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Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

This actually occurred after the former Mrs. Translator and I had married and moved away, but it still is quite a story.  Dad was an avid hunter, mainly upland birds, bobwhite quail in particular.  Our traditional Christmas breakfast, after the gifts were opened, was fried quail, biscuits, gravy, and grits.  Dad always fried the quail and my mum did everything else.

In western Arkansas there were lots of quail except in the rare year that was either really bad as far as the weather goes or if a disease outbreak had occurred.  In my 20 years of living at home and decades afterwards, there were always quail for Christmas breakfast.  In scarce years Dad would freeze enough to assure that there were plenty for Christmas morning.

Dad, in addition to being a deadeye shot, was also a gunsmith.  He also had impressive woodworking skills and often would buy gunstock blanks of fine American black walnut and create his own gunstocks.

He had a number of shotguns, but his favorite was a 16 gauge Parker side by side.  He loved that shotgun, and there is no telling how many quail and dove he took with it.  Dove is really good, too, but is very dark meat where quail is quite white.  Personally I prefer Browning over and under models, and he liked them as well, but the Parker was by far his favorite.

As an aside, it is sort of a shame that the 16 gauge shotgun has sort of fallen out of favor.  In its day it was ideal for short range shooting, like upland birds.  To be realistic, modern 20 gauge shotguns chambered for three inch shells probably perform as well or perhaps better than the old two and three quarter inch 16 gauge ones, but I like tradition.

One fall or winter day Dad had been quail hunting and came home that afternoon.  We got the telephone call from my mum that night.

As I said, Dad had gotten in from hunting one afternoon and took a nap for a little while.  He had been thinking about putting a new gunstock on his Parker, so he fetched it from the corner where he had propped it up and began to look at the existing stock and forearm.  He had a really nice piece of walnut and was scoping out how he wanted the stock to look.

He has rested the muzzle of the shotgun on his left thigh, about six or eight inches above his knee.  The only thing that he forgot is that he had not unloaded it.  His finger hit the trigger, and in milliseconds his life changed forever.

He took a full load (shotguns made in that era used the two and three-quarter inch shells) of number seven and one-half shot straight through his femur.  In addition, unburnt powder and wadding contaminated the wound.  His rectus femorus and fastus intermedius muscles were essentially completely destroyed.

By that time Hackett had proper 911 service, and my mum immediately called for an ambulance.  Whilst waiting for it to come, she put pressure on the wound to keep blood loss to a minimum.  Along with the ambulance the sheriff’s department also came, as is normal procedure for gunshot wounds.

They got Dad to hospital and stabilized him and the detectives quickly determined that there was no foul play, just a horrible lapse of memory on the part of my father.  They let my mum to straightaway to hospital to look after him.

Once he had been stabilized he was out from the morphine so my mum went home to clean up the gore that had been spread all over the room where he had shot himself.  To her surprise, it was not as bad as she remembered before leaving.  The detective had not cleaned up anything, and then she saw Hillary, their cat, washing up and licking his chops.  The cat had eaten a good portion of the flesh!

Even though that sort of was disconcerting for her, she finished cleaning up what mess was left and went back to hospital to be with him.  He went to surgery the next morning and Dr. Long did excellent work with his wound.  With the help of lots of titanium rods, brackets, and screws, Dr. Long rebuilt his femur, and using his vastus lateralis and vastus medialis rebuilt much of the lost muscle.  He was in traction for a long, long time.

After the surgery my mum asked Dr. Long if Dad would ever walk again.  Long told her, “I do really good work.  Physically, he will be able to walk.  But I have done lots of repairs like these and only five or six per cent ever walk very much after these kinds of injuries because the physical therapy is too painful for them to endure for proper recuperation.  So don’t get your hopes up.  He will probably be on a walker at best or in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.”

Indeed, the physical therapy was horrific as far as the pain went.  Dr. Long did not appreciate the strength of my father’s will, however.  Dad went to every physical therapy session and overachieved at them, although he got off to a slow start in the beginning.  They told him to do so many leg lifts at home betwixt formal sessions.  Dad had a unique way of doing that.

Dad loaded his own shotgun shells, so he had lots of lead shot available and the heavy cloth bags in which to put it.  After he was able to lift his leg well with no added weight, he started out with a pound of shot in a bag, putting it on his ankle and lifting that.  When he was able to do that, he would add another pound and master the added weight.  He continued doing that until he could lift 20 pounds of lead on his ankle.  Dr. Long told him that 20 pounds were enough, and Dad continued to work out his new thigh with that weight.

