Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Our Summer Jobs

Mine Creek Revelations by Louie Graves: Our Summer Jobs


GOOD TIMES AND MANY LIES. This past Saturday, for possibly the 12th or 15th October in a row, former Nashville Scrapper Tommy Younk hosted a bunch of NHS classmates of his era for a fishfry at his cabin off the beaten track at Camp Albert Pike.

Before I go any farther let me tell you that Tommy’s cabin is for sale. It’s a nice two-story cabin surrounded by trees and within a stone’s throw of the Little Missouri River. To get to the cabin one must ford a shallow creek and drive about a quarter of a mile on a narrow gravel trail.

There’s a nice deck. And that’s where about 15 or so buddies gathered. The number of attendees varies every year but most graduated from Nashville High School within three or four years on either side of 1960. There have been doctors, lawyers, engineers, airline pilots, scientists, preachers, educators, pharmacists, a lot of insurance agents, law enforcement and some aging gents with no visible means of support.

The 2018 reunion was blessed because no one was newly missing permanently. We sat out on on the deck on a pleasant blue sky day, smelling the Ouachita mountains, and watching the occasional falling leaf float past. Royce Scott had catfish rolling in the deep fryer.

Many important topics were covered. Were your ears burning Saturday about noon? We did the obligatory talking about girlfriends and glorious football victories over De Queen and Ashdown.

One of the topics was summer jobs.

We all had summer jobs. Sometimes the football coach ‘found’ jobs for us. In that case you could count on the work being really hard, the kind that builds muscles and endurance offseason.

But without exception, nearly all of us worked to buy clothes for the next school year (at this point an orchestra should begin playing sensitive music that evokes visions of tough times).

Obviously many summers were spent in peach orchards or at peach sheds. It could very hard work, with the attendant itch of peach fuzz. One peach job I was never familiar with was working at a place called the ‘steer cooler.’ At least it sounded like everyone called it ‘steer.’ Maybe it was just our country accents trying to say ‘stair cooler.’ It was the place where baskets of peaches were taken to be cooled for transport across the country. It was hard work and the hours could be exceptionally long, but the pay was a little better than if you were working at a shed. Also, the steer cooler was in town, so you didn’t have to hitch a ride to the peach sheds which were always at Highland or Bingen or out toward Lockesburg several miles.

Another summer job was at the basket factory. Making baskets and crates required moist wood slats and dry kiln heat. Then the assembled baskets or crates had to be loaded in precise rows on trucks. Or, worse, boxcars. I cannot believe that several of us didn’t die in an unvented  boxcar baking in the sun on the railroad siding at the basket factory. We worked in mortal fear of the owner, Mr. Jack Bennett, and the foreman, Mr. Earl Jones. Neither man was taller than about 5’4” but we still quaked when they came to make sure we weren’t lollygagging.

Another job was at the pickle plant. It was located in the 500 bock of South Front Street, but you could smell it all over town. Farmers would bring their cucumbers, and the boys would load them into enormous vats which were filled with stinky brine. The work included pushing wheelbarrows of salt and cukes and other stuff that you don’t want to know about that was a part of your mom’s dinner table pickles.

Then there was the ice plant, where working temperatures ranged from Arctic to Sahara, depending upon the chore and the task’s location on the ice plant campus. There were other jobs, of course.

To our girlfriends: we sincerely apologize for anything we may or may not have done. None of us aspire to the Supreme Court, anyway.

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AND NOW A MESSAGE from the Official Number 1 Fairweather Arkansas Razorback Football Fan:

If you didn’t get to see enough of the Alabama-Arkansas game, cheer up.

It will be replayed in its entirety at least two times in the coming week on ESPN because Alabama is number one.

On the SEC network, it will be replayed twice in its entirety. Once in the slot reserved for Alabama and once for us lucky Arkies.

It will be capsulized and shown twice more so that expert commentators can explain just how Alabama avoided this very dangerous ‘trap’ posed by Arkansas.

It will be replayed partially at least twice: Once in Nick Saban’s pregame show for Saturday’s Crimson Tide trap game with Missouri; and once in Coach Something Something’s pregame show for Saturday’s Hog game with Ole Miss. If you listen to Satan Saban, Alabama was very lucky to escape Fayetteville.

Oh the joy!

And there will be a bevy of clips shown the whole week on the Paul Finebaum Show on both the SEC and the ESPN networks.

Also, there will be several of those toothless Alabama fans call in to Mr. Finebaum to display their knowledge of Alabama football and the world in general. And to crow about how bad the Hogs are.

I couldn’t be happier as you can tell!

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HE SAID: “To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, that can’t be a bad thing.” Anthony Bourdain, food writer and traveler

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SHE SAID: “Now about those ghosts. I’m sure they’re here and I’m not half so alarmed at meeting up with any of them as I am at having to meet the live nuts I have to see every day.” Bess Truman, First Lady

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