Mr. Biggie, Offered Me A Chaw

Mindsalvage.com Mr.Biggie

 

There are rare times people today have memories of actually meeting a person who was born in the last third of the 19th century. Those people are pretty much gone these days.  I do however, recall one such person in my lifetime.  When I was a youngster, Mr. Biggie lived next door to our family on the dirt road in the Cavendish Gulf. His front field stone steps were lined with smooth egg shaped stones his late wife had collected from various river beds. Mr. Biggie was the person who connected our family to the previous century. Knowing him was also a front row seat to the memories and stories of a man who was living in a time before most modern conveniences.

Mr. Biggie was basically a quiet neighbor. He rarely ever stopped by our house and when he did he usually just stood in the driveway to talk to my folks briefly. He didn’t have a phone so he wasn’t someone to bother people asking favors. I couldn’t tell you if he ever even used a phone. His relatives only stopped by once in a great while in the summer, and usually for just a short visit. I often went to his house to ask him if he needed anything, like shoveling his roof and steps.

I spent hours listening to Mr. Biggie talk about what it was like when he was young. At 14, he had a job working on a logging crew, and back then, they used horses for help with work and for transportation. In this case the horses skidded the logs out of the woods. One of his jobs was to actually stand on the cut logs and drive the horses as they pulled them along the rough ground. One day while working, Continue reading

Creativity, An Open Book

I have always had a therapeutic relationship with poetry and song lyrics. Writing free verse poetry helps me work through loneliness, worries, and tell my story creatively. My thoughts were always being written on paper, even as far back as when I just began to write. When I was in High School, writing seemed to help me better relate to the world and people around me. I had a stressful home life, and mostly kept to myself. I felt writing was a way to share a little about me with others. I read poems to friends, sang songs with lyrics I’d written, and was a self-taught guitar player.

My senior year in high school, a special teacher who taught business and typing, recognized that I had a passion for writing poetry. I sat in his class typing my poems while I was supposed to be typing a sentence over and over for a time and accuracy test. It was something like, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.”

Noticing that I was not following the assignment, he told me I needed to do the time test to pass the class. I replied, “I took this class to learn how to type and I can type now.” I wasn’t as concerned about the grade.  I was typing about 35 words per minute, which I thought was pretty good for a recent beginner. Rather than flunk me, he went to the school board to get permission to pass me if I could type the required words per minute, even though I was not typing the prescribed lessons. They gave him the permission, and he made a template and had the whole class type my poems. I didn’t know it, but he had a plan in mind, and gave me a priceless addition to my education. My classmates typed inside the borders of the template so it would all be in a uniform fashion. I remember feeling as though this teacher was the first person to give me a chance to be creative and pursue my personal interests, and it helped that the class seemed to enjoy reading and retyping my work.

The teacher and I discussed the possibility of having this collection turned into Continue reading

Twisted Path to the Present Moment

The moments in my life that have altered my direction of pursuit are much more in number than I would have ever guessed. Timing would have to be perfect for me to be where I am now. The cliché, “You play the cards you were dealt”, adds a bigger excuse or perhaps a larger understanding of why life does what it does.

I’ve read many books and articles about manifesting what we want in life. In my own experience, I have manifested many things, and I didn’t realize it until they were in the present moment. Looking back, I can now see how they were the start of a sequence of events that put me where I am now.

When I was a senior in high school I was preparing to be launched into the adult world by both my education, and my parents. My mother’s famous quote was, “I hope the hell you don’t think you’re going to live here the rest of your life, Buster!” My high school reputation was a mixed persona. I frequently got into fights and was a supporter of the underdog. This often put me in the position of body guard for the weaker person being threatened or harassed, and I didn’t take much grief from anyone who challenged me either. I also was a loner most of the time which led people to form opinions about me without really knowing me.

On the other hand, I was hard working and liked to write, especially poetry. Oddly enough, my dislike for the mundane practice lessons in typing class led me to having a book of poetry published. (I’ll tell you that story later!) It seemed very unusual to have so much positive attention, and it inspired in me a want for more education, but at the time I felt college was out of my reach.

