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Along the Way

By Ralph Hood

I recently fell while trail walking at Rock Creek. A tree had fallen across the path. I decided I could get through the branches where others had crossed.

I tried. It was a mistake. I ended up flat on my back. Most men could have gotten back up, but I — 80 years old with a bad knee and a sore back — could not get up. I called wife Gail. She found two robust young men — Adam and Anthony — who easily lifted me.

I was bruised all over and my left arm was painful and useless for a few days. Gail is a good nurse.

I grew up in a smallish Georgia town where Daddy was the superintendent of schools. Everybody knew him, and therefore knew me. I couldn’t get away with anything.

My friend Stafford and I climbed to the top of the tallest water tower in the county. We painted “Zorro” on the highest part of the tower as our friends drove by watching.

My parents quickly learned that I was one of the culprits. Stafford’s parents never found out he was involved!

I went to college at Clemson in South Carolina. All freshmen had their heads shaved and wore Clemson caps. I suddenly became aware that nobody at Clemson knew who I was.

I was thrilled!

We freshmen stayed in dormitories. Each floor had a ledge outside the window. It was about three feet wide. We could lie on the ledge in the sun and keep cold drinks on the ledge in winter.

Somehow, I decided that it might be possible to hang from one ledge and drop to the next ledge one floor down. I tried it at the lowest ledge. It worked!

I went upstairs to the very highest floor in the dormitory where smarter classmates were studying. I interrupted their study and they fussed about it. I pretended to be hurt. I told them I’d just leave, climbed out to the ledge, swung down and dropped to the next floor.

They were horrified. But in a few days many students were dropping from one ledge to another.

The top dean of Clemson called me into his office and chewed me out — badly.

During one summer I decided to work for the Green Giant in Washington State. I hitchhiked from Clemson to Kansas, where — believe it not — I changed my mind and joined a circus for the summer. It was fun.

Decades later my youngest son decided that he wanted to join a circus, himself.

I got him a job on a good circus. Within less than a month they gave him a raise and the next year he became the ringmaster.

There’s more, but I’ll save the rest for later columns…

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