But you haven’t heard the rest of the story.
You haven’t heard about my having to go out into the woods during those hard, 61 frontier hours and chopping wood by hand for the fireplace. I chopped with two hands until one of ‘em was raw, then I took the ax like Paul Bunyun would’ve and chopped with the other until it was raw, too. Then I carried that wood for half a mile back to the house and built a fire in my house that - by that time - had ice cycles hanging from the ceiling. Even the cattle out in the pasture had ice cycles hanging from their horns.
You haven’t heard about my having to go out to hunt wild animals for food through that foot of snow, with a terrific north wind blowing in my face. That ferocious storm carried with it snowflakes so big they called them snowcakes. That’s how bad the storm was out in these woods. No, I didn’t shoot any wild animals because I don’t have a gun. I did take a switch with me in case I ran across a bear. But to my knowledge we don’t have any bears anywhere around where I live. Guess they’ve heard about the switch. I hunted them, nonetheless, just so I’d have a story to tell, and then I came home tired and hungry and made me and Charlie and the amazing blonde a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. By candlelight.
That’s roughing it.
I’m sure you’re having trouble believing all of this. And I understand that. But it’s like I tell my young boys and girls who sit every day in my one-room log cabin schoolhouse. It’s not my job to believe the stories I tell. My job is to tell them, and the rest of up to them. I can’t do all the work.
You may find it hard to believe that some of these young doubting Thomases roll their eyes in the middle of some of my amazingly true stories. Some scoff at the idea that I had to walk through a foot of snow to old Southwest Elementary School where Ms. Berta resided for so many years. Because the wind to my face was so blistering, I had to walk backwards at times, turning my head slightly to see where I was going so as not to fall into the frozen pond. Have you ever tried walking backwards against a powerful, freezing wind through a foot of snow? It’s not easy, I can tell you that.
But it’s easier than getting some of those students to believe that story. I do remember distinctly my hands almost freezing off as I walked that mile journey from Juniper Street to our beloved elementary school. I still don’t know why I never thought to buy a couple of pair of gloves to wear. No, I know. A fella who goes bear hunting with a switch when he’s grown doesn’t choose to wear gloves in the cold when he’s a boy. So those same hands I worked raw this past week chopping wood in the snow about froze off a few of those cold Georgia mornings back in the ’60s.
61 hours without power does a lot to a man, including helping him conjure up a few old-time memories. You may even think the power failure wasn’t only in the wires above the house but also affected the wires above my neck. I guess if you want to think such things, that’s your privilege. You buy the paper and are free to believe what you choose.
But having known you for as long as I have, I’m convinced that you’re the kind of person who believes every word I write. After all, if you can believe that Dallas had a foot of snow, you can believe anything.