Nearing the end of high school, graduation only a couple of weeks away, there was one incident that turned out to be unexpectedly life changing.  My class was the first to graduate from a newly built school, and on this particular day, a newspaper reporter was talking to our principal about the new school building we had been attending for the past six months. They were walking around the not yet landscaped grounds and discussing the plans in progress. I was watching, and noticed the principal reprimand a male and female student for holding hands while leaning on each other and talking during lunch break. It appeared harmless to me and everyone around, and his comments in front of the reporter were humiliating to them. For some reason, it really got to me. I thought it was unnecessary and demeaning, and I felt he owed them an apology for choosing to embarrass them in front of the reporter.

I decided to take it upon myself to straighten him out, and waited until lunch break was over and went to the school secretary. I remember being really upset, and felt determined to find the principal and tell him I felt it necessary he apologize to the two students. Noticing my clenched fists and angry look, the secretary Continue reading

Poem, The Trail We Crossed

Soft pine carpet

Where birds silently land

And gentle rain disappears

My love beside me

Beneath a towering canopy

Of green shade

A place of heavenly rest

Of warm hope for future dreams

The brook speaks in a calming voice

The trail we crossed

Stopped here so our minds could wander

Love within and beauty in view

This place of spaciousness

Contains the things to give me passage

To look beyond this day

And turn memories into smiles of contentment

And wishes into tomorrow’s happiness

© Rick Wyman

Toboggan Run and Then Some

Winter has always been a fun time of the year for kids in Vermont, even though the adults are worrying about the heating bill. As the snow mounts up, kids see it as a great opportunity to make another snow fort, sliding trail, or make a higher ski jump.

When I was a kid growing up in rural Vermont, I remember we had an old logging road that opened up a clear path on the side of the mountain next to my house. We went to great lengths to groom the “sliding tracks” in the middle of it. Kids from all over the valley came together to go there and slide down the hill. There were only a few slight corners on the trail, and depending on how fast you were going, and on what you were riding, the curves were usually fairly easy to negotiate. Even so, there were several times I barely made it to the bottom in one piece!

One winter day, one of the neighbor boys named Joe came over to slide down this particular hill. He brought his toboggan that fit three people. We dragged it up the steep part of the hill to the spot where the pines started to get a little thicker, on the first flat area. It was a long way for a couple of kids, probably between 1/8th and ¼ of a mile. Joe was to be the back passenger and use his feet to help brake and turn the back of the toboggan. I was the front navigator as I kneeled and used my hands to twist the front curve of the contraption.

Joe always seemed to have a wide grin on his face when we were ready to start our “flight” down the hill. I think we were both over anxious. About half way down the trail, there was a railroad crossing with snow banks on either side of the tracks, and you could catch air going over them. Then there was a steep straight away all the way to the dirt road at the bottom, which was flanked by very high snow banks. We would turn sharply before we got to the first snow bank and slide sideways up to the edge of it to stop. (At least that was the plan.)

This particular run started off with a heart stopping push and we quickly got into position as if we were Olympic bob sled contestants. I was kneeling and Joe was holding down the back as we passed quickly through the first clearing and swung into a narrow corner. I could see on the edge of the trail was a low brush pile. I gripped the curl on the toboggan and leaned to the left, and yelled for Joe to put his boot into the snow to slow and help turn the rig. He did as told, and put his foot out, but instead of slowing us down, he caught his leg in the brush heap. Before I knew it, he was pulled right off the toboggan and my ability to slow down was suddenly gone. My heart was racing as I thought of the snow bank at the bottom Continue reading

Every Birthday Is A Happy One

BirthdayRickandLane

I don’t remember very many social events I attended as a kid, but I do remember one birthday party I went to when I was 6 or 7 years old. It was for a class mate one year older than I was. He was in second grade and I was in first, and lived at the upper end of the same country road I lived on. There were games to play and cake to eat. It was fun to see everyone competing in “pin the tail on the donkey”. I remember that game in particular because when his mother put the blind fold on me, she left a small opening on the bottom of the cloth that I could see out of. I didn’t want to be too close to the tail because it would seem like I cheated, so I pretended I was Continue reading

Poem, Cold Comfort

Frozen River Poem

Stepping on river rocks and ice,

Shadows of trout race by.

