Today’s guestpost was written by David Templeton.
I got married a second time and it was on a New Years eve, thirty-one years back. The anniversary is easy to remember but I am always drawn to some other memories full of their own poignancy.
Two memories anyway. They happened on the same day. 1953. New Years Eve. Hank Williams died. Like when I heard of John Kennedy’s death, I remember just what I was doing and where I was standing when I heard the news about Hank Williams.
Dad blew up his well that night, too. We had to carry water in lard buckets every day from Old Man Rogers’ well down over the bank. We had no running water, used an outhouse, carried all our water up the hill, even on wash day.
Dad’s pride had been hurt many times that year, but Mr. Rogers’ overbearing, solicitous attitude was hard on Dad. He cut a forked branch out of the apple tree out back, just a kind of a small, forked twig that would bend easy when it passed over water. He held that divining branch in the curled way he’d been shown and walked all over our hillside of a front yard until that branch struck straight down and there he dug a well.
He dug and dug all through the Fall of ’53 … he had two jobs of work and could only dig on the well a while each evening. In December he was tired. He got down about six or seven feet deep and hit the bedrocks and stoney outcroppings of the hillside. There was enough water to keep filling up his hole, and he’d have to bale it out, but it was just the groundwater running down the hill in the bedrock. It wasn’t good water.
He hand-chiseled a hole about an inch or two wide trying to get through the rock but the rock was solid to China. He was wore out. He got some dynamite and was going to set it off in that drilled hole but as Winter poured on its cold, Dad finally gave up any hope of reaching good water.
New Year’s Eve, he rigged the dynamite into the drilled hole, wired a blasting fuse to it, connected all that to an electric cord and ran it back the thirty some yards to a plug-in on our front porch. He had lost a lot that year, in pride, in heartaches … in backaches. But he was about to be in control and make a statement about it all, with one thrust of that extension cord plug into the socket.
At midnight, he plugged in the cord and an explosion like an A-Bomb test roared its percussion up and down the valley and off the hillsides and lights went on all up and down the road and people stuck their heads out the door. Dad grinned and went to bed. Next day, neighborhood kids asked me if I heard the commotion last night. All I knew was, Hank Williams died last night.
I hope you enjoyed David’s post as much as I did! Got any memories of New Year’s Eve to share? If you do I hope you’ll leave a comment and tell us about it.
I’ll share a quick one-actually it’s not my memory it’s Granny’s.
Paul was born on New Year’s Day. I can’t count the times I’ve heard Granny tell the story of how excited she was when she went into labor with Paul. She was excited because she thought she’d have the first baby born in the new year and get her picture in the paper.
Granny says just as the new year dawned and Paul was ready to come into this world howling and screaming-another woman in labor was brought into the hospital ward. Granny says before you could snap your fingers that woman pushed out a baby-the first baby of the new year-leaving Paul to be the second baby born in the new year.