He was on a walker for a while, or crutches.  He was in a wheelchair for only a comparatively short time.  After the walker and crutches he graduated to a cane, and used it on and off for the rest of his life, mostly off and less and less as his injury healed.  He did have to have a special shoe made for his left foot because he lost around two centimeters of length from that thigh, but with the built up shoe did very well indeed.

We did not live that far away, so the former Mrs. Translator and I were able to monitor his progress month by month.  He looked pretty pitiful at first, and the pain must have been intense when he did those leg lifts, judging from the look on his face.  With time, though, the pain became less intense and it was easy to see that he was doing well.  I am not sure that he was ever completely without pain for the rest of his life, but he never let on that it hurt.  He did not use pain medication, either, except at the very beginning of his recovery.  He always said that he did not want get hooked on narcotics, and he did not.  Sometimes he would take ibuprofen, but never anything stronger than that except at the very start.

To make a long story shorter, the very next quail season Dad was back out in the fields hunting quail!  His trips were shorter that year than previously, but it was a matter of pride for him to show Dr. Long that he was wrong.  One thing about Dad was if you told him that he could not do something he would do his level best to show you that you were wrong.  The following year he was pretty much back to normal insofar as his stamina went, but he had a limp for the rest of his life.  He did not use the cane hunting, but sometimes would when he was going to the store or other places.  It is not possible to hunt quail with a cane in your hand, so he just did not use it.

Later on when we were visiting after his recovery he had just awakened from a nap on the same couch were he had shot himself.  Hillary the cat was lying on the top of the couch, being lazy.  Dad joked, “You know, I still don’t like to go to sleep with that sombitch around.  He already tasted me, and I think that he liked it!”

Dad was a man of extremely strong will, great physical strength, and an almost superhuman pain tolerance.  Just about anything that he sat his mind on he could achieve.  The only real thing that he lost was his battle with cancer, which took him in 2005 at the age of 85.  Oddly, it was lung cancer that killed him, and he never smoked in his life expect for once.  He did work in the shipyards in Portland, Oregon during World War II, and I think that he had mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.

This is not only a true story with some humorous moments; it is also a cautionary tale.  Firearms are inherently dangerous, and should be treated with the utmost respect at all times.  It is the “unloaded” firearm that causes the accidental shooting in many cases.  ALWAYS treat a firearm as if it were loaded unless you have personally (and recently) checked it yourself.  I think that the nap that he took after coming in from hunting and before handling the shotgun clouded his memory as to if he had unloaded it or not.  If he had just checked before he rested the muzzle on his thigh that incident never would have happened.

That is about it for My Little Town for tonight.  To bring folks up to speed, I have picked out six and a half pints of hickory nuts, four pints of pecans, and am up to one and a half pints of black walnuts, all for holiday cooking.  I have picked out all of the hickory nuts and pecans that I had, but still have, I estimate, at least another pint and a half of black walnuts to go.  They are slow, by far the most difficult nut of the three to pick.

Please feel free to comment on my tale and to add ones of your own.  I enjoy reading them, and from comments know that other readers do as well.  I shall be here for the rest of the evening for comments, except for perhaps a brief sojourn next door to say hello to my friend's parents for a few minutes.

Finally, today is the former Mrs. Translator's birthday.  I called her a while ago and wished her well, and she told me that she appreciated the thought.  Please join with me in wishing her the best for today, and for many birthdays to come.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Docudharma, and

firefly-dreaming

Originally posted to Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:02 PM PST.

Also republished by Genealogy and Family History Community and Personal Storytellers.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and recs for (32+ / 0-)

    remembering distant memories?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

    I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

    by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 05:23:29 PM PST

  •  Great story telling with an important moral. (8+ / 0-)

    When you finally get PO'ed at those Black Walnut picking sessions, just cut that sucker down and with the thousands of dollars you get, go out and buy as many pounds of pre-picked out black walnuts as you want. It may seem cruel to treat a great provider like that but there are so many Black Walnut tree thieves you have to be careful.

    I'd tip you but they cut off my tip box. The TSA would put Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad on the no-fly list.

    by OHdog on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:24:46 PM PST

    •  We had two in the yard when I (8+ / 0-)

      was growing up, and I planted a third one in full sun that started to bear in only a few years.  Where I live now I have none, but drive only a few miles and pick up all that I need.  This year was a good year, as over 90% of the nuts are sound and of good flavor.

