just had to hold the saw straight, which I did, and he would pull the saw. Within a few minutes we had sawed into the log enough that the saw didn’t have to be guided. We continued sawing, and I was getting tired of pulling on the saw because Dad was putting a little pressure on his end when I was pulling, so I was pulling sawdust out my side too. He told me he would help me out. He stood up on his side of the log and raised the saw a little higher so I could sit on ground and pull the saw. Everything was going fine, but the way I was sitting, it was difficult for me to pull saw, so I decided to put my leg against the log. What I didn’t realize, and neither did dad, was that my leg was under the saw. About the third time I pulled, I pulled the saw right into my leg.
To be continued…