In a bustling little burg like ours, you never know when you might take a wrong turn on some rural road and run into someone you worked with 48 years ago. 

It happened again tonight on my way to dinner with Eric and Diana Barton, which got me to reminiscing as wrong turns often do.

I fastidiously followed Diana’s directions, but after the left off Lane 18 and right onto Nelson, there came the usual booby trap when one dirt road went straight and a second forked right. My keen logic said go straight, but within seconds, Eric called to say, “We’re watching you; turn around, Goober.” As I navigated my clumsy about-face, I watched a burly, animated fella with a shovel approach, lean in and say, “You don’t even know who I am, do you?”

I took a wild guess with “Dave?” You coulda knocked me over with a turkey baster when he said, “No, it’s Marv.” Instantly realizing it was my old summer job sawmill buddy when I was 17 and playing Legion baseball, I shot my hand back out and shrieked, “Marv Nelson! Let me shake that hand again!” His hearty laugh brought back vivid memories of that brutal summer job in ’72.

I explained my search for the Bartons and Eric’s “Turn around, Goober,” the handle Eric’s sister Janice laid on me, and told Marv, “I liked the old nickname you gave me at the sawmill a lot better.” That term of endearment would be considered inappropriate in this day and age, so I’ll paraphrase to “Nimrod.”

Marv and I worked on the Cody Lumber “Green Chain,” stacking boards as they came out of the mill on a conveyor. My first day, I see this mountain of a red-haired guy a little older than I and thought, “Gulp, I better not tick this dude off,” but we instantly connected like a bull mastiff protective of a nervous  poodle. I think the hard-drinking, worldly behemoth respected and was somewhat amused by the teetotaling, Bible-quoting new kid.

He’d bellow something like, “Nimrod, let’s get drunk and be somebody tonight.” I’d reply, “Marv, we’re already somebody; there’s no need to get drunk.” One morning Marv reported his tongue was swelled up like a summer squash and said, “Nimrod, I’m so hungover, it better rain today so we can go home.” I tried to reassure him with, “Marv, if it’s the Lord’s will for it to rain, it’ll rain.” Big Marv jumped up on a stack of boards shaking his fist skyward and boomed, “No, if it’s MY will for it to rain, it’ll rain!”

I in no way suspect God feared Marv physically, but within an hour, the fair skies began to rumble and opened up like a cow relieving itself on a flat rock.

That’s just one of a plethora of memories ingrained from that sawmill owned by  the Hanson brothers but must entail another of my “to be continued” endings. Stay tuned to learn how a trip into the office to get change for the pop machine turned into a financial bonanza. Oh, the saving grace of that merciful statute of limitations.

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