2017-06-14 / Editorials

Don Lively


It wasn't working very quickly, my idea to empty water off of a low spot on the canvas boat cover. It had rained heavily, and, apparently, I hadn't strapped the cover down tight enough to keep it from collecting rainwater. So, I was sitting up on the edge of the boat, five gallon bucket in hand, scooping one bucketful at a time, getting soaked with nasty water and seemingly making very little progress. I'd been at the chore for what seemed like an hour and the level had only dropped an inch or two.

So, I asked myself a self evident question.

"Self," I said to myself, "what would Daddy do in a situation such as this?"

I wasn't sure at first, no answer immediately popped into my brain, but, what I did know was, he wouldn't waste two hours dipping water.

Then it hit me.

A siphon hose.

Years ago, when I was a young lad working on the farm, for various reasons, it was sometimes necessary to siphon gasoline or diesel fuel from one tractor or truck in order to get another one running, maybe one that hadn't been cranked since the previous picking season. Daddy taught us all how to siphon liquid without getting a mouthful of it, an important detail when dealing with flammables.

Here's how it works, for those of you who've never had the pleasure.

First, you acquire a short length of old garden hose, or something similar. Selecting the cleanest looking end, you blow through it to make sure there are not bugs, snakes or dirt lurking in the dark recesses of the hose that might interfere. After you determine that there are no obstructions, stick the other end of the hose into whatever receptacle holds the liquid that you want to collect. Blow into the hose until you hear bubbling to determine how far under the surface the hose is. Then, and this is the most critical part, being very careful, and quick, suck hard on the end of the hose that you're holding in your hand. When you feel the liquid rushing toward your lips, jerk the hose out of your mouth and put it in whatever you're using the catch said liquid, making sure the end of the hose is lower than the lowest level of the original body of liquid.

Got all that?

Probably not, but, the point is, over forty years after Daddy taught me how to siphon, I still can.

It worked.

I drained the entire huge pool of water off of the canvas in a fraction of the time it would have required to dip it out a few gallons at a time.

Daddy was smart like that.

He knew all kinds of Daddy stuff.

I've had several opportunities to grill lately and I use Daddy's charcoal lighting technique. I've seen other people just pour their briquettes out into the grill basin willy-nilly, squirt on some lighter fluid, toss in a match, and then wonder why it wouldn't light. Daddy would build a nearly perfect pyramid with his charcoal, tight and formed, before he added fluid. He explained that every piece needed to be touching another piece in order to burn properly. He was right. I've done it that way my whole adult life and never had a failed fire.

He taught me how to shoot when I was barely able to hold a rifle. Long before the term "aim small, miss small" was made famous in the Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot, Daddy would sit an empty can on a log fifty yards downrange, prop the old 22 up over another log with me manning the rifle. He'd instruct me to aim for the smallest thing that I was able to see on the can. Before I was eight years old I could hit the target 9 out of 10 times.

I still can, however, these days it requires a bit of visual magnification--- i.e., eyeglasses.

Daddy taught me plenty of other lessons.

He taught me how to shave thin, sensitive Celtic skin without butchery.

I'm still usually able to accomplish the hated chore with not much bloodshed.

He taught me how to swim, albeit by tossing me in The Pond and hollering "Dig and kick, boy! Dig and kick!"

I can still swim.

He taught me that the family, his and mine, is the root of all that is important, and, I still believe that today.

Thank you, Daddy.

Happy Heavenly Father's Day.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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