County fair, hard work instilled lasting lessons
I smile when I think of the Lawrence County Fair. It was the start of the harness horse circuit for Uncle Pete Smith, Winnie Brewer and myself.
I was 12 and had been trained by Uncle Pete at Green Acres (The old Riley Farm in Union Landing).
The memories of those days carried me for a long time. I exercised, groomed and mainly cleaned stalls and when I complained, he would say, “Aw Heckley now boy, it all comes with the horse!”
Made sense then and makes sense now.
Whenever I had a hard job and despaired, I would remember his words. I was in the Bering Sea twice in the fishing grounds. The work was hard and the conditions extreme.
Each time I wanted to quit and return to the lower ’48, I would hear him say, “It all comes with the horse!”
That day in the Bering sea at St. Paul, Pribilof Islands, it gave me the strength to keep on bailing as we took water over the bow of the skiff attempting to reach the pier.
The seas went from a sheet of emerald glass to 20 foot waves in a matter of minutes. Our hands were numb, sea-bags coated with ice and our nostrils rimmed with frost.
We rode the troughs and looked into walls of green water and asked “Why did we ever come up here?”
When we broke over a large wave sideways and reached calmer water, it looked as if the sea had frozen over. It was 28 degrees in the water, and the wind chill factor was 70 below zero. I discovered that day that cold is hot and it burns!
When we made it ashore and was safely on the plane headed for customs in Cold Bay, I looked down at the ice floes and said Lord, please don’t let this plane go down in that water!
All I wanted now was “warmth.” Visions of Green Acres flooded my thoughts as I sunned myself in Tlllamook County, Oregon. Gig Harbor, Washington just couldn’t provide enough heat for these bones.
I thought of June bugs, and honeysuckle, clover hay drying under the Lawrence County sun and I heard Uncle Pete say, “It all comes with the horse,boy, it all comes with the horse!”
Charles Reid Crockrell