Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Clear to Partly Cloudy and Hot Today"

Whenever I think of Grandview, I think of sitting in the kitchen in the morning and grandpa had this big black tube radio that took halfway through the Farm and Market report to warm up; it was ancient, this leather clad radio with a weird dial, and sometimes there would be fuzz and feedback and grandpa would give it a backhand saying "cock-eyed radio". He wasn't really angry, it was just part of the routine, the same routine we had while watching Big-Time Wrestling on Saturday nights when he would seem to verbally joust with Dan Coats, the very excitable ring announcer.

"Johnny Valentine has the referee Bronco Lubich caught in the ropes . He's going to hit him with a chair!"
"A chair" grandpa would repeat, in disbelief.
"While Fritz von Erich is knocked out cold in the center of the ring " Coats would gasp.
"No he's not" grandpa would respond, dryly.
" But here comes Wahoo McDaniel!"
the very excited Dan Coats would say, and my grandfather, much annoyed by this, would mumble back:
'Here he comes"
and then Dan would say with some surprise
"Wahoo is doing his War Dance! Wahoo hits Johnny with a huge Tomahawk chop!"
and grandpa would say, with real disgust in his voice this time
"It was HUGE alright"
And Fritz would revive himself, pin Johnny, and Coats would get closure, then they would break for a Kissinger's Discount Auto Parts commercial and grandpa would mumble "cock-eyed Kissinger's" and get up and smile at me and we would go get some more ice cream with peaches from the kitchen.

And every morning you looked out the window and saw the heat waves start coming off the shed roof, and the radio would whine, and you could almost feel the black gumbo dirt slowly cracking open underneath your feet because that's what it surely would do. You could look down into those cracks later that day and I'll swanny, you could almost see clear to China. Some folks call it Blackland soil; the Blackland Railroad operates out of Sulphur Springs. They make a beer in Iowa called Black Gumbo, named after this soil, which is a marine sediment. I remember when I was a kid you could always find cockle shells in the garden, and little clams too. They got black gumbo dirt up all the way to Montana, and Dinosaurs and other critters have been getting stuck in it for 150 Million years.
You might think you seen mud, but you have never seen anything like black gumbo. You don't dare walk across it when its wet. You will end up with feet that weigh 50 pounds each before you get too far. Cattlemen say its hard to run a lot of cattle on this soil during a wet winter, so many get stuck, and there is a concern during the summer that an animal might get swallowed up in one of those cracks, or least ways break a leg.
But it is very rich for agriculture, and grandpa used to say you could stick a crowbar in it and the next day have Mercury dimes.

But grandpa would backhand the cock-eyed radio, the Farm Report would be pork bellies down five cents, beef up about the same; it looked like it would be a real good year for sorghum, but a poor year for cotton . Somewhere probably, Johnny, Bronco, Fritz and Wahoo were all having breakfast together, and the weatherman would drawl the same thing every day:
"Clear to Partly Cloudy and Hot today".


AnitaNH said...

" could stick a crowbar in it and the next day have Mercury dimes."

I really like that line!

bulletholes said...

My grandpa, he had some good ones!