Ozarks: Old Friends
In the past two days, I've introduced my family to a couple of old friends, my high school math teacher (and surveyor extraordinaire) Mr. Jim Scott and my boyhood scoutmaster (and Chosun Few survivor) Mr. Albert Holland.
Longtime, attentive readers of Gypsy Scholar may recall my mention of Mr. Scott in a post on how I learned the word "antigogglin" -- and my Ozark dialect column about that, which I mentioned yesterday, will appear in the Korea Herald in a couple of weeks (though it won't mention Mr. Scott by name).
Well, I took my family to see him and his wife yesterday at their farm on Republican Road -- so named, I'm told, because one of the few Republican Party members used to live on that road back in the days when Fulton County was almost entirely the Democratic Party's portion. The road is still unpaved despite the Bush Administration, which stands as another broken promise, I reckon. I'm sure that George said that he was going to pave that Republican road...
Anyway, the kids enjoyed the drive on that dirt road and marveled at the low-water bridge as our car splashed through the water flowing over its surface. We'd actually seen one the day before with Mr. Holland when we crossed the Southfork River on a farm near his home, and En-Uk, never having seen such a bridge before, had looked at that one and asked what it was. Upon being told that it was a low-water bridge, namely, a bridge built to allow the fording of a stream by allowing the water to flow over smoothly at an even depth, he asked, "So, why is it a bridge?" Stumped for an explanation, I had to admit that he'd asked a good question. Why is it a "bridge"?
Mr. Holland, incidentally, will turn 90 this year, but he still looks good, at least 20 years younger than his age, and still has his memory, alertness, and humor. Only his hearing is significantly impaired, but his hearing aids make up for that. He still drives and showed us a lot of land in the river bottom, the hill further up, and other such places. We must have seen 20 deer and 50 turkeys on that farmland tour! He also showed us the cattle on his place, his dog, and his rooster, all of which delighted Sa-Rah and En-Uk. I'm glad that the kids are seeing so many animals, for it redeems my promises that they would see plenty, both wild and domestic.
One more thing about Mr. Holland. I mentioned that he is an old survivor of the Chosun Few, those men in the Korean War who found themselves surrounded in North Korean territory near the Chosun Reservoir and had to fight their way out, losing a lot of buddies in the process. He endured an entire winter outdoors sleeping in the snow and still remembers names, places, and battles. Somebody ought to interview him for an oral history project and get his memories into the public record for future historians while he's still so clearheaded and informative.
Mr. Scott is also getting old, having reached 74, but he's still extremely sharp. I had once been told that he had an IQ of 186 and must have mentioned this to my kids, for En-Uk asked him, "Is your IQ 187?"
I interjected, "No, it's only 186," at which Mr. Scott laughed. He denied that level of IQ, however, and -- noting that it varied across testings -- surmised that it was about 150.
That settled, we took a couple of trips across his farmland, where we saw cattle, horses, deer, and even a coyote . . . dead. The local farmers don't much care for the coyotes, and the kids seemed bothered by the carcass. We explained that the coyotes will kill newborn calves, chickens, and other small farm animals. Sa-Rah and En-Uk seemed to dislike the coyote's death anyway, but they enjoyed feeding the horses from their open palms. Sa-Rah even had the honor of petting a bull, whereas En-Uk only got to throw hay to the cattle.
In such endeavors, we have spent our past two days, unable to travel much due to the sleet and ice that have followed in the wake of last week's tornadoes. If we get clear skies today, however, we'll drive down to Blanchard Springs Caverns with my brother Shan and his wife Shoshanna, who arrived yesterday afternoon.
Part of that drive winds through the Sylamore Hills near the White River, so we may have more to report.