…I would have had a very different life.
I grew up in the little town of Joshaway, Texas. Actually, I did not grow up in the town but just a mile or so outside town. Since I was hopeless with machinery my father made me ride a horse to town and back until he figured out I was also inept with farm animals, like the time I killed all our cows in one night, but that is another story for another day.
The way he found I was hopeless with machinery partly involved my running over our pig with the tractor, which probably should have told dad something, but we all liked ham, the pig was rend-able since I only side-swiped him and he most likely died of heart failure, anyway, pigs not liking to be hit with tractors and all.
My Yankee father, being a charitable man, and usually drunk in those days, just told me to be more careful with the pig next time. I allowed as how that would not be hard, since we only had just the one pig, now departed, and figured he really meant, "Don't ram the smokehouse with the tractor," since it was November and the pig was hung up there for the winter, anyway.
Young people today, in this age of global warming, will not remember hog-killing weather. In the olden times, when people wore coats after September and the seasons were not just "summer" and "late summer," we would often kill a hog out on the farm, dress the hog and hang him in the smokehouse, where he would dangle, unspoiled, until such time as he cured properly and the family had need of him. He served as a kind of porcine savings account, set back against a day when a crop might fail or the preacher come to dinner, either of those both being occurrences when large amounts of food could disappear irrevocably.
My pig got hung up that way. I could not stand to go in the smokehouse for months after that and funerals bothered me greatly for some time, as well.
I missed that pig a lot. We had been friends because pigs are so smart and he took an extra shine to me, because I fed him most days, and that was why he came running out when he saw me fire up the tractor. I have never forgotten the look of panic, and betrayal, that passed over his face as I veered toward him but, tragically, I overestimated his cornering ability, and so doomed the pig.
It was all I could do to eat him later, as I felt so guilty about bumping him with the tractor. It was his time, I know, but he was a friend, like I said, and happy to see me that day, until I hit him with the tractor, which would change anyone's mind and I never held it against him.
I could have done better with the car than with the tractor, except my mother had a nervous condition. She was the one delegated to teach me to drive. I always, looking back, found this very curious, since she could not drive well herself and usually took the bus even to the closest towns around us, if once we could get her into Joshaway and install her on the bench in front of the post office, where the Central Texas bus line made their stop in those days.
She was a proud woman, though, and very tall, which contributed to her nervous condition, she claimed, because she could see over other people and low walls, as well, and so could see trouble coming. I often thought she imagined trouble more than she saw it but never dared say so, since one calamity after another befell me until I entered the fifth grade and took my first eye exam, proving to be as nearsighted as most blind men, which doubtless contributed to my frequent misfortunes with machinery, as well as the regular slaughter of our livestock.