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With phone spying of one's whereabouts all the time these days, combined with all the dash cams and other things, it's a lot harder to do anything secretly unless you take really extraordinary measures.
I've been giving more thought about mysterious sounds. I do recall one time a friend and I were hiking behind an old coal mine property where the thing caught on fire many decades earlier, As far as I know ,it's still burning underground. Pops and snap sounds are what I heard. Like a muzzled campfire made of pine. My friend couldn't hear a thing.I always just figured he didn't clean the wax out of his ears. Freshly fracked ground sounds about the same. I imagine people walking around areas without the right information could scare themselves silly.
I imagine people walking around areas without the right information could scare themselves silly.
About 50 years ago or so, we helped with a place for a couple of disadvantaged kids to stay when their dad had a heart attack and was going to be in the hospital for a while. Their son was in the same grade as me, but was very superstitious.
So about 2 AM the wind got up. Our phone cable connected to the house right outside that room. And there was this big tree out in the back yard. The wind of course swayed it back and forth, but one branch had grown out to where it would rub on the phone line. This made a squeaking noise that when coupled into the wall could be pretty loud.
Now I was quite accustomed to the squeaking at night. To me it was like a convenient meteorological wind detection device.
To him, it was a "ha'int" or some other supernatural phenomena, and when the squeaking got started up, he was in a total hysterical panic in a couple of minutes.
I finally went and turned on the outside floodlight, then took a flashlight and went outside, found a board next to the fence, and reached up and pushed the moving branch up off of the phone line. The noise abruptly stopped.
But it was disconcerting at 11 to 12 years old to have anyone at that age who still believed there were monsters that lurked in the shadows under a bed or in a closet, and was afraid of the dark, as I'd already become accustomed to utilizing the darkness as excellent cover to wander unobserved at about the age of maybe 7 to 8.
You were resourceful at a young age. Did your parents get gray hair because of you? Or did they not know?
You were resourceful at a young age. Did your parents get gray hair because of you? Or did they not know?
Oh, they got gray hair because of me. And that was only the small fraction of things I actually got caught doing.
Like when I was about 5 years old or so.
We lived in the middle of a remote oil field. Since then they built a segment of I-10 within about a mile of the place but back in the 1960s it was in the middle of nowhere.
Let's see - I climbed the water tower - it wasn't one of the huge municipal ones - it was only about 60 feet high or so, and probably held a couple thousand gallons. We filled it manually every couple of days for the little settlement we lived in, with an old pumpjack and reciprocating rod string that was only drilled down into the aquifer rather than the thousands of feet deeper into the oil-bearing anticline.
It was neat because you could see for miles and miles and miles up there. It didn't occur to me that I might fall off that rickety ladder that went up to the platform, which of course in the pre-OSHA type days, didn't have any kind of a railing or anything like that.
Then there was the morning I wandered down one of the lease roads. I knew that somehow everyone's livelihood came from that dark brown smelly slippery oil that was pumped out of the ground. So I had also seen how they started these oil wells up.
I wasn't strong enough to spin one of those Fairbanks-Morse engines over using the crank, which had this overrunning cam that went into the flywheel keyway so it would only turn one direction, then as the engine started, the crank would just free-wheel as the accelerating shaft spun inside it, and you could just slip the crank off.
Instead, I'd open the compression release valve and climb onto the flywheel spokes, like going up an endless ladder until it was spinning fast enough. I'd jump off and flip the two levers - first one to un-ground the magneto wire so the spark would fire, second one let the exhaust valve actually close during the intake, compression, and power strokes of the engine.
The heavy flywheel would have enough momentum, hopefully, to suck in a fuel / air mixture, then get to the top of the compression stroke so the magneto would fire. If really lucky, this would give it enough of a kick in the power stroke that it could complete the next exhaust, intake, and compression.
So the big engine would go Puff <wheeze> <chuff> <pause> PUFF <chuff> <wheeze> <shorter pause> PUUUFFF and so on until the spokes of the flywheel were a blur, and it was just going huffa chuffa chuffa huffa pop pop chuffa.
And you'd see the valves, which were sticking out the end of the cylinder head, with these levers that opened and closed them in a fast mechanical choreography, each properly fingering their notes to get the engine to play its tune.
At some point, the spinning balls and levers on the governor would start to sling outwards, and that would push a ring up that would then pull on the throttle and slow the engine down.
It was way cool to watch the thing, as these engines barely spun about 360 RPM or so, and were only about 10 to 30 horsepower despite weighing as much as a car.
Once you felt the exhaust blasting out of the muffler getting hot and no longer smelling sweet, you knew the engine had warmed up enough.
Next, you went around behind it, and there was this big lever. You unhooked that, and it let this other spinning ring move, and this engaged the clutch so a pulley would start spinning. That had a bunch of really big, long belts like fan belts on a car, that went to the pumpjack gear box.
The engine would lug down - puffa - chuffa - puff puff puff - then speed up again as the slowing governor opened the throttle to maintain engine RPM. And the "iron rocking horse" pumpjack would start bobbing up and down, the polish rod would go down into the stuffing box and come up, and if you went a ways from the well and put your ear on the pipe, you could hear the oil going through it to the tank battery up the hill.