      Indeed, those trees are worth a lot for very decorative wood, but the nuts surpass the flavor of almost any.  I am hoping to have enough to make at least one batch of Black Walnut ice cream for Ashley, Alexis, her parents, and me when the weather gets hot once again.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:29:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, by the way, thank (6+ / 0-)

      you very much for the kind words.  I sort of had my mind on someone, care to guess?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:30:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Me ? Was it me you had your mind on Doc ? (4+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        palantir, BlueStateRedhead, Larsstephens, raster44
        Hidden by:
        Translator

             Congratulations on the rec list.

        The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

        by Azazello on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:35:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, ummmmm, no! LOL! (4+ / 0-)

          Bygones are just those now?

          Warmest regards,

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:36:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tell the truth now Doc, (1+ / 2-)
            Recommended by:
            kalmoth
            Hidden by:
            Translator, Ahianne

            did you ever actually make a bérnaise sauce in a cast iron skillet, over a bed of coals ?  I mean, you kinda' said that you did. I'll bet you never made a bérnaise nor a hollandaise neither.

            The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

            by Azazello on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:18:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  In a cast iron skillet I have made (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens, raster44

              many sauces over hot coals outside.  Those were less like the two that you mention, because they were roux based.  Flour, some kind of fat (preferably deglazed with the liquid to be added) , salt, pepper, and inspiration went into them.  They are much more robust than the delicate ones that you mention.

              The secret is to make sure that the flour is completely cooked so that there is not a hint of raw flavor.  The depth of color and flavor is up to you.  One thing that I have learnt is that salt is essential to making a good gravy, probably perhaps because it controls the gelation of the starch in the roux.

              On a range at home, I have had fair success with Bernaise and Hollandaise, but, to tell you the truth, a roux based gravy is almost always better if the drippings are taken from the object to be cooked.

              My son and I made a blanc, butter based sauce for fish when he visited.  It was good, but he, to use his own words, "broke" it.  Want my opinion about French sauces?

              They are overblown.  They detract, rather than add, to the food being cooked by overwhelming the natural flavor with lots of butter and lemon.  Sometimes that is a good thing, but not, in my opinion, very often.

              Oh, I used to make all of my own mayonnaise, but it is cheaper to buy a good, commercial brand.  Homemade mayonnaise is wonderful, but only keeps for a couple of weeks.  It is easy to make, though.

              Warmest regards,

              Doc

              I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

              by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:37:06 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  The ones that I mention (1+ / 2-)
                Recommended by:
                kalmoth
                Hidden by:
                Translator, raster44

                are the ones that you claimed to have made in a cast iron skillet. Look at the parent of the linked comment. Please Sir, stop trying to pass yourself off as an expert in the culinary arts. I am not persuaded.

                The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

                by Azazello on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:58:02 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  The ones that I mentioned I did. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  raster44

                  You are not a kind person, at least insofar as you treat me.

                  No regards,

                  Doc

                  I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

                  by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:19:30 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  You are reported now. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  raster44

                  No regards,

                  Doc

                  I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

                  by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:42:44 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Now Doc, you really must stop (1+ / 2-)
                    Recommended by:
                    vcmvo2
                    Hidden by:
                    Translator, raster44

                    with the HR abuse. I didn't actually call you a damned liar, I just sort of implied it. That is not HR worthy. Here's my beef, well one of them anyway: This is a political site, we write about social issues, labor issues, economics, and stuff like that. You always want to write about your tawdry little affaire de coeur. No matter what the topic, it is sure to come up. How 'bout you give that a rest, or better still, have your Lady Love get a DKos account so we can read her impressions ? OK ?

                    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

                    by Azazello on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:32:46 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Look, asshat, if you do not like (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      raster44, lazybum

                      what I have to say, just stay away!  I talk with lots of folks from time to time, and you are always difficult.  What did I do to get your panties in a wad?

                      Of course it comes up, because she is important to me.  But I can see that you do not care a whit about the lives of real people, just your politics.

                      I have reported your abuse.  We shall allow the folks who run the site to decide.  But I will tell you this:  love for others is what defines Progressives.  I can tell that you hate me, and still can not tell why.  Is it because you are a very, very bitter and without love person?  That would not surprise me, as bitter and unloving as you seem to be here.

                      Once again, just leave me alone, and NEVER comment on any of my posts, and I will not comment on any of yours.  I think that I know what is wrong with you:  no one wants you because you are a shrew.  Tomorrow my love and I will be together.

                      For the last time, and I mean it, leave my sites alone.
                      No regards,

                      Doc

                      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

                      by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 09:46:51 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

            •  OK, you are done slandering me. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raster44

              Here is the deal.

              Either you stop commenting on my pieces (and I promise not to comment on yours), or I will report your slanderous comments to the Kos administrators.  You abuse me for no reason.

