We lived in a small village, population 3200, in Western New York State and it had all the characteristics of many small villages nationwide; a couple of gas stations, a restaurant, a bank, an insurance agency, a barbershop, a dentist, two doctors and of course, a funeral home. The pace was always the same…essentially sleepy, and when the weather changed everyone had something to talk about again. After a few days it settled back to its drowsiness. One day a cattle truck came through town and stopped by Barney’s gas station for a fill-up. You could smell it from four blocks away – that characteristic odor that most of us recognized immediately.
Barney’s was also the local hangout, the place where the news got to before it was on the local radio station, the restaurant or in the local newspaper. It was rather neat in its own way because you could count on the stories heard there to be essentially correct, maybe with one or two embellishments that perhaps qualified as gossip.
I had been up for many hours the previous night when one of Frank Miller’s ewes was giving birth and he needed me there right away, if not sooner! His three hour effort was futile in dislodging the little critters from their warm cubicle. Surely triplets were well worth my sleep time and he made that known, especially after I extracted the last of the three, all alive and squirming.
Now, today was one of those rare days of a light farm schedule and I could use a little R and R to rejuvenate my spirits. Besides, with three youngsters at home, two still in diapers, my nerves were a little frazzled.
My wife bade me adieu and I headed out to the cabin that I was building. While I was working in the crawl space of the cabin I came close to being electrocuted while standing in eight inches of water. I had put a metal staple through a 300 Amp wire that was to electrify my new hot water heater. A huge ball of fire shot out and, dazed, I dropped my staple gun and quickly exited the crawl space as fast as I could. I lay on the floor gasping, wondering if I was still alive or perhaps waiting for an angel to give me some final advice! Fortunately, I had on my new rubber boots which saved my life.
When I arrived home my wife looked at me and said: “Are you alright?” Why would she ask such a silly question?? She had heard that the bull in the cattle truck escaped and charged down Main Street. He was evidently very happy to escape such confinement and made it known rather instantly. When one observes bull-riding at rodeos it compares favorably to this galloping mass of muscle and bone. And he was NOT about to be subdued. You could see him occasionally stop, snort and charge at any moving object, once even at an innocent kitty as he flew with clear intent through backyards. Flower and vegetable gardens alike fell victim to the charge of this raging tornado. The village police were dumbfounded as to how to lasso him so they stopped by to see if we had a tranquilizer gun that they could use to bring him down. Ultimately, they and a couple of neighborhood men cornered him as he gave in to his exhaustion and the drama ended there.
My wife instinctively had visions of me impaled on the horns of this 2000 pound, four-legged moving projectile. She had no idea what the reason was that I was as pale as a ghost. When I told her about my close call with death and the 300 Amps of electricity she said: “Thank God, I thought maybe you tangled with that bull.”