SO, good. I'd started one of the things up by myself. That was such an empowering feeling. So I walked down the road to the next well. I ended up starting up 4 of the things.
I never noticed the dark brown "beard" that came out over the inspection hatch of the nearest 500 barrel tank, and flowed down the side and started spreading out on the ground, then running down the ditch beside the road like a dark brown babbling brook that stank of raw hydrocarbon compounds.
And it never occurred to me that the tanks up the hill were already full, and the trucks weren't going to be there until later that evening to offload some of it.
The next day everyone was really upset. They came with a big huge dump truck. They dumped a bunch of dirt beside the road. All the crews were shoveling the dirt up and back into the truck. The truck drove away and another one came with more dirt.
They did that all day long.
Hopefully the statute of limitations ran out decades ago.
Either that or that helicopter I hear is carrying the EPA Cold Case SWAT team ...
Did you ever get caught? That sounds so dangerous. You are lucky you didn’t live in the city,
If I had lived in the city, I'd have probably spent my childhood in Juvie and gotten on the school to prison conveyor belt like seems to be what most big cities are designed for.
But it was a miracle that I survived to the age of 6. That was probably the worst of the things I did - but I didn't know - I thought I was doing something helpful.
About a week later, after Mom kept the doors latched so I couldn't get out of the house, Dad and Grandpa and one of my uncles and some of the oil field crew all showed up outside with several trucks and trailers of stuff.
They dug a bunch of holes, and cut up a whole bunch of old oil field pipe, and then set the pipes on end in the holes so about 10 feet stuck out of the ground. Then they tied ropes to the tops so they were straight up and down, and started up a cement mixer. They poured concrete around all the pipes in the holes.
Then they had this tall ladder. Someone was up on it cutting these "saddles" with a cutting torch. then after they did enough of them, they'd use the "cherry picker" to pick up an entire joint of pipe and lay it in the "saddles" to make a top rail 10 feet off the ground, then went back and welded it.
They would screw another joint into the one they had first run, and weld that to the top, too.
At the corners, they did some special cuts and welds with a much bigger pipe sticking 10 feet out of the ground, and welded the top rail pipes into that coming out each side.
The concrete was still wet but getting hard by the time all the welding was done, and this went all the way around the house where the yard was supposed to be.
Then they finished digging out a ditch between the individual pipes. Then they unrolled this silvery mesh stuff (chain link fencing) and stretched it and tied it with these steel band things to the pipe, and the bottom of it stuck about a foot or so into the ditch they dug.
Then they poured a LOT more concrete, which covered the bottom of the fence fabric and had put some boards above the ditch to fill it even more, and did that all the way around. They had put some other pipes and hinges and stuff to make 3 gates, and put the latches way, way up there higher than I could possibly reach.
By the time they were done, essentially the house was surrounded by a really tall cage.
The next morning the concrete was all set up and they took the boards away, so there was this nice little ledge I could sit on sticking about 8 inches up from the ground, with the fence "growing" out of it.
The dog couldn't dig out from under it any more, either.
Well, I figured out 2 days later I could stick my small feet and shoes into the 2 inch wide diamond shaped holes in the mesh, stick my hands into some overhead, and climb straight up that chain link fence fabric like it was a really wide tall ladder, go right over the top, and climb down the other side.
Grandma saw me and just grabbed me when I touched the ground outside, picked me up and just marched right through the gate and ratted me out to Mom. And Mom warmed my britches real good with a flyswatter.
I was about 6.5 when we moved into town, about 100 miles away, and we had this concrete block fence about 6 feet high or so. I had to jump really hard but I could get a handhold on the flat top of the thing and pull myself up. I didn't do it that often but other kids would be "sissies" and go around to the gate to get in or out of the yard. I went over the fence because it wasn't as far to walk. Or I'd get on the top of the fence and walk along the top around the yard. After all, I'd seen the cats do that.
By about the 2nd grade I'd kind of outgrown going over the fence routinely instead of using the gate, then we moved a couple more times.
By 3rd grade we were back about 30 miles from the old homestead. There was this deep draw or arroyo out behind the house just past the back yard. There was a pipeline, a pretty big one, that went all the way across it. It was big enough to walk on the top of it, although near the middle, the concrete pillars holding it up were really tall, taller than the house, so you didn't want to look down. You just put one foot in front of the other like you were walking on a sidewalk, and the pipeline was just a stripe painted on the sidewalk, and could get to the other side pretty easy.
Some of the other kids were too chicken to walk across the arroyo on the pipeline, and they told on me. So I got even. I watched for them to do anything they weren't supposed to do, and then I ratted them out. It was kind of what turned me into the school snitch in 3rd grade.
Your relatives were also good at building and creating. You got it from them. So you went from daredevil to tattle tale. Well, eventually you became more of an engineer.
Yeah, we always were being creative.
And that kind of creativity has paid off in the pandemic, because 90% of the people would not have the kind of skills to live frugally and do stuff rather than have to pay a professional to fix every little thing.