Tough as hell – in the cold
I know there are a lot of kids out there that thought their dad was just the toughest guy in the world, but looking back I can think of several times when I know I would not have been able to or would have done some of the things that he had. I also tuned out to be ‘more of a house cat’ than my other brothers too, so I am sure that has something to do with it though.
One story that sticks out in my head was in seventh grade when we had a cold spell where the temperature got down to -34 below zero. School got cancelled for a few days and on Wednesday I had to ride with dad to check the wells. Wednesday was actually the worst day to have to ride with him because that was also chart day which meant he had to hit all of the wells, including those in Lake County.
It was so cold that day that dad took a piece of cardboard and put it in his radiator because you certainly did not need all of that frigid cold air on the motor and who knows if the antifreeze was really mixed enough to keep it from freezing. Anyhow, after the day was over, dad said that he noticed that the engine was really cutting out and it was overdue for a fuel filter replacement. So he pulled into the barn and had me put down the ramps so he could get under and change everything out. For anyone that has changed a fuel filter, you know that it is impossible to do it without getting some gas on your hands. Normally this is not a problem but when it is 30 below, it is a big problem because that gasoline is also 30 below.
He got it all over his hands and then it became very important that I get him all the tools he needed. He worked through it and got everything installed with a few expletives I am sure. While I was assisting him I had also got just a little bit of the gas on my hands, which by the way were also covered nicely with gloves and I remember by the time he was done, my hands were cold as hell. I figured and soon found out when we went to the milk house how cold his hands were.
He no doubt had some frostbite by that time and as he ran cold water over his hands I saw him grimace just a little bit. He then went on to explain to me why it was stupid to try to do that with the gas that cold and how I better not try it because I would end up losing fingered from frostbite. I guess he figured that I would not be able to change it that fast and I he was probably right.
My Dad had tough ass hands and would go without gloves much longer than I think anyone else would because it is easier to work without gloves on. The cold is one thing is worked through. This was not the only time; I have many other memories of my dad out at a well head with his Crescent wrench or a pipe wrench trying to get something running when I would not dare go without gloves. Chuck Cutter = tough as hell.