Saint Scott: Patron Saint of All Cowboys
My old high school math teacher, Jim Scott, whom you see in this recent photo taken by his daughter Jeanie, is now close to 80, I suppose, though he doesn't look it to me. He was a very good teacher, especially for a tiny, isolated place like Salem, Arkansas, and he knew a lot of math, having completed all of his doctoral work in mathematics up to his thesis, which he never quite got around to finishing because of other demands on his time, such as family and work.
He happens to be one of the most talented individuals I've ever met. He first taught music at Salem Elementary School when I was a kid, though I think that this job of his ended just before I started school, but when I was in high school, I not only learned math from him, I also took part in his informal art class, our aesthetic project being a mural that he designed and did the perspective for, a street scene of an imaginary Medieval village. In addition to teaching, he had his own business, a surveying company, which I worked for one summer as a nineteen-year-old. I got to see a lot of backwoods Ozark spots, often very isolated, that summer. Jim was also a bareback rodeo rider, the sort who try to stay seated upon a bucking horse, and he was even an authentic cowboy for a while. Unlike most cowboys, however, his expertise extended to horseless carriages as well, and he could do his own mechanical repairs. He also knows a lot of science, down to the technical details, and he designed and built his own house. He continues to farm and ranch, and still has horses, along with his cattle and other farm and ranch odds and ends.
I know very little about most of these things in which he has expertise, but I enjoy getting a chance to talk with him whenever I'm back in my hometown, for he's a good conversational partner, a close listener with a fine sense of humor. I didn't have the chance to see him this past summer since my family and I didn't visit the Ozarks this time, so I was glad to get Jeanie's report, an update of sorts:
Dad and I were moving cattle . . . he just saddled up Old Paint right there in the pasture. We commenced to direct those kine using a bit of the John Wayne and a tad of modern technology as I was driving the Gator!Yeah, I would have regained my old position as head chainman, cutting a straight line through the Ozark wilderness so that Jim would be able to use his surveyor's transit unobscured. To 'drop' a pin actually means to hammer a straight metal piece into the ground for measuring off lengths of land with the 'chain', a long, flexible metal band (not really a "chain") with precise numerical markings -- feet and inches back in the States (maybe 100 feet long, if I recall). One also needs a hammer, a simple scope with a spirit level, wooden stakes, surveyors nails with their cupped heads, strips of bright orange surveyors ribbon, and a surveyors tool belt to carry everything (except the chain, which was lugged around by hand). Have I forgotten anything, Jeanie? Using those things is hard work, and heavy to carry around. I prefer teaching research writing rather than engaging in that hot, physical labor back in those humid Arkansas summers. Anyway, I replied to Jeanie's update with a bit of humor, which I based upon Jim's image in the photograph:
If you had been there, we could have also cut out a line and dropped a few pins . . . of course, I would have lost my number two status and once again been relegated to rear chaingirl!
I see that Mr. Scott must henceforth be known as "St. Scott," given that 'halo', perhaps the patron saint of bareback rodeo riders even if he did 'saddle up' Old Paint, but that merely befits his newly sanctified status -- one designated as justified to ride high in the saddle -- so maybe he's even "St. Scott, Patron Saint of All Cowboys."Jeanie reassured me that her father would have no objections:
Despite the quotation marks, the capitalization, and even the italics, this is unfortunately an unofficial beatification since I have no authority with the Catholic Curia and your dad isn't Catholic anyway . . . but this image could find its way into Gypsy Scholar if no one objects to that sort of beatification.
Dad NEVERS objects to any response that clarifies his talents for the adoring public! Truthfully, he deserves his status as a hard-riding Renaissance gent. That particular day was filled skittish horses, philosophy of the ancients, a touch of Hamlet, and an intense discussion of Google Earth.That cetainly sounds like Mr. Scott, and a conversation I wish I could have listened in on.
Maybe next year . . .