January / 2004
Commonwealths


Extreme linemen
Marty York of Jackson Energy Co-op climbed down a pole with an egg in his mouth as part of the speed-climbing event at the 20th annual International Lineman’s Rodeo.

The competition brought more than 400 lineworkers from across Kentucky, the nation, and even the world to Bonner Springs, Kansas, this past fall.

Rodeo events included pole climb, hurt-man rescue, and insulator changeout.

Congratulations especially to those electric co-op workers who took part in the rodeo. They were:

In the apprentice division:

Jackson Energy Co-op: Brian Turner. South Kentucky Rural Electric Co-op: Daniel Coomer, Dennis Reynolds. Warren Rural Electric Co-op: Corey Weaver, Tony Phelps Jr.

In the journeymen division:

Owen Electric Co-op: Mark Greene, Brian Jones, Danny Clemons. Jackson Energy Co-op: Marty York, Jason Isaacs, Ernest Whitehead, Terry Isaacs, Dennis Roberts, Garry Creech, Harold Tyree. South Kentucky: Kenneth Hamilton, Barney Singleton, Ishmael Helton, Dale Keith, John Slavey, Phillip Walker, Ray Kidd, Mark Wilson, Scott Howard, Andy Edmon.

The Hairless Dog
I always hated school. To me it was a burden, having to get up early, walking almost five miles one way, in rain, sleet, snow, boiling sun. Such an effort to sit in a seat most of the day, not talking, not being able to get up and walk around when you wanted to, go to the restroom, get a drink, or be able to go home when you needed to. To me it was the worst kind of torture, to have to abide by all those rules. Freedom. That’s what a kid needed. Freedom to run, jump, play at their leisure.

So I absolutely was never interested in going to any ball game or any other functions held at the school that I would go back to. Sometimes some of the students would be so excited during school, there was going to be a ball game or something that night, they could not wait. Not me. I would think, “When I get out of this jail at the end of the day, wild horses could not drag me back.”

One evening after school, I went home with my cousin to spend the night. They lived close to the school and it was always a treat to stay there.

They were having a function that night at the school and she was anxious to go. I did not want her to know that I did not want to go, she was so happy. So I kept my mouth shut and tagged along.

I don’t remember where I got it, but I had a nickel that night. I clutched it tightly in my hand. I was so afraid I would lose it.

As we passed the store I said, “Let’s go in so I can buy me a Sugar Daddy.” The few times I had money that big caramel sucker is what I would buy because it would last longer.

“Why don’t you wait ’til later,” she suggested. “We’ll stop in on the way home.” I reluctantly agreed. So with my nickel in my hand we walked to the school.

They were having some type of function in the auditorium. There were people everywhere. Students laughing, walking around, trying to win prizes. There was a bucket that you tossed a ball in so many times for a prize. There were small booths everywhere where you paid for the opportunity to win. I had no intention of spending my nickel. I was saving that for my Sugar Daddy.

At the last booth down next to the stage, there were two girls standing on each side of a curtain with a sign that read, “See the hairless dog for $.05.”

I had never heard of such a thing. I had seen dogs all my life, but they all had hair. Neither Mom nor anyone else had ever mentioned a hairless dog. I was amazed.

“Would you like to see the hairless dog?” one of the girls asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I stammered, feeling a little fear.

I was torn between seeing the hairless dog and the Sugar Daddy. “What must I do?” I thought. If I bought the candy I would be the only one to enjoy it. But if I saw the hairless dog, man, would I have something to talk about. I could tell Mom and the other kids what it looked like. They would be amazed.

“I’ve got to see it,” I thought, “and I’m going to take my time when I look behind that curtain, so I can memorize every detail of the dog without any hair.”

I just hoped people would believe me.

“Well?” one of the girls asked, “do you want to see the hairless dog or not?”

“I certainly do,” I responded, and I boldly stepped up and handed her my nickel.

As she accepted my money, the other girl began to pull the curtain back and I stepped up, trembling. I looked and there, on a small table, lay a wiener. I looked all around and that was the only thing I saw.

“But where is the hairless dog?” I asked.

“You’re looking at it,” she said with a grin.

I could feel my face beginning to turn red.

“That’s not a hairless dog,” I mumbled. “That’s a wiener.”

“No, no,” she said. “That’s a hot dog with no hair. A hairless dog. Get it?”

I guess the look on my face was something else as I began to realize what I had paid to see, because both of the girls began to laugh. They were literally holding each other up and laughing hysterically.

I backed up, turned around, and fled. As I ran up the aisle, people were looking at the girls, they were laughing so loud. I ran outside, humiliated beyond belief, almost in tears. I thought, “Stupid, stupid. How can you be so stupid?”

I just started walking, dazed, hurt, and angry. I walked to the store and stopped, and then it hit me. My Sugar Daddy. Now I didn’t have the money for my Sugar Daddy. I stood, stunned.

I slowly walked back to the school and waited for my cousin. As we headed for her house, she said, “Good, the store is still open. Now you can buy your candy.”

“I’m not feeling very good,” I said. “I’m sort of sick at my stomach. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to buy it.”

“Okay,” she said, as we walked past the store. “Just be careful and don’t lose your nickel.”

I did not tell her that I had already spent it. I was too embarrassed. Matter of fact, I never told anyone for years.

As I lay in bed that night, I thought, there’s no way I can go back into that schoolhouse again. I know they’ll still be laughing at me. Maybe it will burn down tonight. Maybe lightning will strike it. Please, please, let something happen to it so I won’t ever have to go to school there again.

But of course, nothing happened to the school. And with head bowed I walked in the next day. It was never mentioned. I forgot about it until years later, when I went back to visit the school and places I grew up. As I stood and looked at the school building, I thought, “That’s where I saw the one and only hairless dog.”
—Joan DeHart