Snowbanks rise steeply.

Memories unfreeze my youth,

As warm thoughts of then,

Come back to me.

Eyes closed and vivid sounds trickle,

Boots slipped between snow mounded stones,

Where I searched for calm between the banks.

Freezing air awakened a need to go home,

Though I wish I could stay here listening.

February kept a promise,

Between the lighted window of home,

And time alone on the stream.

 

© Rick Wyman

Hard Knocks at the Big Rock

Growing up in the country in the 1950’s, we often used the landscape for play. the “Big Rock” as we all called it was in the background of many good times. It was also the location for a couple of catastrophes of mine.

I recall my early tree climbing training. I’m a self- taught tree climber, school of hard knocks type lessons. A couple of the neighbor boys and I were out near the big rock and the older and bigger of the two, Keith was discussing how he could climb the wild cherry tree that grew in the stone wall. I decided that was good idea too, and began climbing right behind him. He was, as I said taller and had a longer reach so he was able to grab the first limb and begin upward progress right away. I jumped and barely grabbed the branch, but followed right behind, mimicking his choice of limbs.

We were quite a ways up and I was right under Keith waiting to take the next branch. As he went upwards, I put my arms up and grabbed the branch he was standing on. His weight evidently was all the strength the branch could muster, and as I pulled with my hands and searched for a place to get footing, the branch snapped. Continue reading

Bow Hunting Expedition Turned Manufactured Accident

mindsalvage.com DadandMeByCar

It was a beautiful fall day in Vermont, and the bow and arrow season for deer had just started the weekend before. It was a week day and there was no school that day.  I hadn’t had my drivers’ license for that long but I had quite a bit of experience driving back roads and standard shift vehicles. A neighbor was anxious to go deer hunting with me and we decided to ride around looking for a good place.  Due to the fact there was no school, my little brother was also home. I was 16 and he was 10, and I didn’t particularly want to have him ride along or go hunting with me at the time. I felt that I was older and shouldn’t have to babysit him when I wanted to go out in the woods, but he insisted on coming along.

Somehow I came up with the idea that if I scared him with my driving he’d want to stay home and leave us alone. I told my neighbor friend, David, that I was going to drive in a wild stunt to scare my little brother into wanting to be brought home. He grinned as if he thought it was a fun idea and was ready for it. We were a couple of miles from my house on the dirt road, and headed toward Cavendish and in third gear. The car was a 1964 Chevy station wagon, 3 speed standard on the Continue reading

Icy Ambush

mindsalvage.comIcyRiverAmbush

There are many influences that can make adolescence a complicated time of life. Bullying is one of them, and the defense against it can make or break someone’s self-esteem. When I was a kid, I was proud of my ability to defend myself against the worst kind of bully I ever encountered. He is still in jail for murder, and was an adolescent who should have been stopped then, but somehow manipulated the system and made it through without any deterrent that he respected. Later in his life, he admitted to figuring out how to give the right answers during interviews and to get by the authority that should have kept him off the streets.

I made it through many stressful meetings with him, and to make matters worse he was my neighbor on our country dirt road. Here is one incident to show the devious bully I knew. This one I’d say was the worst, but I lived to tell about it afterwards. This person is an example of how someone devious and without proper direction can manipulate those around him until it’s too late. I have changed his name.

I was about 13 or 14 years of age and lived out in the middle of nowhere in Vermont. One of the life skills my woodsman father and his friends taught me was trapping. During the winter it’s the season for muskrats and mink. I checked the trap-line every day and roughly at the same time because there isn’t a lot of daylight after school. One particular night I recall having yet another violent encounter with the tall and mean neighbor up the road. Johnny lived about a half mile away but it was within view of the path I followed through the snow along the banks of the beaver pond and stream where my trap-line was set.

Johnny evidently was waiting for me to show up that day, and had some sort of plan in his head about what he wanted to do to wreak havoc on Continue reading