              What did I ever do to make you so venomous towards me?

              For your information, the piece with with you link talks about a roux based gravy, fairly easy to make in any conditions and quite robust.

              I have made both kinds of sauces that you reference in my kitchen, and they were good.  I think that they are overblown as far as adding to the savor of a dish, but that is a matter of taste.

              Please allow me to be quite clear:  you have a history of publishing ad homimen attacks against me for no reason.  You just called me a liar about the cooking that I do, and again called me a liar about cooking in primitive conditions.

              Oh, you use poor grammar as well, because you should have said, instead of

              I'll bet you never made a bérnaise nor a hollandaise neither
              .
              I'll bet you never made a bérnaise nor a hollandaise either.
              Look, I do not know why you hate me, but it is obvious that you do.  I really do not care why, but I will tell you that I am very tired of your infiltrating my posts and belittling me, so just go away, OK?

              Remember what I said about asking the administrators to ban you.  One more example likely will be more than enough for them to be convinced.

              No regards,

              Doc

              I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

              by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 08:17:22 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  This is obviously a comment (0+ / 0-)

              ..intended to carry on a previous quarrel, and as such is trolling. Donut awarded.

              Cogito, ergo Democrata.

              by Ahianne on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:11:56 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Go the hell away from (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raster44

          me, and NEVER bother my blogs.  I ban you, and the Kos folks just might soon.

          NEVER contact me again, foul person.

          Doc

          I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

          by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 10:06:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well written, pacing was perfect, and enough (8+ / 0-)

    background and detail to make me feel like i was sitting next to you. Thank you so very much for sharing.

    •  Thank you very much for the kind (6+ / 0-)

      words!  I do not remember you commenting on any of my pieces before, and welcome you to join the family, as it were.  Please feel free to read my other regular posts, Pique the Geek, about science every Sunday evening at 9:00 Eastern, and Popular Culture, about that, every Friday evening at 9:00 Eastern.  I have recently started an irregular one about politics, Doc's Prescription, that is not predicable.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 06:41:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  These are always a delight, all the more now... (5+ / 0-)

    when we need to return to ground from our states of emotions both high and low (schadenfreude and for us Easterners, Sandyfear)....doc's stories do it for me.

    "Are you bluish? You don't look bluish," attributed to poet Roger Joseph McGough, for the Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968).

    by BlueStateRedhead on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:05:10 PM PST

    •  I take no joy from the recent elections. (4+ / 0-)

      I DO take some satisfaction that cooler heads have prevailed.  Joy would mean that I take delight that someone lost, and to be honest I am sort of that way watching the idiot West try to justify his existence.  But that is a rare thing.

      I think that the People have spoken from a very deep place, and have said that it is time for our Nation to take a new, bold, and Progressive direction.

      I very much appreciate the very kind words that you said about my attempts at communication.  Should I compile these stories into a book that I might sell for income?

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Wed Nov 14, 2012 at 07:41:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  ALWAYS check that weapon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raster44, mapamp, Translator, wader

    Even if you know its unloaded, you check it.

    I was out with a couple of friends at a bar. We met a guy, we all got to talking chess, we went back to the guy's apartment (he lived two blocks from the bar) to play chess, have a few beers.

    He had a nice 9mm Ruger he wanted to show us. First guy picks it up, checks that its clear, admires the gun, hands to me.  I check it again, its just habit.  Turn it over, check it out, hand to to my other friend, who also immediately checked that it was clear.

    Always. Just make it a habit, don't even think about it.

    •  That is about as good as advice (0+ / 0-)

      can get.  The weapon is ALWAYS considered to be loaded until you, or I, prove is differently.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:52:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great post, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Translator

    Re: Gun Safety..... The family rule was, "No loaded guns in the house."

    Friend of mine was going to be married, they took the whole clan down to a photographer who did these "old timey" photos. Somehow or other, a gun went off and killed the would-be father-in-law. True story! Safety first!!

    Compost for a greener planet.............got piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:11:39 AM PST

    •  I support the right of (0+ / 0-)

      citizens to have and use firearms in a responsible way.  I DO NOT support folks who use them irresponsibly.

      Warmest regards,

      Doc

      I would rather die from the acute effects of a broken heart than from the chronic effects of an empty heart. Copyright, Dr. David W. Smith, 2011

      by Translator on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 08:54:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My mother has an impressive scar from (0+ / 0-)

    knee to hip on her right leg due to a chainsaw wielded by my father.

    Yes, it was an accident. She lost no function because the women in my family tend to carry a lot of fat below the waist, and she just lost some of that.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 12:57:44 PM PST

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