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My favorite memory

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Cebus Capucinis


This one is sort of related to the earlier post in that it's a childhood memory, but it's not Atari related. My parents visited my house from Thursday to this morning, and on the first night we were talking about our favorite memories growing up. I mentioned the Dr. Mario swear-like-a-sailor story to my parents again; of course, once again my mom refuses to admit any sort of guilt on that part.


Anyway, I grew up in southern Idaho -- the pace is a sagebrush desert like no tomorrow. My parents were elementary school teachers but I came from an extended family of all sorts. My mom's parents owned a glass shop in town; my dad's oldest brother is a pulmonologist. My dad's parents, however, were farmers. Both my grandmother and grandfather were salt-of-the-earth people; both sunburned 95% of the year and weatherbeaten but always could enjoy a good joke and were the epitome of "old school hospitality and friendliness". They always helped neighbors when needed and shared and shared alike.


We lived 1/4 mile from them; when my dad graduated high school he worked with his father before going to college and getting his teaching degree. Since we grew up in such close proximity, we were always needed to help out around the house with my grandma's garden or my grandpa's machinery. My sister and I were always outside and were often willing to help, since helping meant getting first dibs on raspberry bushes.


Anyway, this particular memory was about 5th grade. My grandma needed help roto-tilling the garden for new planting. She was a very hearty woman (anyone who could raise four boys wins brownie points in my book) but after about the age of 50 couldn't handle gas-powered gardening devices anymore; she just couldn't keep up. It didn't help that the roto-tiller they had was made in around 1963 and had absolutely no safety features whatsoever. There were only two speeds on the beast -- fast and rip-your-arms-off-fast.


Obviously to a 10 year old boy this rickety device was the epitome of hilarity and adventure. I would go rushing around with it on full blast, tossing soil in my face and laughing every minute. Quite a few times it got out of my hands and would race off until tipping over, causing potential catastrophe (I was always careful to ensure that if it went TOO fast it wasn't headed toward those heavenly raspberry bushes!). It belched smoke, oil, and all sorts of carcinogens and often one would need a bath not only to clean oneself but to soothe sore muscles from the machinery.


Throughout my childhood I would always be called on to use the roto-tiller. It was hard work (for a 10 year old) but as stated, I always enjoyed it. Well, enjoyed it until right up to the end. The roto-tiller could start with a little electric push-button starter, but a short in the wiring meant that the engine would not die unless you arced the wires. It would simply run at low rpm's, idling until it ran out of gas. In order to stop the roto-tiller, you had to use a screwdriver, touching the spark plug to short it. This produced a massive spark and 95% of the time would shock the user. I was scared to DEATH of it. Electricity was bad! You could get hurt! I refused to have anything to do with stopping it.


As soon as I was done with the task, I would idle the device, let it run slowly into the ground far enough to stall the blades, and then run into the house, finding my grandma and telling her that I was finished. She would grab a screwdriver and come out with me, tut-tutting about my lack of testosterone and manly virtue. As soon as she got out there, she would roll up her sleeves, grab the screwdriver, and proceed to electrocute herself in an attempt to turn off the spark plug. Many times it would require more than one try. Of course, it wasn't enough to actually hurt/kill anyone, but it didn't matter, I still refused.


So, my favorite memory growing up was my 10 year old brain every time I roto-tilled gardens for my grandmother. I wasn't willing to kill myself via electrocution by shorting out a piece of machinery, but I was certainly willing to kill my own grandmother.

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